INDIA IS NOT BEHIND ISRAEL, IS IT?
By Inshah Malik
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 29th 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 unarmed after losing young people are resisting the troopers.
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 8th Jan, 2010. Inayath was a bright student and had just passed his ‘A’ level exams with wonderful grades.
He was the first victim of unprovoked firing by CRPF. On 8th Jan, while going for tuitions he had just admitted himself for, he was shot down by the troopers in Budshah Chowk, Srinagar. Inayat lives close to another Inayat who was a musician and was killed by the troopers in 2006. Now both of them await justice in oblivion. Despite a wait for six months and eyewitness accounts and FIR intact, the accused troopers are yet to be punished.
On Jan 31 2010, Wamiq Farooq a 13 year old boy from Rainawari was playing in the Ghanni Memorial Stadium. The troopers while chasing a group of protesters entered the stadium and fired a teargas shell from a close range leaving Wamiq dead on spot.
Wamiq was an excellent student and fond of sports; earning many trophies and certificates of merit he made his family
proud and he had desired to become a scientist. His father, Farooq Ahmad, earns his livelihood by selling second hand garments in Lal Chowk. A student of 7th standard, Wamiq is remembered by his friends as assiduous and jovial. The hapless family has accused the police of cover-up and approached the Court for justice.
According to the police sources, on 22nd Jan Manzoor Ahmed Sofi, a 23 years old boy from Parahaspora Pattan was shot dead by CRPF. Again on 24th Jan, Mushtaq Ahmed Mir, 36 years old man from Pulwama was shot dead by Rashtriya rifles, 44Bri personels.
Again in the main city of Srinagar, five days after the death of Wamiq Farooq, on Feb 5 2010, Zahid Farooq, a 16 year old boy, only son of his parents was shot dead by the
Zahid lived in Nishat and was killed by the Border Security force (BSF) personnel just few miles away from his house. Zahid had gone to play cricket in a nearby stadium. The BSF officers chased Zahid and his friends into the bylanes of his colony and then shot him dead. On charges of his murder, a BSF commandant and constable are facing trial.
In another case on April 13 2010, Zubair Ahmed Bhat, a 17 year old boy was sitting on the banks of the river Jehlum with his friends when the troopers came and forced them to jump into the river.
Zubair Ahmed Bhar, 17 years old forced to drown by the troopers on April 13, 2010
While most of them could cross the river, Zubair struggled, the nearby boatmen attempted to rescue but the troopers
fired teargas shells at them and as a result Zubair drowned, he was a student from Sopore and used to work as a part time laborer in Srinagar. Police closed the file labeling it as an accident and ignoring this eyewitness account. His elder brother, Ehsan-ul-Haq was killed by troopers in 2006. Zubair was a class 11th student.
From police sources again on 24th April Ghulam Muhamed Kalas a 34 year old man of Kellar Shopian was shot dead by 53 Rashtriya Rifles.
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’ has become the most dreaded month of the year 2010 for most of the people have lost hope and faith in the state run justice mechanisms.
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 5th June 2010, Tufail was playing in the Ghani Memorial stadium when he was shot dead. He received a firearm injury in his head leaving his brain into pieces on the grass.
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 16th June he was caught by the army and beaten up, he had a battle for his life and finally he passed away.
The youthful Rafiq used to work tirelessly to help his aged father, Abdul Ahad, to clear his debts. He left behind aged parents, a brother and an immortal memory of his separation.
Javed Ahmed Malla (17 years) shot dead by the troopers on 20th June 2010
On 20th June 2010, During his funeral procession, the anti government slogans were raised to which the troopers retaliated with gunshots killing Rafiq’s another cousin named Javed Ahmed Malla. Javed was 17 and worked in a bag manufacturing company in Khonmoh and had discontinued studies due to family’s abject poverty.
Machil fake encounters
To make matters worse, when the news of fake encounters by the Indian Army reached the city, the separatists were up in arms. 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.
On June 25th 2010, the people protested the killings in the fake encounter, troopers went berserk and entered a
farm and killed Firdous Ahmed Kakroo a 17 year old boy who was doing his daily farming. On the same day they also shot Shakeel Ahmed an 18 year old electrician who was on his way to market to buy some electrical stuff.
On June 27 the local people in Sopore town plunged on the roads to show discontent against the state’s rampant killings. Bilal Ahmed a 22 years old boy was watching at a distance the procession moving on when the troopers attacked it and shot Bilal in his throat and he died on spot.
