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Archive for the ‘Kashmiri Muslims’ Category

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The picture that you see above is from a “crackdown” in Kashmir from 90s. What exactly is a crackdown?

Consider this situation, At the crack of dawn, your home is encircled by armed individuals who without any legal justification subject you to an arrest and you are not told under what charges but you get the hint why this is unfolding as it is. You are directed to an open air prison.

Tough luck if you are the only male member in your house, you still must follow the orders of these gunmen. As far as the women and children are concerned they must stay back and be used as human shield just in case.

Your plea to stay with the family while the “search” is on falls on deaf ears. If you insist, there’s every chance you might be spared the open air prison and instead get hauled to an Abu Gharaib kind of place. Tough choice isn’t it.

You sheepishly start the walk and are greeted with choicest abuses, you boil from inside. Your mind wanders back to what must be the scene at your home. You curb your instincts and decide to bear the humiliation.

Finally you reach the ‘prison’ and look around and find every male member of your neighborhood is already there. “Some solace” you say without saying it.

You are not allowed to express any resentment. Even if no charges can be pressed, yet the detention continues.  You spend the day and just before the dusk, you are asked to get up and face up to a vehicle while the armed individual holds you (see the picture). There are scores of vehicles and you are ordered to face up to each one of those in the same way.

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You get up and gear yourself to bear another humiliating ritual (see picture) and then you hear what you don’t want to – a loud horn. Fearing the worst you close your eyes only to realise that its not you but the next one the honk was meant for. You say “Thank God, it was someone else” and you don’t care if anyone heard you this time. With not even a second’s delay, the unfortunate soul is blindfolded and hauled into a truck. An Abu Gharaib he cannot escape even if he begged and pleaded. Somehow you escape each one of these and are released.

You are relieved that you can go home fully aware this might continue for many days at a stretch and it did. And you reach home and see every room in your house has been ransacked. You ask yourself since when did insurgents start hiding in rice canisters and since when did armed individuals think they can fit unharmed in suitcases. You know the hunt is not for the individual who picked up a gun and who fights for freedom but it’s your desire to unshackle yourself from the chains of slavery that’s the target.

The next dawn, the story continues. And your desire to be free – invigorated.

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From Kashmir Times dated: 29th of May 2010
Open letter to the Chief Justice of India, Chairperson, National Commission for Women and Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission
Subject: Appeal for justice in the case of rape and murder of Aasiya Jan and Neelofer Jan in Shopian, J&K, 29 May 2009

Today is the anniversary of the great tragedy in Shopian where Aasiya Jan, a young girl of 17 years, and Neelofer Jan, a young woman of 22, went missing and were found dead on the banks of Rambi-Ara Nullah on the morning of 30 May, 2009. Early investigations and evidence, and the systematic tampering of it, have implicated the security forces from the area, either of the crime, or at the very least of shielding the criminals, and obstructing the course of justice.
On 17 August, the investigations in the case were handed over to the CBI, which has now called the deaths “natural” and by “drowning”, but the report fails to answer a number of questions:
1. How did Aasiya and Neelofer drown in Rambi-ara Nullah, a stream in which the water was barely ankle deep at most places? No-one has ever been known to drown in the Rambi-ara Nullah. It is important to mention that several witnesses in CBI’s own report have mentioned that Neelofer’s body was completely dry from one side.
2. The CBI fails to answer how a search party consisting of police, family and friends, scouring the area for more than four hours could have ‘missed’ finding Neelofer’s body where it was found the next morning – barely hundred yards away from the bridge in a floodlit high security zone
3. While conducting the third post mortem post exhumation of the bodies, why did the CBI not call upon the two sets of doctors who had conducted the earlier post-mortems, as is common practice?
4. Why did the CBI fail to heed the direction of the High Court to call a post-mortem team from the Medical College, Srinagar and choose instead to call a team from AIIMS, New Delhi consisting of members who have a questionable reputation?
5. How can the CBI claim that the hymen of Aasiya was ‘intact’ after four months of burial in summer months? Not only has the CBI used this so-called ‘fact’ to ‘disprove’ sexual assault on Aasiya, but somehow they have used it to ‘prove’ no sexual assault on Neelofer as well… this despite several eye witness and doctor accounts of bodily injuries on both victims. Further, the presence of diatoms which has been advanced as the main evidence for the theory of drowning does not substantiate death by drowning as the Rambi-Ara Nullah is indeed the source of water supply for Shopian.

