Kashmir Issue: Human Rights of people of border areas
Human Rights as a concept have got rather distorted in the wake of the global war on terrorism. To the victims of terror, those who are killed, human rights have no use or relevance. Those who survive the terror and the survivors of the families of the killed wait for justice and grant of human rights interminably. Over the years, terrorists have built up lobbies the world over who take up their so-called violation of human rights. The victims are generally left in the lurch with only their kith and kin trying to take up their cause against heavy odds. The state which is fighting terror through its police and army finds itself increasingly vulnerable to forces, both political and civil rights, fighting in a flagrantly partial fashion for the human rights of terrorists to the exclusion of their victims.
The current escalation of violence in the Kashmir valley can be traced to the perverted mindset of espousing a terrorist cause. A wanted and dreaded terrorist Hizbul commander Burhan Wani , though young and misguided, is killed by the security forces and the whole valley erupts in violence, abetted from inimical forces across the border. The resultant loss of innocent lives is highly regrettable. It was avoidable if the separatist leaders had played a constructive role and tried to cool down tempers. They did not do that. Instead, they humiliated the all-party delegation that came to meet them for talks, a joint initiative of the Centre and the state government headed by Mehbooba Mufti.
Meanwhile, in the context of human rights question, one must not forget the violation such rights of the people living in border areas. Only yesterday we received reports that Pakistani violated border ceasefire for the second time in less than a week by resorting to small arms firing and mortar shelling on forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistan Army also shelled posts with mortars and opened fire with small arms and automatic weapons in the Poonch sector. On September 2, Pakistan troops violated ceasefire by firing on forward Army posts along LoC in Akhnoor sector in Jammu district.
Last year, 16 civilians were killed and 71 injured in 405 incidents of cross-border firing by Pakistan.
Around 8,000 people were temporarily affected due to the ceasefire violations and had to be shifted to safer locations. It is heartening to note that a two-day conference in Delhi has just discussed the issue of the welfare of the people in border areas.
At the FICCI-organised conference, N N Vohra, Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, called for a national security policy that gives focused attention to the welfare of the border communities and dictates the constitution of specially trained forces to guard India’s vast land and maritime borders.
Speaking at the inaugural session of ‘Homeland Security-2016: Smart Borders Management’, Vohra said that it was incorrect to believe that the Central government alone was responsible for the effective and efficient border security. Maintenance of security of the hinterland was extremely important and because of threats such as infiltration, proxy wars, and insurgency, it was crucial to see that welfare and needs of the people living along the borders were attended to. This approach, said Vohra, would go a long way in providing strong support to the Border Security Force and the Army by way of information on border incursion and logistics support.
A significant view emerged from the meet was the need for the country to step up its surveillance by using innovative technologies, develop good infrastructure on the borders to beef up the nation’s capability, enhance socio-economic levels of the population living in the border areas and integrate the Army with the local forces and regulatory mechanisms.
In his closing address, G K Pillai, former Union Home Secretary, said that India was a growing economic power and was building trade linkages. With the opening up of borders for trade and economic activities, it had become vital to creating a smart border management system. Quoting instances of Myanmar and Bangladesh, he added that India shares its land border with these countries but the people living around these regions did not respect the boundaries and it was an issue that needed to be addressed.
Another significant reason that why people in the border areas need to be given protection and granted human rights is because it is these people who are the first to inform authorities about any alien incursion for quick and appropriate action. The nation can ignore them only at its peril.