Posts Tagged ‘Kashmiri Muslims’

Kashmiris condemn Indian war on Kashmiris, thousands march

August 5, 2010
Kashmiris accused New Delhi of adding to the heavy security presence in Kashmir while not reaching out for a political dialogue.

Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims marched Wednesday to a town where seven people were killed over the weekend amid a rigid curfew in another day of massive protests against Indian rule in the Himalayan region.

Long lines of people carrying green and black protest flags thronged a big prayer ground in Khrew, a town south of Kashmir’s main city Srinagar.

At least 45 Kashmiri civilians have been killed over the past seven weeks.

Three of the seven people were gunned down by security forces who opened fire on thousands of protesters on the streets of Khrew on Sunday. The remaining four civilians were killed in a blast at a police station after it was set on fire by residents angry at the earlier shooting. A lot of explosive material used in quarry blasting was stored in the police station and it might have fueled the blast, police said.

On Wednesday, Kashmiris chanted slogans “Go India, go back” and “We’ll take bullets on our heads but we’ll not give up.”

Continues >>

Advertisements

Kashmiris seek independence now, not Indian poll!

October 12, 2008

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.

Continued . . .

A Free Kashmir: Random Thoughts

October 2, 2008

Part 31


By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal | Kashmir Watch, October 2, 2008

Independent Kashmir: Optimism of Freedom Leaders Every nation has the right to be free and govern it themselves People in Kashmir should be able to capitalize on it at the international level. People of Jammu Kashmir want their birth right, right to self-determination and peace will remain elusive in the region until people are not given right to decide their own future.

Kashmiris struggling for their full and complete independence from occupying terror India should feel happy now because a good section of anti-Kashmiris in India and Kashmir are growing restless thanks to the positive development in Kashmir towards attaining their rightful sovereignty from their oppressors who thought Kashmir would be under their brutal custody for ever. The fact that not many pro-India elements from Kashmir are in great demand now in New Delhi’s by lanes of power. There has been a feeling in New Delhi that India will have to vacate Kashmir any day and stop killing the innocent Kashmiris under fictitious pretexts. A recent demonstration in New Delhi by a national political wing to free Kashmir from Indian military rule has espoused enough enthusiasm among the global Kashmiris looking for a sovereign nation at the earliest.

ONE: Freedom Fighters

The English colonizers of India discovered a lot of “things” for the people to fight each other so that the occupiers could stay comfortably. Amarnath Shrine was also discovered by the British raj in 19th Century for India Hindus. Now they want to expand the scope of importance of that temple structure by illegally annexing l forest lands of Kashmiris. The JK state government, under pressure from government of India, illegally transferred 800 kanals of forestland to Shrine Board on the instructions of New Delhi and the president of India herself was present in Srinagar when the final deal was cleared on pressure by the JK Forest minister under coercion. But the grace of Almighty Allah it awakened people of Kashmir and hundreds and thousands of people are on the streets demanding freedom.

Kashmir Freedom fighters and their supporters are being subjected to innumerable difficulties. No doubt, underdogs are available every where at the disposal of the ruthless rulers for a price and in Kashmir they are being used by India to ruin and kill Kashmir Muslims. India successfully created strong pro-India lobbyists in Delhi, Kashmir and important world capitals. Pro-India political outfits like Congress, NC and other parties have been strengthening Indian occupation in Kashmir. People should be aware that pro-India parties seek votes in the name of development, but in assembly they are working against Islam.

