Archive for the ‘Draconian Laws’ Category

By Amnesty International India

On the 27th anniversary of the rapes of dozens of women in the towns of Kunan and Poshpora, Jammu and Kashmir, in 1991, allegedly by Indian army personnel, Asmita Basu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India, said:

“For 27 years, the lack of accountability for the crimes committed in Kunan and Poshpora has been a festering injustice, and a chilling example of the impunity that surrounds human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Attempts at seeking justice and compensation for the survivors have been blocked by the Jammu and Kashmir state government, the central government and the Indian Army. Five of the victims have died waiting for justice.

“Authorities must ensure a thorough, impartial and effective investigation into the allegations. All suspects, including those with command responsibility, must be prosecuted in a civilian court.”

Previous investigations into the allegations have been ineffective. The J&K police declared that the case was ‘untraceable’ and stopped investigations in October 1991. To date, nobody has been charged or prosecuted in connection to the case.

In October 2011, the J&K State Human Rights Commission directed the state government to compensate victims and re-investigate the allegations. In June 2013, a court in Kupwara district directed the J&K police to investigate the long-standing allegations within three months.

When the investigations proved ineffective, five survivors filed a petition in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in October 2013. The state government, central government and the Army have since filed multiple petitions in different courts, sometimes simultaneously, and secured temporary orders suspending investigations and the provision of compensation.
 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!”


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!

Students March in Protest Against NIA Summons to Kashmir University Scholar


SRINAGAR: Amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, hundreds of students today marched on the campus and later staged a protest demonstration against the summoning of a University of Kashmir scholar by the National Investigations Agency in ‘terror funding’ case.

Aala Fazili, a resident of Srinagar’s Humhama locality who is pursuing PhD in Pharmacy from the Varsity, has been detained by the NIA after he appeared for questioning yesterday in connection with the case, in which separatists, a prominent businessman and a photojournalist have been arrested.

Carrying banners depicting messages of solidarity with Aala, dozens of agitated students marched on the campus and later assembled outside the Humanities Block where they shouted anti-India, anti-NIA slogans and pro-freedom slogans.

“India is using NIA as a new weapon of war to intimidate and silence those who are speaking against the brutalities of forces. Such tactics have not worked in past and they will not work now,” a student, who didn’t want to be named, said.

The protest demonstration was organised by the Kashmir University Students Union, “India can’t cow down students. If Aala is not released immediately, KUSU will organise state wide protests and government will be responsible for the outcome,” a report quoted KUSU spokesperson as saying.

The NIA has arrested middle-rung Hurriyat leaders including Altaf Shah, the son-in-law of veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani, Ayaz Akbar, Geelani’s spokesman, Shahid-ul-Islam, the political advisor of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, among other in the case which was registered on May 30.

Police sources said some of the students leaders linked to the two unions running in the Varsity, including the one with links to a legislator from north Kashmir, have also been questioned in connection with “stone pelting incidents” during 2016 unrest and more students will be questioned.

According to NIA, some prominent separatists, including unidentified Hurriyat members, have been accused of collusion with Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Lashkar-e-Toiba and other outfits for “raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including hawala, for funding separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir”.

The Hurriyat has rubbished the charges, alleging that the agency was being “used by New Delhi” to “defame the genuine political struggle” of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

(Cover Photograph: Representational image courtesy Greater Kashmir)

Kashmiri Muslims have suffered 27 years of military rule, all kinds of atrocities by India’s security forces.

The bitter cold in the Kashmir Valley cuts through the bones, but yet it fails to chill the public’s spirit. Right through the winter, when hundreds of Indian security forces come to a locality to kill less than a handful of militants taking shelter in a house, the local population come out in support of the militants to prevent the security forces from conducting their operations, at times even managing to help the militants escape. For the security forces, of course, the local population supporting the militants are “anti-national” and they have no qualms in dealing severely with the civilians.

The fact is that many in the local population readily risk their very lives to save the militants. The killing of every militant—and they are all Kashmiris, mostly from East Kashmir, administered by India, with a few from West Kashmir, administered by Pakistan—is deeply resented. Each “encounter” killing of a militant or militants, and especially when civilians are killed, sparks public protests, despite the bitter cold outside. And when such protests gain momentum, the security forces fire into the crowds, triggering a wave of further protests.

