Archive for the ‘Right to Dissent’ Category

The daughter of one of Kashmir’s most prominent politicians has pleaded with the international community to act over an unprecedented clampdown on millions of people in the territory, warning that Kashmiris are being “caged like animals” and treated as “cannon fodder”.

Speaking to the Guardian while under house arrest, Iltija Mufti, the daughter of the former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, said as many as 25 armed security personnel had surrounded her house last week. All entrances to the house have been locked, she said, defying a communications ban by the Indian government.

Mufti said no legal basis had been provided for her detention but she had been told her previous comments to the media, criticising India’s actions in Kashmir, had angered officials. She said she had been denied a lawyer and prevented from seeing visitors.

Her mother was placed under house arrest hours before the Indian government made a dramatic announcement on 5 August that it would withdraw Kashmir’s special status. She is understood to have been taken to a makeshift jail. About 500 people have reportedly been detained, ostensibly to prevent unrest.

Mufti said she feared that speaking to the media might result in her being jailed, but she had chosen to call for action before a closed-door UN security council meeting on the matter, expected to be held on Friday.

“I’ve quite clearly been told: first of all we make sure you don’t get your voice out, and you’re not heard, and if you do, be ready to suffer the consequences,” said Mufti, who managed to speak to the Guardian from her home. “Those consequences will be that you will be detained indefinitely and that I won’t have the right or access to even a lawyer.

I feel really scared for my life. I don’t think I am safe any more because I don’t trust this government. The way they have gone after even elected representatives is quite frightening.”

Her mother had argued in favour of a shared future with India – a view many in Kashmir believe has now been completely discredited.

Delhi’s decision strips the disputed state of Kashmir and Jammu of any elements of autonomy, removing its constitution and flag, and scrapping laws that prevented outsiders from buying land. The state will also be split in two. Many Kashmiris believe the changes pose an existential threat, and the demography of the country’s only Muslim-majority state will be altered.

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Kashmir

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On Friday, the Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam, said “a few preventive detentions” of individuals had been made, “in accordance with the provisions of the law”.

He also said restrictions on landlines would be eased over the coming days. It is not clear when mobile phone services will be restored.

Millions of people across Kashmir have been under an unprecedented communications blackout since 5 August, with no internet, mobile or landline services, as part of measures described by a UN official as draconian.

There are fears for the most vulnerable residents in Kashmir. Mufti said people in the state were being treated as “cannon fodder”, did not have access to medical supplies and were probably running out of food.

“Let them go, let them free,” she said.

Kashmir is a volcano waiting to erupt, she said. “There’s palpable anger … the day this curfew is lifted I feel like all that anger is going to spill out on to the streets of Kashmir. And it’s not going to be good.

“People are so angry. They are fuming at the way they were stripped of their rights … and to add insult to injury you have tied them up like they are animals. But they are not animals; they are humans beings,” she said.

The communication blocks had debilitated an entire population, she added. “Not only have they massacred our state and cleaved it into two parts, they have also stripped us of our dignity.”

Subrahmanyam said that 12 of the 22 districts of the state were functioning normally with some limited night-time restrictions in five of these. However, communication blocks mean it is not possible to independently verify this.

He added that restrictions would be lifted in the next few days, with some schools opened after the weekend. Restrictions on movement would be removed on an area-by-area basis, he said.

On Thursday, Mufti wrote to India’s home minister, Amit Shah, asking under what legal grounds she had been detained. “Is it a crime to articulate the pain, torment and indignity we’ve been subjected to?” she wrote.

Outside her home, Mufti said, a military van waits at the front gate. “Every time that I step out into the garden for fresh air there is a man who intercepts them on a walkie talkie and lets them know that I’ve stepped out,” she said. Three to four female officers, who she believes are there to grab her if she attempts to run, were also present.

It is more than 11 days since her mother was arrested.

“I miss her terribly and there are times when I dream of her and imagine us in happier times.” India can no longer claim to be the world’s largest democracy, she said: “Not after what Kashmiris have had to endure in the past two weeks.”

