Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To America with Love

Naseer A Ganai

Even the United States would be surprised if it comes across its fans in Kashmir. Not fans, it has lovers here! I think whole Kashmir has fallen for it. It is sort of masochistic relationship. In bollywood terminology, it is one-sided affair. The affair, in which Kashmiris have taken thousands of troubles to get attention of America. But the beloved America had other priorities.
Upto 1990 it had Russian concerns and it was busy with Afghan jihad to oust communists from Afghan soil. Once the mission was accomplished, it forgot Afghanistan and the Afghans. During Bush senior era it switched to Iraq and went after Saddam Hussain describing his nuclear weapons as threat to the World peace. In relatively peace time of President Clinton, it was caught between beautiful legs of Monica Lewinsky.
In Bush junior period America went back to Iraq. Instead of weapons of mass destruction it found Saddam in tiny cellar in Trkrit and presented his head to the world.

Then 9/11 happened and Bush junior declared that you are either with us or against us and rushed to Tora Bora Mountains of Eastern Afghanistan to get Osama. But instead of Osama it got stuck between Good Talibans and Bad Talibans. Now in times of Obama it wants to pull out its legs from both Iraq and Afghanistan. But at the same time it continues to threaten Iran.
These tantrums of America did not make Kashmir to lose hope. Kashmir continues to love America. Heart is strange thing. Once it falls for someone, it falls like overhead bridge of the Delhi Common Wealth games. It does not care, what will others say? It never thinks what people will think. And it just cares whether the beloved has heard him or not. Kashmiri continues to believe that a day will come when America will see logic in his suffering and strikes.
I wonder why America is loved word in Kashmir. Long back when George Bush senior ordered sanctions against Iraq in the first Gulf War, Kashmiris unlike other Muslim countries of the World cursed Saddam. They said that the World was about to take decision on Kashmir when Saddam invaded Kuwait and took away Kashmir from the limelight.
America is deep in our psyche. In 2000 AD speaking on the Autonomy resolution in the State Assembly, Dr Farooq Abdullah poured his heart out. He took the debate back to 1953 when an American diplomat Adlic Stephon had met the then Prime Minister Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. Dr Farooq said next day when Stephon could not go back to Delhi as weather was not conducive, his father (Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah) telephoned Stephon to have tea with him. It was second meeting between the two. The Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru read too much in the meeting and perceived that Sheikh has entered into an agreement with the United States of America, Farooq said. Subsequently, Sheikh was dismissed and arrested.
In early nineties when armed insurgency erupted in Kashmir, America continued to dominate discussions that usually take place here on roadsides, in mosques and near shops. These heated discussions over the World affairs would start with America and end with America. Robin Raphel, Medeline Albright, Bush, Clinton, would often come up in these discussions. The discussions would be dominated by the avid listeners of the BBC Urdu service. And some ten years ago, the News programme of the BBC Urdu service was staple diet of every Kashmiri. I would often hear them speaking about “American Pressure” and as a youngster would wonder what kind of “Pressure” Americans have with which they force the nation-states to comply with its whims.
I was young and instead of being active participant I would always prefer to be passive listener to these roadside conferences on the World affairs. Often they would discuss India has tremendous pressure of America. Something soon is going to happen, they would say. One person was ardent fan of the US. He would always advice that we should shout pro-America slogan. Only America could make the difference, he would argue. There was no one to challenge his argument.
Life moved on and nothing changed over the years. Today my hair lining is receding and whatever hair has remained is turning grey, but the discussions continue. The roadside shops have been taken over by English speaking netizens on social newtworking site Facebook but the topic of the debate continues the same. The arguments are the same. That will the President Obama say something about us when he will be in New Delhi next month. That India this time has pressure of America. That situation in Afghanistan would make things different for India after NATO forces leave Kabul. That Omar’s “international issue” talk in the State Assembly is an indication that America is interested and they have roped in Omar.
There is so much America in our daily talk that I wonder when some analysts say there is growing Islamic fundamentalism in Kashmir. The changing geopolitical realities do not matter to Kashmiris. Only what matters is whether America is interested or not. The geo-political realities might be against Kashmiris but still they pin hopes on America. They say that India and Pakistan will only settle Kashmir, once there is American pressure. I wonder what kind of Islamic fundamentalists are these Kashmiris? Strange type really. They want to be allies of the US. They appeal to the conscience of America- separatists openly and pro-India politician subtly and Kashmiris masses constantly. They have it seem belief that America has a conscience.
God bless America and all of us who believe that it has conscience!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Arguments against an argumentative Indian

Nothing is going to change here. People of Kashmir will continue their struggle for freedom, and Government of India will continue to subdue them.

The battle-lines are clear now. The Government of India believes in procrastination and buying time. It understands that by involving civil society actors and media, it can successfully dilute aspirations of people.
In 63 years scores of anti-India movements rose in Kashmir and in 63 years government of India relented on nothing. Even on the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act they will have meetings after meetings. The government of India has taken only decision on Kashmir, and that is not to take any decision but continue with the status quo. Kashmiris too have taken the decision, that is to end the status quo.

To maintain the status quo Government of India has projected itself as victim of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu means Doda, Kishtwar, Rajouri, Poonch, Ramban, Gool, Gulbargh. It doesn’t mean Jammu district and Kathua.
It cited incidents like cross border terrorism, infiltration as causes for its victim-hood and justified human rights violation in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, incidents of past three months have put Indian State, Indian intellectuals and human rights activists on the back-foot. The democratic India and its argumentative intellectuals couldn’t justify beating to death of an eight year old boy in Batmaloo. They couldn’t argue to defend the State when forces fired 70-pellets at an 11-year-old in the Anantnag town. They couldn’t justify killing of three teenagers in the lawn of their house in front their parents in South Kashmir. They couldn’t justify how can stones, howsoever big in the hands of an eight year old, be responded with pellets and bullets. Hence they devised the procrastination strategy.

First they asked Kashmiri to open his heart and mind to them as they are trying to understand him. They spoke in mellowed voices. Look we understand your pain and agony. Look what is going on over there should stop. Time has come that we should talk to each other. Even after 60 years they want to understand us and talk to us! They say we have not done much talking. So let us start engaging each other. Kashmiris took the challenge and started talking. The talking didn’t help them either.

This time Kashmiri talked and talked without ambiguity. In TV studios, in closed rooms, open places, in parks and on the roads, he talked in one voice. He didn’t betray the slogan of Go India Go Back written on the walls, roads, and houses in valley. The resonance of the slogan by Kashmiris across the board frightened India and its intellectuals who are averse to un-Indian questions posed to Indians in TV studios in New Delhi and outside India.

Feeling argumentative Indian is losing argument before Kashmiris, they targeted some of Kashmiri intellectuals who had defeated them on talk shows at BBC, and other international media forums.

They wrote editorials against them. Personal attacks were launched against them. They said how come these educated Kashmris speak against us in the foreign soil. They forget the speeches given by Nehru, and Gandhi on the foreign soil against British Raj.

Perturbed, they again want to portray Kashmir as a curious case of violence. Hence they are in a process of spinning theories. To justify their bullets, they said the protesters fired bullet first.
India talks in the language of peace to countries that matter in the world. It portrays itself as a soft state which supports human rights, democracy and liberal values. And it forgets that whatever police and security forces are doing in Kashmir that is the negation of everything that India projects itself to outside world. It feels Kashmiri is out to expose real face of the Indian State to outside world and he must be stopped.

In such scenario violence suits the State. So Kashmiri must adhere to what leadership, be it Geelani, Yasin, or Mirwaiz, is saying. The leadership across the board is saying that peaceful protests should be peaceful. That advice must be adhered to. If the protesters indulge in slight violence, it only gives excuse to the Indian state through its media and other networks to project it as bigger violence which, if not quelled through violence, has larger ramifications. So they argue we are killing in self-defense. Kashmiris must take away this last argument from them. The state will try through its stooges to do certain unkashmiri things and blame it on Kashmiris. This must be looked into with all seriousness as Kashmiris are in process of taking away the last argument from argumentative Indian. That will bring the real change.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Our wounds, your theories

