|The News International, Nov 23, 2008|
| SRINAGAR: The authorities in occupied Kashmir have been continuing to keep the Chairman of All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and other Hurriyet leaders including Maulana Abbas Ansari, Agha Syed Hassan Al-Moosvi, Fazl Haq Qureshi and Bar President, Mian Abdul Qayoom under house arrest and resorting to strict measures to thwart the March towards Ganderbal.
According to Kashmir Media Service, the call for the March has been given by the Jammu and Kashmir Coordination Committee on the occasion of holding of 2nd phase of shame polls by the occupation authorities in six constituencies of Ganderbal and Rajouri districts.
Except these constituencies, undeclared curfew has been imposed in the entire Kashmir Valley and roads leading to Ganderbal have been sealed.
Heavy deployment has been made in Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley. All roads leading to Ganderbal have been sealed with barbed and razor wires and barricades.
The police and paramilitary personnel have been forcing people to remain indoor and patrolling the deserted streets to foil any attempt by Kashmiri people to assemble for the march.
In view of strict restrictions imposed by the authorities and a general strike called by the Coordination Committee, all shops and business establishments are closed.
The residents complained that security personnel are not allowing them to come out of their houses.
Posts Tagged ‘curfew’
Not by Curfews alone, Mr. Governor!
By Dr Abdul Ruff Colachal | Kashmir Watch, Oct 11, 2008, Part 32
Muslims are being tortured and killed almost everywhere, in conservative countries, autocracies and the so-called democracies. Anti-Islamic regimes kill them to quench their blood thirst, while the Muslim nations do the same in order to appease the terrorist nations led by the USA which many developing countries vie to gain nuclear contracts. Muslims are being butchered in Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere and yet none is capable to raise their serious concern against those waging poisonous tails against Muslims. In anti-Muslim Hindu conservative India, even Muslims are made to be work against their own legitimate interests.
Terrorist India that occupies its neighbor Jammu Kashmir by brutal force has over decades created a terror force to kill Kashmiris and groomed a band of anti-Muslim militant-minded journalists to pursue the state agenda of anti-Muslimism who in the name of combating terrorism only keep the inter-civilization wedge intact if no t further fueling it. They promote only anti-Islamic opinions in the media under their control and influence abroad especially in developing world, more importantly in Middle East. Indian journalists, thriving on “terrorism” cash, see only terrorism in Indian and Kashmir Muslims in one form or the other. They denounce anything “not pro-India’ and term them as ” anti-India” and terrorize even the non-Muslim journalists who make living on terrorism theme.
India is country of hidden agendas at home and abroad. State terrorism has remained the hallmark of Indian policy. As soon as it clinched the nuclerism with USA, it went further to showcase its power to Jammu Kashmir. Indian leaders, including the military top brass, are yet to admit the fact that terror forces are illegally occupying Jammu Kashmir. India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to stay away from Kashmir issue and let the Kashmiris seek independence all by themselves. It is very particular that Kashmir is kept out of purview of any bilateral talks between them. Will India, then, resolve the issue now and surrender Kashmir for good?
Indian and JK governments have complicated the life of freedom leaders particularly Syed Ali Geelani who is being repeated arrested and mentally tortured. During the recent curfew clamped by Vohra regime in Srinagar has further deteriorated the health of this veteran leader. The Majlis Shoura of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC-G) has appointed Ghulam Nabi Sumji as acting chairman of the amalgam because of the ill-health of Chairman Shah Geelani, who has been advised to get his pacemaker replaced and is being shifted to Delhi for treatment. The condition of Geelani had deteriorated because of his continuous detention and house arrest. He was admitted to a local hospital on October 5.
Geelani criticized the authorities for imposing curfew in the valley and arresting separatist leaders and asked the people not to heed rumors and foil any attempt by miscreants to harm unity. However, in a message to the people of Kashmir, he stressed the need for unity among all pro liberation groups.
People’s power is indeed great and purposeful. Kashmiris have shown that if people are united and fight for a just cause the rulers would be ruined sooner than later.
Discovered by UK in 19th century, the Amarnath temple structure outside India has all of sudden become a Hindutva symbol of Hindus in India and Jammu region of Kashmir. India and its Hindu representatives in Jammu Kashmir seem to have accorded to the Amarnath the status of NRI. After the destruction of Babri Mosque on the pretext that it was once Hindu structure, the Hindu India has taken up a new agenda in Hinduizing occupied Jammu Kashmir. They were under illusion that what they want to do in India and Jammu Kashmir will have to be accepted by Muslims as the final law. But Muslims Kashmir are totally different form those in India made with completely pro-Hindu mindset, and they don’t want to be a part of terrorist India that has killed over lakh [100,000] Kashmiris so far.
Unlike the slavery minded Muslims in India who even don’t have the capacity to fight for the reconstruction of the Babri Mosque demolished by Indian Hindu terrorists, Kashmiris continue to demand freedom from occupying India. Muzaffarabad March sacrificed a prominent freedom leader among others, but it evoked the inner consciousness of freedom seeking Kashmiris who are overwhelming in Jammu Kashmir. After protestors thronged the United Nations Military Observer Group’s (UNIMOGIP’S) office in Srinagar demanding the resolution of Kashmir dispute the United Nation Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has formulated plans to pay a visit to India towards the end of this month or early November. Ban has criticized the India terrorism in Kashmir but, as usual, prompted resented by India. UN chiefs visit to India will be closely watched by the pro liberation camp in the Valley. Many pro liberation leaders are planning to seek a rendezvous with the UN chief and plead for his intervention in resolving the six decades old Kashmir sovereignty issue.
Pertinent to mention that freedom leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had during a rally held at TRC grounds on August 18 asked Ban Ki-moon to pay a visit to the Valley and ascertain the facts, besides getting a firsthand account on the uprising in Kashmir. Hopefully, UN chief’s visit to this “democracy’ killing Kashmiris for fun will pave way for freedom of Jammu Kashmir.
Not by Curfew alone!
A high level meeting held in New Delhi discussed the Kashmir situation and unanimously decided to impose curfew in the Valley to scuttle the Lal Chowk March. The security agencies were already directed to erect long iron-made barricades at various entry points including Kokerbazar, Amira Kadal, Jehangir Chowk, Regal Chowk to prevent people from marching towards Lal Chowk. “Massive deployment of troops has already been put in place and Lal Chowk will be made out of bound for the people. Meanwhile, authorities have imposed section 144 in Ganderbal and Baramulla districts of Kashmir to prevent assembling of more than four persons at a place.
The curfew comes in the wake of Lal Chowk Chalo March call given by Coordination Committee, a freedom conglomerate, to press for its demands which include opening of Line of Control roads for trade, release of all detainees and revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act. A number of freedom leaders, including Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yaseen Malik were put under preventive custody. Hardline freedom leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was shifted to a hospital after he complained of pain in lower abdomen. Among those placed under house arrest were Chairman of moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Jamiat-e-Ahl-e-Hadith chief Maulana Showkat besides senior separatist leaders Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone and Sajjad Lone.
A virtual siege was laid around Lal Chowk as a large posse of gun-toting security personnel took up position in and around the area. All entry and exit points in Srinagar city have been sealed. There were some sporadic protests when the paramilitary forces refused to entertain curfew passes. However, the issue was resolved later. The new anti-riot vehicles, procured by the Jammu and Kashmir Police recently, were positioned at strategic locations, especially those which had witnessed violence earlier. Due to indefinite curfew imposed by the authorities in Srinagar and elsewhere in Kashmir and the government’s failure to provide adequate number of curfew passes to our staff, distributors and hawkers, the print editions. Some of the local newspapers failed to hit the stands as publishers decided not to print them accusing the government of not providing enough curfew passes to their staff, a charge denied by the government. A private television channel — Sen TV– was banned for allegedly inciting people to disturb public peace and tranquility.
Indian agents in Jammu Kashmir headed by Governor Vohra are trying all tricks including state terrorism techniques to quell the freedom move in Jammu Kashmir by clamping curfews intermittently adding more harm to the Kashmiris. After creating enough trouble for the Kashmir Muslims the Hindu “brethren” in Jammu region are enjoying life by being agents of New Delhi.
Mirwaiz, who is senior member of the Coordination Committee (CC) spearheading the present pro-independence struggle in the Kashmir Valley, said the Committee is meeting on October 8 to discuss the future course of action.
