Monday, January 24, 2011

BJP R-day flags, activists ‘stone-pelters’
Bashaarat MasoodTags : Tricolour at Lal Chowk, BJP, Bharatiya Janata Yuva MorchaPosted: Mon Jan 24 2011, 01:43 hrsSrinagar:

In what could prove an embarrassment for the BJP, the police said that two of its activists arrested on Saturday, ahead of the party’s planned yatra to hoist the Tricolour at Lal Chowk, are known stone-pelters.

“We arrested six BJP activists. Two of them turned out to be listed stone-throwers,” Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, Ashiq Bukhari told The Indian Express.

Denying that the men belonged to the party, the state president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha Shamsher Singh Manhas said: “We are for the integrity of the state. The police are baffled by our programme... now they are inventing these stories. We have no idea about the people arrested by the police. We have been informed only about arrest of three activists.”

Incidentally, BJP state vice-president Sofi Mohammad Yousuf had confirmed the arrest of the six party activists, calling it an attempt to foil the party’s Republic Day programme. “We were making preparations for the welcome of BJP activists visiting Kashmir. When our activists left home, some of them were arrested,” Yousuf told The Indian Express.

Of the six alleged BJP activists, held from Srinagar for “violating” prohibitory orders, were 22-year-old Wasim Hassan and Imtiyaz Ahmad, 24, both residents of downtown Srinagar, a stronghold of separatists.

Sources say that Hassan, a resident of Qamarwari, and Ahmad of Nawab Bazar were involved in stone-throwing during the June uprising and that police are investigating cases against them.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Shiv Murari Sahai confirmed the same.

Rude little patriots

Indrajit Hazra

Kashmir is the last bastion of the BJP. On paper, everything seems kosher. If Srinagar is as much an integral part of India as, say, Itanagar, surely there’s nothing wrong in the Indian tricolour being hoisted by patriotic hokeys at Lal Chowk this Republic Day. Or is there? As always, there is
something the BJP, in its finite wisdom, can learn from my late grandmother, a liberal Hindu who would have been at ease with the party president’s avuncular style. Despite her progeny straying considerably from her cultural mores, they did respect her wish of not consuming alcohol in her presence. She didn’t mind people drinking; she just felt uncomfortable about alcohol being consumed in front of her.

If the BJP was a member of my grandmother’s household, I fear that this is what would have happened: citing the undeniable fact that alcohol consumption isn’t banned in our country and certainly not in the privacy of homes, the party would have plonked their choice of poison and would have knocked back a few in front of my grandma. Essentially, it would have been a rude gesture carried out just to make a larger — correct — point.

The problem isn’t that the Indian national flag is being raised in the Valley on January 26. Plenty of tricolours are raised there that day officially and unofficially without a murmur. But the fact is that it’s the BJP doing it and telling everyone, “Look, look! We’re raising the flag in Kashmir. Top that Mother India-lovers!”

In the world of symbolism that we live in, how something is done matters as much as — if not more than — what that something is. And unlike the expired charms of gung-ho Hindutva, the touchy-feely patriotic buzz gained by raising the national flag is hardly the stuff of any radical ideology. Also, such a gesture is popular, non-exclusionary and in-sync with the ‘Jai ho!’ bonkers crowd that is young India’s version of ‘Inqilab zindabadwallas!’

All self-respecting Kashmir experts pooh-pooh any comparisons between Northern Ireland’s historical relations with London and the Kashmir Valley’s relations with New Delhi. They are right to do so as the two ‘disputes’ are very different in nature, origin and trajectory. But I can’t help but think of the BJP’s Tiranga Yatra bearing a strong resemblance to the ‘Orange march’. The ‘Orange march’ is a commemorative walk undertaken in various parts of Britain and Commonwealth countries to mark the victory of William of Orange, a Protestant, over James II, a Catholic, in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. It’s a harmless show of pride in Protestantism and the fact of Northern Ireland being part of Britain.

But during the ‘Troubles’ of the 1970s, an ‘Orange march’ in Catholic-majority, London-owned Northern Ireland became something more than the equivalent of a mobile satsang event. It took on the flavour of conflicting ‘nationhoods’ — between Northern Ireland and Britain, despite the former being a ‘disputed’ part of the latter according to Irish separatists.

The marches were fine when they usually passed through Protestant-dominated parts of Northern Ireland. But when passing through ‘Catholic’ localities, people — who would have otherwise been sitting at home watching the telly and without much of an opinion on whether London or the Irish Republican Army should be in charge of their town — turned into abusive onlookers. In the late 1990s, in the Catholic-majority locality of Drumcree in the Northern Ireland town of Portadown, riots broke out when the Orange Order was banned from walking down a particular street. The ban in such ‘contentious’ areas is still in place, although tensions have subsided.

It’s too late for our very own Orange Order boys to be dissuaded from marching to Lal Chowk. But a ban on their Boy Scouts sojourn would be exactly the kind of thing that would make an LK Advani out of Nitin Gadkari. It’s bad manners, impolite and the worst kind of short-term politics. But if the BJP wants to carry out their patriotic task that’s the equivalent of glugging a bottle of beer in front of my grandma’s face, we need to ensure (with yet another layer of security) that no one in the Valley takes these merry, patriotic attention-seekers to heart.


A selection from the comments section of the Hindustan Times:

Indrajit, you got it all wrong, Pal! The vast majority of so-called intellectual Bengalis are now-a-days "leftists" and supporters of separatist flock!!! This "intellectual trash" made out of the author's inebriated state is simply a goobledegook. All the morons like MMS, PC and OA and the likes of the article's author are behaving and supporting Pakistan and the J&K separatist goons. It is disgraceful that India's misguided souls are trampling the achievements of hundreds of thousands of patriotic Indians who sacrified their lives to gain freedom and liberty for all Indians. In this context, all the anti-India activities being pusued by newphytes of separatists - both in GOI and outside - are disdainful.

The patriotic people of India are the guardians of tri-colour, and if need be, they should throw out these rascals, even by undertaking the means that have been demonstrated by the people of tiny Tunisia.

Jai Hind.

Height of Stupidity ... Piece of Waste ... till the time u r alive Pakis dont need Kasabs nd all... thnx for being a traitor...

Everyone knows their affiliations and they don't hide it. It's time you took Samjhauta express to your land of dreams!

