We all can have an opinion!

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 It is unfortunate that intolerance has reached its zenith and people are killing each other for a mere difference in opinions, faith or ideology!

By: Dr Adil Rasool Malik

Over the past several years, innocent killings have increased in the valley with indiscriminate firings being a routine occurrence on a massive scale, killing and injuring large number of civilian and the hopes of several others attached to them. It has become a norm and what is more tragic is that such incidents attract either little or no criticism and no questions are asked sanctioning some sort of impunity to those who are involved in such dastardly acts!

Termed as attacks by ‘unidentified gunmen’, these targeted killings are attempts by those want to disrupt peace and discourage people into submission for causing unrest not just in the day to day life of every civilian of the region, but also in the functioning of the region as a whole. Being at the receiving end of such oppression takes an unfathomable toll on the survivors’ life. Fear grips the mind, uncertainty looms in the heart and anger fills the soul. They are gripped with being out casted which impacts their livelihood, quality of life and mental health. The biggest brunt is most commonly felt by the women of the family and the children. Losing their brothers, fathers and husbands leaves a void in their financial as well as social standing and may end up traumatizing them and making them feel crippled.

Although according to the Government reports, the cases of civilian killing stand at a certain level, the tales of the valley tell a different story. The incidents cause uncertainty as nobody knows if they or their loves ones are ever going to be safe. Every day is a blessing and a challenge at the same time. The circumstances have worsened in these recent years with victims being dragged out of homes and being killed. Killing civilians isn’t justifiable by any clause or any standard whatsoever and is a blatant crime. These weapons have ripped apart the life of almost every citizen living in Jammu and Kashmir.

The oppressors are mostly identified as infringements of various terror groups. Being led as a flock by so called leaders, they seldom have any real knowledge or insight into the purpose of their actions. Being fed that the path to salvation is through bloodshed, they roam with the world as their prey waiting for opportune moments to make a move. The leaders on the other hand, with their fiery speeches, flare fires of hatred in moments bringing down the fragments of social peace down to ashes.

It is unfortunate that intolerance has reached its zenith and people are killing each other for a mere difference in opinions, faith or ideology. It is wrong to harm someone for their opinion, regardless of what their opinion maybe. It’s one thing to disagree, that is to be expected in any gathering of people and that is what makes each person unique. But to become violent and do harm or to kill for it is an extreme and no one can reconcile with that. We learn through communicating ideas and society as a whole, changes for the better with civil discourse. However if we start punishing people because of what they think, then that is a dangerous path and you will be no better than Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Mussolini, and others like them.

There are steps that can be taken to help protect our fellow citizen’s freedom to choose and have a specific ideology and ensure that the society respects the role that they are playing by choosing to stand by their own ideologies and opinions. As individuals, we can also support some of the excellent organisations that act to protect people’s rights and freedom of expression as well as continuing to voice our outrage over attacks on people for merely having an opinion which doesn’t comply with the people who rip apart these lives.

Securing the safety of people and their ability to work without threat is vital to ensuring freedom of expression and keeping societies free and open. It is in the interest of all if we do everything we can to make sure that the people can work without fear, and that those who murder, attack, imprison, intimidate and suppress cannot do so with impunity.

It’s time we as the citizen realize the power of our voice, the power vested within us to bring about change. We all should make a conscious effort to cleanse our mind and be mindful of the thing we process. The media is filled with people from various fragments igniting different fires. To thus be vigilant regarding what we process and lead ourselves to believe is a way forward towards winning the battle against these dangerous elements spreading lies with their dubious behaviour in the name of religion and revenge.

God thrives on humanity, to please him – do good to the people around you. Every man or woman has equal rights to live, to thrive and to grow – denying someone the right to live is not the way of living.

The writer besides being a Dentist works on various social issues especially related to youth. [email protected]  & twitter @drmalikadil

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