Relationships ranging from familial ties to romantic partnerships, friendships, and professional networks are the building blocks of society and vital for human well-being. But, in today's fast-paced world, where we are caught up in the mad rat race, relationships often take a backseat. Moreover, if we are to be honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge that humanity as a whole has failed. Crimes, murders, drug and sexual abuse, etc. are just some manifestations of our failure which stem from problems within our social, economic, and political systems. Also, we have failed to live up to our moral and ethical standards, becoming more individualistic and detached from society as a whole.
The father-daughter and mother-son relationships are precious and unique bonds. Father is every daughter’s first love, hero, role model, shield, provider and the epitome of unconditional love and selflessness. Who could imagine a father becoming a monster and devouring his own flesh and blood, his daughter? A father’s embrace is considered to be the safest place, the home for a girl. When fathers turn into devils, where will girls find their home? A son is the apple of his mother's eye. Every mother sees her son as a source of joy, pride and a potential source of support and comfort especially as they age. No mother on earth can fathom the thought of her son killing her just for satiating his drug thirst.
It is with a heavy heart that we need to embrace the truth that the valley of Kashmir which is highly romanticized for its beguiling beauty has a dark side to it as well. This place has been marred by the scourge of social ills and crimes for a long now. In recent years, however, the situation has become even direr, with the populace taken aback because of an unprecedented upsurge in numerous crimes including burglaries, drug trafficking, prostitution, and killings of a monstrous kind. These social evils not only endanger the safety and security of citizens but also grind down the social fabric, and have a profound impact on the lives of every segment of our society.
The recent horrific news of a carpenter chopping the body of a young girl, the murders of a mother by her drug addict son, a daughter by her father, a son by his father who hurt his wife and daughter too, and a two-year-old girl by her stepmother send chills down the spine.The list does not end here. Other incidents include a boy attacking and hurting two fellow students with a knife; a 12-year-old boy being allegedly stabbed by another after an altercation between the two; a lady stabbing her fiancé, to mention a few. These actions are not just ghastly but also prompt inquiries into the underlying causes that could drive an individual to perpetrate such heinous crimes.These gut-wrenching incidents make one ponder how a man could metamorphose into such a demon and carry out such vicious acts. These events are indicative of the evil that permeates the human soul and the dehumanization that occurs when we exhibit no compassion, tolerance, or conscience towards our fellow humans serving as a stark reminder that our humanity is frail and susceptible to such monstrous behaviour. Are the perpetrators of such crimes deserving of the name "human"? Certainly not, because the human in them is already dead by the time the devil takes over. Whatever the reasons, these acts go against the very notion of humanity.
These instances serve as a wake-up call for us as a society to identify the root causes of such inhuman behaviour and take proactive measures to avert future catastrophes. From the slipshod attitude of families to institutional failures, we have several reasons that become a catalyst for such delinquencies.Unemployment, breakdown of the family system and traditional social structures, lack of parental attention, supervision and guidance,broken families, state of denial and bigotry, distancing from religion, lack of moral education, poverty, depression, materialism, corruption, community apathy, etc. are the factors particularly responsible for pushing our people, especially the youth to engage in criminal activities.It is critical to recognize that these social evils are not unique to our valley. However, in the context of Kashmir, where people have witnessed trauma and violence in the past , these societal vices are especially damaging and necessitate a multi-pronged approach to minimize the prevalence of these social maladies plaguing Kashmir and ensure the safety and well-being of the population.
Education begins at home. Mahatma Gandhi's quote,“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent”, emphasizes the significance of home as the primary place for learning life's lessons and the ultimate purpose of existence and also the key role of parents in rearing and instilling moral values and principles in their children, which serve as the cornerstone of their upbringing. At the family level, parental involvement in the nurturing of children and strengthening family ties are essential to reducing social problems and wrongdoing in any society. By providing moral education, modelling positive behaviours and attitudes such as honesty, respect, empathy, kindness, tolerance, etc. and setting clear boundaries for children, like rules for screen time, games and other activities, parents and other family members can help develop a strong moral foundation and prevent negative behaviours in their children. Above all, in the current times, when parents are often working, prioritizing quality time and staying connected with children as well as monitoring technology use/ online interactions and activities are crucial.
At the individual level, we especially the young generation can contribute to lessening the societal malaise. In modern times, we are all beset with varied and challenging problems, from personal issues to domestic, social, economic and political problems and even technological ones.While these problems can be daunting, it is important to maintain a positive attitude amid such difficult situations, remain hopeful and take steps towards finding answers after thoroughly comprehending the cause of the matter. Avoiding bad company and getting involved in positive social activities such as sports, hobbies, and volunteering can assist in avoiding negative influences and building healthy relationships with others.Developing a closer relationship with religion and engaging in religious practices can aid individuals to develop moral ideals that deter social issues. Responsible use of technology and social media,practising self-care and investing time in productive activities like reading activities, learning new skills, social services, etc. can help individuals stay away from social evils.
At the societal level, one of the most effective strategies to reduce crime is to help people overcome the sense of despair and frustration by providing them with better/greater economic opportunities in different sectorsand vocational training. Addressing the issue of substance abuse, a major contributor to Kashmir’s rising crime rate requires authorities to curb the supply of drugs by cracking down on drug traffickers, providing support, rehabilitation centres and better addiction treatment facilities for the victims of both genders, as well as increasing awareness campaigns about the dangers of drug abuse.Besides, our education system needs to be reformed to address the psychological needs of the youth, and proper medical care, counselling services and legal support should be provided to drug addicts and victims of violence of all kinds to help them overcome their trauma and rebuild their lives. Providing moral and religious education to the youth can go a long way in alleviating this menace. Moreover, it is imperative to strengthen law enforcement measures to crack down on drug trafficking and prostitution rackets and for authorities to take swift action against perpetrators of such horrendous crimes and ensure that justice is served to the victims and their families. Additionally, community policing can aid in combating the increasing crime rate by encouraging people to report crimes without any fear of stigmatization or discrimination.
‘Today if it's my home, tomorrow it can be yours’ serves as a powerful reminder that social evils can affect anyone, irrespective of their background, circumstances or social/financial status. Denial and prejudice only serve to exacerbate these social problems and obstruct development. Instead, we must acknowledge the reality of these issues and work towards finding solutions. It is high time for all the stakeholders - from family members to pulpits (religious scholars, ulemas, muftis and others), and public forums (government, civil society, non-governmental organizations, law lords, etc.) - to come forward, admit our flaws and work together to create a crime-free Kashmir. It is only through a collective effort that we canmake a positive change, revive the grandeur of this Paradise and build a better Kashmir not only for ourselves but for our future generations as well where living otherwise would be akin to being in an abyss.
(The Author is Post Graduate in English Literature and can be reahed at: firstname.lastname@example.org)