Naseer A Ganai
We are living in sad times. I don’t know if I can call it ‘living’. Everyday mothers and sisters in Kashmir wash the blood of children of stone from the rough roads of the valley. Every day we see someone killed, and every day we see someone succumbing to injuries. Here a child has bullet in his neck, there a teenage girl has bullet in her back. They say she was engaged only 20 days ago. Here in Kashmir even an eight year-old-kid was flogged to death. We were told a 22-year-old girl died after a bullet fired in air hit her chest, and she died in Batamaloo. Someone has rightly said that Kashmiris have become so tall that when forces fire in air, the bullets hit either their heart or head.
An eight-year-old kid was beaten to death. His body had bruises all over. His father was washing his little body with water. But even this failed to wake the conscience of parliament and intellectuals in New Delhi. Not a single statement on the daily loss of lives in Kashmir. Nothing. Instead the Home Minister had this message for the people of Kashmir: “Keep your children at home.” He should have added that a predator is out in Kashmir, and that he has a special liking for children. This way his warning would have been understandable.
In a democratic country, in 2010, the Home Minister is asking people not to allow their children to step outside their homes. This is the State of the democratic State – that on the roads your children have no safety. That protest is no longer legitimate. That if you step on the roads we are not sure whether you will be hit by a bullet in the head or chest, even though we always tell our forces to fire in the air, and that too in self-defense.
At times I want to laugh at the intellectual class sitting in the flashy studios of news channels in New Delhi, and passing judgments through the chatter boxes on every issue on earth. Their arrogance and confident-ignorance is worth watching. For them human Rights is a great concept but only when victims fall under the constitution of India. Sawpan Das Gupta repeatedly argues whether those people who doesn’t accept the constitution of India should be allowed to enjoy the same rights which the constitution of India guarantees. In British or in USA, the very talk would have shocked the people. But in India nothing happens. Not a leaf moves. It is an argument, and it is perceived as an argument.
I want to laugh out loud at these intellectual-journalists when they condemn Taliban and talk about the Talibinisation of Kashmir and Islamisation of Sopore. For heavens sake, give us one example in past two months where Jihadi protesters in Kashmir beat someone to death, just one example? And respond to the allegations of the family which accuses the forces of beating their child to death in Batmaloo. Is that not Talibinsation?
Imagine a child being beaten in classroom by his teacher in Delhi or in Mumbai. Beaten, I say. Recently there was debate on corporal punishment for days together in Delhi based media. But when it comes to beating of children to death, they are silent, and the State says don’t allow your children to step out.
Every time I see the picture of the father who is being kicked by the CRPF man when he tries to protect the body of his son from sacrilege in Tengpora Bypass, I want to cry my heart out. This should not happen to any father anywhere in the world. That very photograph tells me everything about what I am, about my life, and what the life of my child and the children has been reduced to in Kashmir. The photo speaks more than 100,000 words about Kashmir and the conflict in Kashmir. Here we are not even allowed to protect the sanctity of the bodies of our children.
And then they talk about Islamisation of Sopore and Talibinisation of Kashmir. Whatever you name the current protests, whatever you want to name the current rage sweeping the streets, whatever you call them, the pictures of the dead, of our children, of our fathers, our wailing mothers and sisters would haunt our young generation for a long time to come. They will never forget it.
The wounds inflicted on the people of Kashmir won’t heal by what a columnist has written “butt numbing speech of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.” These are wounds which can’t be healed by speeches anymore. Act now and resolve Kashmir for good. Respect the aspirations of people of Kashmir. Now it is the question of justice and test of your democracy and liberalism. Act now lest these wounds become so intolerable that the young here will seek answer in something else to heal them, something other than peaceful protests. The day that happens it would be another sad chapter in our history, and saddest in your history.

Friday, August 6, 2010

If violence against non-violence continues

Naseer A Gani
Kashmiris have done everything to get justice. They are out on roads, shouting slogans of Azadi, getting killed, their children are flogged to death, in desperation after they see bodies of children they attack security bunkers and pickets. They go for two month long strikes, and continue with strikes after shutdowns. They are using all non-violent methods to achieve objective. The objective is to get rid of security apparatus which Indian state has established around them.
They are desperate to over throw it. They have not accepted the reality of India in Kashmir even after 60 years of Indian rule. They see Indian state through security bunkers, their previous generation saw Indian rule through political treachery and legal violence.
1n 1953 Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was arrested even though being the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. He was accused of being Pakistani agent. And then the instrument of accession was ratified in the Constituent Assembly of the Jammu and Kashmir in 1956 when Sheikh was in jail and his National Conference had launched plebiscite movement.
In 1946 Nehru had supported Sheikh’s Quit Kashmir Movement against Maharaja and had condemned the brutality against Kashmiris by the Army of Maharaja. Nehru wrote a statement titled: “Srinagar: Almost a City of Dead.”
“The whole valley was handed over to military administration…A reign of terrorism and frightfulness then began, Kashmir has been cut off from the outside world since then. My information is that far more people than officially admitted have been killed. A much larger number who were wounded were sent to jails instead of hospitals. Srinagar is almost a city of dead where movement is difficult and larger numbers of people are practically interned in their own houses, apart from the many hundreds who have been put to prison…Dead bodies are not being handed over to relatives for burial, according to religious rites but are soaked in petrol and burnt…So far as I can gather the State authorities are bent on breaking and crushing the spirit of the people and are using Army as if they were occupying recently conquered enemy territory.”
It was in 1946. That year Nehru’s heart bleeds at the plight of Kashmiris and at the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah by Maharaja Hari Singh who wanted Kashmir to be an independent State. And in 1953 Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was arrested on the orders of Nehru.
It seems Sheikh after the fall Dhaka in 1971 felt that India is strong enough not to challenge. The symbol of Kashmiri dream of self-determination budged. On February 25, 1975 he was sworn in as Chief Minister of the State. Why chief minister? Because, after 1953 Indian State had no courage to see two Prime Minister’s in one country. Pakistan which almost every Indian intellectual, writer, journalist, lawyer (except few) refer as failed State, despite the fall of Dhaka had courage not to change the title of the head of the State of Pakistan Administered Kashmir.
The head of the State in the Pakistan Administered Kashmir, popularly referred in this part Kashmir as Azad Kashmir, has title Prime Minister. It has its Supreme Court. Deride both the title and the Supreme Court of Azad Kashmir. Say they have no powers. Say they are at the beck and call of Islamabad. This might be reality. But the other reality is that is unlike New Delhi, Islamabad didn’t fiddle with the title of the head of the State of its’ administered part of Kashmir. It had courage to keep it. And India was so insecure to have it. It was so insecure that Sheikh despite being friend of Nehru was arrested on the orders of Nehru. Because, it feared he has ambitions for independent Jammu and Kashmir State. Sheikh became the Chief Minister and died few years later. But then Kashmiri realized quickly that Sheikh has not been fair to them by entering into accord with Indira Gandhi.
And in 1980-81, when they saw Umar Mukhtar, a film about Libyan revolutionary, they came out of theaters and burned Sheikh’s photos. Umar Muktar preferred death but didn’t compromise while as Sheikh compromised at fag end of his life, they argued.
Few years later there was upsurge in Kashmir. Kashmiris thought they could use non-violent methods to tell India what they are upto. They formed Muslim United Front (MUF). And, then participated in the elections to over throw Sheikh’ son Farooq Abdullah. Indian State came to its own rescue. It feared ballot of Kashmiris in 1987 and rigged the elections and declared all the winners as defeated. It forced Muhammad Yousuf Shah who was winning elections from Amirakadal constituency to choose different path. Today he is Supreme Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen.
The rigging of elections was great betrayal. Kashmiri felt stab at his heart. He couldn’t tolerate the humiliation. He looked at Afghanistan. And thought like brave Afghans he could also use force of bullet to force democratic India which rejected ballot to settle Kashmir dispute.
Armed struggle began in 1989. This time it was Kashmiris who crossed to Pakistan to get training to fight against Indian security apparatus in Jammu and Kashmir State. This is the legitimacy of the Indian State in Kashmir! That people at one point of time crossed to other side to get weapons to oust it from Kashmir.
Like in 1987 when non-violent democratic method of struggle of opting for ballot by Kashmiris was killed through violence of rigging, the response of Indian State was violent to the armed resistance. Fair enough.
Kashmiri saw worst. Killing, arrest, humiliation, and disappearance. He however also learned that whosoever the mighty State might be, it is not so mighty to kill the aspiration.
But Kashmiri had realization that Europe and the USA detest violent methods when used by others to achieve their political goals. He always looked to West hoped one day they will come to his rescue. He gave up the armed struggle and adopted non-violent methods. He lodged protests. Advocated Gandhi Gari hoping it might be acceptable to the West and at same time it might jolt conscious of Indian state, if not the State at least conscious class in India.
For three years now Kashmiris are out again seeking resolution of the dispute shouting slogans of Azadi. Telling Indian State that your methods have failed to kill our aspirations. Now listen to us. Now resolve the dispute which you took to the United Nations.
This time again the geopolitical situation is not favorable to him. Nothing is happening in the region that could bring any positive change in Kashmir. Nothing by now! Ban Ki Moon issued a statement few days ago but was frightened when New Delhi raised objection. He retreated and disowned it.
Indian State can browbeat Ban Ki Moon. But not people of Kashmir who are on streets taking off their shirts and asking forces to kill them. They fear nothing. Not the death. Fear of the State is no fear before the fear death.
But this time far greater responsibility lies with the thinking class in India. Journalists, intellectuals, policy makers and others. They must ask government in Delhi to end violence, whether political or otherwise, against Kashmiris in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a given situation in the region when Americans are washing off their hands from Af-Pak, you must know the big trouble is in offing if violence against non-violence continues in Kashmir.
If again Kashmiri decide to opt for violence, it will be fierce and devastating. These youth have seen everything. I repeat they fear nothing. In next two years things are likely to change in the region after retreat of USA from Afghanistan and if the violence against Kashmiri continues, it would definitely change thinking here. That whether violence should be responded with violence. If that happens that would devastate Kashmir, that is certain, but it won’t do any good to New Delhi either.
Better understand now and go for investment in peace in Kashmir by accepting resolutions of autonomy, looking at proposals of self rule, considering Mirwaiz four-point proposal and accept what Geelani says that Kashmir is a disputed territory. It is. It is the reality. Don’t expect rewards for denying the reality.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Central Bureau of Investigation

