Archive for the ‘Arrest’ Category

Journalist Aasif Sultan works with the Kashmir Narrator. His family claims he is under illegal detention.

Police Arrest Kashmir-Based Journalist, Family Claims He Is Under Illegal Detention
Journalist Aasif Sultan

The Jammu and Kashmir Police have arrested a journalist working with a Srinagar-based magazine.

Journalist Aasif Sultan, who works with the Kashmir Narrator, was picked up from his home in Batamaloo on Monday night allegedly for questioning. His family claims he is under illegal detention for past six days and the police has not released him since then.

Showkat A Motta, the editor of the magazine, rejected the police’s claim that they would keep him in detention for a day and release him in the evening.

Tariq Ali Mir, Sultan’s colleague, posted took to Facebook and said the police questioned Aasif for his cover story in the previous issue of the magazine on slain militant commander Burhan Wani and his ideology. Tariq added that the police also took away Sultan’s laptop, cell phones and other documents during the raid. He said the Kashmir Narrator has taken up the issue with international media watchdogs such as the IFJ and the CPJ.

The Kashmir Working Journalist Association (KWJA) and the Kashmir Journalist Association (KJA) demanded disciplinary and legal action against police officials for violation of the fundamental rights of an individual through prolonged illegal detention.

“We demand his immediate release from illegal custody and action against police officials in charge of the station and SP of South Srinagar for keeping a journalist under illegal detention for a week,” a joint press statement of the journalist bodies said.

“We have learnt that Sultan is being questioned for his report on Wani, published in a recent issue of Kashmir Narrator, along with other stories and has been asked to report his sources to police”,  the journalist bodies said.

Motta said the police have been delaying Sultan’s release through hollow assurances. He claimed South Srinagar’s Superintendent of Police GV Sundeep Chakravarthy questioned Sultan about his “political ideology”.

When contacted by Outlook, Chakravarthy said the journalist was called for questioning for past six days. He said the police would call him in the morning and release him in the evening. 

He also said the police found evidence of Sultan being involved in unlawful activities. He was presented before the court and later sent to police custody. Chakravarthy, however, refused to reveal details about the “unlawful activities”.

“It is no secret that police and intelligence agencies have been trying their best to police the media in Kashmir, and harassing the media organisations and journalists has been a routine, but we want to make it clear that the journalist fraternity will fight such efforts tooth and nail,” the joint statement said.

“We are seeking release of Sultan at an earliest and ask the government and police chief to explain the laws and rules under which he has been kept in lockup for the past six days.”

On 15 March 1929, Sir Albino Banerjee, a Bengali Christen, who for two years had been  Foreign and Political Minister of   Maharaja Hari Singh had observed that the rulers had been treating “Mohammadan population” worst than “cattle.”  Ninety years later, when the idea of governance in the world has undergone a sea change,andcolonialism has crashed themindset of those in the corridors of “hegemonic authority” in the state has not changed. That the ‘ruling elite’ even in the second decade of the twenty-first century considered the people of Kashmir as wild quadrupeds weremanifest in 2010when for silencing the dissenting youth it introduced guns meant for hunting of animals. And allowed troops to use the same with impunity in the state.Ironically, the pellet gun with its single cartridge spewing about five hundred lead-pellets on a finger touch was added to the deadly arsenal of the state as a ‘non-lethal weapon’by the ‘central government’.Of course with the consentof Omar Abdullah thethen chief of the unified military command in the state.  The   5.5 mm wadcutter, domed (round nose), hollow point and pointed lead pellets are deadlier than those used in air guns for animals. Intriguingly, Kashmir is the only place where this weapon is used for controlling thecivilian protest.

