KASHMIR BLEEDS AGAIN
06 August, 2010
T he International Movement for a Just World (JUST) views with grave concern the escalating violence in Indian controlled Kashmir . The violence has already claimed 40 lives. The majority were killed by police fire. Many of the victims are teenagers. In fact, the present outbreak of violence can be traced back to the killing of a 17 year-old student by a police tear gas shell on the 11 th of June 2010 . The incident led to mass protests which have continued unabated for the last two months.
Analysts have pointed out that the protests are the spontaneous reaction of a segment of the Kashmiri population to decades of suppression by the Indian police and paramilitary forces. Their abuses and their brutalities have been documented by a number of human rights groups in India and elsewhere. It is wrong to argue, as some Indian officials have, that the protesters are in the pay of Pakistan backed hardline separatists.
Instead of denying reality, the Indian government, and the Kashmiri leadership that it supports, should take immediate steps to ensure that their security personnel stop using excessive force upon largely unarmed protesters. Police and paramilitary forces should also withdraw from heavily populated civilian areas. If such measures are adopted, it is quite conceivable that the protests will end and a degree of calm will prevail.
When there is a semblance of law and order, the governments of India and Pakistan and the legitimate representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir should begin talks aimed at finding a just and durable solution to the decades old crisis. In seeking a solution, the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir should take precedence over everything else. Their right of self-determination should be respected. For this purpose, a fair and impartial plebiscite under international supervision should be held in which the people of Jammu and Kashmir ( both the Indian and Pakistani parts), including those who live in the autonomous Ladakh region, would participate.
The international community should work towards this goal. For far too long, the world has turned a blind eye to the sufferings of the inhabitants of Indian controlled Kashmir . Even otherwise well informed commentators on world affairs are not aware that tens of thousands of Kashmiris have died at the hands of Indian security forces since 1947. We tend to forget that Kashmir , together with Palestine , is the longest unresolved political conflict on earth. Both centre around the question of occupation and self-determination.
The world should not allow Kashmir to continue to bleed--- to death.
The Executive Committee,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST)
5 August 2010 .