It is Central Bureau of Investigation in JK
Elsewhere, Congress Bureau of Investigation

Naseer A Ganai

This time charges are against Amit Shah, Gujrat Minister of State for Home and everyone is out to defend him and discredit the Central Bureau of Investigation. Last night in various TV channels the BJP, various analysts described the CBI as the Congress Bureau of Investigation which is out to malign political opponents. They rejected “media investigation” saying these are not investigation but selected leaks by the CBI which agency has been doing over the years on the behest of its political masters. The senior Supreme Court lawyers were indicting the CBI.
Case history
Media reports say on November 24, 2005, Rajasthan resident Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausar Bi and a third person, Prajapati Tulsi, were abducted allegedly by the police from a bus stand in Gujarat.
Two days later, Sohrabuddin was allegedly killed by a joint police team from Gujarat and Rajasthan. Kausar Bi was also allegedly killed later but her body was never found. Tulsi, the sole witness, too was killed in a fake encounter a year later.
In January 2010, the Supreme Court, on a plea by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin, handed over the case to the CBI, saying the Gujarat Police were trying to shield those involved in the killing. Two associates of Shah, minister of state for home, have already admitted to the CBI that they were involved in bribing and threatening some witnesses at the minister’s behest. Besides, evidence gathered by the CBI points to Shah’s involvement– right from hatching the murder plan to pressuring police officials during the investigation, destroying evidence and threatening witnesses, reports said quoting the CBI official. The evidence includes records of phone calls made by Shah to police officers allegedly involved in Sohrabuddin’s killing before and during the fake encounter.
Shopian case
Now let us go back December 2009 and look at the debates and articles which appeared in different newspapers when CBI completed the investigation in Shopian case in Kashmir valley and presented the charge-sheet before the Court.

On May 30, 2009 morning two bodies were found on the banks of stream Rambiara in Shopian district of South Kashmir, some 66 kms from Srinagar. They were identified as Aasiya Jan, 17, and her sister-in-law, Neelofar.
The bodies of Neelofar Jan wife of Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar and Aasiya Jan daughter of Abdul Gani Ajangar, both residents of Bungam, were found near Rambiara nullah around 6 am at some distance from a CRPF camp on May 30. According to locals, Aasiya and her 3-month pregnant sister-in-law, Neelofar were missing since May 29 evening after they had gone into their orchard at Degam, Batpora across the nullah.
Locals and the family accused men in uniform of rape and murder of the two women. Kashmir believed and trusted them. It rose in unison to protest. The authorities clamped undeclared curfew across valley. Kashmiris defied it. For seven days whole valley observed strike. Shopian continued the strike for 47 days.
The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah described the incident as death by drowning and but ordered an inquiry by retired Judge of the High Court, Justice Muzaffer Jan.
Senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani set the tone this way: “Hurriyat rejects the government inquiry. Apparently it seems that troopers are involved in this heinous act. Asking a police officer to head the Special Investigation Team doesn’t make any sense. Doctors who conducted the post mortem had categorically said that Neelofar and her sister-in-law, Asiya, were gang raped before being murdered brutally.”
Justice Jan came out with a report in stipulated time. The report says, “All the officers of the department stood by the theory of death by drowning with full knowledge, and belief that no one in the recent, or past history of Shopian has died due to drowning in River Rambi Ara. The official statement of drowning does not convey the mindset of indifference, but depicts an active, intelligent and conscious effect to divert the attention of public from the actual and factual cause of death.”
“In the normal course of human conduct, any person intending to get rid of two dead bodies in a hurry, would attempt to deposit the dead bodies at the nearest available spot, the person would normally leave sufficient trails to trace the culprit. In the present case, the disposal of dead bodies in the centre of security ring, with mathematical precision and like surgical operation to ensure that no visible trails are left, cannot be said to be the handiwork of a private individual but would need the support of some agency,” the report reads.
“The Commission, being aware of its delicate duty to uphold the majesty of law, has also a duty to identify the person or persons, who may, under law, be responsible for the present ruthless crime. To identify the real culprit, extensive investigation, by a competent and dedicated team of professional investigators, with all modern facilities, is required,” the commission recommended.
The Government entrusted inquiry to the Central Bureau of Investigation which was opposed by the Kashmir Bar Association. Kashmir Bar Association withdrew the case from the Court saying CBI’s track record in Kashmir has been worst and it would act in “national interest.”
Finally in December CBI came out with the Shopian report and presented it before the High Court.
“We are of the considered opinion that the cause of death in Aasiya Jan’s case was due to asphyxia as a result of ante-mortem drowning. The lacerated wound present on forehand could be produced by blunt force striking head against the hard surface or object…There was nothing suggestive of penetration of penis or like object through the hymeaneal opening as the hymen was found intact,” the CBI said.

The CBI report said, “After the falsification of the various postmortem reports and fudging of evidence, a concerted effort was made by some advocates of Shopian Bar and some private persons to create further false evidence for implicating the police and security forces in a false case of rape and murder of the two accused.”
It absolved everyone except the witnesses, lawyers and doctors. Shakeel Ahmad, shocked husband of Neeofer set ablaze the CBI report outside the High Court before full media glare. Bar termed it as report shield the men in uniform. Shopian residents gave strike call, Geelani, Yasin, Mirwaiz supported the same.
But analysts in Delhi termed the reaction in Kashmir against the CBI report as bizarre. They said the CBI has exposed the “lies of separatists who are out to foment the trouble and defame the security forces.”
The analysts rejected allegations that the CBI has acted as per the guidelines of the Government of India.
In Shopian case the Congress, BJP, and the analysts were in unison in supporting the CBI report and in Amit Shah’s case, Mehash Jathmalani on Thursday evening said on CNN-IBN that Sohrabuddin was LeT militant prompting Congress spokesman to say, “I am shocked that you are supporting fake encounter on the presumption that the character of the person was not good.” Mehesh laughed at him.
The analysts baring few termed the selective leak to press by CBI as part of the Congress plot to defame the BJP and termed the CBI repeatedly as the Congress Bureau of Investigation. Chandan Mitra of the BJP and scores of other people attacked CBI left, right and Centre. The same analysts would swear by the CBI when it was investigating the Shopian case. The question is if it is Congress Bureau of Investigation outside Jammu and Kashmir why it is Central Bureau of Investigation in Jammu and Kashmir? If CBI’s investigation is not trustworthy outside Jammu and Kashmir why it is apostle of truth in Jammu and Kashmir? Any answers.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kashmir dispute: Theory of five police stations

Naseer A Ganai
They are all talking. They are all talking about Kashmir. They are all coming out with solutions. ‘Experts’ like Praveen Swami say it is the problem of five police stations of old-city and it could have been tackled with Lathis easily. He even went on to say that in 2008 it was solved with Lathis.
Someone should inform him that in 2008 it was dealt with bullets and tear smoke shells, fired above legs. Over 60 youngsters fell to bullets that summer and over a thousand received injuries. Sixty people don’t die due to Lathis. Last year, when valley rose on Shopian incident, he attributed uprising to Jamaat Islami and confined it to Shopian only. These are Kashmir experts whose advice is taken by the policy makers in New Delhi seriously. So you can imagine the policy which is framed after taking advice from such opinion makers. There is more.

An embedded journalist compared the pain of tooth-break of a solider with that of killing of 16 children. This is the liberal class in New Delhi. This is the class which talks of democracy and democratic rights. It happens always. Whenever Indian State faces crises in Kashmir, it brings these ‘experts’ on media to manage the crises. If they fail, then asks them to shut up and advices media to shift focus somewhere else other than Kashmir. We saw it in 2008. And they crawl when asked to bend. The present crisis is not the crisis of Omar Abdullah as media tries to project it. It is not the crisis which could be managed by Mufti, Farooq, Azad or Soz. It is the crisis of legitimacy of the Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir and they have been facing this crisis for past 60 years. Mirwaiz Umar and Sajjad Lone have been more than right when they say Indian State over the years has always tried to manage Kashmir dispute instead of trying to resolve it.

Sajjad deconstructed “five police stations theory” of Swami in front of him. Lies after lies are being dished out by these experts on TV debates. They are being rebutted not only by Mirwaiz who rightly laughed at the confident ignorance of the debaters but by the pro-Indian politicians like Mehbooba Mufti, Muzaffer Baig, Mehboob Beg etc. Confining debates in and around Omar Abdullah, misgovernance, Pakistan, stone pelters and angry protesters has a design. The design is to pin down Kashmiris, to buy time and to sleep over things and prolong the resolution. It has been seen in recent debates on Delhi based channels that whenever politicians of Jammu and Kashmir, cutting across party lines and ideologies, succeeded in forcing the so-called experts to acknowledge that Kashmir is a political problem, they come up with the rider “whom to talk to”. New Delhi need not to talk to anyone. First let’s listen to those who passed the resolution of autonomy in Jammu Kashmir Assembly seeking 1953 position for the State. First let’s listen to those who are seeking self-rule for the State.

