Traffic had snarled up a little before Rainawari and, as I turned my head up I sighted the flag. A 100-ft high Tricolour that had been hoisted just the day before atop Hari Parbat, the hill that dominates many parts of the Srinagar skyline.
Tag: India Occupied Kashmir
The arrival of spring in Kashmir every year begins with the inauguration of Asia’s largest tulip garden located in Srinagar, splashing the news print, social media platforms and television screens with photographs of manicured rows of bright tulips.
In death, shaheed articulates both his agency and his suffering. In death, he bears witness to the pain and truth of Kashmir. In death, he makes it clear that the world’s largest democracy is afraid of simple dreams in the eyes of simple men.
“But what do these Kashmiris want,” the world asks.
A totalitarian control over histories and a calculated manipulation of meanings have been instrumental in India’s narrative warfare. Its armed and administrative forces have actively pursued the destruction of historiographic and material evidence of the Kashmiri past.
However, there exist ‘witnesses’ that reject the Indian imagination, refuse to grant it any legitimacy, and rule out any possibility of submission to its apparatus of regulation. These ‘witnesses’ attest to the multiple struggles of Kashmir’s pasts and preserve the evidence of its demands from the future. They undermine the colonial design by engaging in a negotiation of power where they reimagine the Kashmiri body, Kashmiri history, and the Kashmiri everyday. Subverting the threat of erasure and elimination, the ‘witnesses’ promise life in their sense of continuity, renewal, and resilience.”
It is the dead of the night. I look out of my favourite bed-side window and find the darkness, illuminated by tiny lights at Takht-e-Sulayman, staring at me. Each dot of luminosity reminding me of the military occupation of my land. This takes me back to my childhood days when I was growing up in my hometown. Every morning, long rifles protruding from the surrounding military camps would inspect me as I walked to the school bus stop, and each night, a blinding beam of search-light from the nearest military camp would invade one of the rooms of our home. As a child, it would startle me and I was left petrified. I would navigate around that torturous foreign beam, scared of being mowed down by the long rifles if I got into the crosshairs of the searchlight. As I grew up, my mind started questioning these search-lights and long rifles, crackdowns and curfews, killings and rapes, and the causative agent of these monstrous manifestations in Kashmir:– the occupation.
Dr. Sambit Patra, the numero uno mouthpiece of the BJP, wants a three-year-old-child sitting atop the blood-smeared chest of his slain grandfather to be a Pulitzer moment for India. Why not? Hasn’t Kashmir been the locus classicus of cinematographers? Erstwhile of the Bollywood, and now of the Bollywood-style newsrooms? Patra sees nothing in the image worth commenting on, his emotional sensibilities were long traded up to filthy political point scoring. But that is just routine, especially in today’s India. Tweets of the Patras are a narrative that lulls such gore, making it palatable.
Cooped up in a little apartment in New York, Mir Suhail, Koshur (Kashmiri for the uninitiated) artist extraordinaire, has been struggling, like the rest of us, to make sense of the arcane pandemic. Perhaps the talented cartoonist’s art ensures that he has better tools at his disposal in this endeavour than most of us. On the other hand, he shares a burden all Kaesher (Kashmiris) must bear—the India occupation of Kashmir and the utter lack of compassion for and solidarity with Kaesher by most of the global community. That probably balances out any advantages his art might supply.
Raashid Maqbool – poet, teacher, scholar, journalist, friend-recited this ghazal to me in late December 2019 in his dusty car, parked on the side of a main thoroughfare in Srinagar, Kashmir. We had only an hour ago driven by a macabre spectacle: a young man, no more than 25 years of age, was being dragged by his long hair, his body bouncing against the rutted road as he flailed and kicked in protest.
On October 25, 1947, Vappala Pangunni Menon, India’s envoy par excellence, gifted a car to Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra king of Jammu and Kashmir (hereon J&K). Or did he? The exact details of the events of that fateful era are lost behind a perennial fog of war. Some people say that the Maharaja had actually bought the car from the British. That it was one of the numerous vehicles used to transport Muslims of Jammu to the new, temporary border in Akhnoor and Ranbir Singh Pora, where they were disembarked, dismembered and massacred. The charons driving the vehicles would quickly turn them around to pick up and transport more people. The car was so efficient during the exercise, these people conclude, that the Maharaja thought it might impress even somebody like Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. So the Maharaja tried to gift the car to Menon; but he refused to take it, reasoning that it might serve more useful purposes in J&K. Alas! A written copy of the purported gift deed has not survived, so we can only speculate about the nature of the agreement. One thing is certain though, the car became a ubiquitous fixture in Indian-controlled J&K.
