By Inamul Haq
I am not really sure where to start this letter, because I have so much to say. I think it’s always difficult for a child to express a lot of things to their mother, especially if it’s about the trauma s/he is going through. The trauma is not just mine and I know you feel it more than me. Mom, there is no communication between us because, as you know, the Indian dictatorship has scrapped the Article 370 and has bifurcated our state. But before that they came up with a story and issued a notice to their people to leave the valley. We have been listening to this story since 1947: there is a terrorist threat from Pakistan. However, they are successful in taking out their citizens. Do not be confused as to why I am using ‘their’ people. Obviously, when care and concern are given to one section and the other section is left to the mercy of God, then this difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’ (Hum aur Aap) is visible. The British also used such terms in the colonial era, when they framed rules and regulations in India. India has applied the same strategies and methods in Kashmir. There would be plenty of questions in your mind as to why we are being deprived of our basic rights. While India celebrates, Kashmiri people are put under siege in their own homes, along with indefinite curfew, communication gag, snapped internet, and blocked roads. Even patients are dying at home as restriction is imposed on the movement of Kashmiris.
Dear mom, I cannot explain everything to you but you must know why our rights do not matter. Detaining people or curfews and other deprivations are basically one of the tactics that are applied by a state with the help of their law enforcement agencies, especially against those who are against their policy. India is using these tactics not in the interest of the public, but to further the interest of the state. The heavy militarization in Kashmir with unlimited powers to the army is a form of state violence. The state violence can be destructive because it manifests itself in the bodies of individuals and causes physical pain and mental distress. The law is one of the tools that helps the state to regulate violence for the maintenance of social order, seeking to change human behaviour. It asserts authority on the lives of individuals and even asserts authority over authority itself. In this process, somebody loses liberty, property, family, and even life (Parray, 2006). The principles of modern state violence which operate through the principle of law and state power are known as ‘exceptions’ in which inhabitants are stripped of their basic rights like the right to liberty, and freedom of expression, subjecting them to the sovereign power of the state.
According to Agamben, the twentieth century produced a paradoxical phenomenon known as legal civil war which is enacted between the state and non-state actors. In this matter, the ‘state of exception’ remains undeclared allowing for its subjugation. In this suppression, not only political adversaries become victims, but the entire population that resists against the state being integrated into the political system. In modern democracies, the intentional creation of a permanent ‘state of exception’ has become a dominant measure. A ‘state of exception’ is a lawless void, in which the state authorities act in extreme situations with the force of law. The force of law makes law and life indistinguishable. Agamben is of the view that every action should be dealt with legal action, but unfortunately, that is not possible in the ‘state of exception’ because the functions of law depend on violence. The state uses its extra-legal violence against its own people in order to combat an emerging threat and there is no role of the judiciary in the state of Emergency/Exception.
Dear mom, in the next letter, I will write further about the exception and how the rule of law works in it. Thank you for being there always. In such a traumatic situation, I need you. I am thinking about you and father every moment. I cannot eat and sleep. I hope the blockade would end and I shall be able to contact you soon.
Your obedient son.
Inamul Haq, Research Candidate, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, India.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City and India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Writing in Academia”, edited by Anannya Dasgupta, Krea University and Madhura Lohokare, O. P. Jindal Global University, India.