There is no talking to be done on the issue. The Assembly has passed the resolution. The resolution belongs to those who believe in Assembly. So why don’t you accept it and implement it. No need to talk to PDP. They have self-rule document. They have handed it over to none other the prime minister. Implement it. There are recommendations of five working groups constituted by the Prime Minister himself. Implement them. The pro-Indian politicians have talked enough. They have given you enough time. But when New Delhi is not taking seriously even those whom it and its experts sell every day in the name of democracy, free and fair elections, what can it offer to those who seek Azadi. Let someone tell these experts that instead of talking about the real issues, you are trying to create the division within the State which is more or less cohesive. Confining the problem to five police stations is fundamentally a flawed theory. When 2008 happened, Jammu was vertically divided with Rajouri, Poonch, Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Banihal and half of Udhampur siding with Kashmir after being economically blockaded by Jammu district. There was strike in Doda and Kishtwar against the transfer of land to SASB. There was rally in Kargil in support of Kashmir. Tell these experts, had it been the problem of five police stations, there would not have been 1953. Had it been the issue of just five police stations, Sheikh would not have been in jail on charges of being a Pakistani agent.

Had it been the problem of five police stations, there would not have been 1990. There would have been no 2008. Had it been the law and order problem of police stations, Mughal road would have been opened by New Delhi four decades ago when Sheikh wanted it. Had it been of five police stations the Simthan Road would have linked us with Chenab valley long ago. Had it been of five districts, the State Government would not have to beg to Delhi to seek permission for using our own water resources. The problem pertains to the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir, whether Swamis accepts it or not. Problem is that of Kashmir dispute and it needs resolution according to the singular explicit aspiration of the majority of the people living in Jammu and Kashmir. And New Delhi knows it well. Both the aspiration and the solution still it gives impression of listening to ‘experts’ to delay the resolution.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Confessions of Ali Muhammad Sagar

Façade of democracy in JK unmasked

Naseer A Ganai
The Law Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar has demolished mainstream politics in Jammu and Kashmir forever. In his historical press conference Sagar on Sunday June 27, talked what no other politician has talked in recent years. He addressed press shortly after reports of a killing of youth in Sopore by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). That day there was no protest in Sopore. Sagar said some 20 people had assembled to protest and it didn’t deserve to be fired upon. He said the State Government has no control over the CRPF.

“That New Delhi must listen to the State government and protect interests of the Country in Jammu and Kashmir. Five youth were killed in series of incidents involving CRPF and it was not a good thing. That we want rule with dignity,” Sagar said.
Sagar said that CRPF has lost command and control and the issue must be seriously looked into. That Chief Minister being head of the Unified Command Council has given clear directions to the forces to exercise restraint and protect human rights but despite it these incidents were taking place. That they (CRPF) are working against interest of country and this should not happen at any cost.” Sagar pleaded to the Home Minister of the Government of India to visit Kashmir and prevail upon its forces to not to go for kill in Kashmir. Sagar said that his party couldn’t fight its own people.
These were candid confessions. Over the years the separatists were describing the pro-India politicians in the State as puppets of New Delhi. By asking New Delhi to control its forces in Kashmir who according to Law Minister Sagar are on killing spree here, he proved separatists right. That it is New Delhi which calls shots in Kashmir, no matter whether Omar is Chief Minister, or Mufti.

In Mufti’s time the New Delhi went all against the Permanent Residence (disqualification) bill which was debars a female marrying to non-State subject. Delhi construed introduction of the bill and its passage without discussion as challenge to its authority in Kashmir and it did everything to sabotage its passage in Upper House of JK Assembly.
In one of the speeches during a debate on the bill in Assembly the then Law Minister Muzaffer Baig said “Who says Kashmiris have ruled Jammu and Kashmir State since 1947. We have been always at the beck and call of New Delhi,” the angry Baig said. Sagar echoed same words but this time he was more specific. That the “elected Government” has no control over troops deployed by New Delhi to control masses in Jammu and Kashmir. That New Delhi must steps in to save the “elected govt” from the people who has “elected” it.
Even though Chief Minister Omar Abdullah later retracted from statement of his Law Minister, cat was out of the bag. This time forever! Next day the Home Secretary the Government of India strongly defended Central Forces and commended them for their job. As it was not enough after some days in order to justify the innocent killing the Home Minister described protests in Kashmir as backed by Lashker. Thus, justifying bullet for a stone. But whatever reaction from the Government of India, it has clear now that the “Law and Order” is the subject dealt by the Home Ministry. The Development by the Governor. The Governor recently ordered that all secretaries of should report to him about the progress of the development work under Prime Minister Reconstruction Programme. The Prime Minister convened a meeting. They called high level Kashmir Meeting. They only discussed yatra. Though no had issued any statement against yatris or yatra, the Government of India through its friendly media tried to project protests against human rights abuses in Kashmir as protests against Yatra. In such circumstances what is the role of elected government in JK? The Government which has no control over troop! Even puppets at times enjoy much greater power. Sagar Sahib, you have done great job. You have proved Baig right that you are like Baig at the beck and call of New Delhi.

But what is this Mehbooba Mufti saying. That her investment in peace has been shuttered by your “government’s” lack of Governance? Tell her we don’t govern in JK, it is Home Ministry always. Tell her that even constable on ground doest’t listen to us. Tell her what peace investment you are talking about. Remind her that PDP rule too was not differnt in Kashmir. That was not devoid of killings. Remind her rape of mother and daughter. Tell her that you made candid confession on Sunday that Omar is not in control just like Baig had said in 2004 that mainstream are at the beck and call of New Delhi. That is truth of the mainstream. That is truth of elections in JK. Sagar tell everyone that you unmasked the facade of democracry in JK. But tell them you will cling to your job, what if someone else is in command and control. That doesn't bother you least.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Audience for food

RSS Style

Naseer A Ganai
Paul Theroux in his book The Great Railway Bazaar gives this picture of drought hit Sri Lanka in 1970: “The current harvest was a failure, chillies were unobtainable, and the from the train I could see breadlines- hundreds of listless people in misshapen queues, waiting with empty baskets.” Then he says “It struck me practically insane in a country that was starving to death that thirty people should choose to attend a three-day seminar on American literature at which I would be principle speaker. I had not counted on the resourcefulness of the America embassy; when the seminar got underway I saw my alarm was pointless. The clever man who supervised the seminar had assured me there would be 100 per cent attendance, and this method was not very different from the family planner in India who gives a new transistor radio to every male who agrees to vasectomy. Here on the hungry Island of Ceylone, the American literature seminar included three huge meals, high tea, a free room in the New Orient Hotel in Galle, and all the whisky you could drink. Little wonder it was all attended.”
The Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Foundation organized a seminar ironically at Sheri Kashmir International Convention Centre in Kashmir. It was also well attended. The Foundation had brought masons, carpenters, labourers from Central district Kashmir Budgam with a promise of high tea and food at hotel Centuer. M.G Akbar delivered lecture on Islam, Indian Muslims and Pakistan. That idea of Pakistan is weaker than that of Pakistan. That Idea of India is stronger than the India. That India should grow at eight percent not only eight percent should grow. That India can’t grow without growth of Muslims. Interestingly whenever he uttered the name of Pakistan audience clapped.
He was followed General (Retired) V.P Malik. General Malik talked about China and Pakistan. He said that India should weary of China. Malik apprehended that as China grows economically it would start asserting itself. Riyaz Punjabi the vice-chancellor of University of Kashmir called for interaction between peoples of India and Pakistan. Tarun Vijay, founder chairman of the Mookerjee foundation described Punjabi as representative of Indian Ethos in Kashmir. There was no question answer session except brief interaction with journalist after lunch was served to hungry participants at 2: 15 p.m.
But why should have been there questions, who would have asked them. The audience was more concerned about the tea and lunch than listing to speakers. They were trying to see reason why they were brought here and except food they would see no reason. Thus, they would frequently enter into argument with the managers of the conference that why the food is not being served to them. Finally, lunch time was declared there was huge queue waiting for only vegetarian food. Some were disappointed over the vegetarian food but they were so hungry and they had no other choice.

