Month: December 2010

From: The Economist

From The Economist: “Kashmir’s Troubles: Shaking the Mountains

“GROUP of special Indian police barged into a white-painted, single-storey house on the crisp morning of October 27th. They let their lathis do the talking. The wooden batons were first rammed through all the windows, furniture and a television. When the grey-haired owners protested, the rods were turned on them. The police broke the husband’s leg and beat his wife’s flesh a sickly purple. Before leaving, the officers added an insult, hurling religious books, including a Koran, to the floor.

Such intrusions are common in Palhallan, a hillside settlement in the north of Indian-run Kashmir. It looks like an idyllic rural spot, where bushels of red chilies hang from the eves of steep-roofed wooden houses and hay wains jostle with shepherds in narrow streets. But the village has been caught up in months of violent protests that have roiled Kashmir. In 2010 an uprising led by youthful Kashmiri separatists left over 110 people dead and thousands injured. Youngsters daub anti-India slogans on walls, yell at Indian police and soldiers to “go home”, and hurl stones.

In turn its residents have taken a beating. A young man lifts his hand to his head, showing a zip-like scar running from the crown of his skull to his neck. It is the result, he says, of a police battering. His lament is typical: “I am an unpolitical person, but they treat me like a terrorist.” Locals say they suffer collective punishment. Enraged officers usually fail to catch stone-lobbers, so lash out instead at families and residents nearby, accusing them, usually unfairly, of collusion.

As a military helicopter buzzes overhead, a resident counts eight people killed and many more hurt in the area in the previous three months. Bitterness deepens with each injury and funeral. “The police,” he says, “they want to start a war.” A return to war, or widespread armed insurgency, is unlikely for the moment. But fury has spread, spurring some young Kashmiris to demand a more violent, more bloody response than mere strikes and stones.

On November 10th three men in Pattan, a small town a few minutes’ drive down the hill from Palhallan, took matters into their own hands. Hidden in the crowd of a bustling market they marched up to a pair of police constables, shot them at close range, snatched their rifles and fled. Both the policemen died. The Kashmiris have aped Palestinian methods, mobbing India’s ill-trained, sometimes panicky, police, by raining stones and broken bricks on them.

The police—more in the habit of using sticks and bamboo shields—have struggled, fighting back with huge quantities of tear-gas (tens of thousands of canisters were fired in 2010) and then bullets. They have reckoned that any protesters who die have themselves to blame. Officials in Delhi bristle at any comparison between the year’s events and Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland or the unrest in neighbouring Tibet. Kashmiris, they insist, have their own land and state, enjoy religious freedom, are by no means the poorest in India and take part in elections, most notably in 2008.

But there are severe limits to their democracy. Peaceful protests are prevented, jails are crammed with political detainees, detention without charge is common, phones are partially blocked, the press censored and reporters beaten, broadcasters muffled and curfews imposed. Those who complain too fiercely online are locked away. The authorities in Kashmir and Delhi say these measures are temporary. They say that to prevent abuses, the police are now being trained and re-equipped. (Soldiers, for the most part, have been kept away from street clashes.) Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Kashmir, says that police officers may even be prosecuted for misdeeds. But the repression persists, and risks causing ever greater resentment and instability”… To Continue reading click on the link above.

Baba Umar from Srinagar

From Tehelka: “Screams from Kashmir

“THE WIKILEAKS exposé of the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) telling US diplomats in 2005 about “torture of civilians” in Kashmiri jails comes at a time when Union Home Minister P Chidambaram says a proposal to amend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is being studied and the next few months will bring the “contours of a political solution” to the Kashmir problem.

Although the Centre has long been denying torture in Kashmir, separatists say the leaks vindicated complaints about “rampant torture” in Kashmir’s jails even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah further offended coalition partner Congress by saying the leaks pertain to the year 2005 when the Congress and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ruled jointly. However, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti was quick to rebut Abdullah’s remarks, saying, “The PDP government inherited a tormented legacy. If WikiLeaks looks into the abuses during the NC regime, there will be horror stories.”

One such story is that of Nazir Ahmad Sheikh, 40, who is still haunted by memories of the single tungsten light bulb that hung from the cell ceiling and the heavy bamboo stick that repeatedly hit him. And behind the tattered blanket, an army officer, known to locals as Major Maltani, sipping tea and saying, “You will break soon.”

Picked up from a narrow path through a snow-bound orchard in December 1994, the newly-wed farmer of Yehama in north Kashmir’s Handwara district had no militancy or criminal record. Yet his left hand was pushed into a charcoal oven, his legs rolled over with a steel rod — standard torture to get youths to ‘confess’: “I’m a militant and have a gun to surrender.”

Sheikh didn’t just lose four fingers and both legs due to botched treatment. He also lost a precious piece of ancestral paddy land that he sold to buy artificial limbs. And then, “my wife Halima divorced me a year later for being handicapped,” Sheikh told TEHELKA. His brother-in-law Muhammad Ramzaan, a daily wager, took over the responsibility of looking after the family.

Sheikh had pinned his hopes on the case (FIR 54/95 under Section 325, Ranbir Penal Code) registered at Sanzipora, Handwara, on 12 April 1995 against the 14 Dogra Regiment. But it was closed in the usual way, by declaring the accused “untraceable”….

According to the leaks, ICRC told the American diplomats about 300 detention centres till 2000 and failure in gaining access to the ‘Cargo Building’, the most notorious detention centre, in Srinagar city.

Muhammad Yasin Malik (not the JKLF leader), is one such person who was subjected to all three forms of torture in the spring of 1994. Malik of Zandfaran, Baramullah in North Kashmir, was on his way to the capital to submit his admission form in KITE Polytechnic, Srinagar. However, in the city’s Batamaloo, armymen mistook him for the JKLF leader and immediately dragged him into a nearby army camp.

‘Kashmir is a big jail,’ says MLA Engineer Rashid [from Handwara]. ‘But that doesn’t mean we stop seeking our rights’

“During the initial days, I was beaten up with sticks and kicked with jackboots,” Malik recalls. For 15 days, Malik was tortured at the notorious Papa 1 and Papa 2 interrogation centres, both tucked under the foothills of Zabarwan Mountains overlooking the picturesque Dal Lake.

“One morning, they (troops) inserted a thin rod into my penis. I fainted when they passed electricity through it,” he recalls. “After my lunch, they would often waterboard me. I would simply vomit it all out.”…

Basharat Peer and Sasha Polakow-Suransky

From The Boston Globe: All Roads lead to Kashmir

“RICHARD HOLBROOKE spent the final two years of his life struggling to bring peace to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but officially he was never allowed to touch the issue of Kashmir. In the wake of last week’s WikiLeaks revelations of the Indian government’s use of torture against Kashmiri prisoners, the time has come to put Kashmir back on the map and include it in discussions of a broader regional peace — one that would extend to Afghanistan as well.

The longstanding dispute over Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region, has poisoned relations between Hindu-majority India and Muslim Pakistan for decades; spawned and sustained anti-Indian terrorist groups; prevented Pakistan’s army from fighting extremists along its border with Afghanistan; and proved deadly for the Kashmiris caught in between.

In early July, the bodies of three young laborers killed by Indian troops were discovered in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, unleashing a wave of protests. Police fired tear gas at protesters in Srinagar and killed a 17-year-old student, who was simply passing by. Soon, young Kashmiris armed with stones were battling Indian troops, who responded with bullets. An intense military curfew followed. From July to September, the Kashmiri intifada raged on killing 110 and injuring at least 1,500.

India has long resisted any outside attempt to mediate in Kashmir. The Indian government panicked after Barack Obama’s historic election in November 2008, fearing that Obama might appoint Bill Clinton as a special envoy to Kashmir as he had suggested during the campaign. And even before Holbrooke’s post was announced in January 2009, Indian officials and their allies in Washington lobbied furiously to have the words India and Kashmir excluded from the veteran US diplomat’s portfolio. India did not want to be seen as paying the price for US failures in Afghanistan by being forced to negotiate on Kashmir

Yet the occupation of Kashmir remains a stain on India’s democracy. Over 500,000 Indian troops and paramilitary forces are stationed there. Killings of civilians by security forces routinely go unreported and unpunished as a result of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which effectively gives Indian troops stationed in Kashmir a de facto license to kill. The most recent trove of WikiLeaks confirmed what human-rights organizations have long alleged: that Indian troops have systematically tortured Kashmiri prisoners. After documenting widespread torture and sexual humiliation of prisoners who “were rarely militants,” the Red Cross told US officials in 2005 that it had concluded that the Indian government “condones torture.”

