Kashmir Bleeds, Does Anyone Heed?

Befittingly termed once as ‘Heaven on Earth’, with millions martyred since the past 6 decades, thousands of half-widows, orphans and missing – Kashmir today is a Palestine-in-the-making of Asia.

As the Kashmir intifada continues, anyone keeping a keen eye on the serpentine course of events there is bound to be surprised as to why the coverage and attention of international media does not keep up with the importance and intensity of resistance to the Indian Occupation of the region?1

For the past six decades, Kashmir has hung in the region as a pendulum of conflict between two countries with only one demand of the Kashmiri people, Azadi or freedom from Indian Occupation and their right to self-determination.

It has been tried to stifle this voice of theirs by bullets, lynching, rape, arrests, arson and humiliation which are what solely today’s Kashmiri youth or the Sang-baaz (Stonepelters) have grown up knowing as gruesome child-hood memories.

But what needs to be highlighted, is how the international community is turning a deaf ear to the cries of Kashmir today when they are ringing higher than ever.

Aalaw (Meaning ‘call’ in Kashur), is a site set-up by ordinary Kashmiris to help show the ground-realities there. It has updated the list of killings in Kashmir since 11th June:

“Summer in Kashmir has been drenched in blood which witnessed killing of many civilians, mostly teenagers, allegedly in police and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) action mostly since June.”

113 people have been murdered brutally and one can gauge if this is the case for 4 months, what really has been happening in Kashmir for the past 63 years.

The atrocities in Kashmir can also be recognized by a data included by Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir a few years back:

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS COMMITTED BY INDIAN TROOPS IN IOK

(FROM JANUARY 1989 TO FEBRUARY 2006)
Total Killings 90,776
Custodial Killings 6,817
Civilians Arrested 111,269
Houses/Shops Destroyed 105,143
Women Widowed 22,371
Children Orphaned 106,616
Women Molested 9,637

(Source: All Parties Hurriyat Conference)

After much happening, recently the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon evinced his cognizance of the savagery in Kashmir by hesitatingly issuing a feeble statement (calling an “immediate end to violence” and pleading for “calm and restraint by all concerned”, thus equating the people of Kashmir with their oppressors) expressing concern over the situation there but by knowingly not addressing India which should be directly done as expected from the Head of an organization as the United Nations.

It is pertinent to mention here that Kashmiri population is only demanding that they should be given their rights of self determination under the UN Resolution. That leaves one to wonder what the purpose of the UN is if it lacks the will to exert pressure to execute the process defined under its own resolution leave alone stopping tyranny anywhere.

This dispute is also viewed as a possible cause of a future ‘nuclear clash’ between India and Pakistan therefore making the conflict a matter of international importance.

One would concur with what Ms. Maria Sultan wrote: “The liberation movement is often depicted as a ‘terrorist’ militancy instigated primarily by Pakistan.”

It is doubtless that the foreign media, for a long period, has portrayed the freedom struggle of Kashmir wrapped in a dirty glaze of militancy and extremism (which is exactly what the oppressors in the case: India, have shown to be which would be similar to believing what Israel has to say about Palestine) showing the people of Kashmir to be terrorists funded by Pakistan which is certainly irrational to say the least.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated at the UN: “No one any longer can seriously believe … that Pakistan can orchestrate thousands of people…”

This time, the Intifada in Kashmir is not about men only but it involves women and children, armed with stones and sticks, stepping out to defy the curfew or protest.

The Sang-Baaz have taken to the streets and become a single force mirroring the rise of the third Kashmiri generation in resistance to Indian Occupation.

Tariq Ali wrote a brilliant article, ‘Not Crushed, Merely Ignored,’ in July over the killings in Kashmir, him being in oblivion about them and the Foreign Media hypocrisy over it:

….As far as I could see, none of the British daily papers or TV news bulletins had covered the stories in Kashmir; after that I rescued two emails from Kashmir informing me of the horrors from my spam box. I was truly shamed. The next day I scoured the press again. Nothing. The only story in the Guardian from the paper’s Delhi correspondent – a full half-page – was headlined: ‘Model’s death brings new claims of dark side to India’s fashion industry’. Accompanying the story was a fetching photograph of the ill-fated woman. The deaths of (at that point) 11 young men between the ages of 15 and 27, shot by Indian security forces in Kashmir, weren’t mentioned.

Later I discovered that a short report had appeared in the New York Times on 28 June and one the day after in the Guardian; there has been no substantial follow-up. When it comes to reporting crimes committed by states considered friendly to the West, atrocity fatigue rapidly kicks in.

An Amnesty International letter to the Indian prime minister in 2008 listed his country’s human rights abuses in Kashmir and called for an independent inquiry, claiming that ‘grave sites are believed to contain the remains of victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses which occurred in the context of armed conflict persisting in the state since 1989. The graves of at least 940 persons have reportedly been found in 18 villages in Uri district alone.

