Thursday, February 18, 2010

We are the most tolerant people!

If the state forces are trying to kill protests, they undoubtedly are dismantling the institution of democracy

Sheikh Anjum Husain

The killing of another teenager in the heart of Srinagar city ironically was preceded by India’s defence ministry’s statement that time was ripe for the state police to be given far greater responsibility, particularly in major towns, in tackling the threat of terrorism. It could be argued that the suspended police official’s intention was not to fatally hit 15 year old Wamiq Farooq Wani with the tear gas shell that eventually ended his family as well as his own dreams and aspirations. But one wonders if the state police are guided by some level-headed mechanism of dealing with a mob or that they just rely on their spurt-of-the-moment reactions and have their own way! A top-notch police official talking to a US based radio said that orders have been issued to police to shot tear smoke shells in air only so that they loose their intensity midway. But recently smoke shells have been used to severely injure or kill the protesting youth.

It’s not that protests are unique to this conflict ridden state only, but they are the voice and expression of democracy. And if the state forces are trying to kill protests, they undoubtedly are dismantling the institution of democracy. When the likes of Inayat and Wamiq succumb to atrocities of gun-trotting men, public anger is bound to rise. If these were rare incidents, the unruly shape that protests often take here could be termed undemocratic and unhealthy for overall progress of the state. J&K in general and Kashmir valley in particular has been a witness to such incidents day in and day out. Under these circumstances how can police or some other agency ask elders to advise their youngsters to stay away from protests? How else would the sandwiched people of the state vent their feeling other than protest against the terror unleashed upon them? I would still describe Kashmiri nation as the most tolerable on earth. The way people in other parts of India react to the drop of a hat is not ‘agitational terrorism’ and if poor Kashmiris protest the unjustified killings of Wamiq and Inayat they are bracketed as unruly.
Hardliners of Mumbai have been cornering people of north India for quite some time now. They thrashed an MP from north in the state assembly. Imagine the aftermath of an incident like that of Wamiq Wani happening in Mumbai! Need of the time calls for well-laid out rules for our police personnel to be formulated to deal with protesters.
General public too must exercise restraint and refrain from indulging in provocative acts as the state police are from amongst us and they too are humans. May sense prevail!

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