Response to Washington Times Article on Kashmir Dated September 3, 2008 Print
Written by Dr. Vijay K. Sazawal   
Thursday, 04 September 2008 00:00
Dr. Sazawal addresses the serious violations of freedom of press in the Kashmir valley, where journalists are forced (at the risk of personal violence) to exaggerate facts to support the claims of Kashmiri separatists'.

I read your article on Kashmir dated September 3, 2008 with great interest. There is no question that the issue will never be resolved without the approval of all parties - including Kashmiris. But many of your

observations regarding the local situation are not correct. Let me offer a couple of examples:
 
First, there was no million people march. It was definitely a big crowd - estimates vary from 150,000 to 300,000, but that is not my point. The point to note is that separatists put out an "edict" that the local press should report the million figure. I have linked a Kashmiri (Muslim) journalist from Srinagar with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in New York, who was put in grave danger to his life when he reported a lower figure participating in the demonstration. If it were not for Praveen Swami from New Delhi calling his friends in Srinagar, this journalist would have been severely harmed or worse, because the local police did not come to his assistance. CPJ has talked to the journalist directly and reported the event in one of their press releases.
 
Second, the land transfer for constructing comfort facilities for Amarnath Shrine pilgrims was NOT an ill-conceived decision. It became an excuse that was readily discarded by separatists at a convenient time and now it is being called a "non-issue." Most local newspapers (excluding pro-Jihad paper Greater Kashmir) openly are demanding today why so many young boys had to die for a non-issue. I do not know if you are reading local papers but you will note already the facade of unity in Hurriyat has disappeared. It is always convenient to blame outside parties when such a news appears, but I have now realized it is only the ignorant who do that because the more one learns about the inner workings of these groups, the more you can relate to their public postures.
 
The decision to transfer non-proprietary rights of the land for use exclusively devoted to pilgrim comfort facilities became possible after the enabling legislation was passed by the J&K Assembly in 2000, survived two J&K High Court decisions in 2005, and took nearly 4-years of due diligence through various J&K departments before it was unanimously approved by J&K Cabinet in May 2008. An extremely high financial premium was charged by the State for ensuring minimal environmental damage, which incidentally has been dropped in the latest agreement in Jammu.
 
Separatists count on reputable policy analysts and seasoned journalists to be ignorant of precise details about the lay of the land in Kashmir to give rise to ambivalence which is taken by anarchists not only as an affirmation of their right to break law-and-order but also as explicit endorsement of their "mob politics". When the "uprising" began in late June (fueled particularly after visiting Mirwaiz Farooq and his 3-person Hurriyat team met with Syed Salahudin in an Islamabad Hotel on June 23, 2008), I tried my best to bring this matter to the attention among the Washington Think Tanks but everyone had reached to their own conclusion based on knowledge and experience which is terribly out of date. I feel those 5 young boys in Kashmir would not have lost their lives had the U.S. State Department and some credible South Asia policy analysts in this town not remained silent and would have denounced violence initiated by insurgents and consequent retaliation by police at that time. Article  Manager module by by George! Software.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 September 2010 20:25