Arif Ayaz Parrey tells a short tale from Kashmir about Avtar Singh, a counter-insurgency officer of the Indian Army, wanted for the murder of the Kashmiri human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi. On June 9, 2012, in Selma, California, he shot his family and himself.
The abrogation of Article 370 has been accompanied by many colossal whoppers about its politics and history, and deliberate disinformation about the consequences for legal and constitutional rights and status. Yet in Kashmir, from where I write this, none of it matters. It is all of a piece with India’s long history of lawlessness and lies in the name of law. In the face of overwhelming ontological insecurity and terrifying state brutality, no one, not even the lawyering community (such of them as are not busy filing habeas corpus and bail petitions or themselves hiding from arrest), can be bothered to pore over the niceties of how exactly the deed was accomplished. With no Internet access many Kashmiri lawyers I speak to have not so far been able to read the full text of the two Constitutional Orders that altered their fate. What, after all, is a legal sleight of hand or an elaborately constructed constitutional lie when you have not spoken to a beloved daughter in two months? Who cares if Tulsi Gabbard (“who?”) or the late Arun Jaitley (“he died?”) misrepresent the nature of property rights that daughters enjoyed under your one-time, so-called semi-autonomous legal system? Many had not heard that this was even a thing. When I informed them, seething with indignation, they shrugged. “Yes” they said. “They lie.”
More than a month has passed since India unilaterally broke the treaty of accession it had made with the last Dogra Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Amidst a complete communication blockade, only the foggiest and vaguest details of the situation on the ground in the state in general, and the Muslim majority areas in particular, have been able to waft out. This uncertainty has afforded “concerned” Indians an opportunity to once more pack their woollens (only the light ones, since it is still quite balmy in Kashmir, thank you very much) and book their air tickets (cheap, courtesy the blockade, delightful!) and travel to the ground on “fact finding” missions.
That in itself is not the problem. All are welcome to Kashmir—tourists, well-wishers, tourists masquerading as well-wishers and well-wishers pretending to be tourists. We are nothing if not hospitable. In any case, India has hundreds of thousands of troops in Kashmir. It is not as if Kashmiris have the power to stop Indians from visiting their latest Union Territory.
In Part 2 of An Essential Guide to Dismantling Kashmir’s “Special Status”, Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh looks at what the dismantling of Kashmir’s “special status” means in the realm of the international order: the laws of nations, wars and our shared humanity. The question of Kashmir’s international legal status has been an extremely contentious one, and one on which there has been very little serious academic engagement. In India, most legal experts and opinion makers have seemed content to echo, either by their words or their silences, the position of the Indian state that Kashmir is primarily a constitutional question, in other words an “internal matter”. But in the midst of the legal upheaval wrought by the neutering of Article 370, several previously verboten terms – ‘Occupation’, ‘Annexation’, ‘Colonialism’, ‘Right to Self Determination’, drawn from the realms of international law and politics, are now being used in the Indian public sphere to describe, debate, or decry the events of 5 August, 2019. In this essay, Shrimoyee unpack some of these terms and address the question of the implications of the constitutional changes for Kashmir’s disputed legal status in International Law.
The tortuous thicket of laws, constitutional provisions, presidential orders, political history and legal mystifications surrounding Article 370 and Article 35A make it difficult to navigate through recent debates about its abrogation in an informed way. This series of three essays by Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh, lawyer and legal researcher, aims to be a somewhat eclectic guidebook— at times proffering a no frills step-by-step road map, at others traversing some rather more unfrequented and adventurous legal diversions. In this first essay, Shrimoyee provides a legal-historical guide to terms like 370, 35(a) and the tricks, which were played to make these history.”
