The verdict of the Supreme Court: Losses and gains?

“Law without Justice is a Wound without a Cure “

By Hashim Qureshi

In judicial parlance” justice delayed is justice denied.” Today, a divisional bench comprising three judges of the Supreme Court of India issued a verdict on a petition challenging the decision of the Government of India by which a blanket ban was imposed on the telecommunication network system in J&K. This order came after five months and five days of processing of the case.. The verdict said the imposition of a permanent ban on the internet is against the fundamental rights of the people and it infringes Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. It said that the government has not issued any notification regarding the suspension of internet and imposition of Article 144 and other restrictions. The Supreme Court has said that suspension of the internet for an indefinite period is tantamount to the abuse of power. This verdict of the apex court of the country is not significant only for J&K but for the entire country.

Though the order has not brought any immediate relief, to the people of Jammu and Kashmir because, the government has been given seven days for the review of the order. Nevertheless, the judgment has brought relief to the people of India in the sense that now henceforth no SP or SHO will not enforce restrictions on the right to speech or right to demonstration and right to the internet by taking recourse to the security compulsions. Before enforcing his orders he will have to think twice what he is going to do. The order of the Supreme Court must be communicated to the governments of all the states and departments for implementation. J&K must be compensated for the heavy losses inflicted on her owing to the suspension of these rights.

We the citizens of the state have shown enviable patience and perseverance until the day this order was issued by the apex court. The people adopted peaceful protest on the bifurcation of the State. This disarmed the security forces and communal forces who are eager to find one or the other pretext for using brute force against the people. During the disturbances of 2008, 2010 and 2016 we have witnessed the blood of innocent people shed under the popular rule or people blinded by platter gunshots. In the process, the world’s largest democracy has found the opportunity of imposing restrictions on the internet and other facilities for the longest imaginable period… Owing to the closure of Internet the estimated loss incurred by the traders and business class in the state has been computed at 18 thousand coror rupees which of course is unbearable for a state that has remained engulfed in a thirty-year-long period of violence and uncertainty.

We the Kashmiris were forced to go through incredible emotional trauma during five months and five days of internet shut down. We do not know how many people could receive the news in a time of the demise of their near and dear relatives because of the suspension of mobile and internet for five long months. Many people were deprived of timely treatment of their illness owing to suspension of the communication system. People could not procure life-saving drugs and other medication owing to the logjam of a communication system for a long period. Many premature deaths were caused owing to obstructions in providing medical assistance. Operational theatres in hospitals and dispensaries became defunct owing to the imposition of restrictions.

Medical authorities were unable to obtain spare parts for the surgical machinery and equipment and many patients had to travel out of the state for medical treatment although they were not financially capable of bearing the heavy expenses involved. They had to dispose off their property items and the worse was that hardly anybody was prepared to buy the property from the seller when he found him in such distress. It was not possible to look for loans somewhere because everybody was involved in a sickening situation in one way or the other. It is difficult to imagine the pitiable condition to which the daily wagers were reduced who need to fend for their families.

It is a sad story for each household. Cart sellers, construction labourers, carpenters, petty shop keepers, bus drivers and conductors, private labourers, salesmen, factory goers, media persons, technocrats and journalists, rickshaw pullers, taxi drivers and so many other professionals, all were out of work. The people of the state drew sustenance from the salary of five hundred thousand state employees.

The tourist industry is the backbone of the State’s economy. Hotels and House Boats were booked till 5 August 2019 till end October. Pilgrimage to Amaranth shrine was in progress. Some hustle and bustle was noticeable in the city after a gap of two years. Hundreds of thousands of workers, skilled and unskilled, not only from the state but from neighbouring states also were stay put in the valley managing their chores of life. Most of them were asked to leave the valley within a week our o some unknown fear. Amaranth pilgrimage was suspended and each street and each lane of the city was filled with the personnel of paramilitary forces. Security and police spread out their network- wide and all-embracing. According to one estimate, about four hundred thousand youth of the state were rendered jobless after August 5, 2019.

Hoteliers could not repay the loan instalments on time. Most of the accounts of this category were rendered NP. Some were forced to dispose off their properties on distress sale to repay monthly loan instalment to the banks. Their employees whose number runs into thousands were laid off. Shopkeepers dismissed their employees as they could not pay them.