First, why the function was organized in Kashmir after five decades? Mookerjee, as rightly stated by professor in Political Science Department of Kashmir University Gul Muhammad Wani, represents forced integration of the State of Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian Union. He challenged the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir State. And at time when National Conference is in power and seeks restoration of autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir State, why the function was allowed to organize in Kashmir and that too in Sheri Kashmir Convention Centre.
It seems seminar was organized to test the waters. The organizers were not bothered about the audience but about the reaction in Kashmir. Next year the BJP is going to organize it on bigger scale to frighten Kashmiris that India believes in Mookerjee’s ideology and Kashmiris have to accept this. Many of the speaker later interacting with journalists cited examples of China anf Pakistan saying “look how benevolent we are. We didn’t went for demography change as China did in Xinjiang.” This is the mindset.
Now let us presume organizers had good intention to start dialogue with Kashmiri youth as stated by Tarun Vijay. If it was so then why the bused audience, who were more interested and eager to have interaction with food than the ideas? Why seminar was announced only some hours before?
It seems the organizers of the seminar knew that educated class in Kashmir would beat any argumentative Indian in any field now. The Indians no longer would beat Kashmiris with ideals of democracy, liberalism, justice. Kashmiris have over the years seen them all. The hypocrisy of Indian educated upper and lower middle class. They see every day how Indian state translates ideas of democracy and justice on ground in Kashmir. That is why the organizers zeroed in on specific audience. The audience to whom English was Greek and food, and Centaur view was paramount. Long live democracy. Had someone shouted slogan of ham kia chatae there, Taurn Vijay would have got shock of his life. Even the bused audience would have shouted Azadi instead of peace.
In 2005 Congress organized a rally at the Sheri Kashmir Park Srinagar. The Congress leader Khem Lata Wakloo asked Congress workers to respond to her slogans. She raised slogan Ham Kia Chatae, congress workers shouted back: Azadi. Thrice she repeated her slogan reminding the workers that they should say peace. Thrice the workers disappointed her. They continued to shout Azadi. Finally Taj Mohideen, present Minister in Omar’s cabinet, forced Wakloo to sit down.
Tarun says he got audience from the University of Kashmir. Someone should remind him that next day students protested in the University campus seeking dismissal of the vice-chancellor for participating in Mookerjee seminar.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Davos in Kashmir

Naseer A Ganai
In this conference on inter-regional dialogue two speakers had agreement on various issues. That there should be opening of road links. That there should be more and more trade between regions within the State. That there is need to increase items in Cross LoC trade and it should be hassle free. One speaker was representing Chamber of Commerce of Jammu and another Chamber of Commerce Kashmir. They both being from trade bodies understand much better that people of different regions are for having trade with each other. It seems once there is interaction and trade between the regions in peaceful environment, then sky is limit for us.

Noted economist and columnist of the Times of India Swaminathan Ayar wrote an article in July 2005: Get Ready for Davos 2035: It was a welcome address to guests who would come to attend world economic forum meeting in Gulmarg in the autonomous Jammu and Kashmir in 2035.
Interestingly in August 17, 2008 he wrote: “On August 15 India celebrated independence from British Raj. But Kashmir staged a bandh demanding independence from India. A day symbolizing the end of colonialism in India became a day symbolizing Indian colonialism in valley… British insisted for a long time that India was an integral part of the empire, the jewel in the crown and would never be given up. Imperialist Blimps remained in denial for decades. I fear we are in similar denial in Kashmir.”
The question is can it be possible to have world economic forum meeting in Gulmarg of autonomous Jammu and Kashmir. I think it is possible. Like Mr Ayair let us acknowledge the problem first. That Kashmir is not the jewel in the crown of India. It is an occupied territory. Then throw a solution.
Instead we are in denial of everything including occupation and regional differences.
Inter-regional cooperation will only succeed once we acknowledge the problem first. There is no denial of the fact that there are different perceptions in different regions of the state. Why it is so? I think it is because of the lack of people to people contact and trade between the regions within the State.

For 60 years Mughal road has not been allowed to construct. If the State has not allowed people of Pir Panchal region of Jammu to interact and above all trade with people of valley, is it not denial of fundamental right? Why people to people contact should be restricted between 'intellectuals' of India and Pakistan and why within the State of Jammu and Kashmir it is being denied by the State to ordinary people. Doda Desa Kapran road, Smithan road linking Chenab valley of Jammu with Kashmir is closed for five decades and no on raises voice on these issues.
If Jammu and Kashmir State is one, then why it is not being allowed to be one? Let the roads open. Let people meet. Let us understand each other. Why New Delhi is afraid of people to people contact in Jammu and Kashmir and why it throws up theories of inter regional discard when it is denying people of Jammu and Kashmir State right to interact with each other. A united voice from all regions must be raised against this denial of fundamental right.
The State has sown the seeds of regional discard by trying to make Kashmir issue as religious dispute. Like by extending Amarnath yatra to 2 months from 15 days despite it being against religious scriptures of Hindus or by making Sindhu Darshan as annual ritual. And it seems Indian State believes once a political dispute is turned religious dispute, it becomes so complicated that even gods will be afraid of solving it.
These attempts of the State to make Kashmir dispute a religious issue must be confronted by civil society of three regions. Because it is volatile region where Americans are moving out of Afghanistan and in such scenario you can imagine danger of keeping Kashmir lingering and making it religious dispute.
Besides, it is to be naïve to think that once political dispute like Kashmir is made religious or its demography is changed, as is perception, the dispute will be over. Kashmir dispute started in 1947 between Pakistan and India and as long as these two States exist dispute will remain there. By annihilating Kashmiris, killing their youth will not end Kashmir dispute. This must be understood.
Apart from roads, water is other issue which can bring us together. It is our water which is being denied to us with successive Central Governments refusing to give even counter grantees to State Government to establish hydal projects.
The roads belong to Jammu and Kashmir , water belong to the Jammu and Kashmir and if people of different regions of the Jammu and Kashmir raise voices against exploitation of our water resources by Central Government and seeks for opening road links between different regions, it will improve political climate to an extend that we will not have to wait for 2035 for having world economic forum meeting in Gulmarg. It is unfortunate that Chenab Valley Development Corporation was established and there was not a murmur in Kashmir in general and Jammu in particular about this organized loot of our waters.

If these issues unite us, other larger goals like demilitarization of the State will follow. Economic considerations override all other considerations. The State will flourish once there is investment in peace. And there is need to invest in peace keeping the situation in the region in mind.
World Economic Forum meeting is only possible in peaceful Jammu and Kashmir. And investment in peace in the State of Jammu and Kashmir has to be made by New Delhi. It must be told that 6 lakh Army is not deployed to counter 600 militants. It is what Arundhati Roy rightly says not war against 600 militants but against people of Jammu and Kashmir. It must be told that by closing road links between two regions of the State and by creating hassles in LoC trade it is denying economic prospects to youth and throwing them to other extremes. It must be told that water resources should be restored to us. People of three regions if get united on issues like roads, water and trade then they can force the Government of India to invest in peace by going for demilitarization and this will improve political climate to an extent we have real Davos in Kashmir much earlier than what Saminathan Ayiar had imagined.
(The paper was read in a seminar in Srinagar on Inter-Regional Cooperation)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Blood trade in Kashmir

Time to say Enough is Enough
Naseer A Ganai
The Government of India constantly accuses Pakistan of exporting terrorism. It also lays condition for the talks: That Pakistan should dismantle infrastructure of terror. After Mumbai incident the Government of India and civil society in India raised the issue of terrorism and said India is victim of terrorism. They raised their voice in unison and the World was forced to acknowledge it.
However, over the years despite being subjected to worst acts of terrorism, Kashmiri civil society has failed to project Kashmiri as victim.
On May 28 three youth from Baramulla district were lured by men who work with Army to border district Kupwara. They were promised handsome money. They needed the money. They readily agreed to work as porters with the Army. They were sold to Army at Rs 50,000 each by the blood traders. The Army killed them in gun fight projecting them as infiltrators. Unidentified infiltrators. They were buried in graveyard in Klaroos Kupwara. In the graveyard there are scores of unidentified graves. There is no need to guess who are buried in those graves. Their blood will too speak some day. Jo Chup Rahain Gi Zubani Khanjar-Lahoon Pukaray Ga Asteen Ka.
The three bodies were exhumed. They were not unidentified. Their parents identified them. They had all names: Riyaz Ahmad Lone, 19. Riyaz was sole bread earner of his family. He has aged father, four sisters and one brother. Eight years ago he has started construction of his house. Eight years on it is still without windows and without proper roof.
Muhammad Shafi 19. He has three sisters and brother. His mother said he went out on April 28. “I thought after an hour he will back and go for work in the fields. I never knew he has been buried on border.”
Shahazad, 25. He has 21 year old wife and 4 year old son. And aged parents. He along with two were working as labourers looking for jobs to feed their families. They were promised Rs 2000.
This is not first incident of its kind. There are scores of incidents on record. In the Courts of valley and Muslim dominated areas of Jammu you can find the similar cases. The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has scores such examples.
In 2001 Patheribal South Kashmir Army claimed to have killed five terrorists involved in the killing Chittisingpora massacre in which 36 sikhs were killed. The bodies of the terrorists were charred. They later turned out to be local residents of Barai Anang. Same happened in Ganderbal fake encounter case in which people were taken from South Kashmir and killed in Ganderbal.
In Doodhipora in February 2006 four cricket playing boys were killed and projected as foreign militants. The list is quite long.
Where on earth it happens that “you trade blood of human beings to get rewards and promotion.” Naseema the mother of Riyaz said had they demanded money from us we would have sold our land, we would have given them everything.
It is unacceptable. In 2010 different kind of human trafficking is taking place in Kashmir. It is worse than human trafficking. Here they promise poor labourers jobs and good money and then trade their blood. Has life so cheap in Kashmir?
The civil society in Kashmir must rise now and demand end of this human trafficking of Kshmiris. You can’t justify Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Public Safety Act, huge presence of force here in the name of “this infiltration” which means taking people from different places and killing them on line of control. No way. Time has come when we should too say- Enough is Enough.
Last month M.A Chowdary Principal District and Sessions judge Bandpora while hearing fake emcounter case had this to say: “Picking up of an innocent petty vendor on 2.3.2006 from a market of Srinagar City confining him for more than 12 days in police custody and then killing him before wee hours on 14th of March in a fake encounter which was described by the forces as “Bazipora Operation” and then dubbing him a militant from Muzaffarabad PoK cannot be said to be a reasonable connection between the act and the duties of the accused.”
“In the facts and circumstances of the case when a poor hawker was murdered in cold blood in a fake encounter “Bazipora Operation” for petty gains of receiving rewards, appreciation and to retain the postings of their choice can in no way be said to be within the authority of the accused-petitioners as the authority to use force even to the causing of death as provided under section 4 of the Armed Force Special Powers Act 1990 was permissible only in grave situation.”
There are disappearances in Kashmir. There are mass graves in Kashmir. Our oppressors know us by our scars and chains. They must now be forced acknowledge the crimes. The civil society of India is equally partner in the crimes committed by the State in Kashmir. Their reticence in the larger nation interest has emboldened the State. They must be told that we have had enough them as well. This can’t go on and on. They must be told that supporters of blood trade have no right to give lessons to Kashmiris on peace and reconciliation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

