Simmering resentment in Indian-held Kashmir By Amjed Jaaved

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The writer if of the view that the politico-economic situation in the occupied Kashmir is in a state of flux. All the leading politicians are frustrated at apathetic, nay callous, attitude of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party autocrats in New Delhi. They are unanimous that the situation, after abrogation of the special status and hereditary domiciliary rights, is worse than it was under nominal political set-ups in Kashmir. A nascent but discernible change is double-speak by Farooq Abdullah. While still being frustrated, he expresses ennui at prtition of India on religious grounds.

The US ambassador-designate to India has unequivocally announced that the US is really “concerned” about the prevailing human-rights situation in India. Some rights watchdogs, including the Russell Tribunal also has become vocal.

Economic resources of Kashmir are being diverted to Indian states. To destroy traditional shawl-making cottage industry, pashmina wool is being transported to Uttar Pradesh and other Indian states for processing.  Kashmiri students and other people from various walks of life are not being treated at par with residents of Indian states.

Farooq Abdullah’s Janus faced attitude

While expressing frustration at the Indian government’s attitude, Abdullah makes no bones that he agrees with defence minister Raj Nath’s view of partition as a blunder. Farooq naively ignores plight of Muslims throughout India. Muslims are lynched for flimsy reasons like, for instance, wearing a prayer cap, offering prayers in open space (Gurgaon) or on roads on Fridays if the mosques are overcrowded. India’s Supreme Court (kangaroo court) held that a mosque was not essential for offering prayers. But, in stark contrast it pronounced that a temple was sine qua non of Hindu way of worshipIt pronounced that a temple existed under the Babri mosque millennia ago.

India claims to be a secular country but the Supreme Court dabbled in many other matters within domain of Islamic jurisprudence. For instance, it outlawed triple divorce. The views expressed are personal.

Nascent American concern for human-rights violations in Kashmir

The US ambassador designate minced no words in stressing that during his stay in India he would convey his government’s “concern’ on deteriorating Human-rights situation in Kashmir. His statement is like a whiff of fresh air. The US itself shrugged off Russell tribunal’s report on US atrocities in Vietnam. The U.S. Ambassador, Eric Garcetti, to India underlined human rights and discrimination in the Citizenship Amendment Act as .a “core” part of his work in India”.  ‘…Respect for human rights and strong democratic institutions are key elements of our relationship and values that are enshrined in both of our constitutions and if confirmed, I will engage regularly and respectfully with the Indian government on these issues’ (Human rights to be a ‘core’ part of Garcetti’s engagement with India, the Hindu, December 15, 2021).

A bird’s-eye view of political statements

Omer Abdullah questioned denial of rights to people in occupied Kashmir and Ladakh.  He pointed out that Modi-led BJP government had not only scrapped Articles 370 and 35-A, but also precipitated financial and economic breakdown of Kashmir. He accused the Centre of discriminating residents of Ladakh and occupied Kashmir in all realms of life (land protection, reservation in jobs, scholarships and so on).  He rebutted the government’s claim that it was all hunky dory after conversion of the state into a union territory.

He pointed out that now even peaceful Srinagar is a hot bed of militancy. He caution people not fall prey to Centre’s bid to divide them.  Addressing a rally in Kishtwar, Omar said the efforts to wish us off from the political space of Jammu and Kashmir have seen no let-up since 1953.“We have withstood dismissals, defections, and coups in every decade, be it in 53, 75, 84, or 90. Having me and most of my colleagues caged for months altogether proved abortive. He cautioned the people against falling prey to divisive forces, saying forging unity is a key requisite for the restoration of J&K people’s inalienable and inherent democratic and constitutional rights. (Omar asks people not to fall prey to divisive forces, The Statesman, November 29, 2021).

Omar said while his government, at one point, was even thinking about doing away with the AFSPA, now the situation was such that nobody felt safe even in Srinagar, let alone remote areas. He added these militants were not from outside, but they were the youth of Kashmir ready to take up arms out of anger and other reasons. (Youth of Kashmir ready to take up arms out of anger, says Omar AbdullahHindustan Times, Nov 28, 2021)

Calls for investigation through Russell or people’s tribunals

Russell tribunal on Kashmir

Indian troops martyred 95,917 innocent Kashmiris, including 7,215 in custody, widowed 22,939, orphaned 107, and 855 and molested 11,245 women since January 1989. Since October1, 2021, over 30 Kashmiris have been martyred by Indian forces over alleged “fake encounters and search operations.  The Kashmir Russell Tribunal held a convention from 17-19 Dec 2021 at Sarajevo, Bosnia to highlight plight of Kashmiris under the Indian yoke. Kashmir Civitas, a Canadian-registered NGO, has partnered with the Russell Foundation in London, the Permanent People’s Tribunal of Bologna (Italy), the International University of Sarajevo and the Center for Advanced Studies in Sarajevo to hold the inaugural Russell Tribunal on Kashmir in Sarajevo, Bosnia on December 17-19, 2021. The tribunal created awareness of the responsibility of the international community about the ongoing crimes against humanity and the possibility of genocide in the occupied Kashmir.

