Shoot to Kill: Standard Operating Procedure in Kashmir

Nothing unusual has happened in Handwara. The Indian state has once again proved to be a killer  in Kashmir. Three people have lost their lives because the Indian armed forces and the J&K Police decided to defend themselves against people protesting against what they perceived to be a soldier’s harassment and molestation a Kashmiri woman.

Blood on the streets of Handwara
Blood on the streets of Handwara, Kashmir

The troops that defend India’s honour, unity and integrity and other such stuff have been trained to shoot to kill rather than answer a town’s questions about the sense of impunity that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the entire apparatus of a de-facto military occupation gives to Indian soldiers in the Kashmir valley. Lets stop pretending this is an exceptional situation, an excess, an anomaly, or even an instance of troopers going rogue. Whatever be the facts of the case, if the name the village of Kunan Poshpora, or of two women called Nilofar and Asiya mean anything to you, you will know that a predatory sexual profile is part of the operational signature of the Indian armed forces and local police in Kashmir.

Moreover, if you think that the sudden death of unarmed young people in Kashmir is an exceptional situation, just remember what happened only two months ago. A young student called Shaista Hamid, was killed when a bullet fired by Indian soldiers hit her in the verandah of her own home near Pulwama. This happened around the same time when another young person, a soldier called Hanumanthappa, died in an avalanche in the Siachen Glacier, Kashmir. If you weigh the accounts of these two deaths, both tragic, both unnecessary, you will find, many minutes of footage, and reams of newsprint, about Hanumanthappa. The chances are, you will find next to nothing on Shaista Hamid. When Hanumantappa joined the armed forces, he knew that he was putting himself in danger. Did Shaista Hamid simply make the mistake of being born in the wrong place, at the wrong time? If you go further back in time, you will find, month by month, unarmed young people falling to the bullets fired from the barrels of guns belonging to the Indian armed forces and paramilitaries in Kashmir. Did they all make the mistake of being simply born in Kashmir, of speaking Kashmiri, of occasionally testing the sound of ‘Azadi’ on their tongues, in their accent?

The sequence of events that unfolded this time in Handwara went something like this. (It was monotonously familiar). An Indian soldier allegedly attempted to molest a Kashmiri woman.Some young people got wind of what was happening and intervened. The public gathered in protest. They asked for the soldier to be punished. The armed forces stationed at a bunker refused to listen to them. The assembled people threw stones. The soldiers fired, police also fired. Two young men, one of them a promising cricketer, and a woman were injured in the firing. They all succumbed to their injuries.

Nayeem, playing Cricket
Nayeem Qadir Bhat, playing Cricket on the streets of Handwork

One of those killed, according to the Greater Kashmir newspaper was – Nayeem Qadir Bhat,resident of Banday Mohalla, was a first year student in Government Degree College Handwara, was a cricket buff. Nayeem was selected for All India level coaching camp for cricket three years ago. He had shown extra-ordinary performance in the state level under-19 cricket competition and was especially selected for an All India Under 19 Cricket Coaching Camp.

Nayyem Qadir Bhat, killed on the streets of Handwara
Nayyem Qadir Bhat, killed on the streets of Handwara, mourned by his relatives.

The Indian nationalism that makes some young people decide that the celebration of a West Indies Cricket victory by Kashmiri students is unacceptable happens to be the same mindset that pumps a bullet into the body of a Kashmiri young man who could one day have played for the cricket team that Indian patriots lose sleep over. Is it only in Kashmir that the otherwise staid game of cricket has such ridiculously tragic consequences? One good reason for the dismantling of nation-states and their imperial projects is the liberation, not just of peoples, but also of sport from the obscenity of nationalism gone rogue.

What happened next in Handwara could have been pre-scripted, The army issued a statement saying that the incident was unfortunate. The chief minister expressed regret. Tomorrow, when the funerals of these three human beings will be the venue of further protests, in all likelihood, the armed forces will use lethal force again (though we hope better sense prevails).  If there are casualties the cycle will repeat itself. Curfew will be imposed. Flag marches will occur. And gradually, another storm of rage will break over the valley of Kashmir.