‘I disagree what you say’

I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it

Naseer A Ganai
Someone has written:” Kashmir is a lovely place. We have bureaucrats which milk the system when they are in service...once retired, write for newspapers, spit on the same system blood of which runs their veins and veins of their children.”
Then he has mentioned names of two retired bureaucrats who write in newspapers. But the debate is not who writes what, where and when. The question is whether retired or serving government officials have no right to write anything.
Some argue that under service rules of JK Government they have no write to criticize the government and the government being their mai-baap they should always execute its orders with complete compliance. So, it is argued, even after their retirement they should pay homage to the government instead of commenting on its functioning beacuse they once served it.
But does it mean that whosoever enters into the government services loses his individuality, conscience, like we “pen pushers” lose when we join the second oldest profession in the world. That is journalism. First is prostitution.
The first thing about journalism in Kashmir, if at all it deserves to be called journalism, is that one learns how to lick the boots of State and, the powerful who run it.The State of Jammu and Kashmir is different. It has different history and culture. It has long history of oppression. And the State in the State of Jammu and Kashmir is monolithic entity. Its reach is really far reaching. No one understands it better than pen pushers masquerading journalists.Hence, they have sermon for everyone but not a comment on the State.
Journalism here is nothing, as it is elsewhere in India. It is all about, he said and he added. It is all about what sources said and what they predict. And in this kind of journalism, informed sources always reveal what the State wants them to reveal. It is all about what well placed sources perceive in the administration, police and security forces. It is all about telling people that Lord Jones is dead, who never knew that Lord Jones was alive. But does that mean ‘journalists’ here are incompetent lot and they don’t understand what is going on and what should be written and what shouldn’t be. They understand and know. But they have consciously decided not to write about the things which they perceive the State will not like. So they write what the State wants to hear and listen. That is: “all is well.” Some take moral high ground by writing against few entities of the State and thus try to give impression that they are taking on the State. It is termed as delusions of grandeur.
Years in journalism improves one’s analytical skills and the more senior you become, you write with such a precision about issues that one really feels that journalists are better judges to comment on social, political and economic issues.
Long back when in 2005 Khalid Hassan visited Srinagar, he presented such a picture of the city that I still shudder to think what has been made of Srinagar, the city having 2000 year old history.
He wrote: “There isn’t a sadder city than Srinagar...one of the most eerie experiences i have ever had was being driven in a car through the streets of city at around 10: 30 at night and finding them utterly deserted. Srinagar had turned into a ghost town. The city shits its doors soon after nightfall. All one came upon in the streets were packs of howling dogs that chased the car for varying distances and then gave up...Srinagar is ravaged city. It is also one of the most dusty cities that I have been to, which makes no sense because it is a city that lies beside one of the world’s most beautiful lakes and on either side of meandering Jhelum river. But the city has crumbled, Fifty seven years of conflict has taken their toll. There is no road in the Srinagar that is whole...” It was Khalid in 2005. He died in February 2009 in USA. The Government of India’s Urban Development Ministry declared the city as “dirtiest and dusty” in 2010.
The hard work of reporting years, experience of meeting different people and listening to them, reading, understanding issues, witnessing tragedies, killings, encounters-both fake and genuine, makes one a journalist. It gives him wider outlook to view things and comment upon it. He with ease talks about electricity, muddy roads, economics, and politics and people view the issues through his eyes. He becomes eyes and ears of people. But it might be true about other places. Here when we were asked to bend, we crawled. We acted and are acting as pen-pushers. This is our profession and we earn our living out of it. That is it. The idealism of Faiz and Jalib has no place here.
Many of our friends, colleagues who have been other side of the fence in 90s, jumped to this side when the State went after them. They switched their stand and become journalists. Nothing wrong with it. Everyone has right to be become a journalist. But they have audacity to call their metamorphosis as evolution but the irony is that they deny others the same right.
The accusation was that the retired people- some of them write so well, at least one of them in the instant case who is not nostalgic about his nostalgia- are writing against the State. That is lie. Here no one writes against the State. If sometimes it happens by defualt, it is called aberration as it never happens by design. There is no newspaper in the valley which will allow a writer to write what State doesn't like. Arthur Millar says a good newspaper is nation talking to itself. Have we one?
But having said that let me ask you a question. Has only journalists have this right to write whatever non-sense they want to write? Are others no body? Have 'other people' no opinion. No mind to think and analyse. Has God bestowed wisdom and knowledge to journalists alone that they consider themselves as Ashraful Makloqat and others Makloqat.
There is no denying of the fact that the academics in Kashmir don’t give damn to the writing on the issues. But is it not heartening that if in these sad times someone is writing on the issues and has ideas to express, he should be read and encouraged. Shouldn't he? Let he be criticized on what he has written not what he was.
Ours is a small place, here we know each other and we all have past. But that doesn’t mean we have no right to future. Let us write, let us all write and encourage good writing. Let us discuss the issues, issues of existence, of our survival, not history of men who write about the issues. Let us abide by what Voltaire says, “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fathers and sons

If you want to choke a debate, question someone’s ideology and political opinion, just do one thing, ask him what his children are doing and he will lose all his argument, whatever he may have.
This is old technique adopted by some people here who have opinion about nothing except people. They have been fairly successful in executing this archaic technique with new arguments. Often those who espouse pro-freedom cause and talk about right to self-determination and the independence are being posed these questions. Elsewhere, outside Kashmir those who talk about loot and plunder by the corporate giants in tribal areas are being accused of agents of foreign powers. They weave argument according to situation.
From Syed Ali Shah Geelani to Muhammad Yasin Malik, there is not a single pro-freedom leader who has not been chided for actions which have nothing to do with their ideology. Geelani has been asked not once but time and again what his sons have been doing over the years and what he has done for them. And Malik was literary hounded for marrying Mushaal.
There is no denying of the fact that people sacrifice themselves and everything dear to them for their respective ideologies and cherished dreams of freedom, liberation, independence, democracy, women rights, rights of tribal’s, secularism and human rights. There are people who devote their lives for these causes without knowing what happen to their children and family. Even they remained oblivion to what happen to them in personal life. They carried on. There are children who have immensely suffered due to the ideologies of their parents especially in Kashmir. In Kashmir you have hundreds of examples. The examples are in every lane and by-lane.
A father was killed here because his son was wanted militant. Son was killed here because his father was working for troops or it was perceived he was working for troops. People were killed on mere perceptions here. A sister was taken into custody for months together because her brother was wanted. Our trauma has no end.
Fathers and sons were killed because over the years this argument has percolated down that ideology of son can’t be different from the ideology of his father. That if son espouses cause of independent Kashmir, father might have played active role in convincing him about the truth of that cause.
It has been seen that the society and the State have denied personal freedom to the individual here. The State has gone after everyone who has had political opinion. It first ridiculed him, and when he refused to bend, it went after his family to crush him. The State has been fairly successful crushing individuals this way.
The society has never been sympathetic. Son here should marry in same gotra where his father wants him to be. Or daughter should not chose her partner herself, if she or he does so it is construed as sort of rebellion or betrayal in Kashmir.
So we should have sympathy for the people who pose questions of fathers and sons while debating political opinions. Because, they come from a society which even denies a freedom to chose a partner and a career to an individual here.
But the question is why ideology, political opinions and political goals should be made subservient to the actions of family members of the person having certain political ideology. Is it necessary for Geelani that his son should take oath on same thing which his father preaches day in and day out? Is it necessary for Malik that Mushaal should certify his political opinion of independent Kashmir and then it would be accepted as his political opinion? Is it? Do their opinions become valid only after they are certified by their relations? If this is so, then they are not subscribing to any ideology or opinion but to sham.
I think except in Kashmir, there might be no other place in the world where such bizarre questions are being posed and asked. They are being asked with the purpose. The purpose is to put the people having strong opinion about issues in defensive.
Sir Vidia Naipaul has no child and he has no regrets about the same. “No regret at not having children of my own. In fact, I would say it is constant cause for celebration for me. Take Graham Greene. When I was with him once he received a letter from his son. The son was ill, not seriously. But Greene’s whole face collapsed with concern at that letter. He said: you never lose this feeling for them no matter how old they get. I wouldn’t have wanted that,” says Naipaul.
Graham Greene was concerned and it was but natural. It is natural for us to be concerned about our loved ones. But at the same time actions of sons and relations of opinion makers have no relation with each other. You can’t bring relations in ideologies. They shouldn’t be used to contradict opinions of political leaders who have different opinion. Father’s ideology is not subservient to his son’s opinion and vice-versa. Let father have his goals and let son perceive different goals. This kind disagreement is necessary for growth of society. Otherwise we will be society of automatons.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