Some Pakistani think tanks like the institute of regional Studies and Former United Nations Judge,  Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan also called upon Pakistan to constitute an independent tribunal for Kashmir in Turkey under the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir

The Tribunal documented India’s reign of terror in Kashmir. In December 2009 the tribunal, in its report titled Buried Evidence alleged that the insurgency from 1989–2009 had caused more than 70,000 deaths. They investigated fifty killings by the Indian Security Forces. Except one, all were declared “militant”. Of those who were killed in these incidents 39 were Muslims, four were Hindus and rest were of undetermined religious background. The Tribunal found that only one of those killed was a militant and the rest were killed in staged encounters.

The tribunal called for an inquiry into forced disappearances and fake encounters. The inquiry could ferret out correlation of 8000 disappearances with the bodies in unmarked graves. The Tribunal found 2700 (about 3000) unknown and unmarked graves having 2900 bodies in three districts of the occupied Kashmir.

A gravedigger in a statement to the Tribunal said that he witnessed the burials of 203 people killed extra judicially during 2002-2006. The Tribunal criticized the United Nations and its members for failing to stop the fallout of the India’s militarization in the valley.

In December 2012, the Tribunal along with Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons released a report Alleged Perpetrators – Stories of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir. This report alleged involvement of about 500 Indian Armed Forces officials in human rights abuses in Kashmir. Those accused included three Brigadier rank officers of Indian Army. The report alleged that the perpetrators of crimes in Kashmir were decorated instead of being prosecuted.

Srinagar hotspot of “militancy”

According to India’s own official data, in 2020, twenty militants were killed in nine encounters. In 2021, Srinagar witnessed around 20 encounters and shoot-outs in and around the city. Srinagar district emerged as a hotspot of militancy in Kashmir this year. There was  a significant rise in the number “encounters” from the “zero militancy” figures and a small number of shoot-outs in 2020 to the highest number of targeted killings of policemen and civilians, including members of the minority community. Around 34 people, including seven policemen (excluding recently killed policemen in a bus) and 14 militants, were killed until December this year in the city.

It s eerie that the police had declared Srinagar a “militancy-free zone” with no locally recruited militants in October 2020.

Srinagar district witnessed the highest number of civilian deaths at ten, including six members of minority communities, which forced security agencies to deploy personnel at prominent shops owned by Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus for round-the-clock mobile and permanent bunkers.

The killing of four persons, including one “confirmed” militant and three “civilians”, in the Hyderpora encounter cast a shadow over the anti-militancy operations carried out in the city this year.

Though official figures suggest that militant recruits in Srinagar are in single digit numbers, the growing number of “militant supporters” has seen “a quantum jump” and “run into dozens”.

“We have reports that Srinagar at present may have significant presence of small arms, mainly pistols, with militant recruits and their supporters,” a police officer said. “There are fears of more targeted killings in the coming weeks,” another official added. Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) expanded its recruitment network in Srinagar and moved beyond its known axis of Khrew-Tral-Awatipora in south Kashmir, officials indicated.

For the first time in the past two decades, Srinagar saw an increased footprint of security personnel, permanent fortification of bunkers and the setting up of security installations in civilian areas, including marriage halls, akin what was witnessed in the 1990s. Around 3,000 extra paramilitary personnel have been camping in Srinagar since the last three months (Srinagar district turns into hotbed of militancy in Kashmir, The Hindu, December 14, 2021).

Concluding remark

In a fit of delirium tremens, India’s deceased chief of defence staff made many statements to humiliate Kashmiris. He vowed to change Kashmiris DNA, justified lynching of suspected persons without any formal trial, and justified parading around a Kashmiri tied to Major Leetul Gogol’s jeep.  The Indian government claimed to have eliminated “militancy”. But, attack on Central Reserve police Force bus exposed the government’s claims.  Kashmir remains a simmering cauldron.

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Disclaimer: Simmering resentment in Indian-held Kashmir By Amjed Jaaved - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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