From Amnesty International: “Denied”
AI has just published “Denied: Failures of Accountability for Human Rights Violations by Security Forces Personel in Jammu and Kashmir”. To download click the link above.
“This report documents obstacles to justice for victims of human rights violations existing in both law and practice in Jammu and Kashmir, and shows how the government’s response to reports of human rights violations has failed to deliver justice for several victims and families. Addressing Jammu and Kashmir’s impunity problem, and indeed India’s attitude towards impunity, is a challenge; but it is essential to ensure justice to victims of human rights violations, and facilitate the healing process for those who have suffered during the course of Jammu and Kashmir’s decades of struggle and alienation.”
The main researcher Christine Mehta was deported from India last year. Read her account “How I was deported from India“. An excerpt:
“In 2014, I was on the cusp of publishing a report on the abuses committed under the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Jammu and Kashmir. Despite the need for reform amongst the ranks, the Indian government remains extremely sensitive to the image of its Army and other security forces. The state terms anyone who raises questions about the conduct of the security forces as “anti-national”.
There had been signs of official unease with my work in Jammu and Kashmir. In early 2013, an officer from the MHA had visited our office after I returned from a trip to the State. He claimed that he needed to conduct a background check because a Pakistani journalist with suspected ties to terrorist groups had listed me as a reference while applying for an Indian visa. I had not been in touch with any Pakistani journalist.
When he discovered that I was a PIO, and that my grandfather had migrated from India to the U.S., he stopped questioning me. He advised me to be wary of what Kashmiris tell me as they “have a special interest” in tarnishing India’s image.
In October 2014, Ananth Guruswamy, then the chief executive of AII, told me that the government had informed him that it would no longer tolerate my research in Jammu and Kashmir. The conversation sparked a discussion about my future in the organisation. “
From The Caravan: “How Indian Surveillance Disrupts Ordinary Life and Lives in Kashmir”
On 6 November 2014, two teenagers were killed by the armed forces while they were on their way to see a Muharram procession in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. The killings, that the military later stated were a “mistake” led to a series of clashes between the armed forces and civilians in the area. Among those who were protesting, was a 22-year-old student who is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Science in Kashmir. When I met him in Srinagar in February this year, the twenty-two-year-old science student recalled finding out about the killings and spending his entire day on the streets to participate in the agitations that took place. At around midnight, exhausted but restless after the events that transpired, he called a childhood friend—a student from Kashmir who was pursuing his higher studies in New Delhi—and began an eager narration of his triumphs and tribulations from the day. However, the exchange struck him as a little odd as his friend kept disconnecting the phone repeatedly. Once his initial confusion dissipated, the student realised that his friend was trying to avoid the omnipresent third entity in the conversation. The student felt increasingly exasperated with this presence once he registered the strange beeps and echoes during the phone call. In the next call he made, he defiantly mocked and swore at the “third person,” a covert listener. The two friends laughed.
The panopticon that has been encircling Kashmir is a construction of the Indian state, which has been intensifying its mass-surveillance architecture in the region for over a decade. Although surveillance has always been a vital constituent of the ruling apparatus in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), electronic snooping underwent a marked increase from 2008 to 2010, with a surge in mass civil uprisings (more…)
From The Practical Nomad: Kashmir, self-determination, and human rights
Who am I to talk about Kashmir?
I’m an activist for peace and justice, and a travel journalist. I think that part of the ethical responsibility of travellers is to speak up about what we see, not just go home and forget about the places we’ve visited – especially when we visit places with few foreign observers other than tourists. Tourists play an increasingly important role as citizen human rights observers.
The focus of my human rights activism is the USA, although that’s not today’s topic. And I don’t claim to be a historian or an expert on current events in Kashmir.
What I can offer is a perspective on Kashmir in terms of contemporary norms of human rights, democracy, and self-determination, rather than explanations of contemporary polices rooted in what I think is irrelevant ancient history.