As if all these lacunae and lapses were not enough, the CBI has now framed serious charges against all who differed with their ‘findings’. Those charged by the CBI include doctors, public prosecutors, members of the Bar Association, witnesses, and family members of the victims for having acted under the influence of “separatists” and consequently falsifying evidence, or intimidating witnesses. That is all those who pointed to sexual assault and an unnatural death have been charged by the CBI. 13 people in all. It is also disturbing that a perfectly peaceful agitation of the Shopian residents under the banner of Majlis-e-Mashavarat and the Shopian Bar Association which initiated the investigations and cooperated with the police have been clubbed as ‘separatists’ and anti-national.
In direct contrast to the way the CBI has hounded the family of the victims, and the people of Shopian and everyone else who came into the case after the bodies of the two women were recovered, the CBI has requested the High Court to quash all charges against the police personnel who had destroyed/neglected crucial evidence at the site, failed to register FIR on time and committed other lapses as were amply evident in the Jan Commission’s findings. When asked by the High Court to produce fresh evidence in support of dropping the charges they gave lie detector test to the police and gave them a clean chit again.
What is even more distressing is that while this case is still pending, presiding judge, Justice B. Ghosh who was diligently monitoring the case and was responsible for the arrests of the police has been transferred out of the state.
All these ‘findings’ of the CBI are deeply contradicted by fact finding reports by three independent groups and the Justice Jan Commission appointed by the Chief Minister J&K, as well as the J&K High Court, which have all found cause to believe that the two women did not die a natural death and were likely victims of sexual assault and murder.
In the face of such serious lapses by the CBI, we call upon you, as the Chief Justice of India//Chairperson, National Commission for Women//Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission to initiate a fresh and impartial enquiry to ensure that the truth one day be told.
We hereby enclose two fact finding reports for your perusal and an article giving a brief critique of the CBI report and their partiality towards the police. We also request you to examine Justice Jan Commission report and that of the CBI investigation and the transcript of the lie detector tests.
It is well known that the heavy presence of armed forces and the police in Kashmir has led to a large number of sexual assault on women in the past as well. No justice has been secured for the women of Kashmir.
Let this not be one more case!
Looking forward to speedy and just solution of the case,
Sincerely-
Organisations:
Aalochan, Pune
Akshara, Mumbai
All India Progressive Women’s Association
Anhad, Delhi
Cadam, Delhi
Delhi Forum, Delhi
Forum Against Oppression Of Women, Mumbai
Gramya Resource Centre For Women
Hazards Centre, Delhi
Jagori, Delhi
Jagori Grameen
LABIA
Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch. Bhopal
Manav, Delhi
Maraa, a media collective, Bangalore
Namma Manasa, Bengaluru
National Alliance of People’s Movements, Delhi
Nirantar Resource Centre for Gender & Education, Delhi
Partners for Law in Development. Delhi
Pratidhwani, Delhi
PUCL Andhra Pradesh
PUCL Rajasthan
Purogami Mahilla Sahngathan, Delhi
Saheli, Delhi
Sahiyar Vadodara
Sama, Resource Group for Women & Health, Delhi
Samajwadi Jan Parishad, M.P
Samanatha Mahila Vedike,Bengaluru
Sangini, Bhopal
Sangram, Maharashtra
Shramik Adivasi Sanghthan, Betul
Swayam, Kolkata
The Other Media, Delhi
VAMP, Maharashtra
VAMP, Karnataka.
Vimochana Forum for Women’s Rights, Bengaluru
Vividha, Jaipur
Zubaan, Dlhi.

Indivuals
Dr Ajita Rao, Delhi
Akhil Katyal, London
Akshara, Hyderabad
Anomita Goswami, Delhi
Anuradha Bhasin, Jammu
Anusha Hariharan, Delhi
Arati Chokshi, Bengaluru
Arti Sawhny and Kiran Dubey, Ajmer
Aryakrishnan Ramakrishnan, Thiruvananthapuram
Ashley Tellis, Hyderabad
Bindu Menon, Delhi
Chinmay and Saroj Mishra, Indore
Deepak Srinivasan, Bengaluru
Dunu Roy, Delhi
Gautam Bhan, Delhi
Indu Jain, Delhi
Indu Prakash Singh, Delhi
Jaya Vindhyala, Hyderabad
Kavita Srivastava, Rajasthan
Lata Singh, Delhi
Lesley A. Esteves,
Madhu Mehra, Delhi
Mangai, Chennai
Mary E John, Delhi
Mary S.
Maya Krishna Rao, Delhi
Nandini Rao, Delhi
Nandita Gandhi, Mumbai
Navaneetha Mokkil, USA
Neelima P.A., Delhi
Neha Kagal, Pune
Nalini Visvanathan, USA
Nidhi Agarwal, Himachal Pradesh
Nivedita Menon, Delhi
Pamela Philipose, Delhi
Pauline Gomes, Deli
Penkoothu, Kerala
Ponni Arasu, Delhi
Pramada Menon, Gurgaon
Prarthana Mishra, Bhopal
Priya Thangarajah, Bengaluru
Pushpa Achanta , Bengaluru
Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata
Ranjana Padhi, Pune
Ratna, Bangalore
Rosemary Dzuvichu, Nagaland
Dr Rukmini Rao, Hyderabad
Sadhna Saxena, Delhi
Sangeeta Chattergee, Mumbai
Savita Sharma, Delhi
Seema Kazi, Delhi
Seema Misra, Delhi
Shabnam Hashmi, Delhi
Shipra Nigam
Shweta Vachani, Delhi
Sophie Murphy, Delhi
Sumit Baudh, Delhi
Sumi Krishna, Bangalore
Suneeta Dhar, Delhi
Tara Negi, Delhi
Dr Uma Chakravarty, Delhi
Urmimala Sarkar, Munsi
Urvashi Butalia, Delhi
Dr Veena R Poonacha, Mumbai
Dr Vineeta Bal, Delhi

References
1.MILITARIZATION WITH IMPUNITY:
A Brief on Rape and Murder in Shopian, Kashmir, International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK) http://www.kashmirprocess.org
2. A brief critique of CBI theories and practice
In FOCUS

C.B.I (Concocting Bizarre Interpretations) in Shopian
By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal
JAMMU, April 10: ‘
If you can’t convince someone, you confuse them.’ That was American president Harry S. Truman half a century ago. But right now, this is precisely how the government response to the Shopian rapes and murders (of May 29, 2009) and the campaign for justice that followed can be summed up. From the very beginning the government response, to one of the biggest controversies ever in the history of Kashmir, has not been marked by consistency. The official investigating agencies – right from the Special Investigation Team of the Jammu and Kashmir Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have been busier spreading canards of lies, spinning rumours and using media as a tool to leak misinformation, rather than clearing the cobwebs. The CBI report, based on its investigations, is in striking contrast to the Justice Muzaffar Jan Commission report, which despite its limitations and flaws, did indict the police personnel for tampering evidence and deemed it not just dereliction of duty but rather a deliberate calculated move. The CBI, which has cracked its whip on everybody – from the doctors to the lawyers active in the campaign for justice – has been too kind to the police personnel and given them a clean chit.

