The world wants to think the best about India. So we turn our back on Kashmir | Telegraph

Kashmiris run for cover as Indian paramilitary soldiers fire teargas shells (Photo: AP)

Dean Nelson | Telegraph

Think of India and it’s all Gandhian saintliness, Ravi Shankar’s sitar, a whiff of incense and the feel-good beats of Bollywood Bhangra. These memories, sounds and smells conjure images of the world’s largest democracy, where tolerance and spirituality supposedly reign over realpolitik.

We don’t think of it as a country whose troops are jailing opposition leaders or placing them under house arrest, denying people the right to gather in prayer, beating children to death, or massacring stone-throwing protesters. The words “shoot to kill” are a grim relic from our own recent past, and certainly nothing we ever associate with India.

That’s why India is the world’s first “soft superpower”. It can barely do wrong for doing right, and if it does we don’t really want to know. As David Cameron made perfectly clear during his recent visit, we’re interested in India as the world’s second fastest-growing economy and by its contribution to the war on terrorism, but not how it treats its own people.

So despite the fact that 50 mainly young men and teenagers have either been shot or beaten to death in the last eight weeks in Kashmir; the two main separatist leaders have been jailed or placed under house arrest; that the Kashmir Valley has been locked down and the streets of Srinagar occupied by swaggering Indian troops who threaten housewives with big sticks, our leaders have remained completely silent.

Had these incidents been in Taliban-controlled parts of Afghanistan, or had the victims been Tibetans revolting against Chinese rule, we would have called it a massacre. But India’s great “soft power” is that the world wants to think the best of it.

To that end, our leaders overlooked the 53 young men and teenagers who were treated for bullet wounds in just one hospital in Kashmir’s state capital, Srinagar, last week. They had been shot either for throwing stones during protests against killings by Indian security forces in Kashmir – or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time in their own city.

This present wave of protests began after Indian soldiers shot dead three young Muslim men in the hope of passing them off as Pakistani terrorists and themselves as war heroes. They had lured them with the promise of jobs. A few weeks later a 17-year-old schoolboy was killed when Indian police fired a tear gas canister at his head.

Last week I interviewed Fayaz Ahmad Rah, a Srinagar fruit seller, as he mourned the death of his nine-year-old son, Sameer. Neighbours told me they had seen members of India’s paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force beat him to death with sticks and then dump his body in stinging nettles. The CRPF claims he was in fact a protester and that he had been trampled by other demonstrators as they fled a police advance.

Fayaz said his son had been walking through their usually safe tiny back lanes to his uncle’s house 100 metres away after stopping to buy sweets. When he washed his son’s body for burial, there was a half-chewed toffee still in his mouth, he said.

Over the last eight weeks a round of teenage civilian deaths, protests and more shootings followed by further protests has sucked Kashmir into a bleak vortex. But since it began, not a single member of India’s security forces has been shot or killed. It couldn’t be a more unequal contest.

Luckily for India, it happened in Kashmir where the words “Muslim”, “Pakistan” and “militants” shield what is either bad marksmanship or a shoot to kill policy from scrutiny and criticism.

This decision to look the other way only fuels the anger in Kashmir. From his home where he was being held under house arrest last week, separatist spiritual leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told me India had turned Kashmir into a “police state” and that British politicians and others were turning their back on it.

He had not been allowed to go to his mosque for more than six weeks, while other separatist Hurriyat leaders were also in jail or under house arrest. In many mosques throughout the state, only men over the age of 50 – regarded as beyond their stone-throwing years – have been allowed to meet to pray.

“It’s a direct interference in our religious affairs, a situation in which in a muslim state, if we’re not allowed to pray, the Muftis will say we have to call a war on the state,” he said. Read more of this post

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World urged to stop Kashmiris’ genocide

Death toll of martyred protestors reaches 58

Srinagar: Hundreds of thousands Kashmiris attending funeral procession of a Kashmiri youth Iqbal Ahmed Khan martyred by Indian troops.

