Though the scenes witnessed during the past few days in Occupied Valley are a routine affair that the Kashmiris have to bear, the horror they relay make a case for impartial plebiscite. The state army arrested around 200 men, baton charged the demonstrators who came out on the streets to protest the arrests, and then put Yaseen Malik under house arrest. Others including Hurriyet leader Ali Shah Geelani are already locked up in their homes.

Such state repression reflects an average day in the life of a Kashmiri, who has to face the possibility of arbitrary arrest, torture, frequent cordon searches and extra-judicial killings. Youngsters resorting to as innocuous an activity as stone-pelting are seen as freedom fighters to be thrown in jail; the unlucky ones end up in mass graves as the recent discovery of 3,000 mass graves in the northern part of the Valley proves. The Indian police and the army empowered with special laws can storm houses, rough up the residents, and go back with impunity. Terrorism has in fact taken on an entirely different meaning there; what the UNSC resolutions categorically say is the right of self-determination, New Delhi propagates that it is terrorism despite the fact it was Jawaharlal Nehru who took the case to the UNSC that led to the grant of such a right.

The pity is that today there are not many Indians who can echo that promise. Those like Aurandhati Roy who dare run the risk charges of sedition. That is India, often bragging to be the champion of the free world. What a dark, gloomy and claustrophobic life it has forced upon the hapless Kashmiris.