Posts Tagged ‘Kashmiri people’

  1. Praful Bidwai
    June 07, 2013 , Rediff.com

    Kashmir is at a crossroads. The post-2006 transition from insurgency to peaceful protests now faces a serious threat, says Praful Bidwai after a recent visit to the valley.

    The security bunkers that stood out like sore thumbs every 50 metres in Srinagar [Images ] for two decades have gone. And the oppressive presence of uniformed men bearing weapons has become less overwhelming. But the shadow of Indian security forces still hangs heavy over the social, economic and political life of the Kashmir Valley.

    During a brief visit to Srinagar, I discovered widespread popular alienation from the Indian State. For the Kashmiri people, the gun remains India’s [ Images ] main face, and coercion or deception by New Delhi [ Images ] dominates their consciousness.

    Sullen anger, discontent, hopelessness and despair lie beneath the calm and normalcy at the surface. The anger is intense among educated young people.

    I wish I were wrong, but my discussions with separatist leaders from both factions of the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference, mainstream politicians, intellectuals, and above all, articulate young men and women, leave me with no other conclusion. Reading recent publications from the Valley only confirms this.

    It is hard to predict what form the anger will take, and whether it will once again explode into militancy and secessionist violence, as in 1989. But Indian policymakers and the larger public would be dangerously mistaken in ignoring the simmering discontent in the Kashmir valley, or in imagining that it can be calmed or neutralised by incremental or token gestures like the announcement of yet another economic ‘package’.

    The popular alienation is the cumulative result of a number of factors culminating in Mohammed Afzal Guru‘s execution on February 9, and the widespread disgust this provoked in the valley.

    Most Kashmiris believe, like many Indians, that Guru’s trial did not establish his guilt.

    Guru, Kashmiris believe, was killed for ‘political’ reasons — because the United Progressive Alliance [ Images ] wanted to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party‘s [ Images ] charge that it is ‘soft’ on terrorists. They regard Guru’s execution in secrecy as identical with that of Ajmal KasabImages ] — and hence proof that the Indian State equates Kashmir with Pakistan, an ‘enemy’ country.

    They underline the contrast with the right to appeal granted to members of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan’s gang and to Rajiv Gandhi’s [ Images ] assassins, and believe Guru was singled out because he was a Kashmiri.

    Other factors behind the alienation are innumerable human rights abuses, including the continuing detention of more than 1,000 young people for holding peaceful protests, despite the government’s promise to pardon them; and use of the draconian Public Safety Act — which allows detention without charges for two years — against 12- and 15-year-old boys merely for pelting stones.

    No less important is the disappearance of scores of people detained by the security forces, and many unpunished killings by the army, such as that of three boys at Machil in Kupwara district in 2010.

    All this has strengthened resentment at what large numbers of Kashmiris consider as India’s military occupation of the valley, which violates their freedom and dignity.

    Compounding this is the ruling National Conference-Congress government’s failure to address growing unemployment, prevalence of massive corruption, dilution of the Right to Information Act, and police brutality, reflected in the killing of more than 100 peaceful protesters in both 2008 and 2010.

    Instead of redressing the situation, the state government has drafted the J&K Police Bill, which allows it to set up ‘special security zones’ in ‘disturbed’ areas, where the police acquire magisterial and administrative powers — and impunity for their actions.

    It also allows the creation of Salwa Judum-style militias in the form of ‘village defence committees’. This has bred further resentment.

    No less important is the exposure of the joint civilian-military Unified Command as a handmaiden of the army in ‘security’ matters. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah [ Images ], backed by then Union home minister P Chidambaram [ Images ], has repeatedly called for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from certain peaceful areas, but the army has contemptuously vetoed that demand — just as it sabotaged a settlement of the Siachen glacier dispute with Pakistan, favoured by New Delhi.

    Army commanders have spoken on such policy issues in gross violation of the democratic principle that only the civilian leadership can do so. They even threatened to suspend counter-insurgency operations if AFSPA is repealed.

    They strongly loath any dilution of their power under AFSPA to kill anyone merely suspected to be about to breach a prohibitory order such as Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code which bans the assembly of five or more persons.

    This only proves, say Kashmiri analysts, that the Indian State has no respect for Jammu and Kashmir’s [ Images ] elected government: Democracy is a ‘mere showpiece’ so far as Kashmir is concerned.

    Irrespective of whether this perception is right or wrong, it is widely prevalent. An important element in it is the memory of repeated rigging of J&K assembly elections and imposition of Delhi’s puppets on the state until recently.

    A watershed was the 1987 election, the manipulation of whose results spontaneously provoked fierce anger, leading to the eruption of the separatist militancy in 1989, which Pakistan cynically exploited, to disastrous effect.

    The militancy and ferocious State repression claimed more than 80,000 lives before they declined after 2002 thanks to popular exhaustion with violence. Things further changed with the 2004 Lok Sabha and the 2008 assembly elections, which saw relatively high polling such as 40 percent-plus.

    In 2011, local body elections were held for the first time in a decade, which witnessed an impressive turnout of 79 percent despite the separatists’ call to boycott them.

    Since then, Kashmir’s economy has expanded, tourism has boomed, and new enterprises have sprouted, including some in information technology, floriculture and banking. Kashmiris started taking and scored well in the all-India services examinations.

    The number of Kashmiri students in Indian colleges has multiplied four-fold over a decade, according to one estimate.

    However, this doesn’t mean that full normalcy has returned or Kashmir’s wounds have healed. Kashmiris have learnt to use the available democratic space without changing their fundamental stance vis-a-vis India.

    There has been a transition from violent to peaceful protest, which became starkly visible in the 2008 Amarnath Yatra [Images ], and again in 2010. But popular alienation hasn’t abated.

    The Indian State’s response to the protest was twofold: Shoot down peaceful agitators or arrest them on fake charges; and when the protests ebb, make conciliatory moves through committees such as the interlocutors group headed by journalist Dileep Padgaonkar.

    This group is only the latest in a series of ‘olive branch’ offers by New Delhi, including visits by Rajesh Pilot [ Images ] and S B Chavan in the 1990s, the K C Pant committee of 2001, the N N Vohra committee of 2003, several rounds of talks with the separatists, numerous economic packages, and the prime minister’s five J&K working groups set up with much fanfare in 2006. One of these, headed by present Vice-President Hamid Ansari, recommended revocation of AFSPA.

    These initiatives may have temporarily calmed tempers in the valley and even averted a deeper crisis. But none of them produced results. Their recommendations either fell short of a solution, or were rejected outright. That was the fate of the interlocutors’ report too.

    Its story not only provokes derision, but worse, further cynicism in Kashmir and convinces people that the Indian government has no intention of changing course or reforming its J&K policy.

    That was the message from the India-Pakistan back-channel talks too, based on General Pervez Musharraf’s [ Images ] four-point formula. These very nearly succeeded in 2006-2007 and could have clinched a solution which involves demilitarisation, regional autonomy and self-rule without a redrawing of the borders.

    But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] didn’t seize the moment. Soon, Musharraf’s position became untenable thanks to his confrontation with the judiciary. The moment passed.

    To return to the present, Kashmir is at a crossroads. The post-2006 transition from insurgency to peaceful protests now faces a serious threat amidst the perception that New Delhi remains as unresponsive to these as it was hostile to the militancy.

    There have been more than a dozen attacks on security forces by gunmen and suicide bombers, as well as armed encounters, in different parts of the valley in recent weeks.

    These attacks were not led or coordinated by organised groups like Hizbul Mujahideen [ Images ], but conducted by educated professionals — engineers, science postgraduates and MBAs — motivated by azaadi (freedom, autonomy, independence, nobody knows exactly which), and convinced that normal, peaceful, dignified life is impossible under Indian ‘occupation’.

    A majority of the young people I interviewed expressed sympathy for the attackers, while admitting that a heavy price would have to be paid for militancy and the State’s retaliatory response.

    Some even said that peaceful protest has exhausted its potential, and armed resistance may be necessary to highlight the cardinal truth that the Kashmir problem remains unresolved after 66 years.

    These are dangerous signs. New Delhi must heed them and correct course — even as it responds positively to Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s [ Images ] welcome offer of talks.


 

Advertisements

Justin Podur

MAY 28, 2013

india_kashmir_rebel_attack

Indian Army soldiers at an encounter site with militants in Kashmir on Friday. AP photo

Guest post by JUSTIN PODUR: I spent a week in Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, at the end of April 2013, talking to people among whom there was a wide range of opinion. While almost everyone supports freedom, some are resigned to India never letting Kashmir go, others believe that the struggle will go on and take different forms, some are just trying to survive. It seemed to me, at the end of a calm week during tourist season, that India is bringing about all of the things that it fears: Pakistani influence, violence,  radicalisation of youth, political Islam, and hatred of India.

