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OPINION: Rights vs Duties from a Kashmiri youngster’s perspective

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OPINION: Rights vs Duties from a Kashmiri youngster's perspective
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“Every right is married to a duty; every freedom owes a corresponding responsibility”….

By Nadeem Mir
23 Oct 2020

On a bright sunny morning, Shabir wakes up to the early morning sunlight on his face. Half asleep, as Shabir looks towards the sparkling beam entering his room, his Ammi wakes him up to join his Abbu for the Fajr (Morning Prayer). After the prayers as they sit down for the morning tea,the top headline on the Kashmir Daily caught his attention which read ‘Kashmir – A Place without Rights’.

His Abbu noticed the puzzled expression while Shabir was still gazing at the headline; however, he was caught off guard when his Abbu interjected, ‘What do you understand by the concept of Rights?

“Every right is married to a duty; every freedom owes a corresponding responsibility”

Shabir during his college days had studied about the various rights enumerated under the Constitution of India and how important these rights were to the citizens of our country. However, these rights were allegedly never applicable to Kashmir till August 2019 and this whole concept of identifying the rights of people was never considered paramount to the people of Kashmir.

His Abbu continued, stating that today’s idea of rights in Kashmir has greatly transformed from the times we had first moved in here. Those were the days when people were just alien to this concept. However, we believed in the concept of acting in good faith and carrying on our activities in a moral way for the benefit of the society at large, which in today’s world you call Duties. The people of today’s generation often confuse the terms ‘Rights’ and ‘Duties’ with each other, which are prima facie interlinked to each other. However, these two concepts are inseparable, and it can be rightly said that for every right there is a corresponding duty.’

After hearing this,he remembered the debate he had participated during his graduation days on ‘Finding the Balance between Rights and Duties’. Recalling his understanding, headded that rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India are enforceable by law i.e. said to be legally recognised and are subject to reasonable restrictions in the interest of national security, public order, decency, morality etc. Duties, on the other hand, are not legally enforceable; but, in good faith,are expected to be followed to ensure a well-functioning society.However, the newspaper headline stating that Kashmir was regarded as a place without rights did not seemingly fit his understanding.’

Addressing this difference and considering his views on the same, hisAbbu added, that Kashmir and its people for last three decades were misled to an extent, wherein they forgot the understanding of rights and duties. While at one hand they were vocal and protesting for their rights and on the other hand they forgot what they had to do to protect those rights.

Shabir’s Abbu cited an example to drive home his point; while people wanted their right to education to be ensured and protected  they forgot their duties to protect/ prevent the burning of schools and colleges and preventing waste of academic time due to protests. Similarly, he added that while people wanted their right to 4G services restored, however they never thought of their duty to ensure that these services are not misused for disruptive purposes.

“Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having”

Stating another significant example his Abbu stated that we as Indians have a right to life, but the duty to protect and help our Armed forces deployed at the borders is not per se stated as a duty under law, but we as responsible citizens still go ahead to help them by supplying essentials that they require during the time of need out of patriotism for our country. He said, “For instance, look at the commitment of people of UT of Ladakh during the national crisis with China. The people of Ladakh stand united with the country’s Armed forces and have been helping them in all possible manner including providing unconditional logistics support. They seem eager to fight the adversary alongside Indian Army all by themselves”. “This is your Duty”, he concluded.Hence, the primary difference between rights and duties is that right is based on privilege granted to you whereas duty is based on responsibility.

Shabirs Abbu expressed his happiness that the people of Kashmir have slowly realised their mistake, that they let Pakistan mislead them into a very damaging narrative which has only harmed them for last many decades. Having realised their mistake, they are making all efforts to undo the past.He cited another shining example of harbinger of change – Mohammad Manzor; once a notorious instigator and stone pelter who would create havoc in the streets of Ganderbal. But when the education of his own children started to suffer because of meaningless protestshe realized his duty. Today he is a transformed man who is contributing positively towards the society through his social work and his NGO is supporting education of many poor children. Today he motivates youth to keep away from the disruptive activities and contribute positively towards Nation Building  

Hearing such diversified thoughts on striking the right balance between the concept of rights and duties from his Abbu made him realise that life is a balancing act. While we have all the rights to be in freedom, peace, harmony and bliss; we do have a responsibility to ensure that others too enjoy their own freedom, peace, harmony and bliss.

The Writer Nadeem Mir is a Kashmiri engineer working in Saudi Arabia.

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