Posts Tagged ‘Indian security forces’

Protests over Kashmir rapes enter Day 6

June 7, 2009

Rashid Ahmad, Hindustan Times/India, June 7, 2009


After relative calm since the Assembly polls in December, pro-freedom calls returned to Kashmir this week.

On Saturday, demonstrations and clashes between police and protestors filled the streets of a paralysed Kashmir for the sixth day. Several were injured as protestors clashed with police and CRPF at Nowhatta, Jamia Masjid, Rajouri Kadal, Nowgam, Chanpora and Manchwa areas.

This time, it began with the alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian town, 60 kilometres south of Srinagar.

Nelofar (23) and her sister-in-law Asiya (17) went missing on the evening of May 29. Their bodies were recovered from a nearby stream on May 30.

Police and administration said the women had drowned but residents and relatives of the women accused security force personnel of raping and killing them.

The bodies were found just yards away from a CRPF formation and the headquarters of district police lines. The headquarters of district police lines is also located in the vicinity.

Nelofar’s husband, Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar, said, “The bodies were recovered on the edge of the stream, not from the water. Both the bodies were half-naked and they had bruises all over.”

The deaths provoked massive protests in the town, which later spilled over the other parts of the Valley.

Separatist leaders called for total shutdown on June 1 and demanded that Indian troops be withdrawn from Kashmir. The call found takers all across the valley with massive violent protests in favour of azadi and against India.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who faced severe flak for saying the women were not raped and murdered, has ordered a judicial probe.

With Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani calling for continued demonstrations and protest marches on Saturday, the uncertain situation is likely to continue in Kashmir.

Several separatist leaders were also arrested on Saturday.

Mumbai atrocities highlight need for solution in Kashmir

November 30, 2008

    Jihadi groups will exploit Muslim grievances unless peace can be brought to the troubled state

  •, Sunday November 30 2008 00.01 GMT
  • The Observer, Sunday November 30 2008

Three weeks ago, in the Kashmiri capital of Srinagar, I met a young surgeon named Dr Iqbal Saleem. Iqbal described to me how on 11 August this year, Indian security forces entered the hospital where he was fighting to save the lives of unarmed civilian protesters who had been shot earlier that day by the Indian army. The operating theatre had been tear-gassed and the wards riddled with bullets, creating panic and injuring several of the nurses. Iqbal had trained at the Apollo hospital in Delhi and said he harboured no hatred against Hindus or Indians. But the incident had profoundly disgusted him and the unrepentant actions of the security forces, combined with the indifference of the Indian media, had convinced him that Kashmir needed its independence.

I thought back to this conversation last week, when news came in that the murderous attackers of Mumbai had brutally assaulted the city’s hospitals in addition to the more obvious Islamist targets of five-star hotels, Jewish centres and cafes frequented by Americans and Brits. Since then, the links between the Mumbai attacks and the separatist struggle in Kashmir have become ever more explicit. There now seems to be a growing consensus that the operation is linked to the Pakistan-based jihadi outfit, Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose leader, Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed, operates openly from his base at Muridhke outside Lahore.

This probable Pakistani origin of the Mumbai attacks, and the links to Kashmir-focused jihadi groups, means that the horrific events have to be seen in the context of the wider disaster of Western policy in the region since 9/11. The abject failure of the Bush administration to woo the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan away from the Islamists and, instead, managing to convince many of them of the hostility of the West towards all Muslim aspirations, has now led to a gathering catastrophe in Afghanistan where the once-hated Taliban are now again at the gates of Kabul.

Meanwhile, the blowback from that Afghan conflict in Pakistan has meant that Asif Ali Zardari’s government has now lost control of much of the North West Frontier Province, in addition to the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, while religious and political extremism flourishes as never before.

Pakistan’s most intractable problem remains the relationship of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) over the last 25 years with myriad jihadi groups. Once, the ISI believed that they could use jihadis for their own ends, but the Islamists have increasingly followed their own agendas, to the extent that they now feel capable of launching well-equipped and well-trained armies into Indian territory, as happened so dramatically in Mumbai.