This boosted unemployment. When the shopkeepers were not able to pay the loan instalment, the interest on principal amount went on swelling. People had lost the power of purchase and the question of shopkeepers running their daily business did not arise. Transport found its backbone broken. All sorts of vehicles stopped playing on the roads because owing to curfew and restrictions and also the strikes they could not move about. The owners of all categories of vehicles have invariably taken bank loans and it is through the loan that they can support the survival of their family members. But a borrower, who would support his family and also pay the loan by keeping his vehicle running, is ruined because he cannot fulfil. Either of the two obligations.

There is not much to speak about the factories and their owners because there is no industry in Kashmir worth the name whatever small industries had come up over time are faced with extinction. Skilled workers of thee factories are all rendered jobless Closure of the internet has exacerbated their desperation.

Kashmir has been famous for handicrafts and woodwork. Besides carpets, shawls, paper mashie articles many items of wood carving and chairs, sofas and furniture all were exported and served the economy of the State. Since the footprints of tourists are no more visible all these industries have faced destruction. The most disappointing damage has happened in the case of school- going children. All educational institutions from primary schools to universities have been shut down. The educational career of students has been ruined. Although the government did announce the opening of primary schools for kids the parents had great reservations in sending their kids to the school owing to the uncertainty that prevailed in the state. Onwards of 5 August, all educational institutions remain closed and now that the winter has set in, their closure will continue till the end of the vacation period. Till the end of February, they shall remain closed. The image of Kashmir the paradise as claimed by Modi and Amit Shah is not visible under the circumstances that have been stated above. Roads are dilapidated. Business is in shambles, thousands of youth languishing I jail, an atmosphere of fear engulfing the population, no freedom of speech, peaceful protests prohibited, all this is the ground situation and which paradise do the leadership talk about.

Owing to the imposition of restriction and curfew and suspension of internet it became almost impossible to export Kashmir fruit to different parts of the county. It shattered the financial stability of fruit growers. Thought the government did provide some facility of purchasing the fruit from some of the growers but that was only a minimal facility. The untimely and heavy snowfall also contributed to financial losses. The fruit industry must be provided succour to the extent that it can stand on its legs again.

This is the 21 century. The computer has shortened the distance of hundreds of years to minutes. It has turned the world into a global village. History, geography, sociology, science and technology, meaning all branches of learning can be reached in the twinkling of an eye. An email has dispensed with the age-old practice of writing letters. The Internet has made human being dependent. For researchers, the internet has come as a boon. Internet is affecting all walks of life. Bet it surgery in the hospitals, be it tourism and entertainment, be it a serious research project for all these services we are dependent on the internet. Suspension of the internet led to the closure of business and homework of thousands of self-employed people. 

Many among these self-employed youth had made progress in their business and had also created opportunities for others to work with them. My son Abrar Qureshi had opened a small business centre in Raj Bagh which employed five youth. He was planning to extend employment opportunities to forty people. But just within three months of initiating his business concerns, everything came to a dead end on August 5. Abrar had to vacate the premises, lose the advance paid for rent. The furniture, computer with accessories and printing machine all has to be auctioned and the employees had to go without their salary. 

Thousands of Kashmiri youth met with this depressing situation. Suspension of mobile and internet in the 21 century took us back to the tenth century.
After August 5, newspapers were suspended in Kashmir. A few papers published two-page issues which, however, could not be distributed. Today while some papers are published none of these carries its internet edition for the last five months. We cannot even have the facility of reading the newspapers published in any other part of the country. Forget about Face book, watts up and twitter. The question of reading international papers does not arise at all.

We do not know how many youths have been arrested for their bygone record and slapped with PSA. In all likelihood, they have been put behind the bars for participating in a peaceful demonstration. My cousin Brother participated in a peaceful demonstration in Soura locality. BBC or Aljazeera took a bite from him which was transmitted from BBC. The house was raided at night; he was dragged to the police station and tortured. He was charged under PSA initially for three months and renewed for another three months. He runs a shop and the authorities know it. It seems nobody as the capability of doing justice to the people. I contacted authorities who did nothing but just excusing themselves that the matter is not in their hands. In other words, they mean to say that J&K affairs are handled by only three people viz. Modi, Amit Shah and the Security Adviser. Of course, a writ has been filed in the Supreme Court but God alone knows when the judiciary will understand that justice delayed is justice denied. It is an irony that those who had introduced PSA and as a result so man families were destroyed have themselves become the victims of this law.