By Sheshu Babu*

Living with deformity is very difficult. The degree of difficulty varies with the intensity of disability and its impact on people. One of the vital parts of human body is the eye. So, a disease or injury to the eye or eyes has a significant impact on lives of people. The use of pellets in Kashmir has caused loss of sight to many people, specially children and youth who are facing physical and psychological problems.
According to a study by the Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience, Kashmir,at least 85% of pellet victims have developed psychiatric disorders. The study titled ‘Psychiatric Morbidity in Pellet Injury Victims of Kashmir Valley’ puts depression at the top of the list with 25.79% suffering from this disorder followed by adjustment disorder with 15.79%, post-traumatic stress disorder (9.21%) and anxiety disorders (9%).
Doctors examined 380 pellet victims after the uprising of 2016. Among the victims, 92.92% have eye injuries and 70% other injuries.

Serious problem

The study may not be comprehensive but it certainly reflects the gravity of the problem and need for serious attention. The victims are mostly students and youth who dream of bright future. Their aspirations have been cut short by using ‘non- lethal’ weapons and inflicting ‘ lethal’ damage.

The victims who lost partial or total vision need help from parents, close relatives and friends as well as ophthalmologists and psychiatrists. The problems faced by blind from birth and those who lost vision due to pellet injuries are different. The pellet victim has to adjust to new conditions.
The person frequently thinks of the condition when he or she could see the world and move freely before darkness engulfed throwing normal life out of gear. This state causes enormous mental trauma and leads to deep pessimism and depression. Therefore, people close to the victim should keep constant vigil and give assurances and kind words of optimism to cheer and come out of the bouts of deep depression.
Society should come forward and accept the victims by inviting them to parties and meets so that their loneliness is driven out. They should be given training in vocational and non- vocational jobs for independent living with freedom.
Many women affected by pellets face added suffering of patriarchy, oppression, apathy and indifference from society. They need the help of psychiatrist all the more. There have been cases of married women abandoned by their husbands. They need protection and support.

Activists and volunteers

Since little can be expected from the present government, the role of activists, volunteers and human rights organizations becomes very crucial. It is deplorable that pellet guns are still being used despite causing suffering to thousands of Kashmiris. The number of affected persons is rising.

Recently, pellet victims held a protest and demanded ban on use of pellet guns under the banner of the  Pellet Victims Welfare Trust. People from all over the country should join them in solidarity and bring pressure to stop using such methods causing misery to young lives in the state. Rehabilitation and medical care should also be included in the demands by the victims.

Co-Written by Meer Abass & Aurangzeb Arif

” to ask the victim what lies beneath the misery “

” They say , I was never a part of this world ‘

Ever been to lanes of mockery, then you find what it takes the decorum of disgrace. The infamous rape of a girl child by the demonic 50 year old beast has made me confused ,how to jot down the lines of my anger. I wish to write but it is choking my veins, I try to vent my tears, but they don’t profuse due to the shock. The temporal of sufi tagging to this land has become a notion of namesake only. People curse the technology and modernization for such disgrace ful activities , but within deep everyone knows these brutal structures of rape has a history of purchase from the time of legalized enslaved minds. What makes a old soul to rape a new bud, what tag of lust angle one will put for it, shall I call it a deprived sexual intimacy of old account beast , shall I call it conservative estimate of such doings , shall I call it manic depression episode , shall I call it bad luck of a girl child. I don’t know what to sum or what to put for it, but one thing is that history has been created in the hall of shame in this land. From provisions of Intifada to galore of unfurling islamic flag in this region, how many of we in actual are prepared for such law dominance here, presumably the laws of humanity doesn’t need an introduction for being a religious soul, it needs a simple orientation of mind analysis as what is the supreme goal of one’s soul. I imagine the burst of pain with which that girl child would be having psychologically and the abuse of social norms inflicted on her by the society in coming times. The rabid dog might be punished for such doing , but who will pay for the loss of such child’s life ? A society that gambles and watches porn in the lanes of their lonely planet, a society that rugs the shovels of phone sex and assumes the slogans of religious fervour in the morning.  Time has come to take a stand on child rapes where a male and female child is raped either on the pretext of exorcism by the saints of disgrace or by the beasts of such society. There is no difference between sex incest rape mongering activities and rest of india , where the only difference is , that in kashmir it is crept under the carpet and in rest of india it is raised in open. Introspection is needed for the good riddance of such manic insane beasts from the society.

The incident that sent shock waves across Kashmir came to light on Tuesday when a sopore minor girl narrated her harrowing experience to her family when she was raped by a “Shaitan Numa insaan “who is of his grandfather’s age. As per the complaint, the accused took the minor girl, a Class 8th student, in his Rickshaw and raped her.

Women in Kashmir too are not safe anywhere – at home, the workplace or on the streets. And this is despite the fact that incidents of violence against women regularly make the headlines now a days in newspapers, especially since the brutal gang rape of Asiya and Nelofar.
Rape is completely forbidden in Islamic law and is a crime punishable by death
In Islam, capital punishment is reserved for the most extreme crimes: those that harm individual victims or destabilize society. Rape falls into both categories. Islam takes very seriously the honor and protection of women, and the Quran repeatedly reminds men to treat women with kindness and fairness.

Some people confuse Islamic law by equating rape with sex outside of marriage, which is instead adultery or fornication. However, throughout Islamic history, some scholars have classified rape as a form of terrorism or a crime of violence (hiraba).

During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad, a rapist was punished based on only the testimony of the victim. Wa’il ibn Hujr reported that a woman publicly identified a man who had raped her. The people caught the man and brought him to the Prophet Muhammad. He told the woman to go—that she was not to be blamed—and ordered that the man be put to death.

At a time when every politician, no matter what colour, is crying foul, every judge and lawyer, no matter what their loyalties, is joining the chorus, every policeperson, no matter from where, is adding his/her voice, it is worth remembering some key things. First, more than 90 per cent of rapes are committed by people known to the victim/survivor, a staggering number of rapists are family members. When we demand the death penalty, do we mean therefore that we should kill large numbers of uncles, fathers, brothers, husbands, neighbours? How many of us would even report cases of rape then? What we’re seeing now — the slow, painful increase in even reports being filed — will all disappear. Second, the death penalty has never been a deterrent against anything — where, for example, is the evidence that death penalties have reduced the incidence of murders? Quite apart from the fact that the State should never be given the right to take life, there is an argument to be made that imposing the death penalty will further reduce the rate of conviction, as no judge will award it.

It is important to raise our collective voice against rape. But rape is not something that occurs by itself. It is part of the continuing and embedded violence in society that targets women on a daily basis. Let’s raise our voices against such violence and let’s ask ourselves how we, in our daily actions, in our thoughts, contribute to this, rather than assume that the solution lies with someone else. Let’s ask ourselves how we, our society, we as people, create and sustain the mindset that leads to rape, how we make our men so violent, how we insult our women so regularly, let’s ask ourselves how privilege creates violence.

It is important we raise our collective voice for women, but let’s raise it for all women, let’s raise it so that no woman, no matter that she be poor, rich, urban, rural, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever, ever, in the future, has to face sexual violence, and no man assumes that because of the system and people’s mindsets, he can simply get away with it. And let’s raise it also for men, for transgenders, for the poor.

Meer Abass, Assistant professor, Govt Degree College Handwara

Aurangzeb Arif, Freelance writer.

Representational Image

April 12

Shabir Khan

Amid a moderate voter turn-out in North of Kashmir that went to polls in the first phase of Lok Sabha Polls, the Hajin township saw empty polling booths, armed men in riot gears, deserted streets.

 

In Hajin township of Bandipora, Sources said, Out of 1800 votes, only 02 votes were polled in 03 polling stations, while in Sopore’s Brath Kalan which a home to 6 Local Militants, no vote was polled at all.

