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“Kashmiri Bachao Andholan”


23 August, 2010

We the civil society' of India are deeply perturbed by the “present circumstances in Kashmir . In the recent upsurge 65 youth have fallen prey to the bullets of Indian forces from 11th June 2010 till today. Since past thirty years over one lakh Kashmiris have been killed so far. The heavy military and army presence has ruptured the coexistence of different ethnic and religious groups. Kashmir has existed just about for the same time as India and Pakistan but what is it today a common Indian needs to know about it when the news of rampant killings reaches him in India . From the onset of Kashmir crises not much about Kashmir is been said other than constant reinforcement of the idea that ‘ Kashmir is an integral part of India ' and it acts more like a barrier to dig deeper into Kashmir situation. Kashmir has been a political conflict since the time it shifted its governance base from the Dogra rule to India , almost sixty years old. For long it has been ignored in the mainstream politics in India , reducing the Indian extended rule in Kashmir to a pure occupational hegemony. The tumultuous conditions, in which the people have been subjected to live, have reduced the value of human life. Violence has become the part of the social fabric. The heavy daunting militarization which is to guard the boundaries has crept into the local dialect and comprises of people's childhood memories. The total disregard for life and human rights is visible everywhere, so much so even the freedom of expression and protest is curbed. The memory has played a vital role in keeping alive the lost ones and aggravating the sentiment.  The civilian population was the worst affected during the 1989's armed struggle in Kashmir as it became a deliberate target to India 's counter-terrorism strategy. But even after the peace was thought to have prevailed in the valley, the civilian deaths and the cold blooded murders by the Indian army have continued in one or the other way. The latest uprising or mass people's movement is also instigated by such incidents that are locally regarded as unjust and repressive.  

The recent uprising

The year 2010 is marked as the ‘year of teenage killings' in Kashmir for the reasons that are obvious to its people. Since January 2010, 25 civilians have been killed by the Indian troopers so far. Reoccurrence of such incidents often forces people to take to streets. The common man on the street interprets such killings as genocide. The current state politics has moved in a deadly direction from June 2010, where the State of Jammu and Kashmir headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has almost declared a death sentence over the entire Kashmir valley.  While making statements about the present situation during a Press conference held on 29 th  June 2010, Abdullah along with the central government authorities gave a clean chit to CRPF who supported by black laws like AFSPA have been violating the basic right to life of people in Kashmir. The State government asked people to desist from protesting against the deaths of the youth and has imposed a stringent curfew all over the valley.

The Indian national media portrayed the people's uprising as something instigated by the Pakistan based mentors like ISI and lashkar e toiba, completely sidelining the issues at hand. By painting the present situation in Kashmir as a ‘conspiracy against his government' he has given an impression as if the protests and blood that is daily being spilled on the streets of Kashmir is only to unstable his government. While his recent statement gives more teeth to his troopers. In the recent move the chief minister has called in more army to fight the civilian population who are unarmed and are resisting the troopers for the love of their dead.

First victim and the killing spree:

The military rage of the Indian troopers started to sharpen and resolved into regular tiffs with the boys in every nook and corner of the Valley. However, the first victim of the troopers became Inayat Khan, a 16 year old boy who was shot dead by the troopers on 8 th  Jan, 2010 . Inayath was a bright student and had just passed his ‘A' level exams with wonderful grades.The onset of June became a human slaying motto for the troopers, 18 civilians died in this month alone. Just after a month's gap ‘June' became the most dreaded month of the year 2010 for most of the people have lost hope and faith in the state run justice mechanisms and these killings are reverberating the anger in the air like never before.

Tufail Ahmed a 17 year old boy from Sadakadal Srinagar had just passed his SSC examinations with a distinction and was killed by the Police. On 5 th  June 2010 , Tufail was playing in the Ghani Memorial stadium when he was shot dead. He received a bullet in his head. Tufail was consecutively the 8 th  teenage killing of this year alone. Like Wamiq, 17-year old Tufial Ahmad Matoo of Saida Kadal was killed after being hit by a teargas canister fired by police at Rajouri Kadal. 
Tufail was the lone child of his parents. He had passed his matriculation with distinction and wanted to become a doctor

Mohd Rafiq Bangroo' family had already lost seven family members already to the troopers and he was working as a shawl weaver. On 16 th  June he was caught by the army and beaten up, he had a battle for his life and finally he passed away. In this funeral procession his cousin Sajad Ahmed Malla was shot dead and so the story of killing continues

Machil fake encounters

To make matters worse, when the news of fake encounters by the Indian Army reached the city people were highly perturbed; the non-stop killing of civilians was enough to bring people on the streets, with or without their leaders.

On April 29, three youths of Nadihal village were lured by two counter-insurgents and Territorial Army personnel up to the Line of Control (LoC) in Machil sector, on the pretext of getting a job.