Visiting Pakistan last week, it was clear that much of the north of the country was slipping out of government control. While it is unlikely that Zardari’s government had any direct link to the Mumbai attacks, there is every reason to believe that its failure effectively to crack down on the country’s jihadi network, and its equivocation with figures such as Hafiz Muhammad Syed, means that atrocities of the kind we saw last week are likely to continue.

India meanwhile continues to make matters worse by its ill-treatment of the people of Kashmir, which has handed to the jihadis an entire generation of educated, angry middle-class Muslims. One of the clean-shaven boys who attacked CST railway station – now named by the Indian media as Mohammad Ajmal Mohammad Amin Kasab, from Faridkot in the Pakistani Punjab – was wearing a Versace T-shirt. The other boys in the operation wore jeans and Nikes and were described by eyewitnesses as chikna or well-off. These were not poor, madrasah-educated Pakistanis from the villages, brainwashed by mullahs, but angry and well-educated, middle-class kids furious at the gross injustice they perceive being done to Muslims by Israel, the US, the UK and India in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kashmir respectively.

If Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is the most emotive issue for Muslims in the Middle East, then India’s treatment of the people of Kashmir plays a similar role among South-Asian Muslims. At the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, the state should logically have gone to Pakistan. However, the pro-Indian sympathies of the state’s Hindu Maharajah, as well as the Kashmiri origins of the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, led to the state passing instead to India – on the condition that the Kashmiris retained a degree of autonomy.

Successive Indian governments, however, refused to honour their constitutional commitments to the state. The referendum, promised by Nehru at the UN, on whether the state would remain part of India, was never held. Following the shameless rigging of the 1987 local elections, Kashmiri leaders went underground. Soon after, bombings and assassination began, assisted by Pakistan’s ISI which ramped up the conflict by sending over the border thousands of heavily armed jihadis.

India, meanwhile, responded with great brutality to the insurgency. Half-a-million Indian soldiers and paramilitaries were dispatched to garrison the valley. There were mass arrests and much violence against ordinary civilians, little of which was ever investigated, either by the government or the Indian media. Two torture centres were set up – Papa 1 and Papa 2 – into which large numbers of local people would ‘disappear’. In all, some 70,000 people have now lost their lives in the conflict. India and Pakistan have fought three inconclusive wars over Kashmir, while a fourth mini-war came alarmingly close to igniting a nuclear exchange between the two countries in 1999. Now, after the Mumbai attacks, Kashmir looks likely to derail yet again the burgeoning peace process between India and Pakistan.

Kashmir continues to divide the establishment of Pakistan more than any other issue. Zardari might publicly announce that he doesn’t want to let Kashmir get in the way of improved relations between India and Pakistan, but Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is officially banned, continues to function under the name of Jama’at al-Dawa, and Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed continues openly to incite strikes against Indian and Western targets. At one recent meeting, he proclaimed that ‘Christians, Jews and Hindus are enemies of Islam’ and added that it was the aim of the Lashkar to ‘unfurl the green flag of Islam in Washington, Tel Aviv and New Delhi’.

Sayeed also proclaims that the former princely state of what he calls ‘Hyderabad Deccan’ is also a part of Pakistan, which may explain the claim of responsibility for the attacks by a previously unknown group named the Deccan Mujahideen. It is clear Sayeed appears to operate with a measure of patronage from the Pakistani establishment and the Zardari government recently cleared the purchase of a bulletproof Land Cruiser for him. When Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, was yesterday asked on Indian TV whether Pakistan would now arrest Sayeed, he dodged the question answering: ‘We have to recognise that there are elements in every society that can act on their own.’

In the months ahead, we are likely to see a security crackdown in India and huge pressure applied to Pakistan to match its pro-Indian and pro-Western rhetoric with real action against the country’s jihadi groups. But there is unlikely to be peace in South Asia until the demands of the Kashmiris are in some measure addressed and the swamp of grievance in Srinagar somehow drained. Until then, the Mumbai massacres may be a harbinger of more violence to come.

• William Dalrymple’s Last Mughal won the Duff Cooper Prize and the Crossword Indian Book of the Year prize.

