Month: January 2012

David Barsamian

From Socialist Worker: Journalism and Occupation

“FOR OBVIOUS reasons, freedom of the press in Kashmir is limited and constrained. Military occupation with its attendant curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints, searches, surveillance, wiretapping of calls and e-mails, and state-sponsored violence, from custodial deaths and extrajudicial killings to torture and disappearances, produce immense pain and suffering among Kashmiris.

Intimidation and fear are widespread. That is the intent, design and logic of occupation. In such a repressive and oppressive atmosphere, people are reluctant to speak freely and provide information to journalists, and journalists do not have freedom of movement to report stories. Occupation nourishes and sustains a climate of timidity, paranoia and intense psychological distress. (more…)

Freny Manecksha

From New Internationalist:Grave Concerns over Security Laws...”

Two days into 2012, a student was killed and two more were injured in a village in North Kashmir when the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) guarding a hydroelectric plant opened fire on protesters, shattering a tenuous peace. In the recent past, (and most noticeably in 2010), students who have come out on to the streets chanting pro-freedom slogans – as part of a struggle for self determination whose roots go back further than Indian independence – have been fired upon and killed. This time, the protesters were merely demanding more electricity on an icy winter day during an acute power shortage. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was quick to declare that the CISF did not come under the ambit of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) – an extraordinary and draconian piece of security legislation – and sought to raise the pitch for partial revocation of the law.

AFSPA was enacted in 1990, ostensibly to fight the insurgency and armed militancy that surfaced in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and in some parts of northeast India. Although the government admits that militancy has significantly reduced in Kashmir, the law has not been revoked. In October last year Abdullah began issuing statements to the effect that AFSPA must be partially revoked. (more…)

Nawaz Gul Qanungo

From The Friday Times: The Inheritance of Loss” –Commemorating Agha Shahid Ali

“Woh dard ki shiddat badhaatay hain, main apni yaadaasht… They’ve been raising afflictions upon me… I polish my memory.”

The subject is Kashmir’s incessant struggle for justice. And these political verses, written by Muzaffar Karim, a young Kashmiri writer, were whispered not in the corner of a closed room in the valley. They reverberated in a packed hall in Jawaharlal Nehru University, right in the heart of India’s Capital. Apart from a dozen-odd young Kashmiris present in the hall, most of the audience – scholars, writers, filmmakers, students, teachers and others old and young – belonged to different parts of India.

“At one time, it was horrible to talk about Kashmir in JNU,” says Najeeb Mubarki, who studied literature at the university during the later half of the nineties, explaining how difficult it was to discuss openly Kashmir’s struggle for freedom in places like Delhi even within the boundaries of a university campus. “But Kashmir has broken through,” says Najeeb, now a journalist with a major Indian newspaper. “There lies one of the greatest contributions of Agha Shahid Ali.”
Agha Shahid Ali undisputedly is Kashmir’s most celebrated modern poet. “They make a desolation and call it peace,” wrote Shahid, and captured in the imagination of countless Kashmiris the inconceivable loss and pain brought up on them by the Indian state. Shahid’s tenth death anniversary, this December, witnessed tributes paid to him around the world in New York, New Delhi, Berkeley, London, Minneapolis, Singapore, and, of course, Kashmir, among other places… (more…)

John Elliot from New Delhi

From The Independent: “Indian Soldiers Kill a Kashmiri Protesting Power Shortage

“The fragile peace in India’s disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir was broken yesterday (Jan 3, 2012) when security forces opened fire on demonstrators protesting against electricity power shortages, killing a 25-year old man and injuring two others.

Anger has been spreading across the mountainous region, where temperatures have dropped to near freezing, since unusually heavy power cuts were imposed last month. Yesterday’s demonstration was outside a power project at Uri near Boniyar, 90kms from the state’s summer capital of Srinagar.

Members of the Central Industrial Security Force opened fire when a group of about 500 protesters marched towards the project’s main gate. This is a central government force hired by the National Hydro Power Corporation and has little experience of handling the delicate situation in Kashmir, where there have been demands for some form of autonomy from India for over 60 years…”