A cage called Kashmir

By Z.G. Muhammad Mogul emperor Shah Jahan, four and half centuries back, waxed lyrical on the sight of beautiful Kashmir … Continued

By Z.G. Muhammad

Mogul emperor Shah Jahan, four and half centuries back, waxed lyrical on the sight of beautiful Kashmir valley nestled in the bosom of mighty Himalayas and called it paradise on the earth. In his wildest dreams he would not have imagined that one day this land will become more hellish than hell for its citizens. Now for for past more than six decades it is soaked in blood and tears with its every year having tales of repression, intimidation and terror to tell.

The birth of Kashmir ‘tragedy’ dates back to the birth of India and Pakistan as independent nations. The future of this state at this important juncture of history of the sub-continent had remained undecided. The dispute over this strategically located state, bordering China, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India commenced “on the morning of 27 October 1947 when units of Indian Army started landing at Srinagar Air filed” and the United Nations Security Council asked India and Pakistan for demilitarization and allowing people of the state right to self-determination. India’s military presence in the state over years has increased to 700000, making it highest militarized zone in the world. Notwithstanding massive military presence, people of the state have been asking for right to self-determination and being met with repressive force. More than half a million people have been killed in state during past six decades. Of these over one hundred thousand have died after an anti-India armed insurgency was triggered by rigged State Assembly poll in 1987. Thousands have been maimed, crippled and disabled for rest of their life and over a hundred thousand have been orphaned. The ‘killing fields’ of Kashmir wrote Pankaj Mishra, in Guardian “dwarf those of Palestine and Tibet.” Now when India has contained the armed insurgency and militant’s guns have fallen silent people have been holding peaceful rallies and demonstration in support of ‘Azadi’ (freedom).

For past three summers hundreds of thousands have been coming on the roads and streets of the capital city and other towns demanding withdrawal of troops, repealing of draconian laws giving extraordinary powers to military, prosecution of those responsible for crimes against civilians, release of political prisoners languishing in jails, accountability for seven thousand forced disappearances and a chance to determine their own political future.

This summer’s demonstrations began at a different note, with teenagers converging on the streets, raising slogans for Azadi being met with disproportionate force by the government troops. The youth, mostly born during the post 90 insurgency responded the baton charges, teargas canisters and firing by the troops with stones. The stone pelting has not only emerged as new form of resistance but as a phenomenon that has succeeded in sending tremors to New Delhi.

In Kashmir, the year 2010 had a gory start. On 8 January, Inayat Khan 16, was shot dead by Indian federal troops (CRPF) at Srinagar. On 22 January, Manzoor Ahmed Sofi 23, was killed by same force at Parahaspora, Pattan. On 31 January, Wamiq Farooq, 13, was shot dead by police. And on 31 January, Zahid Farooq, 16 years, was shot dead by Border Security Force, Srinagar. None of the killed was part of the demonstration but were students either on way to schools or homes. After massive protests in January, it was relative calm and business as usual for few months. On Fridays only after the noon prayers this deceptive calm would be punctured, with youth appearing on the streets and chanting pro-freedom slogans.

To control the restive population the government has imposed curfew and strict restrictions on people’s movement. Every town and colony wrapped up in concertina, spools of razor wires, barbwire wire, with thousands of helmeted, gun totting and baton wielding soldiers dotting every place looks like a war time garrison. For past more than seventy days more than four million people have been virtually caged. There are lots of festering and disturbing tales about the ‘curfewed’ life that hardly get reported in the press. Hundreds of thousands of students have missed their studies and confinement has been adversely affecting their psyche. Shortage of medicines has been causing complicacies in many patients. To stretch their stocks, many daily wage earners have been living on one time meal for past month or so. Scarcity of fresh vegetable has made some to live primitive life and depend upon wild vegetables in their holdings.

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  • facelessinusa

    Obviously this author is heavily biased. All the statements he makes in this article are unsubstantiated and twisted version of the facts. It is very clear that Pakistan tried to occupy Kashmir even when it was still a princely state. Then Indian soldiers were sent to Kashmir to fight off the Pakistani infiltrators from the princely state on the request of its ruler. Its a shame that a recognized and worthy news paper is open to publishing such biased and twisted article with no fact checking.

  • sj77

    Wrong at many levels. Kashmir was a heaven till late seventies. The tragedy began when Pakistan decided to use subversion and later, terrorism to use Kashmir Muslims in a proxy war with India. Kashmiris would suffer like Afgans until Pakistan focuses on betterment of its own people. Only thing thing wrong with Indian forces, they just are not as efficient as Israel Defense Forces.

  • citysoilverizonnet

    It will be in the best inetrest of India to get over with the KASHMIR MESS sooner is better. We have not received any goodwill from the Kashmir population for the last 60 years even we have promised them to provide everything. We have fought 3 wars, drained billions of rupees, sacrificed hundreds of our jawans and KILLED THOUSANDS of innocents, but still we are not closer to resolve anything. The Hindutv forces of INDIA will never allow India to extend additional rights promised to them but we will have to continue killings and occupation against the wills of the masses for an another century. It is not worth for super power state like INDIA. If majority of population is against our rule, we have no choice but to allow the public to have their choice. Hopefully Congress and some BJP leaders will read this and act accordingly. It will be in our NATIONAL INTEREST.

  • cbebop

    @facelessinusaThe Author seems to have forgotten that it was Pakistan who first tried to capture Kashmir by sending thousands of armed Militants to the then Independent princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army was sent there at the request of the then King of Kashmir to counter the Paskitani insurgency. These are facts which you can easily find on the internet. And the Indian state of J&K was peaceful and prosperous until 1987 when the Pakistanis who after losing 3 wars with India finally decided to take Kashmir by terrorizing its people. The Indian army is just there to protect the people. And I am not denying the fact that the army may have committed human rights violations over the years but that happens in every place with a military presence. And the Author also cleverly forgot about the 300000 kashmiri hindus who were forced out of their homes by the muslim terrorists and are now living as refugees in the rest of India. Talk about being biased u S0B.

  • eamanis

    What an absurd of an article? Muslims asking for a freedom from a secular state. Kashmir valley is not entire Jammu and Kashmir. There are many more parts that are quite happy with being in India. Kashmir was relatively peaceful until 1989, after which armed struggle started with Pakistan support. They had driven out Kashmir Pandits out of valley. They have islamized the entire revolution. All they want to prove is Hindus and Muslims cannot live together. If India let that happen, it would be blot on India as a secular state. What’ll happen if all other muslims in India ask for a separate state.

  • cbebop

    And the WP should have known better than to post such a biased article with no facts in it whatsoever. This article looks like its been written by some dude working for the Pakistani government.

  • sj77

    Only thing author is right about – Kashmir has more electoral violence than Tibet and more disturbances from ‘freedom’ marches!! I think Tibetans would love to have these kinds of disturbances with a free press reporting and ‘opinion’ pieces like this without fear of retribution from Chinese government.

  • cbebop

    @sj77 you are absolutely right. The only reason this is being covered is because the Indian goverment allows press freedom in Kashmir. If this was Tibet or Chechnya u would never even hear about this in the news.

  • stuka1

    The author begins with a lie. The story of Kashmir began prior to the independence of India and Pakistan itself. There over over 500 Princely States, none of whom were given the option to gain independence. There were only two choices – India or Pakistan. How was the state to decide? India had advocated leaving it to the population to decide. Pakistan, led by MA Jinnah, insisted on the absolute writ of the ruler to decide. The King of Jammu and Kashmir offered a standstill still agreement that Pakistan violated, upon which, the Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India. The above is historical fact which the author deliberately obfuscates. Now to the present – yes, a number of Kashmiris are disaffected by India. Is this disaffected number the majority? Going by the response to elections etc. it is not. Regardless, the disaffection is specific to the Kashmir Valley, not to Hindu majority Jammu or Buddhist majority Ladakh. The Muslims of the Valley were succesful in ethnically cleansing Hindu minority but have not been successful in defeating the Indian state. Simply put, they are on the wrong side of History where a demand for nationalism is predicated on religious extremism alone. An Islamist movement masquerading as a Kashmiri Movement cannot be allowed to succeed. The fact remains that India commits no economic or political discrimination in Kashmir, relative to any other Indian state. Have their been mistakes made? Absolutely. The Indian state has made mistakes across many different issues and states. As an underconfident new country it has manipulated state elections or dismissed governers. But those were exceptions and as Indian self confidence in its national project has grown, so has the free expression of democracy and federalism. The Kashmir cannot point to any right not offered to him, relative to other Indians. The feeling of disenchantment is therefore in the heads of Islamists and for that there is no cure.

