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.