Remote controllers of mayhem to be accountable

M.M Khajooria
For promulgating The Jammu and Kashmir Public Property (Prevention of Damage) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, Governor Vohra had to draw both inspiration and authority from the pronouncement by Supreme Court in the case, ‘Re-Destruction of Public and Private Properties vs. State of A.P (Andhra Pradesh) and others ( 2009)’. This indeed is a very sad commentary on the political wisdom, administrative acumen and sense of public responsibility of our political class, legislatures and successive
The tangible damage/loss of property for one year ( July 2016 to July 2017) that witnessed worst kind of Axis of Evil crafted mass violence post elimination of Burhan Wani mostly centred in South Kashmir was estimated to be to the tune of rupees sixteen thousand crores. One shudders even to think of the extent of such losses inflicted by Pan Islamist terrorists and over ground Pak proxies in Kashmir between years 1988 and 2016. The powers that be appear to have been paralysed unable even to comprehend the enormity of the disaster. Even public protests, mostly meek and subdued but at times vocal failed to disturb the beauty sleep of our rulers ensconced in their cosy heavily protected bungalows. The public response was only marginally better. The harsh reality is that despite seventy years of freedom we continue to nurse the slavish mindset and believe that public property belonged to some mythical Sarkar. To compound this tragedy the political class has done its best to perpetuate the myth and merrily substituted itself for the Sarkar of yester years.The enlightenment of the common man of the realities of democratic dispensation that placed him in his tattered clothes and half empty belly on the throne once occupied by feudal lords, despots and foreign potentates was obviously not in their interest. This has to change and change NOW.
“Whoever announces direct action in the form of strikes, demonstrations or other public forms of protests” provides the Ordinance “which result in damage to public as well as private property can be punished with imprisonment for a period of two to five years and can be imposed a fine equivalent to the market value of the property damaged or destroyed. It may be noted that the Ordinance does not interfere with the constitutionally guaranteed Fundamental Rights to peaceful protest.
Significantly, the ambit of law has been enlarged to include private property, damage to which is also made punishable. More importantly the fine for damage will be equivalent to the market value of the property damaged or destroyed. And obviously in the case of Private Property ,the compensation will be credited to the owners. Of the property destroyed or damaged.
Except for over ground Pakistan proxies, so called separatist leaders and Waahaabi goons, people of Kashmir in general, who understand the implication of the Ordinance have welcomed its promulgation. Doubts regarding the Political Will to enforce the law however widely persist and for good reasons. Stringent laws like Unlawful Activities ( Prevention of ) Act already exist on the statues without being invoked despite flagrant and large scale defiance of its provision. It should be hoped that the State Government will now act decisively in the interest of common man breaking the shackles of petty political
The Ordinance is undoubtedly intended to make accountable big names and side kicks of the shadowy terrorist and separatist world who operate via the remote control. A good move by any standard, more similar measures are, however necessary to effectively counter the multi-dimensional terrorist thrust. All such endeavours would come to naught unless all political parties unite to face the threat to the integrity of the country and unity of the nation. It was heartening to note that the BJP spokesperson appreciated this suggestion made by me during a Penal Discussion on a National TV channel. Obviously, the initiative in this regard will have to be taken by the ruling party and the opposition must respond positively. Pakistan has shown the way. After Peshawar Massacre all parties got together and drew up a National Action Plan to counter the menace from the terrorist whom their ISI had spawned. Pakistan was in fact riding its own tiger turned rough. They got on top but were finding no way to dismount. But that is another story and can wait for another day.
We may also take another leaf from the Pak anti-terrorist manual. Glorification of terrorists and their outfits in any forum and in the media is banned in Pakistani Punjab “A person” says the Ordinance “shall not, by words spoken or written, use any formal forum to support terrorism or terrorists, or attempt to create sympathy for any terrorist or terrorist organisation”It requires that “The organiser of a formal assembly shall electronically record audio and video of unedited speech or speeches made there, and submit a copy of such record to the officer in-charge of the police station (concerned).”
The ‘formal assembly’ is defined “as a political or religious gathering held with prior notice or a sermon at a place of worship. Formal forum means electronic or print media (television, radio, newspaper, periodical and journal), political or religious gathering with prior notice or a sermon at a place of worship.The term ‘organiser’ means a person or persons, who has or have organised the assembly or invited people to attend it and includes owner, manager or in-charge of the place where the assembly is held and the person who makes a speech there”.
The punishment for violation of the offences is imprisonment for up to six months and fine ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1,00,000.The offences are cognisable and non-bailable and will be summarily tried by a class-I Magistrate.Yes summarily triable.
It may be emphasised that to oppose action of Pakistan army, air or naval force, police or Rangers against any terrorist or terrorist organisation. Is also similarly punishable. I think it is time the Pak proxies and supporters are served the medicine distilled by their very own patrons in Lahore.

editorial article
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