How to Remove ‘Manifest Injustice’ in Jammu and Kashmir


Kashmir Magazine

Hamid Rather

Indian State has largely a ‘social-arrangement’ based existence from both political ideologue spectrum and people’s aspirations on ‘justice’ plane. The best efforts the government makes when confronted by any public issue or problem are setting up commissions/committees to study it and recommend an ‘actionable framework’. Unlike ‘contractarian’ approach, in ‘arrangements’ driven society, in most of the cases, these committee reports are not even discussed in legislature, the temple of people’s aspirations, and hardly made public for ‘social-realisations’. Hence the ‘mechanism of justice delivery’ has not been fair what John Rowels calls “Justice as fairness”. In the best case, the government exuberantly markets its efforts by setting a structural ‘social arrangement’ to remove injustices rather ‘manifest injustices’. Are these ‘structures’ in the form of ‘institutions’ based on the ‘transcendental theory’ enough in establishing a ‘just society’? What is a ‘just society’? Is Madina or New York or Paris a just society? Is there an absolute ‘just society’? What is the concept of juctice in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the light of the political ideologue and popular aspirations?

The conception of ‘justice’ has remained the contesting zone among various ‘political organisations’ in the state. Azaadi and various narratives of that expression do carry in itself a ‘mechanism of justice delivery’ giving freedom seekers a faith that ‘being sovereign’ is better than the existing ‘divided and occupied territory’. Separatists have, implicit orientation towards the theoretical Islamic interpretation of ‘justice’ and at times they do invoke the democratic principles of justice when they talk on ‘minimal humanistic morality’ at national and international forums while getting exposed to the rights and freedoms enjoyed by people and simultaneously realising the injustices Kashmiris face at the hands of the occupied forces. The forced, theoretical, lack of ‘practical Islam’ and the compulsions of democratic politics leaving religious morals and principles to the individual have made this largely unpopular for removing ‘manifest injustices’. Mainstream political parties have largely resorted to the vague ‘transcendental institutionalism’ for removing injustices and have largely remained stagnant to these structures without taking inspection of the ‘social-realisations’ brought about by institutional actions. Are there any takers of these two planes of the conception of justice in the state among the educated class in the state?

Since resignation Shah Faesal has been calling for ‘re-imaging politics’ but he restricts it only to ‘sending right people to the legislature’ by urging people to vote and excludes the broader concept of ‘re-imaging justice’. Why there is need for re-imagining politics in the state? Aren’t the existing politics in tune with the ‘idea of justice’? Faesal being a former bureaucrat has a sharp understanding of the ‘electoral politics’ in Kashmir which is largely characterized by ‘reluctance’ or ‘boycott’ of exercise of the franchise right. Faesal assumes that changing this behaviour of people will help in sending right representatives to the legislature which in turn will set all other ‘transcendental institutions’ in order. Is this assumption enough to ‘re-imagine politics’ rather ‘re-imagine justice’ in the fragile state? There are many other factors that play a decisive role in establishing a ‘comparative just society’ if not absolute ‘just society’. I am avoiding those factors as that is not the subject of this write-up.

Shah Faesal seems to believe in ‘engaged toleration’ and not ‘disengaged toleration’. It means that he has a faith in motivating people to exploit the significant political space by active participation with allegiance to any political ideology they believe in, which will eventually output as ‘engaged toleration’ than the existing ‘disengaged toleration’. The plurality of ‘reasoned arguments’ to justice will be the result of this ‘engaged toleration’ and not existing ‘disengaged toleration’. Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (JKPM) calls for ‘engaged toleration’ because ‘disengaged toleration’ that was exploited by the traditional oppressive dynastic political parties of the likes of National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have lead to a state characterized by ‘employed but uneducated and unemployed but educated’ due to the political patronage enjoyed by the political workers. Faesal has been vocal in narrating the painful tales of how his fellow citizens were harassed in government offices. To put it philosophically, the injustices due to the ‘behavioural transgression’ of the institutions has reduced human to worthless entity in the state. JKPM believes that the presence of ‘remediable injustices’ may well be connected with ‘behavioral transgression’ rather than with ‘institutional short-comings’ and removing them by inculcating ‘people-centric behaviours’. There are no doubt inherent structural lacunas in the ‘justice delivery mechanism’ which will require in-depth study of the social realisations.