Mirwaiz told Greater Kashmir that the stringent curfew imposed by the authorities ahead of October 6 march was a “moral victory of the people.” He said the CC had urged people to demonstrate peacefully and not to shout any provocative slogan.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed the imposition of curfew as “Martial Law” and “sheer frustration of the government.”
“We were going to hold the peaceful protest at Lal-Chowk but it was thwarted by the imposition of curfew. These restrictions ahead of our march are unjustified and undemocratic,” Mirwaiz told Greater Kashmir by phone.
He said the pro-freedom leaders were either arrested or kept under house arrest. “Even people all across the valley were subjected to house arrest.”
Mirwaiz said that rally was a mere means of registering protests and demanding our right to self-determination. “It was not going to be a referendum. People have already shown what they want in huge rallies in August,” he said.
The Hurriyat chairman said that it was the moral victory of people as they made themselves heard at the international level. “On one hand India calls itself a democratic country but on another hand there is no room for expressing one’s views,” he said.
He condemned the imposition of harassment and restrictions on the movement of journalists in Srinagar and elsewhere.
Mirwaiz said Co-ordination Committee will meet on October 8 to decide the future course of action. The Hurriyat members are later expected to welcome a 15-member AJK chamber of commerce and Industry delegation on Thursday.
Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani also condemned the clamping of curfew in Valley ahead of the march.
“The protests were going to be peaceful so the administration’s decision to impose restrictions is unjustified and uncalled for,” Geelani told Greater Kashmir by phone.
He said it was not the protesters but the police and CRPF troopers that resorted to violence and used brute force against the unarmed civilians in the past three months which resulted in the death of more than 60 persons.
Terming the curfew “as an act of state terrorism”, Geelani said, “Even those who possessed curfew passes issued by the state administration were not honored by the troopers.”
Geelani said the coordination committee was aware of the problems faced by traders, students, and therefore has decided to call off the strike from Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Hurriyat Conference Provincial President Nayeem Ahmad Khan while condemning the detention and arrests of the Hurriyat leaders said India cannot suppress the ongoing struggle use force or placing restrictions.
“India has intensified atrocities on Kashmiri people and dozens of innocent peaceful marchers including senior Hurriyat leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz were killed in indiscriminate firing by troops in last two months,” Khan said.
Khan said that people were going to hold the peaceful demonstrations at Lal Chowk as was done earlier. “India does not want Kashmiris to be heard at international level. But the issue has already caught the international attention and the Indian literate class was now opening supporting the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination,” he said.
Meanwhile, a CC spokesman said despite curfew restrictions, people in different areas staged peaceful demonstrations.
He said the call for Lal Chowk chalo was given as on this very place first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had promised the people of the Jammu and Kashmir that they would be given the right to choose their destination. ‘’We just want the world to know that we are demanding what we were promised by the first Prime Minister,’’ he said.
He also condemned the house-arrest of senior Hurriyat leaders, including Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others, besides detaining more than 100 senior and other leaders.
Indian authorities threaten to shoot violators of curfew in Kashmir to prevent rally
AIJAZ HUSSAIN | AP News, Oct 06, 2008 05:47 EST
Police warned Monday they would shoot any violators of a curfew imposed in Indian-controlled Kashmir to prevent a large pro-independence rally planned later in the day.
Thousands of police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear drove through neighborhoods and went to people’s homes warning them to stay indoors, said Ghulam Nabi, a resident of Nowhatta district in Srinagar, the main city in India’s only Muslim-majority state.
In recent months the disputed Himalayan region has seen some of its largest protests against Indian rule in two decades. At least 45 people have died in the unrest, most of them killed when Indian soldiers opened fire on Muslim demonstrators.
While streets in Srinagar were largely deserted, hundreds of protesters defied the curfew in Baramulla, a town 35 miles north of Srinagar. Government forces fired tear gas to disperse the crowd and no one was injured, said Abdul Gani Mir, a senior police officer.
Reyaz Ahmed, a local resident, said by telephone that authorities entered homes, smashed windows and beat residents. Mir said police were looking into the allegations.
Several hundred people also defied the curfew in the nearby village of Rafiabad, but later dispersed peacefully.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Indian-administered Kashmir, where most people favor independence from mainly Hindu India or a merger with predominantly Muslim Pakistan.
Separatist groups have been fighting since 1989 to end Indian rule, leaving an estimated 68,000 people, mostly civilians, dead.