How and why I became a stonepelter

Note from Kafila:

Given below is a note written by a Kashmiri student from downtown Srinagar who calls himself ‘Kale Kharab’, meaning ‘hot headed’. Taken from his blog, the note reads like a personal manifesto, a statement of purpose, a testimony more telling than what the most patient interviewer can elicit. This note gives you more insight into what is happening in Kashmir than a lot of what you may have read or seen on TV news about the killing of 115 protestors across Kashmir in 2010 by Indian forces. This testimony, written early on during the uprising, on 30 August 2010, shows how irredeemably India has lost the plot in Kashmir all over again, with a new generation of Kashmiris.


I am from downtown srinagar born in 1991. I was admitted to one of the best school of valley. As a child I had dream to became engineer. Whenever somebody used to ask me about my aim I would proudly say engineer. As I started to grow up I started to became familar with many words which everyone used to talk about that among them few were “azadi” (freedom), “hartal” (shutdown) but I was unable to understand the meaning of these words. I loved the word hartal as it was holiday, so I always wished for hartal. As I grew up I came to know about mujahids. I used to listen stories of mujahids. I would oftenly ask my elders to tell me about mujahids. They told me stories of many mujahids like Issac, Ishfaq, Jan Malik which I liked to share with my friends. 

Even I was named after a shaheed mujahid (martyr fighter) who was killed before few weeks I was born. Then came 2007. Once I had to visit Nowahatta. It was month of Muharram. There was heavy stone pelting going on. I found it very intresting. I saw youth pelting stones and shouting freedom slogans. Initially I was afraid to go in front and pelt stones on Police and CRPF.

I used to think they are some angels fighting on the front. Days passed. Now I too had gathered guts to pelt stones on the frontline. It was now 2008 I was busy with my exams. I heard about Amarnath Land Row. Things started changing very fast I had never seen kind of hartals (shutdowns) before. I had never seen kind of stone pelting before. It was totally new expirience to me.

Now tear gas shell wasnt shot anymore, now bullets were fired directly. I saw many boys hit by a bullet and dying on spot. I was disturbed by this. I asked my grandfather once why they directly shoot on us. His answer was “cze chuk mangaan azadi” (u are asking for freedom). This answer changed my mind. I started realizing neither we are part of India nor India considers us their part.

Now I started reading history about our freedom struggle. I came to know about many things about the Kashmir struggle. Now I started reading newspaper, magazines very keenly. I started observing everything about the poltical system. I wept when I read about Gawkadal, Zukura, Hawal, Bijbihara, Sopore, Kupwara massacares. I too wanted to became mujahid.

i once joked with my mother that i will become mujahid, her answer was painfull, first give me poision then you will become mujahid.

Came 2009 I again started to remain busy with my studies but whenever there was stone pelting in Nowahatta I used go there and pelt stones. stone pelting for me now, has become a reactionto the attrocities and d illegal occupationof india. i do it for a cause.

I was once caught by police and was put in custody I was also beaten but that also couldn’t break me. When I was released I again started pelting stones. A policemen in custody told me why you pelt stones, do you think you will get freedom by pelting stones. If it is the case I am also ready to pelt stones, he said.
but still it is the only thing which makes me feel that gun or bullet cannot supress my thoughts
my sentiments and to live in occupied i want to be free…..

I am happy when I pelt stones because I want to take revenge for every innocent killing. I know my stone wont harm them but remember it is not stone it is my feelings. I pelt stones because we are oppressed.

It was june 2009 shopian rape and case occured. it was unbearable to hear rape and murder case of a girl and her sister in law. Tears rolled from my eyes when i read story of asiya in newspaper. once again hartals, stonepelting emerged with more boys felling to bullets to a response for protesting for justice from brutual indian militiary.

I watched a press confrence of omar abdullah on news channel promising to bring culprits in front of people and punish them in 24 hors. Honestly i was happy with his promise i saw a hope in him in bringing justice to the duo.

But nothing happened instead of justice their relatives were beaten. This made me more agressive i wanted to take revenge, i wanted to punish murderers. More ever i considered cm for all this because his behivour made me much agressive much angry against india and their brutuallity here.
After one month of continous hartals(strikes) life was back to track. Again we started to remain busy with our studies.

But i always used to think why didnt the duo got justice i once had seen news of a 14 year old girl from delhi who was killed by unknown person in her bedroom. But Police wasnt able to solve the case. It was then handed over to CBI who arrested the culprits in few weeks.

But in case of kashmiri CBI solved the case differntly they didnt arrested the culprits but made a funny story of the victims that they died due to drowning in stream whose depth was hardly upto knees. This clearly showed policy of india in kashmir.

But whom could i ask these questions why didnt they get justice? why they shoot us if we protest for seeking justice? these questions always were in my mind. By pelting stones i dint got answer but i was happy i felt i am taking revenge by pelting stones but wat else i could do who was their to listen me. I felt stasfication by pelting stones by pelting stones i wanted to say them give us justice leave our kashmir let us leave in peace let us live in place where no mother has fear that her son may return dead. these are not stones these are my feelings.

Came 2010 it was january once i saw wamiq farooq Wamiq was neigbour of one of my relatives residing at rainawari area of srinagar. wamiq was very good boy he used to offer my times prayers. He used to call me baya(brother).

After few weeks on one friday evening i heard that a boy has been martyred after hitting by tear gas shell but i didnt know unfortunately it was wamiq the same guy whom i had seen before a day. when i woke up next morning i saw a picture of boy whose identity was yet to be revealed in newspaper. After few minutes i got call from my cousin that wamiq has been martyred. for few minutes i was totally freezed i wasnt able to speak. a boy hardly 13 was no more. You can understand how it feels when you hear death of person whom you know.

Wamiq was like my lilttle brother i had never thought a innocent young boy will fell prey to their brutuallity. Once again hartals(strikes), and stonepelting emerged with more boys getting injuried and martyred. Indian occipatinal forces were responding with more brutuallity i agree with thier brutiuality because they are occupatinal forces their cruelity and brutuality is not a surprise to us but i was surprised by the role of jammu and kashmir police our local police they are playing absurd role. One fails to understand the cause of their cruelity and brutulity, Is it they want to show more loyality to india or they are killing their brothers for money. what ever the reason is but the way they behave with their own countrymen is painful. Maybe they have became blind because of power goverment has given to them.

Wamiq’s death gave brith to a powerfull revolution. The revolution which shaked the existance of indian rule in kashmir. Now india started to show their milittary power to unarmed civillians. The way they deal with protests is answer to those people who call india integral part of kashmir.

India has started to engage its every front to curb this revolution from politically to techinically even media is being used to curb this revolution.

Streets of kashmir have become red with the blood of innocent people. Jehlem has become red with blood of innocent people.