The following day, the troopers of 4 Rajput Rifles, a unit of the Indian Army, were said to have killed them in a staged encounter on the LoC.

The police arrested two counter-insurgents and personnel from the Territorial Army. All the three are in judicial custody. The Army has already constituted a Court of Inquiry headed by a senior Army officer. They have suspended a major and an attached commanding officer of the 4 Rajput Rifles unit.

The failure of the state to reign in justice in most cases, of the law enforcement authorities to restore the faith of the people, ambiguous post-mortem reports, toothless judicial commissions and lack of accountability have driven the people over the edge – in this case, on the streets and in front of a barrel of a gun in the highest militarised zone in the world. Incidentally, Kashmir also tops the charts with the highest suicide rate in the world.

Three people namely Riyaz ahmed,Mohd  Shafi and Shehzad Ahmed were killed in the fake encounter.

Fake encounters and the truth behind them

The international people's tribunal on Human Rights of Kashmir (IPTK) press release that appeared on  countercurrents.org  on Kashmir states, Military and state discourse use the killings to hype fear of armed militancy and infiltration, stating that militants, scattered all over, seek to target Hindus, requiring hyper-vigilance on the part of security forces. The actions of the state and the military and paramilitary are calculated to provoke and inflame. The armed struggle in Kashmir of the 1990s abated, again becoming non-violent resistance between 2004-2007; even as cross-Line of Control (between India and Pakistan ) movements, infiltrations, and insurgency into Indian-administered Kashmir are significant issues. The Indian state, however, exaggerates these realities by linking Kashmiri civilian resistance to “foreign terror,” to enable Indian's administration of Kashmir to proceed with impunity.

International People's tribunal on Human rights and Justice for Kashmir (IPTJ) 2008, a 119 page dossier called 'Buried evidence' has interesting things to say about encounters done by Indian military in Kashmir, out of 50 encounter killings examined 47 were fake encounters and further this report raises questions on 2700 unmarked graves in Kashmir.   

Military in Kashmir :  

Gen David Petraeus in the counterinsurgency manual for US recommends a troop civilian ratio of 25:1000 for high intensity conflict like Afghanistan to counter the insurgency movement there and comparatively Kashmir being a low intensity conflict, the ratio is alarming, 70 troopers against 1000 civilians.The anti terrorism strategies of India therefore led to more and more militarization of the Kashmir valley. The more people are repressed the more they align to the freedom movement in Kashmir . In the present times the phenomenon of militarization is threatening, more than one-third of the Indian army is deployed in Jammu and Kashmir and North East (Navlakha 1997). If paramilitary forces are added to it not less that 60% of security apparatus is deployed for internal security purposes. In five divisions of armed forces, assisted by armed constabularies from several states are fighting less than 9,000 militants (Navlakha 1997) with such a heavy army fighting the meagre threat of militants, the consequence of the frustrations is now borne by the civilians at large and women especially.

This constant abuse and injustice has led to the awakening of the new generation of “children of the conflict” whose first interaction to the world has been violence. They have taken to the streets and have used stones as a mark of protest and are expressing dissent. The military governance is so dark in Kashmir that no sympathy has been shown even towards unarmed people and peaceful protests. In this recent chaos even funeral processions have been fired upon at.

Minorities in Kashmir

In 1989 the Kashmiri civil society was fragmented by the pundit exodus which is later years has been proved to be more like the intel plants than internal threats to the minorities. Today National media has been successful in blowing out of proportion the incidents and also concocting lies about Sikhs in Kashmir .

PUCL Report 1991 'Report on the Kashmir situation: 1990 and 1993' writes 'whenever local newspapers appear there is always an appeal on behalf of the rebels on the front page requesting Pandits to return' 
'In this appeal, Muslims were warned against occupying, tampering with or selling any movable or immovable property belonging to Pandits'. Truth only reveals itself when one gives up all preconceived ideas. Let us all re-visit those events that led to the migration of Pandits individually. 
All India Kashmir Pandit Conference AIKPC in its report on 15th March 1990, mentioned that 32 Pandits had been killed by militants since 1989.  
For three years from 1989 to 1993, BJP continuously spoke about temples in Kashmir being damaged and destroyed.  
Not enough voice was raised against these demolitions if they happened, one wonders why? L. K Advani few days after the Dec 6 demolition. 
India Today on Feb1993 page 24, refuted temples destruction in Kashmir and found 21 out of the 23 temples named by BJP were perfectly safe.

In the current phase similar strategy has been now employed against the Sikhs, the enquiry on the Chatisinghpora Massacre of 1990 proves it was an intelligence plant and now again such ideas are not exhausted and there is a continuous attack to rupture the cultural harmony between Sikhs and Muslims in Kashmir .