Indian police and paramilitary forces also prevented people from visiting mosques for Monday morning prayers in Srinagar and other places in the region, residents said. Shops, schools and businesses shut for the day.
Police announced over loudspeakers they would shoot anyone found violating the curfew, residents said.
“People should not violate the curfew, it’s an offense,” warned B. Srinivas, inspector-general of state police.
The recent demonstrations subsided during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended Sept. 30. But separatist leaders sought to rekindle the protests with a huge rally Monday at Lal Chowk, a central square in Srinagar.
Authorities announced a curfew across the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley on Sunday.
Police also arrested Mohammed Yasin Malik, a key separatist leader, on Saturday and put another top leader, Mirwaiz Omer Farooq, under house arrest, Srinivas said.
“By imposing the curfew, India’s false claims of democracy and freedom of expression are exposed,” Farooq told The Associated Press by telephone.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, which both claim the region and have fought two wars over it.
Source: AP News
There was no report of any violation of curfew in the Valley, including Srinagar city. “The situation was by and large peaceful in all parts of the Valley and no violation was reported till late in the evening,” a police spokesman said.
Witnesses told Greater Kashmir youth raising pro-freedom slogans marched through the bye lanes of the old town this afternoon. However after the march protesters dispersed off peacefully.
Reports said that hundreds of youth tried taking out a pro-freedom demonstration at Kulgam in south Kashmir on Sunday morning. “Policemen and troopers intercepted the protesters and resorted to baton charge to disperse them. Protesters were dispersed and no one was injured in the police action,” official sources said.
The historic Lal Chowk was sealed last night from all the sides. Besides, the CRPF and policemen had also been deployed in strength in the civil lines to prevent any gathering there, official sources said.
All the routes leading to Lal Chwok were sealed. Tin sheets and barbed wire were put around Ganta Ghar (Clock tower).
Law enforcing agencies imposed curfew strictly in famous health resort of Gulmarg on Sunday. Reports said that policemen and troopers asked the shopkeepers not to open their shops and the tourists who were present in the health resort were directed to remain inside the hotels, and the huts they were putting up in. “This is for the first time that curfew had been enforced so strictly in Gulmarg,” a caller from the health resort told Greater Kashmir over phone.
MUDDASIR ALI | Greater Kashmir
Srinagar, Sep 14: Massive protests rocked Amira Kadal and adjoining Hari Singh High Street and Sarai Bala here on Sunday against the alleged desecration and damage of the shrine of Hazrat Peer Dastageer Sahib at Saraibala on Saturday by paramilitary CRPF troopers.
Scores of people from Saraibala, Maharaj Bazaar, Ghoni Khan, Koker Bazaar and Magermal Bagh came on streets early morning and staged a dharna in the Hari Singh High Street Chowk against the incident.
The protesters, who included a large number of youth and women, raised pro-freedom and anti-CRPF slogans. They accused the CRPF troopers of indiscriminately beating the locals on Saturday. “They even barged into some houses at Saraibala and beat the inmates. The troopers damaged the windowpanes of many houses,” said Ghulam Rasool, a local resident.
Senior pro-freedom leaders, including the chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G), Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and the chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Muhammad Yasin Malik, visited the shrine and strongly condemned the act. They joined the protestors in the dharna.
Addressing the people, Geelani and Malik said that no force on earth can stop Kashmiris from achieving their right to self determination.
India might use more force, but aspirations won’t die: Malik
Malik said, “Even if India put Kashmiri people to test again and again by using indiscriminate force, our aspirations for right to self determination wouldn’t die down.”
Malik said: “Kashmiri people continue to offer sacrifices to get freedom. Hundreds and thousands of people have been subjected to the custodial disappearances. Hundreds of Kashmiris are lodged in dreaded jails of India including Tihar and Jodhpur. Let India put Kashmiris to test again and again, we wouldn’t give up till our nation gets Azadi.”
Referring to the BJP’s demand for ‘nationalizing’ the Amarnath Yatra route, Malik said entire Kashmir was out on the roads seeking “Azadi.” “The BJP statement doesn’t hold any importance when Kashmir will be free,” Malik said.