IAS and Conflict Resolution

Naseer A Ganai
Visit Dadsar Tral someday. In 1975 a young boy from the village was commissioned in the Army. His name was Muhammad Amin Naik. In 2008, Amin rose to become Major General in the Indian Army. The villagers speak high of him. They consider him as son of the soil who has done exceedingly well in his life.
However, the respect and love for Major General Naik has not brought any change in the mindset of people. They continue to be what they are: Kashmiris who look for solution of Kashmir dispute. There is reason why I say so. In 1990 armed insurgency erupted in Kashmir. From the village near about 100 joined the militancy. 50 have died in encounters. This happened despite one of them occupying high position in the Army.
In 1982, another person joined the elite club of Indian Administrative Service. His name was Khurshid Ahmad Ganai. Ganai was second topper in the Union Public Service Commission list that year. But does it made any impact on youth in Kashmir? In 1990 you had 1990 despite Ganai being second topper in 1982.
The IAS or for that matter Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) should not be linked with conflict resolution. There are many people in Kashmir, who are averse to the overwhemling presence of non-Kashmiri bureaucrats in the State administration. They have different notion of resistance. Ironically, they see occupying top slots in the administration by Kashmiri Muslims as part of the resistance, never knowing that the administration is strongest arm of the state.
Over the past few years we have seen much activity from the senior Muslim officers of the State. They have been urging the youth to go for IAS and Kashmir Administrative Service. They call it real empowerment. They say, that too repeatedly, that if the youth fail to compete in the administrative services, there will be no other alternative for Kashmiris but to work as fourth class employees in the State’s administrative set up.
The perception is deep among Kashmiri civil servants who have over the years seen how non-State subject bureaucrats work in the State. They perceive them as biased and having myopic view of things.
These Kashmiri civil servants whether retired or serving, worked hard to motivate Kashmiri youth to compete in the competitive examinations. They made them believe that even in the given “adverse administrative atmosphere,” they can make it beacuse of their sheer talent. Shah Feasal topped the list and broke all myths about the incompetence of Kashmiri Muslim. It was message that Kashmiris can’t be pushed around. Showkat Parray rose from humble background and qualified the IAS. Thus proved that intelligence is not domain of any clan. The reaction in Kashmir particularly among the top officers to the UPSC results was overwhelming. They were happy.
There are reasons for it. First and foremost reason is Muslim presence in the State administration would continue even though it is meager. The second reason was it would prompt youth of Kashmir to compete in the exams and thus increase the number of Muslim in the administration which is dwindling.
To my mind there are various ways people here perceive resistance. Some concentrate on environment and they think its preservation is must and part of resistance. Some think that presence of Muslims in police and the administration could make difference to the people of Muslim majority State. Others perceive they can make change through their writings and Art. Others believe in hardcore politics, like separatists. So the qualifying of Muslim Kashmir in IAS could be seen as assertion Kashmiri identity which majority of Kashmiris perceive is under attack.
But it couldn’t be linked with conflict resolution. That would be what Prof Gul Wani of Political Science Department Kashmir says “far fetched.” “Let us give Ghulam Nabi Azad, Farooq Abdullah, Saif Din Soz, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed cabinet berths and top ministerial portfolios, will it make any change in Kashmir,” he asks. “It won’t.” “Then how come an IAS officer is going to change 60 year old polity of State,” he asks. He says Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was Home Minister of India and Mufti is always reluctant to talk about this very chapter of his life.
So to conclude, I will borrow quote from Prof Abdul Gani Bhat. Bhat when asked about Omer Abdullah’s advent into State politics some eight years back, he said “sun has long set on Kashmir, son rise or son set will not make any difference to it.” So let us talk about the resolution of Kashmir dispute instead of perceiving IAS selection as resolution in itself.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Last Kashmiri Beggar

Khandaaro! A voice would be recognized by every household in Kashmir some two decades ago. It was a voice of a beggar. Many beggars would come to our locality to collect alms.
They had all names. The residents would call one Koull, (dumb) as he was seldom entering into any conversation after raising the first cry of Khandaaro. Other was Safida. He was called Safida because his complexion was fair.
Other one was called Motta because he was fat. They knew the residents, by names. Even they knew the children of the area. The residents were also familiar with them.
If on due date Safida would not turn up, the residents would try to seek information about his well being from Koul or Motta, whosoever comes first. The concern of residents about them was genuine.
The beggars were part of Kashmiri culture, if I am not offending anyone. They were part of my childhood as well. I have seen them. Joked with them, teased them, and conversed with them except koull. They were part of us. Nay, they were us. There was no Us verses Them between Us. There was dignity in their begging. And I have not come across an incident where the beggars in those days were given long lecture about the wrongs of begging.
Safida, Motta, Koull however were aged and graceful too. Taking whatever was given to them gracefully. They would inquire about the well being of children, aged and move on.
But over the years Safida, Koull or Motta have been replaced by new breed of beggars. Most of them non-locals. I should say entry of non-local beggar in our house terrifies us. The wedge between them and Us is so deep as it is between India and Pakistan. They alms giver and taker are suspicious of each other. They are they. And we are us. It always Us verses Them. We want they should leave our home as quick as possible even though they seek alms in name of God.
The killing of Habibullah khan in the Handwara forest by the Army had shock for me. His age was 70 years. And he was beggar. The photo of hid body reminded me of all those faces of childhood who were part me. I don’t know fate of beggars of our locality. Perhaps they might have confronted same fate as that of Khan. Who knows?
Some three years ago there was protest in Abiguzar. The residents said Darwaish (ascetic) of the area was killed by the security forces in the den of night. The women shouted slogans. So did the men against the killing of the man who had harmed no one. And after protest they returned to their homes dejected and frustrated. They were even weeping. No one in the area knew from which part of Kashmir the Darwish had come. But over the years he had become part of the locality. He would sit on roadside, the women of the area would provide him food. The nights he would spend in mosque, on roadsides, and at times he would knock at the gate of any house, and the family would feel blessed that he has to be his host for night.

Like all ascetics, he was owned by the Mohallawalas.They lost him. So did the number of other localities. Over the years in the evening these ascetics were seen roaming in localities and in the morning their bodies were found. Like Habibullah Khan of Dewar Lolab valley.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The only woman among girls

Naseer A Ganai
Yesterday one of my friends forced me to watch that movie. I watched the movie in which she is lead actor. She was beautiful. No doubt about that. She was elegant. And graceful too. But above all she reminded me of good old days when girls were not heroines in Bollywood. They were all women.
But change has had to happen. Gone are days when apple and blackberry were just fruits. Change is must. But suddenly something happens which reminds us of our past. She is that trigger point. One look at her and she triggers all those memories of past heroines of the bollywood. The heroines, I should again say, were women then.
She had different look. Every time, in every scene, every frame of the movie, I found her different. I forgot the movie but not her. In Saree she looked more graceful. I was wondering whether she is heroine of 70s or of 2010. The fact is she is product of these sad times. Time at times surprises us. And She is that surprise.

In 2010 she takes you back to 60s, 70s and 80s of Hindi Cinema. There is nothing in Bollywood films that look like Hindi. Still it is called Hindi cinema. From songs to dialogues, it is all Urdu. I wonder why it is called Hindi Cinema. I have no clue.
But her conversation in the film reminded me of culture and civilization.
But on our civilization, Priyanka Chopra had a word. Last month after remaining here for seven days she returned to Delhi and said “I am back to civilization.” She was right.
Bollywood has never considered Kashmir as civilization and it never considered people of Kashmir as people. Film after film whether filmed in 70s, 80s or 2010 its approach towards Kashmir has remained that of colonial. Kashmiris have been projected as abject race always waiting for a tip from an outsider.

The portrayal has been such that one gets impression that Kashmir has no history and culture. Through Mehmdu (Mehmood), and then through Raja (Shashi Kapoor) in Jab Jab Phool Khilay Kashmiris have all along been portrayed as boatman ready to take alms from anyone. These are only few examples. There are scores. If Kashmiri is not boatman he is Tanga walla ready to do anything when ordered and guided.
Then in nineties, Kashmiri was projected as gun wielding misguided person following orders from “across the border.” All along it has been suggested that Kashmiri doesn't deserve the beauty of Kashmir. He is unworthy of it. He has no brains and he should remain subjugated always. Following orders.Hence no civilization.
Yar, where we have landed? We were discussing woman of bollywood and where from Kashmir crept into it? I was talking about She. Yes!