Ever since India tactfully annexed its neighboring Kashmir in 1947, over a lakh Kashmiris have laid their lives for freedom and martyrdom has been continuing fearlessly against all tactics and strat3egis of occupier India, which split the Jammu Kashmir nation along religious and regional lines to advance its nefarious terrorism goals. Kashmir land has created quite successfully, serious freedom leaders who lead the struggle thus far. But with a view to suppress the struggle India kills Kashmiris Muslims but none, including the Un has taken the explosive terror situation in Kashmir quite seriously because of the powerful propaganda by India through media and cash. More than 80 Kashmiri Muslims have been killed in police action in the past two months alone. Kashmir is not the issue of elections or governance. It is not even a dispute, but a case of fraud and genocide and state terrorism by India in Kashmir. Even if it is an internationally recognized dispute, it must be resolved as per the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Vote that managed a regime to support the Indian terror case in Kashmir had same power that time which later bullet had. People who represent the aspirations and sentiments of Kashmiris are the real representatives. The recent protests have given a new dimension to the freedom struggle and it is great to observe the Kashmiri youth realizing their insecurity under the Indian occupation. Sheikh Abdul Aziz and other 50 people have been martyred since Muzaffarabad March on August 11. It is great tribute to the people of the state and a lesson for everyone that anything can be achieved through unity. Today Kashmir people have succeeded in pressing India and Pakistan to open points through the bloody line (LOC) we will continue our efforts until this line is completely smashed away.

Continued . . .

Unarmed Kashmiri freedom fighters

September 19, 2008

Kashmiri Muslims have broken new ground by waging a non-violent separation struggle but the Indian authorities seem unsure how to respond

Flowing black beard, a headband with “Allahu akbar” (God is great) and a fluttering green flag. This has been the trademark picture of the recent azadi (freedom) processions of Kashmir, where hundreds of thousands marched the streets of this disputed Himalayan region seeking a separation from India.

From a distance, it seems as if the past has returned to Kashmir. But the present contains an irrefutable truth: in place of guns, the people carry slogans. The politics of protest this time is not about the argument of power, but about the power of argument.

Kashmir is the first conflict-ridden Muslim region in the world where people have consciously made a transition from violence to non-violence, and this includes the staunch Islamists too. In fact, the wisdom behind the use of arms to fight a political struggle was being silently debated within Kashmir ever since 9/11 blurred the lines dividing terrorism and genuine political movements. The deteriorating situation inside Pakistan too had tilted the balance towards a peaceful struggle.

Thus when Kashmiris decided to come out to demand azadi recently, there were no militant attacks or suicide bombings. It was through massive unarmed processions where people shouted slogans and waved flags. And when the government tried to halt them, the anger was only manifested through stone pelting. Sensing the overwhelming public mood, the militant groups immediately declared a unilateral ceasefire, admitting the insignificance of the gun for an unarmed people’s movement.

This major shift has not been registered even as it has already formed a new discourse for Kashmir’s separatist struggle. New Delhi’s response was usual – it again used its iron fist, killing 38 unarmed protesters and injuring more than a thousand and enforcing a strict curfew with a hope that the people will be ultimately cowed down. The separatist leadership too was rounded up.

This only shows that New Delhi is misreading the script. This time the authorities are not faced with gun-wielding men but unarmed people. A heavy clampdown keeping the population indoors only puts a temporary lid on the seething anger. Instead of a military intervention, New Delhi should have immediately attempted sincere political and democratic means to engage Kashmir and calm the tempers.

New Delhi’s approach to handling Kashmir for past two decades has been simple and straight: militancy is the only problem and that can be sorted out by stringent military measures. Though there have been several rounds of negotiations with a faction of the separatist leadership too, New Delhi used the process more as a photo-op than a serious effort to address the demands of the people. There have been half a dozen occasions when separatist leadership joined a dialogue with New Delhi to resolve the Kashmir problem amicably – only to find the exercise nothing more than a surrender and thus futile.

The distrust towards New Delhi had reached such proportions that when moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq decided to join talks with New Delhi, his uncle was murdered in Kashmir. Despite a serious threat to his life, he joined the talks directly with the prime minister of India. Again, the non-serious approach of New Delhi derailed the process, further eroding the credibility of talks with New Delhi in the eyes of Kashmiris. The public standing of separatist leaders who had agreed to talk to New Delhi also diminished substantially.

