Terrorists entered the house of a woman and shot her dead in Kashmir’s Pulwama. She was the wife of a former militant who had also been shot dead, earlier. These are the acts of persons who punish not just deserters with death, but also their families. This is not just punishment, but also a warning for others who might leave the path of so called Jihad – that even after they die, their families, too, will pay a heavy price. This is obviously the grossest of human rights violations, but it goes unnoticed by those who condemn even the most minor infringements by India’s security forces. This provides terrorists not just impunity to act as they will, even as they cry hoarse about ‘Indian oppression’, it obviously tilts the perception in people’s minds, particularly of those living in distant lands, about the state of affairs in J&K.
Pakistan, which seeks to score points against India on international forums in the effort to gain support for its plan to obtain control over Kashmir, uses this flawed and disproportionate narrative in its favour. It is unfortunate that through their lack of discerning criticism of Indian policies in Kashmir, human rights activists become complicit in this game. Presently, despite Pakistan’s attempt to pitch its argument to Muslim nations as a matter concerning followers of the faith, it is getting little traction, except for the occasional expression of solidarity. However, the situation can change. There are also other countries that are likely to use the same arguments if they ever need to pressure India for other reasons. This leaves a chink in India’s armour that could be exploited at some critical moment.
It is surprising that not enough is being done by the establishment to counter this campaign. There are a large number of human rights organisations based in western countries that continue with their rants against the handling of terrorism in Kashmir and the Naxalite affected areas, but only express token condemnation of the actual terrorists. This situation should be corrected by setting up capable and better informed agencies that put things in the correct perspective, not only regarding what happens in the sub-continent, but also elsewhere. It is already happening – certain ‘independent’ news outfits such as Al Jazeera or Russia Today are establishing counter-narratives, but obviously not entirely India friendly ones. It is fully possible to establish organisations with an India-centric point of view that can set the record straight on the basis of well-researched facts and figures. Why no initiative has, as yet, been taken in this regard remains a mystery and a flaw in India’s overall strategy.