She reminds me of mischievous smile of Muduballa, tragic beauty Mena Kumari. Inhe zameen par mat utariyega, maile ho jayenge. She reminds of composure of Mena Kumari in Dil Apana Aur Preet Parayee. That of Suchitra Sen as Paro in Bimpal Roy's, Devdas. That of Rehkha. That of Nanda singing Yeh Sama Sama Hai Yeh Payar Ka. She reminds me of Wahida Rehman running after Guru Dutt in Kagaz Kay Phool.

Of graceful Sadna, of elegant Shirmila, of Zareena Wahab. They were all my favorites. But when I started growing up, I lost them. Lost them to Ashwariya, Shusmita, this Sen and that Sen. Of course there was not any Suchitra Sen among them. I lost them to new bollywood heroines. This Krishma, that Karina. This Rani and that Lara. Despite in their 30s they look like girls, than women. Only bones, no flesh.
But yesterday when I saw Vidya Balan acting in the movie, I realized that there is one woman among all these girls in Bollywood. And it is Vidya, the woman.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Of Shoaib Sania, and PR bill

Naseer A Ganai ‘
The Permanent Residence (Disqualification) Bill again generated heat with Congress and BJP workers masquerading women rights activists terming it anti-women. They argue how come a woman who marries to a non-State subject stops to be State subject. Her children too continue to be State subject.
The State subject law was enacted by the Maharaja in 1927 to stop the exploitation of the State and its resources from rich neighbors from Punjab and other states by buying property in the State and deprive the locals from the benefits of State subjects.
Interestingly, the notifications were ratified by the State Assembly in 1957. According to 1927 notifications a daughter of permanent resident was losing her State subject on marriage with a non-resident.
In October 2002 the full bench of the High Court in a case, State of Jammu and Kashmir versus Dr Sushila Sawhney said that a daughter for permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will not lose status as permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir on marriage with a person, who is not permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, Justice Muzaffer Jan had struck a discord note. He said “I agree with the view that of V.K Jhanji ( the then Chief Justice) only to the extent that a female non-permanent resident of the State on her marriage to the permanent resident of the State will have right to inherit the property in accordance with the personal law of the deceased (in the case). However, I don’t agree to ultimate conclusion that a female will not lose the status as a permanent-resident on her marriage with a non-permanent resident of the State.”
The state government went for appeal against the judgment in the Supreme Court. However, the PDP led government in 2004 withdrew the appeal and moved a bill in the legislative assembly.
The legislators of the State cutting across party lines passed the bill in two minutes. But soon after the passage of the bill ruckus was created as if the Assembly had passed right to cessation bill. The whole media, everybody who is no body spoke against it terming it as violation of women rights.
From Lakhanpore to Kaniyakumari they all spoke against the bill. And when the bill reached the Uppers House it had become national issue. In the Upper House a drama was enacted. The bill didn’t pass. The NC blamed PDP. And PDP blamed NC. The Present Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather was most vocal speaker. He accused PDP of backstabbing the State.
Muzaffer Baig gave eloquent speech both in Council and the Assembly. In the Assembly he defended the bill terming as normal domicile law and said it shouldn’t be construed us versus them. In the council poor Baig was defending weeping Council Chairman Rashid Dar whom NC was accusing of entering into conspiracy to defeat the bill.
After six years again, the bill was brought in the Upper House by PDP in March 2010. It again raised the tempers. The Government didn’t oppose knowing well the Legislative Council will drop it. After almost 15 days the chairman of the Legislative Council said it was constitutional bill and should be introduced in the Assembly. He dropped the bill. And with it the tempers of the BJP, Congress parties too cooled down.
But soon Sania Mirza shocked them by deciding to marry Shoiab of Pakistan. This time they were fuming against Sania. They ask that if she marries Pakistani, how come she will play for India. They say after marrying Pakistani she would be a Pakistani citizen and loses rights of Indian citizen.
"Henceforth, Sania will not remain an Indian. Had her heart been Indian, it wouldn't have beaten for a Pakistani. If she wished to play for India, she should have chosen an Indian life partner," he wrote Bal Thackary in editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece.
There were demonstrations in India, and Mirza's picture was burnt on the streets of Bhopal, where activists from the rightwing Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad party vowed to stop her competing at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi later in the year.
If it is true for Sania, can’t it be true for JK women who marry outside. Why these double standards.
True that number of Kashmiri women marrying outside the State is few. But the PR bill is not about the women rights it is about the political rights of the State. There are apprehensions of demographic change. The passage of the bill would have quelled the fear to some extent. There is impression that the State Assembly has no powers. The passage of the bill would have erased the impression to some extent.
But then it is Jammu and Kashmir State. Here yardsticks are different. Sania’s marriage to Shoiab doesn’t come under purview of women rights. It is different debate. But a daughter of permanent resident of State on marriage to a non-resident of the State becomes women rights issue. Why?
Who is the State subject?
There three definitions ate for State subjects under two notifications issued by Maharaja in 1927 on January 31 and April 20. The terms and subjects are:
First: “All persons born and residing within the State before the commencement of the reign of late Maharaja Gulab Singh and also the persons who settled therein before the commencement of Samvat year 1942 and have since been permanently residing therein.”
2nd: “All persons other than those belonging to Class I who settled within the state before the close of Samvat year 1968, and have since permanently resided and acquired immovable property therein.

3rd: All persons other than those belonging to Class I and II permanently residing within the State, who have acquired under a rayatnama any immovable property therein or who may hereafter acquire such property under an ijazatnama and may execute a rayatnama after ten years’ continuous residence therein.

This notification is to be read subject to the provision contained in Part III of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, section 6 of which is reproduced below:-

Permanent residents—(1) Every person who is, or deemed to be, a citizen of India under the provisions of the Constitution of India shall be a permanent resident of the State, if on the fourteenth day of May, 1954—

(a) He was a state subject of class I or of CLASS II ; or
( b) Having lawful acquired immovable property in the State, he has been ordinarily resident in the State for not less than ten years prior to that date.

(2) Any person who, before the fourteenth day of May, 1954 was a State Subject of Class I or of Class II and who having migrated after the first day of March 1947, to the territory now included in Pakistan, return to the State under a permit for resettlement in the State or for permanent return issued by or under the authority of any law made by the State Legislature shall on such return be a permanent resident of the State.

(3) In this section, the expression “ State Subject of class I or Class II” shall have the same meaning as in the State Notification No. 1-L/84 Dated 20th April, 1927, read with State Notification No. 13-L dated 27th June, 1932.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bar says CJ was punished for being just in Shopian case

On March 4, in presence of outgoing Chief Justice, Justice Barin Ghosh and galaxy of High Court and Subordinate Court judges, the president High Court Bar Association described Justice Barin Ghosh as honest, upright, dedicated and sincere judge who has been transferred from Kashmir to Sikkim for being just in delivering justice in Kashmir.
It is the rarest of rare instance in past 20 years when the High Court Bar Association has given farewell to outgoing Chief Justice of the State.
Setting the tone for the day the High Court Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom said that Chief Justice, Justice Barin Gosh has been exemplary in his conduct as the Chief Justice of the High Court. “And how come the State tolerate the judge in Kashmir who stated that ‘put all Kashmir in prison but lodge them in Kashmir only,” Qayoom said.
He said Justice Barin Ghosh orders whether on Shopian or PSA detentions had given the sleepless nights to the State. “He issued orders on July 4 and July 15, 2009 to arrest police officer in Shopian case. It was Justice Ghosh who stated they (police officers) should apply for the bail with High Court only,” he said.
Unlike senior counsel Z.A Shah and Z.A Qurashi who earlier termed the conduct of the Chief Justice towards the lawyers as harsh, Qayoom was all praise for Justice Barin Ghosh. “In the delimitation case, the petition was filed at Jammu. The Chief Justice could have adjudicated the matter in Jammu only. But he preferred to hear Kashmir Bar and lawyers here,” Qayoom said. He said in the case the Chief Justice also heard what has not been heard for past 60 years.
In the case the HCBA had brought the UN resolutions and Kashmir dispute first time before the Court.
He said earlier the same treatment was meted to upright judge, the then Chief Justice, Justice Bahudin. He said Justice Bahudin was also transferred to Skim. But, he added, Justice Bahudin preferred not go. He said though Kashmir was beautiful place, Justice Ghosh only wanted to visit Shopian and Sopur. He said has been punished for being upright in Shopian and other human rights cases.
The Chief Justice, Justice Ghosh in his speech avoided reference to Shopian, detention and delimitation case but responded to the allegations of being harsh. In lucid manner he said “when a case comes up before the judge for adjudication, he doesn’t look at the face of lawyer but at the client who has come to the Court to see appropriate adjudication. If the litigant is entitled to what he is asking the adjudicator would decide the case accordingly. If the adjudicator sees the lawyer is ruining litigant’s case, who is entitled to what is asking for then the adjudicator gets angry.”
The Chief Justice said Indian judiciary has rendered very good judgments which have been reported. “But all the great judgments are product of the great lawyers who appear in these cases and enlarged the dimensions of the case,” the Chief Justice said.
He said when he came to Jammu and Kashmir he was told that ‘It is a small court and there is nothing much to do here.” “Here I found the members of judiciary, lower judiciary and bar par-excellence,” Chief Justice said. ‘I have never seen a lawyer appearing before the Court without preparing his brief,” Chief Justice said. He thanked the Bar for the farewell.