Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Kashmir: the saga of stones and the bullets
Ish Mishra
The issue of J& K remains a disputed issue after over six decades of the country’s independence, accompanied by colonially designed partition of the country with the active connivances of the reactionary sections of the Indian elite that led to unprecedented communal pogroms and exodus and warrants urgent political solution. The wounds of partition are still bleeding in the form of unresolved issue of Kashmir.
The latest phase of Kashmir’s long drawn nationality movement, the saga of stones and bullets, which seems to have taken a long pause since the last November, is marked by the unprecedented, spontaneous upsurge of people armed with stones – particularly the youth and women. The people in the valley call it the “new uprising”. This new uprising spontaneously sparked off on 11 June 2010 with the killing of a 17 year old school boy by the CRPF, though the dissent against the inhuman conditions due to disproportionate presence of the Security forces and draconian laws like AFSPA, Disturbed area Act and Public security act, had been gaining ground for quite some time. The Indian state retaliated with the bullets. The saga of stones and bullets has claimed over 115 lives mostly the young including teenagers and a 9 year old ‘terrorist’; many are detained under various charges; many tortured and sent to dehumanising interrogation centres. The battle has slowed down, seems to be taking a pause, but repression of human rights at the hands of the uniformed men continues unabated causing a new sense of apprehension of state terror and a new sense of determination for their right to self-determination.
The Kashmir is virtually an army-occupied region, denoted by the ubiquitous banners, “Indian Army welcomes you in the Valley”, bunkers, barbed wires and pervasive presence of the uniformed and un-uninformed security personnel. The new uprising, as mentioned above, is new kind of popular insurrection, an expression of popular angst against the governments in Srinagar and New Delhi; spontaneous upsurge of an “occupied” community against the armed occupation. The valley witnessed the surging sea of humanity, mostly the youth and women armed with stones. The army was called.
Movement of Indian army in the streets of the valley has become an eternal feature. Present turmoil was preceded by suppression of peoples movement for justice in much talked about Shopian rape and murder case. Two young women, 22 year old Nilofer and his 17 year old Ashia, an 11th class student, allegedly by the Security forces, as reported by the members of the Committee for justice in the matter – Majlis-e-Masawarat (Consultative Committee) Shopian. The two sisters-in-law went missing in the evening on 29th May 2009 while returning back from their family orchard. Next morning their ravished and violated bodies were recovered from a place in the vicinity of police, military and paramilitary infested area where camps of Rashtriya rifles, CRPF and Special Operation Group (SOG) of J&k Police are located. The people are agitated as the accused Police officers instead of being in Jail, have been promoted.
It was preceded by the turmoil created by the handing over of the Amarnath temple by the J&K government against the constitutional provision of prohibition of alienation of land to any non-Kashmiris. Present turmoil, sparked off by the killing of the teenager Tufail Mattoo on 11th may 2011 and disjoint though, preluded the popular insurrection in Tunisia that is another continuing saga of stones and bullets and compelled the despotic ruler to flee the country. It has attracted the attention of democratic forces all over the world.
The issue of the state of J&K remains unresolved even after 63 years of the independence accompanied by the partition of the country with unprecedented bloodsheds and exoduses whose memories still haunt the people on both sides of the line of division. As is well-known, consequent to the ‘two-nation theory’, encouraged by the colonial rulers, two independent nation-states -- India and Pakistan were born at the stroke of the midnight on 14-15 August, 1947. Pakistan was created by the unnatural clubbing of two culturally distinct communities in far off geographical locations- East and West - as a “synthetic nation” on the basis of the principles of “religious nationalism”. The “two-nation theory”, whether it was quirk of circumstances or natural justice, was falsified by Pakistan’s dismemberment and creation of another nation, Bangladesh out of East Pakistan. The issue continues to haunt the democratic groups and individuals on the both sides and to provide fuel and fodder to the powers that be in New Delhi and Islamabad for the justification of their jingoistic existence with heavy military build-up and armament rivalling each other in subservience to the imperialist capital and in arms race through their respective nexuses with the global military-industrial complexes, on the cost of common people of both the countries.
According to an estimate, the government of India is spending around Rs.70 million per day on the upkeep of around 700,000 troops strong the army in the valley apart from expenses incurred on CRPF personnel and J&K Police of which around 35,000 and 4,000 respectively are posted in Srinagar alone, in addition to the huge secret sums on numerous secret agents employed for various purposes. Many battalions of BSF are also posted at various points in the valley. This makes the Kashmir valley the place of highest density of military presence in any civilian area across the time-space of the human history. Ubiquitous pervasion of the area by uniformed people is intimidating to even visitors what to talk about local people, who have to go through the humiliation of body search and interrogation as a matter of routine and instils sense of fear, insecurity and disgust. According to the home ministry claims, there are only 1,000 militants in the valley that defies any logic of such a heavy army deployment.
The accession Of J&k was followed by an open war between Indian and Pakistan armies that ended with the intervention of UN Security Council. The Security Council adopted a resolution on 20 January, 1948. “The question of accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite” . Ceasefire was declared and henceforth the positions of the respective armies at that point became the “the Berlin wall” of Jammu and Kashmir, the effective border between the 2 countries. It is to be noted the matter of the accession of J&K to India or Pakistan was taken to the UN Security Council by the government of India as an “unsettled issue”.
Instead of abiding by the UN resolution, in 1953, the government of India, dismissed the Sheikh Abdulla government and put him behind the bars and installed there successive puppet governments. Various phases of Kashmiri peoples’ struggle for self-determination, since then and various methods of repression by Indian forces has become the history. Both India and Pakistan used to the hilt the issue of J and K for consolidation of their respective land-mass into a ‘nation-state’ and for generating religion-laced jingoistic and ultra-nationalistic domestic politics.
India’s then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru promised not to take any decision about Kashmir in his speeches on various forums including the UN and during his first visit after independence and his various broadcasts till 1957.
Large sections of Kashmiris feel that India has been willingly delaying the implementation of ‘right of self-determination’ promised to the people of J&K. Elderly people in the valley still remember Jawaharlal Nehru’s broadcast on 2nd November 1947 promising of “fullest opportunity to be given to the people of Kashmir to have their say. It is for them ultimately to decide. ….”.

The popular unrest continued to exalt with continuing incidents of repression.
The recent saga of stones and guns which spontaneously sparked with the death of Tufail Mattoo, the 17 year old student soon engulfed the whole valley filling the air with the slogans of Azadi, echoing back from the Himalayan ranges.. To quell the protests, the administration took to all repressive measures in its kitty like stringent application of ‘black laws’ and strict policing of the area. Almost, entire valley was placed under curfew for days together. But the ding-dong battle between stone-pelting responded by bullets continued. The government instead of giving healing touches and moving towards a political solution of this political issue has been complicating it by increased oppression and protracted attempts to hush up the criminal acts of the state terrorism.
The state, particularly four million people of the Kashmir valley have been frequently witnessing curfew and curfew- like conditions causing heavy damage to trade and other economic activities. Education and health service, thus, got disrupted. At several occasions, there have been long spell of protests by the people inviting repressive operation on the part of security forces.
During the past six decades, New Delhi adopted various tactics to divide the people, pit one section of them against other, blatant use of religion and regional differences and deployment of excessive security forces. Despite all that, the Kashmiri urge for self-determination got rather sharpened. With new uprising and its wider, popular support in the valley and from various democratic sections of Indian and international community, the situation has got more complicated for Indian state. The need is to gain the confidence of Kashmiri masses by withdrawal of the draconian laws and restoring the democratic institutions of justice and human rights. This political issue needs political solution.

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