Kashmir on Edge Print
Written by Capt. S.K. Tikoo   
Monday, 19 July 2010 00:00

Kashmir is once again in the news and as usual for all the wrong reasons. Around thirteen young men, most of them just teenagers, all of them civilians, have lost their lives unnecessarily during the past fortnight. All of them died when the security forces, that include J&K Police and CRPF, had to use force to control the violent mobs storming the streets of some known sensitive parts of Srinagar -- Sopore and Baramulla towns and later spreading to the town of Anantnag in south Kashmir too. Crowds were protesting for different reasons at different places, and were under nobody’s command and control. In spite of my best efforts to find out who was behind these protests, my contacts in the Valley were as clueless as I was. One thing, though was quite clear, the separatists of all hues were in the forefront to claim ‘credit’ for the upheaval that had partially engulfed the valley. A Srinagar based activeworker of a mainstream political party was candid when he conveyed to me that the protesting youth were, in fact, waiting for the orders from party leaders. And which party were they referring to? To my shock, the name of the party, I was told, is SANG BAAZ (Stone Pelters) party. I obviously thought he was joking, but he was dead serious and he reminded me of a press conference addressed (or a press release issued) by these SANG BAAZES (Stone Pelters ) in February this year. The ‘boys’, according to him, had all the contempt for Syed Ali Shah Geelani, whom they accused of stage-managing his arrest, only to enjoy the cool oxygen-rich breeze of Chashma Shahi. (Probably Geelani is lodged in one of the State guest houses over there).

 

The Valley has seen bigger and worse turmoil in the past 20 years and one would normally treat this episode as another periodic convulsion that the separatist leaders have to undergo to keep themselves visible and thus mark their presence on the muster roll to be eligible for the doles they regularly get from their masters operating from foreign lands. But no, this protest is not one of those routine anti-India protests, which could be dealt with the way such protests have been dealt so far. The way the present turmoil is brewing and is allowed to gain momentum is a clear indication of a very critical period that the entire country will be faced with in the not-so-distant future. The very survival of India that is BHARAT, as a secular, pluralist sovereign republic is at stake. Look at the manner in which things are unfolding:

a:   It is for the first time that the Chief Minister of this beleaguered state, which has been the victim of Pak-sponsored terrorism for the last over twenty years, raises his voice demanding a political solution of the ‘Kashmir Problem’ at a time when his top-most priority should have been to put an end to lawlessness, identify and pick up those professional stone pelters, subject them to intensive interrogation and reach their pay masters and handlers to uncover their nefarious designs. By raising the demand for a ‘political solution’ at this critical juncture when the shots are being called by separatists, is this young Chief Minister not justifying the violent agitational  path chosen by these anti-national forces who otherwise are an abysmal minority?

b:  Does this youthful, energetic Chief Minister, who is well known for calling a spade a spade, not make confusing and contradictory statements. In a television interview, he rightly says that the unrest is limited to five police stations of Srinagar, parts of Sopore and Baramulla (and on that particular day when he made this statement, some parts of Anantnag town were affected too due to mishandling of the district police). Now, the confusion and the contradiction: it is proven beyond any doubt that the violent protests are limited to a very small portion of even the Kashmir valley. So how does he raise the demand for a ‘political solution’ which involves the entire state of J&K consisting of three ethnically and geographically distinct areas, viz Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir.

c:   Is the Chief Minister so naïve that he thinks that the Pak-sponsored terrorism and its off shoots like the current violent agitation (protesting against God knows what?) will come to an end if, just for argument’s sake, GOI decides to grant full autonomy as demanded by National Conference, one of the two ruling coalition parties, or even goes to the extent of conceding the Self Rule as demanded by Peoples’ Democratic Party, which ruled the state in partnership with Congress party not so long ago. The TV visuals do not show direct participation of either National Conference or Peoples’ Democratic Party in these violent demonstrations. Nor did anybody ever hear a slogan being raised for restoration of Autonomy or granting of Self Rule demand. Slogans are same, Demands are same: HUM KYA CHAHTEY---=AZAADI; AZAADI KA MATLAB KYA… LA ILLAH IL ALLAH; PAKISTAN SEY RISHTA KYA…LA ILLAH IL ALLAH. Can any person, even a die- hard Islamist but citizen of India, ever in his senses want to be a part of Pakistan?