The Kashmir conflict has been going on for decades. When India and Pakistan became independent in 1947, both new states wanted Kashmir. The ruler of Kashmir acceded to India. India and Pakistan fought their first war over the state that year, establishing a partition of the territory into an area controlled by Pakistan and an area controlled by India. The part controlled by India includes Jammu, Ladakh, and the Kashmir valley. When Kashmir acceded to India, the Indian Constitution made a special provision to allow for Kashmir to have certain national rights, and to allow for the future of Kashmir (in India or Pakistan) to be settled by a plebiscite. The plebiscite never happened. The special autonomy provisions in the constitution have not been honoured. Today, Kashmiris have fewer rights than the rest of the Indian union and they get less respect for the rights that they do have. An insurgency in the 1990′s was brutally suppressed by the Indian army, with thousands killed, tortured, and disappeared. In 2010, a series of popular protests in the valley were also suppressed. Most recently, the government shut all communications down and imposed curfew for several days after the political hanging of Afzal Guru in February 2013. It has taken many different forms, but the conflict between the aspirations of Kashmiris and the Indian state has remained.

When a conflict seems intractable, it is because someone is benefiting from it. Those who proposesolutions to the conflict are therefore inevitably proposing to take some benefit away from someone – in this case, from those who are benefiting from it and who have the power to end it. Any proposed solution can then be dismissed as infeasible. In the case of Kashmir, this has been the most reliable way to keep the conflict going. Propose greater autonomy within India? Infeasible, India says, because the rest of India won’t tolerate it. Propose independence? Infeasible, India says, because India would never allow it. Propose demilitarising the area somewhat? Infeasible, India has security concerns.

Then, having dismissed any of the obvious solutions, we can throw up our hands in frustration and ask: But what do the Kashmiris really want?

Although the parallel has been over-used, and there are a dozen ways to break the analogy, there is an instructive comparison to Israel/Palestine. For many years, advocates for Palestine were divided into one-state and two-state advocates. The one-state advocates, who argued that Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza should all be a single state with equality for Israeli Jews and Palestinians, were accused of utopian dreaming, since Israel would never be willing to sacrifice its Jewish character and become a democratic state for all its citizens. The two-state advocates, who believed they were advocating a world consensus, had to watch Israel continue to grab more territory and tighten the noose that was suffocating Palestinian life. Every few years, Israel would massacre some Palestinians. Israel and its backers would throw up their hands and say: but what do Palestinians really want? One state, two states, an Islamic state?

In the Palestinian context, this intellectual impasse was broken by the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Inspired by the struggle against South African apartheid, one of the BDS movement’s greatest contributions was not in its selection of BDS tactics. Instead, it was the advocacy of a rights-based program, instead of a solutions-basedprogram. The argument was simple. If Palestinians have the same rights as everybody else – freedom from military occupation, equal rights to live, work, study and travel, the right to return to homes from which they have been displaced – then any solution that accommodates these rights is acceptable. Conversely, any proposed solution has to respect the rights of the people, or it is a false solution.

What if the Kashmir conflict were re-framed in the same way? What if we thought about Kashmir in a rights-based, as opposed to a solutions-based, framework? It seems to me that if India wanted to respect the rights of Kashmiris, it would have to stop doing several things immediately. Whether India thinks that territorial control is paramount (and therefore wants to keep Kashmir in the union at all costs) or decides that the democratic principle is more important (and therefore wants to give Kashmiris the space to decide for themselves) there can be no progress without respecting the rights of Kashmiris.

I am not going to suggest things that many states are incapable of doing anywhere, like ending corruption or following its own laws consistently. I am just going to suggest things that are allowed and routine in other states. So here are eleven things that India should do to protect people’s rights in Kashmir.

11. Stop using soldiers as police. Troops are for borders. If the army deployment is because Kashmir is the border with Pakistan and China, then army troops shouldn’t be seen in Srinagar or other valley towns. They should be at their border posts. Let the state police do the policing, and leave the troops at the border.

10. Stop messing with Kashmir’s communications. The refrain that ‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’ is constantly heard. But Kashmir is not an integral part of India’s communications network. I have traveled all over India, and paid fairly low roaming fees with my Delhi-based SIM card. When I didn’t want to pay them, I got myself a local SIM card by giving my passport, visa, and a photo ID (all of which seemed excessive to me). But prepaid SIMs from outside Kashmir simply don’t work in Kashmir. And you can’t just get a SIM card the way you can elsewhere. And you can’t send SMS messages within Kashmir, much less out of Kashmir. And of course, when the Indian state does something that they know will horrify Kashmiris, like executing Afzal Guru in secret after denying him legal rights and admitting that he’s being hanged not because of evidence against him but because ‘the conscience of the nation’ demands it, the Indian state also shuts all communications down inside Kashmir.

Kashmiris have taken to Facebook and other social media to communicate, but they feel that they can be hunted down if they write things the state doesn’t like.

9. Stop suppressing student politics. One complaint I heard many times was that the Kashmir University Student Union (KUSU) was banned, while the campus Congress Party was allowed to organise. I asked a University administrator why student politics were not allowed. He told me that it was because students were vulnerable to being used by off-campus elements, and that student politics would be extremely disruptive on campus. Until the situation calms down, he said, they could not allow campus politics. And anyway, he added, there was no tradition of campus politics, unlike say, in Delhi.

I disagree. Administrations always have adversarial relationships with student movements, and if student politics were allowed, there would no doubt be times when the administration suspended students or gave academic punishments for disrupting classes, etc. – but there are ways of dealing with all of this, of negotiating it, that every other campus knows.

8. Stop banning and deporting people. Allow free movement. Arundhati Roy wrote about this in 2011. When I told people I was going to Kashmir, I was told, “Hope they don’t ban you from India like they did with David Barsamian”. A US-based activist and radio personality, Barsamian has a long connection with India and comes very often, interviewing people and doing journalism on a wide variety of topics. He was deported in 2011, supposedly for doing professional activities on a tourist visa. Richard Shapiro (see this piece where he makes the argument for demilitarisation), an American professor, was deported from Kashmir in 2010, with the same pretext. These pretexts are flimsy. There are probably millions of visitors who come on tourist visas and write things about India. I doubt anyone has been deported for writing about saris, handicrafts, or even for complaining about pollution or noise. But write about Kashmir, and suddenly you are in violation of your visa. In any case, leaving Barsamian and Shapiro aside, what visa terms do Indian citizens violate? When Gautam Navlakha, an Indian citizen, tried to enter Kashmir in 2011, he was stopped at the airport and put on the next plane back to Delhi. Effectively, he was deported, something that should not be possible from one ‘integral part of India’ to another.

7. Let Kashmir control its water resources. The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) controls the water and sells it back to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The J&K government wants several power projects returned to it, and accuses NHPC of retaining these projects illegally. In these joint ventures, the NHPC gets the power, which it then distributes according to its own logic, which includes selling some of the power back to the state. From the NHPC perspective, this is efficient allocation of resources. From Kashmir’s perspective, it is internal colonialism, and given the physical geography of the state, leaves people freezing in the dark when they have ample hydroelectric capacity. Let Kashmir control its own water resources and sell to the centre, as other states have negotiated.

6. Regulate the yatras. The Amarnath yatra brings Hindus from different parts of India to Kashmir to worship. The yatra has grown immensely over the years and, like many other religious festivals, has become politicized. In the context of Kashmir, it has also become militarized. The yatra is controlled by a board that is ultimately controlled by India. Even though the board was constituted in 2000 by the governor of J & K, the composition of the board is heavily weighted towards the Centre, effectively disenfranchising the locals in an event with an increasingly high impact. The growing size of the yatras has become a grievance. Why generate the perception that India is trying to change the demographics of Kashmir? If other yatras can be regulated on ecological grounds, why can’t the Amarnath yatra? Why can’t the board be controlled from within the state?

5. Punish crimes, not people. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) means that (as activist Vrinda Grover has argued instead of being held to a higher standard, representatives of the state have more privilege than others. This has to be repealed. Crimes are crimes, whether they are committed by security forces or citizens. Instead of punishing crimes, the government punishes people. Soldiers are immune from prosecution even for torture, murder or rape. Kashmiris who aren’t committing crimes, whether they are shouting slogans, attending demonstrations, or just are in the wrong place at the wrong time, can be punished. If the Indian state doesn’t know what a crime is, why would anyone want to be a part of it?

4. Count the dead. Hundreds of unidentified and mass graves have been uncovered throughout the state in the past few years. Families whose children have been disappeared want to know if these mass graves contain their children. But instead of testing all of the bodies and identifying them, India has demanded that the families submit to DNA tests. What should have been the Indian state apologizing and trying to make repair for ghastly violations has thus turned into a further ghastly violation, a further intelligence gathering exercise. India should do the DNA tests on the mass grave and provide the information. The denial of what everyone knows is true is insanity-inducing. Nothing good can come of it.