The Story of a Jain temple

A report in The Times of India's (TOI) Mumbai edition about the burning of a Jain temple in Srinagar has been termed “mischievious” by the state government. “The news report about the burning of a Jain temple in Srinagar is absolutely baseless and it's a mischievous report,” said Mehraj-ud-Din Kakroo, District Commissioner Srinagar.  
The general manager of the hotel in whose premises the temporary structure was erected to attract Jain tourists also rubbished the report.  
While speaking to Kashmir Dispatch, General Manager Imran from Silver Star Hotel, said, “The temporary temple was dismantled and the idols were removed by the Mumbai-based tour operator after his three-year contract expired last month.”  
“We had a three-year long contract with the travel agency for hosting tourists, mostly from Jain faith. The tour operator asked us to build a temporary Jain temple in the hotel to attract the Jain followers and facilitate their prayers in the hotel,” explained Imran.  
“On August 10, they came and removed the idols and dismantled the fabricated structure,” he added.  
The article, which appeared on Saturday, August 21, claimed that a Jain temple was burnt in Srinagar on Saturday by violent mobs. Quoting Gem Tour operator Jyotin Doshi, the report stated Doshi's family built that temple, three years ago in the premises of a private hotel Silver Star.  
The Mumbai-based tour operator added, “There was curfew in the Valley but he (the priest) noticed people gathering outside the temple. The priest quickly gathered the three idols, which were sculpted out of panchdhatu (an alloy of gold, silver, copper, iron and zinc), and hid them in a hotel. Three hours later, the mob struck and destroyed what we had built.''  
The report further claims that two members of Doshi's team from Mumbai, Apurva Bhansali and Jiten Dharod, flew to Srinagar the next day when the curfew was lifted. They packed the idols in cardboard boxes and flew to Sabarmati.  
“It was not burnt and TOI will come out with a corrigendum,” said Jyotin Doshi, Chairman of Gem Tours, Mumbai, who facilitated the construction of the Jain temple in the Hotel told Kashmir Dispatch.  
"The structure was broken; we don't know by whom, we had a contract with the hotel for five years under which the temple was built on the hotel property," he said.  
“We don't want to create enmity and request everybody to stop thinking about the matter. We have now installed the idols in Ahmedabad and there is nothing more I can say on this.”  

Kashmiri Bachao Andholan wants to take up following issues in this regard

•  Govt should take immediate steps to demilitarize Kashmir .

•  Draconian laws like AFSPA (Armed forces special powers Act) should be repealed

•  The young boys picked up during protests and crackdowns should be released

•  Justice system implanted and ensured justice to all those who are awaiting justice for years including fresh enquiries should be made on recent killings

Dinu Randive, Feroze Mithiborwala, Kishore Jagtap, Com. Gohil, Mihir Desai, Bhimrao Bansode, Com. Dhira j  Rathod, Arun Velaskar, Mukta Srivastava, Mulniwasi Mala, Sudhir Dhawale, Bhagwan Kesbhat, Aslam Ghazi, S S Yadav, Uttam Gade, Simpreet Singh, Arif Kapadia, Winnie Thomas, Tito Eapen, Sanjay Shinde, Shridhar Shirsagar, Reshma Jagtap, Jagdish Nagarkar, Madhav Wagh, Baba Dalvi, Shravan Devre, Asif Khan, Valji Bhai, Abid Zaidi, Chetna Birje, Vilas Gaikwad, Avinash Kamble, Jyoti Badekar, Arif Kapadia, A. H. Faruqi, Yavar Qazi, Aarti Bonkar, Ravi Joshi, Pooja Badekar, Munawwar Azad, Ghaza Azad, Manohar Rajguru, Munawwar Khan, Farid Batatawala, Mark Anthony, Tito Eapen, Harshavardhan Vartak, Rahul Gupta, Shadab Sheikh, Dr. Ashwin Bhosle, Farrouk Mapkar, Dr. Rizwan Sheikh, Santoash Khangaonkar & Sainath Shinde.

Awami Bharat , CPI-ML-Liberation, CPM (Pun j ab), Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Maharashtra,  Left Coordination Committee, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI), Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), Safai Kaamgar Mazdoor Union, BAMCEF,  Republican Panther, Phule-Ambedkari Vichar Manch, Jamaat-i-Islami-i-Hind, Aapli Mumbai, Marathi Bharati, All India Milli Council, National Minorities Federation, OBC Parishad, Republican People of India, Marathi Bharti, NEEDS, Vidyarthi Bharti, Muslim Intellectual Forum, Gujarati Intellectual Forum, Hindu Vikasini, Christian Panther, Yuva Sarkar, Ganai Sanskrutik Utthan.

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