Posts Tagged ‘New Delhi’

Muzamil Jaleel : New Delhi, Sun Jul 07 2013, IE
FPHabibullah was posted in J&K then
Wajahat Habibullah, chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, has said that the government “deleted important portions of his confidential report” on the Konanposhpora mass rape case in which he had recommended a police probe, upgradation in the level of investigation, entrusting the case to a gazetted police officer and seeking an order from the 15 Corps Commander to ensure Army cooperation in the probe.Habibullah was Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir when troops of 4 Raj Rifles allegedly raped 23 women in the village during a cordon-and-search operation on the night of February 23-24, 1991. The government used his report to give a clean chit to the Army.

More than two decades later, the mass rape case reared its head again last month after a Judicial Magistrate in Kupwara refused to entertain a police case closure report and ordered “further investigation by an officer not below the rank of a Senior Superintendent of Police” and its completion within three months.

“The Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara had received reports from the villagers of Konan that a mass rape had been committed in the village on the night of 23/24 February during cordon-and-search operations conducted by elements of the 4 Raj Rifles. He (Deputy Commissioner) had visited the spot on 5th March and according to his preliminary investigations, it appeared to him prima facie that an offence of monstrous proportions had been committed,” Habibullah’s confidential report stated.

“Consequently, on being approached by the DG, Police, J&K, the Corps Commander deputed Brigadier H K Sharma, Commander 19 Arty Brigade, to visit the village and report. The Brigadier made some local enquiries on 10/3 and came to the conclusion that the report (of mass rape) was baseless. His report does not, however, discuss in detail why he has altogether dismissed the statements made before him by a number of village women,” the report stated.

Habibullah said he visited the village on March 18, 1991, accompanied by Lt Col Naeem Farooqi, Commandant of the 76 Battalion of BSF Tyagi, the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police.

“I found the allegations of mass rape exaggerated because the women of the entire village were saying they were raped. But I didn’t say nothing has happened. I thought perhaps the entire village had decided to say they were raped so that the victims do not have to live alone with this blot,” Habibullah told The Sunday Express.

“The paragraphs of my confidential report where I had recommended that the level of investigation be upgraded to that of a gazetted police officer so that this case is probed efficiently were taken out of my report. I had also asked that the Corps Commander should issue orders to ensure that the Army cooperates with the investigation because SP Kupwara had indicated that in other cases, he was not getting the required cooperation for investigation from the Army. That paragraph was also deleted.”

Habibullah said he had also recommended several measures that the Army needed to take during operations.

“When the report came out in the public, I did protest. I called up the Governor (G C Saxena). But I was already posted out of Kashmir by then,” he said.

But Habibullah’s explanation has not gone down well with human rights groups pursuing the case in Kashmir who question his role.

“His silence of 22 years makes him culpable of the cover-up. The contents of his report that were made public earlier prove he was actively trying to obfuscate the truth,” Khurram Parvez of the Coalition of Civil Society said. “He has always been pretending to be sympathetic to the victims of human rights atrocities in Kashmir. This report shows how he himself was hand in glove with the perpetrators while holding an important position in the administration in Kashmir”.

Habibullah’s confidential report is controversial because he said the veracity of the complaint was “highly doubtful” though the Deputy Commissioner and Station House Officer concluded that mass rape had taken place.


School children running for cover during a protest in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on Apr. 28, 2011.Dar Yasin/Associated PressSchool children running for cover during a protest in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on Apr. 28, 2011.

NEW DELHI – In October 2011, a Kashmiri boy who was throwing stones in a protest against Indian security forces found out very quickly that what it was like to be treated as an adult by the local police.

He recalled that after he was arrested in downtown Srinagar, officers removed his shirt and pants at the police station. His wrists were then struck with a scale and trampled on by officers wearing boots.

The boy, 14 at the time he was interviewed last fall and who asked to remain anonymous because he feared retaliation by the police, recalled that he sang Pakistan’s national anthem after being beaten all night. “I knew it would hurt them more than anything,” he said.

Growing pressure from human rights groups, which have documented similar cases of police brutality against minors, prompted Jammu and Kashmir lawmakers to pass a comprehensive bill in March that raises the age of juvenile jurisdiction in the state to 18 years, from 16.

The bill, which was signed into the law by the governor in April, also creates a special police force for handling minors, sets up special homes for sheltering them and establishes judicial boards to exclusively hear their cases. The law won’t go into effect until the state’s social welfare ministry crafts the final rules.

A policeman holding stones to throw back at protestors in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on March 29.Dar Yasin/Associated PressA policeman holding stones to throw back at protestors in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on March 29.

Child rights activists welcomed the bill since it brings the state law in line with the national law. But they are also concerned about its implementation in the conflict-hit Kashmir Valley, where violence is seen as a legitimate response by security forces to curb unrest and previous attempts to set up legal protections for arrested minors have seen decade-long delays.

The abuses of juvenile detainees in Kashmir came into focus after the militancy of the 1990s gave way to civilian protests. Young boys took to throwing stones in mass demonstrations that rocked Kashmir Valley in 2008 and 2010.

Since then, stone pelting has become a popular way for youths to express their anger against the government, and the government has been constantly looking to stamp out any repeat of 2010. Minors who were accused of throwing stones were detained in police lockups, appeared in regular courts, sometimes in handcuffs, and lodged in jails.

“There has been a phenomenon of detention and torture of youth as young as 10 years old, particularly after the protests of 2008 and 2010 in Kashmir,” the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the United Nations said in its 2012 report.

Human rights activists say that minors are still being arrested under the state’s Public Safety Act even after it was amended in 2012 to apply only to persons over 18.

Govind Acharya, Amnesty International’s Kashmir expert, said that during a visit to Kashmir last year, the organization found three cases in which the age of minors were falsified to book them under the act. But their detentions were later thrown out by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

“If there are any security forces who have deliberately falsified ages, then they need to be held to account,” said Mr. Acharya.

Ashok Prasad, director general of police for Jammu and Kashmir, denied that the police routinely arrested children, only the “habitual offenders.”

“Children are not picked up randomly but on the basis of video footage,” he said. “We also show these videos to their parents.”

Mr. Prasad also dismissed allegations that minors were beaten in police stations. “It could only be an aberration. We have not received any specific complaint from parents or the courts,” he said.

Some provisions in the new law, like setting up of special homes and judicial boards for juveniles, were also in the current juvenile justice law, passed in 1997. But these were never implemented. The first juvenile home in Kashmir was set up only in 2011. No such facility for girls exists yet.

Following a visit to the juvenile home in June last year, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights found that not all the children were provided with a toothbrush and that they had to share a towel. “The heavy grilled gates gave a feeling that the children were kept in a jail,” the commission said in its report.

A week before the new bill passed, the Asian Centre for Human Rights released a report that said that Jammu and Kashmir state was among theworst of the 16 conflict-hit states in India in terms of providing juvenile justice.

Suhas Chakma, the center’s director, pointed out that it has taken the Jammu and Kashmir government almost 30 years to enact laws to protect juveniles. The 1997 state law, he noted, was passed 10 years after the national law for juveniles was enacted in 1986. And then it took the state government until 2007 to draft the procedural rules that brought the law into force.

Now, Mr. Chakma said, Jammu and Kashmir lawmakers passed the new bill 13 years after the central government adopted a revised national law in 2000 to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18, bringing Indian law in line with international law.

“The government in Delhi and in Srinagar have security concerns about children in a variety of protests in Kashmir,” he said. “It was a political decision not to have juvenile justice for so long.”

Arun Kumar, an official in the state’s Social Welfare Ministry, said that it would take a couple of months more to frame the rules, which would then need to be vetted by the Law Ministry. “We will try to do it as quickly as possible,” he said.

The prevailing sentiment among human rights groups and lawyers is that an overall change in attitude is necessary for the juvenile justice to be taken seriously by security forces. Many child rights activists are expecting this to be a gradual process since civil liberties have been pushed aside in the government’s fight against militants over the past two decades.

Vrinda Grover, a prominent human rights lawyer, said the first step of securing rights of minors was not legal but political. “New Delhi has to make a choice. Does it want to support the rule of law or continue to boost the morale of the police and troops?” she said.



ByM Saleem Pandit, TNN | Mar 14, 2013

A 24-year-old youth was killed

when CRPF personnel returning from the hospital after donating blood for their wounded colleagues in Wednesday morning’s fidayeen attack fired at a crowd of protesters in Saidpora area here, said the police.


Altaf Hussain died on spot as a crowd of protesters demanding the return of Afzal Guru‘s body ran into the CRPF vehicle, the police said. When angry people began pelting stones, the CRPF personnel fired at the crowd which resulted in the death of Altaf Hussain, son of Abdul Ahad Wani of Saidpora. Doctors at SKIMS said the boy was brought dead with a bullet wound in the chest.The youth’s death led to a fresh wave of protest with thousands of people from the old city taking to the streets with Altaf’s body. The anger of protesters led the National Conference to condemn the killing, with a senior party leader describing Altaf’s death as “murder without provocation” and demanded an inquiry.

Former home minister Nasir Aslam Wani, who is provisional president of National Conference, termed Saidpora killing as “cold blooded murder”.

The police was absent in the entire old city areas in an attempt to reduce tensions but residents carrying Altaf’s body raised anti-India slogans, as well as against the security forces and Omar Abdullah.

Kashmiri separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for a complete shut down on Thursday against the “unprovoked firing by the CRPF on the common people” after the fidayeen attack on their camp in Bemina.

APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq condemned the killing of the youth. Expressing serious concern, he termed it a “barbaric act” on part of the security forces.

Sensing trouble, the administration imposed section 144 in the entire Srinagar district. Authorities are likely to order curfew on Thursday morning to avert any violence in the Valley.

NC expressed deep sympathies with the family of the bereaved. Nasir Wani assured the family that the party will ensure justice to the family and stand by those dependent on the deceased.

Meanwhile, several activists of Panthers Party held a massive protest in front of parliament in New Delhi demanding the immediate dismissal of the J&K government saying it had failed to protect the lives and property of the people.


By Niloofar Qureshi

Published: Wed, 13 March 2013 08:14 PM



The latest spurt of protests in the Valley, which commenced with the execution of Afzal Guru, got extended due to the mysterious death of a Kashmiri student in Hyderabad and has thereafter continued in the aftermath of a youth shot by the security forces in Baramulla. A ‘protest calendar’ was promptly issued and with people taking to the streets in large numbers, normal life came to a standstill, proving once again that the situation in Kashmir continues to be extremely volatile. Though the separatists must be congratulating themselves for having pulled off a major ‘victory’ through such widespread and prolonged protests, they must not forget that they had played no role in initiating the protests- they were just lucky to get repeated opportunities!
There is no doubt that unfolding events should be used for furthering the ongoing movement for the ‘right to self determination’. However, events should not become the sole agency for the same. Though the widespread protests in the aftermath of the Afzal Guru execution, the mysterious death of the Kashmiri student studying in Hyderabad and the killing of a protester in Baramulla are certainly valid reasons for protesting, such incidents by themselves alone cannot be expected to usher in the change we desire. For, though these incidents do illustrate the sorry plight of Kashmiris, unfortunately, the international community perceives these as mere law and order problems.
While many nations and human rights bodies criticised New Delhi after the Afzal Guru hanging, the criticism was for India’s continuation of the death penalty and not even a single country questioned the legality of this execution or the way it was done. The Hyderabad suicide case too has not evoked any international response and is probably being viewed by the international community as the personal decision of an individual. The Baramulla killing also seems to have unfortunately fallen in the ‘common category’ of  the death of a protester who was shot by the security forces while discharging their ‘legitimate duty’ of maintaining law and order!
What our leaders fail to comprehend is that, in practice, the international community follows moral standards that are far removed from the high ethical values it publically proclaims to uphold. And in order to justify its own perverted sense of reasoning and depraved conscience, it has craftily coined euphemisms like “global war on terror,” “legitimate targets” and “unavoidable co-lateral damage’. Take the case of the American drone campaign in Pakistan– it is no secret that for every terrorist killed in drone attacks, scores of innocent men women and children are also being killed or maimed. Yet, no one seems to mind and though everyone admits that this is ‘unfortunate’, the ‘collective conscience’ of the international community is satisfied by the warped logic that it is simply a case of ‘unavoidable co-lateral damage’, which occurs when attacking a ‘legitimate target’ in the ‘global war against terror’!
That the ‘terrorism factor’ has also helped New Delhi in enforcing brute force in Kashmir too is no secret. While human right activists and even the UN have made repeated appeals for revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), New Delhi has played the ‘terrorism’ card well to counter the same. And, since all those who matter are in some way connected in the ‘global war’ on terror, none are willing to seriously intervene. Their reluctance is understandable, since they are all ‘partners in crime’ and guilty of excesses against innocent civilians. While America cannot do so much since it has the blood of innocents on its hands from drone attacks, Pakistan, which openly espouses the ‘Kashmir cause’ cannot afford opening the ‘can of worms’ of its own murky dealings in the Tribal areas and Balochistan.
The separatists therefore need to introspect. As they have experienced the futility of violence and rightly committed themselves to peace, they should advise the people, especially the youth to refrain from violence. There is an urgent need to educate the youth about the immense power of peaceful protests. Stone pelting and occasional wrecking of public property may seem to be very mild forms of violence, but it nevertheless is. And once protesters resort to violence of any type, then the security forces get an excuse to retaliate and this often results in avoidable loss of life. It should be remembered that the ‘right to self determination’ will certainly not fall into our laps just by needlessly sacrificing our youth and the summer unrest of 2010 in which 122 precious lives were lost, is a grim reminder of this!
The next issue, which the separatist leadership needs to guard against, is to suggest that ‘armed resistance’ could be a viable alternative to the peaceful struggle. Unfortunately, in the recent past, at least two separatist leaders (who have themselves publically denounced the use violent means for achieving the ‘right to self determination’) have made such comments. We have had more than our share of violence and suffered untold miseries due to the same. Being mature and experienced, our leaders know very well that the era of effecting change through the force of arms is long over. Instigating the youth to take up arms would only make them ‘cannon fodder’ and bring more miseries upon our people without achieving anything. In fact, no one would be happier than New Delhi if this happens, as it will provide the AFSPA a new lease of life in Kashmir!
The next point relates to the lack of direction, which the current philosophy of the ‘right to self determination’ movement in Kashmir suffers from.  This is because rather than concentrating on evolving a comprehensive strategy to make it more meaningful and self-sustaining, the separatist leadership seems to be content with solely relying on reacting to incidents and events to carry it forward. In the process, the ideological movement for the ‘right to self determination’ has been reduced to merely a petty ‘agitation’ that erupts whenever acts of excesses against the public occurs and then, its business as usual, till the next such an incident takes place!
Lastly, a one must never forget that for the ‘right to self determination’ movement to succeed, patience and perseverance is essential. However, this will be a daunting task as the youth has become restive, as it has been ‘programmed’ to believe that ‘azadi’ is just round the corner! And this is where their leadership qualities of the separatists will play a very important part, as they have to convince the impatient public that such changes do not come overnight.  But once this is achieved, the ongoing movement will automatically acquire an enduring character and being ‘issue based’ rather than ‘event driven’, will surely gain the respect and support it rightfully deserves from the international community.
(The writer is a New Delhi based journalist and can be reached at:


photo courtesdy- Kmr news

By Kashmir  Monitor News Bureau

Published: Tue, 12 March 2013

New Delhi: A Division Bench of the Supreme Court of India has issued a four week’s notice to the state government for wrongfully arresting a minor from downtown in total violation of the Juvenile Act. Division bench comprising of R.M. Lodha, J. Chelameswar & Madan B. Lokur on Monday issued four weeks’ notice to the Chief Secretary of J&K Govt, DG Police, IG Police Kashmir Range & SHO Safakadal, Srinagar on a writ petition filed by State Legal Aid Committee on behalf of 12-year-old Faizan Bashir, who was arrested by Safakadal Police Station (Srinagar) on 25th August, 2012.
Faizan, a 7th class student was arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police under section 307, 147, 148, 149, 152, 427, 435 RPC (Ranbir Penal Code) in FIR no. 96/2012 and kept in a solitary lock-up in police station Safakadal, Srinagar for more than 40 hours without producing him before a juvenile board.Faizan in his own affidavit had alleged that he was abused, humiliated and put to harassment and starve in the police station.
Panthers Party Chief Bhim Singh, appearing for Faizan submitted that, “The State Legal Aid Committee had filed a writ of habeas corpus under Article 32 of the Constitution of India on 28th August, 2012 seeking Faizan release from the police lock-up, quashing the proceedings against Faizan since there are no Juvenile Board constituted in the state.”
He also hoped that Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2007 will be implemented forthwith and pay a compensation of Rs.10 lacs as an exemplary cost to Faizan for his wrongful confinement.
Prof. Bhim Singh also informed the court that Faizan was wrongfully confined in a police lock-up in violation of the Juvenile Act, produced before Chief Judicial Magistrate and remanded for 15 days in utter violation of the rule and the Juvenile Act.
He informed the Apex Court that in J&K Juvenile Board has not been constituted and the so-called Juvenile Home is manned by the police which is a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Prof. Bhim Singh further submitted before the Apex Court that, “That the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985 (the Beijing Rules) and the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990) set the minimum standard to be adhered to in the administration of juvenile justice in respect of juveniles in conflict with law.”
Prof. Bhim Singh submitted that Faizan was picked up from his house at 9.30 p.m, handcuffed and kept inside a police lock up which is meant for the habitual criminal. He further said that the Govt. of J&K has used all the illegal means and methods against the children and juveniles of J&K in violation of Article 14, 19 & 21 of the Constitution of India.
In the petition it was submitted that State of J&K has failed to make provisions to constitute Special Juvenile Police Units, Juvenile Justice/Welfare Boards, constitute Child Welfare Committee.




There have been claims that late Afzal Guru in 2008 had written a letter to a lesser known editor of an Urdu weekly in Kashmir, which has only resurfaced now. The letter reportedly claims that late Afzal Guru did not want to label the Parliament attack as a conspiracy, asking “not to feel ashamed of December 13th Parliament attack”. Indian media has been quick to seize this ‘claimed letter’ and portray it as if Afzal Guru ‘purportedly justified the attack’.