The recent protests by hundreds of thousands of unarmed people too don’t seem to have changed the mindset of New Delhi’s ruling elite. Instead of acknowledging the intensity of the uprising and the depth of the sentiment in Kashmir, New Delhi again refuses to face the reality and delays engaging in a sincere dialogue with the separatist leadership. The Kashmiris have overwhelmingly announced that peaceful processions and not guns are now their favoured means of protest. This needs to be encouraged and allowed to take firm roots because it could help to put an end to the bloodshed in Kashmir and make an amicable resolution of the problem easy. The phenomenon could also have a positive influence over a dozen such violent conflicts in other Muslim regions across the world. But if peaceful protests are crushed like armed movements, another wave of violence will take root, reinforcing the idea that the gun is mightier than a slogan.

For Kashmiri Muslims the meaning of independence from Indian occupation of their land

September 14, 2008

Kashmir is in crisis: the region’s Muslims are mounting huge non-violent protests against the Indian government’s rule. But, asks Arundhati Roy, what would independence for the territory mean for its people?

Arundhati Roy| The Guardian, Friday August 22 2008

A Kashmiri Muslim shows a victory sign during a march in Srinagar, India

A Kashmiri Muslim shows a victory sign during a march in Srinagar, India. Photograph: Dar Yasin/AP

For the past 60 days or so, since about the end of June, the people of Kashmir have been free. Free in the most profound sense. They have shrugged off the terror of living their lives in the gun-sights of half a million heavily armed soldiers, in the most densely militarised zone in the world.

After 18 years of administering a military occupation, the Indian government’s worst nightmare has come true. Having declared that the militant movement has been crushed, it is now faced with a non-violent mass protest, but not the kind it knows how to manage. This one is nourished by people’s memory of years of repression in which tens of thousands have been killed, thousands have been “disappeared”, hundreds of thousands tortured, injured, and humiliated. That kind of rage, once it finds utterance, cannot easily be tamed, rebottled and sent back to where it came from.

A sudden twist of fate, an ill-conceived move over the transfer of 100 acres of state forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board (which manages the annual Hindu pilgrimage to a cave deep in the Kashmir Himalayas) suddenly became the equivalent of tossing a lit match into a barrel of petrol. Until 1989 the Amarnath pilgrimage used to attract about 20,000 people who travelled to the Amarnath cave over a period of about two weeks. In 1990, when the overtly Islamist militant uprising in the valley coincided with the spread of virulent Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) in the Indian plains, the number of pilgrims began to increase exponentially. By 2008 more than 500,000 pilgrims visited the Amarnath cave, in large groups, their passage often sponsored by Indian business houses. To many people in the valley this dramatic increase in numbers was seen as an aggressive political statement by an increasingly Hindu-fundamentalist Indian state. Rightly or wrongly, the land transfer was viewed as the thin edge of the wedge. It triggered an apprehension that it was the beginning of an elaborate plan to build Israeli-style settlements, and change the demography of the valley.

Days of massive protest forced the valley to shut down completely. Within hours the protests spread from the cities to villages. Young stone pelters took to the streets and faced armed police who fired straight at them, killing several. For people as well as the government, it resurrected memories of the uprising in the early 90s. Throughout the weeks of protest, hartal (strikes) and police firing, while the Hindutva publicity machine charged Kashmiris with committing every kind of communal excess, the 500,000 Amarnath pilgrims completed their pilgrimage, not just unhurt, but touched by the hospitality they had been shown by local people.

Eventually, taken completely by surprise at the ferocity of the response, the government revoked the land transfer. But by then the land-transfer had become what Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the most senior and also the most overtly Islamist separatist leader, called a “non-issue”.

Massive protests against the revocation erupted in Jammu. There, too, the issue snowballed into something much bigger. Hindus began to raise issues of neglect and discrimination by the Indian state. (For some odd reason they blamed Kashmiris for that neglect.) The protests led to the blockading of the Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only functional road-link between Kashmir and India. Truckloads of perishable fresh fruit and valley produce began to rot.

The blockade demonstrated in no uncertain terms to people in Kashmir that they lived on sufferance, and that if they didn’t behave themselves they could be put under siege, starved, deprived of essential commodities and medical supplies.

To expect matters to end there was of course absurd. Hadn’t anybody noticed that in Kashmir even minor protests about civic issues like water and electricity inevitably turned into demands for azadi, freedom? To threaten them with mass starvation amounted to committing political suicide.