3. Make amnesty meaningful. India wants former militants to surrender, but surrendered militants’ lives become surreal and horrifying. Afzal Guru’s ordeal since he surrendered is perhaps the most dramatic example, but there are many others. In order to demonstrate progress in counterinsurgency, India’s military forces have used surrendered militants as ‘false positives’: men are killed and arranged to look like they were insurgents killed in encounters. Their lives are expendable, their corpses a resource. This must stop.

2. Increase connectivity. Allow people to travel. India is supposedly worried about ‘cross-border terrorism’. The phrase has two parts. The ‘cross-border’ part is not a crime in itself. Anything you can do that is a crime on one side of the border is also a crime on the other side. It is the crime that is the problem, not the border-crossing. The same goes for terrorism. The entire framework of anti-terror legislation that was enacted around the world after 9/11 was basically unnecessary. The crimes that terrorists commit – mainly murder – were defined as crimes in the law before the anti-terror laws were passed. Terrorists can be punished for crimes, and efforts to prevent violent crimes can take place, while trying to minimize disruption of people’s freedom of movement. Instead, India’s approach is to besiege the population and deny them freedom of movement unless they can prove that they are not criminals.

1. Allow separatism. One of Canada’s major provinces, Quebec, has a different official language (French) from the rest (English) and the majority of its French-speaking inhabitants want independence. It has a provincial party, the Parti Quebecois, that is devoted to independence, and a federal level party, the Bloc Quebecois, that, while seeking independence, also seeks to press Quebec’s interests at the federal level. Demographically and in terms of voting blocs, Quebec is much larger relative to Canada than Kashmir is relative to India (Quebec and J&K have about the same population, but the whole of Canada, with about 30 million people, has the population of one of India’s smaller states). But the point is that in the past few decades the Canadian state has not taken an iron fist approach to separatism, and the Canadian state has not collapsed.

Indeed, during one of the Quebec referenda (Quebec has had 3 of the plebiscites that have been denied Kashmir), a very intelligent urban thinker, Jane Jacobs, pointed out that Norway had peacefully separated from Sweden through a referendum in 1905, and the world didn’t end. Obsessed with Pakistan, the Indian establishment is looking in the wrong direction for examples. Kashmir doesn’t have to be Bangladesh. It could just as easily be Norway or Quebec.

(Justin Podur is a Toronto-based writer and professor at York University, and was recently a visiting professor at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi. His blog is www.killingtrain.com and twitter is twitter.com/justinpodur)

 

No to Political Vendetta!  

Release Dr. Muhammad Qasim Faktoo immediately!

No to Political Vendetta! Release Dr. Muhammad Qasim Faktoo immediately!
Release All Kashmiri Muslim Serving Life Sentences in 
Various Jails in the Subcontinent!
23/04/2013
Dr. Muhammad Qasim: The Victim of Political Vendetta is a compilation of the case documents of Dr. Muhammad Qasim and articles written by various intellectuals and prominent citizens demanding an end to the 20 year long of his incarceration. At the occasion of the book release, CRPP would invite your attention to the long list of Kashmiri Muslims undergoing life imprisonment —around 45—in various jails such as Srinagar, Jammu, Udhampur, Tihar, Mumbai, Gujarat, Nagpur etc. At the outset it is a case of gross injustice reeking of political vendetta on Dr. Muhammad Qasim Faktoo who has spent twenty years of his life in prison. It is important to briefly look into the case of Dr. Muhammad Qasim to make sense of how political convictions, of being a Kashmiri Muslim sharing the political aspirations of the Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination itself is enough to earn the ire of the political establishment. 
Dr. Muhammad Qasim was arrested on 5 February 1993 for his political views and to prolong his incarceration was booked under Sec.3 TADA, and Sec 302 read with 120-B CrPC. On 14 July 2001 the TADA Court in Jammu acquitted him citing that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove the case against Dr. Muhammad Qasim and the other accused. As the State of Jammu & Kashmir challenged the acquittal before the Supreme Court of India Dr. Muhammad Qasim was sentenced to life based solely on a confession statement made under section 15 of TADA. Even when the SC sentenced him to life it was mentioned that the “accused shall be given benefit of the period already undergone (undertrial period) by them”. After the completion of 14 years, the J & K High Court directed the Jail authorities to place Dr. Qasim’s case before the Review Board for consideration keeping in spirit with the observations of the SC. The Review Board recommended his premature release on 3 June 2008. Contrary to the recommendations of the Review Board the vindictive J & K government brought in the interpretation that the J & K Jail Manual Rule 54.1 debars TADA lifer convicts from release on completion of two thirds (14 years) of 20 years. (Govt. order No. Home-773(P) of 2009 dated 14.09.2009)
Amidst conflicting opinions in the High Court between a single bench judge which initially quashed the government order while a double bench upheld it taking refuge in the Rule 54.1 of the Jail Manual the long arm of political vendetta stood in between a forthright consideration of the outstanding situation and the release of Dr. Muhammad Qasim. On 31 May 2012, Dr. Muhammad Qasim completed 20 years of incarceration. It has been held unequivocally that despite the correspondence of Sec. 401 and 402 of the State Code of Criminal Procedure to Sections 432 and 433 of the Central Code the power of the executive is absolute and unfettered to remit sentence though it was willingly elusive in Dr. Muhammad Qasim’s case. As Dr. Muhammad Qasim has been sentenced to life under the J& K Manual which had made him ineligible to avail the provision of release after 14 years of imprisonment, then it logically follows that the same manual provides for putting a final end to his incarceration after the completion of 20 years. Without doubt what makes matters worse in Jammu & Kashmir is the overwhelming sense of vendetta vis-a-vis political prisoners.        
The Indian State in the subcontinent and its counterpart in Jammu & Kashmir in particular have deliberately evaded the challenging question of evolving jurisprudence consistent with the question of political offences or offences the state deems are against the will of the State. The courts’ disquiet in developing jurisprudence towards dealing with political offences that are not borne out of individual interest of the alleged offender but of collective interest has resulted in adhocism and arbitrariness taking precedence over a possible judicial remedy in the ordinary law consistent with the already established precedence in international law. Perhaps for the first time the Calcutta High Court (CRR 463 of 2012 With CRR 1312 of 2012 With CRR 4000 of 211 on 8 August 2012) while recognising the right of the Maoist prisoners to be treated as Political Prisoners have brought in the question of the need to develop jurisprudence in dealing with political offences albeit the judgement confining its purview only till the rights of the political prisoner in the prison. Notwithstanding the fact that the above said judgment was based on the West Bengal Correctional Services Act 1992 and though there is yet to be a statutory recognition to political prisoners in Jammu & Kashmir, the Indian State has practically, to some extent, acknowledged the difference between political prisoners and other offenders. Since 1995 India allowed International Committee of Red Cross to visit these prisoners and ascertain their conditions within jails (though the distinction however remained confined to recognized jails and not detention centres like interrogation centres and police stations where the brutalities are perpetrated). CRPP is of the opinion that the need of the hour is to expand the ambit of the distinction of political prisoners from the domain of treatment of prisoners to the jurisprudence of conviction and penology.
Only in such a scenario can there be some safeguards, if not all, given the nature of the Indian State, to deal with such prolonged incarceration of prisoners for their political beliefs. Dr. Muhammad Qasim has undergone twenty years of incarceration. There are many more who might face the same fate if the democratic and freedom loving people of the subcontinent raise their voice against such inhuman and beastly face of the so-called democracy of the Indian State and its judiciary and executive. As in the case of Dr. Muhammad Qasim we need to demand the release of many of the 45 odd political prisoners serving life sentence in various prisons in the subcontinent. The list of the names many of these prisoners are provided as annexe though it is not an exhaustive one.  
Putting Dr. Muhammad Qasim further behind bars goes against the very grain of all civil and political rights and freedoms assured by the Constitution of India as well as the International Law. The prolonged incarceration of Dr. Muhammad Qasim is testimony to the continuing repression and trampling of all freedoms of the people of Jammu & Kashmir for their political aspirations. As the State use every draconian law within its reach to the maximum (in Dr. Muhammad Qasim’s case the J & K Jail Manual, read with TADA) thousands of Kashmiri Muslims are kept behind bars in various prisons while hundreds languish in undisclosed torture and detention centres. CRPP appeals to every democratic and progressive sections in the subcontinent to raise their voice for the immediate release of Dr. Muhammad Qasim and his co-accused irrespective of his political convictions/beliefs as well as all the lifers most of whom have already finished ten years or more of the sentence. 
Brief report about the proceedings of the Book Release Function: The book on Dr. Muhammad Qasmi was released at the Deputy Chairman Hall, Constitution Club, New Delhi jointly by Prof Jagmohan ( nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh) and Jeetan Marandi (people's balladeer who got acquitted by the HC of Jharkhand from death sentence in a framed up case). Prof. Jagmohan in his address after the book release talked about the spirit that Jeetan had given to all of us after a prolonged people's movement all over the subcontinent for his release. Both the speakers said it is a great victory for the people. Prof. Jagmohan pointed out that Bhagat Singh's well known slogan of anti imperialism and revolution that he framed in 1917 correctly captured the dialectical relation between the two. Only the correct synthesis of this understanding can save us from these trying times of the growing fangs of fascist assault on the people on all fronts—socio-cultural, politico-economic. Besides he also talked about the need to take cue from the arduous struggle for the release of Jeetan Marandi that gives us strength and hope towards making it possible the release of all political prisoners including Dr. Muhammad Qasim. Thus while referring to the case of more than 40 odd lifers in J&K Prof. Jagmohan stressed the fact that when it comes to a political prisoner the system would always look for the convenient option ensuring that the notion of life imprisonment be for the entire natural life of the political prisoner and hence it becomes important that we demand for the release of all Kashmiri Muslim lifers lodged in different jails and have served around ten years in prison lest they be targets of political vendetta. It is important such books documenting the case and struggle for the release of political prisoners like Dr. Muhammad Qasim be taken to the wider sections of the people. This book release is a welcome step in that direction. 
Jeetan Marandi while talking about his torturous experience on death row reminisced how his life from childhood facing abject poverty and forced to discontinue his school after 3rd division had to fight every moment to make his life worth living as a human being. The discerning mind of young Jeetan soon got attracted to the cultural group which used to visit villages and sing songs and act plays that depicted the everyday life of the villagers and the problems they faced. Soon Jeetan’s worldview transforms as he finds purpose in being part of the group and thus also being part of people's initiatives to do away with their miseries. Sooner than later had he started singing for the people and their rights than he naturally became the target of state repression. In that context he identifies himself with the incarceration of Dr. Muhammad Qasim. The emotional and moving narrative of Jeetan proved beyond doubt how the struggle to keep one alive in the dungeons is as well the larger struggle to do away with all forms of oppression. He spoke about the need to dream even in adverse times and talk to oneself about the need to not give up hope even for a moment. To fight every minute, moment to keep the star beneath ones breast alive. The prisoner defines himself as well as the world around him in these moments of struggle to stay alive and that is what makes him and his convictions a cherishable dream. A dream worth dreaming in the isolated cell. In a dark cell (anda cell) where there is only some semblance of light at 12 noon every mosquito that sucks your blood, every lizard that creeps across, the spider and its cobweb, everything becomes your friend, as you struggle to make sense out such senseless creatures, meaning out of the life in isolation as you keep watching the lizard eat the insect for hours together. It is the desire to live even in that lifeless world that makes the political prisoner and his struggle inside the confines of the prisons a fight to keep one’s finest sensibilities alive and it the same that the mindless and violent state want him to lose forever. Jeetan feels that in this struggle always the news from outside of people protesting for his release, rallies and public meetings demanding his unconditional release all gave him hope and a strong faith in the strength of the people. And it is this united strength of the people and their struggle that can ensure that the terrible injustice of the kind of incarceration that Dr. Muhammad Qasim and his co-accused is going through can be done away with. The release of all such political prisoners in the subcontinent becomes the need of the hour as part of struggle to humanise ourselves.
Zahid a Kashmiri scholar talked about the need for a united struggle of the people of the subcontinent though their causes are different to defeat the designs of the Indian State to suppress all forms of political dissent. The political prisoners committee can be the right platform to realise that unity. 
Prof. SAR Geelani, President CRPP, while presiding over the programme stressed the need for the struggle to unite for the release of all political prisoners in the subcontinent. There are thousands of Kashmiri political prisoners lodged in different jails in the Indian subcontinent though in the present programme we are raising only the case of life convicts in the context of Kashmir (more than 40 of them with many having completed more than 10 years)with specific reference to the continuing incarceration of Dr. Muhammad Qasim. The platform of CRPP is a definite step in the direction towards all forces fighting for the unconditional release of all political prisoners. While pointing out that the rights of the political prisoners has well been recognised in the international law he stressed that it is our duty to struggle to make the Indian State accept the category of political prisoners and their rights. 