Earlier Malik, joined by senior pro-freedom leaders, Javaid Ahmad Mir, advocate Shahid-ul-Islam, Showkat Ahmad Bakshi and others appealed to the international community, including United Nations and Organisation of Islamic Conference to intervene in Kashmir. “More than 50 people were killed by CRPF and police during the recent agitation and hundreds have sustained the bullet injuries. We appeal the UN and the OIC to visit the Kashmir and see for themselves how unarmed and peaceful protesters are killed and injured with impunity.”
Malik also called upon people to abide by the programme of Coordination Committee. He strongly condemned the blasts in Delhi, describing it as “barbaric act.”
No force can stop us from achieving right of self-determination
Geelani said, “Kashmir has risen to seek the right to self determination and there is no force which can stop us now from achieving this goal”.
Geelani and Malik were referring to the statement by the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, to the party’s working committee in New Delhi on Saturday that “there is also no question of pandering to or being soft on the separatists (in Kashmir).”
Geelani said, “I want to tell the people in New Delhi that it is the people’s movement in Kashmir. How many voices can the state government and New Delhi suppress by using indiscriminate force.” The government, Geelani said, had given “unbridled powers” to the CRPF and police to suppress the people. “We condemn the use of force on unarmed and peaceful protesters in Kashmir,” he said.
On Bhartiya Janta Party’s demand of “nationalization” of the entire route to Amarnath cave, Geelani warned New Delhi of “dire consequences” if any attempt was made to change the demography of the state. “We wouldn’t allow creation of a Hindu state in the disputed region of Kashmir,” he said.
Rejecting the accord between the governor’s administration and the Jammu-based Sangrash Samiti over Baltal land, Geelani said, “Instead of raising prefabricated huts and toilets, concrete structure are being constructed at Pahalgam and Sonmarg, en-route to the cave. We wouldn’t allow creation of Amarnath Nagar in Kashmir and we wouldn’t sit silent.”
While referring to National Conference patron, Dr Farooq Abdullah’s statement that even if there is five per cent voter turn out, elections should be held, Geelani said, “These are the people who live only to see their petty interests fulfilled. Kashmiri people can’t expect anything else from NC and its leaders as they have always betrayed the nation.”
Geelani condemned the blasts in New Delhi that have killed more than 30 people. “Such inhuman acts should be condemned by one and all,” Geelani said and asked people to strictly follow the program of Coordination Committee.
Curfew lifted but demos continue in VarmulHundreds of people took to the roads in north Kashmir’s Varmul district on Sunday and staged pro-freedom demonstration.
Authorities lifted the curfew from the township this morning. Curfew was imposed in the township on Friday after a youth was killed in police firing near Cement bridge.
After the curfew was lifted, residents raising pro-freedom slogans assembled in the Varmul Chowk and took out a procession. Demonstrations were on when this report was filed.
Curfew continues in ShopianThere was no relaxation in curfew in Shopian on the second day today. The curfew was imposed in the township on Friday after a youth was killed and many others injured in Police and CRPF firing.
Analysis by Praful Bidwai | Inter Press Service, Sep 2, 2008
NEW DELHI, – Even as the Jammu region of the strife-torn Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is settling down to normality and peace, a two month-old turmoil in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley shows no signs of abating.
The Kashmir unrest, which unseated the elected government of the state in July, now threatens to become a serious problem for India yet again, with international ramifications, in particular implications for India’s already fraught relations with Pakistan.
Following independence in 1947 and the partition of India, on the basis of religion, Jammu and Kashmir became disputed between Pakistan and India and three wars have been fought between the two countries for the territory’s complete possession. India’s Jammu and Kashmir state is referred to by Pakistan as “Indian-occupied Kashmir” while India refers to Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas collectively as “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir”.
India’s Jammu and Kashmir state consists of two distinct regions; Hindu-dominated Jammu and the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley. A third region, Ladakh, is largely Buddhist. Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley serves as the summer capital and Jammu town the winter capital.
Trouble began with rival Hindu and Muslim militants protesting for and against the transfer of 100 acres of land for camping arrangements to host a Hindu pilgrimage to a shrine in a cave in the Kashmir Valley, called the Amarnath Shrine, where an ice stalactite that forms for up to two months in a year, is worshipped by devout Hindus.
Political organisations in the Kashmir Valley saw the transfer as a means of placating the Hindus and as an intrusion into their autonomous cultural space.
