The recent disturbances and killings of scores of civilians in Kashmir made me read a book about Kashmir once again. The book 'Curfewed Night' written by a Kashmiri journalist Basharat Peer published in 2008 is a disturbing account of the life of Kashmiris.in Independent India.
The first part of the book deals with the early childhood of the author in Kashmir.Kashmir was peaceful then and armed militancy has not started yet.Later he describes how the deep sense of injustice fueled street wide protests after the rigged elections of 1987 and Gawkadal Bridge massacre by CRPF in January 1990. This went on to trigger armed militancy.Now in 2010 history it seems is repeating itself. Kashmir is on the boil and a deep sense of injustice prevail among the civil society of Kashmir.The shouts of 'Freedom' reverberates. Instead of the armed militants funded by ISI it is the stone throwing Kashmiri youth who are in fore front protesting against the high handedness of security forces.
As Kashmiri journalist Dilnaz Boga writes
Even schoolchildren have been shot in the streets during protests – 11 during June alone, with more deaths in July, indicative of the extent to which the militarisation of the Valley has impacted normal life. Despite the lack of a visible insurgency, the military apparatus continues to remain all-powerful. With the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) not equipped to deal with civilians – as stated by no less an authority than E N Rammoham, former inspector-general of Kashmir – the repercussions of the heavy presence of military and paramilitary forces are being felt across the Valley.
Yesterday was the bloodiest day in recent history of Kashmir with 7 civilian deaths. The spiral of violence is continuing with each death creating more protest marches and more firing by security forces. Protesters are becoming more violent attacking Government buildings and vehicles and storming Police Stations.
Situation is completely out of control of the Government and political leadership, both in Delhi and Srinagar has been found clueless how to control the situation.
Indian mainstream media is gagged and most of the truth are not coming out.
Sanjay Kak a documentary filmmaker based in Delhi. the maker of Jashn-e-Azadi (2007) about Kashmir writes
The CNN-IBN correspondent, happily embedded inside an army truck as it made its way through Srinagar, was extolling the impact of the flag march (even as an official was busy denying that there had been any such thing). NDTV provided its usual high-wire balancing act, with Barkha Dutt dredging up the ‘pain on both sides’. The grief of the mourning father of 17-year-old Tufail Mattoo, killed when his skull was taken apart by a teargas shell, was weighed against a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commandant ruing the damage to his truck’s bulletproof windscreen. But such expedient journalism paled before far more damaging hubris. While these ‘national’ reporters had the run of curfew-bound Srinagar, they omitted to mention that their Srinagar-based colleagues – local, national and even international journalists – had been locked in their homes and offices for three days
The lack of objective coverage by media is one of the reason for lack of protests against civilian killings from rest of India.Other reason may be the cry of 'Azadi' from the Kashmiri protesters which make them less acceptable to rest of Indians.But prominent Indian Civil Rights activists have issued an appeal to stop violence against unarmed civilians in Kashmir.
Why the Kashmiri youth is angry? What do they want?
Sanjay Kak writes
Most of all, even before azadi, they want justice. As they watched the Indian Army columns moving through Srinagar last month, Kashmiris would have been reminded that the protests this summer started with the Army in the killing fields of Machil., where soldiers of the Indian Army (including a colonel and a major) were charged with the murder of three civilians, presenting them as militants for the reward money So, just as elections cannot be confused with democracy in Kashmir, an elected government is no substitute for a working justice system. Meanwhile, the prolonged use of the Public Safety Act, and the dangerous license of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, is slowly wearing thin for the young.
There has been no progress in ensuring justice to victims of Pathribal fake encounter killings of 2000 in which 5 civilians were killed Government is yet to give sanction to prosecute 5 soldiers charge sheeted by CBI in that case.
The best thing that the political leadership can do is to repeal or severely dilute the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and allow prosecution of all security personals accused of high handedness The Act has proved to perpetuate more violence and injustice not only in Kashmir but the whole of North East India.
Such a move may help in turning the tide against the cycle of violence and bring peace into the Kashmir valley. Otherwise get ready for a new round of Armed militancy in Kashmir and perhaps more bomb explosions in Cities of rest of India.