Month: August 2010

Syed Ali Geelani in Srinagar

From Kashmir Watch, Kashmir Peace Appeal

“We the people of Jammu Kashmir have been engaged in a struggle for our inalienable right of self-determination, for which we have been made to suffer immensely.

Our right to self determination has been acknowledged by India herself in the United Nations Security Council and also in their repeated public pronouncements from 1947 to 1953.

For the last 63 years, our means of resistance have changed from time to time but the demands of resistance have remained consistently same which is freedom from Indian rule through democratic mechanism of right to self-determination.

Our resistance has always been met with violence from Indian state, resulting in the killing of 120,137 persons, disappearance of almost 10,000 people, rapes and molestations of thousands of women, incarcerations, torture, extra-judicial murder, humiliations of our people and the destruction of our property worth billions of dollars.

In response to the unabated brutality and the recent killings and violence from the Indian forces people of Jammu Kashmir have for the last two and half months resorted to sustained peaceful mass protests. This non-violent uprising has again been confronted with killings of 64 civilians, arrests of more than 2000 civilians, injuries to more than 3000 civilians, torture of hundreds of youths, destruction of private houses & vehicles etc. The victims of state terrorism include 8 year old sameer Ahmad Rah to 65 year old father and to 17 year old Afroza Teli.

Amid this continued policy of oppression on ground, Indian leadership has spoken of its willingness to engage in a dialogue with Jammu Kashmir leadership.

However, as usual with New Delhi, and always absurd, the Indian leadership comes with such a soft talk whenever the streets of Jammu Kashmir are filled with innocent killings. They talk of political engagement when their soldiers have literally gone berserk in Jammu Kashmir killing, arresting, torturing, injuring, humiliating and destroying us.

If India and the International community are serious in resolving the dispute its beginning is to be the end of Indian oppression which in itself will create conditions for resolution.

In this regard, we demand India and urge the International community to persuade India, for creating conditions necessary for peace and resolution.

The minimum necessary conditions that must be met without any delay are

1.  India must agree Jammu Kashmir as an international dispute.

2. India must announce and begin the process of complete demilitarization to be monitored by some credible agency.

3. Indian Prime Minister must commit publicly and ensure practically that henceforth no killings and no arrests shall take place. It should also discipline her troops and order them to stop humiliating people and destroying public and private property.

4. India should immediately and unconditionally release our children and the political prisoners. Withdraw cases against youth pending in courts for past 20 years.

5. The process of punishing the perpetrators of state violence has to begin with the conviction of troops responsible for recent 65 killings and has to be followed by convicting all those responsible for war crimes in Jammu Kashmir.

If implemented on ground in both letter and spirit, these measures would facilitate in the creation of conductive atmosphere enabling Jammu Kashmir leadership to meet, consult and consolidate public opinion for the peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the democratic principle of right to self-determination.

As our liberty, honour, future cannot wait endlessly for these measures to be implemented by India, therefore we urge Indian leadership to end oppression and implement these measures immediately, so that the current campaign of mass protests can be reviewed.  In the meanwhile all prisoners must be released before Idd-ul-Fitter.

If India fails to fulfill these minimum necessary conditions required for peace and resolution immediately, the program of ongoing mass protests would be intensified.

Points

1). Release of prisoners before Iid-ul-Fittr.

2). Implementation of the measures immediately.

3). Failing which mass protest programme will be intensified.

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Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar

From The Canadian Press: Fresh protests, security forces kill 11-year-old

“Thousands of angry residents defied a curfew in the Indian portion of Kashmir on Tuesday, protesting the overnight killing of an 11-year-old boy by government forces, police said.

Fifteen people were wounded in the southern town of Anantnag late Monday when government forces shot into a crowd despite an appeal last week from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that they use non-lethal measures to control the demonstrations that have become a near daily occurrence in the volatile region.”

Najeeb Jung in New Delhi

From Times of India: “What Kashmir wants

“Over the past 60 years, India has adopted an ostrich-like approach denying acceptance of the truth that, emotionally, Kashmir was rarely with it. Commencing with Sheikh Abdullah’s arrest in 1953, the systematic “management” of successive elections, the heavy presence of the Indian army, the absence of real development and the lacklustre performance of Kashmiri politicians present an amalgam that lies at the heart of the disturbances today.”