I know one day may be i will also fell to their bullets even i am mentally prepared for that because i have attained extreme limit of stone pelting. But remember my death will give brith to hundreds of kale kharab (hotheads). As i became kale kharab (hothead) after death of innocent boys from last three years. 65 death have alredy given brith to hundreds of kale kharab (hot head) who are ready to fight till their last breath. These kale kharab (hothead) are present at every corner of kashmir. What ever will the future of present intifada but the struggle to free kashmir will continue even if takes 100 more years. Next generation will produce more dangerous kale kharabs (hot heads) to free kashmir.

Kale Kharab arrested (from comments section of Kafila):

Student held for radical talk on facebook (Daily Rising Kashmir reports)

Srinagar, Jan 17: A 12th class student was taken into custody for allegedly espousing the separatist cause on a social networking site, Facebook.
Official sources said Irfan Ahmad Bhat was picked up for questioning by special investigation team of police from Ganderpora locality of downtown Srinagar on weekend,” official sources said today.

Hailing from Nageen locality, the youth was being questioned by the police’s cyber cell for his alleged role in establishing an “anti-national” group and espousing separatists cause on Facebook social networking site.
“Bhat is being interrogated for his role in establishing a group on Facebook by the name of ‘’Kalekharab’,” a senior police officer said.
Kalekharab, which means ‘hot headed’, is one among the hundreds of pages which have sprouted on Facebook and vow support for independence of Kashmir.
Earlier, also police arrested scores of youth for supporting stone pelters on the facebook.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kashmir: A Time for Freedom


“Freedom” represents many things across rural and urban spaces in India-ruled Kashmir. These divergent meanings are steadfastly united in that freedom always signifies an end to India’s authoritarian governance.

In the administration of brutality, India, the postcolony, has proven itself coequal to its former colonial masters. Kashmir is not about “Kashmir.” Governing Kashmir is about India’s coming of age as a power, its ability to disburse violence, to manipulate and dominate. Kashmir is about nostalgia, about resources, and buffer zones. The possession of Kashmir by India renders an imaginary past real, emblematic of India’s triumphant unification as a nation-state. Controlling Kashmir requires that Kashmiri demands for justice be depicted as threatening to India’s integrity. India’s contrived enemy in Kashmir is a plausible one – the Muslim “Other,” India’s historically manufactured nemesis.

What is at Stake?

Between June 11 and September 22 of 2010, Kashmir witnessed the execution of 109 youth, men, and women by India’s police, paramilitary, and military. Indian forces opened fire on crowds, tortured children, detained elders without explanation, and coerced false confessions. Since June 7, there have been 73 days of curfew and 75 days of strikes and agitation. On September 11, the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, the violence continued. The paramilitary and police verbally abused and physically attacked civil society dissenters. Summer 2010 was not unprecedented. Kashmir has been subjected to much, much worse.

The use of public and summary execution for civic torture has been held necessary to Kashmir’s subjugation by the Indian state. Militarization has asserted vigilante jurisdiction over space and politics. The violence is staged, ritualistic, and performative, used to re-assert India’s power over Kashmir’s body. The fabrications of the military — fake encounters, escalating perceptions of cross-border threat — function as the truth-making apparatus of the nation. We are witness to the paradox of history, as calibrated punishment — the lynching of the Muslim body, the object of criminality — enforces submission of a stateless nation (Kashmir) to the once-subaltern postcolony (India).

Kashmir is about the spectacle. The Indian state’s violence functions as an intervention, to discipline and punish, to provoke and dominate. The summer of 2010 evidenced India’s manoeuvring against Kashmir’s determination to decide its future. The use of violence by the Indian forces was deliberate, their tactics cruel and precise, amidst the groundswell of public dissent. This was the third summer, since 2008, of indefatigable civil society uprisings for “Azaadi” (freedom).

What is the Indian state hoping to achieve? One, that Kashmiris would submit to India’s domination, forsaking their claim to separation from India (to be an independent state or, for some, to be assimilated with Pakistan), or their demand for full autonomy. Or, that provoked, grief-stricken, and weary, Kashmiris would take up arms once again, giving India the opportunity to fortify its propaganda that Kashmiri civil society dissent against Indian rule is nurtured and endorsed today by external forces and groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan. If the latter transpires, India will manipulate this to neutralize Kashmiri demands for de-militarization and conflict resolution, to extend its annexation of Kashmir, and further normalize civic and legal states of exception.

If India succeeds in both provoking local armed struggle and linking Kashmiri resistance to foreign terror, it will acquire international sanction to continue its government of Kashmir on grounds of “national security,” and “have proof” that Kashmiris are not organically debating India’s government of them, but are pressurized into it by external forces. India can then reinforce its armed forces in Kashmir, presently 671,000 strong, to prolong the killing spree.

Such provocation as policy is a mistake. Such legitimation of military rule will produce intractable conflict and violence. All indications are that Kashmiri civil society dissent will not abate. It is not externally motivated, but historically compelled.

Dominant nation-states overlook that freedom struggles are not adherent to the moralities of violence versus nonviolence, but reflect a desire to be free. Dominant nation-states forget that the greater the oppression, the more fervent is resistance. The greater the violence, the more likely is the provocation to counter-violence.

Whether dissent in Kashmir turns into organized armed struggle or continues as mass-based peaceful resistance is dependent upon India’s political decisions. If India’s subjugation persists, it is conceivable that the movement for nonviolent dissent, mobilized since 2004, will erode. Signs indicate that it is already slightly threadbare. It is conceivable that India’s brutality will induce Kashmiri youth to close the distance between stones and petrol bombs, or more. If India fails to act, if Pakistan acts only in its self-interest, and if the international community does not insist on an equitable resolution to the Kashmir dispute, it is conceivable, that, forsaken by the world, Kashmiris will be compelled to take up arms again.

Misogynist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, al-Qaeda, or the Taliban are mercenaries looking for takers in Kashmir. By the Indian state’s record, there are between 500-700 militants in the Kashmir Valley today. These groups have not been successful because Kashmiris have been disinterested in alliances with them, and not because the Indian army is successful in controlling them. This time, an armed mobilization by Kashmiris would include an even stronger mass movement than that which occurred between 1990 and 2004/2007, led by youth whose lives have been shaped by the two-decade long violence of militarization.

Who wants that? Can the South Asian Subcontinent, already nuclearized, survive that? India is accountable to keep this from happening. Not through the use of unmitigated force, but through listening to the demands for change made by Kashmiris.