In Solidarity,

SAR Geelani                      Amit Bhattacharyya                  Prof. Jagmohan Singh          
President                       Secretary General                       Vice President

Jeetan Marandi                  Rona Wilson
Secretary                           Secretary, Public Relations  

List of Kashmiri Muslims Serving Life Sentence 
1.	AB Rashid, Udhampor was awarded Death but now changed into Life, Jammu District Amphala Jail
2.	Aashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Dr Muhammad Qasim Faktoo  Srinager Jail.
3.	Ghulam Qadir Butt R/O Dooru Mir Maidan, Islamabad in Khutwa Jail now in Srinagar Jail.
4.	Muhammad Ayoub Mir, Sadrabal Kot Bulwal Jail Jammu
5.	Muhammad Ayoub Dar, Rawal Pora, Srinagar presently in Srinagar Jail, Life sentence by TADA court Jammu in 2009
6.	Iqbal Jan, Bandipora   Srinagar Jail
7.	Mustaq Kaloo, Sopore  co-accused with Iqbal Jan, Tihar jail, New Delhi 
8.	Mohammad Amin Wani, Banihal  
9.	Mehmood Toopiwal, Kangan 
10.	Abdul Waheed Thachi, Banihal 
11.	Jafar Umar Khanto
12.	Javeed Khan, Nowpora, Srinagar Tihar Jai  s/o M Shafi Khan Nowpora Srinagar 517-96 Lajpath Nagar Blast
13.	M Shafi Khan @Prof Shafi Sharyati Hariwanun Khansahab in Sgr Jail.
14.	Noor Muhammad Tantry,  Tral, earlier in  Tihar, now in Srinagar 
15.	Feroz Ahmad,  Budgam Beerwa  
16.	Sh Raeis Delhi Tihar  
17.	Ishaq Pala   s/o GH Rasool Tariq Shiekh, Manihal Shopian 
18.	Shabir Ahmad s/o M Abdullah Butt, Handwara Maratham 
19.	Mustaq Malik  s/o Gh Muhammad  Shah, Gund Handwara
20.	Gh Muhammad Butt s/o Noor Muhammad Butt Koker Bagh Khag 
21.	Ab Hamid Teeli s/o GH Hasan  Kokerhama, Kulgam  
22.	Nazir A Shiekh s/o Ab Rashid Batamaloo
23.	Showkat A Khan Chotabazar present Nishat
24.	Zakir Hussain alias Umar Faoorq, son of Ali Mohd of Malhar,  
25.	Fayaz Ahmad Shah of Babnad Shopian and Muhammad Syed Bhat of Dirhama Bijbehara.  
26.	Samiulla Sheikh R/O Patan Baramulla	
27.	Ghulam Nabi Soura, Srinagar, Kashmir Central Jail, Srinagar
28.	Amin Dar	Banihal, Jammu, Jammu Jail
29.	Barkat Hussain S/O Neik Muhammad Pulwama, Kashmir Jammu Jail
30.	Farooq Ahmad, Central Jail, Nagpur
31.	Farooq Chopan, Central Jail, Mumbai
32.	G. MuhammadWani, Jammu Jail
33.	G. Qadir Butt Kupwara, Kashmir, Sub Jail, Kathua
34.	Lala Hussain, Jammu Jail
35.	Muhammad Akram Butt	
36.	Muhammad Aslam S/O	Kamal Din, Jammu Jail
37.	Muhammad Latif	S/O Wali Muhammad, Jammu Jail
38.	Muhammad Shafi	S/O Abdal Karim, Jammu Jail
39.	Muhammad Hussain R/ O Hadmat, Jammu Jail
40.	Muhammad Shafi	S/O Mohammad Abdullah, Jammu Jail
41.	Muhammad Yousuf S/O Fetha Muhammad, Jammu Jail

COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

23/04/2013
Dr. Muhammad Qasim: The Victim of Political Vendetta is a compilation of the case documents of Dr. Muhammad Qasim and articles written by various intellectuals and prominent citizens demanding an end to the 20 year long of his incarceration. At the occasion of the book release, CRPP would invite your attention to the long list of Kashmiri Muslims undergoing life imprisonment —around 45—in various jails such as Srinagar, Jammu, Udhampur, Tihar, Mumbai, Gujarat, Nagpur etc. At the outset it is a case of gross injustice reeking of political vendetta on Dr. Muhammad Qasim Faktoo who has spent twenty years of his life in prison. It is important to briefly look into the case of Dr. Muhammad Qasim to make sense of how political convictions, of being a Kashmiri Muslim sharing the political aspirations of the Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination itself is enough to earn the ire of the political establishment.
Dr. Muhammad Qasim was arrested on 5 February 1993 for his political views and to prolong his incarceration was booked under Sec.3 TADA, and Sec 302 read with 120-B CrPC. On 14 July 2001 the TADA Court in Jammu acquitted him citing that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove the case against Dr. Muhammad Qasim and the other accused. As the State of Jammu & Kashmir challenged the acquittal before the Supreme Court of India Dr. Muhammad Qasim was sentenced to life based solely on a confession statement made under section 15 of TADA. Even when the SC sentenced him to life it was mentioned that the “accused shall be given benefit of the period already undergone (undertrial period) by them”. After the completion of 14 years, the J & K High Court directed the Jail authorities to place Dr. Qasim’s case before the Review Board for consideration keeping in spirit with the observations of the SC. The Review Board recommended his premature release on 3 June 2008. Contrary to the recommendations of the Review Board the vindictive J & K government brought in the interpretation that the J & K Jail Manual Rule 54.1 debars TADA lifer convicts from release on completion of two thirds (14 years) of 20 years. (Govt. order No. Home-773(P) of 2009 dated 14.09.2009)
Amidst conflicting opinions in the High Court between a single bench judge which initially quashed the government order while a double bench upheld it taking refuge in the Rule 54.1 of the Jail Manual the long arm of political vendetta stood in between a forthright consideration of the outstanding situation and the release of Dr. Muhammad Qasim. On 31 May 2012, Dr. Muhammad Qasim completed 20 years of incarceration. It has been held unequivocally that despite the correspondence of Sec. 401 and 402 of the State Code of Criminal Procedure to Sections 432 and 433 of the Central Code the power of the executive is absolute and unfettered to remit sentence though it was willingly elusive in Dr. Muhammad Qasim’s case. As Dr. Muhammad Qasim has been sentenced to life under the J& K Manual which had made him ineligible to avail the provision of release after 14 years of imprisonment, then it logically follows that the same manual provides for putting a final end to his incarceration after the completion of 20 years. Without doubt what makes matters worse in Jammu & Kashmir is the overwhelming sense of vendetta vis-a-vis political prisoners.
The Indian State in the subcontinent and its counterpart in Jammu & Kashmir in particular have deliberately evaded the challenging question of evolving jurisprudence consistent with the question of political offences or offences the state deems are against the will of the State. The courts’ disquiet in developing jurisprudence towards dealing with political offences that are not borne out of individual interest of the alleged offender but of collective interest has resulted in adhocism and arbitrariness taking precedence over a possible judicial remedy in the ordinary law consistent with the already established precedence in international law. Perhaps for the first time the Calcutta High Court (CRR 463 of 2012 With CRR 1312 of 2012 With CRR 4000 of 211 on 8 August 2012) while recognising the right of the Maoist prisoners to be treated as Political Prisoners have brought in the question of the need to develop jurisprudence in dealing with political offences albeit the judgement confining its purview only till the rights of the political prisoner in the prison. Notwithstanding the fact that the above said judgment was based on the West Bengal Correctional Services Act 1992 and though there is yet to be a statutory recognition to political prisoners in Jammu & Kashmir, the Indian State has practically, to some extent, acknowledged the difference between political prisoners and other offenders. Since 1995 India allowed International Committee of Red Cross to visit these prisoners and ascertain their conditions within jails (though the distinction however remained confined to recognized jails and not detention centres like interrogation centres and police stations where the brutalities are perpetrated). CRPP is of the opinion that the need of the hour is to expand the ambit of the distinction of political prisoners from the domain of treatment of prisoners to the jurisprudence of conviction and penology.
Only in such a scenario can there be some safeguards, if not all, given the nature of the Indian State, to deal with such prolonged incarceration of prisoners for their political beliefs. Dr. Muhammad Qasim has undergone twenty years of incarceration. There are many more who might face the same fate if the democratic and freedom loving people of the subcontinent raise their voice against such inhuman and beastly face of the so-called democracy of the Indian State and its judiciary and executive. As in the case of Dr. Muhammad Qasim we need to demand the release of many of the 45 odd political prisoners serving life sentence in various prisons in the subcontinent. The list of the names many of these prisoners are provided as annexe though it is not an exhaustive one.
Putting Dr. Muhammad Qasim further behind bars goes against the very grain of all civil and political rights and freedoms assured by the Constitution of India as well as the International Law. The prolonged incarceration of Dr. Muhammad Qasim is testimony to the continuing repression and trampling of all freedoms of the people of Jammu & Kashmir for their political aspirations. As the State use every draconian law within its reach to the maximum (in Dr. Muhammad Qasim’s case the J & K Jail Manual, read with TADA) thousands of Kashmiri Muslims are kept behind bars in various prisons while hundreds languish in undisclosed torture and detention centres. CRPP appeals to every democratic and progressive sections in the subcontinent to raise their voice for the immediate release of Dr. Muhammad Qasim and his co-accused irrespective of his political convictions/beliefs as well as all the lifers most of whom have already finished ten years or more of the sentence.
Brief report about the proceedings of the Book Release Function: The book on Dr. Muhammad Qasmi was released at the Deputy Chairman Hall, Constitution Club, New Delhi jointly by Prof Jagmohan ( nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh) and Jeetan Marandi (people’s balladeer who got acquitted by the HC of Jharkhand from death sentence in a framed up case). Prof. Jagmohan in his address after the book release talked about the spirit that Jeetan had given to all of us after a prolonged people’s movement all over the subcontinent for his release. Both the speakers said it is a great victory for the people. Prof. Jagmohan pointed out that Bhagat Singh’s well known slogan of anti imperialism and revolution that he framed in 1917 correctly captured the dialectical relation between the two. Only the correct synthesis of this understanding can save us from these trying times of the growing fangs of fascist assault on the people on all fronts—socio-cultural, politico-economic. Besides he also talked about the need to take cue from the arduous struggle for the release of Jeetan Marandi that gives us strength and hope towards making it possible the release of all political prisoners including Dr. Muhammad Qasim. Thus while referring to the case of more than 40 odd lifers in J&K Prof. Jagmohan stressed the fact that when it comes to a political prisoner the system would always look for the convenient option ensuring that the notion of life imprisonment be for the entire natural life of the political prisoner and hence it becomes important that we demand for the release of all Kashmiri Muslim lifers lodged in different jails and have served around ten years in prison lest they be targets of political vendetta. It is important such books documenting the case and struggle for the release of political prisoners like Dr. Muhammad Qasim be taken to the wider sections of the people. This book release is a welcome step in that direction.
Jeetan Marandi while talking about his torturous experience on death row reminisced how his life from childhood facing abject poverty and forced to discontinue his school after 3rd division had to fight every moment to make his life worth living as a human being. The discerning mind of young Jeetan soon got attracted to the cultural group which used to visit villages and sing songs and act plays that depicted the everyday life of the villagers and the problems they faced. Soon Jeetan’s worldview transforms as he finds purpose in being part of the group and thus also being part of people’s initiatives to do away with their miseries. Sooner than later had he started singing for the people and their rights than he naturally became the target of state repression. In that context he identifies himself with the incarceration of Dr. Muhammad Qasim. The emotional and moving narrative of Jeetan proved beyond doubt how the struggle to keep one alive in the dungeons is as well the larger struggle to do away with all forms of oppression. He spoke about the need to dream even in adverse times and talk to oneself about the need to not give up hope even for a moment. To fight every minute, moment to keep the star beneath ones breast alive. The prisoner defines himself as well as the world around him in these moments of struggle to stay alive and that is what makes him and his convictions a cherishable dream. A dream worth dreaming in the isolated cell. In a dark cell (anda cell) where there is only some semblance of light at 12 noon every mosquito that sucks your blood, every lizard that creeps across, the spider and its cobweb, everything becomes your friend, as you struggle to make sense out such senseless creatures, meaning out of the life in isolation as you keep watching the lizard eat the insect for hours together. It is the desire to live even in that lifeless world that makes the political prisoner and his struggle inside the confines of the prisons a fight to keep one’s finest sensibilities alive and it the same that the mindless and violent state want him to lose forever. Jeetan feels that in this struggle always the news from outside of people protesting for his release, rallies and public meetings demanding his unconditional release all gave him hope and a strong faith in the strength of the people. And it is this united strength of the people and their struggle that can ensure that the terrible injustice of the kind of incarceration that Dr. Muhammad Qasim and his co-accused is going through can be done away with. The release of all such political prisoners in the subcontinent becomes the need of the hour as part of struggle to humanise ourselves.
Zahid a Kashmiri scholar talked about the need for a united struggle of the people of the subcontinent though their causes are different to defeat the designs of the Indian State to suppress all forms of political dissent. The political prisoners committee can be the right platform to realise that unity.
Prof. SAR Geelani, President CRPP, while presiding over the programme stressed the need for the struggle to unite for the release of all political prisoners in the subcontinent. There are thousands of Kashmiri political prisoners lodged in different jails in the Indian subcontinent though in the present programme we are raising only the case of life convicts in the context of Kashmir (more than 40 of them with many having completed more than 10 years)with specific reference to the continuing incarceration of Dr. Muhammad Qasim. The platform of CRPP is a definite step in the direction towards all forces fighting for the unconditional release of all political prisoners. While pointing out that the rights of the political prisoners has well been recognised in the international law he stressed that it is our duty to struggle to make the Indian State accept the category of political prisoners and their rights.