And to top up everything, chief justice Barin Ghosh, who had taken up a pro-active role in unraveling the truth, has finally been shown the door and sent on a punishment posting for daring to go against the tide – for having ordered the arrest of police personnel last summer, monitoring the investigations by the SIT and now failing to
acknowledge the CBI report as the gospel truth. An impression is being created by the government as if the CBI report is the last word. Barin Ghosh’s unceremonious exit is not the only indicator. Chief minister Omar Abdullah, in his mid-summer madness last June, had done a flip-flop – first talking about ‘drowning theory’ and then admitting that ‘something has happened’ and that the two Shopian victims, Asiya Jan and Neelofar, are like his sisters,
ensuring justice for them. After a winter of discontent, and facing brickbats on human rights front recently on the floor of the state legislative assembly he decided to finally break his silence as he endorsed the CBI report.
The CBI report running into hundreds of pages may on the face of it seem like an impressive document but only a closer scrutiny may reveal that all that glitters is not gold. It doesn’t take a legal expert to question the logics of the conclusions the premier investigating agency of the country has arrived at. Even an elementary school
student with a keen eye can point out glaring flaws.
At best the CBI report is simply a compilation of FIR, statements, variety of post mortem reports (many of them to create as much confusion as the CID and SIT initially did), post exhumation observations and set of conclusions for which no logic, evidence or explanation is offered. There has been no investigation and no need has been felt for the same.
A perusal of the entire report shows how the CBI has conveniently picked out on certain portions and skirted the rest, not even bothering to investigate the loose ends or the doubts that arise from the various statements that have been taken and recorded. Just to quote a few of the inadequacies:
Role of policemen
The five police personnel indicted by Justice Jan Commission, and later arrested on the directions of the state high court, have been let off the hook without even questioning why they collected no evidence from the spot, failed to mishandle the law and order situation or delayed the lodging of an FIR. They have simply got a clean chit with a polygraph test, details of which are submitted in the CBI report, revealing that many questions have not even been
asked, thus putting the effectiveness of the polygraph test in serious doubt.
SSP Javed Mattoo’ statement before the CBI reflects little on the facts of the case, investigations or what he did in his capacity when the incident came to light and Shopian broke out into protests. He simply talks from a victim’s perspective, talking about rumours and making political statements about ‘PDP and separatists’ working in
close co-ordination against him and giving a picture as if the entire anger in Shopian was sparked by this nexus. Mattoo talks about SMSs being floated by media persons on 30th morning which led to problem. How does he arrive at this conclusion. What were the SMSs? Who was sending them? Then he talks about Dr Nighat’s ‘provocative statement’. He was neither witness to it, he was simply told by someone. He doesn’t say who? The investigators don’t think these questions are important enough.
Not only Mattoo’s statement is politically incorrect, it suffers from factual inaccuracies. When the agitation first began in Shopian, the separatists or other political leaders were nowhere in the picture. They only seized the opportunity few days after the anger became uncontrollable. For two days, the anger spilled out in form of
unorganised protests, the first day of which was marked by a bit of violence. It was thereafter that the Shopian Bar Association and the Majlis-e-Mushawarat, both of which comprised of people with different political leanings – Congress, NC, PDP, separatists or totally apolitical. The three month long campaign in Shopian was totally
peaceful and the groups spearheading the agitation in this area cannot be held responsible for violent incidents in distant Srinagar or other parts of the Valley. The CBI conveniently does not draw any distinction between the two parallel agitations – by the local people and the others by separatists, PDP or other fringe groups. But more
importantly, it simply laps up Javed Mattoo’s generalised over-view without any serious cross questioning about why a police officer of that ranking has no facts to narrate instead of making a political comment in his statement.
The police role in the case has been the most dubious of all and one cannot lose sight of the very significant observation made by the State High Court – that either they (police officials) are the accused or they know who has done it (rapes and murders). The observation was obviously made because there were too many flaws and inadequacies in the police story. The CBI, instead of questioning them, has merely endorsed them without even raising an eyebrow.
The most curious is the case of Inspector Gazi Kareem, who was among one of the accused police officials, arrested for over one and a half months. Interestingly, Gazi Kareem was not even on duty when the girls went missing and when the search teams were sent out. As Kareem himself says in his statement to the CBI, “On 30th (May 30, 2009) at around 11.00 p.m. I was informed by Head Munshi Riyaz Ahmed that the investigation of the matter was entrusted to me by the SHO and the relevant entries were recorded in the DD/ Roznamcha. Initially I protested on the ground that I was not aware about the matter and was not part of the investigation but despite my protest, the matter was entrusted to me and I had to follow the instructions of the then SHO.”
Why has this suspicious story of Gazi Kareem not been cross checked by anybody? He was not part of the search party but for forced by the SHO to take up the case. Why did the SHO insist? Doesn’t the CBI think this is significant?

Medical reports
The most important evidence in the hands of the CBI, as per its own claims, seems to be the post exhumation medical evidence. But just how valid and authentic can that be is easily questionable. The CBI quickly demolishes the previous medical reports, stating that there were multiple reports available and concludes that the doctors are the culprits. It is true that several different post mortem reports were doing rounds in the Valley during the first few months of the incident. But is there any evidence to blame the doctors. The CID department itself was found flashing a ‘fake report’ and claiming it was authentic till it was asked for a copy. So why is there no investigation? Obviously those who bungled the medical reports and samples had a motive. If the doctors indeed are the culprits, there should be enough evidence and investigations to subscribe a motive. The doctors, in all probability, did not know the victims. They couldn’t have schemed up everything on behalf of the ‘separatists’, days before the incident even caught the attention of the latter.
Perhaps, it may have been more worthwhile to probe why the Director Health Services and the Director General Police (as revealed by the hordes of statements in CBI’s report) were taking such exceptional interest in the post mortem reports, the forensic samples, ensuring that doctors accompanied the samples to FSL Srinagar and thereafter monitored everything till the reports were made public. Surely, in a state where medical legal cases happen by dozens on a daily basis, this might not be the normal course of action. Perhaps, this has escaped the CBI’s eye.
Quite conveniently, the credibility and image of the doctors, especially Dr Nighat – who has all along maintained that the two women were raped – was first tarnished, through media, and then the bodies were exhumed to make the post exhumation medical observances sound more authentic. Medical and forensic experts have pointed out that three months after bodies are buried, there is no chance of viewing ‘hymen’ or injury marks on the skin, which disintegrate. These bodies were exhumed four months after they were buried but the AIIMS team brought by the CBI miraculously found the hymen and no injuries. This is in striking contrast to Dr Nighat’s observations to Justice Jan Commission of Inquiry and the Independent Women’s Initiative for Justice, of which this author was a member. She has elaborately talked of a broken hymen, signs of sexual assault and injuries on the thighs. What Dr Nighat said to CBI has not been recorded in its report. It has merely been splashed in the media. Therefore, one does not know the authenticity of these versions that have appeared in the media with an obvious aim to tarnish the image of doctors and some Shopian activists rather than proving something scientifically. So there are two very different sets of observations – one within a day of the death of the two girls and the other made four months later. Medically, it may be difficult to find the latter more reliant.

