Human rights are at the core of India’s Parliamentary democracy and Constitution. As the world’s largest democracy we gave ourselves a Constitution which guaranteed to every citizen the basic human rights. The right to equality, the right to life and liberty, basic fundamental rights such as free speech etc., the right to religious freedom, the right to judicial redress amongst others, Parliamentary democracy and freedom to vote are essential aspects of those fundamental rights. Most of these fundamental rights are part of the basic structure of India’s Constitution and by their very character unamendable. Even the sovereign Parliament, as a creation of the Constitution, has no constitutional power to amend or alter most of these fundamental rights. In fact, a large number of them are even pre-constitutional rights and have been elevated to the level of natural rights which belong to the human species.
Activities of Insurgent Organisations
Today, amongst others, there are primarily two ideological groups which are involved in insurgency and terrorism. Amongst the Jehadis and the separatists there are many who are trained by our western neighbour and actively financed by it. Their prime objective is to create disaffection against the Indian State. They are active in a few parts of India but predominantly in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Some local youth have also joined them.
The second group is the Maoist insurgent. They are primarily in some of the tribal districts in central India but their ideological supporters are spread out in various parts of the country. Both these groups want to overthrow constitutionally elected Governments – they abhor democracy. They use violence as a means of impacting a political change. In the system that they perceive, there is no democracy, no elections, no equality, no free speech and no guarantee of life and liberty. On the contrary, most of them believe that power flows from the barrel of the gun. They indulge in large scale violence, killing of innocents and sabotage the development activity for public welfare. The Jehadis believe that there is space for only one religion and the Maoist believe that there is space for none. Of late a visible coordination between the two is becoming more and more apparent.
Who is threatening human rights of the citizens?
In the State of Jammu and Kashmir, who is threatening the human rights of the citizens? The entire Kashmiri pandit community has been banished from the State. Initially spared but after the Chittissinghpura Massacre in the year 2000, most of the Sikh community has moved out. Today most of the people left in the valley belong to the majority community of the State. Most of them don’t support secessionist. Many of them have also set up a base in other cities of India. The Kashmiri youth are going to other States for education and jobs. My own interaction with various groups, particularly students of Kashmir University, left me with an impression that there are extremely bright youngsters with aspirations. Their entire environment is being disrupted. In the last few years most innocent citizens that the terrorist are killing in the valley, are fellow Kashmiri themselves. In fact, one of the worst victims of the Pakistan’s misconceived Kashmir policy has been the residents of Kashmir valley. The region, on the strength of its natural beauty, artisans and agriculture, has the potential of being the wealthiest per capita State in the country. The terrorists have destroyed it. For the past three years the terrorists up their activities in the months of April, May and June so that the economic lifeline of the valley suffers in the tourism season. They terrorise courts; they kill editors; they kill innocent citizens and they don’t allow any alternate religion to be practised. Who is threatening the human rights of the citizens of Kashmir? It is obvious that it is the terrorists and the Jehadis who have done it. The whole country bears a large cost by putting its security personnel in the region in order to protect the innocent citizens. Many security personnel have been martyred.
The Maoist don’t allow development activity to be undertaken in those tribal regions where they have a presence. They kill innocent tribals who don’t agree with them; they destroy public buildings; they kill security personnel and they even charge a parallel tax from helpless citizens. How many times have we come across human rights organisations preparing documents and releasing reports with regard to the human rights of these helpless citizens and the patriotic security personnel who has been sent there to defend these citizens?
The emergence and evolution of human rights organisations
Human rights organisations were conventionally launched in the countries which were either oppressed by dictatorship or were under the oppression of foreign rule. The civil liberties movement had a very important role to play. This is true of India also. Post-Independence these organisations continue to operate at a low key. The civil liberties movement was controlled by the liberals. In the early 70’s, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) was formed by constitutional liberals led by Shri Jai Prakash Narayan. This timed with the supersession of judges, the misuse of Preventive Detention Law and the beginning of dynastic rule. Its relevance increased during Emergency and immediately thereafter. In 1977, the Janata Government headed by Morarji Desai reversed most of the autocratic steps which the Indira Gandhi Government had taken and, thereafter, the comfort level of the liberals on civil liberties increased. In the early 80’s, the ultra-left seized the opportunity and started infiltrating into organisations like the PUCL and the PUDR. The liberals got disillusioned with the Maoist takeover of the civil liberties movement. A few were too gullible not to understand this. Similarly, the Maoist started forming human rights organisations even at the State level and made the non-weaponised ideological Maoist as the face of these organisations. These activists were always in touch with the underground Maoist leaders. They acted as their communication channel. They would rationalise Maoist violence even in the media by arguing that the “root cause” of the violence needs to be addressed. The media was guilty of giving them disproportionate coverage. In the last few years, they expanded their strategy and started coordinating with the Jehadis and separatists notwithstanding their ideological dissimilarity. The only thing common between them was violence, overthrow of the constitutional order and secessionism i.e. the breakup of India. Recent evidence suggest that they are trying to rope in some misguided dalit activists into their fold. This became publically apparent after the “Tukde Tukde” agitation in the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the events which followed in Hyderabad thereafter.
What is the human rights focus of these organisations?
The front human rights organisation which have been taken over by the ultra-left have never spoken about the deprivation of the human rights of the innocent citizens who are victims of their violence. They have never a tear to shed in the indiscriminate killing of the security personnel. They have a propaganda policy and have successfully infiltrated their evil idea at two levels;
Firstly, their ability to coordinate with opinion makers in the western world and with the global human rights organisations has to be recognised. Secondly, even though the Congress Party historically and ideologically would have been opposed to these groups, they have earned a sympathy in Rahul Gandhi’s heart. He had no qualms about joining those who raised subversive slogans at JNU and Hyderabad. With this initial success, the others amongst the so called federal front have forgotten the dangers of these groups to India and Indian democracy. The political adventurists in parties like AAP, TMC and the like only look for a political opportunity in these groups. These human right organisations are an over-ground face of the underground. In the system that they believe in, there is no place for life, liberty, equality and free speech. In fact, there is no space for election or Parliamentary democracy.
Ultimately what every Indian is concerned with is who can hold this country together? Of course, an elected Government, a dialogue with the people, a humane approach with the average Kashmiri is the ultimate object of the Indian State which few can disagree. But it is paramount to protect India’s sovereignty and the right to life of its citizens. At times we get caught in the idioms that we create. One such phrase is “muscular policy in Kashmir”. To deal with a killer is also a law and order issue. It can’t wait a political solution. A fidayeen is willing to die. He is also willing to kill. Should he be dealt with by offering Satyagraha before him? When he advances to kill, should the security forces that confront him, ask him to sit on a table and have dialogue with them. A policy, therefore, has to be to protect the ordinary citizen of the valley; get him freedom from the terror; provide him with a better quality of life and environment. A terrorist who refuses to surrender and refuses a ceasefire offer has to be dealt with as anybody taking law in his own hand. This is not ‘muscular’. It is the rule of law. Let one fact be clear. The Maoist sponsored human rights organisations only espouse the cause of separatism and violence – be it Kashmir or Chhattisgarh. They have brought a bad name to a very precious and valuable concept of human rights. Their international affiliates are no different.
Our policy has to be “Save the Human Rights of every Indian – be it a tribal or a Kashmiri” from terrorists.