The Kashmiri people have now faced what is akin to military rule for 27 years; practically the whole area is claimed to have ­remained “disturbed,” with the armed forces enjoying immunity from prosecution for harm done to civilians, whether of rape, torture, disappearance, or killing. According to a statement dated 10 January 2017 of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), in the ongoing uprising from 8 July last year, more than a hundred civilians have so far been killed. More than one thousand civilians have either been blinded or have sustained serious eye injuries as a result of the firing of pellets by the security forces. There have been mass arrests and detentions under the draconian Public Safety Act, 1978. Official government figures put the number of arrests under different criminal charges at around 8,000. Prolonged curfews, media and internet blackouts, suspension of the fundamental rights to freedom of speech and ­expres­sion and of peaceful assembly, have been the order of the day.

Indeed, one can sense the agony of the parents and other loved ones of the disappeared persons. For the period from 1989 onwards, the APDP has estimated that 8,000 to 10,000 Kashmiris—the earlier Omar Abdullah-headed Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) ­government had admitted to a figure of 3,744 in the J&K legislative assembly—were subjected to enforced disappearance and subsequently killed in fake encounters. But the Indian state and the establishment have been in a state of denial of the enforced disappearances and subsequent killings, blaming the very victims of the violence for the violence. On the 10th of every month, the APDP stages silent sit-in protests against the enforced disappearances in J&K, and has been bringing out a memory calendar. It has taken on the “responsibility of not allowing the memories of the sufferings of (the) families (of the disappeared persons) to pass into oblivion.” Indeed, the callousness of successive state governments in J&K is also evident in the fact that the state ­assembly is yet to pass a law on protection from enforced dis­appearances. Successive central governments have also been utterly insensitive in not ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Basically for 27 years, India has been using military force against the people of the Kashmir Valley many of whom do not want to be part of India. New Delhi justifies all of this in the name of “territorial integrity” and “secularism.” It blames Pakistan for what is happening in the Kashmir Valley—all the mass protests and the militancy are supposed to be “Pakistan-sponsored.” Yet, the nationalism of the present union government is not even all-Indian; it is a communal Hindutvavadi nationalism representing a section of the Indian population. The Hindutvavadi nationalists in power currently have no qualms in forcing their rule on the Kashmiri Muslims in the name of secularism. Needless to say, the Congress version of nationalism was no less in this respect. Not that Pakistani nationalism is any better. Now the Hindutvavadi nationalists, clearly not out of any real solidarity, have claimed that they support the Balochi national liberation movement in Pakistan; the Pakistani nationalists, on their part, claim that they are for Kashmiri azaadi from India, even as they have made of Azad Kashmir a virtual colony. But given New Delhi’s use of military force in the Kashmir Valley over the last 27 years, Kashmiri azaadi is, indeed, among other things, principally a cry from the heart of the Kashmiri people for freedom from Indian oppression.

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Faced with shrinking revenues, newspapers are going digital and journalists are striking out on their own with digital media start ups


SRINAGAR: Struggling to survive in the conflict-ridden Kashmir Valley due to financial crises, the legacy media is rapidly stepping into the world of digitisation. Not only are media organisations going digital but journalists who are in the middle of their career and fear job losses are turning to digital media entrepreneurship.

While media organisations see the new age media (digital) as the only option to cut the cost of their news operations and earn money through alternative means, journalists see digital entrepreneurship as the only avenue for creating employment for themselves and others.

Strife-hit newspapers are gradually diverting a major chunk of their resources to digitisation to reduce their print costs. Kashmir Observer, an English daily facing an acute financial crisis, has decided to go digital. Editor Sajad Hyder said the revenue from the market, especially because of the present unrest, is virtually zero. They are diverting their resources for digitisation to generate badly needed revenue from the online virtual market.


“Strife-hit newspapers are gradually diverting a major chunk of their resources to digitisation to reduce their print costs.”


