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منگل، 21 ستمبر، 2010

Kashmir: Towards Independence

By Sajjad Shaukat
 While India has been claiming that Kashmir uprising has slowed down, but it has intensified in the recent weeks. In this respect, on September 13 this year, Indian forces killed more than 22 protesters in confrontations across the Indian-held Kashmir (IHK), fueled in part by a report that the Holy Quran was desecrated in the US.
Despite a rigid curfew clamped across the region, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets, throwing rocks, torching government buildings and chanting, “Go India, go back. We want freedom.” Within the last few days, the death toll of the innocent Kashmiris reached 100.
The violence, the worst since demonstrations erupted in June, came as Indian officials debated whether to ease harsh security regulations to try to ease tensions in the disputed territory.
The anger in the streets of the occupied Kashmir is far greater than in previous protests and the deaths of the Kashmiri freedom fighters are a huge challenge for the Indian Congress-led government which has been criticised for failing to treat the protests seriously, underscoring a policy limbo in New Delhi that may spill over into tension with Pakistan. In this context, on September 13, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) could not take any decision on Kashmir situation or withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which grants sweeping powers to open fire, detain suspects and confiscate property�but decided to convene an all-party meeting. The All-Party Conference (APC), convened by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on September 15, 2010 to discuss measures to end the current violence in Jammu and Kashmir failed to take any appropriate decision in order to control the situation.

Kashmir is so rapidly moving towards independence as the intensification of the movement shows that even President Sonia Gandhi discussed the withdrawal of the AFSPA from the Kashmir Valley, but could not reached any decision in this regard. However, the Indian government remains undecided�either to use lethal or non-lethal weapons on the stone-throwing protesters, raising the slogans for liberation. While on the one hand, Indian security forces say that they have been exercising maximum restraint in connection with the new round of demonstrations, but on the other, the lethal weapons, they employ are killing and injuring more people in the Indian-Held Kashmir.
Inspite of curfew-like restrictions, arrests and detentions including killings, Kashmir movement continues unabated. Rocked by violence and unrest, the intensification of the uprising in the Indian controlled Kashmir could be judged from the fact that the Valley is now facing the threat of a civil disobedience, as in the recent past, seven senior civil and police officers have refused to take up their duties. A large number of officers have refused to accept challenging assignments in different districts including Srinagar, Baramulla and Kupwara and preferred being posted in relatively peaceful areas of the state. Following the killing of a youth in Baramulla district, the state government has ordered a reshuffle in the police administration.
In fact, the Kashmir movement has entered the stage of ‘now or never’ due to the failure of Indian continued tactics of state terrorism such as curfew, firing at innocent Kashmiris, killings and arrests which could not reduce the strong determination of the people of the Valley, calling for freedom of their land.
However, more than 1000 innocent people have so far been massacred by the Indian security forces in the controlled territories of Kashmir since the new uprising started. It also includes the people killed by the Indian forces in the fake encounters. Now, the Kashmiris are calling for their genuine right of self-determination.
Unlike the past, this time Indian occupied Kashmir has become a special focus of world’s attention including India itself. In this regard, Washington Post had reported on August 28, 2008, “Despite the government’s use of force, many Muslims in Indian controlled Kashmir seem determined to find peaceful ways to voice their aspirations as the nonviolent movement by the unarmed protesters flourishes, especially among the young”.
New critical situation has also affected other parts of India and its gravity could be judged from the fact that even Indian intellectuals have favoured the independence of the occupied Kashmir.
In its editorial, the editor of The Times of India wrote, “On August 15, India celebrated independence from the British Raj. A day symbolising the end of colonialism in India became a day symbolising Indian colonialism in the Valley.”
The editor further elaborated, “We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India”. It was also admitted that subsequent state elections were also rigged in support of leaders nominated by New Delhi.
On August 16, 2008, Hindustan Times wrote: “Nothing has really changed since 1990s. A single spark can set the whole valley on fire�Indian forces are treated as an army of occupation. New Delhi is seen as the oppressor”. The paper further indicated, “The current crisis in Kashmir is a consequence of Indian establishment, raising the confrontation to a new level”. It realised that during the present demonstrations, “there is active hatred of India, threatening to further internationalise the present crisis. The world looks at us with dismay”. This Indian newspaper clearly suggested a referendum in the Valley, writing, “Let the Kashmiris determine their own destiny�whatever happens, how can India lose? If you believe in democracy, then giving Kashmiris the right of self-determination is the correct thing to do”.
It is of particular attention that demanding immediate withdrawal of Indian Army from the Indian controlled Kashmir, a renowned Indian author and book prize winner, Arundhati Roy, while criticizing the Indian media had already pointed out in 2005 that it failed to highlight the plight of ordinary Kashmiris, exposed to brutalities perpetrated by the Indian security forces.
As regards Indian delaying tactics regarding the solution of Kashmir dispute, it has become fashion to blame Pakistan and its intelligence agency ISI for infiltration, using it as a pretext to crush the Kashmiri’s war of liberation which is indigenous as now recognized even by the Indian media.
Under the cover of ISI, New Delhi also wants to distract the attention of the west from her atrocities, being perpetrated on the Kashmiris. In the recent past, hundreds of unidentified graves with more than 3000 bodies were discovered in the Indian-held Kashmir. Sources have accused Indian RAW of the custodial killings of the Kashmiri people through brutal methods. In this context, even the European Parliament has passed a resolution, condemning New Delhi for human rights violations.
Since 1989, India has deployed more than 500000 troops to quell the freedom movement of Kashmiris, but it cannot eliminate it at present as it could not do so through many years of oppression. Instead, a study report, prepared by Indian government revealed that Kashmir violence has been affecting Indian forces’ psyche. In this connection, the report has disclosed that disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir have had adverse psychological problems found especially among the officers and Jawans such as an increase in short tempers, quarrelsome attitude, mental disorders and abnormal behaviour. Sometimes, the situation leads to suicide attempts or attacks on their seniors and colleagues.
Now, it is a turning point for the independence of Kashmir as the Valley is burning and bleeding. It is ample clear that India still wants to equate the innocent Kashmiris with terrorism and is keen to continue its state terrorism in Kashmir. It does not show any serious willingness to settle this issue in accordance with the wishes of struggling Kashmiris. Every body will agree that it is the right hour to resolve this old dispute on which Pakistan and India fought three wars.
Nonetheless, the magnitude of the current movement is unprecedented in the history. The slogans for liberation in every nook and corner of India have strained New Delhi since independence. No doubt, Kashmir has reached the phase of solution. Taking cognizance of the new developments seriously at this sensitive juncture, Pakistani and Kashmiri leaders must take steps, making combined efforts to resolve this thorny issue. In this respect, Pakistani government, Kashmir leadership, other Kashmiris, living in the Sub-continent and abroad must keep the tea pot boiling by highlighting the dispute, voicing the aspirations of the people for freedom. It is hoped that the day is not far away when the Kashmiris will be blessed with the fruits of independence.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations. Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

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