Kashmiri lawyers as protectors of civil liberties – Kashmir Reader
Recently released Jai Bhim by TJ Gnanavel is a rare film in Indian cinema. Instead of the usual over-dramatized fantasies, this film highlights an important issue facing marginalized groups across India. Film starring Suriya as lawyer Chandru first highlights atrocities committed against tribal communities by police, then shows how difficult it is to uphold human and constitutional rights in this country .
As the Indian Law Ministry organized events themed on Azadi Ka Amrut Mohatsav on India’s 75 Years of Independence, the film shed light on the grim reality of our societies where human rights and justice are a distant dream for marginalized communities.
However, the film kept hope alive by showing the character of lawyer Chandru (based on a real lawyer from Madras) and the proactive role of justice. The film shows how these two branches of the justice system support basic human rights. These acts of bravery, over the years, have firmly kept faith in the justice system in the minds of ordinary people in the country.
When I look at the Kashmiri lawyers, I see them all as Chandrus who have been fighting for the basic rights of the people, mainly on a voluntary basis, for three decades and without any recognition. Since the outbreak of the insurgency in J&K, lawyers have resorted to litigation to resolve the difficulties faced by ordinary people. Kashmiri lawyers have and offer legal recourse to hundreds and thousands of detainees mostly held under the Public Security Act (PSA) and Prevention of Illegal Activities Act (UAPA). Lawyers don’t just plead the cases of these detainees, but fight the cases until the end is assured. They work day in and day out until they see their clients get out of jail.
I saw first-hand the work of Kashmiri lawyers while practicing in the Srinagar court through a Dalgate based law firm. Every day, lawyers enter civil liberties cases in different jurisdictions, sometimes waiting for hours for their case to be listed. Some lawyer friends tell me that the grief they see on the faces of the detainees’ relatives is one of the reasons they take the case on without expecting pecuniary benefits in return.
Taking care of a file is not easy; lawyers burn midnight oil to prepare each brief to be presented to the court. Over the past decades lawyers in Kashmir have been subjected to murders, attempted murders, assaults, (death) threats, harassment, intimidation and torture in detention simply for performing their duties. professional lawyers. But nothing stops them, and nothing will. They continue to exercise their professional responsibilities with the utmost sincerity and honesty.
Lawyers undoubtedly stand out, pursuing a sacred mission that must be replicated by young law students like me.
Jai Bhim should be watched by all who otherwise ignore the role lawyers play in society. The film at the end teaches an important lesson that sooner or later justice will prevail over all forms of tyranny and injustice.
—The writer is a Chevening Scholar currently based in London