By Alam Rind

Kashmiri women protesting over killings by Indian troops

It was the charisma of Bulbul Shah, a Sufi Saint that persuaded King Rinchan from Ladakh to embrace Islam. That laid the foundation of Sufic Islamic culture where Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists co-existed in perfect harmony. In 1339 foundation of Shah Miri dynasty was laid by Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir. Muslims ruled the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir for about four hundred years. In 1819, Gulab Singh operating under the auspices of Ranjit Singh annexed Kashmir valley to the Sikh rule and the Muslims were deprived of their independence. As the history unfolded itself, the valley was sold to Gulab Singh by British Raj for Rs. 75 lacs. Last of their ruler Hari Singh ascended to the throne of Kashmir in 1925. He unleashed an unprecedented rain of terror against Muslims. During his rule life was made miserable for Muslims through heavy taxes, bonded labor and capital punishment for even slaughtering a cow. In 1931 consequent to the trial of Abdul Qadeer at Central Jail Srinagar there was wide spared unrest and to subjugate Kashmir’s Dogra army ransacked and destroyed villages of Jandial, Makila and Dan with their inhabitants burnt alive. In fact the Kashmir’s had started enduring hardship far before partition of India.

Kashmir’s have suffered hardships since 17th century but the tyranny that has been unlashed by so called secular government of India since its partition knows no parallel. According to recent Human Rights report between 1989 and mid 2010 Indian Army and paramilitary forces have killed 93,274 innocent Kashmir’s. There have been 117,345 arrests and 6,969 custodial killings. Reportedly 22,728 women have been widowed and 107,351 children rendered orphan. As if it wasn’t enough 105,861 houses were razed to ground. Crimes against women included 9,920 gang raps. All this exposes the degree of human rights violation that has been committed by Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir.

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It was India who took Kashmir problem to UN Security Council. 47 (1948) Resolution of 21 April 1948 of UN Security Council noted it with satisfaction, “that both India and Pakistan desire that the question of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite”. But India never allowed this plebiscite to be held. Rather their effort all along has been to crush the freedom struggle of the people of Kashmir to the extent that they stop demanding independence. To realize this dream they enacted draconian laws like Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act 1990 (TADA) and Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1990 (AFSPA) that gave right to Indian security forces to kill any one in the name of combating terrorism and get away with it. Lt Gen B. S. Jaswal, GOC-in-Chief of Indian Army Northern Command has described AFSPA as a holy book for security forces. For the season that it provides immunity to the troops for their atrocities against Kashmiri’s.

It was the existence of these black laws that Indian troops opened fire and killed two Kashmiri youth those who had reported to a Military Medical Center to seek job that was advertised by a local Military Command. The incident has triggered the recent unrest and agitations in the held Kashmir. It was like scratching the wounds of Kashmiri’s. The pain that resides deep in their soles erupted in the form of protest and soon it engulfed the entire Kashmir. Police handed over the situation to Military and curfew was imposed in Srinagar, Sopore, Baramulla, Kupwara, Handwara, Islamabad, Koimoh, Pulwama and Kakpora towns. As is evident from the remarks of GOC-in-Chief of Indian Army Northern Command the incident will be brushed a side as an encounter with possible terrorists. The story of fake encounters is not new to the Kashmiri’s. Thousands of Kashmiri men have been killed in such cold blooded manner. The trauma caused to Kashmiri women due to forced disappearance or killing of their loved one is simply ineffable. How words can carry the burden of expressing the grief of mother who has lost her son or a wife who has lost her husband or a child who has lost her father. The spite caused by such acts persists till the atrocities are avenged.

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India’s unreasonable attitude and inapt handling of Kashmir is one of the major impediments in its resolution. Her disregard for UN resolutions and stationing of 700,000 troops in the valley speaks of her unwillingness to heed to the demands of the people of Kashmir. That is one of the major reasons that when ever dialogue process between Pakistan and India starts and there is a possibility of some headway the same is torpedoed by someone from within Indian establishment as was done at Agra and during recent foreign minister level dialogue at Islamabad. It is a positive development that Indian foreign minister has accepted the inaptness of the statement made by   Indian Home Secretary G. K. Pillal on the eve of his visit to Pakistan. One only hope that the next round of talks scheduled at Delhi proves helpful in bridging the gap between the two countries for the betterment of Kashmiri’s and the people of the region of which most live below poverty line.

But if India continues to bleed and kill the innocent Kashmiris, the things can get worse beyond comprehension. For any meaningful dialogue, India must withdraw her troops from Kashmir and allow the people their right of self-determination through a ballot. India must not hold what does not belong to it and if India is a true democracy then it must allow the same to the people of Kashmir.

Alam Rind is a freelance journalist and analyst who writes for various newspapers.