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Kashmiri intifada

August 5, 2010 Leave a comment

A Kashmiri youth strikes a government vehicle which had been set on fire by a mob during a demonstration in Srinagar on August 4, 2010, who were protesting over the recent deaths in The Kashmir Valley. Five more demonstrators died in Indian Kashmir as new protests erupted in defiance of pleas for calm from the region’s chief minister, the deaths again brought huge crowds chanting anti-India slogans on to the streets of Srinagar as the bodies of two dead men were carried on stretchers to their funerals. The death in early June of a 17-year-old student – killed by a police tear-gas shell – set off the series of almost daily protests during which scores of people have been killed, 27 of them since July 30. At least 44 people have died in the weeks of unrest – most of them killed by security forces trying to disperse angry protests against Indian rule. – AFP Photo

Has New Delhi learnt any lessons from all that has been going on in Indian-held Kashmir — especially since June 11, when the current intifada began? On Tuesday, India obliged Chief Minister Omar Abdullah by rushing more troops to the valley. Does the Indian government really think that 1,500 more troops will succeed where an army of over half a million men has failed? If the Indian troops’ job is to crush the Kashmiri yearnings for freedom, then history says brute force has never succeeded in denying freedom to a people for long.

Five more Kashmiris were shot dead on Tuesday as fresh protests broke out in Srinagar, with a crowd of urban youths shouting anti-India slogans. The extent of Kashmiri anger is obvious, for the demonstrators defied curfew despite police warnings on loudspeakers that violators would be shot dead. Some officials deny that any ‘shoot on sight’ order had been given. But the way the troops have been behaving and given the rising number of Kashmiri deaths make it clear the order exists for all practical purposes.

The second Kashmiri intifada is home-grown. There are no two opinions about it. Even India’s rights bodies and sections of the media acknowledge this truth, and barring those toeing the government line, no responsible Indian sees a foreign hand in what undeniably is a spontaneous reaction — mostly from urban youths — to India’s repressive policies that aim at keeping the Kashmiris in bondage by force. One wishes India realised that the stifling atmosphere in the valley and the violations of human rights by its troops cause more violence and deaths, inviting censure from the world and putting strains on the already tense relations with Islamabad.

The only choice New Delhi has is to talk — both to Kashmiris of all shades of opinion and to Islamabad, for only that solution will be long-lasting and acceptable to the people of Kashmir. Let us hope India doesn’t consider it a provocation when Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expresses Pakistan’s concern over the “escalation of violence against the Kashmiri people” and asks New Delhi to “exercise restraint”.

DAWN

And now Krishna clears ISI of terror charges in India

— disapproves Home Secy’s remark on ISI’s role in Mumbai attacks

— snubs Pillai over irresponsible statement

From Christina Palmer

NEW DELHI—Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Wednesday rued that home secretary G K Pillai’s remarks about the role of the ISI in 26/11 attack were made on the eve of his talks with Pakistan.

“Mr Pillai could have waited till I came back to issue a statement. Perhaps it would have been wiser if that statement had not been made just on the eve of my visit,” Krishna said in an interview to a television channel, making public his displeasure with Pillai for the first time.

Pillai had commented that the Mumbai carnage of November 28, 2008, was planned by the ISI “from beginning to end”. “When two foreign ministers are meeting after the Mumbai attack, there was a special significance for this meeting,” Krishna said.

“Everyone who was privy to whatever was happening in government of India ought to have known that the right kind of atmosphere from India’s side should have been created for the talks to go on in a very normal manner, but unfortunately this episode happened,” he added.

“Well, I have had some discussions with the prime minister,” Krishna replied when asked if he had conveyed his dissatisfaction over Pillai’s remarks to the prime minister.

After his talks with Krishna in Islamabad on July 15, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at a joint press conference that the remarks made by India’s home secretary were not “helpful” for better relations when a journalist asked him about Pakistan’s action against Hafeez Saeed, the suspected mastermind of the Mumbai attack.

The next day, Krishna told reporters in Delhi that there was no comparison with Saeed and Pillai as the former was crying jihad against India.

Krishna’s criticism of Pillai has brought out in the open differences of perception within the government over engagement with Pakistan. At a seminar in New Delhi on Tuesday, Menon had endorsed Pillai’s remarks by pointing out links between the official establishment and the existing intelligence agencies. Krishna, however, was also critical of Qureshi’s abrasive style in his interaction with the media.

“We should understand the spirit of Thimphu and spirit of Thimphu was to make earnest effort to bring about reconciliation between two countries and I do not want that spirit to be eroded even by a remotest possible way,” he said.

“I think we can put forward any contention that a country can face in a most forceful way but there has to be dignity, there has to be civility and civility is certainly no weakness,” he added.

Even when Krishna was in Islamabad on July 16, Qureshi held a press conference with Pakistani journalists and criticised India for its selectively focusing on terror and sidelining other vital bilateral issues like Kashmir.

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