Kashmir continues to suffer Indian oppression and world focuses on nuclear war scare

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Zawahir Siddique

Ramadan 22, 1431 2010-09-01

Special Reports

by Zawahir Siddique

On May 21, A. B. Vajpayee, prime minister of India, visited Kashmir, known for its legendary beauty as "paradise on earth". At the end of his brief tour Vajpayee made enough statements and decisions to indicate unequivocally that India is determined to make Kashmir a "hell on the earth" for its Muslims. At the same time, he announced that over a thousand Indian troops were being transferred from Gujrat, scene of massacres of Muslims by Hindus earlier this year, to Kashmir for operations against mujahideen.

A general strike was called to ‘welcome’ the prime minister of India to its ‘integral’ state. Another incident that ‘coincided’ with Vajpayee’s visit was the assassination of Abdul-Ghani Lone, a ‘moderate’ leader of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference. Lone, whose naivity was more useful to India than to Kashmir’s Muslims, was shot dead by ‘unidentified’ gunmen while attending events marking the twelfth anniversary of the death of Mirwaiz Maulavi Farooq, who was killed by ‘unidentified gunmen’ at his home in May 1990. Lonne had said on record that foreign ‘militants’ were no longer needed in Kashmir and that guns could not solve its problems. He had also come out against jihad as a means of achieving the ‘political goals’ of the Muslims in Kashmir. US secretary of state Colin Powell said that the killing was a "direct attack on hopes for a fair political process in Kashmir".

Vajpayee was only concerned about telling his troops in Kashmir to be prepared for a "decisive battle". On the last day of his brief tour he announced an economic package of $1.24 billion for the ‘benefit’ of the people of Kashmir: it is to be used to improve the power supply and the road and railway network. Calling this economic package a "crude joke", the Federation of Chambers of Industries in Kashmir (FCIK) said that the sectors given benefits would in no way improve the living conditions of people in the valley. Probably the improvements in the transport network will only help India to move more military supplies to the Valley.

Vajpayee also mentioned preparations for elections to be held in Kashmir very soon. The ‘democratic process’ in Kashmir is better known as ballot-by-bayonet. It is a common sight during elections: Indian troops herd Kashmiri Muslims like cattle to the polling-stations at the point of their bayonets. Moreover, before these exercises of ‘free will’, the Indian occupation army warns the people of the punishments they risk if they do not have marks on their fingers to signify that they have cast their votes. Even with this intimidation, although officials generally claim close to 30 percent attendance in polling stations, relatively credible sources, such as the BBC and Human Rights Watch Asia, report that the turnout never actually exceeds 5 percent. Between 1953 and 1987 Muslims in Kashmir ‘participated’ in numerous elections. The electoral farce is going to get the occupation forces no nearer to any solution. The people of Kashmir demand a plebiscite to determine their future, as promised by India and guaranteed by the UN in 1948. On this demand the Kashmiris are not prepared to compromise; it is the reason for their declaration of jihad, regardless of how many farcical elections the Indian government holds.

In 1989 there was a major uprising against the occupying Indian army. What has happened since is a history of brutality by more than 700,000 troops. The Armed Forces Special Ordinance Act (July 1990) provided the security forces with extraordinary powers to shoot and kill, search and arrest without warrant, all with immunity from prosecution.

On the night of January19, 1990, an intensive house-to-house search was conducted in an area where ‘militants’ were believed to be hiding; three people were arrested. The next day there was a large demonstration in Srinagar to protest against the search. Paramilitary troops gathered on either side of the Gawakadal Bridge over the Jhelum River and fired on the unarmed demonstators when they reached the bridge: more than 100 were killed. The Indian press played the incident down; the foreign press reported it: "Thousands of Muslims chanting "Indian dogs go home", "we want freedom" and "long live Islam" marched through the streets of Srinagar and other towns, despite police "shoot-on-sight" orders", reported the Daily Telegraph of London. So foreign correspondents were banned from the valley.

The myth of Indian restraint was also undermined by the BSF (Border Security Force) in the town of Sapore on January 6, 1993. More than 50 people were killed; a section of central Sapore was burnt to ground when BSF soldiers poured gasoline onto rugs, set them alight and tossed them onto houses and shops, then prevented fire-fighting forces from tackling the blaze. Human Rights Watch Asia reported the incident: this forced India to admit for the first time that BSF soldiers had retaliated against the town’s civilian population. Assassinations of individuals, such as the murder of Dr Farooq Ashai for his association with foreign journalists and human-rights representatives, and for being a bullet-injury specialist, are recorded in plenty.

The greatest single atrocity by Indian security forces against women took place in 1991: more than 60 women were gang-raped, while their men were kept outside in the freezing cold or held in houses and ‘interrogated’. The Indian government claimed that the episode was a "massive hoax orchestrated by terrorist groups, their mentors and sympathizers in Kashmir and abroad". However, a mission of the International Commission Of Jurists (ICJ), which visited Kashmir in 1993 to assess abuses of human rights there, concluded that "there are very substantial grounds for believing that the mass-rape at Kunnan Poshpura really took place".

The torture in detention centres includes electric shocks and use of heavy rollers on leg-muscles, which can lead to acute renal failure. Other forms of inhuman treatment, including sexual molestation, are also reported. According to victims, quoted by Amnesty, "you always know in advance about the ‘current’ because they send in the barber to shave you from head to foot, to facilitate the flow of electricity. After shaving, a cup of water is given to drink and then they attach the electrodes". Other common methods, described by a US human rights organization, Asia Watch, include suspension by hands or feet and burning the skin with irons and other heated objects. Victims are also kicked and trampled by security forces wearing spiked boots. Sixty-three such interrogation/detention centres are believed to exist in Kashmir.

Muslims all over the world ‘sympathise’ with the Muslims in Kashmir. More than 700,000 military troops confront less than five million civilians in the valley. The experience of military repression has been brutalizing. No chronicle can accurately and adequately portray what the Muslims in Kashmir have endured. The atrocities include torture, rape, murder and disappearances. Human-rights activists have documented more than 75,000 killings and a similar number of disappearances in the valley. The horrifying number of ‘disappearances’ exceeds the scandalous proportions reached during General Pinochet’s rule in Chile.

The government of India refuses to allow the Kashmir ‘issue’ to be ‘internationalised’. The Pakistan government wants to continue to extend "moral, political and diplomatic support to the legitimate struggle of the people of Kashmir for the realization of their right to self-determination". The Muslim leaders in India want to talk about Palestine; their position on Kashmir is that Kashmir is an ‘integral part’ of India, as if they were only concerned about the land and not its people. Uncle Sam, the ‘international policeman’, is only concerned with the geopolitically significant position of Kashmir.

In the shadow of a possible India-Pakistan war, Kashmir is once again in the crossfire. Indian Muslims are preparing to raise funds to help the ‘martyrs’ of the Indian army, as happened during the Kargil fighting. However, the mujahideen in Kashmir have realised that the Americans, the zionists and the Indians are not going to give them peace on a plate. But what the forces of kufr fail to realise is that Kashmir’s Muslims are being inspired by the al-Aqsa Intifada and the Palestinians’ martyrdom-seeking operations.

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