An incompetent government at the centre, and its client in the state, will act with characteristic and predictable venality. A chain of military command that has learnt nothing at all over decades of facing the people of Kashmir, will commit, again, a series of horrifying and cumulative excesses. The media in Delhi, which had begun fulminating, not entirely unjustifiably, against the Jammu & Kashmir Police for a mild ‘lathe-charge’ on ‘non-local’ (mainland Indian) students when their petulant, spoilt-brattish, inability to take a defeat in cricket gracefully turned into some stone throwing, will now stay silent, or find ways to blame the people who take the bullets in the streets of Kashmir. We have seen this happen before. Troopers will open fire, and the people will be blamed for being in the way of the hail of bullets.

The comparison will be obvious, but nobody will make it easily in television studios, so lets make it here  – when ‘Indian’ young people at the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar throw stones after a routine cricket match result related tiff, the police beats them with canes, when Kashmiri young people throw stones after being faced with deafening silence in the wake of sexual harassment, the armed forces, paramilitaries and police shoot to kill.

‘Azadi’ in Kashmir is of course an imperative for the Kashmiri people, who understandably, want to be rid of a situation that attempts to normalize an ‘alien’ army shooting to kill young people protesting against sexual harassment, and a thousand other crimes. But echoing the demand of ‘Azadi’ for Kashmir, from India, is now perhaps the only way, we in India, can be rid of the moral stain of having these acts committed in our name.

In the past two months, we have heard, and read, and thought a lot about young people asking for ‘Azadi’, or for their dignity, in their own ways, in the campuses of different Indian universities. We have also seen the brutal police response to those calls for freedom. Notwithstanding the fact that each of those instances of police brutality in Indian universities needs to be condemned (and has been condemned), we also need to recognize the fact that so far, no Indian student in Delhi, or Hyderabad, or Jadavpur, or even, ‘non-local’ students in NIT, Srinagar, have been shot down by any soldier, police or paramilitary trooper. But the merest whisper of a protest in a Kashmir town leads to the use of lethal weapons by the forces maintaining the occupation of Kashmir. Nothing demonstrates more clearly the fact that the Indian state acts differently with different kinds of protestors. When it comes to ‘mainland Indian students in Kashmir’ or protesting students in ‘mainland India’, the Indian state  beats, badmouths, manipulates, imprisons and harasses,in a manner which is vile and cruel, but when it comes to student protestors in Kashmir, it shoots to kill, without hesitation. If anything demonstrates the relationship (and difference) between what Kanhaiya Kumar famously called ‘freedom in’ and ‘freedom from’ India, it is this. Perhaps Kanhaiya Kumar needs to do a little more hard thinking about what the meanings of the words ‘in’ and ‘from’ are. He is not alone, many of us need to reflect on our unthinking acceptance of the doctrine of the ‘unity and integrity’ of the nation state and its borders. We need to ask, again –  “is the life of human beings more, or less, important than the integrity of maps drawn on paper ?”

I have no doubt that it is once again the right time to ask for Azadi, not just in, India, but also from, India, for Kashmiris. Likewise, perhaps it is also the right time to ask for Azadi, for Indians, from the culpability of being constantly rendered complicit in the enterprise of the deeply immoral military occupation of Kashmir. Students and young people in JNU, Delhi Hyderabad and elsewhere need to march, and to keep marching, not just for Rohith and Delta, but also, now, for Nayeem. Otherwise, there will never be any Azadi, not in Handwara, and not in Hyderabad.

[ The three images featured in this post have been taken from the Facebook wall of Suvaid Yaseen. We would be happy to credit the photographer if he/she/they  is/are identified ]

UPDATE : April 13, 2016

Since this post was uploaded in the early hours today, several reports have surfaced quoting a testimony of the girl who was allegedly molested. These indicate that the molestation may have been committed by a person in uniform, perhaps school uniform. A video has also been circulated on social media with the testimony of a young woman.

Here is a news report that also quotes this testimony :

At present no one has been able to confirm, or deny,  whether the young woman who is seen speaking in the video is the same person around whom the entire crisis erupted in Handwara. If it is indeed true that she was not molested by a soldier but by someone else then the incident needs to be looked at in another light. Whatever be the case, there can be no excuse whatsoever for the army or police shooting to kill in response to protests about any such incident. The main point of the above post (which has been modified in the light of emerging reports) does not change, no matter what the circumstances surrounding it. The trigger happy nature of Indian forces in Kashmir is an endemic problem.The solution to this problem lies in the scrapping of the AFSPA, the lifting of the military occupation and the eventual departure of all Indian troops from the Kashmir valley.

