By Latheef Farook –
The Palwama tragedy in Kashmir on 14 February once again reminded New Delhi and the world that Kashmiri issue cannot be solved by brutalizing its people. It also brought to light the dangerous growing military ties between Israel and the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – known for their war crimes against Muslims.
Modi’s government claims that Kashmir is an integral part of India despite all India’s pledges since the subcontinent’s partition in 1947 to decide the destiny of Kashmir by a plebiscite.
However Modi has ignored all these pledges. His BJP claim Kashmir as integral part of India whose border is with Afghanistan.
Modi and his Hindutva forces were fully backed by Israel. Thus the continuous military oppression. When Kashmiris rose up last year Modi rained pellets on them blinding thousands who are forced to suffer rest of their lives.
India had seventy long years to win the hearts and minds of Kashmiris and convince them that they could live in peace and harmony with rest of India. Unfortunately all Indian government’s failed miserably. They were not sincere in solving the Kashmiri issue but simply hoodwinked the world without implementing it’s by pledges.
In an interview with a British newspaper late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said in 1986 that ’India lost Kashmir due to its atrocities on Kashmiris”. These atrocities were intensified ever since Modi was elected to power. This was facilitated by the international anti-Muslim environment created by US-Europe and Israel associating Islam and Muslims with terrorism and describing even Muslim freedom struggle as terrorism.
The result was the Palwama tragedy. Such tragedies are likely to continue until Indian oppression ends.
Modi made a mockery of himself when he declared that Indian Air Force killed 300 Jaish e Mohammed cadres though no such killing took pace. Indian media which brought BJP to power with its deceptive campaign also suffered loss of credibility when it continues to highlight Modi’s lies.
Palwama tragedy also brought to light the growing military ties between Modi’s government and Israel in the atrocities on Kashmiris. For example veteran British journalist Robert Fisk in his article days after Palwama tragedy had this to state;
“For months, Israel has been assiduously lining itself up alongside India’s nationalist BJP government in an unspoken – and politically dangerous – “anti-Islamist” coalition, an unofficial, unacknowledged alliance, while India itself has now become the largest weapons market for the Israeli arms trade.
Not by chance, therefore, has the Indian press just trumpeted the fact that Israeli-made Rafael Spice-2000 “smart bombs” were used by the Indian air force in its strike against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) “terrorists” inside Pakistan.
Describing Pulwama tragedy as a wake up all for peace in the region respected Indian activist and columnist Ram Puniyani had this to state;
Following the attack, developments taking place on the ground across the country are disturbing. There are reports that Kashmiri students have been threatened in various cities in several states. Tathagat Roy, the Governor of Meghalaya has given the call to boycott Kashmiris.
A deliberate attempt is being made by Hindutva groups like Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Party supporters to whip up nationalistic passions with chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, waving of the tricolour, giving slogans against Pakistan, and associating Pakistan with Muslims. The likes of Anupam Kher and Sonu Nigam are spewing anger against secular and liberal people. At several places, vigilante groups are threatening Muslims. The situation in Jammu required the imposition of curfew as the threat to Muslims was palpable in the area. The BJP’s state chief of J&K Ravindra Raina and MP Jugal Kishore took part in the protests targeting the Muslims.
The violence has left Kashmiri Muslims living in Jammu and other parts of India fearful. India has the world’s third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan – upward of 180 million people.
The creation of an atmosphere of retaliation is worsening the situation. It is a short sighted response. The present atmosphere where Muslims are feeling insecure and Kashmiris are being targeted is worsening the situation. We do need to give an atmosphere of security and amity to all our citizens. An appeal of harmony from the top may restrain the communal elements who in their display of hyper nationalism are creating a situation which violates the principle of fraternity, the foundation of our nation and the base of our Constitution.
The fear is whether Modi will unleash countrywide violence against Muslims as L.K.Advani once did with his infamous Rath Yatra, whipped up hatred and killed thousands of Muslims before exploiting the atmosphere to demolish the Babri Masjid.
Meanwhile Amarjit Singh Dulat, retired chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and former Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau (I.B.), alludes to the lack of maturity in the present government’s retaliation policies. He suggests that the only way forward in India-Pakistan relations is through a sensible long-term diplomatic approach
He added that;
I have never seen this kind of attack in the three decades that I have watched Kashmir.
The Kashmiri has long lost whatever love he may have had for Pakistan. The Kashmiri also realizes that Kashmir is going nowhere and that India is not going to let go of Kashmir. And you have to make peace within this whole thing.
When people talk about azadi, my take on that is unless you understand politics, the so-called separatists, there is going to be no azadi. However, we should at least provide the Kashmiris peace with dignity, honor, and justice. That should not be difficult; after all we say Kashmir is our “atut ang” [integral part]. It does not, if not, deserve this. Why should we raise issues of Articles 370 or 35A? There is nothing left in Article 370. It is only a fig leaf. Why do we rake up these things?
Columnist Piyasree Dasgupta of Hinustan Times asked “why do so many young and well-educated Kashmiris turn to militancy?” It has often been observed that Kashmiris turning to militancy are usually young, well-educated and originate from middle class families.
Kashmir is the most militarized zone in the world, with a troop deployment count standing at 600,000 armed personnel at a ratio of 1 soldier for every 20 civilians. If the thick troop deployment within civilian areas wasn’t suffocating enough already, there are laws like the AFSPA which increase the suffocation even further. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as the name suggests gives the armed forces special powers in “disturbed areas”, such as to arrest without a warrant, to enter and search any premise, legal immunity for the armed forces acting under this law, and more.
This strong militarization of Kashmir has been one of the strongest reasons for the steady stream of well-educated young men filing up the ranks of militant groups in Kashmir. The thought that people can be controlled by force and by laws such as the AFSPA is one that requires urgent rethinking. In early 2012, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heyns, had this to say regarding the AFSPA:
“I have heard extensive evidence of action taken under this law that resulted in innocent lives being lost, in Jammu and Kashmir and in Assam, where witnesses from neighboring states also assembled. This law was described to me as ‘hated’ and a member of a State Human Rights Commission called it ‘draconian’.”
India’s version, no matter who has been in government, has always been to lay the blame on the Kashmiris for the overwhelming presence of the armed forces within the state. Under Modi, this hasn’t changed. One of the senior leaders from the BJP, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, termed the troubles faced by Kashmiris as “self-inflicted”. Ram Guha, noted historian, included a response to this remark in his article ‘Too many mistakes’, in which he said
“There have been many stupid statements made about Kashmir and Kashmiris over the years, but this one surely takes the cake. The illegal arrest and detention of Sheikh Abdullah, his replacement by the corrupt and cronyist Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, the rigging of successive elections, the whittling down of Article 370, the periodic threats that this article of the Constitution will be removed altogether and the Valley invaded with settlers à la Palestine and Tibet, the overbearing presence of the army over the past two and a half decades, the deaths of innocents in police and army firing, the incidents of rape and torture committed by the Indian paramilitary forces and army that have gone unpunished – which of these wounds does Sahasrabuddhe think is “self-inflicted”?”
Coming back to Pulwama, the father of Adil Ahmed Dar, had this to say as to why his son chose to join the ranks of the militants: “They were stopped by the troops and beaten up and harassed. Since then, he wanted to join the militants.”
The road ahead for all the players involved in the Kashmir issue is one fraught with danger. Violence has returned to the valley just as it has many times in the past. The hope is that, in the greater interest of humanity, the same mistakes aren’t repeated as they were done many times in the past.
Hundreds of thousands of Indians have openly come out against any war. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan offered for dialogue. Will Modi accept the olive branch?