Drowning theory
So how does all this prove that drowning indeed took place? All that the CBI report has been able to prove is that the flow of water in Rambiara nallah, where the two bodies were found, was faster on that particular day. There is no evidence of a depth fit enough for drowning. How come two women drowned there, just after 7.00 p.m. when it is still not dark at a time when an incident of drowning can easily be noticeable. After all, they must have struggled, shouted, screamed enough to be heard in a well inhabited and a fully militarised area, if that indeed was the case. The nallah itself is ankle deep at the spots were the two bodies were found. It may be knee deep at some places. If it was a natural case of drowning, the bodies should have been fully wet when they were found. The eye-witnesses have pointed out very clearly in their statements to the CBI that “only the right side of Neelofar’s body was wet.” Why has the CBI ignored such basic circumstantial evidence, which becomes more important in cases where concrete evidence cannot be produced.

Interpretations, not investigations
These are just some of the many samples that make the entire CBI exercise and its conclusions totally unrealistic and unpalatable. Obviously, they have not even bothered to go through their own statements or conveniently ignored them, hoping that nobody would notice. It has simply taken the easy road of nailing those who dared
to raise their voice and swam against the stream. The response clearly matches the stand of the governments, both in the state and at the centre, who have cleverly connived to bid adieu to Justice Barin Ghosh, the only person who had inspired hope and faith of the Kashmiris in the Indian system of justice.
The reasons are a bit obvious and a bit mired in mystery. There is a definite cover-up to shield the men in uniform and in pursuance of that a bid to go to any extent, even negating the apolitical and peaceful nature of the campaign, trampling people’s faith, whatever little of it was left, in Indian democracy and its system of justice.

But then why a political flip flop?
All three investigations – by Justice Muzaffar Jan Commission and CBI, which were in striking contrast with each other and the SIT, which did nothing, had the blessings of the government. Then why different lines? A part of the answer probably lies in the probability that no one in the official circles had pre-empted a well organised, peaceful, campaign, well within a legal framework. They were unnerved. It wasn’t easy to cover up without logics. It had to be done by falsifying whatever circumstantial evidence was available or through a perpetual of Goebbels truth. So, was Omar being bailed out temporarily for his initial ‘drowning faux pas’, which may as well have been an intended one, with the Jan Commission report? The CBI came into picture later, when it became a bit easier for the government to handle the scene and begin reversing the story. The Jan Commission report was demolished bit by bit – using mostly media and then a bit of paper work. But sorry, no investigations, no cross checking; no evidences either. Is that how the premier investigating agency of the country works? Whatever be the reasons for this rigidity in shielding the guilty in Shopian case, truth and justice have become the ultimate casualty, the repercussions of which will not simply be felt by the family members of Asiya and Neelofar, or entire Shopian. They could be dangerously long term, impacting a greater political-social landscape of the region.

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I happened to read the entire transcript of Mr. Arun Jaitley’s interview by one of the most renowned interviewers on a CNN-IBN, one of the channels which at times does try to maintain some objectivity, if not complete. The interviewer did his level best to force Mr. Jaitley to accept his and his party’s follies and all Mr. Jaitley does is evade the question by constantly resorting to falsehood and untenable arguments. Knowing how articulate he generally is, it was a disappointment. I would like to counter some of the assertions he made during the interview.

On being asked if BJP’s policy (on Amarnath land transfer) is inflaming separatism, he replies

I think you are being too naïve when you ask this question. Do you seriously think that the separatists in the Valley have re-launched the separatist movement because of the land issue?

Well done, Mr. Jaitley you have just done us a favour by accepting the fact that the ongoing protests are not related to land-transfer but to the actual unresolved dispute of Kashmir. Isn’t this what the whole of Kashmir is saying?

Land transfer is and was never an issue. This imbroglio combined with the insensitive and humiliating remarks by the ex-CEO of Amarnath Shrine Board against Kashmiri Muslims, did something delayed but inevitable. It shook the people  and woke them from the deep slumber, made them come out on roads and start demanding resolution of the dispute according to the wishes of people. People who had been subjugated for decades now, people who had been humiliated and insulted almost on a daily basis – These are the very people who felt enough is enough, and challenged the might of the great nation against their resolve. Might may succeed temporarily but not for long. The resolve is going to be even stronger next time, even if some may like to believe to have quelled it, the struggle is far from over, it will hit them even strongly next time.

On being questioned that the separatists have been given the opportunity because of the land issue, Mr. Jaitley retorts

….First, the separatists lied to the whole country and to the whole world, saying that Hindu colonisation would come up in the Valley.

If Mr. Jaitley believes the apprehensions were wrong, I’d like to ask him what material bearing does the permanent diversion (and the cancellation of the order) have on the Yatra. There are 1000s of hectares (please note, not 100 odd hectares) which are utilised before, during and after the Amarnath Yatra directly or indirectly by the piligrims to enable them to perform their religious duties. This land has been in use for years and decades now, then why is the BJP and the AYSS hell bent upon claiming that cancellation of land transfer order is tantamount to religious interference. If SASB’s intention was to create better facilities for Yatris (and not at all attempt to change the demography of the valley) shouldn’t Mr. Arun Kumar have been thankful to the local populace for never creating an issue about these thousands of hectares. All he knew was to humiliate and agitate Kashmiris by raising issues like Muslim pollution and Hindu pollution – As if nature cares what your religious beliefs are.

I have no doubt in my mind now, particularly seeing what AYSS (incidentally led by three staunch RSS loyalists) is doing in Jammu that someone saw through their game, stopped them in their tracks and hence put paid to their plans. If Kashmiris today see a parallel between the way Jewish settlements and Palestine problem and the Kashmir’s future, it is not an entirely misplaced fear.

Now let me come to what Jaitley Sb feels is tragic, The interviewer questions him about PDP and NC (what they generally refer to as mainstream parties) also having reacted to the land transfer, he replies curtly

That is the tragedy

Now, it’s Mr. Jaitley who is acting naive (happens to be his pet word). If he thinks that Hurriyat and separatists do not represent the popular opinion in Kashmir, he must conceed that the parties named above surely represent that. Now, if a regional party’s views are called tragic, I do not know then what is less tragic, perhaps a Delhi based party telling Kashmiris what they are supposed to do, what they should say, what they should comment upon and what they should like and dislike. Sorry, Mr. Jaitley you are terribly wrong here. Give Kashmiris their due, don’t think that we cannot decide for ourselves.

Now to something really hillarious, Mr. Jaitley mentions that August – September is not the apple season, then may I know from him what is – perhaps month of March. Needless to say, contrary to the widely accepted fact he says there was and there is no economic blockade – even though you have the boastful comments by some of his party colleagues on how they haven’t and won’t allow trucks to move between Srinagar and Jammu.

The interviewer then counters Mr. Jaitley’s arguments about blockade on the basis of figures released by the president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr. Mubeen Shah, which mentioned the loss to the Kashmir fruit industry to the tune of 1000 crore all thanks to the blockade of National Highway (thanks to Mr. Jaitley’s partymen and other like minded people). To this he replies

Well, Mobin (Mubeen) Shah is a part of the Hurriyat

Now stomach this, separatists, common people, traders and even the pro-India parties all agitated, and he feels it’s tragic. If everyone in the state is agitated over an issue, this means for them it is a vital issue and not somehting which can be brushed under the carpet. He tries his best to either paint all with the ‘separatist’ brush or resorts to  ‘its tragic’ when “mainstream” political parties find a fault with Jaitley ji’s party policies. Guess he simply cannot stomach the fact that Kashmiris cannot be taken for a ride always.

On economic blockade he tries to comment that even Times of India, Indian Express and Hindustan Times (three of the most widely read newspapers in India) do not know the correct story, then who does.. Ofcourse Mr. Jaitley himself.. No economic blockade. Needless to say he even goes on to say that even the Kashmiri journalists are lieing. Shame!!! To him the talk of economic blockade is a myth perpetuated by ISI. Mr. Jaitley, can you tell me how one truck driver Mohammed Lateef Wani died in Delhi’s AIIMS? Only yesterday, truck drivers in Srinagar bore visible marks of having been beaten in Kathua, where did that come from? Perhaps ISI agents landing in Kathua and beating them up, windscreens broken who is doing it ofcourse drivers themselves for propaganda, Is that what you believe?

Sometime back I heard that a oft repeated lie starts to sound like a truth after some time. Sorry Mr. Jaitley it won’t happen now, The whole world knows it.

Just before signing off, an age old couplet by Allama Iqbal which could be so apt for the party Mr. Jaitley represents and its other allies, for they can never read the writing on the wall when it comes to Kashmir.

Na samjhoge toh mitt jaaoge ae hindustaan waalo
Tumhari daastaan tak na hogi daastaanon mein

Better late than never

iShahnaz

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Hi Friends,

After three weeks of blogging here I am sure most of you who happen to be a regular to this blog now would have basically understood that our idea of being here is not to promote the jinogism or any hatred against a particular community. We are here because we know Kashmir and Kashmiris have suffered – regardless of his / her faith – we speak about the harsh treatment meted out to some in one way and we talk about suffering of others others in a different context. And while acknowledging that this misfortune has befallen almost every soul, who is connected to the valley in some or the other way, let us come forward and express our thoughts about each other even if at times there are highly dissenting voices from either side. Lets atleast agree to one thing – to disagree.

A friend of mine suggested that I should express my thoughts about how do we feel about the Pandits and the opinions expressed by them. So here we are and in this post of mine I will highlight why I feel the participation of Kashmiri Pandits in any discussion on Kashmir is of paramount importance.

We all know that most of the Kashmiri Pandits (either by coercion or by force or whatever you may like to call that) lost their homes and left for some of the most un-welcome places at the start of the militancy (or tehreek – you may use any word). Strangely enough Kashmiri Muslims were as confused as anyone as to what the reasons for the exodus is… Some presumed it as Jagmohan’s siyaasi-saazish while some were certain in their mind that it was the game plan for the militants to “sanitise” the land. Most of my Kashmiri Pandit friends say that they were clearly threatened with dire consequences lest they convert to the faith of the majority.

As I have mentioned earlier I am too ordinary a soul to claim that I know the whole story – but as far as my knowledge goes there were no particular threats issued from our neighborhood mosque to “convert or else“. May be the scenario in other areas was different. And now when I remember the kind of slogans that were raised at our local mosque, it seems they were not totally “innocuous”. I say that based on my personal choice. Tomorrow if majority demands that the law of the land (where I live in) be suddenly changed to suit the demands of their faith only (of which I am not a part) and this is blared endlessly from loud speakers right into my home, I think I have a reason to be paranoid. So slogans like Yahaan Kya Chalega — Nizaam-e-Mustafa (Only the rule of Prophet (PBUH) will prevail here) or Pakistan se rishta kya.. and countless others being heard time and again at every nook and corner surely would have made Kashmiri Pandits fear the worst.