21 thoughts on “Shoot to Kill: Standard Operating Procedure in Kashmir

  1. Emberzel R

    It is shocking to learn of these terrible killings, but the author’s argument seems like an overextention (azadi from India). If these molestation charges are true, nothing justifies army’s decision to open fire. But let’s not forget that AFSPA is an Act of ratified by the parliament, and passed by democratic means. The army has no say in its continued application. If citizens of India feel it accords inordinate power to the Army then they must lobby their elected representatives to revoke this legislation. There is both scholarly work and military documents that reveal how lives of jawaans have been lost during counter-terrorism because the commander-in-charge had to confirm terrorist activity before reporting the same to the Ministry of Defense. One must also recognize that Kashmir, for over half-a-century, is being afflicted by infiltration from across the border that reached its peak in 1990. It’s true that the military cannot solve what is essentially a political problem between India and Pakistan, but one also needs to question how terrorism in Kashmir has been able to survive for so long? By their own admission, some people in Kashmir confess behind close doors that “paisa dono taraf se aa raha hai” (personal communications with locals). The GoI routes funds to state government for development activity. How are the funds from the “other” source being used? De-militarization of Kashmir is what the Army also wants (Read: Demilitarisation of Kashmir by P. Raina, 2016), but the harsh reality of Pathankot gives enough reason to the government to decide against it. And finally, if your leg gets injured during a treacherous climb, would you treat it with medicine and gauze or amputate it?

    1. Sajad

      Dear Emberzel (If I reckon, your profile name as it means)
      It then dawned upon him that the leg didn’t belong to him at all…and all those efforts of going up for a “treacherous climb” just for his passion to showcase his bravado alas! all went in vain. On top, he unfurled his victory but regrets who will sustain this flag atop a piece of land, he has a temporary sojourn upon!

  2. Manikarnika

    Why don’t you give a proper solution as per you the government is incompetent. You wanted the NIT students should have been killed for their rights to live in Srinagar which unfortunately is a part of India. I think the “Indian State” you mentioned also belongs to you and us. We are worried about our soldiers and their families who sent their beloved son to fight for integrity of our nation. Have you ever covered any story related to some martyred soldier of the Indian Army. No doubt the soldier has committed a heinous crime and strict action should be taken. But, AFSPA is important for our excellent soldiers who die for journalists like you because in Kashmir you can not differtiate between a terrorist and acommon citizen who sometimes are informers. Notwithstanding, there are dire loopholes in AFSPA but please also write something about the Kashmiri pundits Mr. Sengupta.

    1. shaheena akhter

      Kashmiris will never kill any innocent person bcoz our religion s nt allowing us to do that.look how kashmiri students r being beaten after in many parts of India. Ur army illegally invade ND occupy our kashmir whom India say they r for security of kashmir. If they will fight only with gunmen thre would nt have more than 90000 innocent killing it s actually black laws like afspa which gives army free hand to kill kashmiris.until UN resulution s nt being implied peace will nt prevail in the region.

    1. Jatin patro

      This is an unfortunate incident and the soldier involved should be court martialed..but some of the youth of Kashmir is no different than what we call “Nanak haram”..reason is very simple.we live in a great country India.this is our motherland.I love this country.we pledge to treat everyone as our brothers and sisters.so when we see a brother from Kashmir celebrating India’s defeat ..then yes I will hit that guy..yess I will!! In fact we are too much tolerant towards this. In us there is a law that would allow court to take appropriate action. Nationalism is and should be an inborn and I don’t see a point where we need to explain the fact that Kashmir should respect it..soldiers posted there are angry. Reason is too much simple. A fellow soldier dies trying to protect civilians from militants and youth then condemns and mourns for the militants..obviously this is gonna make them mad. What happened to the so called “brave youth of kashmir” when Pakistan was shell firing at villages..why didn’t they gave the effort like the army did during flood ?? Where were they then???? I think Kashmir should learn to respect the union of India. And maybe then even the people would respect them. Jo some ghar mein rehkar ussey kharab bolta ho usko uski maa bhi izzat nah deti. Jai hind

  3. Sreejith

    Dear Shuddhabrata,

    I agree with the general import of your article. Kashmir has for a long time been bearing the brunt of being a buffer zone between the militaries of both India and Pakistan. They definitely deserve to lead a better life, and it’s quite atrocious to make Kashmiris pay the price for keeping the rest of India safe. However, I have two questions.