The big picture, about which we’ll hear more from some of tonight’s other speakers, is that since 1989, India has maintained a military occupation of the Kashmir Valley by more than half a million soldiers, police, paramilitaries, and other armed “security” forces brought in from outside Kashmir.
This occupation has had all the typical attributes of any military occupation, in unusually intense and prolonged form. For most of the last 25 years, the Kashmir Valley has been under various flavors of de facto or de jure martial law, with soldiers everywhere, army camps next to every village, checkpoints on every city block, curfews, house to house searches, legalized arrest and detention without trial, and official suspension of many of the norms of democratic governance and civil liberties. (more…)
From Caravan Magazine: Ballot Bullet Stone
For Spring the mist was unseasonal, and visibility low on the highway that runs south from Srinagar. There was little traffic, and only men in uniform seemed able to move through the early-morning haze. In khaki, olive green, and mottled camouflage, heavily armed clusters of police, paramilitary and army personnel were everywhere. Their presence is routine in the Kashmir valley, where more than half a million Indian soldiers are stationed, making it one of the most densely militarised zones in the world
But that April morning was not routine. It was voting day in Anantnag, the constituency that covers Kashmir’s southern countryside. This was the first of three seats in the valley that people were voting for in the most recent elections to the Indian Parliament. The others were to follow at week-long intervals. That is probably the time it takes to reassemble the “security grid” for each constituency, without which the conduct of elections is impossible here. (On the day Anantnag, with its 1.3 million registered voters, held elections, 54 million voters in the southern state of Tamil Nadu cast their ballots for 39 seats.)
Kashmiris know that the members of parliament they are asked to vote for have no bearing on the masla-e-Kashmir, “the Kashmir issue,” whose central question of political self-determination has vexed the region for more than sixty years. Nor can their members of parliament significantly affect citizens’ access to roads, schools, hospitals, or even the all-important neighbourhood electricity transformer. Those are the domain of the state government, and elections for the state assembly are expected only at the end of this year. That’s probably why there were no posters or banners or flags or pennants to inform you of that day’s election. What was less easy to explain were the deserted roads, shuttered wayside shops, and the vague anxiety in the air.
For more click the link above.
From Himal Southasian: Housed in History
During a trip to North Kashmir’s Kupwara district in late March this year, I, along with some friends, decided to pay a visit to Shahmala Begum, who lives in the sombre village of Trehgam, some 93 kilometres away from the summer capital city of Srinagar in India-administered-Kashmir. The incessant rainfall since morning, the potholes, and puddles of water on the road compelled us to brake regularly in order to prevent drenching people walking on the road with muddy water. Excited but severely restricted by our speed, we set out to meet the aged stepmother of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat.
Relying on directions given to us by passersby, we took a snaky road flanked by vast open fields on either side from the main town of Kupwara. At one point, the blaring speaker of the car’s stereo system was put to a sudden pause, and silence filled the car. “We are passing through Kunan-Poshpora,” my friend remarked. She works with a human-rights support group that seeks justice for the victims of the mass rape of more than 40 women in two villages, during the night of 23 February 1991, by soldiers of the battalion of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles (RR) of Indian Army stationed at Kunan-Poshpora. We passed the twin villages in silence. As if in unsaid mutual agreement, all of us knew that we were driving through one of the most haunted corridors of India’s military occupation of Jammu and Kashmir – a region disputed since the Partition of the Indian subcontinent. After crossing the villages, a short old lady huddled under a big black umbrella pointed us towards the road that meets the Kupwara-Chowkibal highway at the Trehgam taxi stand.
To avoid getting wet in the rain, most people were lined up in front of shops, some waited it out in cars and passenger sheds, while others braved the rain openly. On reaching the taxi stand, I asked a driver, “Where is Mohammad Maqbool Bhat’s home?” “He was hanged!” I blurted out awkwardly, to provide him context.
“You mean shaheed Maqbool Bhat?”
To read more click the link above
From Socialist Worker.Org: Fear Clouds the Indian Elections
IN THE lead-up to India’s parliamentary elections–which began in early April and continue through mid-May–progressive intellectuals, activists and organizations sounded the alarm over the prospect of a victory for the candidate of the Hindu right, Narendra Modi.