I still wonder who coined these slogans and whether it was done out of a purpose or was it something which was quite instinctive. Whatever be the case, the supporters (if some one says now he never supported this is either lyeing or he was not there at that time or else he has to be a sooth-sayer) at the same time made no efforts to also highlight the concept of universal brotherhood that is enshrined in the tenets of Islam. In the absence of which Pandits had no choice but to leave. And it was not an easy choice to make. Atleast, I think that way and am open to discussing this with whosoever comes forward. Having said that, what role did the administration or any other central agencies play is something which is open to interpretation. Could they have done anything different to prevent this exodus – I am not sure they bothered, just as no one bothers about how many Kashmiris fall prey to violence on a daily basis.

I am sure that the psyche of the Kashmiri Pandits must have been under tremendous strain not only because of incessant sloganeering but also since lot of Pandits were killed at the hands of militants after being branded as mukhbir (So were countless Muslims after tagging them similarly or a more heinous version). A call by a prominent militant organisation asking gair-muslim (non-Muslims) to vacate the land did not help either though the same militant group later said it was a typo and it should have read gair-kashmiri (non-Kashmiri). To me this is has to categorise as the most costly typo in the world – more costlier than last year’s typo by a Mizuho broker.

Now coming to the main post… For me a Kashmiri Pandit is as important as any other Kashmiri Muslim whom I know or with whom I share no acquaintance. They have as much a right to decide about the future of Kashmir as we have. Even if we want, Pandits cannot simply be wished away. I can hear some murmurs pointing to the fact that when Kashmir needed to present a united face to the outside world they were simply not there; then why such clamour to join at this juncture. My response to such reasoning is that you need to first of all understand the reasons – I repeat threat coercion or whatever – why they left the place which was their own and moved to the climes which at best can be described as inhospitable. No one on the face of earth likes to be displaced from his own home to a land of uncertainities, un-welcome culture and what not.

I have been scouring for blogs by Kashmiri Pandits and I am not surprised to see varying opinions – some very blunt in their thoughts as to how they have been “let-down” by almost everyone while a few (and its not a huge majority – I must contend) do understand the pain everyone in Kashmir is going through. While there are some who are optimistic of visiting their homes in Kashmir and get settled like they used to two decades ago others are not sure they would go back even if the situation is very conducive for their return. The people who fall in the second category are among that group which is well-settled in various parts of the world and returning to Kashmir would be like starting from a scratch. For them, it could mean yet another displacement and I am not sure they would be looking ahead to that. While for others who are living in squalid conditions in refugee camps in Jammu (or elsewhere) nothing less than a return to their homes is required.

The need of the hour now is to first of all recognise Kashmiri Pandits as equal stake holders in the future of the valley. At the same time both the communities must go for self-introspection and try to understand why the things went wrong and how to correct it. Continuing to shift the blame to either side is an exercise in futility. Its not that Kashmiris have lost the guts to raise the voice against evil – For that matter we continue to do this – but either our voice is suppressed through invocation of draconian acts (of laws) or by threats from the other side. Every Kashmiri needs the space (and the freedom) to express his thoughts freely and if some one dissents that he / she may also come to the discussion table rather than resort to coercion or threat of a physical retribution.

I must mention that any discussion on the subject of Kashmir between two nuclear nations will be meaningless if the aspirations of the people who are in Kashmir are not taken into account. And at the same time, if wishes of the Kashmiri Pandits (who have left) are not considered the solution arrived at has the potential to foment more trouble. So it is essential that both India and Pakistan understand that any solution foisted on the hapless Kashmiri people may be counter-productive and so every attempt be made to make the discussions broad based. But before that intelligentsia from both the communities need to shed the communal cloak that they have put on for quite some time and look at the Kashmir as a human issue. Till the time a Kashmiri is viewed as a terrorist and Pandits thought of as Indian agents we will get absolutely nowhere.

May Almighty give each one of us the sense to understand that it is high time to set aside our differences, acknowledge the fact that we need to work together and that we start in earnest before it gets too late.

iShahnaz

http://www.twitter.com/iShahnaz

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Friends,

HM says Tahab grenade thrower is an informer. And we all know what the state government / J&K Police are claiming. Surely one of them is lying and I wish Almighty gives us the sense to perceive the true picture.

Having said that, does it make any difference to the families who lost their loved ones. This irreparable loss is equally great whether the victim fell to some militant designs or to machinations of the state. They’re no more now and their families have to live with this sorrow for ever. Would they care less if they come to know who the culprit actually worked for? It is a loss of a human life – but strangely in Kashmir such incidents hardly get noticed. I had read it somewhere (I think it was CNN-IBN blog of Suhasini Haider (corrected read as) Mufti Islah Read it here .. do have a look) that Kashmiris need a hell of a weeping and that day I really felt how innure and insensitive we all have become. Deaths dont scare us at all, Grenade attacks are normal part of our vocab. And to me that is the biggest tragedy of all.

I would like to share a personal experience here. That experience of mine simply confirmed what I had thought long time ago – We hardly realise what deaths mean these days. Some time back I lost my dearest friend to a rare disease… His death was a huge setback for his family and for every friend of his. But I did feel that within days I was carrying on with my life the way I had done before. My grief was not less in any manner – even I miss him now though its been months, My feeling was that either the realisation that he is no more had not sunken yet or I don’t know what death (My friend used to call death as “The Universal Truth”) is – oblivious to the fact that I am not going to see him again till the Day of Judgement. I still feel it is the latter at least when it comes to Kashmir and Kashmiris (living in the valley).

