At least seven pilgrims killed in Indian administered Kashmir

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

At least seven pilgrims killed in Indian administered Kashmir

A police spokesman said the bus was returning from the hard-to-reach Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath when militants and Indian police exchanged fire at Botengoo, Monday night, on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, south of the capital Srinagar.
“Terrorists fired on a police checkpoint and the fire was returned. A tourist bus was hit by bullets,” police spokesman Manoj Pandita said in a statement.
An estimated 60 to 70 pilgrims had boarded the bus at the Baltel base camp, reaching Botengoo just after sunset around 8.20 p.m. local time.
The bus was traveling after sunset — which is banned throughout the region due to security restrictions. It didn’t have the usual police escort and may not have had the correct registration paperwork, according to local authorities.
Amarnath is considered one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. Located at an altitude of 3,888 meteres (12,756 feet) and surrounded by snowy mountain peaks, the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine kicked off on June 29 and will culminate on August 7.
The last major attack on pilgrims in the area was carried out in August 2002, in which nine people were killed in Pahalgam.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack on social media, saying that “India will never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks and evil designs of hate.”
The attack coincided with the first anniversary of the death of Burhan Wani, a 21-year-old commander of the militant separatist group Hizbul Mujaheedin.
It happened just hours after a government imposed curfew was lifted. The curfew had been placed over the weekend in anticipation of an attack to mark the anniversary.
Wani’s death in July 2016 resulted in violent clashes between between protesters and security forces, that left at least 20 people dead and more than 300 injured.

‘Trump-Modi nexus’ could spell disaster for regional peace: AJK president

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWSPAPER DAWN)

Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan in a statement on Tuesday warned that a “Trump-Modi nexus” could spell disaster to regional peace.

The statement follows a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the run-up to which the US State Department had designated Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist and slapped sanctions on him ─ a move slammed by the Foreign Office today as ‘completely unjustified’.

Read more: Unjust to designate supporters of Kashmiri struggle as terrorists: FO

The White House had called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries, a statement from the White House said.

Sardar Khan, who retired from the foreign service of Pakistan as a career diplomat, claimed that the US had always deceived Pakistan and its latest decision was yet another example of it.

“The US has never acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices despite the latter’s being a frontline state in the war against terrorism,” he said.

Khan questioned the justification of the US decision, claiming that the Hizbul Mujahideen had been struggling solely for freedom of India-held Kashmir (IHK), and was neither linked to any terrorist group nor had resorted to any action outside IHK.

“In fact, it’s the Indian army committing terrorism in occupied Kashmir. Ignoring the genocide of Kashmiris by Indian army and declaring freedom fighters as terrorists is a criminal departure from international humanitarian and democratic norms by the US,” he claimed.

Kashmiris protest US move

Hundreds of people from different walks of life staged a rally in the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to condemn the US administration’s decision of designating Salahuddin a terrorist.

Demonstrators started the rally from Muzaffarabad’s famous Burhan Wani Chowk, named after a Hizbul Mujahideen commander who was killed by Indian forces in IHK last year.

Just in front of them, a large Indian tricolour flag was also placed on the ground with two young children standing on it.

Amid loud anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, it was later torched by the demonstrators.

Representatives of separatist groups and political parties took strong exception to the decision which they termed a reprehensible attempt by the Trump administration to please India.

Speaking at the rally, Khawaja Farooq Ahmed, a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and a former AJK minister, claimed it was the weak foreign policy of the PML-N led government in Islamabad that had encouraged the Trump administration to take this step during Modi’s visit.

“If you are serious in your avowals of extending diplomatic, political and moral support to the Kashmiris, then you should show some strength and as a first step summon the US and Indian envoys in [the] Foreign Office to lodge [a] protest over this unfair decision,” he said, addressing the federal government.

Ahmed also asked the AJK government to give a strike call on both sides of disputed Kashmir, like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had given for February 28, 1974, to express rejection of the US decision.

“All political parties and mujahideen groups should be taken on board to make this strike a historic one,” he said.

PPP leader Shaukat Javed Mir and several others also spoke on the occasion.