The figures provided by the IPTK are startling. It claims that the Indian military occupation of Kashmir ‘between 1989-2009 has resulted in 70,000+ deaths’. The report disputes claims that these killings are aberrations. On the contrary, they are part of the occupation process, considered as ‘acts of service’, and leading to promotion and financial reward (bounty is paid after claims made by officers are verified). In this dirty and enduring conflict, more than half a million ‘military and paramilitary personnel [more than the number of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan combined] continue to act with impunity to regulate movement, law and order across Kashmir.

M Yusuf Buch, a former adviser to the UN and former Pakistani ambassador wrote an excellent and a must-read piece on Kashmir under the heading of ‘India’s Festering Wound In Kashmir’, starting from the beginning of the conflict, India’s reneges and failure to honor its pledges by Nehru, the response of the world to it to the recent-day events there:

The Kashmir dispute has persisted for more than six decades and, to put it simply, the world has become used to it. Second, the United Nations has been marginalized during the last two decades with the consequence that the Charter is beginning to be looked upon as almost an antique. Third, callousness, if not outright cynicism, has become the reserve fund of diplomacy. Blindness to human reality is reflected in the vocabulary employed when situations of international conflict are talked about. Two adjectives used when an indirect reference (a direct reference, mind you, would be frowned upon by India) is made to Kashmir: the adjectives: ‘historical” and ‘long-standing’. Factually, the adjectives are not wrong. But they come handy because by drawing a curtain over reality, they provide a moral justification for studied inaction.

We might interpose a question or two here. What is ‘historical’ about the young woman who has just been widowed and gang-raped? What is ‘long-standing’ about the elderly man whose only son, his sole support, has been killed? Again, what is ‘long-standing’ about the hordes of unarmed teenagers who are resorting to the practice of pelting the Indian occupation troops with stones in Srinagar and other cities.

… India stations more troops in Kashmir than the United States did or does in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Can this situation be dismissed as ‘historical’ and ‘long-standing’?

If it is being so dismissed at present, the dismissal is aided by the language employed. We are being told of an ‘insurgency’ in Kashmir. The term may not be inaccurate but it promotes a misperception. What is going on in Kashmir is not an insurgency against an authority that was once regarded as legitimate; it is a resistance to alien military occupation.

The uprising in Kashmir has been marked more than once by the entire male population of the cities (excepting only the aged, the sick and children) coming out together in the streets to demonstrate peacefully against India’s military presence in their homeland. Could such a pointer have been mistaken, or would it have been allowed to be mistaken, far less ignored, if it had happened in a Western country?

It is visible that India has emerged as a vibrant and growing economy in Asia, offering much to the Western countries and this ‘E’ Reason is one of th major causes behind the almost non-existent standpoint on Kashmir of the ‘Superpowers’ and those countries that have claimed to be the torch-bearers of human rights previously. India is a much-needed ally of the USA in South Asia as a counterweight against China, which leaves the sensitive issue to be either vaguely or rarely addressed as to not miff them thus acquiescing with their ‘Atoot Ang’ (Kashmir an integral part of India) farce.

Written back in 2005, ‘The Atoot Ang Farce’ points out:

India has responded to this uncontrollable situation in three ways: it has isolated the occupied state by denying access to international human rights groups and media; it is perpetrating systematic atrocities in the form of collective punishment, mass killing, mass confinement, inhuman and degrading treatment, torture, starvation, molestation and rape – over 31000 women have been either molested or raped- arson, loot and custodial killings; facts are being distorted and the freedom movement is being propagated as terrorism with support from Pakistan. Indian media has helped its government in camouflaging the reality in Kashmir by churning out lies, fabrications, excuses, blames, abuses and myths.

If not the International Community, one expects the foreign media to stop its selective coverage and come to show Kashmir as a disputed territory.

In today’s era has become a powerful instrument for sparking awareness in minds all over the world and a catalyst for setting the stage for a change. Its role in covering the diverse incidents of cruelties were vital in making the people and Governments watching them, imbued with the feeling of their moral responsibility to adopt a firm stance on such issues.

Children as young as 8 are being killed in Kashmir, youthful and innocent Kashmiri girls are raped in front of their brothers and fathers yet there is no protest from the world, while when a woman is ordered to be stoned to death on the charges of adultery in Iran – even the First lady of France speaks up. People are not allowed to give blood to their injured or the dying loved ones in hospitals due to curfews. Where is the world on this? Where are all the activists? Why this silence and bias?

Even Indian Civil Society Members have protested against the open genocide in Kashmir. And it should be remembered that Kashmiris are against the Indian Government, not the people, who are in a state of amnesia regarding the promises their revered PM Nehru had made over Kashmir which they failed to fulfill : Mere rhetoric will not do, both Governments need to set Kashmir as a top priority as there can be no peace in Asia along with the establishment of its presence between the two nations, without this quagmire being solved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiris.

