For long, Kashmiris have been captivated by the power of photography. But why? Why have so many of the world’s greatest geniuses with the camera produced some of their best work in Kashmir? Is it the unique tragicomedy of spectacular natural beauty and a gruesome conflict that has consumed generations? Why are there so many good photojournalists and photographers in Kashmir and why is their number on the rise?
On January 21, 2017, early morning an everyday Kashmiri feminist died quietly in her sleep [this “her” is a typo, but I prefer to leave it here; for if anything he always felt it was an honor to be a woman] after few bedridden years, which he absolutely hated. This was also the first ever, I had seen my maternal grandfather Gulam Ahmed Lone, who I call Daddy like everyone else in the family, cower before life a little. Even asking the universe to let him go rather than for wellness. He thought he had lived it all, and ended if not the best but still a little better.
In 2016 – RAIOT became a Kashmiri word. Maybe it was the accidental cartography of India making Shillong share Instrument of Accession with Srinagar or just accidents of friendships, whatever be the reason – RAIOT had some of the key texts about Kashmiri Azadi uprising of 2016. Just a sample for your holiday reading.
We, twenty five citizens of India, representing people’s movements, women’s organisations, trade unions, human rights organisations, youth organisations and individuals who are journalists, writers and filmmakers, from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, visited Kashmir from 11 to 20 November 2016 with the objective of understanding first-hand, from ordinary people and civil society, the situation of the peoples of the Kashmir Valley that has emerged over the past four-and-half months since the killing of three Hizbul Mujahideen militants, Burhan Wani, Sartaj Sheikh and Pervaiz Lashkari by the Indian Army and J&K Police on 8 July 2016.
I was in my fourth grade in 1990, the year when Kashmir shut for 198 days, then for 207 days in 1991, 148 in 1992 and 139 in 1993, and so on. I grew up in all those tough long years. All my life I have lived here in Kashmir through the thick and thin of the situation. I grew up in curfews, crackdowns, identification parades; through the menace of the omnipresent bunkers and at the mercy of the fingers always ready on the triggers of SLRs. And throughout this time, I was educated to see, experience, understand and realise where the truth of the circumstances lay. All the young outstanding artists, doctors, engineers, lecturers, journalists and other achievers we have today have all grown up through the same troubled ’90s, the decade that saw the severest of curfews, shutdowns and crackdowns.
If you have been following Kashmir these days, Khurram Parvez’s name must have surely hit your screens. You may have even seen some funky graphics with FREE KHURRAM floating about.screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-11-53-10-pm But who is Khurram Parvez? Why are people in Kashmir getting all worked up about his detention? For those of us not clued into the Kashmir question, answer is, Don’t Know. So when we received STATE versus Khurram Parvez pdf from Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society – we were thrilled. So in a spirit of curiosity we offer the pdf for DOWNLOAD.
Sameer, a 15 year old boy, and a lone bread earner in his family was hit by pellets in both eyes is admitted in ward 9, Ophthalmology department of SMHS hospital.
In recent weeks, as another cycle of protests dies down in J&K, there has been a surge in reports of incidents of looting, stone-pelting on civilian vehicles and, particularly, mysterious fires destroying schools and private property. No one knows who the perpetrators are…
Why does a certain kind of activism or activists get more visibility? What is it an ‘activity’ that makes an ‘activist visible’ or a visible ‘audience’ that makes an activist? And what of activism does a ‘visible audience’ endorse? Often the commodification and marketing create a hierarchy of activism? Activism has a peculiarity that it inserts the particular interventions in a way which implicitly amplify and silence the varied dimensions of the complexities of a conflict like Kashmir issue. This article in no way demeans the work done by them but presents before a reader the nuances and complexities surrounding the politics of visibility.
Questions are being raised by many well-intentioned people, mostly on social media, about the overwhelming support for the immediate release of incarcerated human rights defender Khurram Parvez of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS)
“Khurram Parvez, in the front-row of human rights defenders in Jammu and Kashmir, has been arrested late last night from his home just down-street from Gupkar, the street the cream of collaborators, including Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, live and breath in. Khurram had just returned home after immigration authorities had stopped him from travelling to Geneva to attend the United Nations Human Rights session.
