Kashmir: Curfewed in the vale

Indian Occupied Kashmir Is Worse Than Gaza, Why Is The World Sleeping Over It?

UK and USA Just To Sell Their Weapons Have Turned a Blind Eye; Shame On You

In Kashmir, civilians are being pushed to the brink of disaster amidst protests, curfews and killings. Anger is hurt turned inside out, as Dilnaz Boga explains.

Wounded on 26th August lying in hospitals

It’s been almost two months since we’ve been under curfew in the Kashmir Valley. It’s not the echoes in the empty streets decked up with razor wires that are disturbing, it’s the rising of the sun that brings with it the news of deaths by tear gas shells or bullets.

As journalists we are issued curfew passes by the government. Sometimes, the local police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), India’s paramilitary, rip the passes to bits and prevent us from working. Getting past every street is an achievement, with the police and the paramilitary playing God. Last month, when the government imposed a media gag, the CRPF stood outside media offices, preventing us from moving out. Journalists were beaten and fired upon.

Since this January, the police and the CRPF, for ‘stone-throwing’, have gunned down over 60 unarmed protesters – mostly children as young as eight and teenagers. Doctors say that the injured have been shot mostly in the head and chest. No security personnel have perished in the fierce clashes. In the past month, the violence has intensified, with up to eight deaths a day. Just as the people mourn for one death, another one follows. What will happen next is a question on everyone’s minds.

Funeral processions, ambulances and bystanders have been shot at – their weapon of choice is an AK 47. Their reason: self-defence.

The killings have caused even more people to pour out on the streets to protest, because the justice mechanism is not in place.

Certain sections of the local press have reported that in the last month, 1,400 people, mostly teens, have been booked under draconian acts that the state uses as an instrument of suppression. Kashmir does not have juvenile homes, so the minors share cells with hardened criminals far away from home.

Nightmares follow them upon release, a lawyer tells me.

Misunderstanding Kashmir

For journalists, to confirm a death and report it is tricky. The Police Control Room rarely shares information. The authorities block the cellular phone signals of the area where the killing has taken place. The government has banned SMS service for the last two months. Busy doctors in hospitals, who have their hands full, help us confirm the killing. Law enforcement authorities withhold information, fearing a backlash.

On a recent trip to a village where a young protester had been shot, we managed to accompany his body from a city hospital. As the car swerved to avoid rocks put up by protesters on the road to south Kashmir’s Pampore, we did our best to try and keep up with the ambulance that was carrying the body of 24-year-old Rayees Ahmad, who had been shot by police and CRPF during protests. At that point, we were unaware of the fact that 19-year-old Nayeem Shah, shot in the same protest, had succumbed to his injuries.

Groups of young boys, with their faces covered, guided our three-car convoy to the hometown of the deceased. In the ambulance, Rayees’s friends wailed from the back of the vehicle, screaming to the pedestrians that his death must not be forgotten.
Indian media attributes this stone-throwing to Pakistan and the militant Islamist group Lashkar-e-Toiba. My compatriots, because of this propaganda, have always misunderstood Kashmir

Protestors at night in Srinagar

We entered the town to find streets lined with wailing women and angry men waiting to receive his corpse. Young boys reached out to walk with Rayees on their shoulders for one last time. The town rallied around them, chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.

As helplessness turned to rage, residents threw stones and burnt tyres to vent their sadness at the death. Indian media attributes this stone-throwing to Pakistan and the militant Islamist group Lashkar-e-Toiba. My compatriots, because of this propaganda, have always misunderstood Kashmir.

Anticipating retaliation by the forces, we decided to turn back before the violence trapped us. We changed our route as we heard reports of the forces firing on an ambulance. We finally made it out of the picturesque village and into the city, bearing witness to yet another day of grief. Read more of this post

Running out of steam

Massive Protests against Indian Occupation Forces in Srinagar, Indian Occupied Kashmir

Soumitro Das,
Hindustan Times

Journalism is not about patriotism. It is not about ‘my country right or wrong’. Journalism is about the Truth. In India, however, far too often a journalist’s first commitment is to his country rather than to the truth. Nowhere is this more evident than in our reportage on Kashmir and Pakistan. To talk about Kashmir first, we are in complete denial, we toe the government’s line unquestioningly: that everything in Kashmir would be hunky-dory if Pakistan stopped meddling; that Kashmir is actually madly in love with the Indian Army and it is only Pakistan which is holding Kashmiris back from expressing their true feelings about the army, the paramilitary forces and the J&K Police in good measure; that India has done nothing to deserve the violence and turbulence in that state; that the stone-pelters are just paid agents of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.

What is the truth? The truth could be that many Kashmiris are sick and tired of the Indian security forces; the truth could be that Kashmiris are looking for deliverance from the cycle of brutality in which they are caught. The truth could be that India had for years foisted corrupt and venal regimes in Srinagar through rigging and other acts of skullduggery. The truth could be that India had a chance to redeem itself when it brought in Sheikh Abdullah as chief minister of the state, but apart from fostering yet another political dynasty, the Abdullahs have had little impact on the climate of political feeling in the state. The truth could be that the stone pelters are the vanguard of a ‘revolution’ whose immediate political expression is the rejection of India and everything that India has come to represent in Kashmir.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, our media are even more slavishly patriotic. All the usual clichés and stereotypes are summoned whenever our journalists and intellectuals write on the subject. Pakistan is a rogue nation; it is a failed State; it is almost a criminal enterprise; its democracy is a sham…

Everything we say about Pakistan speaks of our hatred and resentment against the country. And yet, we see that Pakistan does not disappear from the map of the world and definitely won’t in a hurry. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) may not be accountable, but how accountable is India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the Intelligence Bureau?

