Using live ammunition against protesting stone throwers in Kashmir valley is strongly condemned by social activists, working in various fields in India. in a conference held in Mumbai on September third, they demanded that the government immediately halt the use of arms by security forces against stone throwers to end the turmoil in the Kashmir valley that has raged as a consequence of the killing innocent Kashmiris over the last 3 months. The conference is convened by Peace Mumbai, a network of several social organisations. The meeting also called for an immediate withdrawal of security forces from the civilian areas of Jammu & Kashmir. At least 70 people have been killed in firing by security forces, including boys and girls below the age of 15 years, in August alone.
The conference lasted throughout the day going under the title “Kashmir at Crossroads: The Way Forward.” The meeting passed a resolution demanding that all parties of various perspectives return immediately to the negotiating table that also said the solution can be obtained only by initiating the political process. The conference expressed concern over naked violations of human rights for the Kashmir people and urged the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to implement his promise of zero tolerance for all human rights violations in Kashmir. The Prime Minister was asked to repeal the draconian laws such as ‘the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) and ‘the Public Safety Act’ that gave security forces the authority to kill innocent people at will in Kashmir.
The Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) has been widely condemned, even in North-East states like Manipur. Twelve middle-aged Manipuri women protested without a single piece of clothing on their bodies in front the headquarters of the army forces, displaying a banner reading “Indian Army, Rape Us” in protest against brutal rape and killing of a Manipuri woman aged about 30 years, named Thanglam Manorama. Indian Army and security forces have been given extraordinary powers under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 to search, seize, arrest and even kill anyone suspected of being an insurgent in order to “maintain the public order.” Armed with these acts along with guns, security forces are causing enormous misery and humiliation daily for Kashmiris.
Human Rights’ Violations
The Mumbai conference on Kashmir asked the government to investigate all cases of human rights violations and release all political prisoners and those being held without charges. Eminent figures that addressed the conference included the editor of the Srinagar based daily ‘Kashmir Images’ Bashir Manzar, Chairman of the Jammu & Kashmir People’s Conference ‘Sajjad lone’ and activists like Pushpa Bhave, Jatin Desai, Deepak Lokhande, Jennifer Mirza, Ritu Dewan, Journalist Kalpana Sharma and others. The speakers expressed concerns that the people are facing hardships, loss of working days and wages due to weeks of curfew and shutdowns.
Civil Society Team Visits Kashmir
In another development, a civil society team led by Swami Agnivesh visited the Kashmir valley recently and described the situation in Kashmir as ‘critical and tragic.’ All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has apprised the team of ‘unjustified killings perpetrated by the Indian police and paramilitary troops.’ Mirwaiz told the team that the Indian government was talking of peace but acting with arms. Swami Agnivesh’s team also visited the hospitals in which Kashmiris injured by police fire are being treated.
The team called for the immediate withdrawal of the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir. Swami Agnivesh said reporters in New Delhi that the people, with whom the team talked in Kashmir, expressed their anger on insensitiveness of security forces and frustration with the total indifference of the government towards the tragic happenings in Kashmir. The team comprised of eminent persons like former chairperson of the National Commission for Women Mohini Giri, activist and former naval chief Admiral L. Ramdas, Delhi Catholic diocese spokesperson Father Dominic Emmanuel and social worker Mazher Hussain. They’ve asked the Govt to provide public places to express protest.
If one looks at the statistics of the result of the draconian acts that were promulgated in 1958 especially for Kashmir and Northeastern states, one cannot stop wondering what the Indian rulers are up to by providing total misinformation to the Indian people, brutally oppressing Kashmiris and suppressing their aspirations. We can find the statistics on the website of kmsnews.org (KMS – Kashmir Media Service) along with several other issues relating to Kashmir and daily updates of the struggles being waged in Kashmir.
According to the website, since the year 1989, in which the second Kashmir uprising began, 93,379 people have been killed at the hands of security forces. 6,974 people have been killed while in police or paramilitary troops’ custody. 118,060 civilians were arrested. 105,866 structures or buildings were looted and destroyed by the forces. 22,734 Kashmiri women were widowed. 107,366 children were orphaned/ 9,946 women were molested or raped or gang-raped in the hands of Indian security forces of all sorts. These figures are just for the period of January 1989 to August 2010. In August of 2010 alone there have been 72 killings, of which 37 were men, 4 were women and 31 were children. Three were killed while in custody. The people tortured or critically injured by the forces are 1,505; arrested civilians are 236; one structure wasdestroyed, 3 women widowed, 9 children orphaned, and 20 women molested or gang-raped.
Not only the Land but People’s Hopes are Threatened
What’s more worrisome is these killings, rapes and destructions have never been accounted for by the Indian government let alone being compensated. They were automatically excused as a result of the powers granted to the police forces by the said acts. Human rights’ act, women rights’ act, children rights’ act and even fundamental rights that were enshrined in the constitution of India do not apply in Kashmir, though India fervorously contends that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of the country whenever Kashmir issue is raised on international platforms.
Kashmir is at least partially integrated into India geographically; but the Kashmiri people are left to the Indian wolves. These wolves need not be of military which is only a tool used for oppression. There are also political wolves who need economic resources from the Kashmir valley. Indian people have to understand Kashmir means not only a summer destination for taking rest, but people live there. They are humans who have their own aspirations. They have their own culture to be protected. They are a nation that has a right to be independent. They have dreams for the future of their childrenand want them to live in an atmosphere of peace and happiness.