Let me cite another example of so-called justice. On June 25, 2008, the Nishat Police Station filed an FIR no 38 under Section 148/336/427/323 against me and 6 other persons. I had no knowledge of the FIR for a few days nor did the police staff at the police station ever tell me anything about it. No security was demanded from me. Under these clauses, one cannot go about freely without tendering security. Is it making a mockery of the law? Under these clauses, the maximum punishment is 5 years of imprisonment under IPC and 3 years imprisonment under RPC. For both, the time allowed for Chillan is 5 years and 3 years. But in our case, the Chillan was presented before the Magistrate after 11 years and 6 months. When we talked to the magistrate about the time bar, he answered that the matter would be taken up when the hearing will proceed.

The fact is that a few days before the Chillan Omar Abdullah had given a press report because some of our party workers had joined PDP and were working in favour of Ashraf Mir against Omar Abdullah. I had protested against it to Omar Abdullah through an email. In reply, he said he would enquire. But intoxicated with power him, instead of ordering an enquiry prompted someone to file an FIR against me.

However, he had no courage to Chillan me. Thus we find that the circumstances depend on bringing about a reformation in the judicial institution. Unless the practice of making the law a handmaid is stopped, people will not be meted out justice.                                  

The central government first arranged a planned visit of the right-wing members of the European Parliament. This was followed by the scheduled visit of some foreign diplomats. I, for one, could not make any sense out of the visits of the two delegations. Hurriyat and Pakistan both tried for no fewer than thirty years to internationalise Kashmir issue. But in the light of terrorist activities of Lashkar, jadish and Hizbul- Mujahedeen world community considered the happenings in Kashmir only as terrorist acts sponsored by Pakistan. They never supported Pakistan or its instrument called Hurriyat. No country considered the struggle of Kashmir’s anything other than joining Pakistan and not a freedom struggle. Generally speaking, on an international level, Kashmir dispute was considered a bilateral issue and both countries were encouraged to resolve it bilaterally. It never considered Hurriyat as the representative body of the people of Kashmir.

However, our non-violent protest for five months and five days was effective in drawing the attention of the international community. Maybe most of the countries of the world did not speak openly about our travail yet many international organisations and newspapers did give publicity to what happened with us after August 5. However, since we on both sides of the ceasefire line are not ideologically united, the support of the world community or the international media did not bring us any substantial benefit.

The people of the State demonstrated singular patience and fortitude after the event of 5 August. It amply proved that ordinary Kashmir’s are not supportive of terror and violence, as such all bullying antics shall have to be called off. Scars can be healed only by meting out justice to the people. An impression as bee spread that the central government wants to destroy the Muslim population educationally and economically and they are pushed o the abyss of poverty. The youth are alleged to be pushed to darkness instead of the light of knowledge. Therefore it becomes necessary harsh decisions are avoided and those put behind bars are freed.

Hurriyat and pro-Pak accession segments should make some introspection whether after causing untold suffering on 90 lakh population of Kashmir in the context of 5 August episode will it be sufficient to assuage their conscience to write some letters or make some speeches and then retire to their nests. Will they absolve themselves of the responsibility of causing such travail to the people by writing a few letters? It is of utmost importance that people distance themselves from slogan mongers and traders of dead bodies.

Our people and particularly our youth are passing through a very critical period. Only through sagacity and wisdom and patience, we can steer the ship through this storm. The experience of five months has taught us that we can reach the intentional community without resorting to violence.
The US has repeated its habit of unleashing terror. The Iranian commander has been killed in a missile strike. This action is contrary to the UN Charter and the International Law and is tantamount to unleashing terror. This dangerous step can lead to a devastating war in the Middle East. It could become the precursor of World War III. In such a situation the entire Middle East will come to the brink of destruction as the entire region is sitting on a volcano. I wish that the countries in the Middle East stopped spending enormous monies on wars and destruction and utilize the funds for the education, healthcare and all-round development of the Muslims of the region God has gifted them with natural resources which should be best if utilised for alleviating the poverty of the people to whom these resources belong. Look what tragedy this war in the Middle East brought to the people of Ukraine whose aeroplane was mistakenly shot down by Iran and it took the lives of 176 innocent passengers. Among the dead were 82 from Iran itself and 53 from Canada and other countries. The truth cannot be hidden for long in these times. Iran was quick to concede its fault while the US took two years to acknowledge her involvement in the downing of an aeroplane of Indonesia or Malaysia.
History has taught us that wars are the creation of human tragedies; these are also the enemies of progress of human being and their happiness. Imagine the pain of 176 families who lost their dear ones in this tragic event for no fault of theirs. We pray God to give peace to their souls.

Oh! Faraz, we the candles have to fight against the darkness 
We may die but we shall become the harbingers of the dawn”

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