“Curfew, the last resort for any good administration, is for the past two months a way of life. In this holy month of Ramadan when people fast and pray, fasting students are confronting the Indian military. There are no medicines for the old, no milk for babies, no food for the ordinary person. Mothers deliver babies at home, there is no emergency aid for the critically ill, no business and work for the daily artisan, the weaver, the ordinary Indian Kashmiri, no birthday celebrations, no weddings. There is no politically effective party left in Kashmir and each party is perceived as opportunist.”

“My students tell me that a major of the army has greater powers than the chief minister who flies off to New Delhi to get clearances. The home office in Delhi dictates the civil administration in Kashmir.”

Giogiana Violante in Srinagar

From The Comment Factory: “India’s brutality has turned Kashmir into living Hell

“This is the first time in weeks I have had access to the internet. I have not been allowed to receive or send text messages for three months. Just like all Kashmiris my telephone has been barred from such contact. The local news channels have been banned. India controls everything here. And then kills it. The situation is horrific. Over these months of food rationing and persistent curfew whereby all is closed and the streets totally deserted in utter silence, suddenly a protest arises and then spreads throughout the whole city in a surge of frustrated and famished rioters shouting ‘AZADI AZADI AZADI’ (freedom) until it dissipates suddenly into a cacophony of gunshots and clouds of teargas.”

“Last week a seven year old child was beaten to death. You cannot accidentally beat a seven year old to death. It is not like a bullet that goes astray. I cannot see how a stone thrown by a seven year old child can do sufficient damage to any man to warrant his being beaten to death. Children in this part of the world are tiny. A seven-year-old is the size of a three year old westerner. So what kind of person beats a tiny child to death when his stone throw must carry so little force that it barely deserves a shrug? This is such a common occurrence here.”

“The other day I left the university grounds to visit a professor only one minute away. True there is curfew but his house is in a private road attached to the university so I thought I would risk it. When I returned a roofless sumo vehicle full of ten Indian army thugs laughing and shouting came charging through the street waving their batons and guns. They headed for an old man and tried to hit him and then they knocked a 4-year-old boy off his tricycle. For fun. He was only 50 centimetres outside his house’s garden so that hardly counts as disobeying the curfew and yet they charged at him on purpose. They knocked him off the tricycle and then headed for me, which as a western woman I did not expect.”

“Sometimes someone will address me angrily as I pass by, something along the lines of:

“Hey you, America! Why aren’t you helping us? You do something.”

“What can I do?” I reply, “I’m neither a politician nor a journalist. I’m just trapped here like you.”

“But you’re a Westener. You see how things are here. We have been living like this for twenty years. When you go back to your country you tell them. You ask them why they aren’t helping us.”

“It’s your own fault,” I reply. “Why should we bother saving your country when its got no natural resources worth raping? All you’ve got is apples, goats and saffron. You’re doomed.”

A few seconds of silence will be followed by a warm invitation to tea. Muslim hospitality. At this time when every tea leaf is precious these people will share even their last few crumbs of powdered milk with you. And you sit there sipping the tea wondering how and where they managed to procure it and how much it cost them in beatings.”

Richard Shapiro

From Greater Kashmir: “Governing Kashmir” 

“India’s refrain to the people of Kashmir is as follows: Indian rule of Kashmir is legitimate because India is a secular democratic republic, organized by rule of law and constitutionally guaranteed human rights. As a democratic state, rule of law may be suspended for national security reasons to protect the state, and such action has been necessary in Kashmir because of cross-border terrorism and ‘separatist’ elements in Kashmir that includes armed militants. The suspension of democratic rights in Kashmir, India states, is necessary to protect India as a secular democratic republic. Elections are periodically held and touted as proof of democracy in India, but without a vibrant civil society ensuring social freedoms, electoral processes obfuscate the subjection of Srinagar to New Delhi and give Indian governance greater legitimacy than if the center took official control over the state of Jammu & Kashmir.”