Kashmir Schools Being Closed 60% Of The Time: Causing A ‘lost’ Generation?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA NEWS 18.COM)

One of the biggest schools of Jammu and Kashmir became a venue to a fierce 16-hour gun-battle between security forces and militants early on Sunday. The encounter inside DPS Srinagar ended when security forces eliminated two terrorists.

In some time from now, security forces will finish a room-by-room search of the school and will announce the school safe. And a few days later its students, a lot of who presumably are right now curiously following the violence unfolding in their classrooms, will be asked to resume classes.

It will be tough, but DPS Srinagar’s students won’t be the only ones who would’ve felt violence unfold palpably close to them, who would’ve stayed away from each other and the school for long periods, and intermittently attended a few school classes.

Over the last one year, schools and colleges in the Valley have remained shut for six out of every 10 working days, leading to near-loss of entire academic year. Since July 8, 2016, educational institutions have stayed open on only 80 out of 197 working days, according to a report by IndiaSpend.

In April, for the first time, one saw images of young school girls flinging stones at security forces in Kashmir.

And during this period, starting from the death of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani, well over 150 people have died, about 20,000 have been injured and hundreds have lost their eye-sight.

“A couple of years ago, it was okay for me and my friends to come back from school in evening. Now, we are home by early afternoon, that is, if we go to school at all,” rues Bashir, a Class 10 student from Pulwama. People in Kashmir are no stranger to the vicious cycle of conflict and violence, and children, like Bashir, are the worst-hit.

Union Home Ministry’s data shows that in 2016 as many as 2,690 incidents of stone-pelting took place. And with every such incident, the state administration’s first response has been to shut down educational institutes as a precautionary measure.

Changing Face of Classrooms

Although schools and colleges have often been used as protest venues by students, it was for the first time that they’ve turned into active battlegrounds.

In April this year, local police barged into a degree college in Pulwama and fired tear-gas shells and pellets at protesting students inside. Over 60 students were injured, most of them girls. In retaliation, for the first time in the Valley, thousands of students across schools and colleges erupted in anger. For the first time, one saw images of young school girls flinging stones at security forces in Kashmir.

Classes were suspended for weeks as educationists kept urging students to go back to schools.

As their schools remain shut most of the times, students are forming neighbourhood groups where those who can afford have hired tutors and those who can’t are helping each other.

Once schools reopened, the discussions in classrooms went beyond topics of the solar system or equations of mathematics. Children were seen huddled, discussing turbulent environment around them, either with a sense of fear or rage, said Nayeema, a teacher based in Pulwama.

“What else do you expect? Students here can’t afford to be innocent. They are deeply political as they the worst-hit. There is no way they can concentrate on academics. The Valley is deep into conflict and the first thing that happens whenever the situation snowballs is a crackdown on schools and colleges,” said Nayeema.

A feeling of being discriminated, Nayeema said, rules the minds of students.

“Forces march inside school and college campuses at their will. Will a normal student be fine with that?” asked Mir, a budding writer and Class 12 student based in Baramulla. Mir recounts the day he was sitting on the window sill of his classroom, along with a friend, when a tear-gas shell was allegedly thrown into the school playground. “We were evacuated by teachers. Many students fell unconscious due to breathlessness,” she added.

“I have lost friends. It’s not like we have seen total peace, but earlier we at least has schools to divert our attention,” said Mir.

Learning Without Schools

Bashir and Mir are among students who are struggling not to lose their grasp on academics. As their schools remain shut most of the times, students are forming neighbourhood groups where those who can afford have hired tutors and those who can’t are helping each other.

“We all try and sit together to study. There are few seniors around my home. So, I take my books and see if they can help. Rest of it is self-study,” said Bashir. His parents said even on days when schools are open, they are scared of sending their son to school.

Nayeema said internet came as a boon for students in the Valley as those who missed school could catch up through online tutorials. But that too remains shut most of the times.

Uncertain Future

Educationists fear that if schools and colleges continue to remain shut, an army of uneducated and unemployable youths will be created, further pushing Kashmir into violence and protests. Angry and directionless youths might also make for easy target of terrorist groups.

“The youth in the Valley is staring at a bleak future. There are no two ways about it. Schools and colleges are shut for most of the times. There are bans on the internet. On top of it all, even if there were community study circles, parents are scared to let their children step out of the houses,” said Mushtaq Ul Haq Sikander, a writer and researcher.

Security forces in and around campuses has become a common sight in the Valley. So is the sight of boys and girls, in their school uniforms, attacking forces with stones.

Vijay Dhar, founder of Delhi Public School, Srinagar, highlighted how the school functioned in the face of constant curbs and shutdowns. “We kept our schools open on Sundays. We conducted pre-board exams in the indoor stadium. Results of the students have been stupendous. So, it’s clearly not like the students don’t want to study. If given a chance, they want to excel,” he said.

Additionally, the school had, during the period of curbs on internet, sent out video lessons on various gadgets to the homes of its students. While Dhar could pull it off successfully, scores of other students who had no access to such lessons at home suffered.

A Fight for Rights

Security forces in and around campuses has become a common sight in the Valley. So is the sight of boys and girls, in their school uniforms, attacking forces with stones. The idea of being looked at with suspicious eyes is a trigger in itself.

“What good will the forces and the administration get by shutting our schools, and then looking at us with suspicious eyes and doing physical search whenever they feel like?” asked Mir.

But, what about those who are found indulging in stone pelting incidents? “They have no option,” said Mir. “We are finding ways to channelise our anger and the environment around us making it worse,” he added.

Dhar said, “Many of them are angry at the sight of forces all around them. But there are also many more youngsters who are furious because they don’t know a thing about their future. Their education is suffering and there are no concrete jobs. Their mindset is that of looking after themselves, and not caring about anyone else.”

“The youths need to be educated. They need to be empowered. The way things are going, Kashmir will have a big percentage of semi-literate generation,” said Mushtaq.

6 Policemen Killed In Terror Attack In Kashmir’s Anantnag

 

6 Policemen Killed In Terror Attack In Kashmir’s Anantnag

Breaking News: 6 Policemen Killed In Terror Attack In Kashmir's Anantnag

Six policemen died as terrorists attacked a police contingent in Kashmir’s Anantnag. Among the policemen was a Station House Officer.

Yesterday, a policeman, identified as Shabir Ahmad Dar, was shot near his house in Boguld village. He was taken to the district hospital, where he died, a police officer said.

This is a breaking news story. Details will be added soon. Please refresh the page for latest version.

Follow @NDTV on Twitter for breaking news and more.

Army Grooms Jammu and Kashmir Kids For IIT, General Rawat Has Message

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NDTV)

As Army Grooms Jammu and Kashmir Kids For IIT, General Rawat Has Message

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As Army Grooms Jammu and Kashmir Kids For IIT, General Rawat Has Message

General Bipin Rawat met Jammu and Kashmir students coached by the Army under its ‘Super 40’ initiative.

NEW DELHI:  For young men and women picking up stones in Kashmir, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has a message: Pick up books, not stones.  And he has some inspiring stories to share – that of 35 children from Jammu and Kashmir who prepped for engineering schools under the army’s ‘Super 40’ initiative.
Nine of them have made it to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology this year. The rest have qualified for other engineering schools across India. On Tuesday, the Army Chief came face-to-face with the 35-odd students, a sharp contrast to the ones that the army usually deals with in Jammu and Kashmir.This group had quietly enrolled for coaching under the army’s initiative to give children from the state a better chance to join the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) when their friends were out on the streets..

General Rawat hoped there were more like them in Kashmir.

“They (the youth) should either have a laptop or a book. Whatever time they get they should devote to studies,” General Rawat told the young students according to Press Trust of India, his remarks aimed at the youth back home who have been turning up on the streets in Kashmir, often with stones in their hand, to target security forces.

In recent weeks, the Army Chief has come out strongly in support of army officers using innovative measures to fight what he had called was a proxy war, a “dirty war”.

At one point, he had suggested in an interview that it would have been much simpler if it had people firing weapons at them, instead of flinging stones. “Then I would have been happy. Then I could do what I (want to do),” he told Press Trust of India last month in an interview that echoed the predicament of the army officers in dealing with youngsters.

