Sunday, August 31, 2008

Time to shun rhetoric and talk tough on Amarnath yatra

So fascist, communal, divisive and fundamentalist forces of Jammu have finally succeeded in getting the whole issue of Amarnath Forest Land Row camouflauged and sabotaged to their favour under the garb of Nationalism and Patriotism. Once again, following the age-old maxim of "give the dog a bad name and kill him", state government has inflicted most horrendous crimes against humanity in Kashmir after labelling the unarmed, protesting civilians as secessionists.
Now it is time for the separatist leaders of Kashmir to shun their rhyming rhetoric of allowing and supporting the Amarnath pilgrimage in its present tone and tenure. It is time to get to terms and call a spade a spade. People across India have been trumpeting the so-called income that Kashmiris purportedly have been generating from the Yatra. So much so that Ram Vils Paswan went to the extent of saying that if left to Kashmiris, they would very well prefer the Yatra to continue for the entire year owing to the income they generate from Amarnath yatris.

This is a part of large scale misinformation campaign and false propoganda unleashed by right wing hindu fundamentalists and duly fostered by the Indian media. The fact of the matter is that yatris come in groups with their tour packages finalized at their native places with their local operators. They go back in same vehicles in which they come. Food outlets where they eat are mostly Vaishnovi dhabas owned by their fellow brothren from outside the state. They do all the shopping at Jammu again from their compatriots belonging either to Jammu or outside the state. Due to their plenty of hatred against Kashmiris they see to it that Kashmiris don't gain much from their influx into the valley. Only people supposedly to gain from yatra are the ponneywalas of Pahalgam who earn only coins and not notes from them out of their nerve-wrecking and spine chilling hard labour. Are Kashmiris so hapless to bow and surrender their honour and prestige for the sake of few morsels thrown to poor ponneywalas and the like, of course not.

It is high time we start talking tough about the large scale devastation and destruction that lakhs of pilgrims cause to our ecology in Amarnath region. Several national and international environmental agencies have warned that large scale movement of pilgrims in a purely ecological and environmentally sensitive area will wreck havock to the glaciers there which are diminishing very fast bringing lot of damage to our climate and environment. No wonder over the past few years, Kashmir has been witnessing snow psunamies, floods and inundating rainfall. Now in comparison to the income poor Kashmiris make out of Yatra, can there be any match for the damage it causes to our life and property in addition to our serene forests. Imagine how much shit and garbage might have been thrown by over five lakh yatris into lidder river and the pristine glaciers at an altitde of over 3500 feet. When BJP government in Uttranchal restricted number of pilgrims visiting Gomuch Temple to a meagre 150 per day to save their Gangotri and for other environmental reasons, nobody resisted this move. Why can't we in Kashmir demand restriction of the daily and total number of pilgrims visiting Amarnath on the similar grounds besides reducing the total duration of yatra to 15 days.

After all it is the bearer of Chardhi Mubarak (Holy mace of lord shiva) namely Mahant Deependra Giri of Dashnami akhada who has time and again voiced concern over the fast deteriorating religious sentiments of the amarnath yatra. He has several times made it clear that this yatra holds religious significance only for a period of fifteen days upto shrawan purnima and that beyond these fifteen days yatra holds no meaning at all. Why his voice is being curbed under the garb of communal frenzy and fascist passions of hindu fundamentalists. It is time we should sound alarm bells about our environment and demand restricting daily rush of yatris to a few hundred of them and reducing its total duration to only fifteen days. We should stop thriving on this dangerous tradition and voice our concerns loud and clear without any fear. Hope our leaders learn some lessons from the aggressive tactics of Jammu Sangarsh Samiti and take some cue from them as to how to protect our interests against all odds. It is time to stop being remorseful, defensive and humble because we have not achieved anything out of that except curfew and killings. It is time to pursue your genuine goals aggressively and without any regretful attitude.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


PAINFUL CHECKING: CRPF troopers check medical documents of a pregnant lady being carried to hospital. Deaths of several pregnant ladies has reportedly taken place due to their inability to reach the hospitals as a result of the most harsh curfew in place throughout Kashmir valley. (Photo Courtesy: Farooq Javed, Daily Rising Kashmir)


by Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar
Courtesy: Times of India dated August 18th, 2008
On August 15, India celebrated independence from the British Raj. But Kashmiris staged a bandh demanding independence from India. A day symbolising the end of colonialism in India became a day symbolising Indian colonialism in the Valley. As a liberal, i dislike ruling people against their will. True, nation-building is a difficult and complex exercise, and initial resistance can give way to the integration of regional aspirations into a larger national identity — the end of Tamil secessionism was a classical example of this. I was once hopeful of Kashmir's integration, but after six decades of effort, Kashmiri alienation looks greater than ever. India seeks to integrate with Kashmir, not rule it colonially. Yet, the parallels between British rule in India and Indian rule in Kashmir have become too close for my comfort. Many Indians say that Kashmir legally became an integral part of India when the maharaja of the state signed the instrument of accession. Alas, such legalisms become irrelevant when ground realities change. Indian kings and princes, including the Mughals, acceded to the British Raj. The documents they signed became irrelevant when Indians launched an independence movement. The British insisted for a long time that India was an integral part of their Empire, the jewel in its crown, and would never be given up. Imperialist Blimps remained in denial for decades. I fear we are in similar denial on Kashmir. The politically correct story of the maharaja's accession ignores a devastating parallel event. Just as Kashmir had a Hindu maharaja ruling over a Muslim majority, Junagadh had a Muslim nawab ruling over a Hindu majority. The Hindu maharaja acceded to India, and the Muslim nawab to Pakistan. But while India claimed that the Kashmiri accession to India was sacred, it did not accept Junagadh's accession to Pakistan. India sent troops into Junagadh, just as Pakistan sent troops into Kashmir. The difference was that Pakistan lacked the military means to intervene in Junagadh, while India was able to send troops into Srinagar. The Junagadh nawab fled to Pakistan, whereas the Kashmir maharaja sat tight. India's double standard on Junagadh and Kashmir was breathtaking. Do you think the people of Junagadh would have integrated with Pakistan after six decades of genuine Pakistani effort? No? Then can you really be confident that Kashmiris will stop demanding azaadi and integrate with India? The British came to India uninvited. By contrast, Sheikh Abdullah, the most popular politician in Kashmir, supported accession to India subject to ratification by a plebiscite. But his heart lay in independence for Kashmir, and he soon began manoeuvering towards that end. He was jailed by Nehru, who then declared Kashmir's accession was final and no longer required ratification by a plebiscite. The fact that Kashmir had a Muslim majority was held to be irrelevant, since India was a secular country empowering citizens through democracy.
Alas, democracy in Kashmir has been a farce for most of six decades. The rot began with Sheikh Abdullah in 1951: he rejected the nomination papers of almost all opponents, and so won 73 of the 75 seats unopposed! Nehru was complicit in this sabotage of democracy. Subsequent state elections were also rigged in favour of leaders nominated by New Delhi. Only in 1977 was the first fair election held, and was won by the Sheikh. But he died after a few years, and rigging returned in the 1988 election. That sparked the separatist uprising which continues to gather strength today. Many Indians point to long episodes of peace in the Valley and say the separatists are just a noisy minority. But the Raj also had long quiet periods between Gandhian agitations, which involved just a few lakhs of India's 500 million people. One lakh people joined the Quit India movement of 1942, but 25 lakh others joined the British Indian army to fight for the Empire's glory. Blimps cited this as evidence that most Indians simply wanted jobs and a decent life. The Raj built the biggest railway and canal networks in the world. It said most Indians were satisfied with economic development, and that independence was demanded by a noisy minority. This is uncomfortably similar to the official Indian response to the Kashmiri demand for azaadi. Let me not exaggerate. Indian rule in Kashmir is not classical colonialism. India has pumped vast sums into Kashmir, not extracted revenue as the Raj did. Kashmir was among the poorest states during the Raj, but now has the lowest poverty rate in India. It enjoys wide civil rights that the Raj never gave. Some elections — 1977, 1983 and 2002 — were perfectly fair. India has sought integration with Kashmir, not colonial rule. But Kashmiris nevertheless demand azaadi. And ruling over those who resent it so strongly for so long is quasi-colonialism, regardless of our intentions. We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and give them three choices: independence, union with Pakistan, and union with India. Almost certainly the Valley will opt for independence. Jammu will opt to stay with India, and probably Ladakh too. Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Sea of People Demanding Freedom at Eidgah