“Kashmiris are citizens of India who are denied the rights of citizens to protect the state as the guarantor of rights. Law and order demands the denial of democratic rights to the people of Kashmir. Freedom of assembly and movement, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of press, freedom of religion are the basic rights that make India a legitimate state, and it is precisely these rights that must be denied all Kashmiris because when Kashmiris exercise these rights it is considered evidence of the anti-national sentiment of Kashmiris.”

“If Kashmiris want to prove themselves as loyal citizens of India than they must agree to not exercise the rights that are in principle available to the citizens of India. If Kashmiris want to prove their loyalty they must sacrifice their human rights and civil liberties for the protection of ‘Greater India’.”

“To be pro-India requires that Kashmiris renounce their rights as citizens. To demand equal rights and rule of law is to be anti-India. To belong to the nation you must accept subjugation to the military and paramilitary legitimated by national security.”

“Responsibility for violence rests firmly on the shoulders of India, evidenced in the unprecedented militarization of daily life in Kashmir, the long history of brutality with impunity, the systemic exploitation of the people and resources of Kashmir, surveillance, humiliation, the suppression of civil liberties and the innumerable atrocities against a civilian population understood to be ‘integral’ to India.  India  has not simply acted to protect its borders and combat armed insurgents.  India  has criminalized Kashmiri civilians, viewing every Kashmiri as equivalent to Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, or Pakistani agents. The overwhelming presence of military personnel is not necessary to protect borders and defeat armed militants. Such force is necessary to dominate an entire people whose right to determine its own future has been recognized by the United Nations, international law, and the founders of modern India.”

“What makes the Kashmiri the enemy is precisely that as Muslim, dominant Indian discourse fails to distinguish between Kashmiri Muslim, Pakistani national, terrorist, once Mughal rulers, mujahedeen from Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda jihadist. Such indistinction in thought is state racism. To deterritorialize Islam into a monolithic homogeneity divorced from the particularity of culture, history, and politics furthers the communalization of Indian society and legitimates Indian dominance of Kashmir as a national security imperative.”

“The policy of India continually shouts to each and every Kashmiri. “You are our enemy. We are here to protect you.” In the face of such impossibility, additionally each Kashmiri must be a citizen by virtue of ‘agreeing’ to forfeit the rights of citizenship or be anti-national by demanding the rights afforded free people. The Kashmiri is told, “If you want us to treat you more humanely, stop demanding human rights.” “If you want a future, stop acting to determine your future.” “If you want life, accept our right to determine life and death.”

“To resolve the law and order problem starts with removing the military and paramilitary from its role in Kashmiri civil society, drawing back and reducing troops to police the borders, and allowing civil society to express itself without fear of reprisal toward determination of its own future. There is no law and order without a foundation in freedom of speech, press, assembly and movement. Law and order in Kashmir can only find its legitimacy in supporting the pursuit of justice, enhancing freedom, and enabling the riches inherent in different cultural legacies — to live, to be, to learn, and to change. The obstacle to law and order in Kashmir is the same as the obstacle to justice, freedom, and cultural survival. That obstacle is Indian rule. The first step in removing this obstacle is immediate demilitarization of Kashmiri society.”

Tusha Mittal in Srinagar

From Tehelka: “The Pelter and the Police

“By the time you read this, the life and death of 22- year-old Bilal Ahmed Sheikh would have become a mere statistic: Civilian No. 63 killed by the security forces since 11 June — the day another boy, 17-year-old Tufail, breathed his last, sparking an intifada-like uprising in Kashmir.

Not a single police or paramilitary officer has been arrested for civilian deaths. FIRs against “unknown persons” have been registered, except for one case in Sopore against the CRPF for unprovoked firing. A commission of inquiry is looking into the first 17 deaths. The home minister has admitted, “At least a dozen killings may have been unprovoked.”

“There is no way yet to verify exactly how many of those arrested have been released or booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) — and that is part of the chaos Kashmir has descended into.

And now, in an eerie flashback to the 1990s, the official crackdown has begun.”

