Of Hurriyat and Strikes…

Writing is always a good way of venting out your feelings. Since the strikes started in Kashmir in May my resentment against the Hurriyat leaders kept brewing up. It was nothing new, but the calls were getting more and more irrational every day, with a fifty hour strike for an eight hour election depicting the irrationality. Boycott does not necessarily mean that we go for strike, close our schools and businesses. Boycott could have been by way of carrying out our regular chores and ignoring the fact that election is taking place at all. But if we would have done that, how would people around the world know that Hurriyat leaders like Geelani existed? So we were asked to go for strike, making the presence of separatist parties like Hurriyat felt. We did go for strike in the state elections as well and strikingly we had the highest voter turnout in the last few years.

So strikes kept irritating me and wondering at the irrationality of our post- freedom leaders who are supposed to get us freedom and lead us from there, apparently with no vision and plan at all. All these feelings of resentment are not only built up inside me. Everyone else I knew, at home, at work, family, relatives and friends shared the same feelings. Everyone wanted to know the rationale behind such irrational strikes. How could our leaders put their own people to trouble, loss and suffering? How could they snatch away the daily wager his only source of income and support to his family? Does such a leader deserve to be actually called a leader?

All our leaders forget that Islam is not based on dictatorship; it’s based on council and a mutual decision making. We all believe that strikes are not the only way of registering protest, but still we are forced to close down our schools and businesses and sit back at home. Where is the mutual council? Whom does Hurriyat consult? Citizens in an Islamic state have the right to participate in the affairs of the state. We are not a declared Islamic state, but we are all followers of Islam. Everyone has the right to have a direct say in the affairs of the state or by a representative chosen by them and others. Geelani or Hurriyat are not representatives of all of us, so they do not have the right to decide how we should live or how we should protest. Let them have a poll which is free and fair and ask people how they want to live and how they want to protest.

Our leaders are now giving reasons and explanations. They want people to endure all of the loss and suffering due to strikes because it is a sacrifice for the nation. The same people who asked people to send their young guns to join the “tehreek” , while they sent his own children to study abroad. They want people to go out and reach the poor and the daily wagers and provide them with money and basic amenities. Can anyone ask them how? The daily laborers and workers do not live in civil lines so that we can just walk over to them to help them. They stay in faraway places. How do we go there amongst stone pelting when even ambulances and emergency cases are also not spared from it? These are all ways to justify their irrational strike calls, because they know that public resentment is building against them for such unending strike calls, which incidentally are made during the peak season in Kashmir.

Why do not these leaders ask us to protest without violence? Why does Hurriyat provoke all the youngsters to come on to the streets and go berserk? All those people who died during tear gas shelling could have been saved if these leaders opted for other ways of protest. If they died, they died because our leaders who provoked them to come onto streets, while they sat house arrested at home. These leaders are also responsible for their deaths because they are the ones who pay a group of people to start stone pelting. These same people burn tires on roads, just to give the visual effect to the violence they want to spread. This all results in retaliation from police and army that leading to injuries and deaths. Once this happens, people get provoked on the basis of violence against innocents. This creates this chain of events again. People protest, and then there is stone pelting, followed by tear gas shelling and beating up of protesters by the police. Not that police and army is clean in the whole act, but like they say “ taali ek haath sey nahi bajti”. We are responsible for creating such situations as well. This all starts because our leaders cannot find other ways of protesting. They cache on violence to highlight Kashmir in the international arena. They use the sentiments of people to make their point and in this process cause deaths and injury of so many innocent civilians. If at all they would lead protests in a different manner, the situation would not be as violent as it is in Kashmir now a day.

There was a time when Yasin Malik went on frequent hunger strikes. At least he had some guts to do that. On the other hand the leaders now would rather see people dying of hunger and basic needs, than to give up their irrational ways of protesting. While people suffer they sit comfortably inside their houses, apparently under house arrest, but with all the comforts surrounding them. How can they eat when so many people are surviving on bare minimum and who knows on nothing at all?

We could protest with candlelight vigils in mosques. We could file petitions, wear protest bands on our wrists, banners on our vehicles, but not stop working. Why can we not show our resentment by other means rather than go for indefinite strikes? How can we protest by sitting idle at home, probably watching cricket, discussing politics or what is going to happen next? When we close down our businesses, schools, what effect does it have on anything? Who cares for it? Does the government care? Do people outside the state care? Does anyone on the international arena care? I guess they have better issues to address than to think why Kashmir is shut down for so many days. And it’s very foolish to think that the oppressors are going to be affected by these strikes. How can we harm or affect them by shutting down schools and businesses? We incur suffering and losses on ourselves and expect the oppressors to react or rectify their misdeeds? Isn’t this an ideal situation for them, to have more sufferings inflicted on people they have made to suffer all these years?

People argue, freedom does not come without sacrifice. Freedom and development cannot be expected together. In that case we should wait till everything is razed down to ground in Kashmir, till Kashmir gets freedom and till we get real leaders to rebuild the nation. If we want freedom and think that it can only come if we incur more suffering on ourselves, then we should stop complaining about lack of proper roads, lack of power, lack of proper health care, proper infrastructure and proper management.

Kashmiris sit here and watch the crème of the nation settling outside Kashmir just because they are not creating situations favorable for people to return and settle and invest in Kashmir. Then they have problem of unemployment, for which the same oppressing regime is blamed. If the situation is like how it is now a days, why would someone working outside Kashmir come and spoil his career in this strike ridden state. So many people plan to come back and do something in Kashmir, but how can they do it when the conditions are like this? Do we necessarily have to break the bone of our economy and our people, raze everything down to ground and then get freedom? When India and Pakistan were formed, did they do it by way of strikes? They did it by way of movements and by way of leaders who struggled in the cause of freedom. I do not believe that protesting like this would give us freedom. Neither do I believe that if we shut down work and sit idle at home are we helping our minds. We are rusting ourselves sitting at homes, rusting the minds of our children, helping them continue the legacy of laziness that Kashmiris are well known for.

When something happens in the Muslim world, we are the first ones to go for strike, probably because we have no other way of showing protest. But what do the same people do when something happens in Kashmir? Do they close down their businesses and sit at home? We are not only affecting ourselves economically, but we are hampering our future generation from what is rightfully theirs, the right to education. We are denying proper medical care to those who are sick. We are denying many people with basic requirements to survive while we think that we are protesting for a good cause.

Government employees get their pay at the end of the month. No wonder government jobs are so much in demand in Kashmir. You sit and home and earn for nothing you did practically. Imagine if the government cuts the pay of employees for all these days of strike, the scene in Kashmir can turn upside down. Even our leaders who were MLA’s at one point of time are getting pension at the end of the month. Pension can at least be qualified ‘halaal’, but what about other employees?

All those people who got killed as a result of human rights violation in Kashmir have not got justice till now. There are over one lakh cases of deaths and disappearances. Did we go for indefinite strike for them? If that is the basis of protest, than we should not have had any working day since the nineties. So many people disappeared over these years. Their parents assemble and protest in peaceful ways, they do not call for shut down. Even if they did, that would have been more logical than the strike calls that Hurriyat makes. The point is that so much has happened in Kashmir, so many cases of human rights abuses are unresolved then why don’t these leaders raise a voice against that. Why is that they have these sleeping periods and they wake up only after fresh incidents take place. They wait and watch and as soon as something happens they capitalize and politicize the issue for their own personal interests. They entice people to protest and sometimes pay them too. Have they forgotten the one lakh Kashmiris, for whom, according to their logic we should strike forever? Or is it that a new incident only helps them to reassert their presence and control over the people.

People come on roads; they pelt the army and police with stones. They obviously face retaliation, resulting in killing or injury to someone. Then that killing or injury becomes a valid reason to protest again, and the cycle continues. All the Fridays since last year have been witness to stone pelting and the same cycle of events. Jama Masjid was closed for many Fridays for the same reason, to avoid this vicious cycle to start. I thought it was an attempt to restore normalcy and probably save many from getting injured or killed in the retaliatory action. But it was also politicized as an attempt to stop holding religious activities in the mosque. Imagine! You create trouble by stone pelting and in an attempt to stop that you are stopped to gather at one place. It is presented as hindrance of observation of religious duties and is used to entice people again. People are made to see that they are not allowed to pray there, and asked to protest. But why can’t these people see the truth behind it. Do they ever ponder as to why it is done, who is the culprit and what is the reason?

As I write this, I wonder what actually goes on their minds as they call for strikes. What are they thinking? Do they have a heart for the poor and needy? Do they actually think that these indefinite strike calls will make India withdraw its forces and grant them freedom? Do they think that the same country that rejected talks with them will oblige to them just because Kashmir closes down on their strike calls? Did the uprising in early nineties, where people would protest in thousands and with real fervor and patriotism give us anything? Did the armed struggle help us? Now this violent and self inflicting style of demanding things from India is leading us to loss and depression. But at the same time it is also showing us what our leaders are actually worth!

A hadith of the Prophet says: “You see believers being merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind, resembling one body, so that, if any part of the body is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness and fever with it”.

We share the pain of every Kashmiri who had to bear the brunt of the unrest that started since nineties. There are incidents that send shivers down the spine, and tears rolling down from our eyes. It pains to hear what happened in Shopian. No one was against the first strike for this cause. Everyone genuinely sat back to protest. But what followed was not genuine, it was forced upon us. Nowhere in the hadith or nowhere in the lifetime of the Prophet did he prevent people to do their business or prevent people to go in search of knowledge. We need real leaders, not those who have no rationale and vision. We need to learn from our past mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again.

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 !

One Year!

Today, 28th August, my blog turns one!

Happy Birthday my blog 🙂

birthday-cake.jpg

Long Live the Kashmir cause!!!

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…

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.”

This is what they show you, but you don’t realise!

Kashmir hit by flash floods. We lack proper management. Nothing new!

People have been waiting for help. No government officials have reached certain areas. People are managing stuff on their own.

But this particular incident happened in one of the flood hit localities ( News Courtesy GreaterKashmir ). I read it out to somebody and the reaction I got was, “WHAT???”. Lets see what you think about it!

“CRPF personnel arranged two boats and asked people to board it. After taking some video shots, they made the people disembark the boat, and left the spot, leaving us shocked,” said Mohammed Yaqoob. “It seemed they wanted to show it to the world that Indian troops are carrying out rescue operations in Kashmir,” he added.
As Yaqoob was heaping abuses on the government, a Major of Rashtriya Rifles, leading a patrolling party of the troops, passed through the area. He told Greater Kashmir that “We cannot do anything, it is not our job.”

My cousin once told me about an incident which probably took place in the early eighties. She had been playing cricket in school with her brother and his friends, and the kids realized that they were being filmed. They did not care much about it. There was a strike in the coming few days, October 27th – if I remember correctly. Schools were closed and so were other offices. To my cousin’s amazement, the local channel news claimed that schools were open and strike was not observed in the valley. The footage they used in support of this was the same one where my cousin was playing cricket in school.

Tampering news from Kashmir is not a new trend. Earlier they had to do it rarely, but now they have to be on their toes to make sure they project the news the way they want. And they make sure they have enough preparations for that. They want to show people (of course not Kashmirs) that the armed men of India have good relations with the local people. Show them how they have been performing their duties all this while and that the human rights abuse cases are alleged and fake.