At Srinagar, Khurram works with the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). The group is criticised by large sections of Kashmiri society for inserting themselves at a very mild point in the political discourse in Kashmir. People are frustrated that JKCCS’s focus on mere human rights abuse (which people believe, rather mistakenly, rarely includes the right to self-determination) distracts from the main issue of azadi from Indian occupation. “
We are a group of research Scholars, students, NGO founders and members, and concerned citizens who are appalled by the way the way the government is handling the Kashmir issue.
We would like to sent out a solidarity message to the people of Kashmir
India’s Kashmir experts have, like in the past, tried to attribute the “anger on the streets” to various reasons and they believe and want every Indian to believe that only these reasons make a Kashmiri angry. We need not go back into the history to know how Indian public opinion has been shaped by these Kashmir experts as their association or one may say obsession with Kashmir is so deep that they produce enough evidence for us to analyse that. Here we will talk only about the work these Kashmir experts produced this year.
In the week spanning from 29 August to 5 September, a total of eighty public meetings/rallies were held across all districts of Kashmir among which government forcibly disrupted 36 rallies, using extensive of force against the assembled people; shelling with bullets, tear gas shells and pellets. The government forces, in many instances, vandalized the venue of these pro-freedom rallies, set ablaze the tents and threw away the food items which were cooked by local organizers for the participants of the rallies. The rest of the rallies went on peacefully. This clearly shows that the 44 protest programs/rallies which were organized in the last week remained completely peaceful and no stone pelting was witnessed in these rallies, while as the 36 rallies where Indian forces used violence to vandalize the already set up venues and desist the participants from attending the programs, has resulted in clashes in which around 1215+ people have been injured.
We are writing to you to express our concern about the situation in Indian-controlled Kashmir where the already subjected population is currently living in a state of siege due to the massive violence unleashed by the Indian forces. We appreciate your decision to create a fact-finding mission and deplore the refusal of the Indian government to allow access to UN human rights monitors. In the absence of such a mission, we feel it incumbent upon civil society groups to provide regular updates on the situation.
Popular mass movement is “mindless terrorism” and Kashmiris are a flock of “instigated” sheep in “bucolic valley”, devoid of all agency. Keywords like Insaniyat (Humanity), Jamhooriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat etc. are thrown carefully at the supposed ‘inhumanity’ and ‘autarchy’ of the self-determination struggle of Kashmiris.
Kashmir has historically since Nineteen Forty-Seven been a site of territorial claims between the two nations, India and Pakistan; in such contested claims history in itself has become a site marking these contestations. The history of Forty Seven has been written from a certain vantage point constructing a particular kind of history and memory associated with it. The story of Forty-Seven told and retold over the years with tribal invasion being ‘The Event’ has shaped the history with almost a complete erasure of what happened earlier and what followed next. As a student of history I feel a dire need to free Forty Seven from the baggage of the ‘Tribal Invasion’ story which has more of less sabotaged the history of the state, question the politics of silencing the ‘unfamiliar histories and memories’ associated with it.
Another young man comes home from work on his scooter
He is an atm teller and Supports his large family
His brothers wedding is next week
He is found with 300 pellets in his body, every organ is ruptured
they had carried him to the side of the road, to pass it off as an accident
But blood leaves its trail
India, this is your democracy.
