01While restoring peace is a primary requirement, our experience here in the conflict zone of Kashmir has been that the peace process by itself is not a durable solution. Emotional wounds inflicted upon soul and mind of victims can be healed by enlisting their maximum possible active participation for post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction. Women are the worst sufferers. So the involvement of women’s organisations at various levels is a necessary step. My own experience over the past few years has been that so long as the scars of conflict remain unattended i t- not possible to win hearts and minds of the affected population. Sustains initiative should also over the child-victims whose psychological trauma has long range implications for the society. Although the peace process greatly helps in restoring the routine of normal life, the reconstructed system suffers from lack of stability. The ill-treatment suffered by women in conflict impacts entire cycle of their family life. Restoration of confidence is possible only through sustained direct contact. It is time consuming and often enough frustrating. But generating a genuine sense of belonging helps in fulfilling recreate trust and confidence at all levels – individual and collective. This effort must be in sync with local social and cultural traditions. Human resource employed for this purpose needs to be selected with due care because essentially it is the human touch that starts the healing process.
Right kind of orientation is a key consideration.
02Again, recounting my experience in the field, it is futile to wait for ideal conditions to initiate healing and reconciliation process. They never real exist anywhere. However, restoration of peace and a working normalcy are something without which it is not possible to proceed and sustain the initiative. Creating a sense of security is important. To establish direct conmmunication with the affected population, notably women, requires active involvement of official, non-official, cultural/religious and professional channels. For instance, to tackle the widespread problem of forced disappearance in Kashmir, numbering hundreds if not thousands, we found that building a direct rapport with victim-families and earning their trust produces quicker and better results. Interaction has to be meaningful. Due care has to be taken to keep the effort fully transparent Credibility is important. Same is the case with rape victims. Direct contact promotes conducive atmosphere for two-way understanding. Restoring sense of dignity and justice requires security of environment which depends on a number or factors and covers multi-layer interaction Engagement has to be such that inspires hope and faith in the objectives of the initiative. This involves research on ground, dialogue with affected families and eventually a framework for joint activism.
03Forgiveness has so far been only talked or written about in Kashmir. The idea has not picked up so far. But local religious and cultural traditions have enough scope to promote the acceptability of the idea of forgiveness. Why it has not progressed so far is because of lack of sensitivity of the state apparatus. As of now, there is no sign of change in attitude and that is why the state and its system are perceived to be unrepentant perpetrators of excesses and atrocities. On the other side of this picture, an element of fear prevents expression of pain and anguish caused by non-state
actors--militants. That is why improvement in the overall security environment coupled with restoration of rule of law by the state is so important. It would not be realistic to expect that the idea o forgiveness would by itself gain acceptability without instilling a sense o security and, importantly, sense of its fairness and justice in the minds of victims. The failure of the state and its system to recognise the gravity of emotional trauma is a major obstacle. Traditions of culture and religion in Kashmir are rich in pluralism and co-existence. There is a long history of tolerance between different faiths and cultures. Coexistence has developed a set of mutually acceptable values and norms. The ongoing conflict has a sharp dimension involving religion identity, along with territorial, ethnic and cultural identities. In fact the roots of the conflict go back to early decades of 20th century. It arose out of a pauperised Muslim majority being ruled by affluent Hindu minority. With the advent of Pakistan in 1947 and emergence of Kashmir dispute the issues of ethnic, regional and sub-regional identities has compounded the conflict. Towards the last two decades of the 20th century emergence of gun culture, accompanied by mass migration of Kashmir Valley’s religious- minority population and cult of violence have distorted traditional pattern. of values. Correcting this distortion by will propel the idea of forgiveness which is compatible with local traditions. The Islamic concept of ‘Affu’(forgiveness in Arabic) is deeply embedded in the minds of the population. It is acknowledged to be a living concept in the context of Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) general amnesty to vanquished population of Mecca after his victory.
Forgiveness covered even those who had tortured and mercilessly murdered his close relatives and companions. That bloodless victory is deeply embedded in Islamic faith with ‘Affu’(forgiveness) as its symbol. ‘Affu’ is in sync with the composite cultural of Kashmir and its people. The only repelling force being the insensitivity of the state apparatus.
04In the context of conflict in Kashmir, forgiveness cannot be conceived as being without conditions. The reason being that the trauma has gone deep into the psyche and wounds are so fresh that it would be a super- human task to seek and offer forgiveness without at least apologising for causing such deep hurt. If the concept of forgiveness is intended to facilitate creating a framework of safeguards for the future then the condition of apology in return for forgiveness is very much desireable. The emotional trauma needs a healing touch which will be inadequate without due acknowledgement of remorse for causing it.
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