Frequent internet ban: A repressive and Vindictive Norm
By: Mohammad Asif Shah/ Ayaz Nabi Malik
Ideally a State has to ensure and maintain its overall security and that of its citizens by protecting itself from foreign aggression and by guarding its citizens’ lives and their property. To ward off and shoo away the external aggression, a State maintains a vigilant and a brave army at its borders. That done and the State turns inward to protect the lives and property of its citizens through strict legislations and regulations, the violators of which are equally taken to the task by its Judiciary and the Police.
Normally a State should have a “non-interventionist policy” to let its denizens live their lives as per their wishes. It should intervene only when the social fabric, communal harmony and social security are jeopardized. Nothing short of that should encourage a State to poke its nose into the very private lives of its members on mere apprehensions and flimsy grounds.
But in an international conflict zone like Jammu and Kashmir, among several others, the story is quite different. The germ of the disease is that people largely and outrightly reject India’s claim to J&K as its clichéd “integral part” not just because of any hatred with it but owing to its historical context.
Neither do the people accept the “Jugular Vein Theory’’ nor the “Integral Part Rhetoric” as Kashmir had always been an Independent nation in the past till 1947. And the agonizing fact of the matter is that India has forcibly occupied and seized the state since ’47 on a mere pretext of a “never-fulfilled promise” of holding a Plebiscite in the state commonly termed as The Right to Self-determination (RTSD from here onwards).
Not to forget the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on the international dispute of Kashmir which have yet to be honoured or implemented by the two nations of India and Pakistan. Every time Kashmiris demand the settlement of the issue in accordance with the RTSD and the UNSC Resolutions, India gets worked up and throttles the demands forcibly.
This is the basic structure of the problem which ironically India tries to obfuscate to the world as a mere economic issue of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment, which India claims are due to the Pak-sponsored ‘terrorism and infiltration’.
Through this ideological rhetoric against Pakistan India has been able to divert the global gaze from the heart of the matter. And through its repressive state apparatus India has been able to dishonour J.L.Nehru’s Plebiscite Pledge resulting in the strong sense of resentment, alienation and disillusionment among Kashmiris with India. Hence the perennial atmosphere of violence, mayhem and murder in this conflict-torn zone.
In this age of superfast communication, it has become very difficult for our ‘colonizer and our tormentors’ to conceal or manipulate their injustice, wrong-doings, and violence inflicted upon us. They come heavily hard on us by brazenly using their repressive state apparatus, however, they are resisted by their subjects too.
Since the repressive and totalitarian dispensation has strangulated the political and democratic space of its subjects, it has become imperative for them to take recourse to novel, unprecedented and innovative methods to vent their voice. Of late a new trend has emerged.
Different social networking sites have been exploited to show and expose to the world how the UNSC membership aspirant rules Kashmiris against their volition. The latest trend of uploading the first hand images and videos showing the worst level of inhuman treatment meted out to the people of the land which India chest-beatingly calls its ‘Atoot Ang’ is a case in point. In absence of all other democratic options for protest and expression, the Internet has proved out to be an effective tool to invite the international eye towards this vexed issue which can potentially bring the two rival nations to a nuclear warfare.
Whatever unites the suppressed Kashmiris, the rulers try to nip the “evil” in the bud by banning and out-lawing those platforms, fora and activities. Outwardly they do it to so-called “protect” the life and property of the people. But inwardly the continuous and reckless Electronic Curfew and the media gag are parts of the nasty colonial designs. By doing so, they are simply annexing and insulting our basic modern day human rights, which is why there is an unprecedented resentment with and alienation from India and its policies among Kashmiris.
It seems the government is being vindictive in ‘punishing’ the Netizens here just because its gory and occupational activities are thoroughly exposed on the Internet, hence puncturing its claims to decency, democracy and nowadays its claim to the “maximum restraint by its forces”.
Therefore, the best possible option with the clueless state government would be to call a spade a spade and stop this provocative Net banning ritual. Instead the Centre should start the institution of “unconditional dialogue” with all concerned stakeholders to put out this long-burning fire. There is no point in trying to divert the focus from the core to its surface.