d:   Ali Mohammed Sagar, one of the senior most NC leaders and the Law Minister in the Omar Abdullah led government, makes a statement that only suits Pakistanis. His statement accusing CRPF of committing excesses is already being circulated by Pakistanis as yet another proof of human rights abuses indulged in by ‘Indian Occupation Forces’, and they rightly scream, “It is not what we say, it is what the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister of Indian Administered state of J&K says.” Should he have not waited for details to reach him and then rush to make a statement based on facts to the media. Does this senior minister not know that the CRPF does not operate on its own, that they are under the direct control of the civil authorities, in this case the district magistrate of Sopore? Did he not know that the bullet proof vehicle carrying the SSP of the area was almost torched and but for the timely action of his security guards (both JK Police and CRPF) poor SSP would have been lynched.

e:   Poor Mehboob Beg, he was all over the media echoing his CM’s pleas, asking for a ‘political solution’. Pleading for the involvement of separatists to the dialogue process, restarting front channel and back channel talks with Pakistan, and solving the ‘problem’ for once and all, Mehboob Beg MP (Lok Sabha) made such statements that it was difficult for a layman to fathom which party he was representing, NC or Hurriyat. He should have at least uttered a word about the death of 3 young men in his hometown Anantnag who fell to the bullets of J&K Police. An inquiry has already been ordered  to find out the causes that led to firing resulting in the death of three young men, and I only hope that the findings of the inquiry commission are made public. Rumor mill is already churning out gory tales.

Media

Both print and electronic are playing their pet game -- hate India. Local media in Srinagar is as usual coming out with stories about those killed in violent anti India demonstrations either by the police bullets (rubber or lead), or tear smoke shells or otherwise only to sensationalize the issue and ensure the paper sells more. The only truth in the story is that the poor young fellow has lost his life; the rest is merchandising. Illustration: Greater Kashmir, a leading English daily newspaper of the state, carried a story in its edition of 01 July, 2010, under the caption, “Slain teenagers never picked up a stone.” Story is byline Khalid Gul and is datelined Islamabad (not to be confused with the capital of Pakistan---it is Anantnag). He writes, “17 year old Shujaat ul Islam had a passion for reading books and reciting holy Quran. This higher secondary part II student had left his studies for some period to help her mother. His father Mohammed Ashraf Baba was known for educating people, particularly orphans. In 1996, renegades (Ikhwanis) killed Baba. The killing shattered the family. Sensitive by nature, the child started working to educate his younger brother and marry off his sister. After marriage of his sister……………………….Islam was very hard worker and down to earth boy and was working as a salesman on a shoe shop”.(No effort has been made to correct the language). Poor Shujaat, just 17 years was obviously born in 1993 and his father was killed when he was just 3 years old and ‘the child started working to……………’I leave rest to you.

Mr. Wright wrote a report in the Wall Street Journal, and Rahul Pandit, immediate past-president of IAKF, USA, sent a letter to the editor of the paper:

“In Mr. Wright’s article ‘Security forces fire on protesters in Kashmir’, he makes a grievous error in attributing the current rise of violence in Kashmir to the killing of a youth a few weeks ago by a ‘tear-gas canister fired by security forces during a protest march”. The fact that Shafeeq Ahmed Sheikh of Nattipora was killed is not in dispute, but the fact that “nobody in Kashmir has accepted Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani's initial suggestion of Sheikh's death in 'firing'” seems to have been completely ignored (reference Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, Bureau Chief, The Early Times, http://www.earlytimes.in/newsdet.aspx?q=53446). Sheikh was killed by his fellow stone pelters in a crowd that he willingly joined, as corroborated by SKIMS Medical Superintendent Dr Syed Amin Tabish and a team of Kashmiri Muslim doctors who conducted Sheikh's post mortem. Perhaps more telling is the fact that whenever there is an improved opportunity for the Hindu minority formerly residing in the Valley, the Kashmiri Pandits, to temporarily return to their homeland for religious purposes, the Muslim separatists foment trouble. It is no coincidence that a record turnout is expected for this year’s Amarnath Yatra, and a record turnout already just occurred for the Hindu holiday celebrating the goddess in Tula Mula a few weeks ago.