On Friday August 2, confusion and panic hit the people of Kashmir, in the wake of several orders claiming there is a serious situation in Kashmir, urging yatris and tourists to return and the deployment of thousands of additional troops. But, on my social media feed, there were voices of humour and resilience reminding Kashmiris of what they collectively as a people have suffered and endured through the years, of how the Indian state has persistently viewed Kashmiris as the “other” and sought ways of repression. Scrolling down one searing image went through my mind. It is that of Mir Suhail’s illustration of a man in checked headgear and greying beard that accompanies the report, Torture: State’s Instrument of Control in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir. I recognise it as that of Qalandar Khatana of Kalaros, Kupwara.
Saadat Hasan Manto’s well-known short story “Tetwal ke Kutte” is very prescient in contending with our hypernationalist and jingoistic conjuncture. The story is well known, but worth recapitulating.
ONE After a MiG-21 Bison fighter plane piloted by Abhinandan Varthaman, a Wing Commander in the Indian Air Force, was shot down by Pakistan Air…
Kashmir has been an eyesore on India’s body politic for the last 72 years. The average life expectancy in India is only 68.5 years, so there is a danger the eyesore might become congenital. The latest attack on Indian armed forces at Lithpur in District Pulwoam, where a Kashmiri suicide bomber killed more than forty Indian soldiers, can become India’s “enough is enough” moment. While randomly beating and harassing Kashmiris working or studying in various parts of Bharat is a good beginning, it won’t be enough. After all, if killing more than 80,000 Kashmiris and making about 10,000 of them disappear has not taught them a lesson, what will a few beatings achieve? No, India needs to do more.This is my cue. Hear me out.
A day before Eid, a Twitter storm with the hashtag #InquireKashmirKillings erupted. Notwithstanding the pall of gloom caused by the killing of respected editor- in-chief of Rising Kashmir, Shujat Bukhari by unknown gunmen on the very day that the report by the UN on the situation in Kashmir vis-a-vis human rights was released, Kashmiris hurled themselves into battle.
“What about the Kashmiri Pandits?” For well over a quarter century every public conversation on Kashmir has been dogged by that question. As a tiny Hindu minority in predominantly Muslim Kashmir (they constituted less than 5% in the 1990s) Pandits have had an extraordinary valence in the often-heated discourse around the conflict, and their “migration” from Kashmir in the early 1990s continues to cast a baleful shadow on the present.
The image she shows me on her laptop shows smears of blood on the floor, discarded clothing and prayer mats at one corner of the corridor. No action. No people. But Sanna Irshad Mattoo, one of Kashmir’s growing bunch of women photo-journalists, conveys the potential of objects and belongings to bear “witness”. The inanimate speaks out of the terrible violence that stains, not just the hospital floor, but, as the hashtgag suggests one that has permeated the soul of Kashmir.
Something like above would have read as the brief academic profile of thirty-two-year-old Dr. Mohmmad Rafi Bhat till Sunday May 6, 2018. Now, he shares…
In response to Sunday’s events, the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) in Kashmir gave a call for a solidarity march to Shopian on April 3. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who continues to be a part of the JRL along with senior leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, too hoped to march this time. The government had recently announced his release from a seven-year-long house detention after his resignation as the TeH chief. As Geelani slowly walked towards the gate of his party residence, he found it closed. Peeping out through a small window in the door, he asked the armed personnel stationed outside to open the gate. When they refused citing “orders” Geelani quipped: “Darwaaza kholo, tumhari jamhooriyat ka jinaza nikal raha hai…hindustan ki jamhooriyat ka… uska jinaaza nikal raha hai… Open the door, the funeral of your democracy is leaving… Of India’s democracy…here goes its funeral!”
Around 00:05 on February 19 2018, Indian armed forces shot dead Syed Habibullah after he allegedly “tried to enter the high security Air Force Station” in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district. The police spokesman said that the man, in his fifties, “appeared to be mentally challenged”—he was not wearing any footwear, had no winter clothing, and did not carry any identity card. Those who knew him told media-persons that “he used to roam from once place to another, not because he was mentally challenged but because he was distressed with extreme penury.” He was laid to rest in his native village of Soibug amidst pro-freedom slogans and clashes with the government forces.
The name Habibullah translates as ‘the beloved of God.’
On a cold day, some 27 years ago, Juma Sheikh, chowkidar of the twin hamlets of Kunan and Poshpora, Kupwara district in Kashmir, approached tehsildar Sikandar Malik with a letter written in Urdu signed and supported by thumb prints of the villagers. In elaborate and formal language the letter detailed the horrific ordeal of sexual violence and torture that they had suffered on the intervening night of February 23 and 24 at the hands of 4 Rajputana Rifles that had come in for a cordon and search. The victims reportedly ranged from a 60 year old woman to a 14 year old girl and a pregnant woman nearing full term. The men were not spared. Herded outside in the snow to makeshift interrogation centres they were subjected to various forms of torture like having chilli powder rubbed on the genitals or subjected to electric shocks in their private parts.
In this excerpt from his autobiography, Syed Ali Shah Geelani talks of 1947, the tribal invasion and Indian Army in Kashmir
A day ahead of the India Pakistan match, when Indian media, publicity hungry cricketers and showbiz stars are all over spitting their Indian nationalist bile, Chalukyan G, a Chennai based graphic designer wrote a fan mail on Facebook to Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi. His fan mail did not just touch upon sporting matters but also laid out in detail the hypocrisy of Indian nationalist rhetoric. To his surprise, Afridi replied and unlike cricketers like Sehawg, he said “Let the best team win,”
Those who have not been around academic circles, have not heard of General Dyer, not watched The Namesake, nor confused Partha Chatterjee with his namesake, might be wondering what the fuss about Professor Partha Chatterjee is about. Parthada recently referred to the justification of using a human shield by the Indian Army in Kashmir as the General Dyer moment of the independent Indian state’s army.
While the situation in Kashmir may be classified as a dirty war, depending on how the phrase is used and who articulates it, there is history to this phrase. Not every war is a dirty war. The phrase itself was first used during the 1970s in Argentina during a period of state violence against opponents of the military junta that was in power at the time. The dirty war since then evokes torture, disappearances and the suspension of democratic norms. The question to ask is whether General Rawat is aware of this history while using this choice phrase.
“O Mummyji, o mummyji, they don’t fight fair
Their boys, their girls, their women too
They throw their stones, they do, they do,
And us poor boys (what? yes, “my poor boys”)
Have only guns and armour
What, prithee, are they to do? to do?”
India is scared of a facebook post. India is scared of a poem. India is scared of a video. India is scared of the smile of a martyr. India is scared of a girl in hijab pelting stones. India is scared of a boy helping his friend reach to safety. India is scared of the people coming together.
“There is only one solution—gun-solution, gun-solution,” mourners shout beside the bullet-ridden dead body of 25-year-old Nissar Ahmad Mir in Rathson, a village in Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Among nationalists in India, who have wet dreams of global “superpower” and watch over and over videos of “Indian weapons” and “most powerful militaries” on the YouTube, seeing images of those arms and men being reduced to a barbaric spectacle against an unarmed people produces a dispiriting dissonance. “Indian man” has fantasized a genocide for long. In its eyes, a genocide has a metonymic association with “national will.” This fantasy is now a metastasized desire to act like the US in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as ISIS in Syria. They want Indian military to kill without any compunction: “kill 1000 of them for our one;” “drop MOABs on them;” and “take Kashmiri women as slaves.”
in the darkness
of countless lead-pellets
lodged like tumours
in fresh corneas
the ruptures of history
It was a standard and wonted response from an Indian politician when being confronted with questions on human rights abuses in Kashmir – unsophisticated, evasive, ahistorical and blame-shifting. MP Shashi Tharoor takes it to a new level through his disturbing conception of illusions that he tries to exhibit during a recent interview with Tim Sebastian, a Deutsche Welle journalist, who interviewed him on the subject.
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.
Mirza Waheed in his second novel “The Book of Gold Leaves” introduced, what might appear to foreign, non-contextual readers a fictitious creation but, a realistic character in Kashmir known as the zaal. Describing it, Mirza says it was a “beast of dust” which made frequent rounds of the streets and trapped people who stood nearby, whisking them away to interrogation camps and subsequent disappearance. It was an ensemble of terror, violence and state-sponsored brute force. Mirza’s description emanated from a reality and had actual instances of forces trapping civilians using every possible method at their disposal.
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…
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. “
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.