  1. Read the precise history of the issue under the sub-title of ‘Background of the Kashmir Conflict.’ []
Hasaf Khawaja is an O-levels student in Lahore, Pakistan. She is ardent writer and a keen observer of world affairs who can be reached at: hafsaomar21@hotmail.com. Read other articles by Hafsa, or visit Hafsa's website.

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. kalidas said on October 9th, 2010 at 11:00am #

    And what of the Kashmiri Pundits?
    Some 500,00 of them.
    Where are they?
    What happened to them?

  2. Ismail Zayid said on October 9th, 2010 at 4:24pm #

    Kashmir and Palestine have a great deal in common. Their people have been denied their fundamental right of self determination thanks to British imperial interests. Furthermore their plight and suffering meets a deafening silence from the international community. Their struggle will inevitably continue.

  3. Hafsa Khawaja said on October 10th, 2010 at 11:08am #

    Kalidas, there is no denying that those Kashmiri Pundits were terrorized and threatened to leave Kashmir in the past years, which many of them did thus the damage to the ever-known and admired bond of Kashmiriyat which signifies peace and harmony between all people residing there, it is the core essence beneath the Valley. But we must not circle out oppression against a single community, because that would cause more divisions and conflicts. Kashmir belongs to its people, no matter what their class, creed or religion. The struggle there is based on the rights of all not a single religion.

    _________________________________________________________

    Ismail Zayid, I completely concur with what you have stated.
    From wherever the British imperialists went, they left behind a bone of contention between many.
    The global defeaning silence is what is more piercing for the suppressed in both Palestine and Kashmir and we must play our part in making others aware of these two.
    The struggle will continue and freedom will be achieved.

  4. Rehmat said on October 10th, 2010 at 1:46pm #

    “Ultimately, I say this with all deference to this Parliament – the decision will be made in the hearts and minds of the men and women of Kashmir; neither in this Parliament, nor in the United Nations nor by anybody else,” Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Primr Minister of India, August 7, 1952.

    “The Kashmiri Freedom movement is often portrayed as a communal movement where Kashmiri Muslims are pitted against the Hindus, but this is far from true. There is a rich tradition of Kashmiriyat – a composite cultural identity with the glorious traditions of communal amity, tolerance and compassion – in the Valley dating back several centuries,” Akhila Raman, an Indian researcher on the Kashmir conflict.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/kashmir-the-valley-of-blood/

  5. kalidas said on October 11th, 2010 at 7:01am #

    Hafsa Khawaja, I hear you and that sounds very nice.
    Problem is, it’s rather pointless to preach to no one, isn’t it?

    “Kashmir belongs to its people, no matter what their class, creed or religion. The struggle there is based on the rights of all not a single religion.”

    Sounds great! Wonderful!
    Only one problem. .

    First you acknowledge the Kashmiris WERE cleansed and then you proceed to talk of unity and “can’t we all just get along.”
    How does that work? When you cleanse one group of people, in this case the original inhabitants with roots not merely hundreds of years old, but thousands, there no longer IS any need for negotiations due to there no longer being any “other.”

    After all, it does take two to tango and when one of the two is eliminated, the dance is over. Isn’t it?

    But then again that does also eliminate any need to “circle out oppression against a single community, because that would cause more divisions and conflicts.”
    Because now there’s no one to circle out.

    Amazing how that works..

  6. Hafsa Khawaja said on October 15th, 2010 at 11:58am #

    No need for sarcasm, a straight message won’t hurt.

    Starting off, I don’t believe you understood what I meant when saying the Pandits were terrorized. Terrorized by the past Indian Government and some by the militants.

    If you call the miniscule minority of Pandits as ‘Kashmiris were cleansed!”, you need to get your facts right. A year back, I read it on an Indian site that their Government had on record accepted that two hundred fourteen (214) Pandits were killed in Kashmir. I don’t want a Pandit Vs. Muslim debate because killing of any human is wrong but if you compare that with almost 1.5 lakh Muslim martyrs and still call it ethnic cleansing – please think again.

    I’m sure you know of the Governor Jagmohan. It was his plan to plan an exodus and project the freedom struggle as communal and gain international sympathy. He almost succeeded. Pandits left the valley in thousands. Some people say he had assured the pandits that once he wipes off the Muslim rebellion, they (Pandits) could return and rule the land. I have talked to Kashmiris living under the Indian Occupation and these are their words that as the armed struggle prolonged the pandits with the help of local brokers sold their houses and land.

    Pandits are a minority, not the whole of Kashmir. Muslims have had roots in the Valley too as much as them.

    “Other”? You seem to deny the presence of the majority of Muslim Kashmiris there. This is sheer idiocy.

    And I fail to understand one thing, if the struggle of Kashmiris is a communal struggle, why did they miss out on the thousands of Sikhs there? However little in number the Christians are there, why weren’t they forced out?

    Original inhabitants? This is the 21st Century. If we start going back to the ‘original inhabitants’ of the countries where we reside in today, we’d have no where to go. You need to get back to today.

    For you, there may be no need for negotiations but for those who are aware to the oppression and genocide going on there, it is.

    Amazing indeed.