When Human Right’s Activists Lose Their Voice – OpEd


The good thing about India is that it has an abundance of activists who appear to be an extremely committed lot. But the bad thing is that many of these self-anointed champions of human rights often lose their voice when it comes to condemning violence; and this inexplicable phenomenon is more pronounced when it concerns incidents of violence perpetuated by terrorist groups against innocent civilians as recent events have once again proved.

Even though restrictions on movement and communications were imposed in J&K after abrogation of Article 370 as a precautionary measure for maintaining law and order, our indefatigable activists were up in arms against the government decision and they had a point because these restrictions did impinge upon the rights of people guaranteed to them by the Constitution.

Just three weeks after Article 370 was abrogated, the government’s decision to impose restrictions as a pre-emptive measure to prevent violence was vindicated when a violent mob pelted stones at a truck in Bijbehara town of South Kashmir killing its driver Noor Mohammad Dar on the spot. His only fault was that in order to earn money for feeding his family, Dar drove a truck, thereby violating the parallel restrictions on movement imposed by separatists. But the human right activists who were angrily clamouring against restrictions imposed in J&K, suddenly appeared to have lost their voice (or nerve) because none of them dared to condemn the restrictions imposed by separatists and ruthlessly enforced by stone pelting mobs!
Leave alone condemnation, not a word of condolence was forthcoming from the so-called crusaders for human rights on a human being stoned to death!

On August 30, a 65-year-old shopkeeper named Ghulam Mohammad Mir was shot dead by terrorists in Parimpora areas in the outskirts of Srinagar. Just like Dar, Mir too paid with his life for the mistake of disobeying the shutdown call of separatists and opening his shop. But once again, while our celebrated human rights activists continued to castigate the government for its curbs, yet not one of them even uttered a single word of condemnation or offer any condolence on the cold-blooded murder of a sexagenarian who was only trying to make an honest living. The blow hot blow cold attitude displayed by Human Rights groups and activists is evident from the massive hue and cry they are raising over government restrictions and their complete silence on similar restraints being enforced ruthlessly by the pro-Pakistan lobby comprising separatists, terrorists and vigilante mobs, but in India this has always been the case.

We’ve always venerated our human rights activists as a result of which, their avowed commitment towards ensuring human rights for all is never questioned. But there comes a time when someone has to stand up and ask these ‘holy cows’ to come out clear on their perceptible duplicity on human right issues and the reasons for their silence when an innocent Kashmiri is killed by an irate mob while another is shot dead by terrorists.

But most of all, they need to explain their stoic silence on another horrific incident that occurred on September 7 in the Dangerpora area of Sopore district in Kashmir. On this day, terrorists barged into the house of Haji Hamidullah Rather, an apple grower and following their typical way of warning ‘transgressors’, shot him, his son and another apple grower in the leg for having “disobeyed” their orders not to carry out apple trade. What’s even more heart wrenching is that though the terrorists didn’t even spare Rather’s three-year-old grand-daughter and shot her in the leg as well, it didn’t evoke any condemnation from human rights activists!

Or are human rights activists convinced that shooting a poor three-year-old girl shot in the leg and maiming her for life justified by the greater interest and noble cause of ‘azadi’ (freedom)?

While this medieval practice of terrorising the public by maiming those whom terrorists consider to be ‘wrongdoers’ would have traumatised even the most barbaric mind, but it seems that this horrific incident didn’t stir the conscience or move the heart of our elite human rights activists since they have remained absolutely silent on this issue. The irony here is that even though we boast of a proactive civil society and a discerning public, no one has ever sought an explanation from these activists for being so insensitive to human suffering at the hands of terrorists!

Resultantly, since it’s considered uncouth to doubt the commitment of those who have voluntarily taken the onerous responsibility of ensuring human rights for all upon their shoulders and questioning the motivation behind their selective silence on terrorist perpetuated human rights violations amounts to sacrilege, these defenders of human rights are the lucky ones who can have the cake as well as eat it too!

Tailpiece– More than 50 innocent civilians (including women and children) have been injured in grenade attacks by terrorists in Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370 but no human rights organisation or activist has condemned the same even though this has now become a trend in Kashmir. Silence of human rights groups and activists on grenade attacks by terrorists in busy places teeming with people is inexplicable. The only logical reason which comes to mind is that this may be intentional because by condemning terrorist perpetuated violence against civilians, human right activists will only end up sabotaging their own anti-Article 370 abrogation campaign!

There’s certainly much more to this strange behaviour of our human rights activists than what meets the eye

Nilesh Kunwar

Nilesh Kunwar is a retired Indian Army Officer who has served in Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. He is a ‘Kashmir-Watcher,’ and now after retirement is pursuing his favorite hobby of writing for newspapers, journals and think tanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *