Discriminated, Who?

Amarnath Land row surfaced completely different demands in Kashmir as well as in Jammu. While in Kashmir it reignited the azadi agitation, revocation of the special forces act etc. In Jammu people started their protest against their discrimination in the state set up.

Talking about discrimination, personally I see Jammu as more developed and prospering compared to Kashmir. Atleast you can see infrastructural change in Jammu, Kashmir is literally the same except for the fly over which is not even half a mile. I do not know the facts so I would not comment on that aspect. But one aspect of discrimination that is clearly evident is being ignored by everyone.

When Jammu closed for around 40 days, with people defying curfew and roaming on the streets with swords, no one fired at them. But when fruit growers marched on the roads with their fruits, they were showered with bullets. 2 days and 40 people died in Kashmir. Add to that an additional 8 people that were killed in the initial land transfer agitation. Past few days around 8 more were killed including women. That takes the tally to 56 roughly with scores with bullet injuries still suffering.

So firing in Kashmir and not even proper lathi-charge in Jammu, isn’t that discrimination? I saw visuals of people blocking the highway and the police personnel were literally hugging the people away, with lathis nowhere in the scene. And the same day in Kashmir we already hear about 4 casualities. Isn’t this discrimination? The day of Muzaffarabad march around 8-10 army men were beating up one man with “lathis”, poking it in and making sure it breaks the bones of the captured unarmed civilian. While in Jammu police men got injured, banks were burnt down, people were seen chasing away the police, but not a single bullet was fired on them.

Jammu people are crying over the word discrimination. When the special forces act is applicable to the state of J&K, so why this discrimination?  Who has given them this special license to kill in Kashmir? We are killed, we receive bullets and they are crying over discrimination? Aren’t we discriminated when our protestors who hardly have a stone in their hand are showered with bullets and Jammu protestors with swords are let away just like that?

Jammu cable was banned, but it opened up after hours when people beat up some policemen. There are no newspapers in Kashmir, local channels who show the truth and cover what exactly happens in Kashmir are banned. Why?

When peaceful rallies like “Pampore Chalo” and “Eidgah Chalo” were carried out, with lakhs joining the processions and no violence, why this curfew? What is India scared of?

This is just a note for those who can reflect. Just reflect.

Count the casualities in Kashmir and in Jammu and then tell me who is discriminated on humanitarian grounds? Just think !

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Yet another tale of torture and harassment.

GKMangwalpora(Handwara), Feb 20: Mangwalpora has been named as a Model Village by the government. It witnessed one of the longest military sieges in the past 18 years of political struggle. The eight-day siege ended this morning. People are recovering from the psychological trauma induced by the siege, which they say was a tactic used by the soldiers and police to “break our will so that we would give false information about militants.”

“But we are proud that we didn’t give up, and defeated their nefarious intentions,” said Bashir Ahmad. The soldiers dug out the floors of rooms in his house.
The soldiers of 30th battalion of Rastriya Rifles and personnel of Special Operation Group (SOG) also dug the houses of several other people in search of “ammunition and hideouts.”
The search operation in Mangwalpora, having a population of 350 people, was the longest in Kupwara and one of the longest in the Valley.
According to the Bashir, the search operation was “collective punishment and mental torture” by the troops of RR and Special Operation Group of Police.
“They thought we would name or blame somebody. But we stand by our unity, besides this is a peaceful village,” Bashir said.
Yesterday the people rejected the eatables brought and offered by the army.
Muhammad Shafi, another resident said, “My house was searched more than 30 times by the troops. In fact there is not a single house which wasn’t searched by troops less than 20 times. But they found nothing. That shows they wanted to harass us.”
He said the troops even snapped the electricity supply to the village on the first day of siege. “They took electric bulbs from the verandahs of our houses and electric poles; it was dark everywhere. We were even deprived of water during the first two days of operation and we used snow,” Shafi added.
Ghulam Muhammad, a resident, said the army choppers made several sorties “quite close to the ground to create fear among people especially the children and women.”
Locals alleged they were detained in two houses during the first three days of the siege. “Men and women were kept in separate houses. We have never witnessed such harassment by troopers. Even an expecting mother was not allowed to be taken to hospital in time. Even after a caesarian, the baby couldn’t survive,” said Muhammad Maqbool Wani..
The troopers had allegedly restricted the villagers from offering prayers in the mosque during the siege. “We were not allowed to call the prayers (Azaan) in the mosque during these eight days and even not allowed to offer the Friday prayers,” Wani added.Two kilometers away from the town, the troops, along with sniffer dogs, were still encircling the town, and frisking everybody who comes out of the village.
Many villagers fear the reprisals by army and SOG.

Courtesy : Greater Kashmir

10 years…and no sign!

While talking to a friend today, I got reminded of asking him for an email id of his relative. While figuring out how we knew the same person, my friend mentioned that her father was one of the mystery people. By mystery people Kashmiris mean those people who mysteriously vanished.

Her father had gone to the mosque to pray. But he never returned.

I cannot even fathom the grief, sadness, anger, frustration of the family. You suddenly lose a family member. No, its not death that takes the family member away. Its a mystery. There is no dead body, there is no burial to make the relatives and his near and dear ones believe that the person is no more. But there is this endless wait, which is more than death to the people alive.

But there is a ray of hope, may be he is alive, somewhere, in some corner of this world. But this hope fades away with each day of wait.

I try to imagine, but I cannot. This is not the story of one Kashmiri, such stories are not uncommon. Ask the parents of the disappeared, their kith and kin, they will tell you what it feels like to live a life of uncertainity and loneliness.

Perhaps writing about this is easier than imagining how it feels to live like that. I have no more words.

Time for the Independence Day Of India!

Looks like army is working hard to have Indian Media show that all is well in Kashmir and people are celebrating Independence day of India!

I had heard about people being forced to hoist an Indian flag, but this time some people are getting business out of it! Atleast India is helping in some way!

Between this wasn’t one of the drafts I was talking about earlier, those will follow soon ! This was just need of the hour post! Who knows whose conscience wakes up with this!

Here is a news column from GK :

Hoisting tri-colour imperative on commuters’ vehicles

SHAHID RAFIQ

Handwara, Aug 13: Cloth merchants and tailors are doing brisk business as the demand for tri-colour is increasing with August 15 nearing and each flag is sold between Rs 10-Rs 20.
The spurt in demand is due to overt diktat of Army to public to hoist tri-colour on their vehicles.
“I have sold 200 tricolours during past two days and the demand seems to be increasing as 15th August is approaching,” said Nisar Ahmad, a tailor.
According to commuters moving on Handwara-Varmul route, soldiers at different villages of Handwara and Varmul are leaving no stone un-turned for making sure that commuters hoist a tri colour atop their vehicles ahead of 15th August.
The entire Handwara town wears a tri-colour look as flags are placed atop shops, buses, tippers, cars, tongas, scooters, cycles and even on hand carts.
Commuters alleged that they are being ordered to hoist tri-colours by 30 RR Langate camp, 21 RR posted at Handwara and 33 RR Magam camp.
“I was stopped at three places from Varmul to Handwara by troops for not hoisting tri colour. I was first stopped at Ladoora, Chotipora and then at Langate by troops for not hoisting tri colour on my scooter,” said Ghulam Muhammad, a resident of Varmul.
“Our bus was stopped by Army at Ladoora for half an hour for not hoisting tri-colour,” said Irshad Ahmad, a commuter.
Meanwhile, police, paramilitary troops and army has intensified search operations in the north Kashmir townships of Handwara, Sopur, Bandipore ,Kupwara and Varmul.
Army has laid cordon in forest area of Kupwara, Lolab, Rajwar and Handwara. People living near forest areas are ordered not to step out from their homes in the late hours particularly from 7 PM.
Army and police has set up new barricades at different intersections of Handwara, Kupwara and Sopur and are ordering passengers, men women and even school children to get down from vehicles and stand in queues for identification parade. Traffic on busy roads is coming to halt leading to massive traffic chaos.

The model who was left limping…

TARIQ DAR
Tariq Dar (http://www.tariq-model.com/html/image_gallery.asp?id=11)

I was amazed to see the news on Rediff regarding the model Tariq Dar who was arrested in Bangladesh on the pretext of being a RAW agent and then arrested in India on the pretext of being an LeT Millitant. Tortured and interrogated to the core, he was finally released with a paralyzed foot.

http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/feb/01tariq.htm

I read the news a few days ago on Greater Kashmir:http://greaterkashmir.com/Home/Newsdetails.asp?newsid=3354&Arch=Arch&issueid=132

It was good to see that the gross human rights violations in his case was atleast acknowledged by the national media. However this acknowledgement forms only a meagre percentage of the actual violations that take place in Kashmir. I was still getting over the surprise of seeing this news on Rediff when the comments section somehow grabbed my attention. I went through most of them.

Well if these comments reflect the opinion of the majority of people in India, then I should not be amazed why the lakhs of deaths….thousands of disappearances…fake encounters…custodial killings…the pathetic and sorry state of hundreds of Kashmiris languishing in the Indian jails does not even send one shiver down their spines. No wonder they do not do anything about it. No wonder any innocent tagged as a terrorist and killed gives them a satisfaction that they and their country are safe from the “terrorists”. They do not care if an innocent individual is killed – after all it is all about the safety of the country.

However I brushed through some sane comments as well. Some people who saw this as a gross human rights violation, who acknowledged the need to put aside religion and the “kashmiri = terrorism” assumption aside. .. some people who value a single human life. Who realise that they could be in the same state someday if they do not raise their voice against such brutal acts.

This is not just one story from Kashmir. Another carpenter was killed and labelled as a foreign millitant and buried. Numerous other such cases have been identified. Bodies are to be exhumed. The culprits are to be punished, atleast that is what the government claims everytime. However, justice is something which perhaps stays outside the mountains of the valley of Kashmir. Its entry in Kashmir requires the conscience of many people to wake up!

Some people talk about how terrorists should be dealt with – since they are a threat to the nation – the same people do not speak a word when an innocent Kashmiri dies – the same people do not care about the human rights violations in the state. Is this lack of concern because they think every Kashmiri is terrorist, or because the Kashmiri who got killed was a Muslim?

Or is it they are totally indifferent to such atrocities committed on innocent civilians – they do not care as long as it does not concern their family, friends or their loved ones. The other thinking which possibly leads to this indiffernce is the fact that the people of Kashmir are fighting against the Indian rule. So these people most of the times completely ignorant of the history of Kashmir, failing to see the events that led to the present situation claim that Kashmir is an integral part of India and as such any individual who does not accept this deserves to be punished. “If Kashmiris are not happy to be with India, they can leave Kashmir and go whereever they want to”, a statement that I have heard from numerous Indians…..makes me laugh…..clearly shows the lack of concern for the people and the importance of the piece of land called Kashmir.

And the sad story of deaths and torture in Kashmir continues…

Republic Day of India

A few headlines in the local papers in Kashmir as Republic Day of India approached last year…

21st January 2006

  • Government has failed to protect human rights: Sagar. (Nothing new for Kashmiris whose human rights have been battered and bruised over the years.)
  • Srinagar Under siege for R-day parade. (Kashmiris are used to it for the last 18 years now.)

22nd January 2006

  • 13 arrested in valley. (Many more not even counted.)
  • Maulvi’s arrest spark protests in Batamaloo. (…and the protestors are beaten up and they call it democracy.)

23rd January 2006

  • JK turns into fortress as R-day nears. (Some claim it is for the security of the public. We ask, why not such security for the entire year then?)

24th January 2006

  • Shift the venue. (For the ‘supposed’ celebrations?)
  • We have brought Peace to Kashmir: PM. (But the human rights violations continue, so do the unabated killings.)
  • Hizb, Hurriyat call for strike on January 26. (Nothing new – curfew , hartal, another sit-at-home day for Kashmiris.)

25th January 2006

  • Short of Public, Government seeks employees in stadium. (Seek or force?)
  • R-day measures hit livelihood of many. (Republic Day, Independence Day, hartals, crackdowns…and the list continues.)
  • 70 held. (Makes it 83 officially.)
  • Frisking of women introduced in valley. (We have new developments…)

26th January 2006

  • 1 held for resisting frisking of women. (You raise your voice and you are in too… 84)
  • When will our plight end ask Haftchinar residents. ( Hosting security forces in their houses, uninvited though! )
  • Women shocked over first tryst with roadside frisking. (Shocked – resist and you go in too, raise your voice you are dead! – national media sleeps as usual. )
  • 100 held in Jammu on R-day eve. ( 184 and the count is ticking. )
  • Curfew like situation in Kashmir. ( Every year! )

These were the headlines in Kashmir on the eve of Republic Day of India last year. Wondering why you never heard of any such thing through the zillion news channels, newspapers, and radio stations of India?Frisking

If you are really wondering, then you are amongst those who see Kashmir as it is projected to you. The reality is far away from you and you far away from its essence. 184 arrested in a span of less than seven days. And you probably think all 184 are terrorists?

For all the Indians Republic Day is a day to celebrate, watch the parade live or on TV, attend a flag hoisting function, and enjoy the day off from work. What does it signify for a Kashmiri?

Deserted roads, raids, cordons, house arrest and frisking at every half a mile. In short, disruption of normal life, humiliation and helplessness for the people. All this for an hour long parade to take place in Bakshi stadium. And guess who attends it? The Chief Minister, his ministry and the performers. Not to forget, hundreds of Indian armed forces who permanently reside in the stadium.

The common people in Kashmir have nothing to do with any of these days which the Indians celebrate. However for India to claim that Kashmiri is an integral part of India and portray Kashmiris as pro-Indian, the celebrations for these two occasions have to be held, no matter how much security force deployment it takes and how much trouble it causes to the public. They need to be taped and shown to the entire nation and to the entire world and claim that Kashmir is moving towards normality.

The whole aura of tension spans over a week leading to R-day. If you happen to roam around in the city during that week, I am sure you will leave the city the same day. You will be frisked at ever nook and corner of the city. If you are traveling in a bus or car, you will be stopped after every half a mile, asked to come down, join a queue, show your identity, get yourself checked and then board the same bus another half a kilometer away. No matter how many times you go through this, it won’t be enough for them.

“Government has failed to protect human right” comments Sagar, ex-minister. I have been hearing the same thing for the past 18 years, which forms a considerable part of my lifetime. Every year it’s the same ordeal on Republic and Independence Day of India. The whole city is in siege. There is frisking at every nook and corner. Normal life comes to halt more than a week before this day.

Frisking Women

I read claims by people that the security deployment during this time is for the “security” of the people who are ironically suffering as a result of the deployment. The well known “Bakshi stadium” is the only place in the city where Republic Day is celebrated. The whole area is under siege more than a week before Republic Day. The residents of the nearby locality are under house arrest. Security forces occupy the top floors of residential houses to secure the ministers who are coming to attend the parade. Not even a fly can pass that area, not to talk about local people. Last year someone was denied to cross a bridge around that area to attend a funeral. They were left waiting till afternoon and by the time they reached their destination the last rights of the deceased had already been performed. In certain far off places, people have been forced to hoist Indian flags on their cycles and buses. Army patrols at the end of an election day to check the mark on the fingers of the locals. They are lucky if they have it, and if they don’t they have a terrible fate! Government employees are forced to attend the parade to add to the public attendance to be captured on video. It reminds me of election days where government employees were forced to go to polling booths against their will and perform their duty lest they would lose their jobs.

The country that calls itself democratic has snatched away the basic rights of people. You have to walk, drive, and talk according to the wishes of the army. If you don’t listen, they have enough laws at their disposal to arrest you and declare you as a threat to the security of the nation.

Every year the residents around the stadium raise voice against their sufferings. But no one cares, no one listens. All these headlines appear in the local papers and not a single makes way to the national media. All that makes its way to the national media are the pictures and the videos of Republic Day parade which is presented to be held with enthusiasm and fervor. But mind you, only inside the stadium.

The post Republic Day ‘celebration’ for the people of Kashmir is reflected in the following newspaper headlines.
27th January 2006

  • What death means on R-day. (Death – a daily term for a Kashmiri, on Republic Day it has a new twist.)
  • Kashmir a ghost valley on R-day. ( Ghost = security forces roaming around the streets )

28th January 2006

  • January 26 Strike an eye opener. (To whom? The national media portrayed something different though. )

This year it is going to be no different. Nothing is going to change, No one is going to celebrate Republic Day of India, but Republic Day of India is going to be celebrated in Kashmir! Yes inside Bakshi stadium – mind you with full fervor and enthusiasm!

Headlines and Photo courtesy : Greater Kashmir

BSF says he died in gunfight

Courtesy GreaterKashmir

An innocent yet again! They are not Kashmiris, they are Indians, may be you listen to them and trust them, atleast someone will get justice in Kashmir!

 

‘UP labourer killed, labeled foreign militant’
Bandipora, Sep 28: Labourers from Uttar Pradesh and other states working in Bandipora area of Varmul district allege the soldiers of paramilitary Border Security Force killed one of their colleagues in custody and later labeled him as a foreign militant.

The labourers alleged that Ishtiyaq Ali son of Ali Muhammad of Mahrajgund, UP was arrested by the troopers of BSF’s 51 battalion from Naberpora near Bandipora town. They said he sold snacks on roadside. Their statement is supported by the shopkeepers who “have often seen him selling roasted Channa.”

“They lifted him in front of me in a Gypsy vehicle when he was coming back to work after lunch on September 9, I remember it was Saturday,” said Imran, one of the colleagues of Ishtiyaq, who also hails from UP.
Imran said, “We thought they are our own people and he will be back but we saw his tortured and bullet-riddled body on Sunday morning in new bus stand and were surprised to see what our own people did and later labeled him as foreign militant.”

“We were told militants are very bad people and they kill innocents,” said another labourer, “but they (troops) are killing the innocent people. Are they killing innocents for ranks or money?”
Many labourers said after Ishtiyaq’s killing they plan to leave the Valley. “I was working as painter for the past four months. I am collecting money which people owe me and I would soon leave Kashmir and tell people there what troops are doing here,” said Akhtar, a labourer from Bihar state.
These labourers have decided to approach UP Police for justice. “Police here knows the facts but they would not help us,” said Akhtar.
A shopkeeper in bus stand of Bandipora town said, “It is ridiculous that they labeled him as militant. He was known to everybody here.”
People said the labourer had torture marks all over his body.

According to FIR registered in Police station Bandipora on September 10, the BSF claims that they have killed a foreign militant and recovered a pistol from him.

A spokesman of BSF told Greater Kashmir that “He (Ishtiaq) was asked to stop by our troopers but he fired at them with a pistol. In retaliatory firefight he was killed. He was a foreign militant.”
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Varmul said, “The police FIR says he was a militant. Let people approach us, we will investigate.”