On August 22nd, 2008 more than a million people belonging to all religious sects including Shias, Sunnis, Ahli-hadeesis, Hamblis etc irrespective of their religious school of thought converged en-masse at Eidgah grounds, Srinagar breaking all barriers to offer Friday prayers jointly, pray for the success of ongoing peoples’ movement and protest against the nefarious designs of communal forces of Jammu and their actions of enforcing economic blockade and atrocities against muslims besides attempting to grab the land near Amarnath Cave. This gathering that saw Eidgah getting jam-packed to its full capacity should serve as an eye-opener for the government of India that had started believing that they have succeeded in crushing the genuine voice of the people of Kashmir by blatantly misusing its military might and resorting to massacres of lakhs of Kashmiris during the past twenty years of their struggle.
Even when I am writing this blog, attempts are on at Jammu to transfer land even greater in area than before to SASB. Talks are on between advisors of the Governor and representatives of the AYSS. In case govt. once again reinvokes its orders after revoking it once, that will be the biggest blunder on its part, sufficient enough to tell the Kashmiris that “We don’t care what you want, how many of you die and how many massive protests you hold; you don’t mean anything to us and we don’t care whether you are happy with us or alienated further”. In case land is transferred back to SASB, those mainstream leaders who proclaim their symapathy with Kashmiris every now and then should resign from their membership of Indian Parliament forthwith and join the masses in their freedom struggle. Is not shameful and humiliating for them that they are not even being consulted or taken into confidence before making any move of re-transfer of forest land to SASB.
It is time when separatists should shun their worn out rhetoric of providing all necessary facilities to Amarnath Pilgrims and allowing it in its present tone and tenure. Since government has cleary shown that it doesn't care even a fig for Kashmir and Kashmiris and doesn't even mind killing them in groups to curb the current uprising, we should sound alert about the deteriorating ecology at Amarnath due to movement of lakhs of pilgrims for a prolonged period of two months. It is time we should resort to social boycot of all biased and jaundiced Indian media channels apart from Jammu products. In case mainstream policiticians of the valley care the least for Kashmiris, they should come out openly in support of the mass movement and declare the public verdict on every platform.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Discrimination at its Best

This picture published by the Daily, "Rising Kashmir" (Courtesy Mir Imran) on August 21st, 2008 showing hooligans and rioters in Jammu pelting stones at Jammu and Kashmir Police (not in pic) as paramilitary CRPF personnel act as mute spectators to the whole event and enjoy the friendly match. This picture says a thousand words and reflects the real face of government apathy and inaction at Jammu against hindu hooligans whereas in Kashmir these very CRPF troopers shower bullets on peaceful protestors and massacre them in large numbers without any second thoughts. Is this what Jammu people decry as "Discrimination" against them ? These very rioters on August 20th, 2008 attacked several government buildings, damaged numerous vehicles and even torched many police posts without any retaliation from police. The reason cited towards this police inaction by a senior police official was that these rioters carry national flags and do not demand secession from India. BJP leader L.K. Advani declared these rioters as nationalists and all Kashmiris as secessionists, hence bullets for the latter and support for the former. This is frustation and discrimination at its best.

And India pampers Kashmir!

And India pampers Kashmir! (Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt. August 21st, 2008)
M.M. Naqashbandi