On 13 August 2016, Amnesty International India organized an event in Bengaluru as part of a campaign to seek justice for victims of human rights…
Improve your General Knowledge
Dear Sir, Greetings! Hope you are enjoying the monsoon flurry sweeping across the North-India. I can see your Facebook posts about the beautiful rainbows and…
In the present day world-order and given the historical perspective, can Independent Kashmir [IK] exist? Moreover, regarding the small area and population of the region, will it be practical? Given the poor educational status, the IK could be a breeding ground for ‘Islamic Jihadist’. And the much talked about issues are: security, land locked region, economic dependency and many more which are often raised. The most obvious question to be followed should be: Is an Independent Kashmir practical and a viable solution? Let’s examine it through various dimensions:
Numbness doesn’t go away. It’s suffocating to hear the loud proclamations of news anchors on Indian TV channels, describing it as a victory for its ‘jawans’. I want to get rid of this suffocation. I ask a friend to meet me outside. We meet and proceed towards Jamia Masjid. People are slowly assembling at the square. It’s a mass of people. The mass palpitates with anger; a subdued anger of the sort a martyr’s death evokes. Slogans pierce the tense air.
While the real sangbaaz are busy heroically fighting one of the mightiest armies in the world and their local stooges, some “unknown elements”, allegedly J&K Police Sangbaaz Association in collaboration with IB Stonepelters League, have been busy putting up fake posters in some localities in Srinagar to bring disrepute to the sangbaaz by showing them as misogynistic etc.
We made a few additional posters to demonstrate the name of the game. Check ’em out.
While walking the streets of Kashmir even on a usual day but especially in the month of Ramazan, you can’t help but juxtapose two stark Indian presences. One is that of the Indian soldiers patrolling or bunker bound – brandishing their guns, poised and ready. Second is the iconic face of the Indian panhandler – dusty, beseeching, and tired. The military a symbol of India’s physical and ruthless prowess while the panhandler, a manifestation of a deep-set, endemic poverty of its viscera. India’s poorest of the poor, the panhandlers manifest a specific kind, almost laudable type of professionalism, which the Indian military has failed at instituting and which should be the wont of any occupying force.
In his unpublished memoir, Pandit Rughonath Vaishnavi writes that it was clear that Kashmiris had been “relegated to the position of slaves” after India gained its independence. “Kashmiri freedom fighters were lifted during the darkness of the night and kicked into dark cells without knowing the grounds of their imprisonment.” Pt. Vaishnavi was himself jailed seven times for his steadfast commitment to the Kashmiri right of self-determination. Along with some of his supporters he was jailed under the most brutal conditions and ordered several times to cease his political activities.
Important recipe for beating Facebook censorship algorithm on Kashmir
People were returning from their regular chores, when the news that the famous Kashmiri local rebel who had turned to militancy at the age of 15, had been killed in an encounter near Kokernag, 15 kms away from district Anantnag. People in long chains came out from their houses, leaving the comfortable life aside, with sloganeering “Burhan tera khoon sa inqilab aayega” just to mourn the death of their hero who had become an icon for many youths across valley.
After the martyrdom of Commander Burhan Wani, the Indian state was in the mood of jubilation ‘to eliminate the most wanted terrorist’. But it soon turned into its nightmare. It was not the first time that the funeral of a rebel was attended by thousands but the immediate response across Kashmir through demonstrations and funerals in absentia made the civil and military establishment of Indian State frustrated. The immediate response that it resorted to was putting the whole valley under seize by imposing curfew and clamping down of internet services.
An open letter by a retired Major of the Indian army has been doing the rounds on social media and news sites. Shiv Mann provides a necessary counter-narrative to the jingoism
“We are wont to reminding the people of Kashmir, the “freedom(s)” that India affords them, and promptly mention the horrors that await them if they chose (as they deserve) to go to Pakistan. Time and again, we pose as a free people. This comes with a string of Whatabouts. A fellow traveller to Kashmir retorted to my mention of militarization in Kashmir, “What about North Korea? What about Saudi Arabia? What about Pakistan?!” It is amusing to see the average Indian entertaining such delusions of freedom when every day, Kashmiris are being tortured, killed, encountered, disappeared, raped in their names.”
Kashmiris know the occupation is chronically violent, persistently vindictive, and is going to remain so as long as it exists. The state that denies a people their right to self-determination can be nothing but repressive. How could Burhan not have shared the same understanding of the Indian control over Kashmir? Is it misplaced to think so? And is it then an accident that Burhan became Commander Burhan Wani?
