Waiting for Justice by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (AUGUST 29, 2011)

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam on the discovery of mass graves in Kashmir valley.

The unearthing of over 2,156 unidentified bodies from mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir’s four districts is a confirmation of the worst fears regarding atrocities by security forces and local police.

All this somehow does not fit in with the image of a rising democracy in the 21st century. Rather, this brings us at par with Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo at their worst and most degrading moment.

Thanks to the media’s mad rush after Anna Hazare jamboree at Ramlila Ground, this piece of news, which would have got a massive display in newspapers and prime time on TV, got virtually no space anywhere, except in one newspaper that broke the news.

This is time for all of us to see where our priorities lie in terms of what we regard as news. Does the life of 2,156 people matter? Is it more worthy news material than Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdev’s fast? Or, is it inconsequential, as the media seem to believe?

People do not disappear in democracies. They do so only in autocracies and dictatorships. How do we explain all this and still insist on claiming to be democratic. These 2,156 people could be among the unfortunate 8,000 who had gone missing over the years.

Now that the first mass graves have come to light, it is likely that more will follow, accounting for the rest who were made to disappear. DNA tests of the remains of the murdered individuals and matching them with those of their possible relatives will take a long time.

Compensations to the next of the kin will, hopefully, follow. That will also be the beginning of closure, a sorely needed process. Hoping for promptness from the state machinery will be unrealistic, but the process of further searches and identification of mass graves must continue.

Finally, justice must be done to the victims. If the past record is any indicator, only 2.5. percent of those extrajudicially killed by police and security forces had any links with extremism.


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