Not surprisingly, the voice that the government of India has tried so hard to silence in Kashmir has massed into a deafening roar. Raised in a playground of army camps, checkpoints, and bunkers, with screams from torture chambers for a soundtrack, the young generation has suddenly discovered the power of mass protest, and above all, the dignity of being able to straighten their shoulders and speak for themselves, represent themselves. For them it is nothing short of an epiphany. Not even the fear of death seems to hold them back. And once that fear has gone, of what use is the largest or second largest army in the world?

There have been mass rallies in the past, but none in recent memory that have been so sustained and widespread. The mainstream political parties of Kashmir – National Conference and People’s Democratic party – appear dutifully for debates in New Delhi’s TV studios, but can’t muster the courage to appear on the streets of Kashmir. The armed militants who, through the worst years of repression were seen as the only ones carrying the torch of azadi forward, if they are around at all, seem content to take a back seat and let people do the fighting for a change.

The separatist leaders who do appear and speak at the rallies are not leaders so much as followers, being guided by the phenomenal spontaneous energy of a caged, enraged people that has exploded on Kashmir’s streets. Day after day, hundreds of thousands of people swarm around places that hold terrible memories for them. They demolish bunkers, break through cordons of concertina wire and stare straight down the barrels of soldiers’ machine guns, saying what very few in India want to hear. Hum Kya Chahtey? Azadi! (We want freedom.) And, it has to be said, in equal numbers and with equal intensity: Jeevey jeevey Pakistan. (Long live Pakistan.)

That sound reverberates through the valley like the drumbeat of steady rain on a tin roof, like the roll of thunder during an electric storm.

On August 15, India’s independence day, Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of Srinagar, was taken over by thousands of people who hoisted the Pakistani flag and wished each other “happy belated independence day” (Pakistan celebrates independence on August 14) and “happy slavery day”. Humour obviously, has survived India’s many torture centres and Abu Ghraibs in Kashmir.

On August 16 more than 300,000 people marched to Pampore, to the village of the Hurriyat leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, who was shot down in cold blood five days earlier.

On the night of August 17 the police sealed the city. Streets were barricaded, thousands of armed police manned the barriers. The roads leading into Srinagar were blocked. On the morning of August 18, people began pouring into Srinagar from villages and towns across the valley. In trucks, tempos, jeeps, buses and on foot. Once again, barriers were broken and people reclaimed their city. The police were faced with a choice of either stepping aside or executing a massacre. They stepped aside. Not a single bullet was fired.

The city floated on a sea of smiles. There was ecstasy in the air. Everyone had a banner; houseboat owners, traders, students, lawyers, doctors. One said: “We are all prisoners, set us free.” Another said: “Democracy without freedom is demon-crazy.” Demon-crazy. That was a good one. Perhaps he was referring to the insanity that permits the world’s largest democracy to administer the world’s largest military occupation and continue to call itself a democracy.

There was a green flag on every lamp post, every roof, every bus stop and on the top of chinar trees. A big one fluttered outside the All India Radio building. Road signs were painted over. Rawalpindi they said. Or simply Pakistan. It would be a mistake to assume that the public expression of affection for Pakistan automatically translates into a desire to accede to Pakistan. Some of it has to do with gratitude for the support – cynical or otherwise – for what Kashmiris see as their freedom struggle, and the Indian state sees as a terrorist campaign. It also has to do with mischief. With saying and doing what galls India most of all. (It’s easy to scoff at the idea of a “freedom struggle” that wishes to distance itself from a country that is supposed to be a democracy and align itself with another that has, for the most part been ruled by military dictators. A country whose army has committed genocide in what is now Bangladesh. A country that is even now being torn apart by its own ethnic war. These are important questions, but right now perhaps it’s more useful to wonder what this so-called democracy did in Kashmir to make people hate it so?)

Everywhere there were Pakistani flags, everywhere the cry Pakistan se rishta kya? La illaha illallah. (What is our bond with Pakistan? There is no god but Allah.) Azadi ka matlab kya? La illaha illallah. (What does freedom mean? There is no god but Allah.)

