When Will India Quit Kashmir?

Kashmir Watch, Oct 19, 2008

Dr Abdul Ruff Colachal

After protesters thronged to United Nations Military Observer Group office in Srinagar demanding the resolution of Kashmir dispute, as it is already known, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is planning to visit India towards the end of this month or in early November.  Another important move in this regard is that United Nations Secretary General has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Major General Kim Moon Hwa of the Republic of Korea as Chief Military Observer in the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). Major General Kim will replace Major General Dragutin Repinc of Croatia.

The historic opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote roads for trade would be supplemented by some more bold initiatives to facilitate Kashmir resolution process, both on bilateral and internal fronts. Kashmir resolution process involves not only various shades of political opinion but all sections of the society. In a historic decision, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), Chamber of Commerce and Industry Jammu (CCIJ) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AJKCCI) on Oct 14 formed a 32-member joint chamber of commerce. But the cross-LoC trade cannot be an alternative to Kashmir solution.

The latest developments in the State offer Government of India an opportunity to reinforce its resolve of working through peaceful means and through public participation towards the resolution of the problem.

Freedom Leader Geelani

Calling for a complete shutdown on October 24, the United Nations Raising Day, the Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Saturday urged masses to send emails, letters, faxes, telegrams and SMS to the UN’s New York headquarters to press for granting Right to self determination (RSD) to people of Kashmir to determine their fate.

Indian Terrorism

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed claimed the State had started witnessing continuous changes of great importance and substance after the 2002 elections transforming its ground scenario positively and this had resulted in consistent increase of public participation in the democratic processes and his party contributed to it. Let that be. But he should enter now the freedom movement by actively involving himself with the freedom leaders fully committed to the cause of full and complete freedom from foreign occupation.

An international organization research on the Kashmir conflict, 7thspace.com, to assess experiences with violence and mental health status among the conflict-affected Kashmiri population, has reported that 85 per cent of Valley population have confrontation with the violence while 66 percent have witnessed torture. The survey reported that the civilian population in Kashmir is exposed to high levels of violence, as demonstrated by the high frequency of deliberate events as detention, hostage, and torture. Respondents reported frequent direct confrontations with violence since the start of conflict, including exposure to crossfire (85.7%), round up raids (82.7%), the witnessing of torture (66.9%), rape (13.3%), and self-experience of forced labor (33.7%), arrests/kidnapping (16.9%), torture (12.9%), and sexual violence (11.6%).The survey found high levels of psychological distress that impacts on daily life and places a burden on the health system. Ongoing feelings of personal vulnerability (not feeling safe) were associated with high levels of psychological distress. Over one-third of respondents were found to have symptoms of psychological distress, women scored significantly higher. A third of respondents had contemplated suicide.

India Destroys Medicinal Fauna of Kashmir

Kashmir is infested with Indian terror forces, agents and pro-India elements sabotaging the cause of freedom. India argues it has every right to heavily militarize Jammu Kashmir and kill the Kashmiri Muslims stock and barrel. Around 60,000 troops are posted in the Gurez which has a habitation of only 30,000 people. The ecology of Gurez is under threat as the army troopers deployed in the border area have been accused of vandalizing the environment by extracting valuable medicinal plants and minerals. Gurez has got vast resources of precious and costly medicinal plants and minerals, which were extracted legally by the locals till 1989 when armed rebellion broke out in Kashmir. After the turmoil, thousands of soldiers were deployed in Gurez and they continue to man each and every ridge.

The locals said that valuable medicinal plants like Kuth (Saussurea cosstus), Diosoriea (Dioscorea deltoidea), Mushki Bala( Veleriana wallichii) Guchies (Morchella esculenta), Black Zeera, Artimesia, Bellodona, Podophyllum (Banwangon) are found in abundance in Gurez. They said that had these natural resources been extracted by the state administration with the help of locals, the economy of the border area would have received a boost. They, however, alleged that the troopers are illegally extracting the natural resources, posing ecological and economic threat to the border area.  “There are legal, scientific and technological methods to extract the medicinal plants from the forests. However, troops during illegal extraction are not following these methods and destroy the precious and costly medicinal plants for their monetary benefits,” they said. “We were exporting medicinal plants legally worth crores of rupees to other parts of India and world before start of militancy. After the deployment of army personnel in Gurez, peaks encumbered with medicinal plants and minerals are now on the verge of extinction.

Continued . . .

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