Intro: Holding a seminar on Kunan-Poshpora twenty four years after the incident took place raises questions on the intentions of Jamia Milia University—the organisers of the seminar.
Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi hosted a seminar, “Two Decades after Kunan Poshpora – State Violence, Legality and Justice,” on February, 24, 2014. The seminar was organised by the department of Political Science of the University.
It may be recalled that allegations of human rights violation and molestation of women were made on some personnel of the Indian Army twenty four years back on 23 February 1991. In his report, the then Divisional Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, had stated that the allegations could not be sustained but acknowledged the anger of women and recommended further investigation. Further investigation was held but no concrete evidence was found.
The Hurriyat Conference, has been exploiting the incident ever since in the most insensitive manner to malign the security forces. Earlier its trend was to hold a seminar in the Kashmir valley on the day when the atrocity was allegedly committed and get speaker after speaker to malign the security forces. This year the process has been taken a step ahead by organising a seminar in Jamia Milia Islamia University. What raises eyebrows is why has a University of the stature of Jamia Milia Islamia out of the blue raised a twenty four year old issue despite numerous fact finding missions having seriously doubted the veracity of the complaints? This is something that the Government of India, specifically the Ministry for Human Resource Development needs to investigate. The academic analysis of such exceptional events must be conducted in a totally unbiased and neutral manner. If neutrality is not possible then both sides of the story need to be told from the same platform. And this was missing in this debate.
The seminar in question was chaired by Gautan Navlakha, and the panelists included Warisha Farashat, a Delhi based lawyer; Sukumar Muralidharan, a journalist and Uzma Falak, writer and filmmaker. The problem with the panelists in this particular seminar is that none of them are actually academicians or intellectuals in the strict sense of the word, and are known to harbour biased views on the subject.
Take the case of, Gautam Navlakha, who presided over the proceedings. A supposed human rights activist and journalist he is the convener of some fringe establishment called the “International Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in J&K” and is said to be an active campaigner against so-called state repression in the Valley. A Facebook post “Gautam Navlakha is mentally sick…get well soon,” presents a veritable hate mail library against him written mostly by Kashmiri Pundits. Why a person with such controversial credentials was asked to chair an important seminar is beyond logical comprehension.
As was expected, the proceedings were biased; one the panelists rooted for right to self determination for the people of Kashmir; the second declared that all institutions in Kashmir are “Compromised”; the third declared grandly that Kashmiris shall not cease to struggle for their rights.
In the seminar, there was no deliberation, only castigation and pontification. The final test of any seminar is what recommendations it comes up with for policy formulation that would serve to explain human and societal behavior. A perusal of the news coverage that this particular seminar received pointed to neither of these.
And if indeed the State uses violence with such impunity as these pseudo-intellectuals claim that it does, then how come it allows for and funds the conduct of such seminars? It still remains a lingering question!
While the Government of India should do its job and initiate a thorough investigation into the motive behind the seminar the people should desist from falling into a trap. As the new state government is poised to take over the reins of governance this comes across as a time to exhibit maturity and statesmanship. This is the time for the political leadership to set aside personal vendetta and to join hands in isolating those who have inimical designs.
Jaibans Singh (The writer is theEditor of www.defenceinfo.com)