Undemocratic ways of a democratic state

Undemocratic ways of a democratic state

By Muneeb yousuf

Kashmir has largely been in the news for the violence that took several forms in the last few decades. This culturally rich region, with a beautiful landscape, and its compassionate denizens have been severely affected by the perilous policies of the two rival states that were created by the partition of British India, of which the state of Jammu and Kashmir was one among several princely states.
Since the event of partition, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed numerous movements against the government machinery in general and the oppression of India in particular. The politics of the Valley took several shapes, but has profoundly remained enveloped in the identity of Kashmiriyat. Sheikh Abdullah was successful in bargaining a few important issues with the Indian government, which resulted in popular land reforms along with the important special status. The disputed accession of the state to Indian, and Pakistan’s response, has compounded the nature of the conflict. Over the years, both states have claimed the geography of the Valley under the rubric of the idea of their respective state formation.
Despite being the world’s largest democratic state, India has always choked the voices for democracy in Kashmir. Beginning by sacking, and the later imprisonment of Sheikh Abdullah, the Indian state went against the basic premises on which it claims democratic pride. The story doesn’t end here. Installing centre-backed leaders who hardly had any support among the masses created a sense of alienation among large sections in the Valley. Discontentment began to gain ground and the already-created Plebiscite Front had a much greater appeal. The mounting resentment was largely dealt with by providing subsidies across different sectors. A huge amount of money was pumped into the Valley to cover up the basic issue. Till now, the state of India has not deviated from this policy.
Successive governments of India have announced massive economic packages which have, like in the past, been failures in dealing with the Kashmir issue or building democracy here.
Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute. But the Indian state has deep problems with such a recognition. Then what does India think of Kashmir? For India, Kashmir is its integral part. The state that ‘fulfills’ India’s idea of secularism and heterogeneity – on which India makes a proud distinction from its rival Pakistan – has been subjected to atrocious policies by the Indian state.
Human rights are the core issue and value of any democratic state, and India has been accused of gross human rights violations in the Valley. International Human rights organisations have time and again reported the violations and have been asking India to end these atrocities.
Media, they say, is the engine of a progressive nation, and it should disclose the reality and discuss different narratives. There are certain codes to every profession and some responsibilities too. Anchors of a few popular news channels of India have taken on the agenda of projecting Kashmiris in an anti-national and terrorist framework, which aggravates the prevalent sense of alienation. Paradoxically, these agendas signify the dubious character of a much-talked about democracy.
Even after six decades of turmoil and violence, Kashmir is witnessing a new form of violence that seems to be much more potent and lethal. Several reports have suggested that more educated youths have joined militancy, which has serious consequences for the polity and stability of Kashmir. India has considerably and continuously failed in providing a healthy and peaceful environment which an “integral area” deserves.

—The writer is pursuing an M.Phil in International Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi