Sunday, March 7, 2010

Stone throwers done to death

Pelting stones has been an old and trusted method of protest in Kashmir

Mohsin Qadri

Stone-pelting has become a sub-title of Kashmir conflict these days. It is being talked about everywhere. The Government appears helpless before the sticky situation that spilled over the roads and streets of the Valley. As the hottest topic, it grabbed much of the Indian mainstream media space. Special programs were telecast by satellite TV channels where familiar anchors tried to score over each other in establishing the stone throwing teenagers of Kashmir as the greatest threat for the largest democracy, having left far behind in dread the gun totting militant of yesteryears.

Indian media loves Kashmir. In fact, it is terminally fascinated about this land and its people. Jawaharlal Nehru’s fascination for Kashmir pales before our TV anchors’ absorption with the Paradise on Earth. Nehru adored Kashmir but the celebrated anchors in his country do not stop at that and overtake him in so far as their 24x7 absorption with Kashmiris is concerned. Thanks to them, the stone pelting, hitherto considered as an expression of angst by a cornered people, has come to be known as a horrific war game.

The 11 day old baby Irfan’s tragic death, in the context of stone pelting in Kashmir, is a shocking incident that deserves full condemnation. Expectedly, it became major news for TV channels which ran it for several days demanding severest punishment for the culprits. Not surprisingly though, no such media activism is seen in respect of countless tragedies that befall on Kashmir. None of the TV anchors who have perfected news presentation in India as a glamour industry asks for the deserved punishment to the killer of Zahid Farooq or for the rapist of Asiya or their equally unfortunate near and distant cousins. Crime in Kashmir today stands compartmentalized between ‘them’ and ‘us’. If it is committed by a driven-to-frustration stone pelting youth all the 400 odd channels operating from Punjab Plains to Malabar Coast invoke Islam and dehumanize people. However, if a more heinous crime is committed by a uniformed person their cameras would look the other way. And if at all they roll it would be only to stigmatize the victim, ‘ala’ Shopian and Wamiq Farooq. If Gandhi would have been alive today and watched media in his country reporting on Kashmir he would definitely pelt stones at these journalists.

Stone pelting, notwithstanding how a horrendous act it is made out to be, is a very old and time tested method of registering protest and anger in Kashmir. When promises were not kept and guns were not an option, the disillusioned people of all ages would opt to this method of protest in the Valley. While it would require serious research to find out its roots in Kashmir, the locals have always used stones as a tool of opposition and disapproval. Mughals have faced these and so have their successors down the line to the Dogras. In recent decades, when electricity was not supplied despite payment of tariff, when sub-standard rice was distributed through PDS or when a youngster was knocked down by a speeding army truck, the people would give vent to their anger by pelting stones. Political parties would recruit and nurture groups and employ them to pelt stones on political and ideological rivals. During those prolonged internecine ‘sher-bakra’ fights, stones were the Kalashnikovs of the warring factions. It was also the weapon of the ‘suriwalas’ to intimidate the adversary? Even today, the opposition party alleges that the government has created a counter-stone pelting force and the government accuses it of providing for stone throwers active on the streets of Kashmir.

Till this day, no one had found the Pakistani angle in stone pelting in Kashmir. The activity in the Valley happens to be much older than Pakistan as well as independent India. Its name, ‘kani jung’, in the local language is neither a direct nor indirect derivation from the neighbouring country’s national language nor having any phonetic similarity to its equivalent word there. The fertility of the mind that unearthed the Pakistan connection in Kashmir’s one of the oldest resistance methods deserves a national award.

Those who subscribe to Pakistan connection theory might as well look in the neighbourhood of J&K’s boundary to further stretch their fertile imagination. A village near Shimla known as Thani is famous for having given the religious sanctity to stone pelting and the blood spilled through this exercise is used to perform ‘tilak’ on the deity installed in a local temple. On the second day of Holi, the religious festival of Hindus, people of the area divide themselves into two groups and pelt stones at each other.

Aiming directly at the target, they spill blood which is used to perform ‘tilak’ on the deity, ‘Bhima Kali’. The ruler of the area, thus goes the story, was killed in a fight and his wife committed ‘sati’. However, before jumping into the funeral pyre of her husband, she took a pledge from the people that they will stop offering human sacrifice at the ‘Bhima Kali’ temple and instead divide themselves into two groups and throw stones at each other. She asked them to offer to the deity the human blood thus spilled. The ritual goes on since then.

As Shimla is not Srinagar, nobody is keen to find a foreign connection with this blood spill by people there. Neither does any police officer on a mainstream TV channel deliver a sermon on stone pelting being against the tenants of religion. Kashmir, after all, is all together a different place where in matters of universally accepted principles A has the meaning of B and X is Y. Here, everybody is guilty untill proven innocent in contrast to the otherwise internationally accepted doctrine of justice. Perhaps when a future Ibn-e-Batuta travels through this land he would describe it as a place where murderers roamed free and stone throwers were done to death.

Article taken from Rising Kashmir March 06 issue.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I am a stone pelter. Who are you?


------- and what else can I do to express my resistance against oppression, writes Imran Muhammad Gazi an MBA student.

I have been shot in the ribs. I am on a stretcher in an emergency ward of a city hospital. Who am I? I am a stone pelter from a busy commercial area of Srinagar. This is my comprehensive introduction, no need to have a name, surname, qualification and profession. Just one word sums up my personality” Stone Pelter”. I am not that educated but some of my educated peers tell me I have always been in news right from 1931. You will find me everywhere, i have stood the test of time, leaders have changed slogans have changed but I have not. Yes there was a time when I was sidelined, and gun wielding elders occupied the centre stage.

Situation has changed and I am again in business in urban Kashmir, Ragda 2008 restored my lost glory, you called it a revolution, I watched spell bound vast multitude of people filling the streets of Kashmir, it was on that day at historic Eidgah, the gun wielding elder passed the baton on to me and with a smile on his lip and tear in his eye said” your turn mate”. I still don’t know why those tears in the eyes of the elder, perhaps I am too young to understand this.

You can find me on any street of urban Kashmir, although I have some favourite spots, I love jamia Masjid and Maisuma, old town Varmul, Sopur, and Malakhnag Islamabad to name a few. You can easily recognize me as I am the best dressed youth of my area, trendy jeans, smart sports shoe, whacky jacket and few fashion accessories, they say I buy them from the money I get for stone pelting. My income is being discussed everywhere and there is no unanimity on that it varies from 100 to2500,at times I am afraid that I may be brought under income tax net. My attire has little to do with fashion, and more with the nature of my job, I am supposed to be athletic and nimble footed and I have to mingle with the crowds, hence my attire. Ideal day at work is thrilling and exciting, the suspense, the drama, the surge and the chase is right out of 80s blockbuster Hindi cinema.

I dodge shells and bullets, ala Rajnikanth, only difference is there is no retake on the street, either you dodge in first take or you are down in the gutter. Stone pelting used to be an art but with the passage of time it has developed into a science, it is more because of those chocolate pelters, some of whom are students of best schools of Srinagar. Purists moan the adulteration; pragmatists call it the need of the hour. These chocolates talk about projectile motion, angle of projection and range, I don’t get a bit of that. They introduced “sling”, whatever oldies may say it is an effective combat weapon. I have not talked about my adversary ,most of the time it is the “Ponde police” sorry local police, it is an honour to have such an enemy in the battlefield, the most professional and business savvy police force in the world, highly well versed with economics. Such is the level of efficiency that they no longer waste bullets on us but use teargas shells for dual purpose of chasing and killing us, you can not blame them after all world is going through a recession and cost cutting is the mantra. They perfected this technique under there former boss, whose name was a tongue twister for us, we remember him as Asif Mujtabha the paki batsmen. He was a brilliant officer, disciplinarian, had a penchant for cleanliness, smoothly killed almost sixty of us in a span of few weeks, yet you could not see a speck of blood on his hands nor his immaculately worn uniform, as I told u spick and span. He treated us like his kids, ensured we did not suffer any pain or agony, bullets hit us, either on head or chest, he was such a noble loving and caring father. We miss him, they transferred him, must have been promoted, I feel good at least our blood helped someone to make a career.
Why do I pelt stones, this thought had never crossed my mind, I just instinctively new when I had to don the armour and start the battle. It was only after Ragda 2008, I heard some whispers, hushed tones, and few glances of suspicion on the street. I am street smart, I realized I am not the darling of the masses anymore, people who fed me with (Teher) even in the midst of the battle, now hated me. I should have seen this coming, it all started with the fatherly police chief Asif Mujtaba, quoting Hadith against stone pelting, learned man he is, after securing our (duniyah) worldly life, he immediately focused his attention to secure our (akhirat) life here after. We miss him; he was our real benefactor, trying to ensure us peace in this world as well as other world.

A (molvi saheb) priest who calls himself a Puritan, and who lead many processions in Ragda2008, seconded the view and said the hadith is from Bukhari shareef, it was a bolt from the blue (nabi trath) for me, same molvi used to quote Bukhari shareef in 1990s and would read out from Babul jihad (Chapter on jihad) why this hadith was never read to us until now. What had changed, Bukhari Shareef or Molvi Sahib, it was for the first time and not the last time that I have wept, yes warm tears flowed not from my eyes but the stone cold heart of a stone pelter. I wiped my tears, with my rough hands and yes mourning the death of conscience of our Ulema I did what I knew best, yes I pelted stones mocking at the simplicity of the molvi sahib.

A columnist picked up the thread from were the molvi left, writing smoothly with his “LEFT HAND “. He mocked at my lack of education, it is easy to doge the bullet than a writer’s pen I was pinned to the ground, argument lost. There is a saying in Kashmiri (Asoolus kyah kari ghulam rasool).I don’t know the English meaning of this as I am a petty stone pelter. Agreed I am not educated, but my journo brother is, if he is writing today it is because of me who is fighting in the street for the very honour he is trying to defend sitting in his study with a laptop on the table and Coffee Mug in his hand. His colleague who shot frames was shot in broad daylight; he could not get an FIR registered. I did what I knew best, and yes I pelted stones in protest against this cowardice of the police. Street is my school, and this is what I have been taught. Get an FIR registered for your colleague with your university degree in hand and we will talk my brother. Intelligentsia scorn me, to them I am a ruffian, and they refer to me as the lumpen proletariat. They are all learned scholars, poets, linguists, writers; they are mirror of our society.

When I and my friends were slaughtered on the streets some Rahi lost his way in the commotion, and found himself in a hall were some Gyan Peeth award was given to him by someone whose hands were smeared with our dirty blood. He accepted the award with hands folded in benediction, feeling at last he has found his way not knowing Rahi has been lost in wilderness forever. When men of intellect stoop so low I do what I know best, yes I pelt stones in despair. I have one question for all you learned men. Do those Shawls of honour have smell of our blood and warmth of the breath of a dying stone pelter? By the way was it not the proletariat who brought a revolution, an old news paper I found with” Sulla Masala” talks about that.

Enough of arguments, after all I am a stone pelter I can not win an argument with you, for you are learned men. It is clear to me my countrymen that I am an impediment to your progress, it pains me, I don’t want you to be backward, I want you to prosper. What then is the solution? I can not stoop to your level nor can you rise to my level. Don’t you worry I have a solution. Let there be a role reversal for a day, you be the stone pelters and we the perennial stone pelters the target. I will gather all my friends at Eidgah and you stone us to death, we will take all your stones with a smile on our lips and a tear in our eyes, smile we will for your prosperity and tears will roll, for we won’t be there to see the smile on your lips when you achieve your prosperity. Having stoned us don’t you think you won, it is we who have won for once from masters of inaction you have become men of action, and did not we pelt stones all our lives just to make
you act.

One last request my countrymen, please do not make a graveyard for us, for you will make a ritual of visiting it every year along with our respected leaders , who will come separately, as they come to our funerals individually, strange not even our blood unites them. They say unity is possible only on principles, true how can blood of a stone pelter or chastity and honour of a common Kashmiri woman be a principle to unite on, and it must be some high principle. Even if you bury us don’t ever visit our graves for old habits don’t die we will rise from our graves and pelt stones on sight of a Hypocrite. Tell my mother I will miss her, for I had two Homes Street and her lap, and yes her lap was comforting but it was the street that was my calling.

As everything in the hospital room is becoming hazy and death is waiting to embrace me, I remember a couplet by some Iqbal, I read on the back of an auto rickshaw of a fellow stone pelter.

jis khak Ke Zameer Main ho Atish Chinar
Mumkin Naheen Ki Sard Ho Woh khake Arjmund.

Is it true my country………….

(Imran Muhammad Gazi is an MBA Pass-out Kashmir University. Feedback at

Appeared in GK:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Way To Heaven

Beauty of Truth: Enjoying a warm sun, an elderly person reading concluding chapters of Quran on Friday afternoon during the month of Ramadhan.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

And freedom struggle continues!!!

One voice:Kashmiri people raising pro-freedom and pro-pakistan slogans after Friday congregation in Maisuma Srinagar.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

CRPF Unleashes Terror In Kashmir

Naked agression: Bruised body of a Kashmiri youth writhing in pain after getting ruthless beating by CRPF troopers.

Indian government mounts brutal campaign of repression in Kashmir

India’s Congress Party-led Union government has launched a brutal crackdown in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in an effort to stamp out widespread, open defiance of India’s decades-long de facto military rule over the state.

So as to preempt a potentially gigantic mass rally called by Kashmiri separatist organizations for Monday, August 25 in Srinagar, the state capital, the J&K state Governor, N.N. Vohra, deployed hundreds of thousands of heavily-armed police, paramilitary, and military forces beginning Aug. 23 and imposed an indefinite, round-the-clock curfew.

The 24-hour curfew, which remains in effect in all 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley, is exacting a terrible toll on the Valley’s overwhelmingly Muslim population.

People have been prevented from purchasing food. All schools have been closed. The sick, elderly, and pregnant women have been unable to seek medical care. Economic life has been paralyzed, depriving workers, petty-hawkers and other toilers of even the “right” to eke out a living. Tourists, meanwhile, have been left stranded.

All the media, including mainstream corporate dailies and private television stations, have been unable to publish or forced from the air. The only exceptions are the Indian government-run Doordashan television network and the state-owned Radio Kashmir.

The Indian state has also sought to bar internet access to some news websites.

The Indian government, which invariably touts India as the world’s largest democracy, has claimed that it is not prohibiting media from operating in the Valley. But this is belied not only by the authorities’ refusal to grant journalists and other media personnel with passes exempting them from the curfew regulations, but also by the arrest and/or manhandling of a score or more journalists by security personnel.

In breaking up anti-government protests and otherwise enforcing the blanket curfew, security forces have used deadly force against unarmed civilians. At least ten people, including a teenage girl, have been killed by security forces since August 25. This brings the total death-toll in the state during the past two months of anti-government agitation and counter-agitation to at least 40. Hundreds more have been injured, many of them by gunshot.

Security forces have also staged frightening, dead-of-the night raids to take several prominent Kashmiri nationalist politicians into custody.

India’s only Muslim-majority state is being subjected to “the most brutal crackdown ... in almost two decades,” reports The Hindu, a liberal Chennai-based daily. Yet Washington, London, and other western governments who frequently posture as defenders of human rights have failed to make any criticism of New Delhi’s actions.

The wave of repression in Kashmir was ordered, and is being directed, by the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and India’s security establishment.
According to an article in the August 26 Hindu, plans for the crackdown, including the blanket curfew, were drawn up at a meeting chaired by National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan two weeks ago. Narayanan, who heads India’s National Security Council, and Intelligence Bureau Director P.C. Haldar, then flew to Srinagar to inform the local security-force chiefs of their plans.
The central government was reportedly persuaded not to immediately implement the crackdown by local officials, who argued that the anti-Indian government agitation was waning. But New Delhi was rattled when hundreds of thousands of people showed up for an August 22 rally called by Kashmiri nationalists and thereafter moved quickly to crush the anti-government agitation.

”Meltdown” in Indian-administered Kashmir

The crackdown is the response of the Indian elite to the political crisis that was triggered by the decision of the state’s now-defunct Congress Party-led coalition government to give 100 acres of Kashmir Valley forest land to the board that manages the Hindu Amarnath shrine. (See Indian government resorts to armed repression in Kashmir, killing 21 and wounding hundreds )
The government’s ostensible aim was to provide better facilities to the hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims who visit the shrine every year. The real reason was that the Congress Party wished to curry favor with Hindu communalist groups in the state ahead of assembly elections slated for later this year.

The land-grant provoked widespread protests by Kashmiri nationalist and Islamicist groups and on June 28 the Congress’ coalition partner, the People’s Democratic Party, withdrew from the government, depriving it of its parliamentary majority. Three days later the Congress government rescinded the land grant, but the PDP refused to rejoin the government.

Hindu communal and supremacist groups, including the VHP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), responded by mounting a counter agitation in Jammu, the only one of the state’s three regions that has a Hindu majority, to force the government to abide by its original decision. Ultimately this took the form of an “economic blockade” that cut the Kashmir Valley off from the rest of India, disrupting the transport of essential goods to the Valley and threatening the Valley’s economically pivotal fruit exports.

The blockade in the state’s southern Jammu region triggered mass protests in the Kashmir Valley, where the population has long endured savage repression at the hands of a massive Indian army force. A number of paramilitary posts were overrun or burnt to the ground.
Under these conditions, Narayanan and the Indian security establishment, says the Hindu, concluded that Jammu and Kashmir—which for the past six decades has been at the center of the geo-political rivalry between India and Pakistan—was rapidly approaching “meltdown.’
Government denials notwithstanding, there is no question that the burden of the current crackdown is falling almost exclusively on the state’s Muslim population. Initially the curfew did cover some parts of Jammu, but it was soon lifted there.

This is in keeping with the way the local Congress Party, the UPA government, and the Indian security forces have acted throughout the shrine-land controversy. When compared with the vicious repression unleashed in the Kashmir Valley, the state response to the agitation by Hindu-communal groups in the Jammu region has been relatively muted. For example, during comparable confrontations, there have been far-fewer instances when security forces have resorted to live-fire. There have also been fewer arrests and far fewer curfews in Jammu.
The Congress Party’s state unit has openly supported the Hindu communal agitation over the land-shrine issue. The approach of the UPA government, meanwhile, has been governed by its concern that the Hindu supremacist BJP not be allowed to cast itself as the better defender of the “Hindu” and “national” cause against “Muslim separatists.”

While it loudly proclaims its support for a secular India, the Congress party has a long and unseemly history of pandering to, and conniving with, Hindu communal forces stretching back at least to the 1947 partition of the subcontinent into an expressly Muslim Pakistan and a predominantly Hindu India.

On Sunday, J&K Governor Vohra announced a “settlement” of the land shrine issue that caves into the demands of the Hindu communal forces. Under the settlement reached with the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti or shrine board, the government has agreed to place the land at the board’s disposal with the proviso that it only be used for a few months during the pilgrimage season, that no permanent structure be built, and that the J&K government retain title to the land. As a result of the deal, the Hindu communalists have called off their two-month long agitation in Jammu.

India angrily dismisses UN Commissioner’s concerns

So brutal has been the repression in Kashmir that even the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a statement of concern, “calling on the Indian authorities and in particular security forces to respect the right to freedom of assembly and expression.”

It urged the Indian authorities to “comply with international human rights principles in controlling the demonstrators” and called for “thorough and independent investigations into all killings that have occurred in Indian-administered Kashmir.”

The Indian government, which in two decades of military occupation of J&K has accumulated an atrocious record on human rights by killing and disappearing tens of thousands, reacted with predictable bluster and defiance. A statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs admonished the OHCHR: “We regret that the OHCHR has issued a statement on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. This is uncalled for and irresponsible.” It further thundered that “India does not need any advice in respect of the protection and promotion of human rights of its citizens.”

Famed Indian writer Arundathi Roy has noted that prior to 1989 the Amaranth shrine attracted only about 20,000 people per year. By 2008 the number had swollen to over 500,000. While some of this increase is likely due to better transportation and the increased income of sections of the middle-class, many of the pilgrims, says Roy, have had their passages paid for by Indian businesses that patronize Hindu communal groups that promote travel to the shrine as both a religious and “Hindu national” duty.

1989 was a turning point in the history of Kashmir. The national Congress government rigged the state elections and, when large sections of the population protested, Indian authorities resorted to bloody repression. These events, chronic economic backwardness, and the rise of Hindu chauvinism across India, led a section of Kashmiri youth to take up arms against the Indian government.

Pakistan, which took control of the northern half of the princely state of Kashmir in 1947-48, had long sought, albeit unsuccessfully, to foment opposition in Indian-controlled Kashmir. It now used political and military support to the insurgents to tie them to its reactionary geo-political agenda and to propel into the leadership of the insurgency the most communally-minded elements.

India, in turn, has used Pakistan’s involvement to claim that the unrest in Kashmir is nothing but a foreign-exported terrorist problem.

A rude shock

The events of the past month have come as a rude shock to the Indian establishment. It had thought it had succeeded in pacifying Jammu and Kashmir through savage repression and by pressing Pakistan, with Washington’s support, to deny the Kashmiri separatists military-logistical support.

There is no question that the insurgency has declined sharply in recent years. While repression has undoubtedly played a role in this, so too has the revulsion of ordinary Kashmiris at the communal atrocities Islamacist insurgents have perpetrated and the Kashmiri nationalists’ manifest failure to advance any program that seriously addresses the socio-economic problems facing people across that state, whatever their religion.

The Indian elite, as National Security Advisor Narayanan conceded, mistook the success of its recent pacification efforts for a strengthening of its base of popular support in the state. “I think the [situation is] is far less serious than what is being portrayed,” Narayanan told a television intervieiwer. “But at the same [it is] time certainly something that we are very unhappy about.
“What is causing us concern is that [after] four years of improvement in the situation, [we] believed that we [had] reduced levels of alienation, [there were] substantial signs of normalcy in the State. People had forgotten about issues.”

The occupation of the Jammu and Kashmir and more particularly the Kashmir Valley by a huge contingent of Indian security forces for two decades has made life for ordinary people unbearable. Further fuelling the popular anger and frustration is the fact that the Indian government refuses to undertake any serious investigation of the innumerable rapes, disappearances, and other human right abuses committed by its security forces.

Given the reactionary role played by Stalinism and Maoism in the subcontinent, it is retrograde nationalist and separatist groups that have benefited from the pent-up mass anger in Kashmir.
In the final analysis it is the Indian ruling elite and their imperialist sponsors that are responsible for the ongoing nightmare that is Kashmir, and for the myriad of other national-ethnic and communal conflicts that afflict the country.

A progressive solution to the Kashmir crisis will be found only when the working class leads a movement of the toilers of the subcontinent aimed at overthrowing capitalism and the reactionary nation state-system imposed on South Asia by imperialism and the aspirant national bourgeoisies of India and Pakistan in 1947.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Indian promises on Kashmir

If promises are made to be broken, then Kashmir may be summoned to prove the treacherous proposition. Broken promises haunt Kashmir's history, and explain its tragedy.

The United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) passed a resolution on January 5, 1949 wherein it was agreed that “the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.” The resolution was negotiated with both India and Pakistan and accepted by all five members of the Commission, Argentina, Belgium, Columbia, Czechoslovakia and the United States. Professor Joseph Korbel, father of Dr. Madeleine Albright was the Chairman of the Commission at the time.

Sir Benegal Rama Rau, the Indian delegate spoke during the 399th meeting of the Security Council on January 13, 1949, “On behalf of my Government, I can give the assurance that it will not only cooperate to the utmost with the Commission itself towards a settlement in Kashmir, but also with the United Nations in securing peace everywhere, because it believes that this organization offers the only hope for peace for future generations, on a secure basis.”

Sir Rau further said at the Security Council on March 1, 1951, “The people of Kashmir are not mere chattels to be disposed of according to a rigid formula; their future must be decided on their own interest and in accordance with their own desires.”

Mr. Setalwad, another Indian delegate spoke during the 572nd meeting of the Security Council on January 31, 1952, “I was the first to declare that the people of Jammu and Kashmir should freely decide their own future.”

India, however, was soon undeceived of its delusions over Kashmir's political yearning. Recognizing that its people would never freely vote accession to India, it contrived excuse after excuse to frustrate a plebiscite.

With the lapse of British paramountcy on August 14, 1947, broken promises over Kashmir came not like single spies but in battalions, to borrow from Hamlet. Princely states enjoyed three options: accession to India, accession to Pakistan, or independence. But the choice, according to India's Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and tacitly endorsed by the British, was to be made by popular referendum in cases where the creed of the ruler varied from the religion of the majority. That fundamental democratic principle had been sternly applied by Nehru with military means in Hyderabad and Junagadh where the rulers were Muslim but their inhabitants largely Hindu. Kashmir presented a converse case: the Maharaja was Hindu but the majority subscribed to Islam.

On November 2, 1947, Prime Minister Nehru reiterated, “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given and the Maharaja supported it, not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it."

In recent past, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India and General Pervez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan agreed at the United Nations on September 24, 2004 “to explore all the possible options to settle the issue of Kashmir.” Then exactly one year later, Prime Minister said at the United Nations on September 16, 2005, “What I do believe, I have also said that borders cannot be redrawn but we must work together to make borders irrelevant.” One fails to understand how can you explore all possible options when the only option available is to make borders irrelevant (status quo).

On September 5, 2005, Dr. Manmohan Singh promised Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman, All Parties Hurriyet Conference that India will have zero tolerance on the human rights violations in Kashmir. Then he responded while replying to a question during a press conference in New York that “The fact that there is so much of violence (in Kashmir), the fact that cross border infiltration continues, the terrorists are active, does impose some burden on the ordinary citizens.”

The train of broken promises over Kashmir might be forgiven if the consequences were innocuous or inconsequential. But I submit the opposite is the case. India exerts an iron-fisted rule over Kashmir. With approximately 700,000 military and paramilitary troops in the territory, gruesome human rights violations are perpetrated with. Torture, rape, plunder, abduction, arson, custodial disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and ruthless suppression of peaceful political dissent have become commonplaces.

Let us hope that the last promise over Kashmir has been broken.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Independence Day for Kashmir--SWAMINOMICS

(The following post has been taken from the TOI and addresses the basic nature of the Kashmir's struggle for independence. Though such articles have come very late, nevertheless they serve as an eye openor for those who are hell bent upon seeing Kashmir with them without really asking kashmiris Whether they would love to be with them or not.....Read on...)

On August 15, India celebrated independence from the British Raj. But Kashmiris staged a bandh demanding independence from India. A day symbolising the end of colonialism in India became a day symbolising Indian colonialism in the Valley. As a liberal, i dislike ruling people against their will. True, nation-building is a difficult and complex exercise, and initial resistance can give way to the integration of regional aspirations into a larger national identity — the end of Tamil secessionism was a classical example of this.

I was once hopeful of Kashmir's integration, but after six decades of effort, Kashmiri alienation looks greater than ever. India seeks to integrate with Kashmir, not rule it colonially. Yet, the parallels between British rule in India and Indian rule in Kashmir have become too close for my comfort. Many Indians say that Kashmir legally became an integral part of India when the maharaja of the state signed the instrument of accession. Alas, such legalisms become irrelevant when ground realities change. Indian kings and princes, including the Mughals, acceded to the British Raj.

The documents they signed became irrelevant when Indians launched an independence movement. The British insisted for a long time that India was an integral part of their Empire, the jewel in its crown, and would never be given up. Imperialist Blimps remained in denial for decades. I fear we are in similar denial on Kashmir. The politically correct story of the maharaja's accession ignores a devastating parallel event. Just as Kashmir had a Hindu maharaja ruling over a Muslim majority, Junagadh had a Muslim nawab ruling over a Hindu majority. The Hindu maharaja acceded to India, and the Muslim nawab to Pakistan. But while India claimed that the Kashmiri accession to India was sacred, it did not accept Junagadh's accession to Pakistan. India sent troops into Junagadh, just as Pakistan sent troops into Kashmir. The difference was that Pakistan lacked the military means to intervene in Junagadh, while India was able to send troops into Srinagar. The Junagadh nawab fled to Pakistan, whereas the Kashmir maharaja sat tight. India's double standard on Junagadh and Kashmir was breathtaking. Do you think the people of Junagadh would have integrated with Pakistan after six decades of genuine Pakistani effort? No? Then can you really be confident that Kashmiris will stop demanding azaadi and integrate with India? The British came to India uninvited.

By contrast, Sheikh Abdullah, the most popular politician in Kashmir, supported accession to India subject to ratification by a plebiscite. But his heart lay in independence for Kashmir, and he soon began manoeuvering towards that end. He was jailed by Nehru, who then declared Kashmir's accession was final and no longer required ratification by a plebiscite. The fact that Kashmir had a Muslim majority was held to be irrelevant, since India was a secular country empowering citizens through democracy.

Alas, democracy in Kashmir has been a farce for most of six decades. The rot began with Sheikh Abdullah in 1951: he rejected the nomination papers of almost all opponents, and so won 73 of the 75 seats unopposed! Nehru was complicit in this sabotage of democracy. Subsequent state elections were also rigged in favour of leaders nominated by New Delhi. Only in 1977 was the first fair election held, and was won by the Sheikh. But he died after a few years, and rigging returned in the 1988 election. That sparked the separatist uprising which continues to gather strength today.

Many Indians point to long episodes of peace in the Valley and say the separatists are just a noisy minority. But the Raj also had long quiet periods between Gandhian agitations, which involved just a few lakhs of India's 500 million people. One lakh people joined the Quit India movement of 1942, but 25 lakh others joined the British Indian army to fight for the Empire's glory. Blimps cited this as evidence that most Indians simply wanted jobs and a decent life. The Raj built the biggest railway and canal networks in the world. It said most Indians were satisfied with economic development, and that independence was demanded by a noisy minority. This is uncomfortably similar to the official Indian response to the Kashmiri demand for azaadi.

Let me not exaggerate. Indian rule in Kashmir is not classical colonialism. India has pumped vast sums into Kashmir, not extracted revenue as the Raj did. Kashmir was among the poorest states during the Raj, but now has the lowest poverty rate in India. It enjoys wide civil rights that the Raj never gave. Some elections — 1977, 1983 and 2002 — were perfectly fair. India has sought integration with Kashmir, not colonial rule. But Kashmiris nevertheless demand azaadi. And ruling over those who resent it so strongly for so long is quasi-colonialism, regardless of our intentions. We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and give them three choices: independence, union with Pakistan, and union with India. Almost certainly the Valley will opt for independence. Jammu will opt to stay with India, and probably Ladakh too. Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.

By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar,flstry-1.cms

An Indian author seeking Apology to Kashmiris on her country's behalf


I’m an Indian and I apologize for what India is doing in Kashmir, writes Rashmi Sehgal.

