By Inshah Malik
The so-called ‘terrorist feelings’ of the young in Kashmir are fueled by the Pakistani intelligence agencies like ISI and Lashkar-e-Tayeba (LeT), this is how the Indian state justifies the murder of the 18 civilians in Kashmir since Jan 2010. Among these 18 civilians, 11 were children brutally eliminated by the ‘unruly mobs’ of CRPF personnel. The rationale behind using this expression for CRPF, which is believed to be a disciplined mechanism, is that it is devoid of the skills to deal with civilians. It is the state police that must do the job of stopping the protests. EN Rammoham, former IG of Kashmir spoke in an interview to DNA newspaper (Sunday, July 4) about the ethics of CRPF and has condemned the state police for not being efficient enough to tackle an angry mob. He also justified that CRPF should never be believed to act like police, precisely because they are never trained to use ‘lathis’, they are armed forces who are well equipped in fighting an armed insurgency and not angry people. Even after the solemn confessions of the CRPF authorities it has been actively employed to tackle protests. The mainstream media has often referred to the protests that occurred to condemn the civilian killings in Kashmir as ‘unruly mobs’.
The media at the centre has played in a direction to safeguard the State interests and allowed the one sided frenzy to go on air for hours and added fuel to the fire. The jingoistic nationalism forces most intelligent minds in India to uphold Kashmir as ‘atoot ang’ the integral part with or without its people. This emotion is so vehemently expressed in all debates and forums that it forces one to look back at the British colonial mentality which once sold Kashmir as a whole to Dogras. The obsession of holding on to Kashmir even on the basis of military might is fueling the people’s sentiment to feel repressed and colonized. The only sign of relief for them is to look back in history to the better off times and dream about them. One wonders if on one side India has been over the years repeating Kashmir to be its crown then why differential treatment among its people as a whole.
In a recent Bharat Bandh ‘protest’ staged against the hike in price initiated by the opposition political parties in India, 78 buses were burnt by the angry protesters and 24 drivers were injured in Mumbai alone but no CRPF was sent to control the ‘unruly mobs’ in Mumbai. Even in the worst of the Kashmir protests never has such large scale destruction of public property been carried out by the local people in a single day. Does labeling Kashmir a ‘disturbed area’ also give extra powers to the state to even subjugate anger with military might in Kashmir? Is Kashmir a stage where all kind of military might should be tested and flaunted? The answer is ‘No’ India has to stop somewhere,
The Freedom movement that has endured in Kashmir for almost sixty years has changed gears over time from non-violence to violence and then again to nonviolence in 2008. When the democratic voice of the people is crushed with bullets, their only resort is to throw stones. It has to be seen if CRPF was deployed to foil Bharat band and slogans answered with bullets wonder how many Indians wouldn’t pick up stones in self defense or attack. Not many.
The sentiment to regain the sovereignty that Kashmir enjoyed before 1947 is not new to its people and such sentiment cannot be labeled as ‘terrorism’. With time it has moved as crusts and troughs for people. During the course of time people have moved on into the tracks of development. There are good numbers of traders, bureaucrats who have not withstood this sentiment and excelled well and have shown interest in the Indian sponsored ‘demon-crazy’ in Kashmir. What happens later is where the emphasis needs to be made. If people of Kashmir moved on with almost 60% votes for National conference government headed by Omar Abdullah, there prime concerns were employment, good roads, electricity but none of this happened. This was the time people should have asked for demilitarization as well but instead of going ahead with development; the killing spree of Military has crippled people’s aspirations. They are back to the stage of 1990’s freedom aspiring sentiment where the central government doesn’t seek a single opportunity to criminalize the people of Kashmir. One must ask, if people are to be criminalized then what is India here for? ‘Water resources’? This from any conscious thinking brain is a deep rooted colonization.
Kashmiri Terrorism a Myth and Indian Democracy a blatant lie
The number of children killed, detained and subjected to army abuse stands witness that it is the force that creates the rebellion. Labeling their freedom struggle as terrorism is the biggest myth that Indian administration could ever devise to hide their shame of being a brute oppressor.
