Friday, March 15, 2013

scire, tacere

Tariq Ali has a post on Kashmir on the LRB blog; he links to a piece on the Caravan by Sanjay Kak. Dumbstruck.

IF THERE IS AN AXIS ALONG WHICH JUSTICE can be slowly approximated, then the apparatus of impunity seems designed to grievously wound those who try and make their way on it. Across the array of 214 cases in Alleged Perpetrators, you can read a consistent pattern in the cuts deployed by the machinery of the State: Delay. Distract. Divert. And if that doesn’t work: Subvert, Suborn, Seduce, and Bribe.

This usually begins with the ‘ex-gratia’ government relief, payable for “death or disability as a result of violence attributable to the breach of law and order or any other form of civic commotion”. That’s far too genteel a description for the instances in this report, many of which read like straightforward executions. But the ex-gratia is at least doled out quickly, a secular version of blood money, usually around Rs. 100,000, drawing distraught families into a relationship with the state, which they may be loathe to do otherwise. The more elusive promise comes from the enigmatically titled “SRO-43”, the Statutory Rules and Orders that govern “compassionate employment of family members of victims of militant related action or other specified reasons”. Here, the possibility of a government job is held out as a palliative, a means of tempering the anger of the victim’s families over a longer time span. You may never get that promised job, but waiting for it, and negotiating for it, will certainly put a knot in your tongue.

The futility of such compassion, and the deep cynicism underlying it, is of course obvious to everybody it touches, because the entire mechanism is otherwise constructed around incentives that encourage the killing of ‘militants’. Everything else we now recognise as the back teeth of the machine necessarily rolls along in the wake of that juggernaut of killing: extortion, fake encounters, reward money.

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