Meenakshi Ganguly in New Delhi

From Foreign Affairs, “What Lies Behind the Resurgent Violence in Kashmir?

“One day last month, I spoke with a medical student in Srinagar, the summer capital of the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir. ‘We have seen enough of India,’ the twenty-something-year-old told me. ‘We don’t want to put up with the oppression anymore. We want freedom.’ He proudly claimed to be one of Kashmir’s so-called stone pelters — protesters who aim large rocks at the Indian security forces that have been trying to put down a resurgent wave of demonstrations in Kashmir. ‘We are peaceful protesters,’ he said. ‘We only throw stones if they stop us.'”

“The police have killed 64 people in Kashmir since June. Most of the dead are young people, some of them children. In some cases, those killed and injured were not even taking part in demonstrations: one bullet struck a girl watching a protest from the window of her house; a boy was inadvertently wounded while walking home from classes. However, there have also been allegations that some attacks by police have been entirely unprovoked. Last week, a policeman opened fire on five youths playing carom billiards in Srinagar; the policeman has since been arrested.

Yet such signs of accountability are unusual. Although Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — and before him, Atal Bihari Vajpayee — promised “zero tolerance” for human rights violations in Kashmir, law enforcement officers are seldom held responsible for unlawful force. Inquiries are routinely ordered, but come to naught.”

“Today, the Abdullah government appears paralyzed; it has even failed to reach out to victims and families of the recent violence. With the recent crackdowns and killings, moderate separatist leaders who entered into dialogue with India feel let down. ‘The Indian government eroded the dialogue process, failing to deliver even on the most minimum confidence-building measures,’ said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a moderate religious and political leader. ‘People are angry because we have been harping on dialogue for so long without any results.'”

“Police round up young Kashmiris, beating them up in police stations to force confessions. There are widespread allegations that police are arresting boys and demanding bribes to secure their release. Anyone out on the streets past curfew is at risk of abuse by security forces. On August 30, an 11-year-old boy was shot during a demonstration in the southern town of Anantnag; he was this summer’s 65th fatality.”


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