The Loss of Pain

This article was first published in Bloggers Park (Jan 2012, edition)

It is a weekend and to add icing on top it is new year’s eve (the last weekend of year 2011) and where am I; in Kashmir’s biggest hospital (SKIMS), among the dead and those waiting to be. You would say I don’t have a life, yep true my life doesn’t matter the last time I managed to run a check. I Am a Kashmiri and to make things worse a Muslim, not a good combination to have in this part of the world!

 

This particular hospital is very famous (or should I say infamous) among the Kashmiri’s, a local (kind of) legend has grown around this hospital according to which, “from here either you leave cured or you leave dead”. Some sections of the society blame this particular characteristic on the name itself {Sheri (Loin of) Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences}. Many a times the issue of name change has been raised and there was once Shakespeare saying, “What is in the name”. In this hospital almost every 6 hours there are couple of deaths in a ward.Here I saw people wailing over there dead and the whole atmosphere of ward, with almost 50 other patients, turning very gloomy and heavy and at the same time a small room in the corner is upbeat with smiles flying around and smiles turning into laughs occasionally due to some funny joke being shared. This upbeat room belongs to no other but the doctors! You might be thinking, how unsympathetic, rude and ill-mannered our doctors are. But the question that is rising in my mind is, “How and what made these people so immune to other peoples pain?”

 

This same question had risen in my mind couple of months ago when Amnesty International in its report had disclosed the discovery of the Mass Graves in Kashmir valley and the subsequent response shown by the international fraternity, politicians and the media at large. Even the general masses behaved as if nothing significant had been uncovered. Is it because the people have seen too much bloodshed and no amount of killings will move them now or is it because of the fact that these deaths didn’t affect them personally? While I was brooding over this, there came another possible reason, perhaps people were just too busy earning their livelihood and making ends meet. The later seemed to be more logical and human, as I couldn’t accept the first two causes which would simply mean that we no longer are humans! Accepted the fact that the masses are fighting for their livelihood and hardly have time for anything else, what happened to the institutions which the masses had entrusted for upholding the social and human morality. It seems that these institutions (elected representatives, NGO’S, Media etc) have themselves become morally corrupt and chose economics over morality. All chose not to speak about it, but when someone else (Mr. Steve Baker, British parliamentarian) tried to highlight the issue and bring it in notice of the world fraternity the Indian Parliament raised the issue of their authority of discussing India’s internal issue (even when India is the largest beneficiary of British foreign aid) rather than discussing the issue itself! And simultaneously with help of some jokers an attempt (I must say a successful one) was made to divert the attention in some different direction by raising some non issues like, Cinema’s, Liquor and skillfully transforming them into issues, they also raised some genuine only to help them in diversion like AFSPA . So what do we do when entrusted breach our trust; we introspect a little, take the reins in our hands and show them that we can’t be taken for a ride.

 

Whenever I hear the term Mass Grave in no instance the scenes from the movie “Behind the enemy lines” flash in front of my eyes. The movie got 1 award and 2 nominations because of good acting by Owen Wilson & co. and the importance of the issue which it brought among the masses. Now trying to bring forth magnanimity of the issue in Kashmir let me put forth some figures and facts. The Issue of Mass Graves in Kashmir is not a standalone issue but with it is entangled the issue of torture and enforced disappearance. When we talk about torture it is the most underreported phenomenon in Kashmir, it seems that both authorities and people have accepted it as a norm. If you go to any village almost every single person has been tortured be it physically or emotionally not just men but women, children and even old. I happened to read recently about the torture of a 60 year old man on www.projectcensored.org narrated by Parvaiz Khurram, Liaison of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IPTK), “I have documented very horrible cases, but this is the most horrible.” The army kept a 60-year-old man in solitary confinement for one month. During that time, he wasn’t given anything to eat, but his own flesh. They cut the flesh from his body and served it to him. This was all he was given to eat for a month. Recounting the torture Parvaiz said, “This was something that shook me. We have hundreds of Guantanamo Bays here. Why is nobody talking about it?” there are more gruesome stories like these; Kunan Poshpora: a village, where woman were mass raped by Indian army

http://www.thekashmirwalla.com/2011/03/kunan-poshpora-a-forgotten-tragedy/,

Sopore Massacre on 6th Jan 1993 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,977469,00.html

These are only a few and there are many more but the thing is who will report them to you!

 

In July 2011, the State Human Rights Commission of Jammu and Kashmir (SHRC) released a report documenting 2,156 (according to Amnesty the number is 2700) unidentified bodies in 38 graveyards People are fearing that the dead in the mass graves are those who were reported disappeared (enforced disappearance) and to add to their fears 574 bodies (out of 2700) have been already identified as disappeared locals – 17 of these have already been exhumed and shifted to family or village grave sites. So if we are to deduce that all the disappeared people found their way to mass graves then the numbers are going to increase many folds, almost 8000 people have been reported disappeared till now. Recently more mass graves have been identified and investigation regarding them has started. Here would like to mention that till 2004, 16500 bodies were recovered from mass graves in Bosnia (considered to be this centuries holocaust, even a movie “Behind enemy lines” was made regarding this issue). Now you can imagine the magnanimity of the issue and amount of human rights violations that is happening in Kashmir. Even now should we turn a blind eye and accept anything and everything in the name of national interest and security. Don’t you feel that it is our moral duty to raise our voice against the injustice and human rights violations?