A statement by well-known left intellectuals published in The Hindubegan, “Never before in post-independence India have political forces, which are a front for an organization committed to creating a Hindu Rashtra [Nation], made as strong a bid for power as in the coming elections.” Similarly, Salman Rushdie, Deepa Mehta and others warned that Modi’s election “would bode ill for India’s future as a country that cherishes the ideals of inclusion.”
Journalist and rights activist Praful Bidwai issued an even more forceful warning:
If Modi wins, his regime is likely to be even worse [than Indira Gandhi’s imposition of emergency rule in 1975-76], with systematic attacks on civil and political rights, railroading of all legitimate opposition, despotic imposition of corporate-driven economic agendas, and further militarization and communalization of society, which will lead to harassment of conscientious citizens, and outlawing and repression of dissent.
This sense of alarm is justified. Narendra Modi is a former pracharak (literally, propagandist) for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, or National Voluntary Association), which functions as the ideological and organizational backbone of the fascist Sangh Parivar, the “family” of Hindu fundamentalist groups that includes militant cadre organizations such as the Bajrang Dal and the Shiv Sena. (more…)
From Kashmir Dispatch: Why Kashmiri people back Pakistan Team
Kashmir students have been rusticated from a university in India after their alleged support of the Pakistan cricket team. The university blames the Kashmir students for showing anti-national character and rioting in the campus. Even though Kashmir students claim that they have been abused and humiliated by Indians they have been called ‘Pakistanis’ or ‘Terrorists’ by the local students for their support of Pakistan team during the nail-biting game against India on Sunday. The irony is that these 200 students are on Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship for Kashmir students. It was launched after the 2010 civil protest to contain the dissent of the Kashmir youth towards the Indian State. I wonder if a boss, who is a Manchester United fan, will fire a Liverpool fan who is his employee just because MU lost the game against Liverpool. This is hilariously absurd.
The racist attacks on Kashmiris living in India have been rampant especially since the outbreak of armed rebellion in early 90s. These attacks stem from the ignorance of common Indians on Kashmir and the idea of accepting Kashmiris not wanting to be a part of India. There is a nationalistic sentiment which goes against Pakistan in India and everything related to it. So when Kashmiris took up arms in 90s, they were branded as ‘Pakistani Terrorists’ though they were Kashmiris fighting for Independence. Or when Kashmiris took up to the streets from 2008, they were infamously branded as ‘agitational terrorists’ by an army officer on a TV debate. (more…)
From New York Times: Kashmiri Students Briefly Charged With Sedition for Rooting for Wrong Cricket Team
The police in northern India briefly filed sedition charges against 67 Kashmiri students after some of them cheered for the Pakistani cricket team during a televised match with India on Sunday night.
The charges were initially filed after an official complaint was lodged against the students by Manzoor Ahmed, vice chancellor of Swami Vivekanand Subharti University in Meerut, according to M. M. Baig, a Meerut police official. In addition to sedition charges, the students were charged with “instigating hate between two communities.” But after the police and local officials reviewed the case, the sedition charges were dropped on Thursday, according to local media reports.
Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, had written in several posts on Twitter that the sedition charges against the students were an overreaction.
“I believe what the students did was wrong & misguided but they certainly didn’t deserve to have charges of sedition slapped against them,” Mr. Abdullah wrote.
He said he had spoken to his counterpart in Uttar Pradesh State, where Meerut is located, “who has assured me he will personally look into the matter of the Kashmiri students in Meerut.”
Indian news media reported that a delegation of leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party, a right-of-center Hindu nationalist group that polls suggest will soon dominate India’s central government, met Mr. Ahmed and demanded stern action against the students. A group of students associated with the Hindu party also burned an effigy of Mr. Ahmed, local news media reported. Mr. Ahmed said in an interview on Wednesday that he was aware of the effigy burning. (more…)