It’s also the naivete of it all. I remember a journalist on national TV saying, “We (India) are better than them (Pakistan).” What does that mean? That Pakistan is an Islamic republic and India, even with its pogroms against Sikhs in 1984 Delhi and against Muslims in 2002 Gujarat is a shining example of democracy? It is India, if my figures are right, that has more than 50 per cent of its children suffering from various effects of malnourishment. India’s regular free-and-fair elections may be the only thing that should genuinely make us proud as citizens.

History has been kind to us. It has provided us with a stick with which to beat Pakistan: cross-border terrorism. So, we can use it as a pretext for not talking about Kashmir where our position is weak. Take the ruckus over Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafeez Sayeed. We want him gagged, arrested, tried and, ideally, executed, no matter what the legal position might be in Pakistan. We insist that Pakistan knows everything about Sayeed’s involvement in 26/11 and that Pakistan is resorting to lies and deception to evade taking responsibility. However, now, according to Home Secretary G.K. Pillai’s recent statement, it’s not Sayeed but the ISI “from start to finish”. What is germane is that no court in the world will convict a mass murderer only on the basis of what two major felons have to say about him. Ajmal Kasab’s and David Headley’s statements need corroboration. Read more of this post

Legality of Indian Claim on Kashmir

Following the World War-II, there has been an unremitting resistance by the people of Subcontinent against the ruling British colonial power. Under the swelling pressure of the people of subcontinent, the British Government finally had to announce the partition of the Subcontinent on June 3, 1947. However, the British Parliament formally passed “The Indian Independence Act-1947” on July 17, 1947. As per provision of Article-I of the Independence Act, India was to be partitioned into two Dominions namely “India” and “Pakistan” from 15th day of August 1947.

However, Article 7 of the Indian Independence Act very clearly states that from 15th August 1947, “the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian states lapse and with it lapses all treaties and agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and the rulers of Indian states”. Consequent upon this, all powers and functions, which were exercisable by the British Government in relation to the Princely States, also ceased.

All agreements of British governments with either rulers or states also lapsed on 15th of August 1947. Since the state of Jammu and Kashmir was a Princely State with a special autonomous status, therefore, it can be very conveniently said that on 15th day of August 1947, the Maharaja Sir Hari Singh was not the permissible ruler of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as all his treaties with British India lapsed on that day. Once he was not a ruler of the state, he had no right to sign the instrument of accession (if at all he signed that) with the new Indian dominion. This title to the state was granted to him by the British Government (East India Company) under the Treaty of Amritsar (Kashmir Sale deed) signed on 16 March 1846 and lapsed on the appointed day of 15th August 1947.

Besides, on July 25, 1947 in his address to special full meetings of the Chamber of Princes held in New Delhi, Lord Mountbatten categorically told all princes of Princely States that they were practically free to join any one of dominions; India or Pakistan. He however clarified that, while acceding to any dominion they could take into account geographical contiguity and wishes of the people. In case of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, either of the above factors was favouring state’s accession to Pakistan, but Maharaja Hari Singh did not accept this basic precondition of accession.

Indian claim that its forces landed Srinagar Airport on October 27, 1947, only after signatures on Instrument of Accession by Maharaja and the Indian government is also fallacious. Indeed, a heavy contingent of Patiala State was involved in fighting against the Kashmiri rebellions in Uri Sector on 18 October 1947, which means that they were very much inside the State`s territory much earlier than October 27, 1947.

On 24 October 1947, Kashmiris formally declared their independence from Dogra Raj and established their own government with the name of Azad (Free) Kashmir Government. Following this Maharaja Hari Singh sent his deputy Prime Minister Mr. R.L. Batra to New Delhi for Indian military assistance to his Government against those revolted and tribal from NWFP who joined their brethrens against a tyrant rule. He (Batra) met the Indian Prime Minster and other prominent Indian leaders and requested for assistance without making any mention or promise of state’s accession to the Indian Union. The Indian government instead sent Mr. V.P Menon (Indian Secretary of State) to Kashmir to assess the situation on the spot by himself on 25 October 1947.

After assessing, the situation in Kashmir Mr. V.P Menon flew back to New Delhi on 26 October 1947, together with Kashmiri Prime Minster Mr. Mahajan, who met top Indian leadership, seeking military assistance. He was refused to get that until state’s formal accession with India. On this Kashmiri Premier threatened the Indian leadership that if immediate military assistance was not granted, he would go to Lahore for negotiations with Pakistani leadership over the future status of the state. In a parallel development, Sheikh Abdullah met Indian Premier, Jawaharlal Nehru, on the same day, October 26, 1947, who agreed to despatch military assistance to the Kashmir government.

As stated by Mahajan, the Kashmiri Prime Minister, that V.P. Menon accompanied him to convince Hari Singh for accession of the State with India on 27 October 1947. Under the compulsion, Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession on the same day i.e. 27 October 1947, which was later taken to Lord Mountbatten (Indian Governor General), who also signed that on the same day (27 October), which was practically difficult. V.P. Menon, however, states that all these formalities of signatures were completed on 26 October 1947, which is impracticable. This version, however, seems concocted as even contradicted by pro Indian Kashmiri Premier. Both however are unanimous on one point that Indian state forces landed at Srinagar airfield in the morning of 27 October 1947 and a battalion of Patiala State received them there, which was already there. Read more of this post

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