Umar, 16, responds with a blank look when asked to recall his 35-day stay in prison last year. Jailed at 15 for throwing stones at policemen near his hometown of Pattan, 35km (22 miles) north of Srinagar city, Umar now fears any man in uniform. Umar and dozens of his fellow protesters say they were first detained in an abandoned matchstick factory.
The place, they allege, served as a forced interrogation chamber of the paramilitary Special Task Force (STF) which has consistently denied all allegations that it has mistreated detainees. Those who were held say that they were later shifted by the authorities to a district jail in Baramulla, 30km (19 miles) from their homes. (more…)
It is extraordinary that a country that claims to be a democracy still resorts to deporting people it suspects will disseminate information it would prefer to suppress. The manner in which David Barsamian, the award-winning American journalist and founder-director of Alternative Radio, was sent back from New Delhi airport on 23 September is one more illustration of the Government of India’s undemocratic mindset. It is also an antiquated mindset, for in an age when information is freely available and moves across borders with such ease, it makes no sense for government agencies to keep journalists out of the country.
Barsamian has been an outspoken critic of American foreign policy, and has criticised the international arms industry and the role of corporate media in obscuring reality. Fluent in Urdu and Hindi, he has also commented critically on India’s handling of the Kashmir issue as well as on other controversies such as adivasi struggles against mining companies. He has visited Kashmir thrice in the last 15 years and, predictably, his interviews with the ordinary people there on prevailing conditions did not make him a favourite with the authorities. (more…)