From Kafila: 23 Years After Kunan Poshpora: Rethinking Kashmir
It looks like any other village in Kashmir.
You go past a wooden bridge, past open fields winter-barren and wet with rain. Past mountains with snow on their chin. Past wistful looking poplars. Past a brook with clear water. Past grumpy apple trees gnarled like a grinch.
Then the road narrows, and homes – of timber and brick – come into view. Some have fences, unpainted wood. Heaps of hay, dung cakes, piles of dried leaves left to smoke. Ditches and dykes choked with snowmelt. Leafless walnut trees and brunette willows. The chinars, wild redheads just months ago, now old and arthritic. There is a government school on the right, a madrassa on the left. A few houses of stone, fewer of concrete, tin roofs over all.
Before you walk any further, the village ends. The next village is Poshpora. Like Kunan before it, it looks like any other village in the valley. The two villages are so close that people no longer call them by their individual names. Everyone knows this two-in-one village as Kunan Poshpora.
From Z Magazine: Kashmir and the Intifada of the Mind: An interview with Sanjay Kak
DAVID BARSAMIAN: You’re in the United States for the publication of Until My Freedom Has Come. You have an essay and an introduction in it. Why this book?
SANJAY KAK: Kashmir is often in the news. In the years 2008, 2009, and 2010 there were a series of extraordinary events. That part of the world, which has been plagued by armed conflict for nearly 25 years, saw, in 2008, a marked shift in what was going on. At a time when the armed militancy was seen as having been crushed or subdued or brought under control, suddenly there was a new form of civic protest, mass crowds, hundreds and thousands of people coming out in the streets, which was something not seen in Kashmir in years. So the events in 2008 represented the end of a certain phase of opposition to the Indian military presence there. The whole issue of the right of self-determination got a new shape and form. The following year saw a similar set of protests.
Then in 2010 there was a complete boiling over. From the beginning of March all the way to September, the streets were literally taken over by protesters. There were frequent clashes—more than 120 people lost their lives, most of them young boys. But what was significant about 2010—and it was something that we had seen coming—was that the protest on the street and the stone throwing and the Intifada-like characteristic of that rebellion was also matched by an accompanying flow of writing. Not, obviously, in the mainstream media, which could only see the young men throwing stones, but on the Internet, which by 2010 had really arrived in Kashmir. (more…)
From Huffington Post: The Continued Silencing of Torture in Kashmir
The Indian army has tortured one out of every six people living in the occupied province of Kashmir, yet the plight of Kashmiris is largely undocumented in mainstream American media outlets. While media attention increased on the region in 2010 during the outbreak of a Kashmiri intifada, where youths began to throw stones against Indian military and paramilitary troops, coverage and discussion of Kashmir has once again dropped off entirely. Why is this? I argue that the violence and torture in Kashmir is largely silenced because of India’s economic importance to the U.S. and Pakistan’s political importance in the War on Terror. The U.S. remains neutral in discussions of Kashmir, arguing that India and Pakistan need to come to a solution on their own. In this way, the U.S. can protect both its political and economic interests in the region.
The conflict in Kashmir can be traced back to the original partition of the Indian subcontinent in the late 1940s, as both India and Pakistan wanted the region within their political control. In 1948, both sides agreed to line of a ceasefire that left one-third of the region in Pakistani control and two-thirds of the region under Indian control. Since that time, this line of control has become a major contentious issue between both countries, leading to the militarization of the entire region. Religion plays a major role in the defining of the conflict, since many Muslim populations are forced to live under what they view to be Hindu rule in India.
Continual wars and skirmishes regarding the rule of Kashmir have plagued the province with unrest, but it was not until 1989 that the continuous uprisings broke out in the region against the Indian state’s occupation. Since 1989, Kashmir has become the most densely militarized zone in the world, with one Indian solider on the ground for every 15 Kashmiri locals, via Pulse Media. (more…)
From AlJazeera.com: Fake Encounters: The Expendable Kashmiri
On January 23, the Indian Army passed a not-guilty ruling in the Pathribal Case of 2000 in which five civilians were executed in Indian-occupied Kashmir by the Indian Army and passed off as dreaded militants. The somewhat resigned silence, even among Kashmiris, over the ruling begs a few essential and profound questions. First of all, how did we get to a situation where it’s perfectly alright for a state to allow its soldiers to go scot-free after it’s been established that they committed premeditated murder?
The facts of the case have been clear and simple for years. On March 25, 2000, five men were picked up by the officers of the Indian Army’s Rashtriya Rifles in a conspiracy to display a quick breakthrough in the Chittisingh Pora massacre of March 20, in which 36 Sikhs were gunned down by gunmen – possibly from the Lashkar-e-Toiba or possibly not, as the two Lashkar suspects were acquitted in 2011. The massacre took place at the time of US President Bill Clinton’s India visit. All accounts from the time and thereafter, including a blow-by-blow charge sheet submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and DNA analyses, suggest the five men – two farmers, both named Jumma Khan, goatherds Bashir Ahmed Butt and Mohammad Yusuf Malik, and Zahoor Dalal, a cloth merchant – were innocent and were executed, their bodies mauled and in one case decapitated, and then burned to eliminate all vestiges of their identity.
Let me quote verbatim from the CBI charge-sheet, extracts of which were published in the Indian Express:
“The Army Unit of 7 RR… was under tremendous psychological pressure to show some results…The then Col Ajay Saxena, the then Major B P Singh, Maj Sourabh Sharma, Subedar Idrees Khan and other personnel… hatched a criminal conspiracy to pick up some innocent persons and stage-manage an encounter to create an impression that the militants responsible for the Chhittisingh Pora killings had been neutralised.” (more…)