Kashmir is actually suffering from a systemic failure. The civil society (whatever that means in our unique setting) is partly responsible for this failure. We have an administrative system with a plethora of departments. Each department has a mandate. For example, we have Social Welfare Department, Drug and Food Control department, Police department and Ecology and Remote Sensing department and also the State Accountability Commission. The issues confronting our society certainly come under the purview of these departments. We have laws such as NDPS which empowers Police to check drug abuse and alcoholism. We have RPC 294 which empowers Police to check obscene practices including prostitution. We have laws regarding environment protection which should check deforestation and vandalization of eco-sensitive regions by the capitalist-politician nexus. We have a number of laws and institutions including the State Vigilance Organization which should be an effective deterrent against corruption and nepotism. Despite such a robust legal and administrative architecture, Kashmir is witnessing a rise in corruption, drug abuse, debauchery, VIP-backed nepotism and other serious issues. The civil society here functions in a vacuum. The NGOs (I am told more than 30000 are active in J&K) at best run made-for-TV campaigns and crank out statements. The civil society must admit failure in terms of awareness and integration of the society with the existing legal architecture. Has any NGO or any attention-seeking socialite group ever asked the right questions? They have not asked Social Welfare Department why it went dormant, paving way for a charity ma a; they never asked Police why it does not enjoy social sanctity; nobody has asked the E&RM department why the green zones of Zabarwan are up for grabs; SAC and SVO was never asked why the big sh often goes scot-free? The civil society here has been promoting quietism though it produces a lot of noise.
Such questions shouldn’t be raised at this time. How can you raise the question of failure of civil society when we are in the process of intellectual awakening of the masses? Our job is to expose the government’s anti-people policies and we are doing that with diligence. Take for example issues like Sainik colonies, Pandit colonies, settling of non-locals in Kashmir, industrial policy. It was the civil society which raised the alarm about these issues and their grave repercussions.
Also, you need to first understand what we mean by civil society. Civil society means the entire society and not a particular group or organisation. However, there needs to be a group of intellectuals, a creative minority, that will guide the masses and channelise their energy.
This is exactly what our group is doing. We are connecting with the grassroots to make them aware of
the colonial designs of the occupier. We have district level groups who further our message to the people. They hearken our message and mobilise people towards the betterment of the society.
Our work has made the government worrisome and has put them in a tight spot. In May, Kashmir Centre for Social and Developmental Studies (KCSDS) members were prevented from visiting Rajouri district. This implies that our endeavours of awakening the society members is troubling the present regime and they want to muzzle our voice by all means.
We are aware that there are other evils plaguing our society. Drug abuse, alcoholism, corruption, waywardness, environmental matters, help for the destitute and other similar issues need to be addressed simultaneously. But a single organisation can’t cover all these issues. We are happy that other organizations are doing it to some extent. As far as we are concerned, we see the occupation as the rst evil to be addressed. Occupation is cancer while as other evils are just coughs and cold. It is common sense that the cancer needs to be addressed first.