In Solidarity,

SAR Geelani Amit Bhattacharyya Prof. Jagmohan Singh
President Secretary General Vice President

Jeetan Marandi Rona Wilson
Secretary Secretary, Public Relations

List of Kashmiri Muslims Serving Life Sentence
1. AB Rashid, Udhampor was awarded Death but now changed into Life, Jammu District Amphala Jail
2. Aashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Dr Muhammad Qasim Faktoo Srinager Jail.
3. Ghulam Qadir Butt R/O Dooru Mir Maidan, Islamabad in Khutwa Jail now in Srinagar Jail.
4. Muhammad Ayoub Mir, Sadrabal Kot Bulwal Jail Jammu
5. Muhammad Ayoub Dar, Rawal Pora, Srinagar presently in Srinagar Jail, Life sentence by TADA court Jammu in 2009
6. Iqbal Jan, Bandipora Srinagar Jail
7. Mustaq Kaloo, Sopore co-accused with Iqbal Jan, Tihar jail, New Delhi
8. Mohammad Amin Wani, Banihal
9. Mehmood Toopiwal, Kangan
10. Abdul Waheed Thachi, Banihal
11. Jafar Umar Khanto
12. Javeed Khan, Nowpora, Srinagar Tihar Jai s/o M Shafi Khan Nowpora Srinagar 517-96 Lajpath Nagar Blast
13. M Shafi Khan @Prof Shafi Sharyati Hariwanun Khansahab in Sgr Jail.
14. Noor Muhammad Tantry, Tral, earlier in Tihar, now in Srinagar
15. Feroz Ahmad, Budgam Beerwa
16. Sh Raeis Delhi Tihar
17. Ishaq Pala s/o GH Rasool Tariq Shiekh, Manihal Shopian
18. Shabir Ahmad s/o M Abdullah Butt, Handwara Maratham
19. Mustaq Malik s/o Gh Muhammad Shah, Gund Handwara
20. Gh Muhammad Butt s/o Noor Muhammad Butt Koker Bagh Khag
21. Ab Hamid Teeli s/o GH Hasan Kokerhama, Kulgam
22. Nazir A Shiekh s/o Ab Rashid Batamaloo
23. Showkat A Khan Chotabazar present Nishat
24. Zakir Hussain alias Umar Faoorq, son of Ali Mohd of Malhar,
25. Fayaz Ahmad Shah of Babnad Shopian and Muhammad Syed Bhat of Dirhama Bijbehara.
26. Samiulla Sheikh R/O Patan Baramulla
27. Ghulam Nabi Soura, Srinagar, Kashmir Central Jail, Srinagar
28. Amin Dar Banihal, Jammu, Jammu Jail
29. Barkat Hussain S/O Neik Muhammad Pulwama, Kashmir Jammu Jail
30. Farooq Ahmad, Central Jail, Nagpur
31. Farooq Chopan, Central Jail, Mumbai
32. G. MuhammadWani, Jammu Jail
33. G. Qadir Butt Kupwara, Kashmir, Sub Jail, Kathua
34. Lala Hussain, Jammu Jail
35. Muhammad Akram Butt
36. Muhammad Aslam S/O Kamal Din, Jammu Jail
37. Muhammad Latif S/O Wali Muhammad, Jammu Jail
38. Muhammad Shafi S/O Abdal Karim, Jammu Jail
39. Muhammad Hussain R/ O Hadmat, Jammu Jail
40. Muhammad Shafi S/O Mohammad Abdullah, Jammu Jail
41. Muhammad Yousuf S/O Fetha Muhammad, Jammu Jail

COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

pic courtesy- samvada
From the brother of Shaheed Tahir Sofi, Altaf Sofi:

Mr. Omar Abdullah,
My brother was killed by on the street by a bullet and this moved you to tears.
Even though 1 lakh Kashmiris have been sent to the grave so far, you have never cried in open but my brother’s death (finally) awakened your conscience so much so that you wept in openl…y in the Assembly.
Our eyes too weep, we do moan, our hearts too are broken. Our beloved has been snatched away from us. We weep for he has been taken away from us forever. We are not alone, the nation mourns with us just like it mourns Afzal’s and Mudasir’s cruel deaths.
As the Chief Minister since 2008, this is the first time you have wept the tears of repentance, which leads us believe that even stones could have hearts.
What crime had Tahir committed?
We do not understand this. We cannot still believe that he has left us all till we meet him on Day of Judgement. Tahir used to pray five times a day, his kindness and humility is not hidden from the people of Baramulla and Dehradun. He was dedicated to his studies.
Who is responsible for putting out the light from his life?
Is it the Trooper who shot him in the head? Or is it the system that condones every action and saying of these (Occupational) Forces? They send to the grave whoever they wish and send to the gallows whoever they wish. The Khaki-clad Trooper, today, is the Law, the Judiciary and the Executioner-all rolled into one.
The rulers are effeminates in front of this Khaki-Clad Trooper. So much so that a Senior Minister Ali Sagar has to publically appeal to the CRPF, “Do not use Pepper (spray) Guns, the CM has already made this clear to you.”
Mr.Omar, does anyone listen to you or to him? They won’t because (your) government itself is at the mercy of the (Occupational) Forces.

Mr. Omar, You don’t need to declare that Afzal Guru was hanged- as the Chief Justice of Indian Supreme Court already has- “to satisfy the collective conscience of the Indian Nation.”
I will not ask you: To satisfy whose “conscience” was my brother killed?
Or who called these enemies as “Tai’ran Ababeel*** and grandly welcomed them (to invade Kashmir)?
Who leads them (the Occupational Forces) in meetings of the Unified Command Committee (except you)?
Every kid in Kashmir is well aware of this.
Shedding these tears, did you ask yourself, why you shed these tears? Are these tears similar to the tears of Dr.Farooq Abdullah after he took the oath in ’96?
I leave all this to your conscience. But as a member of the bereaved family, I have the moral duty (and right) to inform you that a Minister from your government by announcing 5 Lakh Rupees (as ex-gratia relief), has rubbed salt into our wounds.
This announcement is equivalent to trampling upon our emotions.
You should know that no government can ever pay the price of the pure blood of our beloved and other Kashmiri youth. Your government tried to set a price even for the blood of Wamiq Farooq but his poor parents by rejecting this offer set an example worthy of being written in gold, though it may not appear so to your government. (Similarly), the father of Mudasir Kamran befittingly responded to your generous offer! We thank you since your generosity has finally lead to the price being set for a Kashmiri life at 5 lakh rupees! There was a time when Kashmir and Kashmiris were purchased for 75 Lakh Nanak Shahi (by the Dogras). This means that every Kashmiri life was worth just a few takkas.
Honorable Mr. Omar,
Quran and Hadeeth bear testimony that the person who aids the oprressor is equal in sin with oppressor. Who laid the foundations to the atrocities and cruelties perpetrated upon Kashmiris today?
You are well aware of this fact. I will not repeat from the dark pages of this terrible history in order not to hurt you!
Why do you take carry on this legacy of oppression and violence?
Take a guess. How many innocent lives were taken in 2008 and 2010? How many innocent and oppressed ones were left with nothing? How many parents lost their children?

How many families were destroyed? How many people were thrown into dungeons?
All this for holding on to a position that is temporary? How many burdens would you want to carry on your shoulders on the Day of Recompense? Are your shoulders strong enough (to bear these burdens)?
The intentions are but known to Allah only. Judging by your tears, it appears that your conscience is finally waking up. If indeed this true, this is the best time to free yourself from all the previous burdens (by repenting).
By kicking away this position you hold on to earlier rather than latter, abandon the ranks of the oppressors and join the crowd of the oppressed.
I am aware that politicians, in this age are not blessed enough to abandon position and power to embrace humanity. Fear of Allah and true faith in the hereafter are necessary to do this. You know quite well that many leaders have sold their honor and soul just to attain a Ministerial post. This is the reason that even when the blood of innocents is being spilt, chastity (of women) outraged, houses are set ablaze, youths are slaughtered, the politicians are not prepared to give up their addiction for power.
Giving you the benefit of the doubt is the reason, that I had the audacity to present to you my thoughts even in these moments of utter grief.
You have announced Relief of 5 lakh rupees to our family in exchange for the life of Tahir that was taken away. I will collect 6 lakh from my family and relatives, and I make the offer of presenting this amount to the Superiors of the Trooper who killed my brother with one condition alone: the trooper who killed my innocent brother, who was in a state of ritual ablution at the time, is hanged at the same spot where he bathed my brother in blood. So that my family and the Kashmiri people can get some relief from the fact that an oppressor was properly recompensed.
Honorable Mr.Umar,
Read the writing on the wall at the earliest. Assembly elections were held, then parliament elections and then Panchayat elections were held, Kashmiris couldn’t and cannot be subdued even if, God forbid, blood of many more Afzals, Mudasirs and Tahirs is shed

 

Dawn |  | 16th February, 2013

WHETHER Afzal Guru’s execution was just is for the jurists and legal experts to debate and decide. But let’s look at some other issues.

