Mainstream, VOL LIV No 36, New Delhi, August 27, 2016
Killings Continue, Discontent, Anger Grow in Kashmir
Sunday 28 August 2016, by
Killings continue in the Kashmir Valley. In just one day, on Tuesday (August 16), another five civilians were killed and 31 injured. Yet the political rulers in New Delhi and Srinagar insist on bypassing this reality. Instead they want to distract and dwell on the happenings in Balochistan and Gilgit.
Its not just the Kashmiris but even the non-Kashmiris are commenting that this blatant U- turn by the government of the day on the Kashmir crisis reeks not just of insensitivity but amounts to hoodwinking the masses. Also, these ongoing diplomatic games between India and Pakistan are deepening the crisis in the Valley. Provocative taunts and tactics from either side are worsening the ground realities in the Valley.
How can the latest round of diplomatic moves between India and Pakistan bring about some semblance of peace in the Valley? How can this strategic shift of dragging along the situation in PoK or Balochistan help lessen tension in the Valley? How is the wounded and bruised and dying Kashmiri going to survive amidst this war of words between India and Pakistan? How long can this blame-game camouflage the brutal violations taking place in the Kashmir Valley?
Kashmiris are fuming: what else could be expected when the Right-wing is in power, in control of our lives! The BJP-RSS is known for masks, for camouflaging the reality and putting up facades, for playing up non-issues to mask the actual issues.
PDP‘s alliance with the BJP has compounded the Anger in the Valley!
Till date the Kashmiris are in no mood to pardon the PDP leadership for paving the way for the Right-wing to make inroads into their territory and till date there is little acceptance of this alliance.
Kashmiris were angry when the late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had decided to go ahead with the BJP. The PDP-BJP alliance widened the gap between the people of the Valley and the political rulers of the State. A widespread feeling of betrayal in the Valley—“of getting sold out to outsiders. RSS cadres will be transported here to grab our homes and lands under various grabs and guises.” ...I was taken aback to see cab drivers to roadside vendors to students to lawyers and engineers shaking their heads in dismal motions, quipping that the PDP should not have made this alliance with the BJP.
Anger was not just amongst the apolitical Kashmiri is but also amongst the political lot. In Srinagar I had interviewed Engineer Rasheed, a qualified engineer who turned a politician to ‘escape police brutalities’; in fact, he is the only independent MLA in J&K—and heard him voice his apprehensions with the RSS making inroads... of the RSS using ploys to drag along unrest in the Valley. This was just a couple of days before he was in the midst of the ‘beef party’ controversy that had erupted at Srinagar’s MLA hostel. And within a short span of that, Right-wing goons had thrown petrol bombs on two Kashmiri truckers, Zahid Rasool and Showkat Ahmad; with Zahid Rasool succ-umbing to his injuries. Compounding the tragedy, ink and paint was thrown at MLA Engineer Rasheed and also on the relatives of Zahid Rasool and Showkat Ahmad, after they had held a press meet in New Delhi’s Press Club of India.
Whys to this Aversion...
A list of reasons for the Kashmiris’ anger against the Right-wing ruling them, directly or indirectly.
In contrast to those earlier years when old- timers in the Valley argued rather too earnestly that Kashmir was “safer with India”, this time the Kashmiris are throwing up a series of counter-arguments: “Who is safe in India? Nobody is safe! Modi and his Ministers are provoking us... Muslims are getting killed with any possible excuse! How can Modi’s sarkar talk of a common civil code when Muslims and Dalits and Christians are treated like third-class citizens! The sarkar hangs Yaqub Memon and Afzal Guru but does not touch their own Hindutva terrorists flourishing all over—from Mumbai to Karnataka to Uttar Pradesh to Madhya Pradesh! There has been an ongoing climate of communally charged atmosphere in the country. Surcharged mahaul in the country bound to leave imprints on the very mahaul in the Valley. Ironically, the Valley did not see a surcharged communal mahaul before this phase. No, not even during the Partition when hundreds of Muslim families were hounded out of Jammu and not even in 2002 when the Gujarat riots peaked.”