For somebody like myself, who is not Muslim, that interpretation of freedom is hard – if not impossible – to understand. I asked a young woman whether freedom for Kashmir would not mean less freedom for her, as a woman. She shrugged and said “What kind of freedom do we have now? The freedom to be raped by Indian soldiers?” Her reply silenced me.

Surrounded by a sea of green flags, it was impossible to doubt or ignore the deeply Islamic fervour of the uprising taking place around me. It was equally impossible to label it a vicious, terrorist jihad. For Kashmiris it was a catharsis. A historical moment in a long and complicated struggle for freedom with all the imperfections, cruelties and confusions that freedom struggles have. This one cannot by any means call itself pristine, and will always be stigmatised by, and will some day, I hope, have to account for, among other things, the brutal killings of Kashmiri Pandits in the early years of the uprising, culminating in the exodus of almost the entire Hindu community from the Kashmir valley.

As the crowd continued to swell I listened carefully to the slogans, because rhetoric often holds the key to all kinds of understanding. There were plenty of insults and humiliation for India: Ay jabiron ay zalimon, Kashmir hamara chhod do (Oh oppressors, Oh wicked ones, Get out of our Kashmir.) The slogan that cut through me like a knife and clean broke my heart was this one: Nanga bhookha Hindustan, jaan se pyaara Pakistan. (Naked, starving India, More precious than life itself – Pakistan.)

Why was it so galling, so painful to listen to this? I tried to work it out and settled on three reasons. First, because we all know that the first part of the slogan is the embarrassing and unadorned truth about India, the emerging superpower. Second, because all Indians who are not nanga or bhooka are and have been complicit in complex and historical ways with the elaborate cultural and economic systems that make Indian society so cruel, so vulgarly unequal. And third, because it was painful to listen to people who have suffered so much themselves mock others who suffer, in different ways, but no less intensely, under the same oppressor. In that slogan I saw the seeds of how easily victims can become perpetrators.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani began his address with a recitation from the Qur’an. He then said what he has said before, on hundreds of occasions. The only way for the struggle to succeed, he said, was to turn to the Qur’an for guidance. He said Islam would guide the struggle and that it was a complete social and moral code that would govern the people of a free Kashmir. He said Pakistan had been created as the home of Islam, and that that goal should never be subverted. He said just as Pakistan belonged to Kashmir, Kashmir belonged to Pakistan. He said minority communities would have full rights and their places of worship would be safe. Each point he made was applauded.

I imagined myself standing in the heart of a Hindu nationalist rally being addressed by the Bharatiya Janata party’s (BJP) LK Advani. Replace the word Islam with the word Hindutva, replace the word Pakistan with Hindustan, replace the green flags with saffron ones and we would have the BJP’s nightmare vision of an ideal India.

Is that what we should accept as our future? Monolithic religious states handing down a complete social and moral code, “a complete way of life”? Millions of us in India reject the Hindutva project. Our rejection springs from love, from passion, from a kind of idealism, from having enormous emotional stakes in the society in which we live. What our neighbours do, how they choose to handle their affairs does not affect our argument, it only strengthens it.

Arguments that spring from love are also fraught with danger. It is for the people of Kashmir to agree or disagree with the Islamist project (which is as contested, in equally complex ways, all over the world by Muslims, as Hindutva is contested by Hindus). Perhaps now that the threat of violence has receded and there is some space in which to debate views and air ideas, it is time for those who are part of the struggle to outline a vision for what kind of society they are fighting for. Perhaps it is time to offer people something more than martyrs, slogans and vague generalisations. Those who wish to turn to the Qur’an for guidance will no doubt find guidance there. But what of those who do not wish to do that, or for whom the Qur’an does not make place? Do the Hindus of Jammu and other minorities also have the right to self-determination? Will the hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits living in exile, many of them in terrible poverty, have the right to return? Will they be paid reparations for the terrible losses they have suffered? Or will a free Kashmir do to its minorities what India has done to Kashmiris for 61 years? What will happen to homosexuals and adulterers and blasphemers? What of thieves and lafangas and writers who do not agree with the “complete social and moral code”? Will we be put to death as we are in Saudi Arabia? Will the cycle of death, repression and bloodshed continue? History offers many models for Kashmir’s thinkers and intellectuals and politicians to study. What will the Kashmir of their dreams look like? Algeria? Iran? South Africa? Switzerland? Pakistan?