The dead cannot speak and least of all cannot write letters, moreover in their defence, hence making claims on hitherto unknown correspondence of the dead is easy. But the living can and should exercise logic and reasoning to such claims. Not only because such ‘claimed letters’ concern a dead man who has been popularly viewed as having been sacrificed by the state for its politics, but also because these ‘claims’ are connected to the Kashmir conflict in a larger way.
The ‘letter’ has been produced a good 5 years after claimed to have been written  by Afzal, and just days after Afzal Guru had been executed, hanging that was followed by huge protests in Kashmir. The handling of Kashmir, post the hanging, by the state by enforcing barricades, censorship and curfews was subject to criticism from many sides. While the timing of the claimed ‘letter’ is in itself questionable, the veracity of same in doubt, there are other unanswered questions too which point to missing links in these claims.
Afzal was lodged in extremely high security cell of Tihar Jail, guarded round the clock by almost 50 armed policemen drawn from Tamil Nadu Special Police (TSP), ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border Police), and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force). Most of the time he was alone in the death row cell and all his communications (given that there were very few of them in any case) were strictly monitored by the jail authorities. How did then this ‘letter’ pass Tihar Jail scrutiny? And given the fact that all stationary (books, paper, and postages) Afzal used in the jail would be provided, recorded and monitored by the Jail staff in this high security ward, how could Afzal have written such a letter without being scrutinized?
For a moment accepting that Afzal might have written this letter from his cell (with the stationary and postage provided by the Jail authorities) how did the Jail authorities not leak the contents of the letter if the ‘acceptance of guilt’ or ‘justification of the Parliament attack’ was in this correspondence? Clearly all correspondence of Afzal had to be passed, vetted and forwarded by Jail authorities. And had the jail authorities come across such a correspondence, the case of Government of India against Afzal would have become stronger. Had there really been such a correspondence from Afzal, would New Delhi ever miss the chance to make it public before the hanging, only to strengthen its own case for his execution? Remember there have been many voices criticizing the weak defence and flawed trial (and investigations) provided to Afzal. Had Afzal really made such an admission in the ‘claimed letter’ would New Delhi had let go that opportunity to justify its actions?
Even if we take the bleak possibility of Afzal writing this letter and the jail authorities ignoring the contents and the destination of the ‘letter’, why would Afzal of all journalists have chosen a lesser known journalist in Kashmir as its recipient? Afzal surely understood that any letter or correspondence he would share with any journalist would make it available in the public domain. And if Afzal really wanted the letter to be in public domain, he would have sent it to a known journalist or a media house of repute. There could only be two intentions for Afzal behind the correspondence of this ‘letter’, either to have it passed to the UJC chief (United Jehad Council), who has been addressed in the letter, or make it available in the public domain and both of these objectives desired that this letter be send to a well known journalist or media house, where Afzal could get a better focus on his message. What is the footprint of the weekly that claims to have received the letter and how many in Kashmir (leave alone Tihar) have ever heard of it before?
According to the claimed ‘recipient’ of this ‘correspondence’, Afzal had written this letter “in utter frustration” and “he was innocent and was simply claiming something that he had not committed”. Even if we may accept that the letter was written in frustration, would logically Afzal not write it to his wife first rather than a lesser known media person? After all it was Afzal’s wife who not only followed the defence case personally in detail but was the only person who met Afzal in jail and with whom Afzal would confide into. Understanding that such a ‘letter’ would sooner or later make it to the public domain, Afzal would have ensured that his wife was in the know of things if such a letter ever existed. Afzal is perceived to have died for truth and ‘dying for truth’ is different from accepting guilt for killing people. Truth also means ‘I am innocent’.
There have now been reports that Afzals cousin has recognized the handwriting of Afzal in this ‘letter’. But handwriting analysis was never such an easy ‘one glance’ job.  Handwriting analysis is a science for ‘Questioned Document Examiners’ (QDEs). Handwriting recognition is a methodical and tedious process where analysts must accurately distinguish between style and individual characteristics. Handwriting analysis does not start with checking for similarities, but with checking for differences between the original and the claimed. Any attempt of handwriting simulation (copying handwriting) will not be understood or recognized by a normal eye. May note that this claimed ‘letter’ of Afzal resurfaced only days after his last letter, written to his family minutes before his execution, had been disclosed publicly, thereby making available a specimen of his handwriting.  I am not discounting the ability of Azfal’s cousin or questioning his intent but any efficient copy of the handwriting would surely pass his eye as an original. And let us not for a moment even discount the remote possibility of him writing such a ‘letter’; solitary confinement, unending torture and pressures with a looming death penalty for crimes you did not commit could make one write anything. Keep an ordinary man in his place under such extreme situations and chances are that he will even claim to have started 9/11.
But at times even a detailed handwriting test can pass a fake for real. The infamous case of the ‘lost Hitler Diaries’ is a must read in this case. On April 22, 1983 German news magazine ‘Stern’ announced discovery of 60 handwritten journals (diaries) supposedly written by Adolf Hitler. The magazine had paid nearly 9 million German Marks (2.3 million dollars) for the ‘diaries’ to a ‘supposed collector of Nazi memorabilia’ Konrad Kujau, who claimed to have recovered them in an April 1945 air crash wreckage near Dresden. The dairies and the text seemed quite genuine and the diaries were gradually published by the German media while its rights were sold to several international publications.  The London Times (who also purchased the rights) requested 3 international forensic and writing experts to conduct a test for authenticity. After the tests all experts agreed that the diaries were for real and had been written by the same person (Hitler). Later it however took an ink and paper analysis of the diaries to reveal that they were fakes. The paper was found to be in use only after 1954 (while Hitler died in 1945) and the ink test proved that the ‘diaries’ had been written only in last 12 months (prior to the test).
The envisaged repercussions of Afzal’s ‘claimed letter’ are far too many for Kashmir. One it will provide enough material for New Delhi and Indian media to hit back at claims of Afzal’s innocence in the Parliament attack and of a weak trial provided to him. This letter could also be used by forces in Kashmir to quell the discontent that emerged after the hanging and push for an alternative thought for the perceived ‘miscarriage of justice’. In conflicts where the state is often pushing against the popular sentiment on ground, even a purported letter could be used as a psychological tool to subdue minds.
Psychological operations or Psyops is an integral part of any conflict state and such operations are often aimed at ‘deceive, confuse, disrupt and demoralize’. Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu detailed this psychological manipulation as a tool of combat in his ‘The Art of War’. And with decades of experience with Psyops, the possibility of such ‘letters’ being used as another stealth strategy has not been discounted by Kashmiris.
While the journalist who claims to have this ‘letter’ has his right to seek attention and publicity, Kashmiris also have a right to seek answers to their questions. The dead don’t write letters, but the living do demand answers.