On June 28th 2010, the youngest victim of violence breathed his last in south Kashmir’s Baramulla town. Tauqeer Ahmed (9) and Tajamul Bashir (20) were both shot dead by troopers. Baramulla has been under curfew ever since. The army has already moved in.
Taukeer Ahmed (9 years) Tajamul Bashir (20 years) were both shot dead by the troopers on 28th June, 2010
On June 29th 2010, Ishtiyaq Ahmad Khanday (15) son of Ghulam Mohammad Khanday, Imtiyaz Ahmad Itoo(18) son of Ghulam Mohammad Itoo from S K Colony Islamabad and Sajad Ashraf Baba (19) son of Late Mohd Ashraf Baba (19) were reportedly present in a lawn which belongs to one of the victim’s family. Chasing the protesters in Islamabad town, SHO Ayoub Rather (Islamabad) and SHO Rauf Ahmed (Mattan) along with two sub-inspectors namely Masarat alam and Parveiz Ahmed barged into the lawn and reportly fired at six youth after lining them up, out of which two Ishtiyaq Ahmed (15) and Imtiyaz Ahmed (18) died on spot and Shujat ul Islam (19) along with three others was rushed to District hospital Anantnag. From there, because of his critical condition Shujatul Islam was directed to SMHS hospital but on his way he passed away. Among three others hospitalised at the District hospital, one is reported to be fighting his death while two others are said to be safe and recovering.
Under these circumstances, when people were fuming with anger the state government put the restrictions on any
kind of protest. Further army was deployed to control the angry protesters and after a weeklong curfew people were allowed to buy essentials and daily food stuff. In these circumstances the news of Muzzafar Ahmed Bhat a 17 year old boy reached them. Muzzafar was mercilessly beaten to death by the troopers and his body was disposed off into a nearby stream.
Muzaffar’s body was recovered from the pond on 5th of July, 2010 which stirred up further anger in the protesters. The protests were carried out in the Batamalloo area on 6th july morning, to which the troopers retailiated by opening fire and killing another youth named Fayaz ahmed, a 18 year old boy.
Another boy named Abrar khan, 18 year old was also shot dead in the same day and same area.
Abrar khan (18 years) shot dead by the troopers on 6th July, 2010
A 24 year old young lady named fancy was watching the protests in her area from a window when the army man shot her. The fire cut into her heart leaving her dead on spot.
Fancy (24 years) shot dead by the troopers on 6th July, 2010
The curfew is imposed in the entire valley people are house arrested and deprived even of communication with each other. In the latest turn the authorities have even entered the social networking sites like face book and booked people for sharing views and uploading pictures and videos. On several occasions even the national media chose silence over burning Kashmir.
On the ground level this series of killing spree has manifested into a new movement of ‘stone pelting’ by Kashmiri youth.
They have no guns but the stones to hurl at the oppressive forces. The judiciary systems are locked and devoid of justice and the youth are on the roads to seek answers. The new generation of ‘educated youth’ has arrived with their vision of rebellion and has now been successful in pushing the governance into barricades and bullet proof cars.
The cycle of violence is emanating from all the quarters of political and social life in Kashmir. The prospects of a dignified life seem to be bleak. The killings of the innocent continue but with a paradigm shift in the method.
Faizan Rafiq Buhroo (13 years) a case of custodial killing
After people have grieved the deaths of so many innocent people, the killing of Faizan Rafiq Buhroo a 13 year old now came out in a dramatic form and a different killing pattern that is likely to become common place hence forth. Faizan’s body was fished out of river Jhelum after he was killed in the police custody. Anything can be said about this death. After faizan, two more people died in the similar conditions including Fayaz Ahmad Khanday who was fired upon during the funeral procession of Faizan. With
Faizan surely the state machinery has shifted its functioning to killing and leaving people in miscellaneous conditions. If killing with bullets is a problem, custodial killings and throwing bodies into rivers and ponds, looks like a much saner way of dealing with people’s aspirations.
Living in Kashmir is an hour by hour experience, people are locked up under curfew and completely the state government has shunned its people. Now the question is the angry unarmed people will protest that’s what the mind set has become, so how many more will be killed is what the wait is for.
Inshah Malik is a PhD scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. She has been working on Gender and ongoing conflict in Kashmir. She is also actively been writing about people’s issues through various platforms. She is at present working on political economy of Kashmir.
This paper has been rewritten exclusively for Opinion Maker.