At a crucial time like this, few things are more important than dreams. A lazy utopia and a flawed sense of justice will have consequences that do not bear thinking about. This is not the time for intellectual sloth or a reluctance to assess a situation clearly and honestly.

Already the spectre of partition has reared its head. Hindutva networks are alive with rumours about Hindus in the valley being attacked and forced to flee. In response, phone calls from Jammu reported that an armed Hindu militia was threatening a massacre and that Muslims from the two Hindu majority districts were preparing to flee. Memories of the bloodbath that ensued and claimed the lives of more than a million people when India and Pakistan were partitioned have come flooding back. That nightmare will haunt all of us forever.

However, none of these fears of what the future holds can justify the continued military occupation of a nation and a people. No more than the old colonial argument about how the natives were not ready for freedom justified the colonial project.

Of course there are many ways for the Indian state to continue to hold on to Kashmir. It could do what it does best. Wait. And hope the people’s energy will dissipate in the absence of a concrete plan. It could try and fracture the fragile coalition that is emerging. It could extinguish this non-violent uprising and re-invite armed militancy. It could increase the number of troops from half a million to a whole million. A few strategic massacres, a couple of targeted assassinations, some disappearances and a massive round of arrests should do the trick for a few more years.

The unimaginable sums of public money that are needed to keep the military occupation of Kashmir going is money that ought by right to be spent on schools and hospitals and food for an impoverished, malnutritioned population in India. What kind of government can possibly believe that it has the right to spend it on more weapons, more concertina wire and more prisons in Kashmir?

The Indian military occupation of Kashmir makes monsters of us all. It allows Hindu chauvinists to target and victimise Muslims in India by holding them hostage to the freedom struggle being waged by Muslims in Kashmir.

India needs azadi from Kashmir just as much as – if not more than – Kashmir needs azadi from India.

· Arundhati Roy, 2008. A longer version of this article will be available tomorrow at outlookindia.com.

Anatomy of the Kashmir crisis

September 8, 2008

Interview: Sanjay Kak

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Kashmir as Indian security forces impose a round-the-clock curfew across the valley.

More than 30 unarmed Kashmiri protesters have been killed by Indian forces in the last few weeks in an effort to stamp out mass demonstrations that have shaken the disputed region, which is partitioned by India and Pakistan, and where India has maintained a military occupation in the section it controls.

The demonstrations were sparked by the announcement of the transfer of 100 acres of public land to the Amarnath Shrine Board, but have since snowballed into a province-wide revolt. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have taken to the streets demanding “azadi” (freedom) and their right to self-determination. In response, Indian military and paramilitary forces imposed a curfew and media blackout, and have fired on large, unarmed rallies, killing dozens and injuring hundreds.

Sanjay Kak is a filmmaker whose recently completed documentary, Jashn-e-Azadi (How We Celebrate Freedom) was made over a period of several years in Kashmir. On August 16, days after the mass protests erupted, he spoke with Nagesh Rao.

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

WHAT IS the significance of the Kashmiri uprising?

I THINK part of the problem is that in India, our attention always comes in at the tail end of the story. Here it comes in when there is an explosion of resentment against the granting of lands to the Amarnath Shrine Board, and then we all act mystified: “How can there be so much resentment against something so small?”

That’s because no one paid attention to what’s been happening in the year prior, or the five years prior or, indeed, 18 years prior to this event. So there’s a kind of structured amnesia about what events bring us to this place.

And this is not an accident. Particularly when it comes to Kashmir, in India, it is a structured amnesia.

You’ve got more than 500,000 Indian soldiers in Kashmir. They are sitting in literally every street and village and by-lane and crossing and water-point, and then you begin thinking that peace has returned to Kashmir. But it hasn’t. You’re just sitting on top of people.