Even India’s current leaders realize that they cannot suppress Kashmiris’ desire for freedom forever and that they, too, could benefit from a resolution. Sonia Gandhi, the president of India’s ruling Congress Party, recently admitted the need to address “the alienation of the whole new generation of youth that has known nothing but conflict” in Kashmir. Another decade of tear gas and torture will not help India gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and a larger role on the international stage.

Although the road to peace in Kabul does not necessarily begin in Kashmir, regional experts such as former CIA officer Bruce Riedel have argued that a lasting peace in Afghanistan is impossible without a resolution in Kashmir. So long as Pakistan’s military remains obsessed with the Indian threat and the large number of Indian troops along its eastern border, it is reluctant to redeploy its troops and its resources to go after the Taliban along Pakistan’s western border with Afghanistan. At the same time, Pakistan fears encirclement by India due to growing Indian influence in Afghanistan after the United States withdraws. Meanwhile, hawks in India seem reluctant to make major concessions in Kashmir.

Pakistan’s strategic calculus will only change, says Riedel, “once the logic of confrontation with India begins to be undermined.” And that will require renewed back-channel talks and incremental steps toward peace. An overt US push to resolve the Kashmir dispute along the lines of Washington’s recent efforts in the Middle East would likely fail — angering India and exposing its leaders to criticism from hawks on the right. But a softer behind-the-scenes approach could succeed.

After all, back-channel talks between India and Pakistan in 2006 and 2007 came very close to establishing a largely autonomous Kashmir with soft borders between the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled regions, and a gradual demilitarization of the area. Those talks fell apart when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf lost power in August 2008, and the issue has been a political nonstarter since the Pakistani-sponsored terrorist attacks on Mumbai that November.

There are signs of hope. Two weeks ago, both Indian and Pakistani officials signaled that some back-channel diplomacy had resumed. More importantly, Syed Salahudin, the Pakistan-based leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest Kashmiri militant group, announced in Rawalpindi that “India and Pakistan should sit at the negotiating table.” It is the first time in 20 years that Salahudin has come out in support of a negotiated resolution to the Kashmir dispute. Washington should seize the moment — but quietly.”

Riyaz Wani from Srinagar

From Indian Express: “Now professor booked for exam passage on breasts

“Days after a college teacher was arrested for including a question on stone-pelters in an examination paper, J&K Police have booked a university professor for drawing up an “obscene question paper”.

Professor Shad Ramzan, who prepared the Kashmiri language question paper for the BA First Year examination, has been accused of including a “vulgar passage” in English for translation into Kashmiri. A case has already been registered against him at Hazratbal police station though he has not been arrested yet.

The passage that Ramzan asked students to translate reads: “From the ancient times, women have been concerned about the shape and size of their breasts. Breast development is the vital part of reproduction in human females. Unlike other mammals, however, human females are the only ones who develop full breasts long before they are needed to nurse their offspring.”

DIG Abdul Gani Mir told The Indian Express that the professor was guilty of “moral turpitude” and had been booked under Section 294 of the Ranbir Penal Code for promoting “immorality and obscenity”.

Asked why police didn’t let Kashmir University deal with Ramzan, Mir said the professor was guilty of a cognizable offence which warranted police action. He said police was still investigating the case and would act against other persons who may have had a role in allowing the question paper at the examination. “There may be other persons who are also responsible. We will not spare anybody,” Mir said.

Earlier this month, police arrested college lecturer Noor Mohammad Bhat for asking students to translate into English an Urdu paragraph which accused the state government of genocide. In another question, students were required to discuss if the stone-throwers were real heroes. Bhat has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.”

Dilnaz Boga

From Guardian: “Wikileaks: Will the world now intervene over torture in Kashmir?

“Almost every household in Kashmir has a story to tell of human rights violation by the local police or the Indian security forces. Generations have experienced violence amid a culture of impunity spanning six decades.

Last Friday, leaked US embassy cables disclosed the findings of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on torture in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) between 2002-2004.

ICRC claimed out of 1,296 detainees it had interviewed, 681 had said that they had been tortured. Of those, 498 claimed to have been electrocuted, 381 said they were suspended from the ceiling, and 304 cases were described as sexual. Things haven’t changed much since that period.

Now, Kashmiris who have endured years of abductions, enforced disappearances, custodial killings, rape, torture and detentions want to know if the cables’ release will make a difference. Will there be a change in policy on torture internationally? Will these revelations fortify India’s justice mechanism after civil society’s intervention? Or will it propel the Indian mainstream media to report Kashmir’s human rights issues from the highest militarised zone in the world?