On Tuesday, General Rawat also told the young students born well after militancy peaked in the 1990s that he had served in the state in 1981-82 when the “situation was good”. The situation started deteriorating during his second posting between 1991 and 1993, the Army Chief said, noting that he also had stints in J-K from 2006-2008 and then from 2010-12.

“Generations have been destroyed due to this. The fear that has set in the mind of people of Kashmir and the youth… (that) a militant or the security forces will come… So you have militants on one side and security forces on the other. How long will we stay in this atmosphere? We have to put an end to it. We wish that peace is restored there and we carry out our daily work without any problem,” Gen Rawat told the students who had broken all previous records this year.

An army statement said a record 26 boys and two girls from the state had cracked the IIT-JEE Mains Exam 2017 including nine cleared the IIT Advanced Exam. This was the first batch in which five girls from Kashmir valley were coached. A PTI report said the ‘Super 40’ students who did not clear the IIT-JEE Mains exam had made it through the state’s entrance test for engineering.

CPEC route through Kashmir could create tension with India: UN report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

CPEC route through Kashmir could create tension with India: UN report

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s route through Kashmir could fuel geo-political tension with India and more political instability, a UN panel has warned in a report.

WORLD Updated: May 25, 2017 00:29 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

China has said the CPEC is an economic initiative that is “not relevant to disputes over territorial sovereignty”.(Reuters File)

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s route through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir could create tensions with India and lead to “further political instability” in the region, a UN body has warned in a new report.The report on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, released on Tuesday by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (ESCAP), the UN’s regional development arm, said President Xi Jinping’s ambitious project has the potential to position the region as an epicentre for growth and trade.

However, the report prepared at the request of the Chinese government flagged concerns about social and environmental safeguards and the route of the CPEC passing through Kashmir.

“The dispute over Kashmir is also of concern, since the crossing of the (CPEC) in the region might create geo-political tension with India and ignite further political instability,” the 94-page report said.

India has repeatedly voiced its objections to the route of the CPEC passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). New Delhi did not send a representative to the Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing last week because of these concerns.

Read more

China has said the CPEC is an economic initiative that is “not relevant to disputes over territorial sovereignty”. Beijing has also said the project does not affect its position on the Kashmir issue, which should be addressed through negotiations between India and Pakistan.

The ESCAP report also referred to the political instability in Afghanistan and said this could “limit the potential benefits of transit corridors to population centres near Kabul or Kandahar, as those routes traverse southern and eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban are most active”.

It was more critical about the implications of the CPEC for Balochistan, Pakistan’s resource-rich province that has been troubled by a long-running insurgency. It referred to the impact of migrants on the ethnic Baloch, who have been demanding a greater say in the use of the province’s abundant natural resources, including gas and minerals.

The CPEC, the report said, “could lead to widespread displacement of local communities”.

“In Balochistan, there are concerns that migrants from other regions of Pakistan will render ethnic Baloch a minority in the province…In addition, Hazaras are another minority of concern. If the benefits of the proposed (CPEC) are reaped by large conglomerates, linked to Chinese or purely Punjabi interests, the identity and culture of the local population could be further marginalized,” the report said.

Read more

There were also concerns that the CPEC would pass through an “already narrow strip of cultivable land” in mountainous western Pakistan, “destroying farmland and orchards”.

“The resulting resettlements would reduce local population into an ‘economically subservient minority’. Marginalisation of local population groups could re-ignite separatist movements and toughen military response from the Government,” the report said.

ESCAP’s executive secretary Shamshad Akhtar, a former chief of the State Bank of Pakistan, was silent on the concerns related to Kashmir in her foreword to the report but said the “success of an initiative of this scale and ambition will depend on intelligent implementation built on strong analysis”.

“For it to be inclusive, the BRI should be informed by broad consultation of affected communities, including on health, employment and land rights issues,” she wrote.

China Denies Shift In Stand On Kashmir Issue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KASHMIR TIMES AND THE TIMES OF INDIA)

China denies shift in stand on Kashmir issue

PTI | May 3, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kashmir is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said
  • The CPEC project has not changed China’s stand on this issue
  • China sincerely wants this dispute to be resolved, he said

BEIJING: China on Wednesday denied that it has plans of mediating between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue due to its investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, saying the $50 billion-project has not affected its stand that the vexed issue should be settled bilaterally.