    1. There’s a video of a young girl, said to be the girl who was molested by the soldiers, going around on Facebook. The girl mentions that she was not molested, but she had requested the soldier to watch her bag while she was inside. A couple of Kashmiris were offended by this and created an issue. Hindustan Times and The Hindu report that prior to the firing, an angry mob had tried to torch the army bunker, as well. How far is this version true? Who is the source of information for you on this?

    2. Kashmir’s freedom from India, in theory, is quite an acceptable concept. But, the consequences of that – bringing the Line of Control closer to Delhi, Kashmir becoming an open playground for Pakistani military, ISI, militants and terrorists – how can that scenario be managed?

    1. Sajad

      Dear Sreejit
      Sorry to but in here..(guaged your sincerity of thought). Being a Kashmiri myself, I couldn’t resist somehow. Please allow me for a little rejoinder

      1) Video of a young girl – You may be surprised to know that the girl had immediately after the incident given the written testimony to the police that army had attempted to molest her. Please look into the 13th April 2016 edition of Kashmiri news papers [Greater Kashmir, Kashmir reader, Risking Kashmir, Kashmir dispatch..I am attaching a link, not sure if the moderator can allow
      http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/front-page/bloodbath-army-kills-2-youth-in-handwara-after-protests-over-girl-s-molestation/214585.html
      EXCERPTS – English Daily Greater Kashmir as under for your reference
      —————————————————————————————–
      They said as the girl entered the washroom, a soldier of 21 RR followed her and tried to molest her. However, the girl raised hue and cry and caught the attention of people nearby who instantly held massive anti-Army protests and demanded arrest of the soldier. The protestors were chanting anti-Army and anti-government slogans.

      In the meantime, a group of eyewitnesses said, a heavy contingent of police arrived at the spot and opened fire in the air to disperse the protesters.

      “While police was doing this, the soldiers who were commanded by a Major–also known as ‘Town Commander’—opened fire on protestors in which Iqbal received bullets in face and died on spot, while Naeem succumbed to his injuries on way to the district hospital.”

      While heavy clashes were going on, the girl was taken to police station Handwara. “She told us that the soldier tried to molest her in the washroom,” a police official, who was among officials who recorded her statement, told Greater Kashmir.
      —————————————————–
      Now, because this is not the first incident of its kind [and it wont be the last, we know] there’s a belief, a known certainty of injustice prevailing in the hearts and minds of Kashmiris, for till now..NOT even a single “promised investigations and probes” have come to fruition in terms of delivering justice to the bereaved families. INvestigations and probes in our language are the very tools to pacify the tempers, buy time and guage the moods. The standard flow chart goes like this –
      1) Commit a crime – Deny it.
      2) Hounded still by Kashmiris and protests follow – Kill more
      3) Kashmiris don’t budge – impose undeclared curfew (and call it RESTRICTIONS], promise probe.
      4) Protests continue – Obfuscate truth, create confusion [typical example http://www.jkccs.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Shopian-Rape-and-Murder-Report.pdf%5D
      5) Lift curfew – gauge mood, give hourly relaxations..pacify the tempers
      6) Congratulate people for being quite – reveal probe, exonerate army, victimise the victim.
      7) Ask NDTV and Times Now to do the services
      8) Rest for some months
      9) Repeat 1 through 8
      10) Deny Freedom.

  4. Indian

    Will you apologise now since the girl has claimed that it was the locals who abused her and NOT the security forces. Journalism shouldn’t be just to create sensationalism. Do your proper investigation, and then write. Do not jump to conclusion !