The family of Mudasir Rashid Parray alias Mudasir Billa in Hajin area in Hajin town in Bandipora choose to stay indoors and avoid the public glare. “We did not want to see people deceiving the blood of Mudasir, his teenage blood still is on the ground, how can they vote,” his father told The Kashmiriyat.

“We did not want people to run over the blood of our son, who sacrificed his life for the people of Kashmir, he was young, he was hopeful and had dreams, ours ended with him,” his father said.

Mudasir’s Family lives in a single room with heart patient mother Fareeda, father is a chronic patient, handicapped brother and a little sister. Fareeda his mother, is still in grief and Shock that her son has been killed.

“Mudasir was not my son only, but a hope, Lone bread earner who would also work as a labourer on part time basis to help the family financially as my another son is handicapped,” Fareeda told The Kashmiriyat.

On 5th December last year, a daunting picture went Viral on Social Media in which 14 year old Cute Boy holding an AK-47 in one hand and and Knife in another. Mudasir a resident of Khankah Mohalla of Hajin town along with 16 year old Saqib Bilal had gone missing from home on 31 August this year after an encounter took place in Hajin town in which three Foreign Militants were Killed.

Five days after his picture went on social media holding with AK- 47, Mudasir Billa, who was the youngest Militant in he history of Armed struggle in Jammu Kashmir was killed during an encounter in Mujgund belt of Srinagar on a cold December night last year.

Fareeda while wailing said “Doudh haa cheey wyn praaczan lour’uy, waey, Baa karay ghoor ghooro. The milk is still on your lips, Let me cradle you, You are still to drink my milk, Let me cradle you.”

His sister, Maimoona in corner of his single room broke into tears, said that she was so happy that Mudasir will afford all her expenses and will fulfill her all dreams as her another brother is handicapped, but all dreams crashed the day Mudasir’s bullet ridden body reached her courtyard.

Mudasir was first arrested during during 2016 unrest in a Stone Pelting case and was lodged in a police station Hajin for over a week, he was later released after counselling. Mudasir, as per locals, joined Militant ranks after the killing of their close relative Abid Mir in Sopore who was killed in an encounter.

Here in Hajin, elections are being seen as a farce process, “They come and take votes from us, do nothing, and in a larger context, India is selling these votes as votes against the popular Freedom movement,” Abdul Rashid Bhat told The Kashmiriyat as he looked towards the gate of the an empty election booth.

Hajin township in North Kashmir, Out of 1800 votes, only 02 votes were polled in 03 polling stations during the first phase of seven phased Lok Sabha Election, though no protest was reported from the area, but people stayed indoors and choose to  stay away from what they call “Bogus” elections.

In Tangmarg, Baramulla District, the mood is different, people are lining up outside the polling stations hiding their faces from cameras, which Abdu Rashid Shah, a local teacher believes is an element of shame attached to voting in Kashmir. “People hiding their faces from media and cameras says it all, they know it is shameful to vote here,” he thinks.

However, Ghulam Nabi Dar, a local shopper, who is a retired teacher feels otherwise, he feels it is unfair to link elections to Azadi. “I am more ‘Azadi Pasand’ than Hurriyat, but voting is for something else, Do i vote against Azadi? Logically.! No… There is no Azadi button on that voting machine, which i do not choose,” he says, adding that, narratives cannot be forced.

”we need to have a space for dialogue and various narratives and if we want to enforce our narratives on everyone, then i feel we are better off with India, because that is what is happening in India, popular narrative is thee only acceptable narrative, if we need freedom, we need to give freedom,” Abdul Rashid said while speaking to The Kashmiriyat.

Though the overall, voting percentage remained low, people did come out to vote defying the separatist calls, who remained low profile for the first during elections, in fact Militant leadership took a front on the boycott call. In Palhalan, 84 votes have been polled in 4 polling booths with total electorate of 3979 till 3 PM.

The overall voting percentage in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls 2019 in North Kashmir was recorded a total of 32 percent polling.

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.”

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).