Communalisation in the name of Security and Sovereignt: JKCCS

As Kishtwar continues to be under curfew, this public statement put out on 15 August 2013 by the Srinagar-based JAMMU AND KASHMIR COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY is pertinent.
On 29 July 2013, Village Defence Committee [VDC] members were alleged to have killed 16 year old Shamim Ahmed Lone, resident of Noutaas, Thatri, Doda. Further, a few days prior to the murder of Shamim Ahmed, a 16 year old girl, resident of Kuntwara, Kishtwar, was kidnapped and raped by persons backed and protected by the VDC. According to newspaper reports from last over a month at many places in Doda-Kistwar region masked men have terrorized people. Over the last week, several places in the Jammu region, particularly Kishtwar, have been subjected to violence at the hands of VDC members, supported by Hindu communal groups, which resulted into loss of three lives, numerous injuries and loss of public property. The unabated support and encouragement to VDCs by Government of India, has ensured deepening communal strife.
The policy of the Indian State to control the people of Jammu and Kashmir through armed forces is entrenched and has resulted in numerous informal and formal networks of forces outside of the regular armed forces [i.e. army, para-military and police]. More specifically, these networks are referred to in Jammu and Kashmir as: VDCs, Special Police Officers [SPOs] and Ikhwans. Arms are distributed, minus any training, and persons appointed as VDC members, SPOs or Ikhwans, have little or no clarity of the chain of command to control the activities of such forces.
This State action is carried out with no regard for the rule of law and allows unchecked power and a complete lack of accountability. The Indian State has effectively sought to carry out statecraft that is violent and with complete disregard for all human dignity.
As per the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, in the Legislative Assembly, as of 1 April 2013, 26,567 persons were working with the VDCs to fight militancy. Further, it was stated that the VDCs were functioning in 10 districts of Jammu division and Leh District of Ladakh. Giving the break-up, the Chief Minister said the highest number of VDC volunteers – 5818 – were working in Rajouri district followed by Reasi with 5730 volunteers and Doda with 4822 VDC volunteers. Further, the strength of the SPOs working in the police department was placed at 25,474. Of these, 23,577 SPOs were working in different districts and the remaining 1897 were working in other wings/units of the police department. The Chief Minister stated that the highest number of SPOs – 3881 – were in Doda followed by Kishtwar with 2272 and 1740 SPOs in Jammu district.
Further, the Government stated that 7030 SPOs were terminated from services in Jammu and Kashmir since 2009. Of these, 1,292 SPOs had been terminated from services in 2009, followed by 1,535 SPOs in 2010, 2,067 in 2011, 1,917 in 2012 and 219 in 2013. This suggests that the Government has been aware of the criminality and other issues with SPOs that has resulted in dismissals.
Finally, the Ikhwan [Government backed militants], fully functional in the mid-1990s, were responsible for widespread and systematic attacks on civilians and the innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir. While it is reported that there is no longer the phenomenon of Ikhwan in Jammu and Kashmir, the situation is far from certain. Firstly, as the Ikhwan were never created legally, it is difficult to be certain that they have ceased to exist. Secondly, it requires to be confirmed that all the arms and ammunition provided to the Ikhwan have been returned to the Government.
The communal nature of the Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir, with the recent VDC violence, is apparent from the very constitution of the VDCs. In response to a RTI application, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir provided the following details regarding VDCs in Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban Districts:
–          In Kishtwar District, where the ratio of Hindus to Muslims is 35:65, of a total of 3287 VDC members, 3174 [96.56%] are Hindus. Further, out of 3287 VDC members, 865 are paid as VDC/SPOs, and of these 865, only 21 [2.43%] are Muslims. The rest of the paid VDC/SPOs [97.57%] are Hindus [ANNEXURE 1]
–          In Doda District, where the ratio of Hindus to Muslims is 30:70, of a total of 6521 VDC members, 5874 [90.08%] are Hindus. Further, out of 6521 VDC members, 1729 are paid as VDC/SPOs, and of these, only 126 [7.28%] are Muslims. The rest of the paid VDC/SPOs [92.72%] are Hindus [ANNEXURE 2]
–          In Ramban District, where the ratio of Hindus to Muslims is 30:70, of a total of 2901 VDC members, 2697 [92.96%] are Hindus. Further, out of 2901 VDC members, 177 are paid as VDC/SPOs, and of these, only 1 [0.6%] is a Muslim. The rest of the paid VDC/SPOs 176 [99.4%] are Hindus [ANNEXURE 3][1]
The privatization of human rights abuses and the outsourcing of criminality by the Indian State besides being in violation to many international laws are also violative of India’s constitution, and the rule of law. VDCs and Ikhwan must therefore be immediately disbanded. The powers of the SPOs must be limited to minor issues of traffic control, and they must have no powers vis-à-vis the control of militancy or any political activity. Further, the recruitment and training of SPOs must be carried out at a standard that ensures a responsible and accountable force. All arms and ammunition from all three groups must be immediately confiscated. Finally, investigations and prosecutions for all crimes committed must be carried out.
Unfortunately, instead of nabbing the culprits, the Government has imposed curfew in many parts of Jammu region, scrapped internet services in entire Jammu and Kashmir and thus punished the entire population instead of perpetrators.
Khurram Parvez
Programme Coordinator

