The difference between the Israeli settler program, and the Indian idea of a Sainik colony in Kashmir, differs only in the idea of execution. Why do Indian soldiers, rather widely seen as rank oppressors and the worst abusers of rights in Kashmir, want to live in the Valley in the first place? Is this a sort of prandial walk amidst the clouds? Not that this hasn’t happened. In fact, the debate is skewed. In large areas of Muslim Jammu, the Indian army controls life, it determines, factually, what air you breathe. In very many areas of the state, the Indian army, paramilitaries, the SOG, do the same. So why would, in the ineluctable colonial wisdom of the Governor from India (one is tempted to say Governor-General), there be separate residential areas for soldiers inimical to the local population? One answer, perhaps, the chief one, is control and repression.
Sure, the current government — whether it is PDP or NC or Congress doesn’t matter — denied. The current one, actually, has gone blue in the face claiming they are innocent. As much as Lady Macbeth was innocent, one surmises. But what is the Sainik Board, which clearly took decisions? Who is this Governor? What rights does he have, as chief of this Board, to take decisions? Is this a colony? If it is, then one would appreciate a frank admission of the same.
And this is where the Israeli parallel also comes into play. The Israelis are clear. They are, comparatively, horror as it might seem, more honourable. They do not, for example, claim democracy. They kill, expel, destroy, with the full force of their illegal, unethical laws. And they make no apologies. Here, the occupation itself seeks to hide, it constitutes mechanisms of redressal against its own brutality. Obviously to no avail. In fact, the mechanisms of so-called redressal themselves become a reminder of oppression, and a punishment unto themselves. And then, the state asks us to believe in it. So, like Jonathan Swift’s ‘Modest Proposal’, one can also suggest that the State here can become more Israeli, it must kill more, torture more, rape more (a real difference being that Israelis don’t rape, Indians do), incarcerate more, so that good sense, the hallmark of all decent societies, begins to dawn here. The people must be made to believe they are individuals, alone. That there is no collective. And that all talk of a collective, and basic rights, is banished.