|Almost an aerial view of Palandri city|
Day 5 of 'Ride for Justice' from Sehnsa to Muzaffarabad:
After two mornings of laxity, I am up before Fajr (dawn prayers) at 4:30am. A clear advantage of staying in the maddrassah.
What most people (liberals) fail to acknowledge is the virtue of performing the compulsory rituals that Islam has prescribed, tending to 'throw out the baby with the bathwater'. One of the distinct benefits of the maddrassah system or venturing out with 'the tablighi jamaat' is the strict adherence to compulsory rituals, without which understanding the essence of Islam becomes difficult. Everybody and everyone should be judged on their merit in a balanced manner and I suppose tolerance and context are absolutely essential.
Meanwhile, the student (effectively my host) is swift in ensuring that I make my exit and resume my journey, almost cutting short my recitation of the Quran which I've been trying to incorporate as a daily morning ritual.
Realising that I need to make sure that I've had maximum exposure to the people of Palandri, I decide to venture out to the district courts. If you're keen to gauge the standard of justice in a society, it's more than apt to visit the centre of responsibility viz. the courts.
At 7am it's a bit early and despite the court's gate being open, I trigger a security alert when a court official notices me sitting in the coffee room trying to power up my laptop. A few moments later, a couple of undercover policemen approach me and ask me in a haughty manner for my ID card. I respond by commanding them to lower their tone and adopt a civilised approach, explaining that I'm not responsible for their lax security and that they must locate the culprit(s) from amongst their own fraternity.
If it hadn't dawned on me yet, an abundance of examples of injustice lay in the stories of appellants and defendents alike. Most cases were associated with land disputes where the administrative department for land (mahakma-e-maal) was ascribed with notoriety for selling the same piece of land to more than one willing buyer.
The case that struck me the most and is still haunting me is the rape of a girl, not yet 4 years old and her gruesome murder and concealment by the alleged culprit's mother. Furthermore, the police in their standard approach, sought benefit from the accused by confiscating their livestock, selling it and pocketing the proceeds.
The Kashmiri people's perceptions on justice are so nuanced that hardly anybody considers that the victim's family will obtain justice. I decide to delve more into the story and meet the victim's uncle. After hearing all the gruesome details over a bottle of cold orange juice that he buys for the both of us, I feel sick and embarrased. This is a point where I regret not bringing any money with me.
I've made a pledge to do whatever is necessary to highlight this issue and obtain justice for this poor family.
Quote from one of my other blogs:
"Oh global civil society and in particular, those of you (abroad) who originate from Kashmir, it is time that you took interest and responsibility in ensuring that justice prevails in this beautiful land, that ugly crimes against humanity are vanquished once and for all."