India’s fatal approach to Kashmir terror issue
In our country, some sections of the media thrive by criticising every move of the Government – no matter what the latter does. The latest case involves the sedition charges filed against some students of Jawaharlal Nehru University including its student union president Kanhaiya Kumar for some offensive sloganeering.
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code says that, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine”.
The section further explains that, “The expression ‘disaffection’, includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity” and clarifies that, “Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section”.
The so-called thinkers and self-labelled intellectuals do not always know about the situation is many parts of the country and, hence, pontificate that the IPC, drafted in the colonial period, needs to be changed to accommodate the liberal democratic ideas of the modern era.
Most of whose who rant against the nation are publicity seekers, whose words are blown out of proportion by the media, to increase its own TRP ratings. Otherwise, it makes little sense as to why persons who have made minimal contribution to the country, and do little else but talk, should be given so much media attention. For some sections of the media, it is blasphemy to quote any point of view that goes against their own ideological leanings.
Recently, a particular paper has quoted a judge who had delivered a verdict on sedition in 1995. According to the judge, the case against Mr Kumar “does not amount to sedition.” Now, there is nothing sacrosanct about one judgement on sedition and it must be viewed in the context of other judgements delivered.
In the landmark 1962 case of Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar, the Supreme Court said, “Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which makes sedition an offence is constitutionally valid. Though the section imposes restrictions on the fundamental freedom of speech and expression, the restrictions are in the interest of public order and are within the ambit of permissible legislative interference with the fundamental right. Keeping in mind the reasons for the introduction of Section 124A and the history of sedition, the section must be so construed as to limit its application to acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order; or incitement to violence.” Even former Chief Justice of India Justice HL Dattu said, “All judgements, or taking a view on any case, is judge-centric.”
If one is to go by news reports, the JNU meeting held to eulogise Afzal Guru, the mastermind of the Parliament attack, was nothing short of treason. Also, even though university officials had given permission for this meeting, the organisers were not clear in stating their actual purpose.
Moreover, it may be alright to theorise about Afzal Guru and others of his ilk, in the safe air-conditioned offices of Delhi or in the well-protected campus of JNU, but the Army and the paramilitary work under entirely different circumstances.
For example, successive Governments, irrespective of the party in power, have been trying to end terrorism in Kashmir, as had been previously done in Punjab, but haven’t been fully successful. Recently, there was a terror attack in Pampore, Kashmir.
And according to media reports, as soldiers fought terrorists, mosques in the vicinity hailed the mujahideens. Throughout the day, as fighting continued between soldiers and terrorists, the mosques in Frestabal, Drangbal, Kadlabal and Sempora played recordings eulogising terrorists, praising Pakistan and demanding azadi. A large group of youngsters also assembled close to the encounter site to physically prevent the security forces from launching combat operations.
One of the reasons for such radicalisation has been that Kashmir has been ethnically cleansed of minorities (with the Government of India as a mute spectator). As a result, terrorists and their local friends are now ruling the roost.
Also, many terrorists have been pampered in the hope that they will change their ways; many were even welcomed back into this country after having fought against India from across the border.
The Government in Jammu & Kashmir, in a misguided bid to bring the terrorists into the mainstream, has even been providing financial assistance to the family members of slain militants. The children, widows and parents of such militants receive aid from the rehabilitation council of the State’s Social Welfare Department. It nothing but yielding to them. The Government’s logic is that the children of militants shouldn’t suffer since they are not at fault.
The Government doesn’t realise that it is opening Pandora’s box – those who have deserted India and have sought to destroy the country deserve severe punishment. Moreover, the financial is tax-payer money and deserves to be better utilised.
As per the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, which have been “in-principle” accepted by the Government, Jammu & Kashmir will get the maximum grant, among the 11 revenue-deficit States, of about `60,000 crore, for the five-year period ending March 2020.
A Kashmiri reportedly gets eight times more money from the Union Government than citizens from other States. While per capita assistance to other States moved from `576.24 in 1992-1993 to `1,137 in 2000-2001, for J&K, that figure went from `3,197 to `8,092.
The Government of India is well aware of how terrorism was contained in Punjab and West Bengal. Still, it is applying double standards in Kashmir and spending Indian tax-payer money on appeasing terrorists, some of whom have high positions of power and influence in the State.