Dean Nelson

From Telegraph: “The world has turned its back on Kashmir

“Think of India and it’s all Gandhian saintliness, Ravi Shankar’s sitar, a whiff of incense and the feel-good beats of Bollywood Bhangra. These memories, sounds and smells conjure images of the world’s largest democracy, where tolerance and spirituality supposedly reign over realpolitik.

We don’t think of it as a country whose troops are jailing opposition leaders or placing them under house arrest, denying people the right to gather in prayer, beating children to death, or massacring stone-throwing protesters. The words “shoot to kill” are a grim relic from our own recent past, and certainly nothing we ever associate with India.

That’s why India is the world’s first “soft superpower”. It can barely do wrong for doing right, and if it does we don’t really want to know. As David Cameron made perfectly clear during his recent visit, we’re interested in India as the world’s second fastest-growing economy and by its contribution to the war on terrorism, but not how it treats its own people.”

Had these incidents been in Taliban-controlled parts of Afghanistan, or had the victims been Tibetans revolting against Chinese rule, we would have called it a massacre. But India’s great “soft power” is that the world wants to think the best of it.

To that end, our leaders overlooked the 53 young men and teenagers who were treated for bullet wounds in just one hospital in Kashmir’s state capital, Srinagar, last week. They had been shot either for throwing stones during protests against killings by Indian security forces in Kashmir – or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time in their own city.”

“Last week I interviewed Fayaz Ahmad Rah, a Srinagar fruit seller, as he mourned the death of his nine-year-old son, Sameer. Neighbours told me they had seen members of India’s paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force beat him to death with sticks and then dump his body in stinging nettles. The CRPF claims he was in fact a protester and that he had been trampled by other demonstrators as they fled a police advance.”

Over the last eight weeks a round of teenage civilian deaths, protests and more shootings followed by further protests has sucked Kashmir into a bleak vortex. But since it began, not a single member of India’s security forces has been shot or killed. It couldn’t be a more unequal contest.

Luckily for India, it happened in Kashmir where the words “Muslim”, “Pakistan” and “militants” shield what is either bad marksmanship or a shoot to kill policy from scrutiny and criticism.”

I do think Britain might come to regret its silence and India its troops’ brutality. We risk alienating the remaining friends we have in the Muslim world and within our own substantial Kashmiri community in Britain. India risks losing the tremendous goodwill it had built up throughout the world over decades.

The Kashmiris, on the other hand, have little left to lose: the world has forgotten them.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s