Kashmiri deaths

Regrettably the world at large, including lame duck OIC, has taken no notice of the unrest in the valley and of gross violations of human rights there. –Photo by Reuters

The rising number of civilian deaths in Indian held Kashmir highlights the failure of India’s policy that has relied on a coercive apparatus instead of political tools to crush the current wave of protests in Srinagar and elsewhere.

So far 15 people have been killed since trouble began in mid-June with the shooting to death of a schoolboy by Indian troops. It is significant that it is the urban areas which are the bastion of the Kashmiri unrest, the protesters being unarmed people. This says a lot about the character of the movement against Indian occupation and belies New Delhi’s claim that foreign elements are behind the stir. As top Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the other day the struggle was indigenous and that “these killings will not deter us from pursuing our goal of independence”. If only the Indian leadership could grasp this truth.

Regrettably — and it is a measure of the failure of Islamabad’s diplomacy — the world at large, including lame duck OIC, has taken no notice of the unrest in the valley and of gross violations of human rights there. Fortunately, some human rights’ bodies, including those in India, keep tabs on the situation and do not fail to draw the world’s attention to the special ‘search and arrest’ powers which enable the Indian security agencies to suppress the Kashmiri people. Last week, Amnesty International asked the Indian government to hold an inquiry into the civilian deaths and take action both against security personnel and against protesters found involved in rights’ violations. New Delhi is now reported to be considering modifying if not withdrawing the special powers which the security personnel regularly abuse to deal with Kashmiris.

Force has failed to crush the Kashmiri people’s yearning for freedom. That New Delhi should abandon political means is stupefying. Even the Indian army chief had the good sense to declare that the situation in Kashmir needed a political solution. In a newspaper interview last month, Gen V.K. Singh, while claiming that the army had done its job, said, “Now the need is to handle the situation politically.” This is coming from the head of an army which has deployed a minimum of half a million troops in the valley to hold the Kashmiri people back.

Force has failed to crush the Kashmiri people’s yearning for freedom.

While the Indo-Pakistan relationship is bogged down in India’s Mumbai obsession, one hopes Pakistan’s foreign minister will make his Indian counterpart realise, when the two meet on July 15, that an end to the rights’ violations in the valley will help create an atmosphere conducive to forward movement on normalising Indo-Pakistan relations. Dawn

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