  • kashmirpage

    One hand India is making life more & more difficult in Kashmir other hand Pakistan is also working hard via money & their puppets in Kashmir to make life hell for average Kashmiries.

  • realcitizen

    This article is completely biased with all facts twisted. He is the same author who spreads hatred against India with such articles. He might be working for Pakistan. Shame on you Washington Post for publishing such articles.

  • nikit2h

    self-determination for countries with predominantly Muslim population

  • rajmirage

    Pakistan invaded independent Kashmir and forced the hand of the kashmir ruler who had to go to india to save kashmir from pakistan. It’s strange that a blogger in a reputed media house like washinton times can put out a lie that India invaded Kashmir first and expect to get away with it. Sorry z.g mohamad. You have been caught lying for Pakistan. Washington post readers are not like the Pakistan Urdu media consumers who gladly consume conspiracy theories.

  • for_subscriptions

    This article is right on target. India has mass mass mass human right violation records. Country top of list in detainees- being-killed-in-custody. A huge list of world known terrorist organizations. Things in favor of India is his wonderful lobbying, support of US and West. No wonder you will never see things against India in mass media. India is not fulfilling UN resolution but so what, Israel is also not doing it 🙂 India is stronger than Pakistan and in in good terms with US and Europe so that particular UN resolution will never get resolved.India occupied Kashmir and not giving rights to Kashmiris. This is right infront of your own eyes in news but these Indians are oppressing the voice of Kashmiris just because that location is important for India and he will never let it go.Again, might is right. If you have backing of US and Europe, nothing can happen to India or Palestine. Strong will have the land and will kill people and weak is there to protest and die.

  • aliimran_analyst

    I have been reading the author. There are hundreds of his column available on net. The author has skipped details perhaps of paucity of space. One need not to blindfold to realities- Kashmir is disputed territory there are 16 United Resolutions about that. It is dispute that is to be decided by holding a plebiscite. People of Kashmir have been asking that right only. The author has beiefly touched history of the dispute and has focussed on the present situation. Those who have pronounced author biased need to read today’s stories in other US papers New York Time, Christen Monitor.. all have called it a caged. Some years back a delegation of European had called it beautiful prison in the world. India has been defiance mood despite commitments at the international level. About human rights violations in Kashmir there are scores of reports by international organization like the Amnesty International – that is being entry in Kashmir.

  • laldedkashmir

    Dear Sir,

  • laldedkashmir

    Addendum:

  • Logos1

    Hello, the problem did NOT start when Indian troops entered the state … it started even earlier, when Govt of Pakistan sponsored a “tribal invasion” of Pashtun tribals into the state. They came raping and looting as far as the outskirts of Srinagar before they were repulsed by the Indian Army.

  • QaZia

    Dear readers, if you think that the author has made any unsubstantiated reference and facts then i request you people to introspect but without any reference to concocted versions and hatred towards the people of Kashmir. People are caged and are reeling under the 24*7 stict curfew restrictions. Kashmiris are not against any religion or faith as being portrayed by some chauvinistic minded people. Why is India showing her adamant stand despite the people of Kashmir are on streets protesting against grave human rights violations, demanding their inalienable right…..

  • GhazishahChak

    Fantastic article. The millions of men, women and children marching and chanting ‘freedom’ clearly demonstrates the aspirations of the people of Kashmir: India to get out of their country. The whole world can see this but its only Incredible India that is blind. Let’s face the facts people and give Kashmiris their chance to express their inalienable right in a fair, impartial and UN sponsored plebiscite.