 

It will not be wise to blame security forces only for all the rights violations (Mass Graves) out and out; no doubt they are responsible and should be held accountable but there are others equally responsible. If the media had showed a little bit of interest and investigated the story a bit they would have added a new dimension to the story. They didn’t do it that doesn’t mean we can’t do it, so let us try to retrace the footsteps leading to Mass graves. As the mass graves and enforced disappearance are linked so following one should reveal something about the other. If we try to figure when did people start disappearing (or when did the process of disappearances intensify, at the same time let me clarify the process is yet to cease) it overlaps with the birth of Ikhwan (the dreaded pro Govt. brigade). Now let’s try to answer another question who created Ikhwan and we reach the erstwhile people who are in power even now in the state. So it is not so surprising after all to figure why they created a comedy circus to divert and distract the attention from the burning issue of Mass Graves. They were trying to cover the footprints which led to their home.

 

Even after all this pondering was not able to figure what made the doctors immune to others pain. Finally gave up my so called intellectual quest and decided to ask a Doctor. So I went ahead and shot the question, “how & what makes you so immune to others suffering?” bemused , staring at me, doctor not knowing what to say say he could just utter “What!!!” so understanding that he never expected this question, I slowly broke it down to him exactly what and why I want to know. So doctor took some time and finally said that it is due the combination of a lot of things; during degree it is made sure that you don’t freak out seeing a dead body so you are given a lot of exposure wrt dead bodies and experiments, then when you join hospital as an intern you have long, hectic work hours and you tend to work on lot of seriously ill people all of whom don’t make it. It is sort of conditioning, which is very necessary to make you emotionally strong as it is very much needed in this profession. Hope we as a society are not being treated to same sort of conditioning by the media and other institutions to make us emotionally strong and with a promise that we are going to enjoy the loss of pain!

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Freedom At Stake …. Last Front!

Freedom…. a great word , a great feeling, a great expression; but now a dyas can be found only in Tales, movies and internet. Now the freadom on internet is also under attack, but almost all of us are unaware of it.Internet has become the only place where we can express ourselves freely and where from we can get the unbaised information, but seems that it is going well with the so called flag bearers of Freedom and Democracy. Here i am trying to warn you about this inevitable threat, am trying to let you know what is coming.(am reproducing an article by Chris Arsenault)

A new trade agreement being negotiated behind closed doors by officials from the United States, European Union and other countries could drastically reduce internet freedom, a group of more than 70 legal experts have warned.

The government of Barack Obama, the US president, could initiate the far reaching Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) at the beginning of next year, without a vote in congress, leading critics to call it anti-democratic in a letter released on Thursday.

“In serious negotiations like this, where standards are being imposed, there should be some debate,” Chris Sprigman, a law professor at the University of Virginia, told Al Jazeera.

“Instead the Obama administration has brought this to an international forum where there is no legitimacy.”

Normally, trade agreements dealing with intellectual property and other crucial issues are dealt with through established international forums such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or the United Nations.

These organisations, while frequently criticised, have established negotiating procedures and some degree of openness.

Secret talks

ACTA, however, is being negotiated by trade representatives in secret on a government to government basis, so critics say there is no accountability to the talks.

The agreement could force internet service providers to deny net access to people who repeatedly download content, lawyers have said.

The US and EU are promoting the agreement “at the bidding of content production industries” including Hollywood movie studios, record labels, software firms and drug companies, Sprigman said.

But the entertainment industry and other content producers say ACTA is crucial for protecting intellectual property, stopping digital piracy and stimulating new ideas and products.

“Increased broadband speeds and penetration make it easier to steal creative works through illegal revenue-generating sites around the world,” US television and movie actors wrote in a March 2010 letter to Barack Obama in support of ACTA.

“American workers are … the most immediate ‘victims’ of rampant copyright theft over the internet – a threat which erodes their ability to earn a living,” the actors wrote, applauding Obama for his remarks on “aggressive law enforcement” to “battle intellectual property theft”.

Sprigman believes that large institutions who systematically infringe on copyright should be prosecuted, but the diffuse nature of the internet means arresting or charging average computer users who share content is a sign the government is going too far.

Draft copy

After facing mounting pressure over its negotiating tactics and secrecy, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) first released a draft copy of the agreement in April 2010.

“The idea of the text is to get countries to ratchet up criminal penalties for copyright infringement,” Sprigman said.

If the agreement comes into effect, security forces in countries which sign on could be under more pressure to criminally charge individuals who download movies or music from the internet if they are infringing on copyrights, he said.

The USTR has not invited comments on the text from the public and the US government has blocked the release of updated versions of the draft agreement, lawyers say.

The most recent consolidated text of the proposed deal is on the USTR’s website and dated October 2, but lawyers say this text is the same as what was released in April.

Sprigman said he became an activist on this issue because the “Obama administration promised they would run an open government” but now they are “pushing this non-transparent back room deal”.

“They did it this way because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to do it in the open,” he said.

The agreement could come into effect at the beginning of next year.

Take care and start Downloading (music, ebooks, movies…) as much as you can, who knows what happens next year 😉