9 August 2010. A World to Win News Service. Sharp protests took place across Kashmir in July in defiance of an Indian government round-the-clock curfew. Crowds of people torched police vehicles in the city of Srinagar shouting ″Azadi″ (freedom) and chanting anti-Indian slogans. Indian security forces repeatedly fired into unarmed crowds, killing and wounding many people.
The ingredients in the complex Kashmir situation range from the just aspirations of the Kashmiri people for independence to the historical conflict that has hovered near outright war between Pakistan and India over who will control the Jammu-Kashmir area almost since Britain engineered the partition of its colony into two countries in 1947. Both have fanned various ethnic groups and Hindu and Muslim forces against each other over the last couple of decades. While this underlying conflict has long existed, the U.S.-led so-called war on terror and the Afghanistan war have tremendously fuelled this conflict and rivalry, giving further impetus to the rise of religious fundamentalism and further destabilizing the whole region.
In addition to severe repression, including the rape and murder of the local people by the Indian occupation forces, the Indian government sometimes resorts to choking economic blockades that prevent farmers from getting the fruits of their labour to markets in India and prevents petrol and other essential items from reaching the Kashmiri people.
We are reprinting an edited article which details some of the recent atrocities inflicted on the Kashmiri people by the Indian government from Maoist Information Bulletin-18 (1 July 2010, available at bannedthought. org). It does not take into account the role of Pakistan and Pakistan-Indian contention, which will be the subject of a future article from A World to Win News Service.
In the eyes of the olive green-khaki mercenaries hired by the Sonia-Manmohan –Chidambaram gang [Sonia Gandhi is the leader of the now governing Congress Party, Manmohan is the Prime Minister and Chidambaram is the Home Minister and brutal architect of Operation Greenhunt against the Maoists and their mass supporters in a swath across India] to unleash a blood-bath in Kashmir Valley, every Kashmiri is a terrorist to be eliminated. No matter if it is a school boy or girl, a government employee, a shopkeeper, an unemployed youth, or an old man or woman. With unlimited freedom granted by Delhi and Srinagar to these uniformed mercenaries hired by the Indian State to kill, maim, rape and harass ordinary Kashmiri men and women, the Valley has been turned into a killing field ever since 1989 and continues to bleed profusely under every reactionary regime. Of late, under the pretext of checking cross-border terrorism, these killing machines have stepped up their brutal murderous offensive in Kashmir Valley, ending up in cruelly murdering ordinary people in cold blood.
The recent murders committed by the Indian occupation army, paramilitary and local police are mind-chilling. Week after week innocent youth are picked up from the villages and towns and are bumped off in the name of terrorists from across the border. Every brutal act committed by these uniformed mercenaries has the sanction of the Indian rulers and is justified by the political establishment. This has become glaringly evident right from the time of the Pathribal "encounter" of 2000 to the latest killing of a youth in Sopore when five Kashmiri youth were murdered in cold blood by the Indian Army in March 2000. The then Union Home Minister L K Advani, representing the saffron Hindu fascist terrorists [the then-governing BJP Party], claimed that five Lashkar [Islamist] terrorists were eliminated in a fierce gun-battle with the Indian Army and the police. They were dubbed as terrorists responsible for the killing of 36 Sikhs in Chittisinghpora. It was only due to public outrage and sustained agitation in the midst of threats and intimidation by the army and police that the case was taken up for investigation. The CBI, in one of the rarest cases of ferreting out the truth in its entire history, concluded that the encounter was indeed fake. It charged five Army officers for the murder. Meanwhile the culprits were even promoted pending investigation.
The Pathribal exposures did not act as a deterrent for the trigger-happy army mercenaries whose anti-Muslim bias and their urge to show results and obtain gallantry medals in return, had only increased the number of Pathribal- type killings. Armed with the draconic Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which exempts the army officials from the normal criminal proceedings when they murder or rape anyone, the soldiers virtually have nothing to fear. The immunity of these super citizens from the country's criminal laws has led to massive escalation of the atrocities against ordinary citizens in Kashmir.
To get rewards the Army had also organized fake surrenders and fake encounters. In 2005, for instance, 41 villagers from Chrar-e-Sharief were taken to Delhi and kept in illegal Army custody for six months. They were later produced before the Corps Commander and the DGP in a stage-managed surrender ceremony. Even after this fake surrender was exposed neither the Brigadier nor the other Army officers involved were punished.
In 2007 the Army's counter-insurgency wing called Rashtriya Rifles and the Jammu-Kashmir police abducted five villagers in Ganderbal and murdered them dubbing them as militants.
Thus the case of the brutal horrifying murder of Shahzad, Shafi and Riyaz by the Army officials on 30 April is not surprising. Such atrocities had been commonplace in the Valley but they acquire prominence only when people come out in massive protests and press relentlessly for justice. The three youth were lured with the promise of jobs, and handed over to a Major on April 29 in exchange for Rupees 1.5 lakh [1 lakh is 200,000] and a few bottles of whiskey. The Army officials killed the three innocent youth that night in Machail in Kupwara district. The Army's policy of rewarding the soldiers monetarily for every terrorist or infiltrator killed has led to a spate of such stage-managed encounter killings of innocent people either abducted or lured with jobs by Army agents. All these claimed to be terrorists or infiltrators from Pakistan. It was only the people's protests which had forced the authorities to exhume the bodies from their graves and conduct autopsies. Despite the fact it had been proved that the murders of the three youth were organized by the Major and other Army officials there is nothing that the country's laws can do about it since these officials are protected by the AFSPA.
It is yet another thing that the country's laws themselves are impotent and biased against the common people that they can punish none from the rich and influential sections of the society and the state's various armed forces.
Hence, while the Indian Army is protected from prosecution, the local police too have nothing to fear even if they commit cold-blooded murders publicly. Not one in a hundred cases of such inhuman atrocities had been dealt with seriously by the government. Hence the blood-bath continues with Sonia, Manmohan, Chidambaram, Antony and others watch without ever speaking any evil against their forces committing murders, tortures, rapes etc., against the Kashmiri people. Delhi's puppet chief minister Omar Abdullah – the Hamid Karzai of Kashmir – too watches these atrocities on his own people, letting out an occasional whimper about the excesses of the CRPF [central security forces]. His own policemen had raped and murdered three women in Shopian which lead to months of turmoil due to the attempts of cover-up indulged in by Abdullah's government.
The latest incidents in the Valley which killed 8 people, including a 9-year-old boy, has given rise to massive protests in several areas with people from every section of society coming out into the streets and fighting the most sophisticated enemy in uniform with what the people have access to – stones. In fact, stone-pelting has become a great new form of struggle in Kashmir. One had witnessed this on a major scale in the Palestinian Intifada. Today when virtually all forms of peaceful protest have proven futile and are brutally crushed by the Army, CRPF and the police, there is no other option left for the people than to fight with whatever weapon they can get hold of without being charged with weapons possession. And in many cases the use of bare hands have become powerful weapons against the notorious army, paramilitary and police mercenaries who fall into the people's hands.
It is time that every Indian raises his/her voice in support of the Kashmiri nation's Azadi [freedom]. The Kashmiris have the inalienable right to form their own independent sovereign state if they feel so. Today when the vast majority of the Kashmiris think they would be better off by seceding from India, then what prevents the Indian State from accepting this democratic demand of an entire nation? It is only the expansionist nature of the Indian rulers, their ambition to have as much territory as possible under their country, and the lure of the riches of Kashmir which will never allow them to accept the democratic aspirations of the people of Kashmir.