India claims that Kashmir movement has slowed down and the situation is returning towards normalization. But since the partition of the Sub-continent, after passing through various faces, this war of Kashmir’s liberation has become an endless movement which continues unabated.
As regards the latest phase of Indian state terrorism, like the past, intermittent curfews, crackdowns, arrests, detentions and massacre by the Indian forces have continued against the non-violent mass uprising (Intifada) of Kashmiris. Thus more than 3000 innocent people have been killed during this new phase of the struggle.
In this connection, on July 10, 2010, a rigid curfew was imposed in most of Indian-held Kashmir (IHK), while shops and businesses were closed and public transport was off the roads after the All Parties Hurriyat Conference declared a strike. During strike, none of the nearly 60 newspapers published from Srinagar for four days.
Rocked by intermittent violence and unrest, the intensification of the uprising in the Indian controlled Kashmir could be judged from the fact that the Valley is now facing the threat of a civil disobedience as seven senior civil and police officers have refused to take up their duties. A large number of officers have refused to accept challenging assignments in different districts including Srinagar, Baramulla and Kupwara and preferred being posted in relatively peaceful areas of the state. Last year, following the killing of a youth in Baramulla district, the state government had ordered a reshuffle in the police administration.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has urged India to immediately release the jailed persons in the Indian occupied Kashmir and repeal a harsh law that allows detention for up to two years without trial.
The current phase of Kashmir struggle began on August 12, 2008 when Indian forces killed Hurriyat Conference leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz along with five other persons who were protesting against the government decision to give land to the trust that runs Amarnath, a shrine of Hindus.
However, many innocent people have so far been massacred by the Indian security forces in the controlled territories of Kashmir since the new uprising started. It also includes the people killed by the Indian forces in the fake encounters. While, the issue has moved beyond the land allocation to the Kashmir’s Muslims, sparking a massive movement of Kashmiris, calling for their genuine right of self-determination.
Unlike the past, this time, Indian occupied Kashmir has become a special focus of world’s attention including India itself.
In this respect, Washington Post had reported on August 28, 2008, “Despite the government’s use of force, many Muslims in Indian controlled Kashmir seem determined to find peaceful ways to voice their aspirations as the nonviolent movement by the unarmed protesters flourishes, especially among the young.”
New critical situation has also affected other parts of India and its gravity could be judged from the fact that even Indian intellectuals have favoured the independence of the occupied Kashmir.
In its editorial, the editor of The Times of India wrote, “On August 15, India celebrated independence from the British Raj. A day symbolising the end of colonialism in India became a day symbolising Indian colonialism in the Valley.”
The editor further elaborated, “We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India”. It was also admitted that subsequent state elections were also rigged in support of leaders nominated by New Delhi.
On August 16, 2008, Hindustan Times wrote: “Nothing has really changed since 1990s. A single spark such as the dispute over Amarnath land can set the whole valley on fire—Indian forces are treated as an army of occupation. New Delhi is seen as the oppressor”. The paper further indicated, “The current crisis in Kashmir is a consequence of Indian establishment, raising the confrontation to a new level”. It realised that during the present demonstrations, “there is active hatred of India, threatening to further internationalise the present crisis. The world looks at us with dismay”. This Indian newspaper clearly suggested a referendum in the Valley, writing, “Let the Kashmiris determine their own destiny—whatever happens, how can India lose? If you believe in democracy, then giving Kashmiris the right of self-determination is the correct thing to do”.
It is of particular attention that demanding immediate withdrawal of Indian Army from the Indian controlled Kashmir, a renowned Indian author and book prize winner, Arundhati Roy, while criticizing the Indian media had already pointed out in 2005 that it failed to highlight the plight of ordinary Kashmiris, exposed to brutalities perpetrated by the Indian security forces.
As regards Indian delaying tactics in connection with the solution of Kashmir dispute, it has become fashion to blame Pakistan and its intelligence agency ISI for infiltration, using it as a pretext to crush the Kashmiri’s war of liberation which is indigenous as recognized by even Indian media.
Under the cover of ISI, New Delhi also wants to distract the attention of the west from its own atrocities, being perpetrated on the Kashmiris. In the recent past, hundreds of unidentified graves with more than 3000 bodies were discovered in the Indian-held Kashmir. Sources have accused Indian RAW of the custodial killings of the Kashmiri people through brutal methods. In this context, even the European Parliament has passed a resolution, condemning New Delhi for human rights violations.
Since 1989, India has deployed more than 500000 troops to quell the freedom movement of Kashmiris, but it cannot eliminate it at present as it could not do so through many years of oppression. Instead, a study report, prepared by Indian government revealed that Kashmir violence has been affecting Indian forces’ psyche. In this connection, the report has disclosed that disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir have had adverse psychological problems found especially among the officers and Jawans such as an increase in short tempers, quarrelsome attitude, mental disorders and abnormal behaviour. Sometimes, the situation leads to suicide attempts or attacks on their seniors and colleagues.
Nevertheless, the Kashmir movement has entered the stage of ‘now or never’ due to the failure of Indian continued tactics of state terrorism such as curfew, firing at innocent Kashmiris, killings and arrests which could not reduce the strong determination of the people of the Valley, calling for freedom of their land.
At present, it is a turning point for the liberation of Kashmir as the Valley is burning and bleeding. It is ample clear that India still wants to equate the innocent Kashmiris with terrorism and is keen to continue its state terrorism in Kashmir. It does not show any serious willingness to settle this issue in accordance with the wishes of struggling Kashmiris. Every body will agree that it is the right hour to resolve this old dispute on which Pakistan and India fought three wars.
Nonetheless, the magnitude of the current movement is unprecedented in the history. The slogans for liberation in every nook and corner of India have strained New Delhi since independence. No doubt, Kashmir has reached the phase of solution. Taking cognizance of the new developments seriously at this sensitive juncture, Pakistani and Kashmiri leaders must take steps, making combined efforts to resolve this thorny issue. In this context, Pakistani government, Kashmir leadership, other Kashmiris, living in the Sub-continent and abroad must keep the tea pot boiling by highlighting the dispute, voicing the aspirations of the people for freedom. It is hoped that the day is not far away when the Kashmiris will be blessed with the fruits of independence.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations