From Balonsari to Kashmir

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By: Hassan Zainagiree
Democratic governments apologize to the people and even pay compensation to the victims’ families for the crimes and brutalities they perpetrated during the time they colonized weak nations. Not that such a justure will give life back to the killed innocents, but atleast the acceptance of the guilt and the remorseful behaviour of the former colonial state demonstrates that humanity and human dignity have an edge on all other considerations. The pricks of conscience, in one time or the other, force an individual or a state to seek apology from the victim for their wrong-doing.
As the world have crawled to the “civilized” way of life, the nation’s right to script their destiny themselves has become a cardinal principle of the world community. The United Nations represnting nearly two-hundred independent nations, acknowledges this right and has witnessed, and in many cases has been instrumental to the democratic transittion. This is not to say that colonial and imperialistic structures have all been demolished and now the world have ushered into a global village of democracies. There are repressive regimes of colonial and imperialistic hangover, which have occupied people in different parts of the world. Nevertheless, in the changing atmospherics, it looks pretty difficult for the power-intoxicated to hold their grip on unwilling people. especially in a time of social networking and when democracies are seen washing sholder off their past colonial sins.
Recently Dutch government announced that it will pay the compensation and aplogize to the men killed by Dutch troops in a notorious 1947 masacre of villagers during Indonesia’s bitter struggle for independence. Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said the apology “does justice to the gravity of what happened in Rawagedeh”. The Dutch Ambassador to Indonesia offered the apology during the annual comemmoration of the massacre in the village, now called Balongsari, on December 9 last. It is in place to mention that during the colonial occupation of Indonesia, the Dutch troops laid a seige of the village on Java Island and rounded up 430 men. The hapless unarmed capitives were summarily executed.
Some few years back, the British government also tendered apology to India for the Jalianwalah Bagh genocide. Nearly four hundred protestors were gunned down by General Dyre and his troops in 1919 in Jalianwalah Bagh in Punjab.
Whether or not the public apology ‘does justice to the gravity’ of the tragedies inflicted by the power-arrogant, at leat realization of the wrong-doing does have, to some extent, a nerve-soothing effect for a grieved party. The essence of public aplogy is strutting not chin high up but droping of shoulders towards the victim. It is bidding farewell to the philosophy of ‘might is right’ and conceding the opposite, right is might. That the Dutch have woken up at the call of conscience after nealy six decades should provide India the mirror to look its “democratic ” face through it. What Dutch did in Indonesia or British in India, attrocious and condemnable undoubtledly, has had the colonial and imperialist stripes that time, counted not abhorable and despisable act by the powerful nations. But now when respect to human dignity and nation’s right to self-determination command universal acknowledgement through UNO’s charter, a country cannot claim to be a democratic and at the same time, enslave people.
The Dutch and British did not occupy the Indonesia and India after recanting from plebesite pledge. They invaded the countries and hoisted their imperialistic flags. They did according to the norms prevalent at that time. India, in contrary, subjected accession to people’s reference and accpeted Security Council Resolutions. Till date it refused to honor its commitment and resorted to imperialistic behaviour when Kashmiris demanded their rights. Kashmir has witnessed many a Balonsari and Jallainwallah Bagh blood-baths. But from Kunanposhpora to Shopian, from Hundwara to Gaukadal, Bijbehara to Sopore, the innumerable fake encounters, unnamed mass-graves and killing of 122 people in 2010, none from Indian government has tendered the public apology. What does that mindset convey? India is ‘shining’ or morphing into what erstwhile colonial powers are ashamed of now?

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