The recent ban on civilian traffic movement on highway for two days a week under the merit that security of the security forces is threatened in the state is symbolic of ‘system arrogance’ and a failure of the ‘social-arrangement’ tenet of the transcendental institutionalism which drives the modern mainstream political philosophy. While removing ‘manifest justice’ to security forces for hassle-free convoy movement under the pretext of a ‘false notion’ of serving national interests, the institution of Home Ministry has shown ‘behavioural transgression’ by taking entire Kashmiri society hostage thereby doing injustices. Under this circumstance, moving to court or issuing tantrums on twitter or Facebook to clear ‘manifest injustice’ underlines the failure of the ‘social-arrangement’ approach to justice as the institution has primarily failed in delivering justice. The Rawelsian approach in terms of ‘justice as fairness’ yields a set of ‘principles of justice’ exclusively concerned with setting up ‘just institution’ (to constitute the basic structure of the society) while requiring that people’s behaviour complies entirely with the demands of proper functioning of these institutions. Justice is ultimately connected with the way people’s lives go, and not merely with the nature of the institutions surrounding them. JKPM believes that the combination of Amartya Sen’s ‘Realisation-focused Comparison’ with the ‘social-arrangement’ to clear the ‘manifest injustice’ is a right approach to remove ‘manifest injustices’. How institutions will do justice to a cancer patient who died in an ambulance stopped by CRPF on Wednesday under highway civilian traffic ban orders. The behaviour of the institution of Home Ministry has caused the death to a cancer patient, which is the ‘social-realisation’.

How can we convert the ‘Realisation-focused comparison’ into a useful quantitative tool to add as extensions to the ‘just institutions’ to clear injustices? This can be understood by taking the example of Kashmir region where people are always experiencing ‘manifest injustices’ whenever they are exposed to the freedoms and amenities enjoyed by people in the rest of the country or abroad. This comparative approach is central to the analytical discipline of ‘Social Choice Theory’ initiated by Marquis de Condorect and its two proponents of increasing ‘capabilities’ and ‘freedoms’ of people in improving the ‘social realisations’ have relevance in removing ‘manifest injustices’ in the state. Capability means the power to do something and that ability makes room for demands of duty called ‘deontological demands’ and the significant aspect of freedom is that it makes us accountable for what we do. To what extent institutions and political ideologues have encouraged and strengthened capabilities and freedoms of the people in Jammu and Kashmir? From both sides the growth of the people has been nullity. The institutions in the state have become the extensions of the political parties and latter are making the former dance under their political beast beats. The recruitment institutions in the state are treated as ‘personal agencies’ or ‘political footballs’ to get favourites and nepotees recruited. The social realization of such ‘political extension’ institutions has been deception, deceit, treachery, unhappiness, unfreedoms, incapabilities, fear, corruption, social disharmony and it is cumulatively referred as ‘manifest injustices’.

Some sections of the people in the country and the world have been supportive for the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue paving way for ‘political justice’ to the people of the state on the grounds of ‘minimal humanitarian morality’ (which governs our relations to people in the rest of the country or abroad). The regional political parties, no doubt have in the past come up with different solutions for political justice but to no avail leaving aside the ‘popular acceptance’ of such insider ‘system solutions’ within Indian Union. The expectations pegged on Shah Faesal for devising a roadmap for the political justice with ‘concrete clarity’ has bubbled out by reading the first objective of the vision document of JKPM that again injects confusion, chaos and darkness to the road to political justice. The political organisations having no vision or proper framework of tackling graver public issues or problems will end up in ‘circumstantial’ or ‘forced’ minor adjustments in the historic rhetorics, thereby taking people on a ride to prolonged ‘manifest injustices’. The parliament and state legislature in the past have proved insensitive and ineffective institutions in finding a ‘possible solution’ to provide ‘political justice’ to the people of the state when many alternatives were actually available.

The existing institutions in the state must incorporate in them the ‘social realisations’ that their actions have brought about. There is need of long-term strategies for radical changes in ‘institutional arrangements’ in taking us towards ‘transcendental justice’ and later assessing them in terms of the improvement that such reforms actually bring about, particularly through the elimination of what are seen as cases of manifest injustices. While looking at the rest of the country, the citizens of the state are aiming at ‘comparative justice’ and by that they are neither clamouring for some kind of ‘minimal humanitarism’ nor agitating for a ‘perfectly just’ society but merely for the elimination of some outrageously unjust arrangements to enhance justice.

(Ideas are largely based on Amartya Sen’s books.)
(Hamid Rather is an author and journalist.)