Srinagar: The militarization and extensive powers given to the Army in Jammu and Kashmir is threat to Indian democracy as the civilian government is losing its say in making political decisions, prominent Indian civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha said on Monday.
“The recent incidents in Kashmir have proven that civil government in New Delhi is subservient to the Army. The civil government could not remove AFSPA from few districts of Jammu and Kashmir without the consent of the Army,” Navlakha told Kashmir Reader on the sidelines of a seminar here.
“New Delhi also says that Army will remain in Kashmir till peace does not return. But I fail to understand how peace will return in presence of six lakh soldiers to combat 200 militants,” said Navlakha.
He said the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, who declared few years ago that AFSPA will be removed from two districts of Jammu and Kashmir, has no authority in taking these decisions.
“He has no say in such manners. He can’t even give a sanction to prosecute any Army personnel involved in human rights abuses in the state,” said Navlakha.
Favoring the Aam Aadmi Party senior leader Prashan Bhusan’s statement that referendum should be held on the issue of demilitarization in Kashmir, Navlakha said a referendum is a peaceful and democratic way of resolving the issues where it is difficult to find a solution.
“Government of India has used the referendum in solving several issues within the country. But they will not use it in Kashmir on demilitarization issue,” said Navlakha.
Regarding the recent Army’s claim of starting court martial against its personnel involved in the Machil fake encounter, Navlakha said that court martial is always doubtful in which victim families remain unaware of the proceedings.
“Court martial is always a closed door affair where no one comes to know what has happened inside. The big thing in court and trial proceedings is satisfaction of the victim families, but in court martial they don’t get satisfaction because they remain unaware about the trial proceedings,” said Navlakha.
Earlier, while addressing the seminar titled ‘Impact of non resolution of Jammu and Kashmir’ which was organised by a human rights group, Voice of Victims, Navlakha said that with non-resolution of Kashmir issue and subsequent militarization of the state there is negative impact on various aspects of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“According to figures provided government of India in Parliament in 2013, Jammu and Kashmir consists of around 24.15 lakh acres of land, out of which 8.50 lakh acres is under cultivation and around 2.55 lakh acre of land is under occupation. Imagine what will be the impact on the economy and life of people if occupied land is also brought under cultivation,” said Navlakha.
He said that with non-resolution of Kashmir issue, Kashmiris could not get as much benefit from land reforms as it could have achieve if issue was solved.
“Imagine how much loss Kashmiris are suffering when people don’t reach at work in time due to regular movement of convoys. Also imagine the loss of economy when people living on both sides of LoC could not harvest their crops due to recent ceasefire violations between India and Pakistan,” said Navlakha.
He said that due to non-resolution of Kashmir issue, India has been adopting the policy of promoting corruption in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Corruption is a main policy adopted by India to consolidate its occupation in Kashmir. India is buying the people here and give them monetary benefits so as to get their support for maintaining its occupation,” said Navlakha.
“Despite suffering huge losses, Kashmiris have learnt a lot while living under occupation. They have shown confidence in moving forward and learnt a lot from their previous mistakes,” said Navlakha.
“In order to achieve their goal of freedom, Kashmiris should not compromise but continue their struggle and create ways to put international pressure on India to solve the issue. Kashmiris have to do it themselves and don’t remain dependent on others,” said Navlakha.
Speaking on the occasion, executive director of the Voice of Victims, Abdul Qadeer Dar, said the non-resolution of Kashmir issue has resulted in thousands of enforced disappearances, extra-judicial executions, sexual violence and torture.
“Yet it has been observed that the pain, suffering and struggle of the victims of the conflict has failed to find an authentic voice,” said Dar.
Others who spoke on the occasion included human rights defender Parvez Imroz, journalist Zahir-ud-Din, columnist Dr Javaid Iqbal, and president Doctors Association Kashmir Dr Nissar-ul-Hassan.