Animals and human beings have a common fundamental right: that is the right to be treated with respect as an individual with inherent value. This right is respected all over the world. Supreme Court of India has also realised the fact that animals can’t be treated otherwise.

The court through its various judgements has ordered to put an end to the suffering of animals.  It has been  laid down in various judgements including People for Ethical Treatment Vs Union of India , Shri.Ajay Madhusudan Marathe Vs New Sarvodaya CHS Ltd , Ozair Hussain Vs Union of India , State of U.P Vs Mustakeem and Ors ,  Gauri Maaulekhi Vs Union of India and Ors, Nair, N.R and Ors Vs Union of India, Animals Welfare Board of India vs A Nagaraja and Ors. Both the Indian Judicial system as well as Indian legislature are of the opinion that animal rights and human rights go hand in hand and there should be respect for all the species of the  world.

Not to forget about Shaktiman horse who was attacked by a BJP MLA. When the incident took place  it created a huge media uproar.  Indian news channels did not telecast any news but that of Shaktiman.  

But alas the case is different with Kashmiris.  Over the past several weeks, Kashmir  is burning and so far 51 lives  have been consumed. No one speaks for Kashmiris. Supreme Court and all other courts are altogether silent on the issue. Aren’t the lives of Kashmiris important? Are animals more important than Kashmiris? It seems quite funny that Indian civil society is very much concerned about the meat of animals but the lives of Kashmiris are not important for Indian civil society. More than two thousand are injured,  dozens have lost their eye-sight.  And there is no one to speak for us.

Indian Judiciary headed by a Chief Justice from our state has maintained a deafening silence on the issue.

When we compare animal life and the life of a Kashmiri, we in Kashmir clearly feel how biased is the judicial system and civil society of India. Is this the way to address the issue of alienation in Kashmir?

Indian mainstream instead of showing sympathy with Kashmiris passed the buck to Pakistan saying  the neighbouring country was instigating violence in Kashmir. Burhan Wani aftermath is an example of how Indian Judiciary and the mainstream media align in defence of what they believe is the “national interest”. 

If such incident takes place in any other state of India, human right and civil society groups would have  approached the state human rights commission but we can’t approach them also. Our state has a human rights commission without members,  without a chairperson.  Last time when SHRC gave a landmark judgement on unmarked graves, the copy of the judgement was literally thrown in the dustbin.  

The death of protestors has also been brushed aside, with the media focusing almost exclusively on the role of Pakistan and Hafiz Saeed. But even if the protests were instigated by Pakistan, so to say, did unarmed protestors have to be met with bullets? Can the killing of protestors be justified? If Kashmir is indeed an “integral part” of India, where in India are protestors shot at and killed in this manner? Does being integral mean to have two different approaches as per the state’s own convenience and prejudices.

If it weren’t for social media, news of innocent young men getting killed might have never made it to the outside world. The government of course was quick to impose a communication blackout, particularly on the use of the Internet. 

The fact of the matter is India has never treated Kashmiri people as their own and the anger among the people is the consequences of India’s approach towards Kashmiris.

It’s high time for the mainstream media to revisit basic journalistic principles and not allow misplaced nationalist sentiment to colour its approach to news.  And also the Supreme Court has to pass some landmark judgements as it has done in case of animals to stop human right abuses in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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