It is in response to the article published in Times of India, 6 Aug 2008, titled Kashmiri traders to boycott Jammu productsIt pains one to read most of the comments here. How the people's mind can be poisoned by politicians is really unbelievable. Still, however, to set the records straight let it be known that Kashmir is not dependent on India, instead it has been made so by India. I would request all the sane people in India, and I know there are numberless of them, to consider following points before turning jingoistic.
1. If India wants to boycott Kashmiri goods, they surely can but the boycott should be complete. Please don't boycott the apples and shawls from Kashmir only, boycott the power/electricity that is generated in Kashmir and wired across, rather pilfered across to whole of India. You would be surprised to know that this boycott of yours can save Kashmir thousands of crores of rupees. I'm sure Indian media never aired that to the Indian public! Economists are of the opinion that if only electricity generated in Kashmir is retained in Kashmir and sold without hanky-panky, Kashmir can become like Singapore in no time. Besides Kashmir has tourism industry, agriculture industry, horticulture industry and many other such strong industries. There are many countries around the world that have only one of these industries and they are doing very well, infact much better than India. Kashmir has the potential to become Singapore of south-Asia if not discriminated against, or without mincing words, if "boycotted" by India and, given Independence.
2. Yes, India has pampered us a lot. We have been made to import even an egg from India, crippling our local economy. Our paddy lands which were verdant at a time have concrete structure atop now, this despite so-called laws against such conversion. And for all this thanks to India. What a ploy to cripple a colony and then turn it into a market to sell goods made in India. Brits did the same to India and that is not an old history. For those who think this is an exaggeration here is just a tip of the iceberg: The revenue India gets from an insignificant product like cigarette in Kashmir per day is one crore Rupees. Consider all the goods that India sells in its colony, Kashmir, and you understand why Kashmir is so important to India.
3. Please stop taking benefits from Indus Water Treaty, as India has reaped a lot owing to this anti-Kashmir treaty with Pakistan. Kashmiris request you to boycott Kashmir and Kashmiri goods, but let the boycott be complete. You may also ask your eight hundred thousand armed army men to boycott Kashmir as well. What say? That might as well reduce the number of Indians dying of hunger or the number of poor farmers committing suicide.
4. Rhetoric aside, one fails to understand what the Jammuites are asking for. Which land? Doesn't Jammu and Kashmir after all belong to all living in Jammu and Kashmir? Why do 800 kanals of land need to be transferred to SASB, when Yatris are already using 1000s of kanals of land. Kashmiri Muslims have never been against yatra, instead they have always been instrumental in facilitating it. Why suddenly (around election time!) has there been a need to transfer the land to a Board that doesn't have even a single Kashmiri Hindu on it? Something is surely fishy here. And for those who feel Kashmiris are against Yatra, the unprecedented number of yatris who visited the Amarnath Shrine this year should act as an eye-opener. I repeat, the number is unprecedented!
5. For those who pretend sense of History and ask for scrapping Article 370, should go to the roots of the conflict and realise that the promise the first Prime Minister of India J.L. Nehru made publicly to the Kashmiri nation (video available on google) whereby the future of Kashmir was to be determined in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people, has never been fulfilled by the Indian state. Would the sane Indians, known to keep their promises no matter what, break the tradition in the case of Kashmir? Or has the Indian nation assigned the slogan "jaan jaye par wachan na jaye" to trash bin?
The list of injustices done to Kashmiris, particularly Kashmiri Muslims is endless. To substantiate this a common Indian citizen can just ask him/herself a simple question: Why have Kashmiris not accepted India even after more than 60 years that too when, according to Indian public, Kashmiris are pampered? Why?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


1. Open up Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road for bilateral trade.
2. Revoke Armed Forces Special Powers Act and other related draconian laws.
3. Condemn in unequivocal terms the recent killings of unarmed civilians and -order impartial and high-level enquiry into these killings and promise urgent probe alongwith a stringent punishment to those found guilty.
4. Free all people taken into custody during the ongoing crisis as well as those languishing in jails since years.
5. Take concrete measures to stop economic blockade and resume supply of essentials as before.
6. Reduce the duration of Yatra to fifteen days as proposed by Mahant Deependragiri of Dashnami Akhada (the bearer of Charhi Mubarak) and restrict the daily rush of yatris to one or two thousand and take other necessary measures to protect the endangered ecology and environment of the Amarnath Cave region.
7. Resume composite dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the vexed issue of Kashmir and take concrete steps towards resolving the issue including meaningful dialogue with all stake holders (including separatists).
8. Initiate progressive reduction in the number of troops in the state and vacate troops from all orchards, schools, paddy fields and agricultural land.
9. Pass on instructions to right wing hindu fundamentalist forces including BJP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal etc to stop communalizing the situation and playing divisive politics in the state. Ask Jammu based organizations to withdraw their agitation forthwith by making it clear to them that the state land is protected under article 370 of the Indian constitution and most of the land in question is proprietary land and long forest land.
10. Let the state and central government, media, civil society and the political parties not be biased against Kashmiris in calling a spade a spade.