Current situation in J&K reminds me of a famous story of a child and his mother. When the child asks his mother for the moon, the witty mother, to please her sweetheart fetches a bowl of water and keeps it in front of the child. Seeing the reflection of the moon, the child’s happiness knows no bounds. Same is the situation in India these days, with the government and media floating many self-fulfilling prophecies to keep the public in good mood. It is perhaps the time India realized the difference between fact and fiction. Being a research scholar on Kashmir problem it many times becomes difficult for me to keep a track of the unabated killings in Kashmir. The never-ending massacres by Indian army are next to impossible to sum up in one page. It wrenches one’s heart when we see mothers coming on roads, rallying and shouting against Indian army or precisely against whole of India now. Even the people who used to have most balanced views regarding the situation in Kashmir that: “it is a political game” now have started hating Indians. Perhaps it is not their mistake; anyone can turn irrational at the sight of mutilated dead bodies of their innocent friends and family.

Looking at the reaction of the Indian masses to what happens in Kashmir, one is only disappointed. How come India can’t see the difference between the dead and the alive? It is true that it is difficult to feel the same pain as Kashmiri are feeling, but one can at least try to “understand” the pain. Instead many extremists in India call for boycotting Kashmiri goods like apples and shawls. For the first time unknowingly Indians are doing right. They should not eat the “apple watered by Kashmiris” blood. In reality any Indian citizen who thinks that the Kashmiri people should die like this are not worth of having any goods made in Kashmir.

It pains one to read most of the comments posted by proud Indian citizens on several blogs and websites these days. How the people’s mind can be poisoned by politicians baffles one. Now when most of the e-Indians have decided to boycott Kashmiri goods, time has come for them to know how much Kashmir gives them. A so-called proud citizens of India should not boycott only apple and shawls, they should also boycott the electricity that is generated in Kashmir and sent across to whole of India. Economically put, this alone can save Kashmir millions. It is obvious that Indian media will never reveal this to Indian public. But still the truth remains no matter what the medium.

Regarding the potential of Kashmir, economists opine that only tapping the electricity produced in J&K can turn it into Singapore. And we all know that Kashmir has much more that electricity generating power to it. Agriculture, horticulture, tourism, the list goes on. Back to India. Chanting the slogan of hindu muslim sikh isayee apas mai sub bhayee bhayee will not help unless and until the Indian citizens understand the meaning of these words. Not only understand, but live up to these words as well.

I really don’t know about the rest of India but the lamentable faces of Kashmiris and the dead bodies of innocent people are haunting me day and night. Thought of hatred by the innocent people is giving me sleepless nights. I wonder why Indian leaders do not understand this simple fact that every living creature has a right to live happily, and so is it with Kashmiris also. If we cannot do anything which will help in reducing the pain of Kashmiris, we should not yell out rabid words on TV channels and vitiate the atmosphere further. Sometimes I wince to think that I’m an Indian. Is this the same country which used to make me feel proud and for which I would pick fights with others if they said anything unpleasant her. For sure my India is lost somewhere. Or seems that if this is not the case, then some people have commandeered my India and are directing it to the quagmire many of us hate to go to but, like in a hijack, can’t help. We the Indians have garnered so much hatred in Kashmir, north-east and elsewhere that it is difficult to even extending a drop of an apology in the ocean of sufferings inflicted. Apologies nevertheless!!

(Feedback at

Police, CRPF take their Valley crackdown to even ambulances, hospitals

Muzamil Jaleel

40 ambulances attacked by security personnel, says Valley’s Health Director; DGP says will order a probe

Battling angry and violent crowds on the streets, the police and the CRPF have even targeted ambulances ferrying the injured and, in one case, they opened fire at the entrance to a hospital’s casualty ward.

While Director General of the J&K Police Kuldeep Khuda has said that there will be a probe, CRPF spokesman Prabhakar Tripathi denied the charge. “No such incident has come to our notice,” he said. This comes the day Inspector General, CRPF, S K Jain was shunted out of the Valley.

“These three days have been extremely challenging for us,” said Dr Muzaffar Ahmad, Director of Health Services, Kashmir. “Our 40 ambulances were attacked across Kashmir and most them have broken windscreens. Seven of our ambulance drivers were hurt as well.” The director of Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) hospital, Dr Abdul Hameed Zargar, said that one of the hospital’s ambulances is still missing. “We are yet to trace it,” he said. “There have been several attacks on our ambulances by the security forces”.

Consider the following encounters:

• On August 11, J-K Police personnel fired tear-smoke shells inside the casualty ward of the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar. “There was a rush of wounded and our doctors and paramedic staff was busy treating them when tear-smoke landed inside the casualty ward,” said SMHS Medical Superintendent Dr Wasim Qureshi. “We had to stop work for some time.

There was a lot of inconvenience to both patients and our staff. This should not happen”. He said that after this incident, hospital attendants were enraged and ransacked CRPF bunkers in the hospital premises.

• On August 12, an ambulance (JK01C 5641) carrying protestors with bullet wounds from Bandipore was attacked at Parimpora by the CRPF. “We were carrying two critically wounded persons in the ambulance,” Dr Asif Ahmad told The Indian Express. “When we reached Parimpora, there was a huge procession. We stopped. The people cleared the way for us. Then the CRPF persons were standing a few dozen metres away,” he said. “When we were close to them, they opened fire on the ambulance. Within seconds, a few CRPF men pounced on the ambulance and started hitting everybody inside. They even assaulted the wounded. One of the wounded died there”. Ahmad said he jumped from the vehicle and rushed inside a house for safety. “A stone hit ambulance driver Mohammad Shaban Para and he was seriously injured”. Director Health Services Dr Muzaffar Ahmad confirmed the incident. “Our people had a close shave there,” he said.