Their protests led the state government to cancel the transfer. The Hindu-majority Jammu region reacted to this with an emotionally charged violent agitation and a blockade of goods entering the Valley along the Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only functional road connecting mainland India to the Kashmir Valley.
This blockade added to the ferocity of the protests in the Valley, and put Kashmiri separatists in their forefront. Some groups that favour merger of the Kashmir Valley with Pakistan waved the green flag of the neighbouring country.
The government of Jammu and Kashmir finally reached a settlement on Sunday with the Sri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti (SAYSS), a coalition of different groups spearheading the agitation in Jammu, many of which are close to the pro-Hindu, nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Sunday’s settlement allows for temporary arrangements to be made for makeshift tents and other facilities during the pilgrimage, without a change in the ownership and status of or title to the land.
Following the agreement, the agitation in Jammu was formally withdrawn. But that has had very little impact on the Kashmir Valley, where the government re-imposed a curfew after thousands of people took to the streets in its Northern towns.
While many Kashmiri parties have not yet reacted to the agreement, the People’s Democratic Party, which ran a coalition government with the Congress party in Jammu and Kashmir for nearly six years, condemned it as a “unilateralist” and “authoritarian” move, made without consulting the Valley’s politicians.
Some other political leaders from the Valley termed the settlement “irrelevant” to resolving the larger Kashmir question of autonomy and freedom in keeping with the sentiments of the people.
“The ease with which the settlement was reached, without substantially changing the status quo, and with only minor concessions being offered to the SAYSS, shows that the agitation was politically motivated in the first place,” says Kamal Mitra Chenoy, a political scientist at Jawaharlal Nehru University here, who has been involved with reconciliation and peace efforts in Jammu and Kashmir for many years.
“The BJP was fishing in the troubled waters in Kashmir with an eye on the legislative assembly elections, which are due by the end of the year, but are likely to be postponed,’’ said Chenoy. ‘’The organisations it controls in Jammu used deplorably rough methods to enforce a traffic blockade of the Valley, including attacking truck drivers with rocks and acid bulbs. Its methods drew an adverse reaction from the rest of India, which is one reason why it withdrew the agitation. But it has succeeded in polarising Jammu and Kashmir along regional and communal lines.”
One indication of this is the growing alienation of the Valley’s people from India and the pro-separatist mood now prevalent there. The Kashmir situation was repeatedly mishandled by New Delhi through its appointee, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra and his administration.
The administration first failed to anticipate the protests, and then cracked down heavily on them. Many Kashmiris complain that the government handled the Jammu agitation with kid gloves, but used excessive force in the Valley to suppress even peaceful protests: “rubber bullets in Jammu, and live bullets in the Valley”.
The government relented in the Valley during much of August, as it proceeded to break the blockade in Jammu. However, since Aug. 24, it has resorted to a crackdown, arrests of prominent leaders, and repeated curfew.
“This has resulted in heightening the alienation of ordinary Kashmiris from the Indian state,” says Yusuf Tarigami, a Jammu and Kashmir lawmaker from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and a widely respected political leader. “Mercifully, that alienation is not as severe as in the early 1990s, and may yet prove transient.”
Tarigami cites a number of differences between the post-1989 climate and the present situation. Then, a number of militant groups, including the largely indigenous Hizbul Mujaheedin, were hyperactive in demanding “freedom” and Kashmir’s separation from India.
These militant groups managed and subdued the relatively moderate political leadership of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. Pakistan armed and financed the militant groups and lent them logistical support. Savage repression unleashed by Indian security forces only helped them build a support base in the Valley.
Today, militant groups are no longer able to recruit cadres. Until the anti-land transfer protests broke out, the Kashmir Valley was relatively peaceful and the extremists were isolated. Issues of governance and day-to-day survival became dominant. Tourism experienced a boom.
The Hurriyat was even on the verge of deciding not to issue a call to boycott the assembly elections, as it usually does.
“Above all, Kashmir has not been a live political issue in Pakistan since the peace process with India made progress,” says Karachi-based social activist and political analyst Karamat Ali. “It hasn’t figured in the domestic political debate at all since the February elections and later developments, including Pervez Musharraf’s resignation as president.”
This offers a chance for India to begin a serious dialogue with the different separatist political currents in Kashmir and put the issue of autonomy up-front on the table.