Srinagar – (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, veteran Kashmiri Hurriyet leader, Syed Ali Gilani has appealed to the world community to impress upon India to stop genocide of Kashmiris and resolve the lingering dispute in accordance with the aspirations of people.

Addressing newsmen in Srinagar after his release from illegal detention, Syed Ali Gilani urged India to withdraw all its troops from the territory, release all the illegally detained pro-liberation leaders and activists and revoke the draconian laws before initiating meaningful dialogue to settle the Kashmir dispute.

He appealed the people of Kashmir to participate in the protest programmes in large numbers to make them a success.

On the other hand, the Chairman of All Parties Hurriyet Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in a letter to the Secretary General of United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon appealed to him to appoint a representative for Kashmir in view of the grave crisis on the territory.

A civilian was martyred last night when Indian troops fired upon a demonstration at Nund Rishi colony in Bemina, Two persons succumbed to bullet injuries in local hospitals in Srinagar. They were fired upon by Indian police personnel during a protest in the city, yesterday. The fresh killings brought the number of martyred Kashmiri protestors since June 11 to 58.

Thousands of people participated in a mourning gathering at Zadoora-Newa in Pulwama to pray for the soul of a young man martyred in the firing of Indian police on peaceful protestors in the area. Read more of this post

Kashmir boils again

Kashmiris being beaten in Srinagar -Indian Occupied Kashmir

By Mohammad Jamil

The Indian Held Kashmir boils again. Last week, police killed three youth in IHK, and there were protests in the valley over the atrocities committed on Kashmiri youth. Curfew has been clamped in Srinagar to prevent people from holding protest demonstrations against the recent killing of protesters by Indian troops. Reports from Sopore, Baramulla, Kupwara, Handwara, Islamabad, Koimoh, Pulwama and Kakpora towns said that curfew was being strictly enforced and people are suffering because they are unable to buy food and items of daily use due to the curfew. According Kashmir Media Service 33 people have been killed by Indian paramilitary forces’ during the month of June 2010 including four children.

The APHC Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in a statement in Srinagar said that no power on earth could stop the Kashmir people from continuing their liberation struggle. He urged the international community to send teams to the occupied territory for taking stock of the situation. Unfortunately, international community turns a blind eye to Indian brutalities highlighted by the Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations. The ‘champions’ of human rights US and the West give overriding consideration to their commercial interests with plus-one billion market rather than human rights. For the last six decades, Kashmiris are facing death and destruction, and even today young Kashmiris are being killed in fake encounters; women are being raped. And repression and state terrorism have turned Kashmir into a hell that would stretch Dante’s imagination. After facing unprecedented repression for four decades from 1948 to 1988, valiant Kashmiris started armed struggle in 1989 and since then at least 90000 Kashmiris have laid down their lives. However, they are determined to take their struggle to the logical conclusion. There are some parallelism between Kashmir, Palestine and Bosnia so far as genocide of the Muslims is concerned, but the Kashmir dispute is different in a way that it was India that took the Kashmir issue to the UN under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, which deals with Pacific Settlement of Disputes. The Security Council then passed the resolution on January 5, 1949 stating: “The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan would be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite”. But it was due to apathy of international community that it did not persuade India to implement the UNSC resolution. Nevertheless, the issue is alive in the UN records, and unless it is resolved there cannot be a durable peace in the region.

However, European countries sometimes do raise the issue of human rights violations in Indian Held Kashmir. In 2008, the European Parliament had debated on mass graves in Indian Held Kashmir during the plenary session of European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. And passed the resolution which reads: “Hundreds of unidentified graves have been discovered since 2006 in Jammu and Kashmir and human rights violations committed by the armed forces of India continue in an atmosphere of impunity”. It called upon the Indian government “to urgently ensure independent and impartial investigations into all suspected sites of mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir and as an immediate first step to secure the grave sites in order to preserve the evidence.” Hundreds of unnamed graves were already discovered by a human rights group in Kashmir recently. Most of those buried in the graves are believed to be victims of fake encounters by the Indian armed forces. In another development, the Norwegian government termed the new discoveries of unidentified graves in Indian-controlled Kashmir as alarming despite the fact that India was signatory to UN’s Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

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