Sunday, May 29, 2011

'Eternal Suspects': Mistreating Kashmiri youths must stop, more sensitivity needed

Kashmiris treat us well. Do we return the gesture?
If you are a Hindu going to Kashmir for Amarnath Yatra or a Muslim going to the place to visit Hazrat Bal or simply a tourist going to have fun, you expect the local Kashmiris--the shop owners, the hoteliers, the person on the street, to treat you well.

But when the Kashmiri youth leave their state and comes to other parts of the country, do we treat him fairly?


Either for higher education or for trade the Kashmiris who go to different states in the country remain the constant target of police.....

Besides, petty politicians and even section of belligerent right-wing local media looks upon Kashmiris as suspects [euphemism for militant or terrorist]. If you can read Hindi, just see these three reports and find out yourself how injustice is done and Kashmiris are branded as terrorists.


Just an example. This incident occurred a few months back. Such things keep happening in other states also. Kindly read the following points.:

1. Two youths who 'looked suspicious' were caught in Madhya Pradesh and detained for questioning.

2. Nothing objectionable was found but an evening newspaper published a false news that 'Terrorists were arrested.

3. The other Hindi newspapers, apprehending that their competitors might do 'sensational stories', also wrote that they were terrorists, even though the journos privately knew that there was no evidence.

4. The State police chief clearly said later that no terror links were found.

5. But as the papers had made a beginning, follow-up stories continued. If one links the youths with LeT, other paper finds a HuJI connection and the third paper even more shockingly said they were Hezbollah activists active in India and came to establish base.

6. Police tried to clear air but some politicians also jumped in the fray. Xenophobic statements were aired as to how Kashmiris are getting 'easy entry' everywhere in India and getting admissions at the expense of local students in colleges.

7. Other Kashmiri youths living in private hostels and in rented houses got fearful. Once again it was tough to get accommodation due to surcharged atmosphere.

8. For days newspapers kept printing unsubstantiated, totally false reports. Once a reporter has filed a sensational report, next day he can't naturally tell his chief that his earlier report was wrong and trying to justify that, unnamed sources and highly placed intelligence sources were quoted.


9. The court acquits the youths, gives the police a dressing down. There is protest from a section of activists about demonising, harassing the Kashmiris.

10. Some papers finally see sense and put the blame squarely on police for botching up the case and arresting the youths just to get accolades, as they rarely get to catch criminals in normal cases of crime. Citizens remain as confused as ever.

This is not a one-off incident. The issue is that students from J&K [not just Muslims, but also Hindus] find it tough to get house on rent anywhere in India, due to such incidents. Cops routinely harass them as if all of them are militants.

Cops can misbehave with them, newspapers can afford to write sensational reports about them and politicians can make wild objectionable comments because the guys who are framed and falsely implicated in such cases are mostly young students.

They rarely have enough money to sue the rags or the harassing policemen. As soon as they are let off from police custody, they feel that it's better to leave the place rather than stay, fight and make the police or press admit their mistake.

The civil society takes little interest. Just like casteist, communal and regional biases, this form of discrimination must also end. How else will we integrate them, when we as a society behave so badly with them, accuse them, brand them and worse, term them as terrorists?

In a country as huge as ours, there have been multiple issues ranging from complaints of bias by North Eastern Indians in Delhi to that of North Indians in Maharashtra. But apart from citizens, lot is needed to sensitize police and media persons as well.

کشمیری تب تک ہی اچھا ہے جب تک آپ گھومنے یا امرناتھ یاترا کے لئے کشمیر جایئں، وہ آپکا خچر کھینچے، ڈل چھیل میں شکارے پر سیر کرواۓ اور ہوٹل-دوکان میں آپکی مہمان نوازی کرے۔ اسکے دکھ درد سے آپکو کوئ واسطہ نہیں۔ کشمیری دینا کے سبسے زیادہ ملٹراییزڈ زوں میں سات لاکھ سیکیورٹی جوانوں کے بیچ رہتا ہے۔ بے عزت ہونا، پٹنا اور گولی کھانا اسکا مقدر ہے۔ آپکو اس سے کوئ ہمدردی نہیں۔ جب کشمیری دوسرے صوبے میں پڑھنے ہا بزنیز کرنے جاتا ہے، آپکا سلوک کیسا ہوتا ہے اور پولس کتنی آسانی سے اسے 'سندگدھ' یا 'آتنکی' کہہ دیتی ہے، یہ آرٹیکل پڑھیے اور سوچئے۔


[*For those not familiar with Hindi. The first newspaper headline says 'Terrorists caught, arms and documents recovered. The second newspaper also terms them as terrorists.

The third paper which changed its stand and was among the few papers to accept the earlier mistake, writes that the police had got the youths framed to get accolades. It also quotes Jammu and Kashmir IG who was incidentally in  Madhya Pradesh and spoke about the youth's innocence in a police conference in Bhopal]