By Ali Sukhanver
“Go India! Go back! We want freedom!” the charismatically enchanting valley of Srinagar was resonating with the ear-piercing slogans raised by the hundreds of protesters who had gathered there after the Eid prayers. The Indian security forces started firing shots in the air and used teargas to disperse the violent crowd but all in vain. The protesters transformed into a procession and proceeded towards the main city and ultimately started hurling stones at the police. So many injured, so many arrested .That is how the people of Indian held Kashmir celebrated their one of the most sacred religious festivals The Eid-ul-Azha on 17th of November 2010. The most pathetic event of the day was that the Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were disallowed to lead Eid-ul-Azha prayers. These leaders condemned the action of the Indian government as a ‘blatant infringement of people’s religious rights’. The International Herald Tribune reports, ‘Authorities deployed thousands of troops in Srinagar to prevent a repeat of massive protests that hit the city two months ago on Eid-ul- Fitr.The commercial Lal Chowk area, where protesters hoisted Islamic and Pakistani flags during the last holiday, was sealed with barbed wire.’
Such type of actions and reactions are a routine matter for the people of Indian held Kashmir but the government hi-ups are never ready to pay any attention to them. Few weeks back, the Indian Army Chief General V.K. Singh claimed in an interview with Raj Chengappa, Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, “96 per cent of the complaints of human rights violations against the Army have been found to be false. Indian Army is concerned about its image in the rural areas of Kashmir. There is enormous goodwill for the Army. Even in times of crises these areas have been quiet and peaceful and people have not supported agitations.” Commenting upon the statement of the Supreme Court of India regarding the misuse of AFSPA he said, “The Indian Army has a ‘human rights’ cell within its rank which takes very serious action against any odd offender who misuses his power. The Army does it even faster than a fast-track court.” Let us see how rapidly this ‘Human rights ‘cell responds to the cruelty of the Indian security forces on the Eid day in Srinagar.
As per rules and regulations the security forces of any country must be the custodians of human rights and civil privileges but in the Indian Occupied Kashmir the situation is altogether different. Under the shield of AFSPA, the security forces are butchering and slaughtering the innocent people. The Armed Forces Special Power Act of 1958, commonly known as ‘a draconian law’ allows even a junior non-commissioned officer to ‘shoot to kill’ on mere suspicion in order to maintain ‘Public Order’. This license to murder is widely misused by the security forces in India particularly in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Some of the moderate politicians of India call this license ‘a trigger-happy culture of governance’. The Act has been employed in the Indian administrated state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1990. Various human rights activists have ever been expressing their reservations regarding this inhuman and brutal Act but they are never listened to. On 23 March 2009, UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay asked India to rescind the AFSPA. She termed the law as ‘a law that violates contemporary international human rights standards.” Unfortunately her recommendations were never given any importance. In the name of maintenance of law and order situation in the valley of Occupied Kashmir the Indian Security Forces are using AFSPA as a license to do what they like. They are committing heinous crimes of victimizing the innocent Kashmiris. Under the shield of AFSPA the young Kashmiris are being kept under illegal detention, women are molested, children are tortured, houses are ransacked and shops are burnt. In short this draconian law is not only generating terrorism but also favouring and supporting it. The USA claims that it is fighting a war against terrorism but it is something very ridiculous that USA never paid any heed to the horrible human rights violation carried on under the shield of AFSPA. . This criminal silence of USA on grave human rights violations committed by Indian armed forces in IOK calls in question the earnestness and sincerity of the so-called Global War on Terror.
The Indian occupation forces are trying their utmost to suppress the freedom movement in Kashmir by using coercive techniques to intimidate Kashmiris but they have yet not succeeded in defeating the people of Kashmir who are determined with an unwavering resolve to fight for their just cause in order to get their rights of self-determination. The Indian media is making an effort to confuse the world by portraying the Kashmir movement as a Muslim movement. Some of the ‘paid’ analysts are struggling to connect this freedom movement with jihad and Muslim extremism. But there are countless Hindu and Sikh scholars to whom the Indian occupation on Kashmir is the worst example of human rights’ violation. Ms Arundhati Roy is also one of such impartial and unprejudiced scholars. While addressing a seminar in J&K, a few days back, she accused India of launching a protracted war to suppress the ongoing movement in Kashmir by its military might. She said, “Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I was told about three teenagers in Anantnag district, who were taken into custody by the security forces and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones. I met people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get justice from India. They believe that freedom from India is their only hope.” The worst situation of human rights violation in Indian Occupied Kashmir is bringing a bad name to the ‘Incredible India’. It could prove itself the ‘most incredible’ if it succeeds in wiping off the dirt-blobs like AFSPA from its face. It is the moral responsibility of the whole of Indian nation to compel the government of India to listen to the agonizing moaning sighs of the helpless people of Kashmir.
The author is a Pakistan based bilingual analyst on defence and strategic affairs.