CCS protest against enforced disappearances in Kashmir

September 28, 2008

Source: Kashmir Watch
Amin Masoodi

SRINAGAR, Sep 27: Seeking the whereabouts of disappeared persons in Kashmir valley, Coalition of Civil Societies (CCS), today staged a sit-in at Sher-i-Kashmir Park here. CCS, is a body pursuing the cases of persons who have gone missing during past 20 years of turmoil in Kashmir.

The relatives of missing persons from different parts of valley were wearing “disappeared” bands on their heads and staged silent a sit-in, demanding the whereabouts of missing persons. They said, their relatives have been subjected to enforced disappearance and the successive governments have maintained a criminal silence on this issue.

This ‘dharna’ by the CCS representing the disappeared persons though was held every month but due to the Amaranth land row and subsequent protest demonstrations, it was held today after more than two months.

The relatives also included children and women, who were carrying the pictures of disappeared persons and banners seeking the whereabouts of these persons. Talking to reporters, spokesman of civil societies, Ghulam Nabi Mir claimed that since the imposition of Governor’s rule in the state, at least six persons have been subjected to enforced disappearance.

He said that police has not even registered the missing report of Khaliq-ul Haq, Shafiq Ahmad of Rajouri, Abdul Khaliq Sheikh of Beerwah, Mukhtar Ahmad Rather Ajas of Bandipora, Zahoor Ahmad Poshwari of Machil, and Tariq Ahmad.

Spokesman of CCS said that the participation of PDP and NC leaders in recently held International conferences on human rights in some countries was shocking as thousands of people have been subjected to enforced disappearance during the reign of these parties.
“NC leader, Abdul Rahim Rather criticized the special powers given to the security forces in the state and also shed crocodile tears on disappearances here. From 1996 to 2002, at least four thousand people disappeared and the party also created SOG and Ikhwan forces only to commit excesses on people,” he said adding that notorious pro-government gunmen, Papa Kishtawari killed many people in Pampore alone and has been charge sheeted now.
He said that during the tenure of PDP and Congress, at least 175 and 111 people went missing. He alleged that after a report on mass graves was made public on March 28, the office bearers of CCS were being harassed and the mainstream politicians, who had claimed to raise the issue in parliament, have maintained criminal silence.

[Kashmir Times]

[KW Note: Jammu and Kashmir is the U.N. recognized disputed state under the illegal occupation of India.

Since 1988, the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir has been hit by confrontation between Kashmiri Freedom Fighters and the Indian Military, which has resulted in more than One hundred thousand of deaths. Unofficial sources put the number of Indian troops deployed in the state to seven hundred thousand.

Local human rights group, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS) has reported that 8 to 10 thousand had disappeared in the U.N. recognised disputed state since the armed resistance against Indian rule.]

Posted on 28 Sep 2008 by Webmaster

Right time for the freedom of Kashmir: Arundati Roy

September 19, 2008

-‘It is the biggest chance Kashmiris have’

Source: Kashmir Watch

Srinagar, September 18 (Newsline Monitoring Desk):  Arundati Roy, noted human rights activist and writer, in an interview, has suggested “the time has come for the people of Kashmir to ask for Azadi (freedom) from India”

“I think it’s the biggest chance Kashmiris have had in their struggle for Azadi in a very long time” she however said she is skeptical that “a spontaneous uprising can ‘down-rise’ just as spontaneously as it ‘up-rose’ and hence the people need to act fast”

Calling the security forces as “state forces” Arundhati opined the minute people retreat, these forces will take back the streets. “People cannot go on forever without a clear idea of where it’s all going. Right now the Coordination Committee is very fragile and the Intelligence Agencies are trying very hard to break it up” she said.

