Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What do you expect from an army of occupation?

The recent “Breaking the Silence”/Facebook exposé of the callous abuse of hapless Palestinians by Israeli soldiers reminds me of the acrimonious and blasphemous label Arundhati Roy recently used to describe India after Independence: a “colonising power”. Her choice of the epithet was guided, no doubt, by the Indian State’s attitude toward and behaviour with the tribals at the time of building the dams and granting mining rights to business interests as well as by its armed occupation of Jammu & Kashmir. The well documented human rights’ abuses by the Indian Army behind the protective shield of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 are no doubt a result of their brutal role as an army of occupation just like the Israeli Army amidst the Palestinians. That is how guardians of disputed property tend to behave. If possession, as the well-known adage goes, is nine-tenth of the law, is it any wonder that the Indian Army personnel look upon the Kashmiris as their inferior – by no means their equal? To me, the Kashmiri cry for “azadi” sounds like a desperate plea for justice and fair play as also sheer survival: “Don’t kill our children and innocent bystanders at the slightest excuse. Leave us in peace.”