The pattern by now is very familiar and corroborated by the local population. A group of youths is encouraged, often with payments by Kashmiri separatists, to start throwing stones at the security forces to ensure retaliation. When the security forces retaliate, the shells or bullets occasionally injure protesters or even kill, including rubber bullets when fired at close range, as was the case this weekend when security officers were attacked at close range and bullet-proof cars torched. By manufacturing such incidents, the separatists and politicians who survive because of this turmoil and unrest serve their own agenda. Articles such as Wright’s indicate that protesters are armed ‘only with stones’, but ironically enough it is the stone-throwers own weapon that killed the first victim last month, and yet the blame still fell upon the forces defending themselves from ‘only’ stones.”

It is yet to be published.

Pak Proxies in India.

The worst demonstration of treason ever seen on different TV channels in panel discussions was witnessed during these turbulent days. You just did not miss a Pakistani in the panel discussions, its proxies did a much better job than even the Pakistanis could do, Well known political leaders, intellectuals and men of letters, some of them sitting members of the Parliament, most of them belonging to the ruling Congress party, outdid each other in projecting the Hurriyat and the separatists’ viewpoint. Poor Sajad Lone, Mehbooba Mufti, Muzaffar Beg from the opposition, and Mehboob Beg from the ruling party were literally dwarfed by the likes of Mani Shanker Aiyyar, HK Dua, and Amitabh Mattoo, who so passionately and aggressively articulated the separatists viewpoint. All three of them must have been short-listed for grant of Hilal-i-Pakistan. While all of them, particularly HK Dua, remembered the promise of ‘anything short of Azadi’ made in air (literally true) by PV Narasimha Rao while flying over Burkina Faso (where is it anyway?), none of these luminaries referred to the unanimous resolution passed by both houses of Parliament reiterating  that the entire state of J&K as it existed on 14 Aug 1947 is an integral part of India. And remember, HK Dua was the blue eyed boy of Atal Behari Vajpayee who had made him his Media Advisor during NDA rule.

DANGER SIGNAL

When all these above-mentioned forces join hands and talk the same language, the language that is harmful to the country, to its very survival and bound to sow the seeds of disintegration of our beloved Motherland, I will be failing in my duty if I do not ring the warning bell as loudly as possible and expect all readers to do the same. Do not forget, USA wants to get out of Afghanistan with as much dignity intact, as possible, and it needs Pakistan’s help. Pakistan will not oblige unless it gets its pound of flesh. Should this pound of flesh be chopped off India’s body? Well, in 1971 India was economically and militarily nowhere near where we are today, yet Indira Gandhi dared and defied Richard Nixon and had her way which brought glory to India. But today, we have a weak Prime Minister in Man Mohan Singh, who, the general belief is, cannot stand up to Obama. Let us all reassure our Prime Minister that the entire nation of 120 crores, with the exception of few Pak proxies, is behind him and he should not buckle.

Lastly, I was moved by the elegy written by Syeda Hameed, a well-known writer and member Planning Commission in Sunday Times of India (4 july, 2010) in memory of 9 year old Asif Rather who lost his life in Baramulla when a bullet or a tear smoke shell hit him just outside his home. A young life was lost. The elegy is so emotionally powerful that no eye can remain dry after reading the same. I am reminded of the SHAB-i-QADAR night of 25 Jan, 1998, when in a small village Wandhama in Ganderbal district of Kashmir Valley, the terrorists gunned down 24 Kashmiri Pandits after barging into their home. The dead included men, women, teenage boys and girls, suckling infants and toddlers. Their beautiful and typical Kashmiri chubby images are still fresh in my memory. One of them was 9 year old Daleep and I am cursing myself, why didn’t I write an elegy for him?