“Around 3 pm on 19 August, a 500- strong contingent of security forces surrounded Bemina locality in south Srinagar. All the male residents were asked to assemble in the field outside the local mosque. “They behaved with us like the army earlier behaved with militants,” says Imtiaz Ahmed. The police identified 42 men as stone-pelters. “They randomly called out to anyone wearing good clothes and Nike shoes,” says Ahmed. “They said whoever wants azadi, we will burn their house down.”

“Shameema Begum was at home when they barged into her house, smashed glass windows, pulled out her 60-year-old father and her husband Bashir Ahmad Lone. “Where is Brett Lee?” the police asked them raining lathis. “Give us Brett Lee and we will let you go,” they said.

That’s a nickname for Shameema Begum’s 11-year-old son Danish, a lean, fair boy who plays cricket and dreams of becoming Sachin Tendulkar. But for the forces, Danish is an active stone-pelter.

Of the 42 men picked up, seven are still in police custody. Danish’s father Bashir, a daily wager, is one of them. A few years ago, a fracture disabled Bashir’s right hand. “They will only release him in exchange for my son,” says Begum. Srinagar SP(South) Irshad Ahmad denies this. “Bashir is in custody because he is also a stonepelter and a top motivator,” he told TEHELKA.Begum says the police have declared a Rs. 1 lakh reward on Danish. And that Waseem, a barber from UP and Begum’s tenant, was offered money to reveal the boy’s whereabouts. “If we take him to the police,” Begum asks, “how do we know what they’ll do with him?” That’s why an 11-year-old boy is in hiding. If the crackdown continues, boys like him may not return overground.”

“In conversations with policemen across Srinagar city, it becomes evident that for most “Hindustan ki wardi” (uniform) is a necessary evil, a source of livelihood in a state parched for jobs. There is a sense of being trapped between Kashmiri identity and allegiance to India, and almost every constable TEHELKA spoke to said he wouldn’t let his children join the police.”

“This is a relatively new trend. Until the mid-1990s, the local police were not involved in counter-insurgency operations. In 1993, the police rose in revolt against the army and senior police officials after a fellow policeman was tortured and killed in custody. The army stormed the police HQ with tanks. In 1994, a Special Operations Group was formed to assist the army in counter-insurgency, policemen from Jammu and Poonch were in a majority but now, more than ever before, the Kashmir policeman finds himself looked upon as an agent of India.”

“TEHELKA has learnt from a credible police source that as of 19 August, 1,800 J&K policemen have applied for voluntary retirement. While it is not clear how many of them want to opt out due to the current situation, it is a sign of the growing anguish.

A week ago, a constable was leaving his post in civvies when the CRPF caught him. He was beaten for violating curfew even before he could show his police ID card. On the way back to his post, he was beaten by a mob for being in the police. “We belong neither here nor there,” he says. “We are serving the Indian forces like Indians did in the British army.”

“When head constable Mohammed Ramzan tried to stop the CRPF from firing, he says he was held by the neck and beaten. “I only allow myself to keep a lathi, a helmet and a shield,” he says. “I don’t keep a gun in hand, otherwise I might be compelled to fire. If they protest without destroying government property, then I am with them. I too want azadi.”

“I’m worried that my family will become a target. I am considering resigning. They are alone in the village,” he says. “I am a Kashmiri. Writing my nationality as Indian is only an administrative compulsion. If I weren’t in uniform, I’d be pelting stones,” a constable from Tral says.”

A. G. Noorani

From Frontline: “Kak and Sheikh

“A lot about the period between the independence of India on August 15, 1947, and Kashmir’s accession to it on October 26, 1947, is shrouded in mystery. Did Governor-General Mountbatten desire the accession? Was the Sheikh as ardent in the accession as is believed? On two points the three Kashmiris agreed. None wanted its accession to Pakistan. All had a preference for its independence, but for different and complex considerations.”