Then the media dutifully starts wheeling out the spin, and you’re told, “Oh, tourists are returning to Kashmir, all is well, the militancy is gone.” And everybody begins to believe it.

I once had a conversation with an army officer, and he said, “Things are very peaceful here now. As a Kashmiri, you should come and visit, as often as you like.” “Peaceful” is not a word I would use to describe what was around us, even where were sitting, in the officers’ mess, with a breathtaking view of the grand Wular Lake.

“But colonel, there’s a soldier with an AK-47 every 30 feet,” I said.

“No, no,” he said, “we’ve got the situation under control.”

“So when will you leave?” I said, “You know, troop reductions–cut by, say, 20 percent?”

“No, no, that’s out of the question,” he replied. “Everybody would be out on the streets, there would be an uprising.”

On the ground, that colonel commanding a military unit in Kashmir knows the score. The Indian security apparatus has taken 18 years to build a stranglehold on Kashmir, to control every aspect of daily life over there. That is the kind of “peace” that they hammered onto Kashmir.

In the wake of the armed uprising of the 1990s, which was represented as “terrorism” and an “Islamic jihad,” they managed to do what they had to do, because Indians–and the rest of the world–were a little confused about what was happening. But what are they going to do now, when there are no weapons in this uprising? There are just hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets. What are they going to do? Are they going to just start firing? And how many will they kill?

This is the real significance of what we are seeing. Until now, even ostensibly sympathetic Indians would throw the question at the Kashmiris: “Why did you take to the gun? You took to the gun, and you alienated the Indian people.”

This time around, they haven’t brought the gun out. They are coming out in vast numbers and demonstrating for what they believe in. They are coming out in the ways that Indian democracy ought to believe in. Only this time, the same liberal intelligentsia who wanted them to give up the gun are now calling these vast assemblies “violent mobs” of “extremists”!

In a sense, the Indian state is hoisted on its own petard, flummoxed. [Indian rulers] do not know how to react to this situation.

Continued . . .

Troops, protesters clash in Indian-controlled Kashmir; 1 dead

September 7, 2008

AIJAZ HUSSAIN

AP News, Sep 06, 2008 07:06 EST

Thousands of angry people took to the streets in Indian Kashmir to denounce the killing Saturday of a protester by government troops who fired rubber bullets and tear gas shells at Muslim demonstrators chanting anti-India slogans, an official said.

Shops and businesses were closed and public buses stayed off the roads across much of the Indian-administered region Saturday in response to a strike called by Muslim separatist groups protesting Indian rule in the disputed region.

The strike was called by the Jammu-Kashmir Coordination Committee, whose members include Muslim separatist leaders and representatives of businesses, lawyers and government employees.

A few hundred protesters chanting “We want freedom” and other anti-India slogans clashed with government troops who tried to prevent them from marching, said Prabhakar Tripathi, a spokesman for the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force.

The angry crowd threw rocks at the soldiers, who responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas shells, Tripathi said. Several people, both protesters and troops, were injured, he said.

One man died from injuries to his chest, said Wasim Qureshi, the doctor who attended to him. He gave no other details.

News of the man’s death fueled more clashes as thousands took to the streets to protest the killing. In at least two other areas of Srinagar, protesters burned tires and hurled rocks at troops who fired tear gas to control the crowds, Tripathi said.

More than two months of angry protests have left at least 43 people dead in Indian-controlled Kashmir, most of them killed when soldiers opened fire on Muslim protesters.

The unrest, the worst to hit Kashmir in more than a decade, was triggered by a government move to hand over land to a Hindu shrine. Muslim separatist leaders launched protests in June saying the government plan was aimed at changing the demography of the Muslim-majority region.

The plan was quickly scrapped, angering the region’s Hindu minority who also launched massive protests, forcing authorities to allow Hindu pilgrims temporary use of land near the shrine.

The Muslim separatists’ demonstrations have snowballed into a broader anti-India movement.