The newspapers find it hard to pay the salaries of their staff given the turbulent situation in the Valley – first in 2008, then in 2010 and now.  It is obvious that when there is no business in the market, there is nothing that needs publicising with business owners or with the government.

“By going digital, the cost of the print run is reduced. This is being done to use the untapped market, both nationally and internationally, that craves visual media from Kashmir,” said Hyder.

The leading English daily, Greater Kashmir, published by GK Communications, posted on its just-created YouTube channel that, “GK Communications Pvt. Ltd. is pleased to announce GKTV, the Audio Visual Digital Platform that will cater to our fast growing new digital audience.”

Another daily, Rising Kashmir, has also started its multimedia segment, followed by Kashmir Monitor, but they are yet to decide on the complete digitisation of their news operations. However, like many others, they have cut down heavily on their print runs.

Amid this transition, journalists are turning into new age media entrepreneurs, adding momentum to changes that are reshaping an industry known for dismal levels of professionalism, monopolies, and financial crunches. Young journalists are looking for innovative developments in journalism amid the technology boom to secure their future.

Take Tariq Bhat, a local journalist with a degree in mass communications. Bhat has worked with many news organisations such as Munsif TV, 5 Darya News, and 9TV. He says that losing jobs and looking for others actually created the energy in him to think of his own start up.

In 2014, Bhat started the state’s first online, multi-lingual radio app – City FM JK – with meagre resources and just  six colleagues, to transmit folk programmes, entertainment, music, news and information.

The radio app, which is available on the Google Play store, has become very popular among internet users. With the catch-line Panun Radio, Panun Style (Our Radio, Our style), the mobile radio has won Bhat accolades and the spotlight in the national and international media. So far, it has been downloaded over 79,000 times.

“Journalists in Kashmir suffer economically. The industry is drying up. The new generation has to turn to entrepreneurship rather than searching for a job. I took a Rs five  lakh loan from  J&K Bank and 15 lakh from a private financer to start this project,” said Bhat.


“This month, Bhat launched the Asia News Network (ANN), the first ever mobile TV station in J&K, and became the talk of town.”


Initially, people laughed at his idea of online radio. “Now I have over one lakh daily listeners including international listeners and the diaspora. I am an employer now,” he adds.

This month, Bhat launched the Asia News Network (ANN), the first ever mobile TV station in J&K, and became the talk of town. The BBC, Zee News, NDTV and Times Now portrayed Bhat as an inspirational Kashmiri youth.

ANN is currently being manned by a small team of eight persons but has already made a name for itself with its multi-lingual programmes and songs, news, current affairs and entertainment. “There is no support from the government for innovative start-ups. Even their advertisement policy isn’t helpful in any way to the new age media start-ups. If it had been, the industry would have witnessed many more start-ups”, said Bhat.

On revenue possibilities, he pointed out that he has a small team on nominal salaries. ‘The thing is we don’t have daily huge expenses in digital news, like we have in print. It is a one-time investment. Whatever we earn from online advertisement or sponsorships is at least managing us. You don’t have to live up with fears of crises and expenditures. Instead, we have attracting more and more international market and people to expect some share in global market. Be it advertisement, app hitting or donations.”

The list does not end here. Irfan Ahmad, a mass communication post-graduate who has reported for national and local media organisations for seven years, is working on his ‘digital media and news podcast’ start-up titled Kashmir Patriot and KP TV.

Pradeep Kumar, the Delhi-based programming head of Kashmir Patriot says that the idea developed when Ahmad was looking for a job after the channel he worked for shut down. “Though he had this idea earlier, he was quite hesitant in turning to entrepreneurship, that too in the uncertain Valley. Fortunately he got an international fellowship on the same subject in Europe and on return he decided to give it a try,” Kumar said.

The start-up is seeking finance from the J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute as the first of its kind digital news platform in the state, according to Kumar. “We will be introducing new tools of mobile journalism. The start-up will be formally launched soon.  The test run is already on. Besides news, views, it would be featuring debates, chats and live feeds,” he said.

For revenue Kashmir Patriot will be focusing on income from YouTube channel by featuring stories for international audiences. ‘The revenue from Google ad sense and website hits may be insufficient initially, but after some time we are hoping with the growing followers and subscribers on social networking, it may rise.  After all, there is no print cost involved in it, which is the most difficult thing to manage in the local market,” said Kumar.