“Mountbatten’s interview to Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre was published in 1984. He said he had reminded the ruler that “the majority of your population are Muslim”, but Hari Singh had replied: “I don’t want to accede to Pakistan on any account…. I don’t want to join India either, because, if so [ sic], I would feel that perhaps that’s not what the people wanted. I want to be independent” (Mountbatten and Independent India, Vikas; page 37). Mountbatten told the authors, “I must tell you honestly, I wanted Kashmir to join Pakistan…. [Sir Cyril] Radcliffe [Chairman of the India-Pakistan Boundary Commission] let us in for an awful lot of trouble by making it possible for them to accede to India”, by awarding to India a part of Gurdaspur, which facilitated the land link to Jammu and Kashmir.”

“In New Delhi in July 1947, Kak met Gandhi, Jinnah and V.P. Menon, whom he found very reasonable. “Mr. Jinnah advised him to accede to Pakistan and stated that Kashmir, by immediate accession, would get far better terms from Pakistan than she was likely to get later. On being told that the State’s decision was definite Mr. Jinnah said that so far as he was concerned, he was prepared to concede that this was an option which could be exercised by the State and so long as the State did not accede to India, he would not mind if it did not accede to Pakistan.”

“On this, too, the record supports him. The brilliant civil servant Hasan Zaheer delved into the archives and found that Jinnah had directed the Muslim Conference leader Chaudhary Hameedullah to support the ruler’s bid for independence, not accession to Pakistan.”

“It is disingenuous to say, as was said subsequently, that Kashmir had the option to accede to either Dominion. It had that option legally and eventually it exercised that option – but where are the captains and kings that exercised the option? The fact is and has to be recognised that India was divided on communal grounds and the only rational course – as the Nawab of Junagarh found to his cost – was for a State if it decided to accede, to assure itself first whether its population would support the accession. This was the principle underlying Lord Mountbatten’s advice, ‘Consider your geographical position, political situation and composition of your population, and then decide.'”

“Shaikh Abdullah said that the present troubles in Poonch, a feudatory of Kashmir, were because of the unwise policy adopted by the State. The people of Poonch who suffered under their local ruler and again under the Kashmir durbar, who was the overlord of the Poonch ruler, had started a people’s movement for the redress of their grievances. It was not communal.”

“The object of Sadiq’s mission was to persuade Pakistan to wait until Sheikh Saheb came over and to negotiate. Sheikh Abdullah sought responsible government and an army so that he could get both countries to accept a semi-independent Kashmir. Jinnah forced Sheikh Saheb to accede to India. On November 1, 1947, in Lahore he rejected Mountbatten’s offer of a plebiscite in all three States, Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad. Jinnah sought to exclude Hyderabad.”

“Even in 1956 Kak firmly held that his concept of Jammu and Kashmir as a State “not politically integrated with either India or Pakistan” was the right solution in 1947.”

“Sheikh Abdullah also never wavered in his beliefs. He told the J&K State People’s Convention on June 8, 1970, “If the overwhelming majority of the Muslims in the State wish to join Pakistan or non-Muslim minorities to link with India it is because both feel apprehensive about their future.” On August 4, 1947, Gandhi said in Srinagar that the issue of accession “should be decided by the will of the Kashmiris.”

“If Jayaprakash Narayan is hailed as India’s conscience-keeper it is because he never hesitated to speak the unpopular truth. He wrote to Nehru (“Dear Bhai”) on May 1, 1956: “May I also take this opportunity of saying a word about Kashmir – merely to put my views before you, without in the least wanting to criticise or influence. From all the information that I have, 95 per cent of Kashmir Muslims do not wish to be or remain Indian citizens. I doubt therefore the wisdom of trying to ‘keep’ people by force where they do not wish to stay.”

“This is the “unique problem” to which Home Minister P. Chidambaram referred on August 6, 2010. It is, however, doubtful if he understands the dimensions of the uniqueness. Kashmir acceded to India only under force majeure.”

“They are not “alienated”; that implies a prior love. They are still unreconciled to the accession in 1947. That is the grim reality of the “uniqueness” of Kashmir. The bunkers and armed presence are offensive, but they are not the cause of the unrest. It is rejection of the Union itself. That is why Kashmiris explode every now and then.”