Nagesh Rao

From Socialist Worker.Org: Fear Clouds the Indian Elections

IN THE lead-up to India’s parliamentary elections–which began in early April and continue through mid-May–progressive intellectuals, activists and organizations sounded the alarm over the prospect of a victory for the candidate of the Hindu right, Narendra Modi.

A statement by well-known left intellectuals published in The Hindubegan, “Never before in post-independence India have political forces, which are a front for an organization committed to creating a Hindu Rashtra [Nation], made as strong a bid for power as in the coming elections.” Similarly, Salman Rushdie, Deepa Mehta and others warned that Modi’s election “would bode ill for India’s future as a country that cherishes the ideals of inclusion.”

Journalist and rights activist Praful Bidwai issued an even more forceful warning:

If Modi wins, his regime is likely to be even worse [than Indira Gandhi's imposition of emergency rule in 1975-76], with systematic attacks on civil and political rights, railroading of all legitimate opposition, despotic imposition of corporate-driven economic agendas, and further militarization and communalization of society, which will lead to harassment of conscientious citizens, and outlawing and repression of dissent.

This sense of alarm is justified. Narendra Modi is a former pracharak (literally, propagandist) for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, or National Voluntary Association), which functions as the ideological and organizational backbone of the fascist Sangh Parivar, the “family” of Hindu fundamentalist groups that includes militant cadre organizations such as the Bajrang Dal and the Shiv Sena. (more…)

Muhammad Faysal

From Kashmir Dispatch: Why Kashmiri people back Pakistan Team

Kashmir students have been rusticated from a university in India after their alleged support of the Pakistan cricket team. The university blames the Kashmir students for showing anti-national character and rioting in the campus. Even though Kashmir students claim that they have been abused and humiliated by Indians they have been called ‘Pakistanis’ or ‘Terrorists’ by the local students for their support of Pakistan team during the nail-biting game against India on Sunday. The irony is that these 200 students are on Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship for Kashmir students. It was launched after the 2010 civil protest to contain the dissent of the Kashmir youth towards the Indian State.  I wonder if a boss, who is a Manchester United fan, will fire a Liverpool fan who is his employee just because MU lost the game against Liverpool. This is hilariously absurd.

The racist attacks on Kashmiris living in India have been rampant especially since the outbreak of armed rebellion in early 90s. These attacks stem from the ignorance of common Indians on Kashmir and the idea of accepting Kashmiris not wanting to be a part of India. There is a nationalistic sentiment which goes against Pakistan in India and everything related to it. So when Kashmiris took up arms in 90s, they were branded as ‘Pakistani Terrorists’ though they were Kashmiris fighting for Independence. Or when Kashmiris took up to the streets from 2008, they were infamously branded as ‘agitational terrorists’ by an army officer on a TV debate.  (more…)

Dean Nelson

From The TelegraphKashmiri cricket fans to be charged for cheering Pakistan

More than 60 Kashmiri Indian students are facing criminal charges and suspension from university because they cheered for Indias bitter cricket rivals Pakistan during their one-day international in Bangladesh last Sunday.

The students were watching the match on television in their hostel at Swami Vivekananda Subharti University in Meerut in a friendly atmosphere with the Kashmiris cheering Pakistan and non-Kashmiri students supporting India.

Sovereignty over divided Kashmir remains the main conflict between India and Pakistan and has been the cause of three of the four wars between the nuclear neighbours since their partition and independence in 1947 when the Maharajah opted to join India despite a Muslim majority.

Many Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control between the two halves of the state want independence from India or for their disputed state to be part of Pakistan, while the Hindu majority in Jammu wants to remain in India.

Although there was rivalry in the hostel there was no tension or violence until Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi won the match with two sixes and the Kashmiris started celebrating the victory.

Their celebrations angered their Indian compatriots and fights broke out between the two groups, which deteriorated into a pitched battle. Following the clashes, 67 of the Kashmiris were suspended from the university for shouting “anti-national and pro-Pakistan slogans” and packed onto coaches to take them to Delhi under police escort. (more…)

Gardiner Harris

From New York TimesKashmiri Students Briefly Charged With Sedition for Rooting for Wrong Cricket Team

The police in northern India briefly filed sedition charges against 67 Kashmiri students after some of them cheered for the Pakistani cricket team during a televised match with India on Sunday night.

The charges were initially filed after an official complaint was lodged against the students by Manzoor Ahmed, vice chancellor of Swami Vivekanand Subharti University in Meerut, according to M. M. Baig, a Meerut police official. In addition to sedition charges, the students were charged with “instigating hate between two communities.” But after the police and local officials reviewed the case, the sedition charges were dropped on Thursday, according to local media reports.

Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, had written in several posts on Twitter that the sedition charges against the students were an overreaction.

“I believe what the students did was wrong & misguided but they certainly didn’t deserve to have charges of sedition slapped against them,” Mr. Abdullah wrote.

He said he had spoken to his counterpart in Uttar Pradesh State, where Meerut is located, “who has assured me he will personally look into the matter of the Kashmiri students in Meerut.”

Indian news media reported that a delegation of leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party, a right-of-center Hindu nationalist group that polls suggest will soon dominate India’s central government, met Mr. Ahmed and demanded stern action against the students. A group of students associated with the Hindu party also burned an effigy of Mr. Ahmed, local news media reported. Mr. Ahmed said in an interview on Wednesday that he was aware of the effigy burning. (more…)

Abhijit Dutta

From Kafila: 23 Years After Kunan Poshpora: Rethinking Kashmir

It looks like any other village in Kashmir.

You go past a wooden bridge, past open fields winter-barren and wet with rain. Past mountains with snow on their chin. Past wistful looking poplars. Past a brook with clear water. Past grumpy apple trees gnarled like a grinch.

Then the road narrows, and homes – of timber and brick – come into view. Some have fences, unpainted wood. Heaps of hay, dung cakes, piles of dried leaves left to smoke. Ditches and dykes choked with snowmelt. Leafless walnut trees and brunette willows. The chinars, wild redheads just months ago, now old and arthritic. There is a government school on the right, a madrassa on the left. A few houses of stone, fewer of concrete, tin roofs over all.

Before you walk any further, the village ends. The next village is Poshpora. Like Kunan before it, it looks like any other village in the valley. The two villages are so close that people no longer call them by their individual names. Everyone knows this two-in-one village as Kunan Poshpora.

1-kunan 2


Sanjay Kak & David Barsamian

From Z MagazineKashmir and the Intifada of the Mind: An interview with Sanjay Kak

DAVID BARSAMIAN: You’re in the United States for the publication of Until My Freedom Has Come. You have an essay and an introduction in it. Why this book?

SANJAY KAK: Kashmir is often in the news. In the years 2008, 2009, and 2010 there were a series of extraordinary events. That part of the world, which has been plagued by armed conflict for nearly 25 years, saw, in 2008, a marked shift in what was going on. At a time when the armed militancy was seen as having been crushed or subdued or brought under control, suddenly there was a new form of civic protest, mass crowds, hundreds and thousands of people coming out in the streets, which was something not seen in Kashmir in years. So the events in 2008 represented the end of a certain phase of opposition to the Indian military presence there. The whole issue of the right of self-determination got a new shape and form. The following year saw a similar set of protests.

Then in 2010 there was a complete boiling over. From the beginning of March all the way to September, the streets were literally taken over by protesters. There were frequent clashes—more than 120 people lost their lives, most of them young boys. But what was significant about 2010—and it was something that we had seen coming—was that the protest on the street and the stone throwing and the Intifada-like characteristic of that rebellion was also matched by an accompanying flow of writing. Not, obviously, in the mainstream media, which could only see the young men throwing stones, but on the Internet, which by 2010 had really arrived in Kashmir. (more…)

Julia Meszaros

From Huffington Post: The Continued Silencing of Torture in Kashmir

The Indian army has tortured one out of every six people living in the occupied province of Kashmir, yet the plight of Kashmiris is largely undocumented in mainstream American media outlets. While media attention increased on the region in 2010 during the outbreak of a Kashmiri intifada, where youths began to throw stones against Indian military and paramilitary troops, coverage and discussion of Kashmir has once again dropped off entirely. Why is this? I argue that the violence and torture in Kashmir is largely silenced because of India’s economic importance to the U.S. and Pakistan’s political importance in the War on Terror. The U.S. remains neutral in discussions of Kashmir, arguing that India and Pakistan need to come to a solution on their own. In this way, the U.S. can protect both its political and economic interests in the region.

The conflict in Kashmir can be traced back to the original partition of the Indian subcontinent in the late 1940s, as both India and Pakistan wanted the region within their political control. In 1948, both sides agreed to line of a ceasefire that left one-third of the region in Pakistani control and two-thirds of the region under Indian control. Since that time, this line of control has become a major contentious issue between both countries, leading to the militarization of the entire region. Religion plays a major role in the defining of the conflict, since many Muslim populations are forced to live under what they view to be Hindu rule in India.

Continual wars and skirmishes regarding the rule of Kashmir have plagued the province with unrest, but it was not until 1989 that the continuous uprisings broke out in the region against the Indian state’s occupation. Since 1989, Kashmir has become the most densely militarized zone in the world, with one Indian solider on the ground for every 15 Kashmiri locals, via Pulse Media. (more…)

Mirza Waheed

From Fake Encounters: The Expendable Kashmiri

On January 23, the Indian Army passed a not-guilty ruling in the Pathribal Case of 2000 in which five civilians were executed in Indian-occupied Kashmir by the Indian Army and passed off as dreaded militants. The somewhat resigned silence, even among Kashmiris, over the ruling begs a few essential and profound questions. First of all, how did we get to a situation where it’s perfectly alright for a state to allow its soldiers to go scot-free after it’s been established that they committed premeditated murder?

The facts of the case have been clear and simple for years. On March 25, 2000, five men were picked up by the officers of the Indian Army’s Rashtriya Rifles in a conspiracy to display a quick breakthrough in the Chittisingh Pora massacre of March 20, in which 36 Sikhs were gunned down by gunmen – possibly from  the Lashkar-e-Toiba or possibly not, as the two Lashkar suspects were acquitted in 2011. The massacre took place at the time of US President Bill Clinton’s India visit. All accounts from the time and thereafter, including a blow-by-blow charge sheet submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and DNA analyses, suggest the five men – two farmers, both named Jumma Khan, goatherds Bashir Ahmed Butt and Mohammad Yusuf Malik, and Zahoor Dalal, a cloth merchant – were innocent and were executed, their bodies mauled and in one case decapitated, and then burned to eliminate all vestiges of their identity.

Let me quote verbatim from the CBI charge-sheet, extracts of which were published in the Indian Express:

“The Army Unit of 7 RR… was under tremendous psychological pressure to show some results…The then Col Ajay Saxena, the then Major B P Singh, Maj Sourabh Sharma, Subedar Idrees Khan and other personnel… hatched a criminal conspiracy to pick up some innocent persons and stage-manage an encounter to create an impression that the militants responsible for the Chhittisingh Pora killings had been neutralised.” (more…)