China’s clarification came a day after an article in the Global Times said that Beijing now has a “vested interest” in mediating between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue because of its hefty investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through PoK.

“China’s position on the issue of Kashmir is clear and consistent. It is an issue left over from history between India and Pakistan, and shall be properly addressed by India and Pakistan through consultation and negotiation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told PTI here.

He also said that China will play a “constructive role” for the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan.

“The building of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) does not affect China’s position on this issue,” he said in a written response to a question about the article in the state-run Global Times, a ruling Communist Party of China publication.

“We sincerely hope that India and Pakistan will properly handle differences by increasing communication and dialogue, and jointly uphold regional peace and stability. China is willing to make constructive efforts for the improvement of India-Pakistan relations,” Geng said.

The article yesterday sparked concerns about a shift in China’s stand on the Kashmir issue as India is averse to any third-party mediation.

The article had also sought to justify Chinese intervention in bilateral disputes on the grounds of protecting heavy investments being made by Beijing under its Silk Road initiative, which is officially called the ‘One Belt and One Road’ project.

The article had said China cannot turn a “deaf ear” to protect heavy investments by its firms in the CPEC and the Silk Road projects by continuing with its policy of non- interference.

Top Comment

I don’t see why we should be hostile? INDIA is maintaining what China is saying. “Solve Bilaterally” And that’s what India wants. China is just offering to Mediate but India can refuse. Ind… Read MoreAamir Fawaz

“Given the massive investment that China has made in countries along the One Belt, One Road, China now has a vested interest in helping resolve regional conflicts including the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan,” it had said.

This was perhaps the first time that the Chinese official media floated Beijing’s interest in playing a mediator role to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Sukma attack: CRPF Jawans were having lunch when Maoists ambushed them

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF INDIA/KASHMIR)

Sukma attack: CRPF jawans were having lunch when Maoists ambushed them

PTI | Updated: Apr 25, 2017, 06.26 PM

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Maoists squad “very discreetly with the aid of locals” kept tracking the movement of the troops
  • When one party of 36, out of the total three, sat down for lunch, the Naxalites, possessing sophisticated weapons, took them by surprise and rained heavy gun fire

PTI photoPTI photo

NEW DELHI: The 25 CRPF jawans who were killed+ in a deadly Naxalite ambush in Chhattisgarh+ ‘s Sukma, were having lunch when a hail of bullets and grenades hit them fatally.

A party of about 36 troops, out of the total 99, came under the first assault after they had ventured out from Burkapal on Monday to sanitise and provide protection to a 5.5-km long road construction work connecting Chitagufa in the said district, officials said.

The Maoists squad “very discreetly with the aid of locals” kept tracking the movement of the troops when one party of 36, out of the total three, sat down for lunch, the Maoists, possessing sophisticated weapons, took them by surprise and rained heavy gun fire, they said.

A huge assortment of 22 smart arms, including 13 AK series assault rifles and 5 INSAS rifles, 3,420 live rounds of various rifles, 75 magazines of AK rifles, 31 of INSAS, 67 live UBGL rounds, 22 bullet proof jackets, two binoculars, five wireless sets and a deep search metal detector were also looted by Naxalites, they said.

While a top CRPF officer said the killed troops had “finished their lunch” and may be were not in an absolute alert mode for the next few minutes, other officials said “some of them were having their lunch” when the attack was launched around 12.30pm.

While the slain 25 men and about six others who were injured, tried to gather their weapons or take aim at the marauding Naxalites, the others on the guard duty mounted an effective retaliation and saved about 40 civilians and construction workers who were present in the vicinity of the area during the deadly assault+that lasted over an hour.

What has surprised multiple security officials whom PTI talked to, is the fact that the Maoists are understood to have used few under-barrel grenade launchers (UBGL), a smart and sophisticated weapon used by security forces, to inflict fatal casualties on the troops by lobbing grenades in quick succession.

“It is very likely that these UBGLs were looted from security forces only. That could be as recent as the incident where 12 CRPF men were killed in Sukma on March 11,” a senior officer said.