I have this to say to those super patriots who keep bringing up the bogey of “jihadis”, “radical Islamists” or “Pakistani proxy” while justifying all atrocities against Kashmiri Muslims.
Since the extra-judicial execution of Commander Burhan Wani and two other members of Hizbul Mujahideen, Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police have used excessive force to thwart the mourners from protesting and participating in the funeral processions of the slain militants. So far, around 17 civilians have been killed in Islamabad, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama districts, while as more than 350 people have been injured from across all districts of the Kashmir valley. There are reports that CRPF and Police have been involved in the destruction of movable and immovable properties. Curfew has been strictly imposed in all districts of Kashmir, but people are defying the curfew at various places.
It has been seven years since the brutal gang rape and murder of Asiya Jan and Neelofar Jan, aged 17 years and 22 years respectively during the year of the incident, in Shopian District of Kashmir. Seven years of enquiries, legal processes, statements by Justices, police officers and bureaucrats which have led to nothing.
Kashmir’s blank political canvas seems to be generating more intrigue than the impending suspense created by the Game of Thrones’ Season Six poster. While the winter is yet to come to Westeros; Kashmir is already in the throes of it. Mufti Mohammad Saeed’s death has frozen the political landscape of Kashmir, and his political heir, Mehbooba Mufti, is in no hurry to thaw it back to life.
Indeed, many in Kashmir are bitter, even though they give their unconditional solidarity to those hounded by the Indian state. They feel the protests so far have not understood the truth of the event: that its truth is not in lectures about “true” or “real” nationalism but in an embrace of sedition.
I got married in February. Half the marriage functions were held in Jammu where my family is now based post forced eviction from Kashmir in 1990. The other half of the marriage was held in Delhi where my wife’s family is based due to the same events of 1990. A Muslim friend from Srinagar who attended my marriage could not help but notice on a sad note this “scattering” of a Kashmiri community. “Chakravun” is the exact word used for scatter by all Kashmiris.
The night has fallen long ago and I won’t be stalking sleep tonight. Their guns have stopped to roar for a while, but they will resume again. They have difficulty in locating me in this dilapidated house at night and I am taking its benefit. But for how long will odds favour me? I will be dead by the morning. Their bullets will have made holes in my body or they will burn this house and I will be charred and buried under its rubble. By whichever way, I will embrace death without a shred of fear; I have resolved it in my mind.
That’s the moment when I began to wonder, as somebody who easily, effortlessly thought of himself as both Indian and Kashmiri, about what it means to live in a situation where all my democratic beliefs in being Indian were up against what I was seeing, my experience of life, in Kashmir. I was enormously troubled, as you can imagine, by what I saw there, by what I heard and by the fact that every time I expressed my sympathy with what was the visible oppression of people around me, my neighbours would say ‘no, no you mustn’t feel badly. We know what happened with you people.’ But I was always in an anomalous situation. I was notionally a Pandit, one of those families that had left in 1990, but in fact I hadn’t.
The Indian state’s dominant visual order invisibalizes the structure of its violence in Kashmir. It enforces a blindness and numbs the critical senses of its citizens. From the twin images of Kashmir as a ‘beautiful landscape’ and as a ‘hotbed of anti-nationals,’ it mobilizes the composite image of ‘paradise crawling with serpents’ to justify the military occupation. Can there be a counter-project to this mode of seeing and representation? Can artistic works agitate the dominant imaginaries, trouble the subtle ruses of state power, and, in the process, train a new disobedient sensorium? The images by Rollie Mukherjee that you see here answer these questions affirmatively.
The more number of experts on Kashmir issue, the better it is for India to sustain its hold over the valley. Such manpower, cultivated with fervorous intent and little hard work, comes handy in serving their purposes in Kashmir.
Nowadays everyone is talking about Chetan Bhagat,
Everyone knows that he is out of his mind.
when you try to rape and you don’t succeed,
when you try to protest but you are killed,
when you’re forced to lie and the video is leaked,
could it be worse?