By M Saleem Pandit, TNN | Feb 4, 2013, 04.54 AM IST

Fatwa issued against Kashmiri all-girl band
A top clergyman and other separatist groups issued statements and “fatwas” against the girls who have taken refuge in New Delhi after chief minister Omar Abdullah offered support to them on February 3, 2013.
SRINAGAR: Kashmir’s top clergyman, Mufti Azam Mufti Bashiruddin, on Sunday issued a “fatwa” against three Kashmiri girls for being part of a rock band which performed in Srinagar in December 2012.The grand mufti said he has decreed against the girls because music is banned in Islam and girls should imbibe “better values” instead of vices.

“I issued the fatwa where I said to the girls that music is not good for society,” he said. “All bad things happening in the Indian society are because of music,” he added.

Mufti Azaam said, “The parents of the girls should try to correct erring teenage girls and teach them Islamic values instead of exhibiting them as source of entertainment for thousands of people. I will be forced to issue another fatwa if these girls and their parents do not take corrective measures to mend their ways.”

The mufti and other separatist groups issued statements and “fatwas” against the girls who have taken refuge in New Delhi after chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday offered support to them.

The three teenage girls – drummer Farah Deeba, guitarist Aneeka Khalid and vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir – performed at a Srinagar stadium last December organized by Adnan Mattoo and Raheel Khurshid’s Bloodrockz. Their performance came under fire from conservative elements in Kashmiri society and they received threats.

Sources said Omar Abdullah has asked crime branch of the Jammu and Kashmir police to investigate the matter. He said on Twitter that he hoped the talented young girls would continue to pursue their goal and not let a handful of people silence them.

Hurriyat Conference faction headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Sunday expressed surprise over the way Omer Abdullah supported the girls saying that though in a civilized society there is no place for coercion and force but some values have to be adopted to safeguard the ethical, moral and religious traditions.

The Hurriyat faction spokesman Ayaz Akbar said that Kashmir being a sacred place of saints, there is no room for western culture.


January 10, 2013

Growing up in Kashmir, in proximity to death.

Image from Flickr via Tony George

By Ashwaq Masoodi

I was five or six when I first saw a dead body. It was shrouded in a white cloth. The fabric was unevenly smeared with blood. Except for some strands of hair, nothing else was visible.

I was staying with my grandparents in a village in north Kashmir. It was a cold winter morning, and I was doing my homework when I heard some loud cries. People were chanting the Quranic verse, “La ilaha illa Allah” (There is no God but Allah). In Islam, it is believed that whoever recites these verses at the time of death will go to paradise.

I knew someone had died. It had been a young man. I saw women beating their chests and pulling their hair. This is how untimely deaths are mourned in Kashmir.

My grandfather often said that someone had cursed our youth. More young men die than old. More than 70,000 people have died in the past two decades of conflict in Kashmir. Around 5,000 children have been orphaned, and several thousand more have disappeared.

Since the partition of India in 1947, both India and Pakistan have claimed the region. Kashmir was one of several princely states in India that had to accede either to India or Pakistan. Kashmir acceded to India in exchange for military help and the promise of a plebiscite. The United Nations suggested that Kashmiris be allowed to vote on their fate, but it never happened. India continues to govern Kashmir, claiming it as an integral part of the country. Pakistan says it is a disputed territory.

My grandfather often said that someone had cursed our youth. More young men die than old. More than 70,000 people have died in the past two decades of conflict in Kashmir.

In late 1980s, many youngsters took to arms against Indian rule in reaction to the government-sponsored rigging of elections. The government tried to crush the emotionally charged uprising, killing thousands of people in the process. The toll kept on rising.

The young man from my grandparent’s village was one of the dead.

Granny rushed to the old wooden window and peeked out, biting the end of her headscarf restlessly. I followed her. I could hear her muffled sobs. She knew the young man who had died.

After the funeral, Granny, Uncle, and Mother sat in the room adjacent to mine. I heard them talking. The man who had died was their neighbor, Farooq. He was around 22. I had played with him only two days before. Like many others, his had been a case of mistaken identity. The army had thought he was a militant or what they later called “a militant sympathizer.”

I cried for days. I understood that people could die, but I couldn’t imagine I would know any of them, that it would happen to someone I had played with. My mother said wailing over the dead is forbidden in Islam and that God would be angry if I did so. I stopped crying in front of her, but kept thinking of Farooq’s death. I could not grasp why people died. I still can’t.

Years after Farooq’s death, I started writing obituaries—an obituary for my doll, my cousin’s toy gun, for my mother’s brother. Later, the obituaries of strangers.

My first long piece was about my doll, which had been broken into pieces by soldiers during a search of our house. They had suspected a bomb was in its belly.

I started hating murderers. But I had no idea who was fighting whom. Only six years old, I didn’t know what the Kashmir conflict was. All I knew was that I hated the army.

My mother always scolded me for making “anti-India” comments. I was not allowed to express anger against India in front of anyone. Nobody was. Even today, nobody is.

My father never let me play with toy guns. He would always get angry when I asked for one. I remember the anger in his eyes when he broke my cousin brother’s silver toy gun. He crushed it and then smashed it against the wall. He said, “Is there such a scarcity of guns in Kashmir that you want one now? Do you want to die?”

I was told stories about soldiers beating up children during search operations because they owned guns, but I do not know if that ever actually happened.

When I grew older, I studied in a Christian missionary school in Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir. Every second day, my school was shut because of a bomb blast, or an “encounter” between the armed forces and militants. “Encounter” is a local term, used to describe a crossfire.