But the Indian establishment appears divided on the issue. Hardliners such as National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan play down the serious nature of Kashmiri alienation and popular discontent with the domineering presence of Indian security forces in the Valley. Narayanan told a television channel, two days ago that he expected the Kashmir situation to become normal in 10 days’ time.
However, another section of the government has advised Governor Vohra to explore the possibility of a dialogue with separatist leaders and Vohra has been contacting them since Sunday.
“Eventually,” says Chenoy, “a viable solution to the Kashmir problem will have to be found in the kind of suggestions for regional and interregional autonomy made 10 years ago by an official committee chaired by Balraj Puri, and through a strengthening of the special status for Kashmir guaranteed by a particular section (Article 370) of the Indian Constitution. This must be accompanied by a thinning out of the presence of Indian security forces in the Valley, and devolution of power to local and regional bodies.”
Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India which enjoys special autonomy under Article 370, according to which, laws enacted by Indian parliament, except those concerning defence, communication and foreign policy, is inapplicable unless ratified by the state legislature.
But Chenoy emphasises that “in the short run, there is no substitute for a dialogue. That alone can build the necessary confidence and goodwill, which India so badly needs’’.
SRINAGAR: Curfew continued across the Kashmir valley for the ninth day Monday with the Hurriyat calling for peaceful protests but authorities treading with caution following the deal to set aside 40 hectares of land for the Amarnath shrine board to use during the pilgrimage season.There were no reports of curfew relaxation from anywhere in the valley on Monday, when the joint coordination committee of both the Hurriyat groups, headed by hardline Syed Ali Geelani and the moderate wing chief Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, has called for peaceful protests.
“The curfew restrictions would be relaxed in a phased manner at different places, but only after careful assessment about the law and order situation by the district magistrates concerned,” a state government official said.
Though Sunday had started with curfew relaxations across the Valley, authorities said on Monday they were apprehensive that the separatist call might evoke a huge response.
On Sunday, curfew had to be reimposed quickly in the entire old city area of Srinagar, Kulgam, Shopian, Anantnag and Kupwara districts as violent protests broke out following the agreement between the Amarnath Sangarsh Samiti and the four-member panel of the state government regarding the 40 hectares of forest land.
The agreement, which led to the situation in Jammu cooling down, has been welcomed by the regional National Conference and the Congress parties here.
However, the People’s Democratic Party has opposed it saying it was “unilateral and amounted to surrender before communal forces by the administration”.
GK NEWS NETWORK | Greater Kashmir, August 31, 2008
NOTHER BITING AND BITTER, PERHAPS THE BITTEREST, LEAF WAS ADDED TO THE 60 YEARS SOMBER AND TRAUMATIC HISTORY OF KASHMIR ON SUNDAY MIDNIGHT.
Not only were many a Kashmiri leader who had led peaceful public rallies over a week earlier were arrested in an overnight crack down but announcement piercing the deathly silence of the night proclaiming curfew in all the 10 districts of the valley were made from megaphone fitted police vans. There is nothing new in the imposition of restriction on public movement in the state. In fact, Kashmir and curfews for indiscriminate use of the later have become synonymous. In the 60-year history, there has hardly been a year when there have not been restrictions on the assembly of people or section 144 has not been in force or when curfew has not been imposed in one or another town.
The curfew in force all over Kashmir for the past seven days is unprecedented. Terming the caging of 60 lakh men, women, children, young, old, toddlers and infants and denying them food and medicine, as curfew can be a misnomer. It will be too mild to call it even an emergency. The Peoples Democratic Party president, Mehbooba Mufti, very aptly described it as the martial law. Martial law in no way is different than the situation that has been prevailing in Kashmir during the past week.
Humanity was torn to shreds when hundreds of patients suffering from serious ailments could not be shifted to hospitals. Stories instilling awe and fear about many pregnant women gasping for breaths on roadsides and even breathing their last have been galore. Reports about men in uniform beating doctors have disturbed the entire medical fraternity. It was for the first time that restrictions had been imposed even on the movement of hospital ambulances. There are reports about the paramilitary forces firing on ambulances which were not contradicted. It is not an overstatement but a hard reality that because of scarcity of baby food in the valley and restrictions imposed by the government many crying infants were lulled to sleep by their mothers’ empty stomach. Many chronic patients depending on daily medication had to go without medicines during the unparalleled curfew.
