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Today there are so many diverse issues and problems for the people of Kashmir. Some people may point that unemployment is an important problem, some may say corruption and some may pass a verdict that militancy is hampering the development of Kashmir. Our society is full of various troubles, which to refer, drug addiction, black marketing, redtapism, back-door entries in different departments, bribery, cultural pollution, and the list goes on and on. But as a resident of the valley of Kashmir, I think that the 'Human Rights' violations going on here due to the ongoing conflict is the most significant issue for the people of Kashmir and everybody should be concerned about it not only in Kashmir but in the world as a whole. But I think that the minds of very few people are diverted towards this issue. This issue has raised so many relevant issues, shaking the very foundation of our society. The occupational army is the fundamental obstacle which is responsible for the sabotage of progress and enlightenment of the Kashmiri people. Since the last eighteen years, the land described as the paradise of earth is virtually under siege with more than half a million armed personnel, the highest number of Army during peace time anywhere in the world - turning this Paradise into a concentration camp. The desire to fulfil other significant issues cools down because these forces have become the biggest threat to the security of the common people, whose lives they are supposed to secure. Lakhs are troops are present here to crush the eighteen year old genuine struggle of the innocent people who are the sufferers of every type of harassment by the troops. In the presence of occupational troops in any part of the world, the political, social, and the economic life of the people is victimised. In the spread of drug-addiction and alcoholism, the troops have a big hand. The boy at the age of attending the school becomes a victim of drugs. Parents spend their sweat-soaked earnings to make the child's future bright but he remains in addicted state of mind, wasting his precious time and proving as a bane not only to his parents but to the whole society. Many incidents have been reported where girls have been abducted and ruthlessly abused by the security forces. These abducted girls, if released alive, have a social stigma attached to them for whole life and espousing them is an agonizing task. Many times these girls commit suicide to put an end to their wretchedness. The troops use the way of terror in the form of custodial executions, extreme torture, forced labour, gang rapes, fake encounters and enforced disappearances in order to suppress the wishes and feelings of innocent Kashmiri people. Draconian laws like the
Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA) not only increases the oppression but also gives more powers to armed forces to 'Catch and Kill'. The issue of Human Rights violations carries a great significance for all of us and this issue is the underpinning of various other issues that hold masses under their influence. Due to modern technology, the whole world has become a global village. Any happening of any corner of the world becomes a highlight on every TV channel. Recently the whole world became aware of the fake-encounter cases of the innocent people of Kashmir which were killed just for a mere reward. There are more than ten thousand disappearance cases in Kashmir alone. According to the report released by UN on November 8, 1992, disappearance is a serious crime against humanity and it is severe than the custodial execution. In case of custodial execution, the family members try to console themselves but in case of disappearance the search never ends. The victim's family remain in a perpetual trauma. Their life becomes a burden due to mental agony. They lose the charm of their lives. Young people of the family disheartened with the circumstances prevailing in the family lose interest in their studies and careers. The potential to become a significant organ of the society is crushed. The feelings of revenge get stronger and result is beyond the description. The consequences of these unpleasant circumstances are hampering the real zeal and enthusiasm of youth in this valley. In any case whether custodial killing, fake encounter or enforced disappearance, the sole bread earner is lost in the majority of cases. The children or young siblings of the victim have to leave educational career either for financial crisis or for lack of concentration. In many cases the wives of the victims take the financial responsibility. They are often sexually exploited by their employers. They become victim of many outside pressures because of their illiteracy. In most cases of disappearance, the victims' family members are exploited by the paramilitary forces by make them move from pillar to post. They deceive them by saying that the victim is in their custody but it is simply a hallucination. These family members are financially looted there and if the family member proves as woman, she gets a social stigma. So many rumours are attached to her character, and sometimes it proves fatal for an innocent woman. They are socially out-casted and taunted as immoral by their nears and dears. It has been experienced that the victims of HR violations by army are deprived of every support by the society. Their daughters are not taken in marriage, if they are wives, they are deprived of their share and thrown out by the in laws or if they are rape victims then life is a living hell for them and as a result of all this suicide rates are increasing at alarming rates in Kashmir. There has been a tremendous increase in the mental disease in Kashmir. The number of patients visiting the Government Psychiatric Hospital in Srinagar was 775 in 1985 but now it has increased up to 60,000 in the year 2006. The increase in the mental trauma is the
impact of unpleasant circumstances, mental agony and stress, says a Psychiatrist Dr Mushtaq Margoob. The children of a victim are often made to work as child labourers to support the needs of their family or are left in the orphanages. They suffer from split-personality and frequently express their desire to revenge the death of their fathers or close relatives. To relieve themselves of this stress, these children and youths often opt for drugs giving rise to many other types of crimes. The daily mortification in the form of crack-down of important places like Lal Chowk and frequent search in buses by armed forces contributes significantly to the feeling of depression. This savagery of Para-military forces has developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in many people. About 15-20% of the Kashmiri people are suffering from this disease, a research scholar reported this data recently. It has been rightly said that only sound individuals can contribute to the advancement of any nation but in Kashmir the bulk of the people are mentally sick though they seem physically fit. "Women in Kashmir are among the worst victims of sexual violence and it has left their minds badly bruised", says a study done in mid 2005 by Medicine Sans Frontiers (MSF). According to this study, since 1989 sexual violence has been routinely perpetrated on Kashmiri women, with 11.6% of respondents saying that they were the victims of sexual abuse. This is a very high figure than that reported in conflict regions of Sri-Lanka, SierraLeone and Chechnya. These victims often opt for suicide to end their wretchedness. The Army is occupying the orchards and other agricultural lands around more than 10,000 acres, thus smashing the economy of Kashmir. The major trade centre of Srinagar i.e. Lal Chowk is many times cordoned daily, thus increasing the miseries of common man and ruining the business of shop-keepers. The Army in order clean their image launched the program for the empowerment of women under the disguise of operation 'Sadhbhavana'. They on their part have actually degraded the status of Kashmiri women known for their modesty to mistresses and society butterflies who are mere tools in the hand of pleasure seekers and sex marketers hidden behind the colourful screen of Art and Culture. These types of activities have given rise to a culture which is alien to us. So we have paid a huge price on every front whether it is social, political or economic. The culture of Renegades is among the fruits of troops present here and now the troops are turning this to Intellectual Renegadism. The recent example being the Allama Iqbal's couplet which has been translated by CRPF and erected near the gate of Bakhshi Stadium. Using Qur'anic verses, couplets of Habba Khatoon, Sheikh-ul-Aalam, etc, they are using our history against us, projecting our thinkers and our intellectuals against us.
In the presence of huge occupational forces, a nation, its people, its self-claimed leaders and rulers may claim about its progress. But their claim is nothing but a mirage. When the HR violations will disappear from Kashmir then only its people can contribute towards progress. The people can then only employ their mind-power and energy to make the valley of Kashmir a real Paradise. My humble requests to my people are that please and please think about this issue for a while and then only you will realize its importance. Our Paradise is on fire and it is our responsibility to save it. Our society, especially our youth who are our future instead of working for the solution of this problem are alienating themselves away from it. Some may excuse that we are not politicians or intellectuals but everyone among us has to be active and no one can pass this buck to others. Aren't one lakh lives enough to inspire us to get up and do something for saving our Paradise? Are we going to make this dream come true? The question Laments.
(The Author can be reached at www.yaqeenulhaq.info or can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)