Posts Tagged ‘demand freedom’

Indian-controlled Kashmir:Kashmir votes as separatists protest, urge boycott

November 18, 2008

Protesters, police clash as polls open in Indian Kashmir amid separatist boycott call

AP News

Nov 17, 2008 12:26 EST

Large crowds voted in some towns in Indian Kashmir on Monday while protesters clashed with police in others as state elections began amid boycott calls by Muslim separatists.

The elections — to be held in phases over more than a month in an attempt to avert violence — come after some of the worst protests against Indian rule in the country’s only Muslim-majority state and a crackdown on separatist leaders who oppose the polls.

“You can’t have free and fair elections in the presence of hundreds of thousands” of occupying forces, said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a key separatist leader who has been under house arrest for three days.

Separatists say the elections will only entrench New Delhi’s hold on the troubled Himalayan region.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, where most people favor independence from India or a merger with Pakistan. The region is divided between the two countries and both claim it in its entirety.

Despite the calls for a boycott, long lines of voters stretched around polling booths in several towns north of the capital, Srinagar.

Overall, about 55 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots Monday, said B.R. Sharma, the state’s chief election officer.

But it varied from district to district. In many Muslim-dominated areas, turnout was so low that paramilitary soldiers and police outnumbered voters.

In Bandipore, a town 40 miles north of Srinagar, police fired tear gas at dozens of protesters, local police official Mohammed Yousuf said. Two people were detained and one was injured, he said.

More than 30 separatist leaders who called for an election boycott have been detained in recent days under a law that allows police to hold people for up to two years without trial.

The recent pro-independence demonstrations were the largest in Indian Kashmir in two decades. They were met with a tough crackdown by government forces, and at least 48 people were killed.

The elections are being staggered to allow the government to deploy thousands of security forces in each area.

Police said they feared more unrest, particularly from militant separatist groups, although insurgents have vowed not to use violence to enforce the boycott. Campaigning was mostly peaceful.

Militant separatist groups have been fighting since 1989 to end Indian rule. The uprising and subsequent Indian crackdown have killed about 68,000 people, most of them civilians.

Source: AP News

Kashmir Interview by Arundhati Roy

September 18, 2008

by Roy, Arundhati
Briemberg, Mordecai

Source: Redeye

Arundhati Roy’s ZSpace Page

Download this audio in
mp3 format

Author and activist Arundhati Roy has visited Kashmir several times in the past two months. She says she has never seen anything like the non-violent mass movement that is filling the streets of Srinagar.

In this interview, she talks about the recent history of Kashmir and why Kashmiris have poured onto the streets in their hundreds of thousands to demand freedom.

22:04 minutes, 20.2 Mb
Host: Mordecai Briemberg

To find out more about Redeye, check out their website.

An appeal from Kashmir against Indian oppression

August 29, 2008

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Kashmir, the disputed region partitioned by India and Pakistan. Dozens of unarmed Kashmiri protesters have been killed and hundreds injured by Indian security forces in the last few weeks.

The vicious crackdown is part of its attempt to stamp out mass demonstrations that have shaken the valley. These demonstrations may have been sparked by the Amarnath land transfer controversy, but have snowballed into a province-wide uprising against the ongoing Indian military occupation.

Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are taking to the streets, day after day, demanding “azadi” (freedom) and their right to self-determination. In response, the Indian government has imposed a round-the-clock curfew in all of Kashmir, creating the conditions for a humanitarian disaster.

Protesters demanding "azadi" confront riot police on the streets of Jammu in KashmirProtesters demanding “azadi” confront riot police on the streets of Jammu in Kashmir

IN VIEW of the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the media blackout of the events in Kashmir, we call upon the international humanitarian agencies, particularly the UN bodies and world press, to intervene immediately to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Kashmir.

Owing to the strict curfew, hundreds of the injured lying in various hospitals of Kashmir, are not able to get critical medicines and the attendants are without food.

Due to the aggressive enforcement of the curfew, the sick and injured (by the Indian armed forces) are not able to reach hospitals, resulting in deaths. Attendants of dozens of dead in various hospitals in Kashmir are awaiting their transportation to their homes for the final rites. Two pregnant women died since yesterday when the ambulances carrying them were prevented by the Indian armed forces to reach maternity hospitals. Beating up the drivers of the ambulances and their inability to reach hospitals has compounded the situation. Medical personnel of various hospitals in Kashmir are not able to attend their duties, as identity cards and curfew passes are not being honored by the hostile troops deployed on the streets.

There is a serious dearth of medicines, baby milk, foodstuffs, milk and other essential commodities in the market due to the curfew and the blockade of the only road link to Kashmir. In view of the four days of stringent restrictions on people’s movement and heavy clampdown by the state forces across the 10 districts of Kashmir, including Srinagar city, we appeal to the international community to ask the government of India to immediately ease curfew restrictions so that people are able to access basic essentials. Children going without milk and the sick without medicines are matters of serious concern.

We condemn the use of heavy force to thwart peaceful protests, resulting in killings of 50 civilians in Kashmir. We also condemn the violent attack allegedly by militants in Jammu on Wednesday, which has resulted in the death of three innocent civilians.

The flow of information has completely stopped for the first time in the history of Kashmir, and no newspaper has been able to publish in last three days, because of these indiscriminate restrictions imposed by the government. The communications blockade has been compounded by the banning of news and current affairs programs on local cable TV channels, and a ban on SMS services. This communications blockade is resulting in loss of news about the unfolding events, a blackout of significant happenings in Kashmir’s countryside–where currently, the media has no access, and which is tightly controlled by the army. We call upon the international community to call upon the government of India to lift the communications blockade without any delay.

Signed by: Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Chamber of Commerce and Industries Kashmir, Kashmir Hotel and Resturant Owners Federation, Valley Citizen’s Council (Zareef Ahmed Zareef), Naagar Nagar Coordination Committee, Ahad Zargar Research Foundation, Himayat Trust, JK People’s Development Trust, Kashmir Thinker’s Guild, Dr. Altaf Hussain, Dr. Shaikh Showkat Hussain (Faculty of Law, University of Kashmir), Prof. N.A. Baba (Faculty of Political Science, University of Kashmir), Arjimand Hussain Talib (Columnist), Z.G. Mohammad (Columnist), Dr. Mubarik Ahmed (Social Activist), Noorul Hassan (Ex-Chief Conservator), Jamiat Hamdania, Firdous Education Trust for Orphans, Doda Peace Forum, Poonch Initiave for Peace and Justice, Ehsaas (A Developmental Organization)

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