In 2010, summer hundred and twenty-sixchildren and youth were killed by thetroops and the state police, thousands wounded and injured,  some fired with pellets in the face and eyes lost their vision. The state using all coercive tactics in its arsenal and brute force in dealing with the situation that across the world was recognized as Kashmir ‘Intifada’had stirred the international media and caused editorials and reports in almost 1800 newspapers and web portals across the globe. It also had pin pricked the conscience of scores of conscientious citizen and writers in India. The killings of children, the insensitivity of the state and the impunity that soldiers have been enjoying under the Armed Forces Special Powers Actdeeply moved some writers and set them to rethink about New Delhi’s policies in Jammu and Kashmir.In fact, many of them  concluded  that “after six decades of effort, Kashmir’s alienation looks greater than ever before.” Some of themthrough their writings had endeavored to update the knowledge ofa new generation about the Kashmir problem that had caused four wars between India and Pakistan andtaken atoll of ‘country’s economy-  half ofthe population of India’s population has been living below the poverty line.Swaminathan S Aiyar had written, “Many Indians say that Kashmir legally became an integral part of India when the Maharaja of the state signed the instrument of accession. Alas, such legalisms become irrelevant when ground realities change. Indian kings and princes, including the Moguls, acceded to the British Raj. The documents they signed became irrelevant when Indians launched an independence movement.  The British insisted for a long time that India was an integral part of their Empire, the Jewel in its crown, and would never be given up. Imperialist Blimps remained in denial for decades. I fear we are in similar denial on Kashmir.”

The uprisings during the summers of 2008, 2009 and 2010, had convinced even a section of leadership in India like P. Chidambaram, the then Home Minister that the laws like the AFSPA, seen as the darkest of darklaws by people of the state need tobe withdrawn. Nevertheless, the lessons learned that the coercive tactics and brutish handling of the resistance instead of improving the situations complicate itfurther, andthe dialogue was the only way forwardof resolving the problem by adoptinga policy of denying even an inch of space to the voices of the dissent in the statewere unlearned after 2014. Instead of instilling some faith in youth through hate media blitzby some televisions channels they have been and are being driven to the wall.

In the recent past 2016 has been the grisliest year, the New York Times had rightly observed that in the history of Kashmir it would pass as the year of “Dead Eyes Epidemic.” In that year thousands of children with ‘eyes ruptured’ by lead pellets fired by paramilitary troops and police ‘armed with pump-actionshotguns’were brought to the hospitals- in fact, hospitals could not accommodate all those injured with pellets.   More than thirteen hundred suffered impaired vision,andhundreds of others pelleted to blindness pushed into darkness for rest of their life. From important newspapers in the world to the Amnesty International to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights every organization concerned about the human rights violations raised their voice against blinding of children and demanded to ban of the pellet guns. Even, the National Human Right Commission defending human right records of India before the UN Commission on Human Rights had described the use of pellet gun during 2016 turmoil as “controversial.”

For past three years, the UN Human Rights Commission has been showing concern about the human rights situation in the state and asking Islamabad and New Delhi for providing unbridled access to the state on both the sidesof the transitory dividing line.  Interestingly, despite,   voices raised in various international forums against the use of pellet gun on civilian protestors and blinding of children as young as four years, boys and girls nightmares of ‘epidemic of dead-eyes’  continue to haunt people. In fact, the ground situation during past three years has not changed.   Roughlysixty to seventy peoplewerehit with pellets, many in the face and the chest in past twenty days in April only.  Hardly, there is a day when stories with headings like “Kashmir’s many Inshas and their dark, shattered lives” or “Kashmir pellet injuries bring back memories of 2016” are not reported in the newspapers.

New Delhi, despite having assured abandoning the use of the pellet has not so far responded to the clarion calls from international human rights organizations. Troops continue to empty shotguns on juvenile protestors as shooting ducks.   In this tormenting bizarre scenario some days back a word of experience was distinctly visible in the statement of Army Chief, candidly saying that not the gun but ‘dialogue’ was a way forward. It is high time, for the present dispensation in New Delhi to pick up the word of experience and make a beginning for initiating a dialogue with all the internationally recognized contestingparties to the Dispute by revoking the AFSPA and retreating the pellet gun.

Z. G .MUHAMMAD
Columnist and Writer
Srinagar,
Kashmir.
www.peacewatchkashmir.com

Every year, the world commemorates the victims of Haymarket affair that took place on Tuesday, May 4, 1886, at Haymarket Square in Chicago, by observing May 1st as International Workers’ Day in their memory; albeit in Canada & US, 1st September is chosen as Workers’ Day. On that fateful day, the workers had gathered peacefully to demonstrate & advocate for better working conditions. But, how many in the world know that Haymarket affair was not the first labour agitation against the exploitation of working class in the labour history of the world. Setting the records correct, it was precisely 29th April, 1865 when Kashmir’s weavers,  locally known as ‘Shawl Baufs’, had hit the streets of Srinagar in protest against the high taxes that were levied upon them by the Dogra despots. 1. Before coming to that tragic & fateful day in the labour history of the world, the appalling conditions under which the Kashmiri weavers & artisans worked would not be out of place to a mention. Under the Dogra rulers ‘system of taxation, the barest margin of subsistence was allowed to the Muslim Kashmiri workers. The production of silk, saffron, paper, tobacco, wine and salt was a State monopoly. An ad valorem duty of 85% was levied on all woolen manufacture. 2. Under these pitiable working conditions, the shawl weaver could, thus, hardly earn 7 or 8 chilki rupees per month, out of which he had to pay five chilkies as tax and had to live on remaining 2 or 3 chilkies, only  3., by buying singara (water chestnuts) for feeding his family. 4. The shawl weavers were allowed neither to leave Kashmir nor change their employment, so that they were nearly in the position of slaves. 5. There was fear with the Dogra ruler that migration by the weavers to other State would “reduce his revenue.” 6. But, still, thousands of shawl weavers, escaping cruel clutches of Dogra monarch’s frontier guards, had made their way to British Indian Punjab. 7. The weavers worked under the supervision of a most notorious taxation department of the Dogra rulers which was called Dagshalli that would arbitrarily collect exorbitant taxes for the tyrant ruler and regulate their work with factory owner or proprietor. In case, a weaver left the work, the Dagshalli through the Dogra soldiers would bring his wife, children & parents before them who would imprison them forthe weaver’s escape &, otherwise even, for his consequential failure to pay such exorbitant Dagshallitaxes to the ruler through the factory-owner. 8. The Dagshalli department was purchased by a wealthy Kashmiri Pandit, Raj Kak Dhar, under a contract with the Dogra ruler for rupees 20 lakhs. This had left Raj Kak Dhar entirely free to realise this amount through arbitrarily fixed tax rates of the ruler by employing brute force of Dogra soldiers. 9.

Now coming back to that sad day of Kashmir’s tragic history. The weavers on that fateful day of 29thApril, 1865 peacefully took out a procession that marched to the ground [maidan] of Zadagar, Srinagar, protesting against such break-breaking taxation, nominal wages, miserable working conditions & ban on migrating to neighbouring State of Punjab for comparatively better wages. Meanwhile, Raj Kak Dhar unnerved by the protest of the impoverished unarmed weavers misinformed Diwan of Dogra administration who immediately dispatched Dogra Army under the command of Col. Bije Singh who pushed the unarmed hungry multitude towards the narrow Haji Pather Bridge and in the stampede 28 poor unarmed weavers were drowned in the stream and scores injured. Next day the dead bodies were recovered from the stream and with a declared intention to seek the tyrant ruler’s justice, the dead bodies were paraded by the weavers and other Kashmiris, whose sympathy was naturally attracted by mayhem,    in a procession to place them before him. They were stopped by the Dogra army in the way & not allowed to proceed to meet the ruler. The organizers of the procession were arrested, tortured, jailed & even flogged. Among those incarcerated in Bahu Fort jail were Rasool Sheikh of Tanki Kadal,  Ali Pal, Abdul Qadus alias Qudoo Lala & Sona Shah who died due to the torture.  10. In the history of Kashmir liberation struggle, these unsung heroes of Kashmir are remembered as First Martyrs. 11.

Being also, the First Martyrs in the history of labour struggle of the world, they seem to have been forgotten by the State & the world, probably because the event had not taken place somewhere in Europe or America, but in a forgotten landlocked vale of Kashmir. Despite that, no one can doubt, those Kashmir weavers who laid their lives on 29th April, 1865 for sacred cause of seeking justice for labour class deserve to be remembered by all justice loving people of the world who fight for the rights of labour class with equal respect & honour as shown to the victims of Haymarket affair.

Footnotes:

  1. Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam, Rights, and the History of Kashmir, by Prof Mridu Rai, (2004) page 62
  2. Two Nations & Kashmir by Lord Birdwood (1956) page 31
  3. Geography of the State of J & K by Pandit Anand Koul Anand (1925) page 31
  4. Kashir by Dr GMD ( D Lit France) Vol 2, page 746
  5. The Abode of Snow by Andrew Wilson (1875) page 398; ibid page Kashir page 746
  6. Kashmir Papers, S N Gadru, (1973) page 68
  7. Kashmir a disputed legacy by Aliaster Lamb (1991) page 13; Ibid, Mridu Rai (4000 had fled the valley)
  8. Freedom Movement in Kashmir by Gh. Hassan Khan (2009) page 21
  9. Kashmiris-Fight-For-Freedom by M Y Saraf, ( 2009) vol 1, page 291
  10. Ibid; in 1920 & 1924 the Kashmir witnessed again bigger Srinagar Silk Factory Workers’ Agitations that brought to the surface the appalling conditions in which the workers were placed, J & K, Politics of identity & separatism by Rekha Chowdary ( 2015) page 20
  11. Comprehensive History of Kashmir Movement by Shabnum Qayoom ( 2014) vol 1, page 319

M J Aslam, Author, academician, storyteller & columnist, Presently, AVP (JKB).

Every day our youth lay down their lives. Every day the monster of violence and destruction, wreak havoc in the valley of flowers. Every day devil enters paradise to commit sins. Every day we carry the bullet-ridden bodies of our budding flowers and bury them, express anguish and shed tears. We mourn, and then there is a sort of truce and then we start once again and the whole cycle continues. That is Kashmir for you. Bleeding, crying for peace, and awaiting the promises made to it.

There are various narratives with regard to Kashmir: The narrative of Indian and Pakistani government, respective civil society of both the countries and the narrative of world community etc. All buzzing around, heard, discussed and finding a place at world forms, seminars, convocation and in media. We, who live the Conflict, too have a narrative, which however finds less sympathetic ears. Our narrative is, both ignored and accused of being barrowed or sponsored from outside. Our voice finds barricades on earth, under  water and even in air. Simply, we feel chocked.

The problem is, that world seems confused about us or plays ignorance. However, we do not want anything unacceptable out of blue. We simply deserve, what was promised to us and that is plebiscite. No one can take away our right to self-determination. We have no love for alienation or hatred towards social integration. We simply want peace, conflict resolution, respect for our property, lives, dignity, a space of freedom, for us, in our own land. That is no sin, off course.

What shocks us is that, those who experienced the wrath of colonialism on themselves should not have indulged in colonial acts. Those who once supported the freedom movements of many countries, like Bangladesh and South Africa etc should not have muted a similar voice in Kashmir. Those who once led non-align movement now have aligned themselves in such a way that the entire south Asia rests on a nuclear volcano with the trigger in Kashmir. Those who once stood for human rights now carry the acquisitions of human rights violations in Kashmir. Those who once propagated nonviolence and “Satyagraha” have adopted the policy of ruling with iron hand in Kashmir. You tell them reality, and with one stroke of “nationalism” “unity and integrity”, “soldier and boarders”, they will put an end to all your arguments, forgetting that their own preamble aims to secure to all its citizens justice, liberty and equality too, even if we set aside historical context of Kashmir, instrument of accession and the promise of plebiscite.

Regarding the world community, why should they make any efforts to resolve world conflicts including Kashmir, when that is what keeps their economy going. Those economists of conflict and violence manufacture wars, if their arms business seems going down. With conflict of Palestine, Middle East, Afghanistan, Rohingiya crises etc finding no solution, what hope we should keep from such civilized world?  UN has not jus failed us but also the whole world.

People in both India and Pakistan need to wake up from deep coma. They need to know that their tax money is being used for all kinds of evils. They need to know that resolution of Kashmir conflict is for their own betterment and for the good of humanity at large. They need to know that the conflict is probably been kept alive by a third party which looks at Kashmir conflict as a business opportunity only. Let they be shuddered by bitter truth, that, for politicians in India and Pakistan, Kashmir is an issue of election campaign. For Armies of both the countries, it is a place to play games and be like unbridled horses. For arms companies, it is a business hub. However, for us it is our paradise, turned into a living hell. Truth, even though twisted by knaves to make trap for fools, stands clear: We deserve and want to live in peace, with freedom and dignity.