I went to college in New Delhi, India’s capital. It was a different world. Civilians were not scared of the army there.

Our teachers would secretly help us escape from the school. We had a special route for these days that I liked. We had to pass through the boulevard along the River Jehlum, the “bund,” as it is locally called.

I loved looking at the majestic Chinars on the banks of the river. I loved Jehlum. The river held something we all craved. I still sit on its bank and watch it flow peacefully, with freedom.

As a child I liked to play with firecrackers. I would wait for Eid, the religious holiday of Muslims, to burn them. I loved the popping sound, the bright lights. Very soon, the conflict dampened my appetite for this kind of merriment. I hated every sound resembling the intermittent bombings and gunfire.

At 2:00 p.m. on October 1, 2001, Uncle, my mother’s brother, was passing through the Kashmir State Assembly when a grenade exploded. He and at least thirty other people were killed, and seventy-five wounded. The Pakistan-based Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, apparently fighting for the independence of Kashmir, claimed responsibility. I do not know if they actually carried out the attack. Maybe they did, or maybe not.

It was Uncle’s birthday. He had been married for just over a year and had a 3-month-old son. When my father gave us the news, my mother cried bitterly and supported herself against the wall because she couldn’t stand properly. I had never seen my mother cry like that, ever. Her sea green eyes turned red. She sought forgiveness from Allah for being sad over His decision, and for crying endlessly. Still, she could not control her tears.

I couldn’t understand why the militant group carried out the attack. No lawmakers were killed or injured in the explosion. I didn’t know exactly what I was feeling. I was sad, but something else was happening inside me. I thought about this incident for a long time.

I started writing about everything that bothered me, everything I couldn’t speak about. Giving words to the conflict, within and outside, changed me.

I went to college in New Delhi, India’s capital. It was a different world. Civilians were not scared of the army there. The army did not kill innocents. Toy guns were no big deal and soldiers never broke any dolls. I thought it was a good way of taking a break from the killings and angst with which I had grown up. I don’t know if I was right.

When my classmates boasted about Indian democracy, I was always annoyed. Such discussions became increasingly difficult to tolerate. I wanted to speak but could not. I knew how hard it would be for a free person to understand what it feels like to be deprived of that freedom.

I found it tough to make friends. Movies, shopping, or weekend trips didn’t fascinate me. I was always worried that something bad would happen back home. I was surprised to see how people of my age behaved. Going to cinemas, drinking, dining, and shopping were so important to them. I was amazed by what fun meant to them. I was amazed to see their freedom. Not that I hated these things, they just seemed unimportant.

We don’t have cinemas in Kashmir. They were burned down at the peak of militancy. Nobody in Kashmir cares about cinemas, with may be a few exceptions. There are hardly any coffee shops. There were maybe one or two by the time I left for Delhi.

I started writing about what was happening in Kashmir. It was a relief. I knew I liked writing, but never knew it was a panacea for me. I started writing about everything that bothered me, everything I couldn’t speak about. Giving words to the conflict, within and outside, changed me. Writing answered my questions. Writing soothed me.

I worked in Delhi as a journalist for around three years. During this period, I went to Kashmir for two months in 2010. I was to cover the civil unrest, in which 117 civilians were killed within three months. A 17-year-old, Tufail Mattoo, died after being hit by a tear gas shell. He was on his way to private tutoring. Mattoo was caught in a skirmish between anti-India protestors and security forces, who fired the shell. His brain was spilled out and his eyes were half open. The night I heard about it I couldn’t eat.

As more and more youth died that summer, I kept writing obituaries. Soon, I lost the count of the dead.

Ashwaq Masoodi was born in Kashmir and is currently a student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism on a Fulbright fellowship.



DILLI CHALO: was a call given out by women organisations participating in a big convention at Srinagar on Peace and Justice for Kashmiri women impacted so terribly by conflict, on October 30.
On December 10, International Human Rights Day, women organisations in Delhi are organising a Public Meeting at Jantar Mantar from 11a.m. Kashmiri Women suffering from the decades old conflict will be travelling to Delhi for the meeting

Members of Parliament, activists and others will also participate.

Do spare the time to stand in solidarity with the women of Kashmir.
Following were resolutions adopted in Srinagar on October 30:

1) Demilitarisation;

2) Withdrawal of AFSPA, PSA and all other draconian laws;

3) Immediate trial and punishment of security personnel and all others
accused of rape and molestation,

4) Release of political prisoners,

5) Rehabilitation of widows and half widows that must include employment,

6) Compilation of data of missing persons, and a time-bound
investigation into the cases,

7) Appointment of a Commission of Inquiry under an impartial judge and
experts into the present condition of women in Jammu and Kashmir;

8) Setting up hospitals for women to treat both physical and mental
ailments in Srinagar and other towns in Jammu and Kashmir;

9) Resettlement of Pandits;

10) Fast track courts; and

11) A Dilli Chalo march to Jantar Mantar on December 10, 2012.

So lets stand together on the International Human Rights Day.