Contrary to the oft repeated rhetoric of Jammu-based organizations, it is the Kashmir province that has faced discrimination in every walk of life over the past sixty years. Majority of beauracrats and high ranking officials belonging to Jammu have always made it a point to resort to favouritism and nepotism in their decision making with respect to recruitment in govt. services, allocation of funds, developments projects and so on. Statistics available with the government itself speak for themselves in this regard. Secondly Jammu based fundamentalists have repeatedly been saying that there has been no economic blockade at all. If that is the case, who hurled petrol bombs on scores of Kashmiri drivers ferrying goods across Jammu; where have the goods gone that have reportedly been flowing to Srinagar since our markets are running dry of medicines, vegetables, fruits, essentials etc since weeks. Any camera team can take a tour around various parts of the valley and see the facts on ground. Thirdly why erstwhile governor of the state S.K.Sinha is not being questioned by anyone who left no stone unturned to demolish the secular character of Amarnath Yatra by dissociating the Malik family of Pahalgam from the offerings on the Shrine and offered them a petty sum as one-time compensation against their regular share. The participation and subsequent sharing of offerings between the shrine and the Malik family (founders of the cave) of Pahalgam was the most graceful aspect of the yatra that was destroyed by the erstwhile governor who is the main culprit behind bringing about a communal agenda in his governance.Then why the ruthless killing of over forty unarmed protestors by the security forces is going uncondemned by Indian Media, Politicians and the civil society. Is Kashmiri blood so cheap that it does not need even a word of condemnation. Is it not a blatant human right violation that you are shooting the people who after having been isolated, choked, economically blocked and made to starve, were killed for the share reason that they were looking out for an alternate route to their fully ripe fruits.It is a shame for the biggest democracy of the world namely INDIA.


The spate of unprovoked killings in the valley is going on unabated, public outcry and international concern notwithstanding. Administration seems to be least bothered about the dangerous outcome of its apathy and misadventures. All that we Kashmiris were demanding was protection of our own land under article 370 of the Indian Constitution and when the govt. is miserably failing in its duty to ensure that besides failing to counter the most illogical and uncivilized act of economic blockade enforced by right wing hindu fundamentalist forces at Jammu and Punjab. Jammu people have been crying hoarse that injustice has been purportedly been meted out to them over the last sixty years. Their main grievance is that ever since India gained Independence, no ruler from Jammu province has ruled J&K state until 2005 when Ghulam Nabi Azad, who hails from Doda district of the Jammu province became the first Chief Minister of J&K from that division. As a matter of fact, it is the people of Kashmir valley who have been discriminated against eversince it came into being. Today if we see the pace of development and progress in these two provinces, anybody can cleary make a difference and see for himself how step motherly treatment has been meted out to this side of the state. Just by observing the number of fly-overs, hospitals, bridges, educational institutes, commercial complexes, broad roads and well planned colonies, one can clearly notice that this side has not received the fair deal from the powers that be.

While all separatists in Kashmir as well as mainstream politicians are speaking vehemently in favour of continuing the Amarnath Yatra in future in its present tone and tenure, nobody seems to be showing an iota of concern about the devastation that lakhs of pilgrims thronging the hilly areas of Pahalgam has caused to the ecology and environment of that region. Trash and shit in tons is being thrown into the serene surroundings everytime pilgrims visit the areas in lakhs. While BJP government in Uttarakhand has passed orders to restrict the number of pilgrims visiting Gangotri to 1500 per day, there has been no resistance to that decision whatsoever. Therefore If we talk of limiting the number of yatris and the duration of yatra why our move is being viewed as a communal act. Mahant Deependragiri who is the bearer of Charhi Mubarak (Holy mace of Lord Shiva) of Amarnath Yatra has himself stated time and again that the Shrine Board has wrecked havock with the sanctity of this yatra by extending its duration upto two months and by erecting an artificial ice lingham in place of a fast diminishing natural one. He has maintained that religious significance of the yatra is only for a period of fifteen days upto Shrawan Purnima and not two months. So it is very sad to observe how communal colour has been given to a purely ecological and regional problem. Hindu fanatics are simply playing into the ploy of BJP that is fanning communal sentiments just to garner votes in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in India next year. So it is time for all and sundry to visualize the issue in its real perspective and stop painting it in wrong colours forthwith lest the alienation of the people of Kashmir shall aggravate to a state that will end up seeing entire south Asia burning into flames considering that both India and Pakistan are nuclear states and Kashmir has been declared as the most vulnerable nuclear flashpoint in the region.