At the same time I also believe that we ourselves are responsible for this. For behaving like no better than a person who is almost dead. When I think of innocent killings – I recall Gow Kadal, Bijbehara and countless other such incidents. But at the same time I cannot forget that day when a Pandit doctor’s entire family was wiped out in Aali Kadal. By whom, yes by people who had promised Kashmiris Azaadi (or some may say Pakistan). Just by killing 5 innocent they thought they were closer to their aim. May Almighty do unto them what they deserve.

I felt so sad that day and even today I wish I could ask those murderers Why, what was their crime. We should have questioned them then … We didn’t… No one was shaken by that and so now even massacres don’t move us.

Keep your thoughts coming on this…

Juz A Kashmiri

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Friends another sad day in the already sad history of our valley.

Yet another grenade attack on civilians this time near a Friday congregation. Five killed and countless injured in Tahab Pulwama. And all the government comes up with is this.

 Deputy Commissioner (DC) Pulwama, Meraj Ahmad Kakroo told Greater Kashmir that the Maulana had not sought permission from the district administration for holding the congregation, as a result no security arrangements were made.
Courtesy Greater Kashmir

The matter doesn’t simply end there. Soon after this incident residents of Tahab claimed that the grenade thrower was nabbed by them and understandably handed over to the police.

Some reports said that local residents, who were on way to the mosque for Friday prayers spotted the grenade thrower and chased him and captured him at a distance from the mosque. The grenade thrower, whose identity was not known, was handed over to police, said the reports.
Courtesy Greater Kashmir

The man who allegedly threw the grenade at Tahab in Pulwama district triggering a blast that killed five persons has been handed over to the Army. Ghulam Nabi, a resident of Litter village in Pulwama, was caught by local people on Friday after he allegedly hurled the grenade outside a mosque at Tahab, a defence spokesman said on Saturday.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) S M Sahai said the youth was paid Rs 1,000 by Hizbul Mujahideen to hurl the grenade with the intention of targetting Maulana Abdul Rashid Dawoodi, a preacher of Barielvi sect.
Courtesy Kashmir Live – Indian Express

This revelation from the IGP (Kashmir) came shortly after the state administration had vehemently denied that people had caught hold of the grenade thrower.

But Kakroo, the Deputy Commissioner, said, “These reports (that people caught the grenade thrower) are just rumours.”
Courtesy Greater Kashmir

Now having read all this I am really amazed at the speed with which a) DC Sahib vehemently denied people having handed over the culprit to the Police / Army (and in the process branded the locals (dare I say) as liars, and b) IGP Sahib’s earnest in letting us know the motive behind the whole thing after acknowledging the fact that locals did indeed nab the culprit, within an hour or so after the bureaucrat’s denial.

Now it is a mathematical certainity that at maximum only one of the above two statements is correct. If no one was caught IGP Sb had no reason to talk about the identity of the person, the sum handed over and the motive as well. And if someone was indeed caught (as the locals claim and so do the IGP) why did our DC Sahib show all the eagerness in denying the truth.

Mind you if such earnest was shown in securing the lives of people (rather than bothering about the bureaucratic hassles) today I would not have been commenting on this sordid episode. DC Pulwama says since no permission was sought for congregation so no security was provided – as if to say no permission is equivalent to denial of right to live. The fact that the congregation was being held must have been common knowledge atleast in today’s times. So why was the police protection denied? Just because of procedural hassles we have lost more innocent lives and no-one (repeat no-one) is willing to share the blame.

At the same point of time general public would like to know what happened to the grenade thrower who was nabbed yet again by public (isn’t it amazing un-armed civilians did the job twice) in Dalgate and handed over to Police. Till date we are yet to hear about that as well. Why isn’t that person paraded in front of live 24X7 TV channels. I don’t care a damn who the guy is and what his theory is. I want him to be ashamed of himself. But may be he cannot be questioned.. Why (you may ask)? Well I had once heard this urdu couplet somewhere… Though it doesnt entirely fit in the context but I found it apt

Mujhsey mat poochh merey dil ki kahani humdum….
ismey kuchh parda nasheenon key bhi naam aatey hain

Could someone please explain till how long do we have to face these faceless murderers?

Juz A Kashmiri

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Hi Everyone,

I happened to read this post ..And his life should become extinct on the blog Soul in Exile. As I have maintained right from the start, I am not here to decide who is innocent and who is guilty – for the picture when it comes to Kashmir is always hazy. So it is better to just listen to what the other person says and then make your conclusions – whether or not they are accepted by the masses. In the comments section of my previous post I had referred to this link and for those who want to have a complete understanding of what we are discussing here, I request them to first go through the article.

Our friend Soul in Exile has made some observations and I am sure it doesn’t harm anyone if we go through his post. Now having done that, I have put in my comments which I am reproducing here – for fear of being censored at the place they are intended for.

Soul in Exile,

As I had promised I am responding to your post and I will try to be as concise as possible to avoid boring you with un-necessary things… things that you must be aware of and pleading ignorance. However, I must admit that your post (a lengthy one indeed) doesn’t make my job simpler – for you have jumped from one issue to another to third and then to fourth. I wish you had stuck to one issue. However, I will try my level best to put my thoughts here. Mind you, I am not defending Afzal Guru here. My problem is because you have a problem with someone who attempts to put the true picture in front of the public and then let the public decide.
Calls Arundhati Roy a pseudo-secular
1. You call Arundhati Roy a pseudo-secular and I cannot help but be reminded of the way a right-wing party in India chooses to call all those who raise any kind of voice for the minorities. Anyways arguing against your such perception -for you won’t be convinced – will be a futile exercise.

I must thank you for I have learnt that one who has a way-with-words will make us believe every non-sense in this world. You surely deserve an award for this new theory. Why don’t you try for some kinda Nobel or similar award.

Now lets come to the observations and counter-arguments made by you.