Bula Devi

Web Editor

Centre for Policy Analysis

N 24 A, First Floor,
Green Park Extension,
New Delhi – 110016
Ph:- 011-26176992, 40564839
Mobile 9810950439


By Farah Bashir, Kindle  Magazine

A few weeks back, I met three journalists in Delhi. Two of them had flown from Srinagar, the same afternoon; while the third one lives in the Indian capital.
As we were chatting in a quaint cafe; one of the two, who had travelled from Srinagar, received a phone call, and went outside to answer it. It took her a while before she returned looking visibly hassled.  “They have raided his house again.  As expected, they were asking for his hard disc.’ She was talking about an independent journalist who had, of late, become the target for harassment at the hands of Kashmir police.

After that phone call, our friendly chat took a serious turn as the journalists, from Srinagar, mentioned how such police raids were increasingly becoming commonplace in the Valley.

The state authorities keep an eye to suppress any report that might not cohere with the picture of ‘constructed peace’ that it has been painting. Pertinent to mention, earlier this year, sixteen people were detained for being suspects in using social media to instigate violence. It comes as no surprise that the state government has created a ‘cell’ to monitor content in cyber space. ‘The police’s cyber cell has acquired sophisticated internet Protocol tools to trace the people uploading objectionable content on Facebook and other social networking sites. Over the period of time, many sites openly advocated freedom for Kashmir,’ reports Peerzada Ashiq in Hindustan Times.

Such behavior on the part of the state reeks of desperation to cure its own paranoia by whatever means it can.

Creating ‘New’ Reality:

Curbing dissent and hushing ‘voices’ has proven to be an effective strategy employed by the state authorities which is busy creating a ‘new reality’ to manage the peace discourse.
Starting with uploading pictures of Tulip Garden on Twitter by Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, to some Indian journalists writing about ‘Kashmir wanting to move on’ but its past being held hostage by a handful of ‘elites’; or the news of ‘ten Kashmiri applicants’ who had appeared for the civil services of India, and such related pieces of information, is an attempt to carve a parallel narrative of ‘normalcy’ returning to the valley.
The discourse has been strategically crafted and executed since 2011 during which the news of valley receiving ‘one million tourists,’ made rounds in the news sphere, whereas the arrests of teenage boys (couple of which I accidentally happened to witness) remained under wraps. While Indian and international press continued to write how, ‘…Kashmir Valley is enjoying an unexpected season of tranquility. Tourists from across India have descended on the valley, filling just about every airplane seat, hotel room and houseboats…,’ there was no report about the restiveness followed by the arrests. That is because the motive has been to focus on suppressing the news of any incident which stands the remotest chance to burst the precarious bubble of ‘constructed peace.’
However, ‘…in this peace discourse what has been forgotten are the promises made in the Assembly when youths were killed on the streets in 2010.’

Mock Peace Strategies

In order to support the ‘constructed peace,’ the state is keeping people busy by creating situations, at cultural and social levels, and then offers solutions making it appear as though it is busy solving issues (that it schemes in the first place).
A method commonly called “problem -reaction- solution” is very well adopted by the state in which the government ‘creates a problem, a “situation” referred to cause some reaction in the audience,’ and provides an alternative or a solution to look like a savior of sorts.
One such instance that comes to mind was government’s plan to demolish two historically and culturally significant bridges: Zaina Kadal and Zero Bridge. Only after much provoked anger and indignation; intervention by heritage conservationists, the opposition PDP, articles appearing online, in newspapers, campaigns started on social media, and the chief minister urged, by various people on Twitter, to take action against the demolition; were the decisions altered: not to demolish the monumental Zaina Kadal, and only ‘repair’ Zero Bridge.
Such pre-meditated tactics are announced to divert the attention of the masses to social issues, and digress from the unsolved political dispute that Kashmir is.
The real threat that an ordinary Kashmiri faces is the impunity that shields Indian troopers under black laws such as AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), DAA (Disturbed Area Act) and PSA (Public Safety Act). In January, this year, a youth, Atlaf Ahmad Sood, was shot dead by CISF, at Boniyar in north Kashmir’s Uri town of Baramulla district. ‘The CISF personnel had opened firing on the people, who were protesting against lack of electricity supply, without any provocation.’

Perceived Peace

The noise of ‘constructed peace’ trying to form the plinth of a ‘new reality’ conveniently brushes aside the casualties of the armed rebellion, that broke out in Kashmir against the Indian rule (in 1989) which include the loss of 80,000 lives, thousands of enforced disappearances, and ‘the presence of unmarked graves at 38 sites near the mountains of Kashmir,’ as reported by State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), a human rights body appointed by the state government.

Author James Baldwin argues, ‘…leaving aside the bloody catalogue of oppression which we are too familiar with any way–what the system does to the subjugated is to destroy (…) sense of reality.’

A few weeks ago, someone had tweeted about the death of Sajid Ahmad Darzi, the 13-year-old protestor who lost his arm before succumbing to the injuries received during the anti-India protests in 2010. I favourited the tweet and some others re-tweeted it before the news of his death got lost in a maze of thousands of tweets including the ones which carried the articles and write ups on normalcy and peace returning to the valley.

(Farah Bashir, a former photojournalist, works as a researcher. She lives in Singapore.)