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!!

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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