Sukma Attack: 25 CRPF Jawans martyred

Sukma Attack: 25 CRPF Jawans martyred
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He added that while no Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) was used in the ambush, the favourite weapon for inflicting damage on security forces, what claimed the lives in the biggest Naxalite ambush of the country in the last three years was heavy usage of gun fire and grenades.

Officials said as the troops of the 74th battalion of the CRPF, that came under attack, and few other similar contingents have been going out on the same track for some time and hence there was a possibility that their “presence was being tracked, marked and trailed” by Maoist cadres.

“Our men have told us that the villagers were making movements close to them. Villagers were also taken as shields by Naxalites and that restricted our fire for some time,” the officer said.

At present the troops were securing a culvert that is being constructed on the road and it would have taken about four-five months more to complete this task, the officer said.

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The area where the deadly blood bath took place is considered the stronghold of south Bastar Divisional Committee of the Maoists headed by Maoist commander Raghu and is under the Jagargunda Area Committee led by another Maoist Papa Rao.

Top Comment

Would we not expect that at least half of the group would be on the alert with weapons while the other half had their lunch ? After all these years, don’t the CRPF follow even elementary precautions … Read MoreS Nityananda

Officials said “it is beyond doubt” that the assault would have been led by the the 1st battalion of the Naxalite People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) led by Naxalite commander Hidma who is said to be active in the area at present in view of the Tactical Couter Offencive Campaign (TCOC) undertaken by Maoists during summer months to assert their influence in the area.

A Democratic And Free Jammu And Kashmir, Is It Really Possible, Or Logical?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GREATER KASHMIR’)

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
Srinagar, Publish Date: Apr 28 2017 11:52PM | Updated Date: Apr 28 2017 11:52PM


Kashmir: What Lies Ahead? File Photo

“The only way forward is the establishment of a free and independent state of Jammu & Kashmir with democratic system of government, a federation of 5 provinces, having friendly relations with its immediate neighbours in particular and with entire world in general.” Excerpt from a letter from Aman Sahib to Dr. Fai dated June13, 2013.

I treasure this opportunity to write on the subject of “Kashmir: What Lies Ahead!” at the anniversary of an iconic leader, Amanullah Kahn Sahib who was a symbol of decency, politeness and uprightness. He was a dominant figure in Kashmiri resistance movement for decades. His consistency of the advocacy of freedom, his steadfastness for his cause and his personal sacrifices had earned him the respect of all factions of the Kashmiri resistance movement.

I recall the meeting that I had with Aman Sahib at Luton, England in 1982. I have a most pleasant recollection of it. Even then he was tirelessly working for the cause of Kashmir in the corridors of power in Great Britain. I found him informed, poised, and engaging. In the annals of Kashmiri resistance, Aman Sahib stands tall.

Now, that the Kashmiri movement for self-determination is at a critical juncture. A youth-led, indigenous and spontaneous mass movement is underway. This movement is both internal, within Kashmir, and external throughout the world.  It is mostly non-violent, pluralistic and resilient. This movement reverberates with cries of freedom and believes in a simple truth: a fair and impartial referendum in Kashmir.  Time and time again, Kashmiris have surprised even the most hardened of their detractors. Attempts at delegitimizing the Kashmiri struggle have fallen entirely on deaf ears.  No amount of wishful thinking has successfully persuaded growing international opinion that Kashmir, is not an integral part of any society other than its own.  This belief is unshakeable, consistent and formidable.

The latest re-polling in Srinagar – Budgam Parliamentary constituency that took place on April 13, 2017 has given enough indications by now to the Government of India that any attempts to assemble fake leadership in Kashmir on a collaborationist or capitulationist platform will take it nowhere. These so-called leaders are so thoroughly discredited that they could not even get 2 % of the votes in this re-poll. By persisting in these attempts, Indian leadership betrays not only cynicism but also an uncharacteristic lack of political sense. This latest election is the proof that the resistance in Kashmir has not weakened, and will not weaken, on account of the paucity of its resources. The hunger of the people of Kashmir for the freedom which has been denied to them supplies it an inexhaustible store of strength.

Fresh thinking is needed to cut the Gordian knot in Kashmir, which has been flailed at for more than half a century bilaterally between India and Pakistan without result. I do not mean to suggest, however, that tackling Kashmir will not be difficult.  I do not want to expose myself to Hotspur’s derisive retort to Glendower when the latter boasted he could call spirits from the vastly deeps: Yes, but will they come when you call for them?

We are fully aware that the settlement of the Kashmir dispute cannot be achieved in one move. Like all qualified observers, we visualize successive steps or intermediate solutions in the process. It is one thing, however, to think of a settlement over a relatively extended period of time. It is atrociously different to postpone the beginning of the process on that account.

The people of Kashmir also understand that it cannot move immediately into a plebiscite. They have watched other processes in East Timor, Montenegro, Bosnia, Southern Sudan, Kosovo and recognize that a transitional period is necessary to build the confidence of all parties and to create a conducive atmosphere for stability.

We owe it to our people to take a rational and responsible position. Accordingly, we have confined ourselves to demands only for those actions at the preliminary stage which do not involve any prejudice to the claims of any party to the dispute – India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. However, if India or Pakistan or any other power would like to bring pressure on the people of Kashmir to capitulate, or to agree to any terms which will compromise their freedom, then any so-called peace process is foredoomed. The people of Kashmir wish to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind on that score.

It is known to all that any talks between India and Pakistan on Kashmir will be a charade unless some basic conditions are fulfilled. There must be the end to the campaign of killing of innocent civilians. The representatives of the Kashmiri resistance must be associated with the negotiations. The talks between India and Pakistan must be held at the level of their political leadership.

We do not wish the future dialogue on Kashmir between India and Pakistan to stagnate or be broken off. Nor do we want it to be just make-believe. We remind all concerned that there are equal dangers for peace in the two possibilities. Each of them can be averted only by the mediation of an impartial third party or the United Nations or a person of an international standing, like Kofi Annan or Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Here are my thoughts about a new approach to set a stage for the settlement of the Kashmir problem.

An intra-Kashmir dialogue between the leadership of All Parties Hurriyet Conference, Dogras, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Pandits. This kind of dialogue is not only desirable but also possible because Kashmir is a pluralistic society. It has a long tradition of moderation and non-violence. Its culture does not generate extremism. Can anyone deny the fact – of no small significance – that while the Subcontinent under British rule was the scene of recurrent murderous strife, communal riots were unheard of in Kashmir? That unquestionable fact brings out the real character of Kashmir’s heritage.

Both India and Pakistan should be persuaded to issue relevant travel documents to enable the representatives of the different components of the population of Jammu and Kashmir (The Valley, Ladakh, Jammu, Azad Kashmir and Gilgat-Baltistian) to meet at a place outside South Asia and formulate their proposals for the procedures of a just and lasting settlement. Our concern goes beyond the Kashmiri speaking majority of the State. We are mindful of the interests of the Dogra and the Buddhists communities as well. We demand the establishment of genuinely peaceful conditions in which we can earnestly welcome Kashmiri Pandits back to their homes. Their future as a community lies in Kashmiriyyat with us. They too have suffered, though in a different way, because of then the Governor of Kashmir, Jagmohan’s cruel and shortsighted policies.

India does not want to give up its claim that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan insists that Kashmir is its jugular vein. And the people of Kashmir do not want to compromise on their right to self-determination. That means a deadlock, which has proved catastrophic not only for the people of Kashmir but for both India and Pakistan as well. Only an impartial mediator can help initiate a process of ‘negotiations without pre-conditions’ whereby all sides can sustain the necessary political support in their respective constituencies to participate in the process. Without an intermediary, our differences will forever keep us divided.

The negotiations should leave aside the question of the end result of efforts towards a settlement. This is most wise. We must stress it again and again that the immediate question is not what is the best solution of the problem but how the problem should be put on the road to a comprehensive solution. Since, we are concerned with setting a stage for settlement rather than the shape the settlement will take, we believe it is both untimely and harmful to indulge in, or encourage, controversies about the most desirable solution.  Any attempt to do so amounts to playing into hands of those who would prefer to maintain a status quo that is intolerable to the people of Kashmir and also a continuing threat to peace is South Asia.