[1] All references to “Hindu” and “Muslim” are to be read as persons of “Hindu descent” and “Muslim descent”.

12 thoughts on “Communalisation in the name of Security and Sovereignt: JKCCS”

  1. What is surprising is that this is not new. A web search of “village defence committee” will give a bunch of links, most of which detail the problems with such committees. And yet, our government did nothing by way of correction. This on-the-spot report by Yoginder Sikand going back to 2007 notes that VDCs were already creating problems of their own (as well as having some success in holding off militants). So the government had plenty of warning that some sort of communal flare-up was only a matter of time.

    This is state failure on a massive scale and unfortunately, whether we like it or not, we are all complicit in this failure. We can’t keep waving our hands and attributing all such failures to “the government.” We have responsibilities too.

  2. The question that Kafila fails to take head on is why in the world there were Pakistan and LeT flags to protest this issues? Also why did majority community partake disproportionate violence against minority community? VDC issue here is being over-played here by valley based news papers to completely gloss over the vindictive communal agenda at play here.

  3. Too bad ?Disband VDC? Then who takes responsibility of the things which happened to the Kashmiri Pandits will not happen here? never saw any such thing when the militants played football with kasmiri pandits head after severing them. Anti Indian slogans ?is it acceptable ? remember one thing in case of the insurgency as in Kashmir the common people will suffer as there are no such yardsticks to differentiate between an innocent and a terrorist until and unless people out there help the government instead of sitting and watching the show.OH i forgot is there someone who can look at the minority aspect in these areas? No none because the are all hindus who can go to hell for it doesnt matter because they do do not matter as far as votes are concerned . Mera Bharat is mahan but there are jallads and kafirs who are trying to make it the other way around. JAI HIND

  4. Correcting some misconceptions and false reporting that has happened on Kashmir and Kishtwar
    1. Pakistani and LeT flags were hoisted in Kishtwar ; Absolutely false propaganda used to fuel violence against Muslims there. Senior police officers from Kishtwar have clearly ruled out those reports. A green flag representing Islam (types of which are usually found on Mosques, like the saffron ones are found on temples in India) is always unfurled on Eid at Kishtwar. (GK 14th August 2013)

    2. Violence started after anti India slogans ; Again a propaganda used by Hindu rioters. Truth is trouble had been brewing many days before EId after Hindu VDC members had not only gang raped a minor Muslim girl there but armed VDC members had prevented the victim from registering an FIR and confronted the police in arresting the accused. In another incident a young Muslim had been murdered by Hindu VDC members some days prior to this. The local BJP leader, who has been evading arrest in an earlier bomb blast case where he is accused to have detonated a grenade and killed two Muslims to incite communal tensions, was also reported to have been planning more violence there. Incidentally intelligence agencies had already warned the govt about all this, but the govt turned a blind eye.

    For detailed report on what happened in Kishtwar read this

    http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/kishtwar-muslims-reel-under-right-wing-terror-53333.aspx

    and

    http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/bjp-state-secy-evading-arrest-since-2008-53443.aspx

    and

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/bajrang-dal-stoked-kishtwar-riots-say-intelligence-agencies/1155693/

    and

    http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2013/Aug/14/what-happened-in-kishtwar-on-eid-55.asp

    Also read what happened in Jammu after that

    http://www.kashmirdispatch.com/headlines/120817269-jammu-top-cop-gave-rioters-free-hand-locals-allege.htm

    Mr. Sri do you have any proof or link to your claims “militants played football with kasmiri pandits head after severing them”? If you have the proof of this claim do post here so that we are also enlightened about such crimes. I enquired from govt and security officials in Kashmir who termed your claim baseless and propaganda.

  5. Doesn’t matter who really hatched Kishtwar, the bottom line is that few heretical morons are used by power hungry politicians (read beasts) to guard a supposedly endangered religion which eventually serves their filthy political motives. Don’t blame any community, for this, as always, was done by the politicians to help them win votes for 2014. In the backdrop of politics or more precisely power people are divided on religious lines. Do these piglets really care who we are Hindus or Muslims?? What we are? Elections over we become bygones. Bitter truth isn’t? They need their political ends meet doesn’t matter how and by whom! Kashmir’s 90s “Islamic” uprising was political, driven by Pakistan using religion (Islam) however, its own culture was/is no less unislamic than India or I shall say more. Migration (exodus?) of KPs; a well calculated potical move with its ragged tents still serving the intrest of political parties. Sepratists of Kashmir being fed by politicians across the divide although with scant proof, Sangrimaal mall belongs to Yaseen and Javeed. How, everyone knows!

    Well in the above case if it is VDC who is responsible, then who was responsible for 200 plus young boys of Kashmir shot dead in two years? Aren’t they brewing a new terrorist breed. Recently an engineer dead in Kashmir during an encounter with Indian army was a produce of Kashmir police’s brutality. Disband them first. They are ethically bankrupt and morally hallow. India, Pakistan, BJP, Congress all playing politics and power game. They hardly care for common man. Do they?

  6. Mr. Ibne Battuta,

    I have read Kashmiri newspapers over last 15 years and have been consistently disappointed by their sense of bias and interpretation that they carry. Both Greater Kashmir and Rising Kashmir have a strong tendency to give a majortarian views with a secatarian views.

    So I am sorry but if your argument is based on what was posted in Kashmir news papers then you are evidently on very shaky grounds.

    So as per you no Pakistan flags were shown even though contrarian proofs were splashed. We know that Green Islamic flag which is different than LeT and Pakistan flags.

    You would also want to say that most properties that were destroyed were not of Hindu community.

    I have no love lost for Hindu Rightwing but equally no love lost for Muslim rightwing that you seek to support and perpetuate the biases.

    All I am saying that whitewashing the entire role of muslim rightwing is neither prudent nor good from a long term perspective. Please reconsider your position.

  7. Also, if this is not threatening on communal lines what else is? Isn’t this muslim baiting at its worse? The reason why I don’t trust Kashmiri news papers for their sense of objectivity. This is a top line news item to booth with.

    “Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani Tuesday said that until Village Defence Committees (VDCs) are disarmed and dissolved, “threat will haunt and prevail in Chenab Valley and Muslim Community will feel insecure.”

    http://greaterkashmir.com/news/2013/Aug/21/no-guarantee-of-peace-until-vdcs-are-dissolved-geelani-80.asp

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