Arundati said New Delhi has still not learnt its lesson and instead used the same old methods to deal with the situation in Kashmir. “I don’t think the Indian state is even now willing to listen to what people are saying” she said “It is trying to work out a way to defuse the situation and how to manage crowds and send them back home”

The booker prize winner writer believes India does not want the vicious cycle of violence to end in Kashmir. “The United Jehad Council has unanimously declared that militants must silence their guns. But the Deep State in India wants nothing more than the return of an armed militancy” she averred “So if real militants don’t appear, I think the Deep State will manufacture some”

Arundati maintained that as a right thinking person of the society she will always try to speak out and reveal the truth about issues. Emphasising that sentiments of Kashmiris be respected she said “Some people said I should be charged for the offense of sedition. If so it implies millions of Kashmir’s should be charged too. Instead if only I am charged and not them, it would mean a tacit acceptance of the fact that Kashmir is not a part of India”

While stressing that anybody who has ever walked the streets of Srinagar cannot but see the moral legitimacy of what people are demanding she said “It’s the least I could do for those who have faced so many years of terror, torture and disappearances. I don’t think there could be a single Kashmiri in the valley who has not been humiliated in some way by the occupation

Kashmiris Seek Trade Route to Pakistan

September 9, 2008

Hindus Blocked Off Road to New Delhi

By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service, Monday, September 8, 2008

SRINAGAR, India — After Hindu protesters blocked the only road connecting predominantly Muslim Kashmir with the rest of India last month, Altaf Bukhari, like many business owners in this disputed Himalayan region, became convinced of the need for an alternative trade outlet.

The most logical solution to the impasse is reopening a historic road that was closed to trade when the Indian subcontinent was partitioned in 1947. Part of the ancient Silk Road connecting Europe with Asia, it winds from Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, to the bustling market town of Rawalpindi, in Pakistan, 100 miles away.

It’s a direct route to a city far closer than Kashmir’s trading partner of New Delhi, India’s capital, about 400 miles away. But several political twists and turns must be navigated before the road can be used again for commerce.

India says it is ready to open the old trade route but has taken few steps to do so. It blames Pakistan for the delay. Pakistan has blamed India. But last week Pakistan proposed a meeting with the Indian government to discuss reopening the route as quickly as possible.

Kashmiri business leaders say everyone is watching eagerly. If India and Pakistan reopen the road, it could go a long way toward building confidence among entrepreneurs in Indian-controlled Kashmir, which has seen some of the largest pro-independence demonstrations this summer since an uprising against Indian rule broke out in 1989.

Tens of millions of dollars were lost in the fruit industry alone during the blockade, said Bukhari, an agricultural businessman. Family farms fell into debt, he said, adding that the business community learned how vulnerable it is under Indian rule.

“This blockade has changed our psychology completely. There is a real fear psychosis now,” Bukhari said, adding that he lost almost $1 million when his plums, pears and freshly packed apple juice couldn’t make it to Indian markets last month. “For us, business is business, and India is a good market, but it’s now created a fear in our minds.”

Along with chants of “Azadi,” or “Freedom,” demonstrators in Srinagar this summer were chanting, “Kashmir’s market is in Rawalpindi.”

“Everyone has woken up to the fact that economic independence would be completely powerful. India can shut us down any time it wants, and that is a terrifying thing,” said Nisar Ali, an economics professor at the University of Kashmir. “Opening the trade route to Pakistan, a nearby and logical road, is an idea whose time has come. Opening the road would go a long way to cooling down temperatures — a long way.”

Pakistan and India have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, since 1947. Both claim Kashmir but control only parts of it. Human rights groups estimate that the conflict has left 77,000 people dead and as many as 10,000 missing.

Tensions appeared to be easing. But a crisis erupted in Kashmir in June when Muslims launched protests over a government decision to transfer land to a Hindu shrine, saying it was a settlement plan designed to alter the religious balance in India’s only Muslim-majority region. After the plan was rescinded, Hindus took to the streets of Jammu city, in the predominantly Hindu part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, demanding its restoration.

At least 35 unarmed protesters were killed by Indian security forces during peaceful self-rule demonstrations after the land dispute. A nine-day curfew was imposed late last month, and several separatist leaders were arrested.

A degree of calm has since been restored. The curfew was lifted last week at the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and the separatist leaders were released from jail, although they remain under house arrest. The land-deal controversy was settled, in what many observers see as a draw: The Hindu shrine would be able to use the land during the three-month pilgrimage season but would not own it. The roadblocks that caused the economic blockade have been removed.