Kashmir has been divided between Hindu-majority India and predominantly Muslim Pakistan since 1947 when the two fought their first war over the region in the aftermath of Britain’s bloody partition of the subcontinent. Both countries continue to claim Kashmir in its entirety.

A separatist insurgency in Indian Kashmir has killed an estimated 68,000 people since 1989.

Source: AP News

Muslims demand independent Kashmir as Indian police kill 13

August 13, 2008

Tension rises as thousands gather for funeral of separatist leader

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent
The Independent, Wednesday, 13 August 2008

An Indian policeman is hit by an object thrown by a protester in Srinagar yesterday

Reuters

An Indian policeman is hit by an object thrown by a protester in Srinagar yesterday

Indian Kashmir has been convulsed by the biggest pro-independence rallies for two decades, with tensions between Muslims and Hindus spilling over into violence that has so far claimed 13 lives and left more than 100 people injured.

The deaths were a result of Indian police and troops firing on Muslim protesters who were defying a curfew imposed by the authorities following the killing of a high-profile separatist leader. In some of the worst violence in the region in recent years, there were at least a dozen shooting incidents as large numbers of Muslims ignored the curfew and took to the streets.

In Srinagar last night up to 10,000 people defied the curfew to bury the separatist leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, whose body had been taken to the city’s main mosque.

Mr Aziz, a senior figure within the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a coalition of more than two dozen moderate religious and social groups campaigning for independence for Kashmir, was killed on Monday along with four other people when police fired into a crowd of Muslims protesting against what they said was a Hindu blockade of the road linking the Kashmir Valley to the rest of India. The protesters, up to 100,000 strong, were trying to march to the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir when the shootings took place.

The deaths are the latest violent twist in a summer of increasing tension in Kashmir that was initially sparked by a row over land being donated to a Hindu shrine. In June, faced by protests from Muslims, the state government reversed the decision it had taken to donate 99 acres of land to the Shri Amarnath shrine, a site of pilgrimage that draws thousands of Hindus a year from across India. In turn, the decision to reverse the donation angered Hindus in the state. Since then, tensions between the two communities have worsened, amid evidence that local politicians have sought to use the row to further their own interests.

As a result, not only have there been the largest demonstrations for independence in the past 20 years, but trade between the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley and the Hindu-dominated region around the city of Jammu, has been drastically curtailed. Muslims say the government is behind a blockade of a 185-mile link road that is leaving many communities low on food and medicine. They also complain that hundreds of truckloads of Kashmiri fruit are going to waste because they cannot be delivered and are rotting in the heat. The situation is so bad that producers are now demanding to be allowed to export their crops across the border to Pakistan.

“The first thing is that the whole event is very undesirable in terms of both the domestic situation in Jammu and Kashmir and its linkage with the larger bilateral peace process [between India and Pakistan],” C Uday Bhaskar, a strategic analyst, told Reuters. “I think this will have a bad impact and considering that Pakistan is going through bad turmoil now, the overall impact on the peace process will not be very positive.”

Indian-administered Kashmir has long been a flashpoint for religious violence and an estimated 68,000 people have been killed in the past two decades as a multitude of militant groups have fought either for independence or a merger with Pakistan. But in the past couple of years a fragile peace had descended upon the state, to the extent that Indian authorities had begun once again to promote Kashmir as a tourist destination

After Sheikh Aziz was killed in Chehel, about 30 miles from the border between the two portions of Kashmir, the Indian authorities imposed the curfew.

At the burial last night of Mr Aziz and the four other people killed with him, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of Hurriyat and the most powerful separatist leader in Kashmir, told a huge crowd of mourners: “Sheikh Aziz’s death is big loss to the Kashmir nation, we will take his mission to its logical end.” Another leader of the organisation, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, also attended the funeral, defying both the curfew and house arrest.

As the crowd chanted for independence, Mr Farooq added: “Our struggle for complete independence from India will continue. No power on earth can deter us from achieving this.”

Continued . . .

See also:

Guardian: 14 protesters shot dead in Kashmir

The London Times: Kashmir under curfew after 19 deaths


%d bloggers like this: