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Kashmir Back on Burners!

The Indian Army Chief, General V.K. Singh, has recently opined that political initiatives will be more crucial than the security requirements of India in the occupied State of Jammu and Kashmir. That such initiatives need to be all-inclusive and must take on board the people of Kashmir. General Singh was of the impression that the internal security situation has been “brought under control” and it is because of the “forces which have sacrificed with their blood” to achieve this. The fresh spate of riots and ensuing curfew certainly point towards much more of such “sacrifices” which India’s security forces are poised to continue making in Kashmir. India’s colonial mindset has bared its teeth, yet once again.

Violence is back in Kashmir, courtesy unrelenting atrocities by the Indian security forces mandated under special powers and equipped with torture weapons. The underlying reason for the current upheaval is the brutal rape, murder and subsequent cover-up by Indian soldiers in Sopore. This saga was never forgotten, nor is it likely to be. Despite this, the Indian military continues to use rape, torture and murder as weapons duly authorised by the state and union governments.

The current wave of uprising in Kashmir covers Anantnag, Aachidorian, Srinagar, Kupw-ara, Bandipura, Budgam, Phu-lawan, Kagan, Sumbal Handw-ara, Rajwari areas etc. Over a dozen people have been killed by the Central Reserve Police Force. Their only fault was that they were protesting against the state terrorism perpetrated by the police and the military. Periodically, long spell curfews have been imposed and cell phone services suspended. Indian Home Minister P. Chid-ambaram has asked the IHK government to act “strongly” and has promised support from the centre.

The Indian media, too, has gone crazy to generate an impression that violence in IHK picked up momentum after the Home Minister returned from Pakistan and just as talks are about to get underway. As we know India has never been enthusiastic about talks, and it has been brought to this point under international pressure; hence it is preparing the environment to blame Pakistan for instigating violence in Kashmir. On this pretext, India could walk away from the dialogue.

It is interesting that the wors-ening of Kashmir’s situation comes just when Pakistan’s importance for the Afghan issue is being recognised and there is a move towards national rec-onciliation and integration in Afghanistan. In this process Pakistan is playing the lead role, something that India cannot stomach.

The decades old struggle for independence in IHK has its own peculiarities. Kashmiris have never accepted the Indian rule, and as a corollary, Indians have never trusted the Kashmiri populace. These two perceptions often superimpose each other to give a periodic impetus to the freedom movement if ever it falls short on steam. When the authorities imposed strict curfew restrictions in most parts of Srinagar and closed schools and colleges, after the protestors had appealed to the students to hold anti-India rallies, thousands of people came out on the streets to defy the curfew, while shouting “we want freedom.” The writ of state was effectively challenged.

More so, the violent Kashmir and Central Reserve Police Forces, which have only guns at their command to tackle such protests, aggravated the situation. The use of force against the protesters was brutal and without restraint. Consequently, the deaths of protesters, in the last three weeks, have triggered the biggest anti-India demonstrations in two years, across the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley. In accordance with his rote script, Indian Home Minister Chidambaram has accused Pa-kistan-based militant group, Lashkar-i-Taiba, of backing these snowballing anti-India protests; however, a majority believes that the protests are mostly spontaneous and home-grown.

The Indian occupation forces in IHK have since years been trying to suppress the Kashmiri freedom movement. But so far all efforts to contain this movement have failed. The Kashmiri youth appears to be highly determined to fight for their just cause of self-determination. Their elders have sacrificed their lives and honour for freedom and have suffered grave losses at the hands of the Indian army. The objective of the Indian army is to inflict emotional and psychological pressures so that the people of Kashmir give up their struggle for self-determination. Admitting that human rights violations at the hands of the Indian army “do occur” in IHK, the Indian Prime Minister in his recent visit to Jammu and Kashmir said: “The security forces in the state have been strictly instructed to respect the rights of civilians.” It was in response to such observations that the former Kashmir Chief Minister and the current Chief Minister’s father, talked about the “trust deficit” between New Delhi and the people of Kashmir. This sentiment is also shared by Vijay Dhar, the son of late DP Dhar: “Indians have not been able to give Kashmiri Muslims a sense of belonging, a partnership in the Indian enterprise.”

Indeed, the baton of struggle for the right of self-determination has successfully passed onto the next generation. This generation grew up watching the fate of that segment of the Kashmiri population that opted to go along with the Indian occupation in exchange for limited political gains. Elders, as well as children, of such clans know the hard reality that their families have been used as puppets for perpetuating the Indian hegemony over Kashmir. Pro-India elements have become irrelevant. The conflict in Kashmir has cost tens of thousands of lives since the revolt against New Delhi got rejuvenated two decades ago.

Thus, it is the firm belief of the younger generation that only a homegrown struggle could lead to a solution in Kashmir that is in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiris in general.

Essence of the matter is that the issue must be solved quickly through a participatory political process involving Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir. But Indians remain content with accomplishing fire-fighting through brutality. This certainly is not likely to lead towards a perennial solution. It only reinforces the resolve of suffering people to continue till the finish line.

The people of Kashmir are struggling to keep the issue alive. And Pakistan needs to undertake a supportive campaign to correct the international perception by unscrambling this legitimate freedom struggle from terrorism. Likewise, the UN needs to wake up to the reality and implement its resolutions on plebiscite.

The Nation

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