Perhaps, a more significant matter it brought to light is that while India and Pakistan remain wedded to old positions, dissent in the Kashmir valley has taken a new turn.

The Kashmiri was convicted of being involved in the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 based on circumstantial evidence and was hanged in considerable haste and interred in the grounds of Delhi’s Tihar jail last Saturday when even his family hadn’t been intimated.

Many observers have pointed out that while those convicted of murders much before the attack on Lok Sabha in 2001 such as those held responsible for Rajiv Gandhi’s murder in 1991 are still alive because of the judicial review process, Guru was denied such relief even if it were to be temporary.

This, coupled with the imposition of curfew in Srinagar and elsewhere in the valley and a media shutdown, was attributed to the Indian authorities’ mindset in dealing with Kashmiris where, simmering Kashmiris alleged, a different yardstick is being applied compared to Rajiv Gandhi’s Tamil killers whose ethnic group is seen as part of the Indian mainstream.

While the Indian government’s ‘muscular’ stance is consistent with its policies over the years, across the border Pakistan officially refrained from commenting on the judicial process though it ‘reaffirmed’ solidarity with the Kashmiri people.

It wasn’t a surprise that the more vocal response came from the ‘semi-official’ Jamaatud Dawa (banned militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba) leader Hafiz Saeed and a senior leader of the Jaish-i-Mohammad. Both of them condemned ‘martyr’ Guru’s execution and vowed to avenge it.

All these voices, of course, represented forces ‘external’ to Kashmir. External but not disinterested. However, these views, positions seemed caught in a time warp: the Indian state muscle, Pakistan’s ‘principled stance’ and the militant groups’ blood-curdling vendetta threats.

If you look at the valley itself you can see how the mood there has evolved over the past decade and how it has moved away from armed resistance to what writer Mirza Waheed, who won acclaim with The Collaborator, calls the “new age of dissent”.

The gun of the 1990s has been replaced by unarmed yet massive peaceful demonstrations and more so by the pen, with an explosion of writers, researchers, columnists dedicated to writing Kashmir’s history, documenting human rights abuses with a ‘we’ll not forget’ philosophy as the central theme.

Powerful fiction and non-fiction is emerging from the valley with Basharat Peer (Curfewed Night), Mirza Waheed, and Siddhartha Gigoo (Garden of Solitude) writing poignantly heartrending prose, informed as it is by their experiences of the bloodshed there in the 1990s in particular.

And the one common denominator which screams out to be seen, heard and acknowledged is that those representing this so-called new age of dissent, mainly through unarmed defiance, reject the mediation of Pakistan and Indian narratives.

A lawyer, Pervez Imroz, who has followed and documented cases of human rights abuses including disappearances and extra-judicial killings blamed on the state is seen as a hero. One writer says: “His unarmed defiance has done more for the Kashmir cause than all the attacks by armed groups.”

Imroz was the central figure in the British TV Channel 4’s chilling documentary, Kashmir’s Torture Trail, detailing cases of torture and other excesses against Kashmiri civilians suspected of involvement in militant activities. In December last year Imroz co-authored an eye-opening report.

The report, published under the aegis of People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in the Indian-Administered Kashmir (IRTK) and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), says it is based mostly on government documents and witness testimonies.

It names 500 ‘perpetrators’ including senior army and paramilitary as well as police officials in 214 specific cases. Such reports may not have caught the fancy of the mainstream Indian media but have been read by most Kashmiris who are able to and that cements their defiance.

The growth of the writing and new media has also given a substantial voice to these new age dissenters. There is a staggering array of bloggers and online writers. How this generation of writer-dissenters is coming of age is easily understood if one googles their names and sees their work.

Kashmir-based young lawyer and writer Arif Ayyaz Parrey who addresses the issue of beheadings; Ather Zia, PhD candidate at the University of California at Irvine, a poet and a telling short story writer; Wasim Bhat, who has written a significant book on the cultural and historical density of Srinagar.

Sameer Bhat, journalist and sharp satirist, who is currently with Khaleej Times; Parvaiz Bukhari, one of Kashmir’s finest journalist-writers and a great political thinker, is working on what is already being seen as a seminal book on the militarisation of Kashmir.

Then there is UK-based scholar-poet Nitasha Koul; and Mohamad Junaid, a Kashmiri anthropologist at City University of New York, whose essay Stone Wars on the uprising of 2001 is enough to give one a chill. The list goes on and on and this was by no means exhaustive.

Even a hurried read through a selection of their work leaves one with the distinct impression that their love of their land and their people is infinite; and that their Kashmiri identity shines through. They are writing their own distortion-free history and documenting how they have been wronged.

And this extends to all Kashmiris including Hindu Pandits on whose plight and exodus Gigoo was the first to write. Rahul Pandita’s recent book (Our Moon has Blood Clots) is also part of this effort, though many people in Kashmir disagree with his account.

One wishes Islamabad and Delhi’s civil and military establishments would take a leaf out of the Kashmiris’ new age struggle and genuinely abandon the quest for a solution by force. A historical wrong may be righted. Perhaps, it is time to revisit the formula of soft borders and demilitarisation again.

The writer is a former editor of Dawn.

abbas.nasir@hotmail.com

 

Tuesday, 15 Jan 2013 , http://www.risingkashmir.in

 Rashmi Talwar  

At the 8th Regional Conference of SAFMA (South Asian Free Media Association) held at Lahore, comprising media persons  from eight South Asian SAARC countries, Kashmir issue appeared to have dimmed and become almost a non-issue .SAFMA-2013  held its concluding session at Lahore, following its inaugural session in Amritsar wherein India’s external affairs minister Salman Khurshid floated the idea of  ‘breakfast in one country, lunch in another and dinner in yet another’ pushing forward for peace between the two neighbours.

However, in one of the most important panel discussions on the theme of ‘South Asian vision for an Economic Union’ in the presence of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, noted columnist and Editor-in-Chief of The Friday Times Najam Sethi,, Nusrat Javed, a famous Pakistani journalist and anchor for Aaj TV, besides Dr Ijaz Nabi Country Director, International Growth Centre, Pakistan, Kashmir issue took a back seat. It seemed that Kashmir was being clearly ditched by Pakistan!
For Kashmiris from India it came as big jolt to hear a Pak speaker say -“The totality of Indo-Pak relations cannot be linked to the single issue of Kashmir.” And further, to make their positions clearer, the speaker said–“We would like to see the welfare of Kashmiris by way of engaging in more trade between both Kashmirs, easing of visas for travel to each other’s places. However, at present, Pakistan has more pressing issues i.e. Indo-Pak trade, water and power generation, which we are greatly hopeful that peace between India and Pakistan is bound to bring in.” And all this time, Nawaz Sharif remained mum, clearly endorsing what was being said-and-missed, about Kashmir.
How would Kashmiris, who suffered for more than two decades aided by Pakistan to revolt against India, feel about this, I wondered. All this time, I had met many Indian Kashmiris, who came to Amritsar and looked longingly at Lahore, from the Indian side of the Attari-Wagha Indo-Pak border, during the beating retreat ceremony. Some, who sat glum during the retreat ceremony came close to grieving over being separated from Pakistan, lamenting that Kashmir on the Indian side, should have been a part of Pakistan.
One, who I met in Amritsar a few years ago, called the border an ‘unnatural divide’ and scoffed disgustedly –“if it were possible, India would station an army man in each Kashmiri kitchen”.
Numberless gullible Kashmiris, who ran the marathon to training camps across the border, were promised a glorious goal of Independence. They returned to fight, flush with money, arms and above all dreams of ‘holy war’ that would ensure a royal place in heavenly paradise for them in case they were ‘martyred’.
Many felt it was easy money and brain washed others to run their outfits in Kashmir with support from across the border. The more vitriolic ones became apples of the eyes of their masters as they fitted in their sinister plans.
There were others who fiercely wrote in newspapers about the atrocities on Kashmiris by security forces while ignoring or soft pedalling the atrocities by the militants. There were   those who, while conversing with their counterparts in rest of the country, referred to anything Indian as ‘yours’ and anything Kashmiri as ‘ours’.
All this while, they were filled with feeling of abhorrence for their present state. The army’s strong arm tactics aggravated the situation. Daily dirges and insults at the hands of the security forces had left them cold and concerned over their future and those of their children. Kashmiris found themselves on a cliff-hanger not knowing whether the militant or the army bullet would kill them.
When the initial itch over being freedom fighters faded and turned sore, the fallout of their actions spilled over. For some hardliners, a bleak future awaited so they tried to continue in their chosen destructive path, sure that their end would come painfully from either of the sides i.e. militants or army. It was a proverbial choice ‘from the frying pan into the fire’.
Others on the sidelines gave only lip service to their bravado and went on with their lives, availing all Indian government sponsored benefits and schemes while leaving them to struggle. Still, they hung on to their ally –Pakistan. Drawing strength and succor from the fact that Pakistan was still their well wisher.
Countless K-agendas raised at International forums by Pakistan had little impact although it endeared Pakistan to Kashmiris. However, Pakistan’s recent position on Kashmir was shared with Rising Kashmir by a senior Pak bureaucrat who said – ‘Kashmiris had played a double game with them’.
He contended that while Pakistani side had lost more lives than Kashmiris, even as they had pumped in money, men and material as also feted and felicitated them, Kashmiris  in turn joined the election process held by India, elected their leaders and lifted them on their shoulders. They availed all Indian government and army schemes.
‘They told us they are unable to offer Namaz in Indian side of Kashmir, but we have seen them freely doing so. They tell us their women are not safe, but their women are freely moving about, getting educated and showing no traces of fear’.
The Kargil misadventure in 1999, after nearly 10-years of turmoil in Kashmir, seemed like a shot in the arm for militants in Kashmir, who saw Pakistan as the saviour. Of course, the battle-end saw Pakistan faced with rebuke and reprimand, as also a royal ignore and the ultimate shaming by US – its funding ally that ultimately punctured its stature in global eyes. Alternately, under the leadership and statesmanship of Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Kargil won India kudos for its restraint in the face of a sly enemy.
Pakistan used Kashmir to save the multitude of high profile chairs, raising the bogey of Kashmir, every time a crisis on home ground erupted. Kashmir served as a diversionary tactics, to gloss over faults of omission and neglect in Pakistan.
US too saw it being used by Pakistan who was trying to fulfil its Kashmir agenda on the pretext of Afghanistan’s occupation by USSR. Therefore, in time, USA too pulled itself out of the mire of Pak mechanizations, cut down its funding and ditched Pakistan partially as the Frankenstein monster of terrorism that it had created sought to feed onto its creator –Pakistan.
Having lost its financial conduit and faced with rebellion and insurgency in its troubled corners, as well as from insurgents it had created, Pakistan today is  left with a choice to either save its own  or that of Kashmir.
Perturbed over this stand of Pakistan to shelve the Kashmir issue, Shujaat Bukhari Editor-in-Chief  of English daily, ‘Rising Kashmir’ raised a query to Pakistan panel and especially to Nawaz Sharif –as one of Kashmiri origin, asking  – “If Kashmir issue was to be sidelined thus,  why were 23-years and lakhs of lives lost for this cause?” To which he got a reply that welfare of Kashmiris could be in softening of the LoC (line of control) and “not in transfer of territory”.
The sidelining of Kashmir was complete when even in his personal address Nawaz Sharif gave a miss to the Kashmir issue and stated “If voted to power as next President of Pakistan I would bring the same relationship of bonhomie between India and Pakistan as I and PM Vajpayee had brought in February of 1999 by starting the Sada-e-Sarhad, Indo –Pak bus service.”
The present scenario in Kashmir is that Kashmiri households that drilled anti- India venom are left with an educated new generation, many of whom have flown the nest, to seek wider horizons to further their aspirations of a good life, while those who remain are left alone to tend to their festering wounds. Those who supported them from the neighbouring country have now their own hands-full, fighting internal battles, dousing the monster of terrorism that they had created.
Nusrat Javed, the panelist  when questioned on the sidelines of SAFMA to clarify the Pakistani stand on Kashmir, counter questioned  –“I have a child in Baluchistan crying in pain, should I tend to ‘my’ child or a Kashmiri child?” As a host for a popular programme  ‘Bolta Pakistan’ of Aaj TV, Nusrat said people in Pakistan are least interested in Kashmir issue and his programme’s TRPs drop every time a topic related to Kashmir issue is aired.
It is a fact that Kashmir is fast losing out in terms of media interest in India too. Many foreign media organizations have bid goodbye to Kashmir- a hotbed of news, for past two decades. Reuters, BBC radio and TV, German owned Deutsche Welle , AFP have wound up from Kashmir. Others like The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Time, and Guardian are granting fewer slots to news from Kashmir. It has therefore come as no surprise that Pakistan media too turned its face away to news emerging from Kashmir, which is being relegated to inner obscure corners of leading newspapers.
Mehmal Sarfarz a senior member of SAFMA said in clear terms that ‘Pakistan had decided to drop the issue of Kashmir long ago. If in 60 years, four wars could not solve it, what is the point in pursuing a lame dream, is what Pakistan has slowly realized. With internal problems becoming hard to handle who has the time or the money to fund Kashmir or Kashmiris?’
However there was one such who had the guts to say –“Only those who have been failures or those who set up shops on the ‘tears’ of Kashmir or accrued advantage from the Indo-Pak standoff on Kashmir are  banking on continued enmity between both countries. The army in Pakistan is the major beneficiary of Indo-Pak rivalry, he said, because it is only because of the enmity between the two countries that it can retain its hold on the politics and administration of the country. The terrorist outfits in Pakistan are the other beneficiaries who would lose their raison d’etre in case both countries come closer to each other. “They are the ones desperate to sabotage the peace process and stoke the fires of hostility”, he said.
I know Indo-Pak peace would soon be a reality. This statement is not merely a conjecture or hope or guess but based on study of wider spectrum of world affairs, in which US seeks to strengthen and embolden the south Asian region against the growing power of China.
The border clash, inhuman torture and beheading of an Indian army jawan and retaliatory killing of Pakistan army man, has come as the most recent example of covert mechanizations. The killing of Kashmiri sarpanches, including shooting a lady panch, are such incidents, which may slow down the peace process, but will not be able to derail it.
The author is an Amritsar based journalist and can be mailed at rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com

It is a fact that Kashmir is fast losing out in terms of media interest in India too. Many foreign media organizations have bid goodbye to Kashmir- a hotbed of news, for past two decades. Reuters, BBC radio and TV, German owned Deutsche Welle, AFP have wound up from Kashmir. Others like The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Time, and Guardian are granting fewer slots to news from Kashmir.

 

Harud director on a film thats taken nine years to come to a theatre near you

Dhamini.Ratnam @timesgroup.com

Harud,Persian for autumn,is actor Aamir Bashirs first directorial venture,but it lacks the tentativeness of a first offering.The 100-minute film tells the story of Rafiq (played with remarkable stillness by Shahnawaz Bhat),a 19-year-old Srinagar resident whose brother has disappeared like thousands of other Kashmiri men.It seems to ask a simple question what effect does the ever-present spectre of death have on psyches made brittle by years of violence and very real oppression
Bashir,who left Kashmir in 1990 to study in New Delhi,felt the need to tell the story of Kashmir to right a wrong.Commercial cinema,says the actor of A Wednesday and Peepli (Live),has traditionally seen Kashmir as a location,but not as a receptacle of stories of people.I wanted to tell the story of those caught in the crossfire (of idealogues); those who dont have a choice, he says.
Bashir began thinking of this film in 2003,and finally shot it in 2009.It releases today under PVR Directors Cut,two years after it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival.

EXCERPTS OF THE INTERVIEW:

 

This story is unlike anything wed expect from an actor of commercial Hindi cinema.Was this intended

Absolutely.This film is an act of resistance against commercial cinema.Wherever we felt the film could be made more accessible,say a scene where we could have heightened the emotional quotient by adding a background score,we decided not to do it.We have grown to expect certain things from commercial Hindi cinema,and while making this film,we took an aesthetic decision to thwart all expectations of the audience.We wanted them to feel the same hopelessness and disappointment that the protagonist faces every day.This film was not made for the audience to understand the Kashmiri problem.I also wanted to tell a story that doesnt get told of people who know that they are not heroes,but dont have the choice to leave.

How long did it take for you to get a censor certificate

Three months.Thats how long it takes for you to get a visa if you are flagged.The examining committee said they didnt want to give it any certificate U,A,U/A given its topic.The revising committee suggested a few cuts in areas where they thought the film was promoting azaadi (independence),and then gave it a U/A certificate,after some back and forth.But the real problem this film faced was that of distribution.Harud doesnt fit into any label indie,crossover,parallel cinema.Of course,its a different thing that these labels are not well defined.For instance,how does Dhobi Ghat,financed by one of the most powerful people,get to be called indie cinema

What cuts were you asked to make

At the start of the film,weve used archival news footage of a demonstration.The board asked us to delete the slogan,Bharat se lenge azaadi,but it was okay with the English slogan,We want our freedom. At a later stage however,we were asked to delete that line too.They werent happy with hypothetical references to azaadi,either.

The mindscape is a central part of your film,too.

In Kashmir,if youve suffered violence once,the chances of facing it again are very high.The unfortunate thing is that no one pays attention to how it has affected people mentally.According to a survey conducted by the Medecins Sans Frontieres,nearly 40 per cent of the people in Kashmir are clinically depressed.My next film looks into this.Its about a mentally unstable woman,whose husband is a militant.

Harud will play at select PVR cinemas across the city from July 27 to August 2