Double-standards in Governance
Kashmiris point out double-standards in the very governance. The ‘JNU episode’ was (mis) handled with Right-wing gloves. With that the expected offshoots. A ‘twitter war’ had taken off between former Chief Minister of J&K Omar Abdullah and Censor Board member Ashoke Pandit, with the latter dragging along JNUSU Vice President Shehla Rashid Shora’s fiery speeches and together with that rather too blatantly thrusting the ‘Kashmiri Muslim’ angle to it! In fact, as CPI-M legislator M.Y. Tarigami commented on February 20, 2016—“This JNU incident had made it clear it was the handiwork of the RSS!”
The JNU episode threw up double-standards in the very governance. JNU students targeted on the supposed evidence of chanting pro-Afzal slogans in the ‘confines’ of doctored or morphed videos and planted evidence. But within a short span came up former Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s comments on the Afzal Guru case in the context of these supposedly pro-Afzal chants. I’m quoting him from news report published in national dailies in February 2016—“Former Union Minister P. Chidambaram has said there were ‘grave doubts’ about the involvement of Afzal Guru in the 2001 Parliament attack and that the case was ‘perhaps not correctly decided’. Chidambaram was Union Home Minister when Guru’s mercy plea was rejected by the previous UPA Government in 2011. Guru was hanged two years later.
“There were grave doubts about his involve-ment (in the conspiracy behind the attack on Parliament) and even if he was involved, there were grave doubts about the extent of his involvement. He could have been imprisoned for life without parole for (the) rest of his natural life,”
Kashmiris also point out that the Right- wing seemed hell-bent on giving a communal slant to the entire Afzal case. They quote from The Indian Express dated September 23, 2007— “Hanging Afzal first job if we come to power, says BJP...’The first thing we will do when voted to power is to hang Afzal,’ BJP President Rajnath Singh announced here on Saturday. ‘We won’t waste anytime,’ thundered Singh, addressing a massive gathering at the Lal Parade ground...”
Kashmiris are more than upset over the manner in which their local leaders are projected by vested political dictates coming from New Delhi. They point out one instance after another when the electronic media paints them in all possible shades of negativity. “This when the Tsunami hit the coasts of India, Yasin Malik’s JKLF had not just donated one lakh but even organised blood donation camps to raise 100 pints of blood and he was even ready to send volunteers to help those affected by Tsunami but nobody even bothered to report this... And even during the 2104 floods Hurriyat leaders and volunteers were in the forefront during relief operations yet the electronic media did not give due coverage. Some channels even questioned their motives!”
Also, the RSS-BJP is seen tilted towards Israel. And with the political climate changing the world over this anger against Israel and the US is growing. Each time there are bombardments by Israel on the Gaza settle-ments, the Valley erupts. A few months back a major tragedy took place when the security forces killed an unarmed 14-year-old protestor in the Kashmir Valley. This boy was merely protesting against Israel’s brutal killings of those hapless Palestinians in the Gaza settle-ment. There was a massive outcry and Kashmiris burst out: “At least this young Kashmiri boy had the guts and grit to protest against the on going genocide! And instead of honoring his spirit, he was killed! Don’t we civilians have the basic right to protest and cry out!”
To compound the situation there was an eerie quiet on this killing by the political rulers in Srinagar and also in New Delhi. Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, was rather too categorical in stating loud and clear that she will not react to the current Israel- Palestinian crisis. Even as Kashmiris asked— “Is Israel so very overpowering? Is Israel donating or selling arms to the Indian Government to kill us? Is the Indian Government aping Israel’s war tactics, to kill us with the same barbaric use of force that’s used to crush the Palestinians? Are guns and other weapons got from Israel to be experimented on us Kashmiris? Are arms lobbies flourishing because of the killings here!“