However, a creamy layer of Kashmir’s own people who have thrived on the benefits of this extended Indian rule preferred self experience in this stringent conflict. Living became easy till self appropriation was emphasized. In these circumstances, Aasiya residing in the upper town’s lavish colony in Bhagemehtab groomed her son up with ideas of freedom and goodness. Confronting the news of killings and disappearances of youth during protests in the recent past, She like many other women would disregard such acts of children saying ‘Uneducated parents would let their children go to pelt stones and the boys who indulge in pelting stones are ill mannered and bad’. Little did she know that education, political status and wealth were useless to avoid the wrath of this lawless State?
Aasiya’s Kitchen window is carved in this direction and she often spends time watching her son play, she hoots when her son Mohamed hits a six. On 2nd July, 2010, Mohamed, who is a class 11th student in a convent school, like every other day was playing in the locality’s only park. She heard a rush and quickly got to the window only to find that her son was chased by a mammoth battalion of CRPF, nervous about his safety she rushed out of her house.
Mohammed was playing when four children ran in his direction saying ‘run army is chasing us’. He ran with his bat still in his hand and thought in his mind that India was a democratic country he knows it from school, he should have just stayed and said that ‘Sir I am playing’. Thinking this in his mind he got into a neighbor’s house and army rushed at them and on gun point asked the house owner to bring the boys out.
‘I pleaded, also showed them my bat that I still held and in good English told ‘Sir I was just playing’ but they did not listen to me’ said Mohammed
Aasiya rushed to the spot and told the CRPF personnel that they just lived right here and have always been good people. She cried, yelled and did all she could only to realize a gun pointed and pushed on her chest. The Police van took away her son Mohamed and she fainted after chasing it till some distance.
Mohammed could not grasp a bit of what has happened?
On their way to ‘Thania Sadar’ Police station, the police van halted midway and asked the boys to get down.
They commanded us to pick up stones and face the camera; I trembled at this but was forced to do so, even while doing this I repeatedly said I did not do anything Sir.
Mohammed with four other boys was hung upside down for almost 5 hours and beaten ruthlessly till he fainted. He could not find a single local police officer but only CRPF personnel’s in the police station.
By the evening we were almost 24 boys and the youngest was a nine year old, they mercilessly thrashed him with gun butts and all he was mumbling was Oh God why don’t I die? I was repeatedly calling upon my mother in pain.
Mohammed is deeply wounded and shoved in painful memories of past four nights of trauma and abuse. He wants to become a doctor but after facing this brutal treatment at such a tender age of 16 what can he become? This is the question for the readers.
Stones are the weapons of the powerless
There are thousands like Mohammed who have witnessed tyranny in reply to hope. In the politicized milieu even the hope now withers away. The eighty thousand dead, their families their little boys and girls witness oppression. The feeling of losing a father, brother is deeply gloomy and impressive on the tender hearts. The boys and girls who need love and attention have to prove their identity to a foreign occupation. The ‘occupation’ does truly not know their language or culture. Children born anywhere in the world should not deserve bullets. There expressions are silenced but the graffiti all over the walls in the Kashmir vale including on the animals speaks out for them. GO INDIA GO, Leave Our Kashmir, is what the walls uniformly shout for them. Although their mouths are made shut and their movement crippled and playgrounds sealed under curfew their voices are heard because they are the voices of humanity.
In a solemn confession EN Rammoham who served in Kashmir during the peak of armed struggle in 1993 says, force commits excesses, fires on innocent people, and no action is taken by the commanders of that force. I know a number of cases where a force on patrol is ambushed. Say, three jawans are killed. Now the force looks around for three people — it could be farmers working in the nearby field — rounds them up and shoots them. This is plain, cold-blooded murder. But often the force commanders don’t take action against perpetrators of such crimes. The militants who fired at them escaped, and you round up four or five civilians and shoot them — is this way to conduct operations?
What to expect from the boys who are still grooming up and developing their intellect and behavior when the so-called ‘disciplined military apparatus’ wages war on them. Does India expect them not to pick up stones in self defense and in the wake of justice?
Inshah Malik is a PhD scholar at the Tata Institute of social sciences, Mumbai, India. Email: Inshah.firstname.lastname@example.org