Kashmir, particularly during past two decades, has seen many a grave situations when not only the law enforcing agencies but the entire state as such had gone out of gear.
But during those tough times too, newspapers continued their publications. In recent history, it was for the first time when no newspaper was published because of strict restrictions on the movement of newsmen and other newspaper staff. It was nothing but muzzling the media when the government, besides banning private news and current affairs cable channels, very tactfully prevented publication of newspapers. The situation as has been obtaining in Kashmir since Sunday mid-night is reminiscent of the 1976 Emergency in India.
The question arises what prompted the government to create a situation which reminds one of primitive times when human values were almost irrelevant. Ostensibly, there was no reason for placing entire Kashmir under an undeclared emergency. The All Parties Hurriyat Conferences and other allied organization were holding absolutely peaceful rallies in support of their known political demands. True, the APHC rallies attracted hundreds of thousands of people and about a million had responded to the call of conglomerate at Eidgah but these rallies were so disciplined and orderly that not a brickbat was thrown on the security forces at any place. This has been acknowledged even by the known critics of Kashmiris. There was no law and order breakdown anywhere in the valley. Instead, if one looks dispassionately at the law and order situation in Kashmir in the backdrop of the months gone by, it was much more peaceful. Instead of reacting harshly with strong arm methods to the violence-free political scenario, the government should have capitalized over it and given peace a chance to strike deeper roots. It is high time for New Delhi to reassess the Kashmir situation and find out ways and means for a lasting solution to the nagging problem which cost the Indian nation no less.
Tough time for Kashmiris: Omar
Srinagar, Aug 28: Aghast over the prevailing situation in Kashmir, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference on Thursday demanded lifting of curfew and curbs on media forthwith. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti described the present situation as “martial law,” while National Conference President Omar Abdullah said it was a “very tough time” for Kashmiris.
” It seems as if martial law has been imposed in the Valley,” the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti told Greater Kashmir. “People have been restricted within the four walls of their homes. News channels have gone off the air and no newspapers are being published. Such things don’t happen in a democratic set up. It is obviously martial law,” Mehbooba added.
Warning New Delhi of dire consequences if it continues to suppress the voice of people, Mehbooba said, “New Delhi has failed to suppress the people of Kashmir by subjugating them for past 20 years. If New Delhi feels that by resorting to oppression they can suppress the people of Kashmir then they are living in a fool’s paradise.” Mehbooba said that it’s unfortunate that old mindset of New Delhi is coming to fore again and the section people there who wanted Kashmir issue to be resolved peacefully have become weak. “Hardliners are once again ruling the roost and if they continue with the same policy it can have far reaching consequences,” she said. The PDP president said that the present movement is different from nineties. “Today it’s a people’s movement and there are no guns. New Delhi needs to understand it. If it continues to use force and hold people of the Valley as hostages within their homes situation will worsen and it will add to further alienation.” Mehbooba accused New Delhi of once again trying to deceive the people of Kashmir. “Instead of resolving the issue, New Delhi is once again trying to suppress the present mass uprising by using force,” she said, adding, “Some people with vested interests once again want to handle Kashmir situation with an iron hand.” Mehbooba demanded that curfew and restrictions on local news channels and press be lifted forthwith.
President of National Conference Omar Abdullah described the present situation as a very strict situation. “People told me that it’s for the first time that such a curfew has been imposed,” Omar said, adding, “It’s unfortunate that troopers are barging into the houses of people and are resorting to hooliganism. They should learn to respect people.” However, the NC president stopped short of saying that it’s a “martial law” like situation. “It’s a strict situation but it’s not military rule yet.” Accusing government of adopting double standards, the NC President said, “It’s strange that curfew is enforced strictly in Kashmir and in Jammu it is vice-versa. This is sheer discrimination.” Terming the imposition of curfew as surprising, Omar said, “Authorities should have clamped the curfew on August 11 to prevent the situation from taking an ugly turn. Had they done so many people would not have died and things could have been better.” Omar said that authorities should hold dialogue with the separatist leaders rather than imposing curfew. “Dialogue only can resolve the present crisis.” Terming restrictions on media as unfortunate, Omar said, “It should not have happened. Restrictions should be revoked and curfew should be lifted