Imran Khan, M.Phil in Psychology, Presently working a Teacher in School Education Department.

 

 

 Kashmir is bleeding, under fire


 The incidents of beating Kashmiri students in different institutions in India have been spreading like an epidemic. Every second day or so one hears about the students being roughed up in one or the other institution, in buses, in trains and so on. In fact, even some elder people returning in their own vehicles with their families through Punjab and Haryana have been manhandled by the local Police.

Thanks to some biased media channels, Kashmiris were turned into real “demons”! They were first labelled paid “Stone Pelters” and subsequently labelled “Stone Pelting Pakistani Terrorists”! Every stone pelter in Kashmir was made out to be a paid Pakistani terrorist. Stone pelting became a new form of terrorism.

The world’s second largest Army was given the task of eliminating these “Stone Pelting Terrorists” and they have been doing an excellent job. They are now shooting these so called “terrorists”like pigeons and ducks! There is not a single day when one or the other young stone pelter is killed in cold blood.

Kashmir has been practically bleeding! The depth of the anti-Kashmiri feeling can be judged from the statements of the Army Chief. He wishes the stone pelters had guns in their hands so that he could deal with them in a way he prefers! As if presently they are dealing with them very leniently!

In contrast, General Hooda and General Panang have always been giving very constructive suggestions for solving the problem in Kashmir. Incidentally, there is no history of any stone pelting mob being dealt in a way Kashmiris are being dealt in any other part of the country. In fact, some of the mobs in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have indulged in the worst type of violence yet no one has opened fire on them!

This demonizing of Kashmiris with a Pakistani touch suits the promoters of Hindutva ideology perfectly and it would be a great help in ushering in the Hindu Rashtra, which has been S.Golwalkar’s dream! However, the realization of that dream may be far off but there is an urgent task which needs to be finalized at all costs. That is the creation of Hindutva frenzy for the next Parliament election which may even be preponed?

The last election was won by showing the utopian dream of “Vikas” (Development) which has miserably failed. All those big slogans of “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas” seem to have evaporated. Economy is in doldrums. On the day of the presentation of the budget in the Parliament, most of the markets crashed. Demonetization dealt a body blow to the poor people. It was topped up by GST and the digitization of the entire existence through the Aadhaar Card managed by the Silicon Valley in USA!

In view of this, the development slogans are not going to sell now. The only alternative is Karl Marx’s “Opium of the poor!” That is precisely the reason for the new Hindutva wave starting in Kasganj and many other places. The real show will begin with the starting of the construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya!

In a recent video, even a DG of the Police was shown swearing that he will take part in the construction of the temple regardless of the fact that the case is still pending before the Supreme Court of India. The additional boost will be clashes across the Line of Control in Kashmir. The so called “Surgical Strikes” which may go beyond the surgical form.

Colonel Noel Elli wrote an article in the Citizen, titled, “May Day May Day, India Adrift”. The excerpts from the article sum up everything, “I am not a sailor but when I peep out of the Porthole, all I see is beti jalao not bachao, bus jalao not chalao, dukan aur makan jalao not banao, if nothing else is left then burn tyres and effigies of all and sundry. Nothing seems to be hunky dory on this voyage on a ship called India”. “Which way is India going? We can cause mayhem and destruction for a movie or a baba. Hold a city to ransom for reservations. Ignite communal violence for beef, throw petrol bombs on trains and blame it on hurting public sentiment. If I put it the other way around, are we not hurting the national sentiment? It is time for an SOS!”

(Mayday-MaydayIndia-Adrift)

Well, coming to our State the irony is that it is the Kashmir based part of the BJP coalition government which has been made totally impotent by the bear hug of the 56 inch chest! At least they could protest vehemently for all these excesses! Forget healing, they are virtually giving a bleeding wound every day. They should have thrown their hat in the ring long time back. Probably, they feel they have crossed the “Ghar Wapsi” threshold! In that case, God help them!

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/4/12956/Stop-Demonizing-Kashmiris

NEW DELHI: When there is a vacuum, even a tentative effort to fill it is welcome. At least in theory and in the abstract. But when it is applied to volatile Kashmir, where the students of schools are now leading the protests across the Valley, and local youth-turned-militants are openly appearing to give four gun salutes to slain colleagues the little is so insignificant that it can do more harm than good in immediate terms. As if it fails, as it will without sufficient nerve and strategy, it will close even the tiny option that is available at this present juncture.

2017 has changed the nature of protests in Kashmir with now the separatists barely being heard from, except for the odd statement. Till 2016, despite the deep provocation of pellet guns that killed and maimed young people all across, the Hurriyat leaders were still able to retain control over the protests with their strike calls, and protest calls being heeded. But they sensed they were losing control, and as some of them told this writer, “we have no choice but to follow the mass sentiment and keep calling for strikes, as if we don’t no one will listen to us, and you can imagine what will happen then.” The fear amongst the separatist leaders then, as it is indeed now, is that the rebellion will become armed, and that will lead Kashmir and of course India to a situation far worse than the dark days of the early 1990’s.

Three highly significant shifts have taken place in the last few weeks. And this is major by any standards applied to conflict zones.


One, these columns had earlier noted the increasing attendance of local masses in funerals of militants. Till even two years ago such funerals barely drew a crowd. Now in the past weeks, the shift has the masses from not just affected, but also the neighbouring areas, gathering for the funeral of any person killed by the forces in an encounter, or a clash in above the waist firing. But increasingly so the masses are also emerging from their homes to prevent the encounters from taking place, walking determinedly to the spot in a bid to rescue the militants—usually locals now—with the government forces finding it difficult to cope. This is happening repeatedly, even as the spate of ‘encounters’ increase along with the increasing ‘search operations’ launched by the Army.

Two, students have taken over the protests all across the state. Young school children, including girls in large numbers, have taken over literally, clashing with the armed police and the Army, throwing stones, being injured or killed, and yet continuing the fierce demonstrations. This was not so earlier with the stone pelters young adults, with only a few young teenagers visible in the protesting crowds. Now young school students are in the lead, or active participants in direct clashes with the armed government forces. The defiance and the absence of fear for their own lives is the part of the new, more lethal resistance that is building—or indeed has been built—in Kashmir in the absence of even a minimalist ‘reach out’ strategy by the ruling political powers.

Three, as the photographs attached to this article show, the young militants are appearing without masks as such funerals to give a ‘gun salute’ to their fallen comrades. Sources said that militants are now largely local, with the Kashmir protests acquiring a local resistance hue.

Retired Army generals with experience in Kashmir have been writing about the need for a dialogue. The apprehension in the forces is of the return to a situation where the political masters sit back, and actually preside over a direct confrontation between the people and the Army, a situation that most democracies would like to avoid. The Army in India has never been happy about such situations, and even during counter insurgency operations in Kashmir in the 1990s the push was always to get the political leadership to take over control of the areas cleared by the troops. A senior General, now retired and close to the current dispensation in Delhi, told this writer earlier of how necessary dialogue was, and how essential for the political governments to take ownership of the state “instead of leaving management to the Army.” He has not repeated these words in recent months. But others have, with some generals being attacked mercilessly by right wing trolls for even suggesting dialogue.

It is clear that the BJP government is clinging on the sledgehammer as the only approach in its strategic bag. The Opposition knows this, and is making some tentative moves to come together on the issue of Kashmir. The Congress that had completely dropped the idea of the talks—started initially by former Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee with all sections of Kashmiris—has set up a panel to explore the resumption under Dr Manmohan Singh. Others are in talks with the Congress, including BJP leader Yashwant Sinha who has been insisting on talks as the only option. However, it remains to be seen where this effort goes, as many involved, are still hesitant and tentative about their own position on the border state.

If the Opposition steps in it will have to carry its intervention to its logical conclusion, as a start-finish operation will add to the alienation and the despondency in the Valley. It will make it apparent that even the Opposition parties have no strategy for talks, and are not prepared to think out of the box in dealing with the state that is now literally in the throes of what many young people there believe, a ‘do or die’ battle.

(Photographs AASIF SHAHI: 4 armed militants offer a gun salute to slain militant Fayaz Ahmed Ashwar alias Setha from Reshipora Qaimoh in Kulgam district of South Kashmir.)http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/4/10652/Kashmir-Fast-Turning-Into-a–Do-or-Die-Zone-3-New-Indicators