• On August 12, CRPF personnel stopped an ambulance ferrying wounded protestors at Rambagh on the Airport road in Srinagar. The CRPF contingent attacked an ambulance with rifle-butts in front of a senior officer Commandant P S Rajora, broke its windshield and assaulted the wounded persons and the attendants in front of a large media crew including this correspondent. “I am unable to do anything. I am trying to stop them (the men),” Rajora told The Indian Express soon after the ambulance and the injured patients were rescued by personnel of the J-K Police, who rushed to intervene. “We were only trying to impose the curfew”.

• On August 12, J-K Police and CRPF men barged into the premises of the District Hospital in Baramulla. “They fired inside the hospital,” Dr Nisar Ahmad, an orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital told The Indian Express. “We rushed out of the Operation Theatre. We were frightened for our lives”.

• On August 12, police and CRPF men stopped an ambulance and beat patients and their attendants after dragging them out during a pitched battle with protestors at Qamarwari in Srinagar city.

• On August 13, an ambulance of the Jhelum Valley hospital — an associate hospital of the SKIMS — was fired upon by the CRPF near Boatman Colony in the city outskirts while it was ferrying a patient with bullet wounds. “The CRPF men first opened fire at our ambulance and then charged in and broke the windscreens with rifle-butts. Then they started beating us, even the patient was hit,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, in charge of immunization at the Jhelum hospital. “There was an Inspector accompanying them”. Driver of the ambulance Mohammad Shafi said: “It has never happened in these years.”

• On August 13, the J-K Police opened fire at the entrance of the Casualty ward of the SMHS hospital in Srinagar, where a large angry crowd of relatives of the injured had gathered. “The people are infuriated and when they saw a police vehicle inside the hospital compound, they attacked it. The police opened fire. But nobody was injured,” SMHS Medical Superintendent Dr Qureshi said.

DGP Khuda said that they were investigating all incidents of attacks on ambulances and hospitals. Speaking to The Indian Express, Inspector General of J-K Police S M Sahai said that the police have taken up the August 12 Rambagh incident with authorities at the highest level. “After we got reports that an officer was there, we have already taken action,” he said. “We are probing every case where we received reports of excesses”.

Suicide in Jammu, 1 dies in Valley firing

• One more person killed in Srinagar firing to stop protestors from attacking police station

• CRPF IGP Sunil Kumar Jain shifted out of Srinagar

• Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti member Balwant Raj Sharma commits suicide. Police said he turned up at strike venue in Kathua after swallowing poison

• PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on dharna outside Raj Bhawan to demand reopening of Muzaffarabad road for trade, revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act

• Curfew relaxation increased in Srinagar, Ganderbal, Budgam, Kulgam, Anantnag, Kupwara

• New Delhi reacts sharply to OIC Secy Gen’s comments on J&K, says the grouping has “no locus standi” in India’s internal affairs

Friday, August 15, 2008

'Kashmir is ours'.

Even this child knows what Azadi means for her nation - Kashmir. She is part of a revolution, that has crossed the age bar in Kashmir. "I want a free Kashmir from Indian yoke" .............

Sentiment sprouting on streets.

A sea of people on roads, hoisting green flags, raising slogans "we want freedom". It is rejuvenation of Azadi sentiment in Kashmir against the Indian oppression.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Look Into My Eyes

( Eye Ball To Eye Ball: Until a settlement is agreed, we would continue to raise our heads and look into the eyes of those who have subjugated us for almost 62 years)

Razed To Ashes

( Hurting Sentiments: A Muslim Gujjar show Quran pages that were burn by Hindu rioters in Akhnoor in Jammu. Almost 76 Gujjar huts were set ablaze, still Kashmiri's carried 600,000 Hindu pilgrims to the amarnath cave on their backs)

And She Lost Her Second Son

( Occupational forces punctured his chest thrice: I am old and my bones are weary, and my son he is all I have. But he has gone to fight for freedom, leaving with my heart.)

One Man Show

( Endless Rage: The Valley turned into Gaza Strip as civilians attacked the CRPF bunkers and gave dead lines to CRPF to abandon their bunkers forever. The fury in the valley has reached its apex after the Indian troops killed 35 innocent peaceful protesters and injured almost 600.)

Defying an empire

( For victory always: Troops or police were never any impediment for the youth of Kashmir, despite 35 fellow Kashmiris fell to troopers' bullets who were protesting against the economic blockade and the denial of freedom)

Adding toll to the statistics

( Martyrdom Achieved: Hit by Indian trooper on neck, this Kashmiri was martyred by the Indian occupational forces)

Do take some important lessons

( Watch out: Albeit 700,000 Indian troopers here, besides hundreds of battalions of police, India has failed to suppress a dominant voice of Kashmir. The voice that carries with it the fury of snatching the freedom, if denied.)

Targeting unarmed civilians

(Aiming Chests: As long as the subjugation continue, people of Kashmir would continue sacrificing their lives. They have fallen in romance with the Freedom)

Born to Kill

(The Killer: Former MLA, Syed Akhoon's guard was beaten up by the peaceful protesters after he killed a 20-year-old undergraduate student, Owais Majeed at Rainawari, Srinagar. Owais was hit on face multiple times. He died on the spot and this guard still roams free)