Whatever the platform gets as revenue from the local market and the government will be in addition. “You get something from everywhere on a global platform. Sustaining with a daily newspaper publication or journals in crises-hit market is difficult, but a widening reach on the global market may fetch some more sums,” he said.

Umar Nisar, another journalist with sound information technology skills, developed his own FM station, Pannun FM International, in 2015. He believes the crisis in Kashmir stymies the talent. “No support, besides meagre revenue resources, kills the media industry,’said Nisar. He is currently working on upgrading his FM radio to a Digital Media & Broadcasting Network.

A group of three other journalists, Sameer Showkin, Mir Farhat, and Zahid Maqbool, recently founded a news portal, News Despatch, a family-run news organisation. Showkin’s first sentence in his bio, uploaded on his portal, speaks volumes about what he went through before launching the portal. “Thanks to all those who said ‘no’ to me, it is because of them I did it myself”.

Braving the odds, these start-ups and trendsetters deserve applause. The making of a new media industry in the Kashmir Valley amid all the troubles is something to celebrate.


Irfan Quraishi is a Kashmir-based broadcast & multimedia journalist. He has previously worked for Day & Night News and Kashmir Times. He tweets @ irfanquraishi85.

We know the Kashmir crisis. Or do we?

Written by Jean Dreze |

kahsmir-shutdown-759The first thing that strikes the visitor on entering Kashmir is the massive military presence. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar)A historic popular uprising is happening in Kashmir, but the Indian public is barely aware of it. I was unaware of it myself before I went there in October and travelled across the Kashmir Valley. I had read, of course, about some sort of “shutdown” happening there since early July, and also about the stone-pelting and pellet guns. But nothing I had read did justice to the situation on the ground.

The first thing that strikes the visitor on entering Kashmir is the massive military presence. Heavily-armed soldiers and paramilitary forces are all over the place. Their number is estimated at 6,00,000 or so, for a population of six million — that’s one soldier for 10 civilians. In sensitive areas such as Sopore, Shopian and even parts of Srinagar, there is a heavily-armed soldier in front of almost every house, at least on the main roads.

Why are these soldiers there? Clearly, they are not there to repel a possible attack from Pakistan — that would require them to be near the border. Nor are they watching for terrorists: Standing at street corners in full battle gear is not the way to hound underground militants. Perhaps the soldiers are there to counter stone-pelters? That makes no sense either, because the simplest way to clear a neighbourhood of stone-pelters is to demilitarise it: The stones are directed at army personnel, not civilians.

We are led to conclude what every Kashmiri knows: The purpose of this massive army presence is to control the civilian population, and especially to prevent so-called “anti-India protests”, however peaceful they may be. It was a revelation for me to learn that all forms of peaceful protest in Kashmir are banned in one way or another, if there is any hint of a demand for “freedom” (azadi). The authorities have ample powers to prevent protests, not only under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), but also under Jammu and Kashmir’s draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) as well as Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). These and related powers are used with abandon to prevent any expression of the popular aspiration for freedom — not just stone-pelting but also processions, vigils, assemblies, pamphlets, graffiti, or just undesirable statements on social media.

Despite these restrictions, there have been continuous protests or attempted protests all over the Kashmir Valley ever since Burhan Wani was killed on July 8. Stone-pelting was part of the protests, but the uprising also included a wide range of non-violent activities. In fact, the main protest was a general strike: During the last four months, shops have been closed in Kashmir, traffic has been halted and schools have been deserted. This is called a “shutdown” in the Indian media, with calculated ambiguity, and often confused with curfews that have occasionally been imposed by the authorities. But it was a general strike — one of the largest and longest in Indian history.