Kashmiris want answers.

Serious impediments to human rights can stall progress in any society. Kashmir is no different. In the Valley, the state feels free to flout its own constitution. Therefore, the people expect intervention from the international community.

The summer of 2010 brought on a significant change in the Kashmiri struggle for independence from India. From being a pan-Islamic militant movement sponsored by Pakistan in 1989, it has now transformed into a non-violent indigenous people’s movement. But the response of the state has not altered since the 1990s.

Kashmiris expressed themselves against what they view as an illegal military occupation by India through peaceful protests, civil strikes, sit-ins, internet and graffiti campaigns, rallies and demonstrations.

Despite the fear of arrest, young people have used the internet to post blogs, photographs of human rights violations and videos of killings, while the government gagged the press for weeks.

Since June, over 100 men, women and children have been killed at demonstrations for protesting against widespread human rights violations. All of this happened as the world watched silently.

The leaked US cables stated that, in 2005, ICRC’s findings were also communicated to the UK, France and Holland. They chose to stay silent. And why shouldn’t they, when there are defence deals to be signed and investments to be made in the soaring Indian markets?

Diplomacy, coupled with the prospects of a burgeoning economy, have shielded India from criticism by the global community. Even the UN only issued a statement, urging India to tone down its response to the protesters.

Responding to ICRC’s allegations, an official spokesperson from the Indian ministry of external affairs said: “India is an open and democratic nation which adheres to the rule of law. If and when an aberration occurs, it is promptly and firmly dealt with under existing legal mechanisms, in an effective and transparent manner.”

Meanwhile, J&K’s chief minister Omar Abdullah said the government doesn’t condone torture. Passing the buck, he added, “I am not getting into it… it pertains to 2005, and you know who was in power that time.” Omar was referring to the coalition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress that ruled the state from November 2002-August 2008.

On Saturday, Indian broadsheet, The Times of India, chose to report on the row over a statement on Hindu terrorism, and comments about Indian Muslims made by former US envoy to New Delhi, David Mulford. In a commentary about India’s 150 million-plus Muslims, Mulford stated: “India’s vibrant democracy, inclusive culture and growing economy have made it easier for Muslim youth to find a place in the mainstream, reduced the pool of potential recruits, and the space in which Islamic extremist organisations can operate.”

There was no mention of torture or of Kashmir in the newspapers.

It is doubtful that India will make changes after these leaks, but hope never dies in places where violence is a way of life. Kashmiris are still hoping, against all odds, for a change.”

Wikileaks makes ICRC relevant

From BBC: Wikileaks: India tortured Kashmir Prisoners

“The International Committee of the Red Cross sent evidence to US diplomats about widespread torture by Indian security forces in Kashmir, according to cables obtained by Wikileaks.

Visits to detention centres in the region in 2002-04 revealed cases of beatings, electric shocks, sexual abuse and other types of ill-treatment.

The organisation concluded that India condoned torture in the region.

There has been no comment from the US. The ICRC said it was investigating.

The chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, told India’s NDTV channel that the allegations related to a period before his government took power and that he did not condone torture.

SM Sohai, inspector general of police in Indian-administered Kashmir, said the reports were baseless “propaganda”.

“I do not how the Red Cross could have accessed that information because, normally they would not have access to these kind of locations, so it’s completely unfounded,” he told the BBC.

“Torture doesn’t happen… Where can it happen?”….

Electric shocks

The torture allegations come at a time of heightened tensions in Kashmir, with massive public protests and numerous curfews in recent months.

The ICRC told diplomats they had made 177 visits to detention centres and met 1,491 detainees, a cable published in the UK Guardian newspaper said.

Ill-treatment was reported in 852 cases, the ICRC said.

A total of 171 said they were beaten and 681 subjected to one or more of six forms of torture:

  • Electric shocks
  • Suspension from ceiling
  • Crushing of leg muscles
  • Legs split 180 degrees
  • Water torture
  • Sexual abuse”

Jason Burke

From Guardian: “Wikileaks: India accused of systematic torture in Kashmir

“US officials had evidence of widespread torture by Indian police and security forces and were secretly briefed by Red Cross staff about the systematic abuse of detainees in Kashmir, according to leaked diplomatic cables released tonight.

The dispatches, obtained by website WikiLeaks, reveal that US diplomats in Delhi were briefed in 2005 by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about the use of electrocution, beatings, sexual humiliation against hundreds of detainees.

Other cables show that as recently as 2007 American diplomats were concerned about widespread human rights abuses by Indian security forces, who they said relied on torture for confessions.

The revelations will be intensely embarrassing for Delhi, which takes pride in its status as the world’s biggest democracy, and come at a time of heightened sensitivity in Kashmir after renewed protests and violence this year….”

An insurgency pitting separatist and Islamist militants – many supported by Pakistan – against security services raged in Kashmir throughout the 1990s and into the early years of this decade.

It claimed tens of thousands of lives, including large numbers of civilians who were targeted by both militants and security forces.

The ICRC staff told the US diplomats they had made 177 visits to detention centres in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India between 2002 and 2004, and had met 1,491 detainees. They had been able to interview 1,296 privately.

In 852 cases, the detainees reported ill-treatment, the ICRC said. A total of 171 described being beaten and 681 said they had been subjected to one or more of six forms of torture.

These included 498 on which electricity had been used, 381 who had been suspended from the ceiling, 294 who had muscles crushed in their legs by prison personnel sitting on a bar placed across their thighs, 181 whose legs had been stretched by being “split 180 degrees”, 234 tortured with water and 302 “sexual” cases, the ICRC were reported to have told the Americans.

“Numbers add up to more than 681, as many detainees were subjected to more than one form of IT [ill-treatment],” the cable said.

The ICRC said all branches of the Indian security forces used these forms of ill-treatment and torture, adding: “The abuse always takes place in the presence of officers and … detainees were rarely militants (they are routinely killed), but persons connected to or believed to have information about the insurgency”.

The cable said the situation in Kashmir was “much better” as security forces no longer roused entire villages in the middle of the night and detained inhabitants indiscriminately, and there was “more openness from medical doctors and the police.”

Ten years ago, the ICRC said there were some 300 detention centres, but there are now “a lot fewer”. The organisation had never however gained access to the “Cargo Building”, the most notorious detention centre, in Srinagar.

The abuse continued, they said, because “security forces need promotions,” while for militants, “the insurgency has become a business”.

In the same cable, American diplomats approvingly quoted media reports that India’s army chief, Lieutenant-General Joginder Jaswant Singh, had “put human rights issues at the centre of an [recent] conference of army commanders”.

The ICRC said a “bright spot” was that it had been able to conduct 300 sessions sensitising junior officers from the security forces to human rights.

The cables reveal a careful US policy of pressure in Kashmir, while maintaining a strictly neutral stance.

Two years after the cable on torture was sent, US diplomats in Indiaargued strongly against granting a visa request from the government of India on behalf of a member of the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly who was invited to a conference organised by a think-tank in America.

Usman Abdul Majid, a cable marked secret said, “is a leader of the pro-GOI [government of India] Ikhwan-ul-Musilmeen paramilitary group, which … is notorious for its use of torture, extra-judicial killing, rape, and extortion of Kashmiri civilians suspected of harbouring or facilitating terrorists.”

The diplomats admitted that denying Majid’s application might have some repercussions with Indian officials, “especially those from India’s Intelligence Bureau who have been close to his case” but said it was essential to preserve a balanced approach to the Kashmir issue following the prior refusal of a visa to the leading separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

The cable notes that officials are “unable to verify with evidence the claims against Majiid”.

US diplomats repeatedly refer to human rights abuses by security and law enforcement agencies within India. In a cable from February 2006, officials reported that “terrorism investigations and court cases tend to rely upon confessions, many of which are obtained under duress if not beatings, threats, or, in some cases, torture”.

A year later a brief for the visiting acting coordinator for counter-terrorism, Frank Urbancic, described India’s police and security forces as “overworked and hampered by bad … practices, including the widespread use of torture in interrogations.”.”

Samaan Latief from Srinagar

From Greater Kashmir: PSA slapped on Shopian minor…

“The state government has slapped Public Safety Act on a 14-year-old boy for being “threat to the security, sovereignty, integrity and peace of the State,” and has been shifted to District Jail Kathua.

The detention order passed by District Magistrate Shopian, M S Sood, states that the minor was stirring up the sentiments of locals and exploiting the youth for instigating violence.

Though date of birth certificate mentions the age of Basharat Yaqoob Beigh son of Muhammad Yaqoob of Shopian as 14 years, the detention order reflects his name as Umair Yakub Beigh and age as 19 years.

Basharat is an 8th class student of Shahi-i-Hamadan Memorial Institute Shopian.
The detention order reads: “You are instrumental in challenging the sovereignty and integrity of the State and have links with anti-national elements. You have destructive mind and were arranging public gathering and staging demonstrations against the state government.”

Detaining authority has accused the minor of having affiliation with Hurriyat Conference (G). “You came into contact with the Hurriyat (G) activists, who motivated you to work under the banner of Syed Ali Shah Geelani… In order to curb your activities, your detention under the PSA becomes imperative. It is prudent and legally desirable to detain you under Section 8 (3-b) of the Act so that you are restrained from further indulging in anti-social activities,” the order reads.

Basharat has been detained at District Jail Kathua. His family has filed a writ petition through Advocate Muhammad Ashraf Wani before the High Court seeking quashment of the detention.

After admitting the petition, court directed District Magistrate Shopian to file objections and listed the case in the last week of December.”

Aijaz Hussain from Srinagar

From The Washington Post: “Police stop religious gathering in Kashmir

“Police fired tear gas and swung batons to disperse hundreds of Muslims participating in religious processions in the Indian portion of Kashmir on Wednesday. At least six people were injured, police said.

Fearing that anti-India separatists might take control of the gatherings, government forces imposed a curfew in parts of the main city Srinagar and tried to stop the marchers observing the Muslim month of Muharram – one of the most important holy days for Shiite Muslims.

Some marchers retaliated by hurling stones at security forces, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Police detained nearly a dozen people, he said.

Large public gatherings have been banned in Indian-administered Kashmir since the outbreak of an insurgency in 1989 by nearly a dozen groups demanding the Himalayan region’s independence from India, or its merger with neighboring Pakistan.

The insurgency and a subsequent Indian crackdown have killed more than 68,000 people, mostly civilians, since 1989.

For five months this summer, tens of thousands of people held massive anti-India protests in the region. At least 111 – mostly teenage boys and young men – were killed in the clashes with security forces and hundreds more were arrested.

Muharram marks the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, in the battle of Karbala on Ashura. In predominantly Muslim Kashmir, Sunnis are a majority but they commonly take part in Muharram commemorations.”

Avinash Pandey Samar

From “Multiple Attacks on Mirwaiz Umar and the Silence

“Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of moderate faction of Hurriyat conference was attacked by right wing Hindutwa forces three times in five days. On November 25th, he was heckled, roughed up and punched in the face by the activists belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad while speaking in a conference in Chandigarh.

The attack was followed by another by the members of Bhartiya Janta Party on November 28th in Kolkata while he went to attend a seminar on Kashmir. But then, the worst of the attacks came on November 30th in Delhi, the national capital, when his vehicle was attacked by members of Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha and some Kashmiri Pandits when he was going to address a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC).

Needless is to say that the organisers of all these meetings, press conferences and seminars had all necessary permissions and approvals to hold them.

Sadly, the very fact that these attacks came in the middle of the ongoing peace process in Jammu and Kashmir, despite being disturbing in it, is not all about them. The disquieting reality of participation of the right wing Hindutwa organisations in all of them coupled with the delayed response of the police and other security forces betrays the fact that the attacks were premeditated and not spontaneous reactions to ‘anti-India’ speeches made by the Hurriyat leader.

Further, the stoic silence maintained by the government of India and its reluctance to punish those behind the attacks exposes its step motherly treatment of Kashmir and its leaders. The only response to the attacks came in the form of a joint condemnation issued by the three interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir appointed by the Government of India. They derided the attacks as ‘a violation of our democratic norms to attempt to silence the voices of dissent in Jammu and Kashmir, and a gross violation of the rule of law to use violence against individuals participating in seminars’.

The interlocutors too, however, stopped short of asking for any concrete action against perpetrators of these violent and criminal attacks. So did the mainstream political parties. This was not the end though. The worst was yet to come and it came from none other than Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, who rubbished the attack saying ‘these do not deserve a reaction”. He added insult to the injury by asserting that the attacks were “a reaction to Hurriyat’s politics and policies.”

One can just marvel at the polar difference between the observations of the interlocutors for peace in Jammu and Kashmir, with no powers more than that of condemning such attacks and appealing for peace, and the ‘constitutionally elected’ chief minister of the state, responsible for ensuring rule and law in the state….”