The peace in South Asia will not come without sacrifices.  Each party will have to modify her position so that common ground can be found.  It will be impossible to find a solution of the Kashmir problem that respects all the sensitivities of Indian authorities, that values all the sentiments of Pakistan, that keeps intact the unity of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and safeguards the rights and interests of the people of all the different zones of the State.  Yet this does not mean that we cannot find an imaginative solution. A workable solution will demand some compromises and modifications from each of the parties.

The world powers should be persuaded to play a more activist role in regard to Kashmir by strengthening a peace process. This can take the shape of:

 

i). a polygonal dialogue – USA, China, India, Pakistan, and Kashmir; OR

ii). an appropriate use of the newly developed procedures and mechanisms at the United Nations.

 

In neither case would the handling of the dispute be a rehash of the old arid and acrimonious debates at the U.N. The U.N. would supply the catalyst that is needed for a settlement.  There are alternative courses of action which can be spelled out and involved in a sequence of interactive steps over a period of time. None of them would put the peace process in the straitjacket of rigid adherence to old texts. But if a solution of the problem will be a graduated process, consisting of incremental measures, the violence in Kashmir needs to be brought to a quick end in order to set the stage for a solution.

These ideas need refinement, but they build on the ineluctable truth that nothing fruitful is possible in Kashmir without the primary participation and willing consent of the Kashmiri people. Schemes and negotiations that neglect that truth are doomed to failure, as proven by 70 years of grim conflict in Kashmir with no end in sight.

Finally, win-win solutions are further important because they safeguard against prospective bitterness or humiliation that are the fuel of new conflict.  If one party to a solution feels exploited or unfairly treated, then national sentiments to undo the settlement will naturally swell.   We must not belittle, embarrass, or humiliate any party.  Every participant should be treated with dignity and humanity. Charity, not the triumphal, should be the earmark of the negotiating enterprise. Also, we should not sacrifice the good on the altar of the perfect.  Compromises are the staple of conflict resolution.  To achieve some good is worthwhile even though not all good is achieved.


Dr. Fai is the Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness  

 

All-Women Police Battalions In Jammu And Kashmir To Deal With Stone Throwers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF INDIA)

All-women battalion in Jammu and Kashmir to deal with stone pelters

PTI | Updated: Apr 27, 2017, 06.16 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS
  • An all-women India Reserve Battalion will be raised in Jammu and Kashmir
  • The Battalion will primarily deal with incidents like stone pelting
  • The women battalion would also be assigned other law and order duties

Women police officers dealing with protesters during a clash Women police officers dealing with protesters during a clash

NEW DELHI: An all-women India Reserve Battalion will be raised in Jammu and Kashmir to primarily deal with incidents like stone pelting, a home ministry official said on Thursday.

The move comes days after girl students were seen fighting pitched battles with security forces at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar on April 24, the day the educational institutions in the restive valley reopened after a five-day shutdown.

The exclusive contingent will be among the five IRBs the Centre has sanctioned for the state grappling with persistent violence.

The women battalion would also be assigned other law and order duties but its personnel will be primarily deployed for tackling protesters, the official said.

As many as 1,40,000 candidates have applied for 5,000 posts in the five IRBs. The home ministry decided to go for an all-women battalion after discovering that 6,000 applicants were women.

The issue was discussed today at a high-level meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the Rs 80,000 crore development package announced for Jammu and Kashmir by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.

The process of recruitment to the five IRBs has started. Nearly 40 per cent of the applicants are from the Kashmir valley.

The response is very encouraging with nearly 30 applicants against one post, the official said.

The IRBs are being raised with an aim to provide jobs to the local youths. Sixty per cent of vacancies will be filled with candidates from the border districts.

Top Comment

Allow the para military to use real bullets/pellet guns just raising battalions for number sake and risking their lives for t political oppertunism won’t help Bhattacharyya

The cost of raising each battalion is around Rs 61 crore, and 75 per cent of the expenditure will be borne by the Centre. Personnel of India Reserve Battalions (IRBs) are normally deployed in their respective states but they can be sent elsewhere if there is a requirement.

At present, there are 144 India Reserve Battalions in the country. In addition, four IRBs each are being raised in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, 12 in Maoist-hit states, besides the five in Jammu and Kashmir.
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