Month: December 2011

Balmurli Natarajan and Mohamad Junaid

From SAMAR: “Of Silences, Suffering and Solidarity: Facing South Asia’s ‘Original Sin’

We shall meet again, in Srinagar, 
by the gates of the Villa of Peace, 
our hands blossoming into fists
till the soldiers return the keys
and disappear
–Agha Shahid Ali, Kashmiri poet 
For us, Azadi (independence) means not just getting rid of foreign occupation of our beloved motherland but also to remove hunger, poverty, ignorance and disease and to overcome economic and social deprivation. One day, we shall achieve that Azadi
—Maqbool Bhat, founder of JKLF, hanged by Indian authorities in Tihar jail in 1984

In April 2008, the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), a Kashmiri human rights group, which had for the previous 14 years been seeking to know from Indian authorities the whereabouts of their forcibly disappeared family members, came out with a startling report, Facts Underground, which claimed that their kin may have ended up in the thousands of unmarked graves that dot Indian-controlled Kashmir. In the summer of 2011, after it became too hard to deny in the face of piling evidence, those fears were partly acknowledged by the Indian government’s State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)when it announced the finding of close to 2,730 unmarked graves in Kupwara, a border district. A further 3,000 unmarked graves were found in Poonch and Rajouri districts, while reports suggest that many more such graves would surface in Kashmir if the inquiry were expanded. APDP claimed that between 8,000 and10,000 Kashmiris have disappeared at the hands of Indian military forces over the last two decades of armed insurrection against Indian rule in the region. The Indian government, however, continues to refuse to acknowledge either the fact of forcible disappearances or that the people in the graves are Kashmiris. Instead, the hackneyed official lines claim that the graves are of those of “foreign” fighters, regardless of the fact that the SHRC report contradicted this claim by identifying hundreds of bodies as those of local Kashmiris. (more…)