Still, the reopening of the road to Pakistan remains a powerful rallying cry among Kashmiris.

“The blockade was really an act of war that left children without milk and patients without medicine,” said Yasin Malik, a separatist leader. “It really woke up the business community to what azadi and what self-reliance would mean. It won’t be forgotten.”

For the Ahmed family, the reopening of the road would mean food on the table, money for schools and safety for the two oldest sons, who ply the dangerous route to New Delhi.

Sitting on the floor of his family’s kitchen with his head wrapped in gauze, Wahid Ahmed, 23, and his brother Munir, 24, said they were attacked while trying to bring a truckload of about 100 sheep from New Delhi to Kashmir.

The Indian army said it would escort them, the brothers said. But the soldiers later left them, saying all was safe. Soon afterward, the brothers said, they were pelted with stones by groups connected to India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which was protesting the overturning of the land deal.

“We are afraid to try again,” said Wahid, who had 15 stitches. Family members, listening nearby, said they needed the brothers’ earnings. “We have no other road to choose,” Wahid said. “We just hope things are safe now.”

INDIA: Dialogue Missing as Kashmir Erupts

September 2, 2008

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’’.

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)

Indian Security forces open fire in Srinagar, 21 injured

August 15, 2008

The Indian Express, August 15, 2008

Srinagar, – At least 21 people, including a journalist, were injured when CRPF personnel opened fire on a group of protesters in Habba Kadal area in Srinagar, leading to a stampede like situation, official sources said.

CRPF personnel opened fire when thousands of protesters, demanding removal of the paramilitary force from the area and deployment of local police, refused to call off their stir.

Two persons with bullet injuries were shifted to the nearby SMHS hospital while a cameraman of a private television channel was among the others injured in teargas shelling and resultant stampede, the sources said.

The residents of the area have been on a sit-in near the Habbakadal bridge since yesterday after CRPF personnel beat two youth and injured them severely, they said.

The protesters took part in the Friday prayers on the road and vowed not to call off their dharna till the CRPF personnel were removed from the area.

So far, 22 people have been killed and over 700, including nearly 200 police and paramilitary personnel, injured in firing by security forces and clashes in the Valley since Monday. On Thursday, one person died in CRPF firing at Safakadal area.

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Mourners killed as Indian soldiers fire into Kashmiri funeral crowd

August 12, 2008

Indian security forces today fired into a crowd that had gathered for the funeral of a prominent Kashmiri separatist leader who was shot dead yesterday, killing three people.

The shootings, on the second day forces had fired into the crowd, came amid rising violence in Indian Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state.

The violence has seen many parts of the region, including the winter capital, Srinagar, put under curfew.

The roots of the crisis lie in a tug of war between the state’s Hindus and Muslims over 100 acres of land.

Tensions escalated after a blockade of the highway by Hindu groups cut off the mountainous Kashmir region, where Muslims predominate, from the plains of Jammu, where Hindus are the majority.

As a result, traders in Kashmir have been trying to sell their goods in neighbouring Pakistan.

Kashmiri separatists called on protesters to continue their march to Muzaffarabad, in Pakistani Kashmir, today.

Yesterday, Sheik Abdul Aziz, a senior figure in the separtist Hurriyat Conference, was killed along with four other people as they attempted to cross the disputed border with Pakistan. More than 150 were injured.

“Sheikh Aziz’s death is big loss to the Kashmir nation … we will take his mission to its logical end,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of Hurriyat, told Indian television.

Violence began when the state government handed over 100 acres of land for pilgrimage facilities to be built at a popular Hindu shrine at Amarnath, in the Himalayas, in May.

The land dispute has deeply divided Indian Kashmir, and this week has seen some of the region’s worst religious rioting.

Spiralling violence has shattered the relative peace of the past four years in Indian Kashmir, which is also known as Jammu and Kashmir.

The state could still face a violent insurgency, but tensions had eased after India and Pakistan agreed to a peace process in 2004.

See BBC latest: : at least 11 protesters shot dead

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