There is something puzzling about the ability of Kashmir’s economy to withstand such a long strike. This was possible for several reasons. First, Kashmir has a vibrant and relatively egalitarian rural economy, a feature that owes much to the land reforms of the 1950s. The strike did not prevent self-employed farmers, artisans and apple growers from continuing with their work to a large extent. Second, migrant workers from Bihar and elsewhere left Kashmir en masse soon after the strike began. Kashmiri workers, therefore, continued to find work, that too at relatively high wages by Indian standards. Third, Kashmir has a strong tradition of mutual support. For instance, neighbourhood relief committees (often associated with the local mosque) were active after the 2014 floods, and again on this occasion. Indeed, relief work was an integral part of the Hurriyat’s “protest calendars” during the strike. Finally, living standards in Kashmir are quite high. Unemployment is certainly an issue, but poverty and hunger are rare, except among migrant workers. Anyone who thinks that the Kashmir problem is due to lack of development is severely deluded.

In the absence of any space for peaceful protest, stone-pelting became the highlight of the uprising. The security forces responded with overwhelming force. More than 100 civilians (including many children) were killed, at least 1,000 were victims of blinding or other eye injuries from pellet guns, and thousands were thrown into jail. Much larger numbers were harassed by the security forces in one way or another.

On October 18, I joined a fact-finding team of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). We visited the family of Faisal Akbar (name changed), a young lecturer who was said to have been beaten to death by the Rashtriya Rifles last August. According to witnesses, there was a “crackdown” in the village that evening. This means that soldiers barge into people’s homes, beat them up, smash their belongings, and generally spread terror — typically by way of retaliation against stone-pelting. One officer apparently told the terrified villagers, “we know that you are innocent, but if we don’t beat you up, you will never learn”. Interestingly, the local Station House Officer (SHO) agreed with their account of the event. Faisal, as he put it, “succumbed to his injuries”. One rarely hears such consistent accounts of human rights violations from the police and the people. The SHO promised a fair enquiry, but hastened to add that requests for permission to prosecute army personnel were routinely turned down by the home ministry in Delhi.

Every incident of this sort intensifies the rage of the Kashmiri people against the Indian Army, and against India itself. This rage, and the passionate desire for “azadi” (freedom), were already evident 16 years ago, when I visited Kashmir for the first time. They are even stronger today. In fact, the recent uprising, and the repression that followed, have turned almost every Kashmiri into an active participant in the struggle for freedom.

The government of India’s sledgehammer response, aside from being inhuman, does nothing to solve the problem. If the root of the problem is the alienation of the Kashmiri people from India, then state repression can only make things worse. It also undermines Kashmir’s peaceful traditions and pushes Kashmiri youngsters towards armed resistance and radical Islamist groups. The possible consequences, not only for Kashmir but also for India, are too horrible to contemplate.

None of this is to say that there is a simple solution to this situation. Any solution would have to address multiple complexities such as the status of Ladakh, the rights of minorities in Kashmir, the injustice done to Kashmiri Pandits, how to take Pakistan on board, and more. Perhaps the important thing for now is not to devise a ready-made solution, but to initiate a process that might lead to a solution. The status quo is certainly intolerable.


Taking note of the report filed by the SP State Human Rights Commission regarding the ill-treatment given to the Kashmiri political prisoners in Baramulla Jail, Chairman SHRC Justice Bilal Ahmed Nazki has directed Deputy Commissioner Baramulla and Chief Medical Officer Baramulla to ensure that a doctor should visit the jail at least once a week.

A KL file ImageHe said that arrangements should be made for visit of a lady Doctor at least twice a week as there are number of women prisoners also.

Pertinently, SHRC had taken a suo moto cognizance of a case titled ‘High Court Bar Association Decries Use of Force on Baramulla Jail Inmates.’

This case was listed on Friday before the SHRC Chairman Bilal Ahmed Nazki.

After going through the report filed by the SP SHRC, Justice Bilal Ahmed Nazki said that it appears from the report that proper medical care is not available in the Jail.

“As an interim measure, DC and CMO Baramulla are directed to ensure the visit of male and lady doctors in the Jail. The directions should be complied forthwith by Wednesday (Nov 16) and the response shall be filed by SP District Jail Baramulla within four weeks.”

HCBA while expressing serious concern over the plight of detainees in Baramulla jail had said that Jail authorities have been crossing all limits of atrocities and the atrocious behaviour of Jail authorities have turned the life of prisoners hell in the Jail. (CNS)

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