Will to Power

This summer, India’s violence on Kashmir was threaded through with strategic calculation. The police, military, and paramilitary have, without provocation, brutalized widespread peaceable protests across Kashmir that were dissenting the suppression of civil society by Indian forces. Hostile Indian forces acted with the knowledge and sanction of the Government of India and the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. The repeated repression by state forces provoked civilians, whose political means of expression and demands have been systematically denied, to engage in stone pelting. The conditions of militarization prompted them to be in non-compliance with declared, undeclared, and unremitting curfews. In instances, civilians engaged in acts of violence, including arson.

Each instance of civilian violence was provoked by the unmitigated and first use of force on civilians and/or extrajudicial killings on the part of Indian forces. Peaceable civilian protests by women and men dissented the actions of Indian forces. Individuals, caught in the midst of the unrest, or mourning the death of a civilian, were fired upon by Indian forces, leading to other killings by Indian forces, more civilian protests, greater use of force by the police and paramilitary, use of torture in certain instances by Indian forces, more killings by Indian forces, larger, even violent, civilian protests, and further state repression.

In Summer 2010, dominant discourse focused on the use of stone pelting and on the instances of violence by youth in Kashmir as the reason for armed action on the part of the state. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh focused on the need for efficient tactics in “crowd control.” India’s elite intelligentsia, inculcated into “rational” conduct, and no longer outraged by suffering, assessed the costs and benefits of militaristic violence.

Civil society demonstrations in Kashmir are not a law and order problem, as they have been reported. Stone pelting, and incidents of arson and violence, are not causal to the violence that is routine in Kashmir today. Stone pelting does not seek to kill, and has not resulted in death. Pro-freedom leaders (termed “separatists” by the Indian state) have emphasized nonviolent civil disobedience, and have appealed to civil society to not engage in violent protests in reaction to the violence and killings by Indian forces.

Indian potentates disregard that suppression acts to catalyze the resistance movement in Kashmir. The Government of India continues to monitor the resistance movement, shifting the boundaries of acceptable practise of civil liberties. Kashmiris are allowed to protest in New Delhi, while in Kashmir sloganeering (“Go, India, Go Back,” “Indian Dogs Go Home,” “Quit Kashmir,”) is met with force. When Masarat Alam Bhat, a rising pro-freedom leader, issued an appeal to Indian soldiers in July to “Quit Kashmir,” Indian authorities banned its circulation.

Acts of violence by protesting civilians increased as military violence continued into September. On September 13, crowds in Kashmir torched a Christian missionary school and some government offices while protesting the call to desecrate the Qur’an by Florida Pastor Terry Jones. On September 13, 18 civilians were killed by the Indian forces in Kashmir (a police officer also died). Provocation is easy in a context of sustained brutality. Provoking Kashmiri dissenters to violence serves to confirm the dominant story of Muslims as “violent.” Yet again, several pro-freedom leaders condemned the attack on the Christian school and renewed their call for nonviolent dissent.

On September 13, the Government of India stated its willingness to engage with Kashmiri groups that reject violence. New Delhi did not apply the same precondition to itself. Nor did it acknowledge that pro-freedom groups have repeatedly opposed the use of violence in recent years.

The Kashmiri Muslim is caricatured as violent by India’s dominant political and media apparatus. There is a refusal to recognize the inequitable historical-political power relations at play between Muslim-prevalent Kashmir’s governance by Hindu-dominant India. The racialization of the Muslim, as “Other” and barbaric, reveals the xenophobia of the Indian state. Distinctions in method and power, between stone pelter and armed soldier, between “terrorist” and “freedom fighter,” are inconvenient.

The Indian state’s discourse is animated by the prejudice that Kashmiri inclinations to violence are subsidized by Pakistan. Such misconceptions ignore that while Kashmiris did travel to Pakistan to seek arms training, such activity was largely confined to the early days of the armed militancy, circa late 1980s through the mid-1990s. Pathologies of “violent Muslims” legitimate the discursive and physical violence of the Indian “security” forces, which is presented as necessary protection for the maintenance of the Hindu majoritarian Indian nation.

I have spent considerable time between July 2006 and July 2010 learning about Kashmir, working in Kashmir. In undertaking the work of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir, I have travelled across Kashmir’s cities and countryside, from Srinagar to Kupwara, through Shopian and Islamabad (Anantnag), with Parvez Imroz, Zahir-Ud-Din, and Khurram Parvez. I have witnessed the violence that is perpetrated on Kashmiris by India’s military, paramilitary, and police. I have walked through the graveyards that hold Kashmir’s dead, and have met with grieving families. I have sat with witnesses, young men, who described how Indian forces chased down and executed their friends for participating in civil disobedience. I have met women whose sons were disappeared. I have met with “half-widows.” I have spoken with youth, women and men, who are enraged. I have also spoken with persons who were violated by militants in the 1990s. Peoples’ experiences with the reprehensible atrocities of militancy do not imply the abdication of their desires for self-determination. The Indian state deliberately conflates militancy with the people’s mass movement for liberation.

I have met with torture survivors, non-militants and former militants, who testified to the sadism of the forces. Men who had petrol injected through the anus. Water-boarding, mutilation, being paraded naked, rape of women, children, and men, starvation, humiliation, and psychological torture. An eagle tattoo on the arm of a man was reportedly identified by an army officer as a symbol of Pakistan-held Azad Kashmir, even as the man clarified the tattoo was from his childhood. The skin containing it was burned. The officer said, the man recalled: “When you look at this, think of Azaadi.” A mother, reportedly asked to watch her daughter’s rape by army personnel, pleaded for her release. They refused. She then pleaded that she could not watch, asking to be sent out of the room or be killed. The soldier pointed a gun to her forehead, stating he would grant her wish, and shot her dead before they proceeded to rape the daughter.

Who are the forces? Disenfranchised caste and other groups, Assamese, Nagas, Sikhs, Dalits (erstwhile “untouchable” peoples), and Muslims from Kashmir, are being used to combat Kashmiris. Why did 34 soldiers commit suicide in Kashmir in 2008, and 52 fratricidal killings take place between January 21, 2004 and July 14, 2009? Why did 16 soldiers commit suicide and 2 die in fratricidal killings between January and early August in 2010?

Laws authorize soldiers to question, raid houses, detain and arrest without chargesheets, and prolong incarceration without due process. They blur distinctions between military/paramilitary, “legality”/“illegality.” Citing “national security,” Indian forces in Kashmir shoot and kill on uncorroborated suspicion, with impunity from prosecution. Yet, revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, for example, will not stop the horror in Kashmir. India’s laws are not the primary contention. India’s political and military existence in Kashmir is the issue. Legal impunity is the cover for the moral impunity of Indian rule.

Is the military willing to withdraw from Kashmir? Since 2002, the Government of India has procured 5 billion US dollars in weaponry from the Israeli state. Authoritarian alliances between once subjugated peoples mark another irony of history. Five billion dollars is a colossal sum for India, where 38 percent of the world’s poor reside. Eight of the poorest states in India are more impoverished than the 26 poorest countries of the African continent. Five billion dollars, in addition to the other monies and resources invested in the militarization of Kashmir, do not evidence an intent to withdraw.

Human rights violations in Kashmir will not stop without removing the military. The military cannot be removed without surgically rupturing India’s will to power over Kashmir.

Inflexible Diplomacy

India needs to make the “Kashmir problem” disappear. India’s diplomacy is directed toward assuming a role as a world power, a world market, and a world negotiator in global politics. India is also seeking a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

What constitutes India’s dialogue with Kashmiris in conditions of extreme subjugation? The Government of India has scheduled a hurried timeframe in propelling Track II diplomacy into success, to secure a proposal for resolution that is acceptable to India and Pakistan, and, ostensibly, to Kashmiris. The terms of reference set by New Delhi exclude discussions of self-determination or heightened autonomy, boundary negotiations, the Siachen glacier and critical water-resources, and renegotiations of the Line of Control.

New Delhi and Islamabad appear to be in collusion. If Pakistan overlooks India’s annexation of Jammu and Kashmir, India would be willing to forget Pakistan’s occupation of another fragment of Kashmir. The Musharraf Formula is no longer acceptable to the Government of Pakistan. Afghanistan is the current priority, not Kashmir. Conversations on the phased withdrawal of troops by India and Pakistan at the border, local self-government, and the creation of a joint supervision mechanism in Jammu and Kashmir, involving India, Pakistan, and Kashmir, are at an impasse.

The Government in New Delhi is looking to neutralize Kashmir’s demand for self-determination or unabridged autonomy, pushing forward a diluted “autonomy,” seeking to assimilate Kashmir with finality into the Indian nation-state. New Delhi is seeking buy-in, which it hopes to push through using the collaborator coterie in Srinagar. Local self-government would be New Delhi’s compromise — a weak autonomy — with a joint supervisory apparatus constituted of India, Pakistan, and Kashmir.

New Delhi hopes that the Kashmiri leadership, including pro-freedom groups, can be restrained, for a price, and weakened through infighting. Certain segments of the pro-freedom leadership have, through history, lacked vision, honesty, and the ability to prioritize collaboration for justice and peace in Kashmir. Certain segments of the religious and political leadership have been unable to collaborate meaningfully with civil society, with observant Muslims and those irreligious, and with non-Muslims. The spiritual commitment to justice in Islamic tradition has receded as religious determinations embrace instrumental political rationality. The determination of what “freedom” is has been deferred since 1931; instead there has been a focus on immediate and small political gains.

This has plagued and rendered ineffectual segments of the complex Hurriyat alliance in the present, which is often unable to capitalize on the exuberant people’s movement on the streets and pathways of Kashmir. Segments of the pro-freedom leadership have focused on New Delhi rather than Kashmir civil society. New Delhi has fixated on enabling this dynamic, using vast resources to create a collaborator class in Srinagar that undermines the will of the Kashmiri people.

While Pakistan’s politicians have pointed to India’s injustices, they have not reciprocally addressed issues in the management of Pakistan-held Kashmir, including the deflation of movements for the unification of Kashmir. The crisis of state in Pakistan, and the role of its ruling elite in vitiating people’s democratic processes, remains a pitfall for regional security.

The logic that Muslim-prevalent Kashmir must stay with secular India or join Muslim-dominated Pakistan is configured by India’s and Pakistan’s internal ideological needs and identitarian politics. Neither is inevitable. Neither speak to the foremost aspiration of Kashmiris.

The Government of India’s “inclusive dialogue” this summer has systematically disregarded Kashmiri civil society demands, thrusting a violent peace brokered by New Delhi’s agents of change. New Delhi has invited various Kashmiri stakeholders from civil society as well. Their articulations, however, have not shifted the agenda, even as bringing people to the table is used to legitimate India’s visage of inclusivity.

What do a majority of Kashmiris want? First, to secure a good faith agreement with New Delhi and Islamabad regarding the right of Kashmiris to determine the course of their future, set a timeframe, and define the interim conditions necessary to proceed. Following which, civil society and political leaders would ensue processes to educate, debate, and consult civil society, including minority groups, in sketching the terms of reference for a resolution, prior to negotiations with India and Pakistan.

Significantly, pro-freedom leader Syeed Ali Geelani’s statement of August 31 sought to shift the terms of engagement, not requiring the precondition of self-determination or the engagement of Pakistan. Unless New Delhi responds, the protests in Kashmir will continue. Geelani’s statement, supported by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, testifies to this. The mood in the streets testifies to this.

New Delhi’s current approach repudiates what Kashmiris want. The omissions made by New Delhi are roadblocks to constituting a minimum agenda for justice and an enduring and relevant peace process.

The Government of India’s “inclusive dialogue” this summer does not recognize Kashmir as an international dispute.

The Government of India’s “inclusive dialogue” this summer does not include: An immediate halt to, and moratorium on, extrajudicial killings by the Indian military, paramilitary, and police; An immediate halt to, and moratorium on, the use of torture, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, and gendered violence by the Indian military, paramilitary, and police; A plan for the release of political prisoners, the return of those exiled, and contending with the issue of displacement; Agreements on an immediate “soft border” policy between Kashmir, India, and Pakistan, to enable the resurgence of Kashmir’s political economy; Agreements to non-interference in the exercise of civil liberties of Kashmiris, including the right to civil disobedience, and freedom of speech, assembly, religion, movement, and travel.

New Delhi has refused to acknowledge the extent of human rights violations, and how they are integral to maintaining dominion. New Delhi has not explained why militarization in Kashmir has been disproportionately used to brutalize Kashmiris, when ostensibly the Indian forces are in Kashmir to secure the border zones.

The Government of India’s “inclusive dialogue” this summer does not include a plan for the proactive demilitarization and the immediate revocation of all authoritarian laws. Nor does it include: A plan for the transparent identification and dismantling of detention and torture centres, including in army camps; A plan for the instatement of a Truth and Justice Commission for political and psychosocial reparation, and reckoning loss; A plan for the international and transparent investigations into unknown and mass graves constitutive of crimes against humanity committed by the Indian military, paramilitary, and police. Such omissions are a travesty of any process promising “resolution.”

Islamphobia and Realpolitik

New Delhi has been the self-appointed arbitrator in determining the justifications of Kashmir’s claims to freedom. Kashmir’s claims are historically unique and bona fide. History — the United Nations Resolutions of 1948, Nehru’s promise of plebiscite (to rethink the temporary accession determined by the Hindu-descent Maharaja, Hari Singh), Article 370 of the Indian Constitution — is jettisoned by an amnesic India. Official nationalism seeks to rewrite history, affixing Kashmir to India, to overwrite memory. Within the battlefields of knowledge/power, official “truth” becomes the contagion sustaining cultures of repression and mass atrocity, creating cultures of grief.

The Indian state is apprehensive that any change in the status quo in Kashmir would foster internal crises of gigantic proportion in India. Across the nation there is considerable discontent, as dreams and difference are mortgaged to the idea of India fabricated by the elite. Adivasis (indigenous peoples), Dalits, disenfranchised caste groups, women, religious, ethnic, and gender minorities are fatigued by the nation’s deferred promises. Forty-four million Adivasis have been displaced since 1947. Central India is torn asunder, and as Maoists are designated as the latest “national threat,” national memory forgets the systematic brutalization of peoples in the tribal belt that led to a call to arms. Then there is the Northeast, Punjab, the massacre of Muslims in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, riots against Christians in Orissa, farmer suicides, the plight of peasants and Adivasis of the Narmada Valley where dams are not the “temples of India,” but its burial grounds. Kashmir cannot remain India’s excuse to avoid dealing with its own internal matters.

Indian civil society decries that Kashmir is not deserving of autonomy or separation, as it, as an assumed Islamist state, would be a threat to India’s democracy. To assume that a Muslim-majority state in Kashmir will be ruled by Islamist extremists in support of global terror reflects majoritarian India’s racism. Dominant Indian (left-oriented) civil society must rethink its characterization of Kashmiri civil society as prevalently “Jamaati.” Jamaat is Arabic for assembly. “Jamaati” is used by Indian civil society to imply Islamist or fundamentalist. The reference can often be translated as Muslim = Jamaati, and Muslim-observant = fundamentalist.

Indians of Hindu descent largely overlook that India’s democracy is infused with Hindu cultural dominance. Indian civil society assumes that Islam and democracy are incompatible, supported by the inflamed Islamphobia in the polities of the West. Importantly, India forgets that in its own history with the British, freedom fighters had noted that the oppressor cannot adjudge when a stateless people are “deserving” of freedom.

Freedom is fundamentally an experiment with risk that Kashmiris must be willing to take. The global community must support them in making such risk ethical. Jammu and Kashmir is a Muslim majority space. The population of India-held Kashmir was recorded at approximately 6,900,000 in 2008, of which Muslims are approximately 95 percent. Kashmir’s future as a democratic, inclusive, and pro-secular space is linked to what happens within India and Pakistan.

Kashmiris that wish to be separate from India and Pakistan must assess the difficult alliances yet to be built between Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh, and between Muslims and Hindu Pandits, Dogra Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, indigenous groups, and others. Then, there is the question of what lies ahead between Indian-held Kashmir and Pakistan-held Kashmir. Minority groups, such as Kashmiri Pandits, must refuse the Indian state’s hyper-nationalist strategy in using the Pandit community to create opposition between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir, as part of a strategy to religionize the issue and govern through communalization.

Where is the international community on the issue of Kashmir? In present history, Palestine, Ireland, Tibet, and Kashmir share correspondence. In Tibet, 1.2 million died (1949-1979), and 320,000 were made refugees. In Ireland, 3,710 have died (1969- 2010). For Israel, the occupation of Palestine has resulted in 10,148 dead (1987-2010), with 4.7 million refugees registered with the United Nations (1987-2008). In Kashmir, 70,000 are dead, over 8,000 have been disappeared, and 250,000 have been displaced (1989-2010).

During British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent visit to India, he was asked to refrain from bringing up the “K” word. United States President Barak Obama’s proposed visit to New Delhi in November is already laden with prohibitions. India’s rule in Kashmir and its larger human rights record are among them. As well, right-wing Hindu advocacy groups have been successful in securing the silence of many on Capitol Hill on the issue of Kashmir. The Kashmiri diaspora has been partly effective in bringing visibility to the issue, even as the community remains ideologically and politically fragmented. International advocates have propagated an “economic” approach to “normalcy.” This avoids the fact that militarization impacts every facet of life, making economic development outside of political change impossible.

The United States and United Kingdom have debated the reasons for their involvement in Kashmir. In 2010, as of September 23, 351 soldiers from the United States have died in Afghanistan, while the United Kingdom sustained 92 fatalities. Of paramount concern for both is bringing their forces home without compromising the principles of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) operations in the region. To accomplish this would require that Pakistan move sizeable forces from the Indo-Kashmir-Pak border to the Af-Pak frontier. This cannot be done without cessation in Indo-Pak hostilities, which cannot be achieved without the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. However, Kashmir’s resolution cannot mean a sanction to Pakistan’s encroachment on Afghanistan, which, given the political situation in the region, remains a highly likely possibility. For the United States and India, the containment of China is another issue, also linked to Kashmir.

Kashmiris in Kashmir are caught amidst world events and regional machinations, and the unresolved histories of the Subcontinent. The Indian state’s military governance penetrates every facet of life. The sounds of war haunt mohallas. The hyper-presence of militarization forms a graphic shroud over Kashmir: Detention and interrogation centres, army cantonments, abandoned buildings, bullet holes, bunkers and watchtowers, detour signs, deserted public squares, armed personnel, counter-insurgents, and vehicular and electronic espionage. Armed control regulates and governs bodies. It has been reported that, since 1990, Kashmir’s economy has incurred a reported loss of more than 1,880,000 million Indian Rupees (40.4 billion US Dollars). The immensity of psychosocial losses is impossible to calculate. The conditions of everyday life are in peril. They elicit suffocating anger and despair, telling a story of the web of violence in which civil society in Kashmir is interned.

For India, constituting a coherent national collective has required multiple wars on difference. National governance determines territory and belonging, disenfranchising subaltern claims. Local struggles for self-determination are brutalized to reproduce obedient national collectives. Systemic acts of oppression chart a history, as relations of power are choreographed by nation-states in the suppression of others. Massacre, gendercide, genocide, occupation, function within a continuum of tactics in negation/annihilation.

India’s relation to Kashmir is not about Kashmir. Kashmir’s aversion to being subsumed by the Indian state is not reducible to history. If violence breaks lives, Kashmir is quite broken. If oppression produces resistance, Kashmir is profusely resilient. From Michel Foucault to Achille Mbembe, and so much in-between, we are reminded of the myriad techniques in governance that seek to subjugate, while naming subjugation as subject formation, as protection, “security,” law and order, and progress.

Realpolitik triumphs against a backdrop of persistent refusal. Through summer heat and winter snow, across interminable stretches of concertina wire, broken windowpanes, walls, barricades, and checkpoints, the dust settles to rise again. The agony of loss. The desecration of life. Kashmir’s spiritual fatalities are staggering. The dead are not forgotten. Remembrance and mourning are habitual practises of dissent. “We are not free. But we know freedom,” KP tells me. “The movement is our freedom. Our dreams are our freedom. The Indian state cannot take that away. Our resistance will live.”

(Dr. Angana Chatterji is Professor, Department of Anthropology, California Institute of Integral Studies. She is Co-convener of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kashmir: cri de coeur

By Seema Kazi (16 July 2010)

8 January: Inayat Khan (16 years) shot dead by CRPF, Srinagar.

22 January: Manzoor Ahmed Sofi (23 years), shot dead by the CRPF, Parahaspora (Pattan).

31 January: Wamiq Farooq (13 years) shot dead by JK police, Srinagar.

31 January: Zahid Farooq (16 years) shot dead by Border Security Force, Srinagar.

13 April: Zubair Ahmad Bhat (17 years) drowned to death by CRPF, Sopore.

11 June: Tufail Ahmad Mattoo (17 years) attacked and killed by JK police, Srinagar.

19 June: Rafique Ahmad Bangroo (24 years) beaten to death by CRPF, Srinagar.

20 June: Javed Ahmed Malla (22 years) shot dead by CRPF, Srinagar.

27 June: Shakeel Ahmad Ganai (17 years) shot dead by CRPF, Sopore.

27 June: Firdous Ahmad Kakroo (16 years) shot dead by CRPF, Sopore.

27 June: Bilal Ahmed Wani (21 years) shot dead by CRPF, Sopore.

28 June: Tauqir Ahmed Rather (9 years) killed by CRPF, Sopore.

28 June: Tajamul Bashir (17 years) shot dead by CRPF, Sopore.

29 June: Ishtiaq Ahmed Khanday (15 years) shot dead by police, Anantnag.

29 June: Imtiaz Ahmed Itoo (17 years) shot dead by police, Anantnag.

29 June: Shujat ul Islam (16 years) shot dead by police, Anantnag.

India’s war in Kashmir has, of late, acquired a particularly deadly edge. During the past six months, a disproportionately large number of teenagers and young men have been shot dead on the streets by the police or CRPF. It is far from clear as to whether all those who died were actually throwing stones. Be that as it may, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his administration have deemed stone-throwing a criminal offence punishable with death or a lifetime in prison. Having ‘legalised’ the repression of dissent, Abdullah, Home Minister Chidambaram, and Home Secretary GK Pillai hold the separatists and ‘anti-national’ forces responsible for the present crisis in Kashmir.

There cannot be a greater folly than to attribute the deep and overflowing reservoir of collective anger and outrage against a twenty-year-old occupation to the Machiavellian powers of a fragmented and fairly discredited separatist conglomerate. In no state, least of all in one that claims to be democratic, can the act of stone-throwing or public protest legitimise a shoot-to-kill policy. As democratic channels for dissent in Kashmir remain blocked, and the institutions meant for the protection of civilians (military and paramilitary) or the enforcement of the rule of law (police) deprive citizens of the right to life, stones, slogans and mass protest are all what the Kashmiris have to oppose and resist a shameful and scandalous state of affairs.

To represent Kashmiri public outrage as a ‘separatist’, ‘anti-national’ conspiracy is an exercise in self-delusion and deceit; it also betrays a profound disrespect for Kashmiri public opinion. Separatist leaders may or may not support stone-pelting but to suggest that all the boys and young men shot dead were part of a grand separatist ploy is, at best, a patently tendentious claim. However unpleasant stone-throwing may be for soldiers or the keepers of law and order, it is, quite simply Kashmiri resistance against a relentless counter-offensive characterised by violence, dispossession and death.

Ever since the eruption of mass rebellion in Kashmir in 1989-90, New Delhi has lacked the moral courage to publicly acknowledge, much less redress Kashmiri grievance. The domestic political consensus on Kashmir has consequently centred on the denial of local Kashmiri grievance and a concerted focus on Kashmir’s external (Pakistan) dimension commonly referred to as ‘cross-border terrorism’. Global, especially Western fears regarding Islamist terror, Pakistan’s own dubious and destructive role in Kashmir, together with the tragedy of 26/11 allowed India to escape local democratic accountability within Kashmir. It has been relatively easy to claim that if at all there is a Kashmir problem, Pakistan and its terror machine are to blame. India’s self-created domestic crisis in Kashmir (that Pakistan subsequently exploited) has been consistently understated or overlooked.

As a result of this political and intellectual dishonesty, the opinion and subjective experience of Kashmiri Muslims is ignored. India could mobilise over 500,000 soldiers to safeguard Kashmir’s territorial frontiers yet betray a cruel and callous disregard for the security, rights or dignity of the people within it. For two long decades, the use of coercive, frequently lethal force, resort to arbitrary detention, custodial death, fake encounters, rape and sexual abuse, extrajudicial killing, torture, and bouts of undeclared curfew has been the standard state response to accumulating Kashmiri grievance. The 2008 assembly elections are India’s answer to awkward questions regarding democracy in Kashmir.

But like any other oppressed people in the world, the Kashmiri Muslims have not been cowed down by force; nor have they ceased protesting India’s democratic deficit in Kashmir. Indeed, it is precisely during these moments that India’s feeble and tenuous claims to democracy and normalcy in Kashmir are forcefully exposed. The stones cast by a young, radicalised generation of Kashmiri boys today symbolise the unequal battle between truth and power in Kashmir. The truth is that the youth who throw stones and the masses of people who march with them raising ‘anti-national’ slogans wish to be rid of Indian hegemony in their contested homeland. They want the security forces withdrawn; those languishing in jails released; the extraordinary powers vested in the military curbed; public accountability for the disappeared; prosecution for those responsible for crimes against citizens; a chance to determine their own political future; a life of freedom and dignity. In short, the truth is that the Kashmiri Muslims vehemently reject their existing relationship with the Indian state.

What is India – the de-facto ‘power’ in Kashmir – doing about this truth? Precious little. Bereft of imagination or morality, the Indian state focuses on the symptom of the malaise: by maligning and thereby de-legitimising Kashmiri public opinion as ‘anti-national, it seeks to legitimise its own authoritarian counter-offensive (curfew, arbitrary detention, a ban on sms and mobile services, restrictions on journalists and the media, restrictions on public mobility, a ban on public gatherings, etc.) that passes for governance and democracy in Kashmir. The possession of superior force and enforced curfew, it is hoped, shall eventually quieten things down. That shall indeed happen, as has happened for the past twenty years: curfew restrictions shall be relaxed, schools shall re-open, people shall go to work, tourists shall throng Dal Lake, and there will be traffic on the roads.

Yet, as ‘power’ well knows, the latent, festering truth of injustice and anger underpinning Kashmir’s deceptive veneer of ‘normality’ can erupt any time with terrifying intensity - with blood on the streets and swarms of stone-throwing and slogan-shouting crowds. As tragic and grievous as the loss of Kashmir’s young men is India’s refusal to concede the truth. Cornered and defensive, lacking the courage and conscience expected of a mature and self-confident democracy, India has no option other than digging in and playing for time. Sadly, neither time nor history is on India’s side. No people have ever surrendered to the untruth of the abuse of power. No state has ever erased a people’s history, memory or quest for justice.

Pushing the Kashmiri to the wall, again

By Shivam Vij

[An edited, shorter version of this article by me appeared last week in The Friday Times,Lahore.]

In the first week of June, I sat at a shopfront with a group of shopkeepers of Kalarus, a small town in Kupwara district in north Kashmir. In 1999, they collected money and bought land for a martyrs’ graveyard, one of many such in Kashmir. Whenever the Indian army killed militants trying to infiltrate from Pakistan to the Indian side of the Line of Control, they would hand over the bodies to the Kupwara police, who would give it to these people to bury after the autopsy.

“Look up at the mountain peak,” said one of them, “It is snow clad all twelve months. It is the LoC, 70 kms from here. Do you think anyone would cross that wearing the traditional Kashmiri Khan dress?” And yet, most of the hundred odd bodies in the graveyard had come wearing clothes unfit for snow. And, most of them had so many bullet marks on the face that they were unidentifiable.

This May, however, three bodies came whose faces were not mutilated, only one of them had a bullet mark on the face. They got mug-shots taken and gave them to Kashmiri Uzma, an Urdu daily. Some distance away in Handwara their families saw the photos and went to the police station. These were their missing sons; they had been taken to the LoC to work as porters for the army. This case is by no means an aberration, just that it came to light so conclusively it could not be denied by the authorities.

The ‘encounter’ had taken place at Machhil on the LoC on April 29, bodies exhumed after protests on May 30. This is only one of many encounters at Machhil in 2010, and many more have taken place elsewhere. India had maintained over the past few years that infiltration and militancy were down to record levels as Pakistan had turned off its support to the militant groups. What has changed in 2010? India and Pakistan are talking peace despite 26/11 being just a year old, and there is no change in the prevailing internal situation in Pakistan. This can’t surely be the time when Pakistan will re-open its support for the Kashmir insurgents?

What has changed is that the decline of militancy gave people the space to breath and reflect, and they refused to accept the Indian version that after the defeat of militancy all was over, and that we were now in a post-conflict situation. For the third consecutive summer now, therefore, the people of Indian-administered Kashmir have been taking to the streets, demanding azadi and pelting stones on soldiers and policemen they see as “occupying forces”. This is taking place despite that fact that Pakistan’s hold on even the separatists is at its lowest ebb and India has managed to win over and/or discredit various factions of the Hurriyat Conference. In such a scenario, there has been increasing pressure on Delhi to, at the very least, demilitarise in response to the decline in militancy.

The Indian Army is not only not in favour of repealing or amending the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that gives it impunity in all its actions in Kashmir and the north-eastern states, but has also on record stated its objections to be called back to the barracks. This supports widespread allegations in Kashmir that Indian forces have vested interests in Kashmir; earning monetary rewards and medals for killing innocent people and passing them off as militants is only one of them.

As Kashmir was protesting the Machhil fake encounter, a young boy, Tufail Ahmed Matoo, 17, was killed in Srinagar by the local police. They fired at him from such a close range that he died with a half-inch hole in his skull. He was returning from tuition, and even though the local police were chasing stone-pelters, the precision with which he was killed cannot be a mistake.

Why was Tufail Ahmed Mattoo killed? It may just be police frustration, but conspiracy theorists in Kashmir say it could be a way of diverting attention from Machhil.

Far from offering regret and ordering enquiries into Mattoo’s killing, the state government pretended as though all was fine. Stone-pelters had to be dealt with and such mistakes would take place. That’s when a vicious cycle of protest-death-protest started. In 18 days 11 civilians died, mostly minor boys, one of them 9 years old.

Kashmir’s summer of discontent has to be seen in the context of the post-militancy situation. As India was claiming victory in Kashmir, the people rose in revolt in 2008. 62 innocent protestors were killed. There were protests all summer in 2009 against a double rape and murder case in Shopian, committed allegedly by either the local police or Indian forces. 32 (check) protestors were killed. In Shopian I met one of the members of the local committee asking for justice. They said they did not want to link this to azadi, they wanted justice under Indian laws. But when justice was denied, everybody said the only solution was azadi.

By this summer India has come down very hard on stone-pelters, arresting and killing countless. Protests have been responded to with bullets, curfew, banning media, even arresting those active on the internet. Delhi has made it clear it is not serious about engaging the separatist leadership, even though it has been pretending to be pen to dialogue since 2003. As a result, angry youth are not even in the control of the Hurriyat leaders.

It is clear that Delhi is not going to make any concessions to the people of Kashmir. The troops that Kashmiris see as a problem are for Delhi the solution. The Kashmiri common man feels frustrated to hear about Indo-Pak talks as though the Kashmiri people don’t matter. Not all of the infiltration encounters this summer have been fake, and there are rumours of more Kashmiris trying to cross the LoC into Pakistan. Delhi is pushing people to pick up the gun again, and perhaps it prefers that to non-violent protests for azadi that attract international attention.

Delhi, it seems, prefers to deal with an insurgency. Crushing non-violent protests makes India seem bad even before its own people, and that’s why the disinformation campaign through the Delhi media.

Another round of militancy in Kashmir, however, would mean that India will be able to portray itself as a victim of terrorism, especially if Pakistan re-opens the militant tap to Kashmir after Obama exits the Afghan theatre. It will be easier for India to crush another armed struggle as it is much better prepared to do so now that it was in 1989. Sadly, all signals are that Kashmir is headed for another bloody decade.