Ridicules Arundhati for saying Afzal Guru is innocent – because SAR Geelani was acquitted by the Indian ……
2. You have mentioned that Arundhati Roy tries to say “Courts be damned” and what not. I wish you had read the article without any bias and you would have understood what she meant. Hard as it may sound, but I failed to find a single sentence in her write-up which claimed that Afzal is totally innocent. She has merely put the pieces together, and there in what has emerged are glaring loopholes. Well, why would you talk about those loopholes – that would only make you case even more weaker. Just that one innocent professor was not convicted doesn’t mean whosoever else is tried has to be guilty. It was only due to the unrelented pressure by NGOs, reputed lawyers and thinkers, his students that today SAR Geelani is a free man.

Ridicules Arundhati Roy for mentioning Afzal Guru’s trial is totally based on all false evidence and there is nothing true in the case. …
3. What Arundhati Roy should or should not have done is none of our choices. I don’t think Ms. Roy wants people like you to believe anything – as you won’t believe anyway. She is a booker prize winner not a publicity hungry politician out to hoodwink you and earn votes (read money). Some of you have taken this famous saying to heart “Never believe what is obvious”. It is possible that Arundhati too might have had similar views as yours but now after researching the case she has changed her opinion. Let her say what she wants to – but the way you are frustrated at this clearly indicates your nervousness.

Is not impressed when A. Roy says Afzal Guru was victimized by the then government so as to be able to find premise for launching a war on Pakistan. Which war? ….
4. Why don’t you ask the big honchos of your favourite party which was in power. Operation Parakram and what not was launched at their behest. And I cannot stop laughing when you say that A. Roy has just weaved a plot for another novel and yet is so naive to discuss it in a weekly. Hey my suggestion, why don’t you take the cue (for you also have a way-with-words) and come out with a bestseller. And by the way, I never knew A. Roy is a Christian.

Madame Roy also makes a reference to her favorite Gujarat riots here – for no evident reason.
5.It is really sick to find someone refer to a pogrom as “favourite” as if one were talking about some daily soap. I hope you understood what pogrom is (not a program on your favourite channel). What Gujarat riots were and what Godhra riots were, let that be for another post .. some other time. Do you want us to believe no-one was killed in Narodiya-Patiya, Best-Bakery case is a myth, A pregnant woman did not have her womb split and her foetus burnt in front of eyes, In Vadodra no one was inside that Sumo around which barbed wire was wound before setting it on fire… I can go and on.. but as I said some other post. And when has a best selling author needed a riot and minorities support to boost her career. By the way what is the percentage of Muslims who read her… I am sure it wont be even a percent.

Says that as per Ms Roy, the terrorism in Kashmir is due to the para-military forces in the valley …
6.I found this to be the most absurd argument from your side. You are stretching her views too far and wide. What she is trying to emphasise on is the ‘terror” that is unleashed in the name of anti-militant activities by Special Operations Group or STF or SOG. But you were lucky enough to escape them so you won’t know how good (or bad) they are. So it would help if you trust ordinary Kashmiris views about them (Oh no you wont do that either.. for you think we all are terrorists).

Says that Ms. Roy has empathy for the enraged people of Kashmir, for the war-torn zone that they are living in and the pain related to it. …
7. Pain of our own making. Yes Kashmiris (read Muslims) are responsible for everything bad in this country be it Babri Masjid demolition, Mumbai riots in 93, Bhagalpur riots, Gujarat riots. So we deserve to die and we are dying. And yes, the conflict in Kashmir is our own creation – Indira Gandhi, Farooq Abdullah, Mufti Syed and yes His Highness Jagmohan had no hand in anything that has happened till now. Now whether A. Roy had condemned Mumbai blasts or Delhi Diwali blasts hardly matters for it is a different case we are discussing.

There was a media orgy forcing the judiciary and the system to prosecute someone – Afzal becoming the victim.
8. When a confession is obtained on Live TV first and only later proper procedures are followed – what other conclusion do you come to… Simply that the channel in addition to boosting their TRP wants to be knows as the channel on which “Afzal confessed”.. Pretty smart but gross. And do I need to tell you what relentless media pressure can force the judiciary to do… No you’re well aware.

Death Sentence should be abolished as it is not a civil form of punishment…
Now you are jumping to so many issues together and I don’t think my comment needs to tackle all of them issues together. Well you talk of the murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo, despite being from the other side of divide I have always wished for the punishment to guilty – whether the victim is a Muslim or a Pandit. How strongly each one of us feels about this case, have you ever wondered why? The reason is it was only possible due to the pressure maintained by the media esp. 24X7 news channels that today Santosh Singh has been convicted. Some years ago no one knew Priyadarshini and no one knew Santosh Singh’s crime either. But tomorrow if anyone stands for him, freedom of expression gives him/her the right to say what he/she wants and I don’t think we need a certificate to be issued whether the person is qualified to defend anyone.
 

And yeah… Vinayak, to be honest,… in relative terms I do think Afzal got a raw deal… Afterall, if Bitta Karate…
I am really amazed that even after nearly two decades whenever we talk of atrocities on Kashmiri Pandits by militants the only name that crops up is of Bitta Karate (incidentally in jail for 16 years till now). An excerpt from a blog I recently visited may be some food for thought for you…

“However, at the same point of time I have no hesitation in saying that while there are Bitta Karates on one end of the spectrum, you wont have to do much to find their equal and opposite personality. That person may not have taken as many lives (or may be even more) but he too has killed an innocent human being somewhere in Gow Kadal, Hawal, Bijbehara; hurt the dignity of women in Chhanapora, Handwara so on and so forth.
Tragedy is while you can ascribe a face to a Bitta Karate terror you cannot do the same for the other gun. The reason we all are here is we acknowledge those tragedies and feel the pain that everyone has gone through”

Hope that helps you in having some objectivity in your posts in the future.

Juz A Kashmiri

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