  5. An absolutely soul- stirring peice of writing. ‘Kashmir’, one of the most written, the most heard and the most discussed issue, and yet the most ignored, the most silenced, the most unanswered one too. This article has helped a drop of tear pop out of my eyes. But how does it help the Kashmiri people? Once read, and then scrolled. Instances of sexual harassment, army atrocities, mass killings has even though somehow managed to find spaces in some dailies but has never reached the subconscious of those in power and of the Indian stakeholders who claim to be the ‘ ‘Messiah’ of Kashmiris. One thing that is quite evident is that Kashmir has become an unresolvable issue. It can never attain freedom as long as the people there are alive. Once it becomes free of human population, it might have a chance. Above all the ‘Kashmir’ tag the people unwantedly have to carry with themselves, anywhere they go will never cease to haunt them with people raising eyebrows as soon as they learn it. With a lost hope of Kashmir singing songs of freedom from everything and anything, quote- unquote, I would like to thank you for at least being someone amongst many for giving it a pen.

  6. Dear Admin Since you wanted to know the source of images used. Two of the images, one, of the blood on ground and the wailing father is from Weekly The Varmul Post. Please put thr credit to the organisation and it’s photojournslist Raja Nouman.
    Thanks. Editor, The Varmul Post

  7. sachin

    STOP SPREADING RUMOURS!

    “Yesterday, 3 people were Killed in Kashmir during firing by army. Army had to fire because an agitated and violent mob pelted stones on army, the mob also attacked Jammu & Kashmir police personnel and police officers were beaten up by the mob. As claimed by army, soldiers opened to save them and this caused death of 3 people.

    Protests started after people were told that a teenage girl was molested by a soldier of Rashtriya Rifles housed in a camp in the middle of main chowk Handwara in north Kashmir.

    Now here comes the interesting part: The Kashmiri girl, who was reportedly molested by a soldier, has denied the allegation and instead blamed local boys of harassing her.

    Some politically motivated people wanted to create tension by maligning the army. They spread rumor which resulted in killing of people. At the end of the day, some innocent Kashmiris lost their lives, army has become a villian in the eyes of Kashmiri people. Anti-army messages are flooding on the internet.

    Army and locals are at the losing end. People who wanted to spread malice have won, yet again!”

  8. arunarun74

    Trigger happy nature of Indian forces is an endemic problem ?? lifting of military occupation ? Are you nuts ? Unless of course your bank account is surviving on ISI pension, do you even think through what you write ? Have you thought about the result of giving the terrorists a platform as ripe as most of the valley region to work freely within? I unfortunately don’t have the time nor the inclination to educate you on the tenets of national security and the use of armed forces – but do consider spending some time understanding the basics, after all, it is your taxes that keep it ticking.

    It is obvious from the new information coming from the valley that your article is a reflection of a general lack of journalistic ethics and inadequate research. You are using this platform to stoke fire in an already tense situation through inflammatory statements. I won’t be surprised if you are writing under a pseudonym and are actually one of the culprits responsible for starting this chaos and misinformation in Handwara.

    If you are not one of those, and infact the journalist seeking truth and justice, as you try to show yourself to be, then please articulate your end state view of the Kashmir situation rather than saying things just to sound like you really care for the kashmiris. Bad mouthing the Army and presenting poorly researched trigger happy views on the recent trendy topics of discontent (as obvious from your other articles) probably gets you some extra views but very soon soon it will become obvious (as it has become now with your flawed article on the ‘Army SOP’) that you are nothing but an attention seeking media stooge.

    I completely sympathize with the Kashmiri people and their losses, however, neither giving terrorism a free reign in the region nor is pounding them with the Army the answer. Mr. Sengupta, If you want to do justice to your journalistic responsibilities, please spend some time articulating an approach that could work and be part of the solution rather than merely a mischief maker leveraging a gullible reader base.

  9. K SHESYU BABU

    Army and police are taught how to quench blood rather than how to instil blood into suffering human beings. Kashmir or Chhattisgarh, the stains of blood make the centre and state happy. Was there a need to shoot at all? Why was the situation so bad that killing was the only option? When students strike or adivasis go into forests for their livelihood what prompts the armed system to massacre human beings like carnivores? By murdering unarmed, both the centre and state governments along with the army and police are courting hatred.
    One of the main reason for barbaric behaviour of military and police is that they are not apprehended let alone punished or arrested. When cases upon cases are slapped on human rights activists or Kashmiri ‘separists’ why should not the same law apply for the police and army. Some police commissioners especially openly vouch violence and proudly declare ‘annihilation’ of Maoists. They are left Scot – free while Kashmir supporters for ‘aazad’ Kashmir are branded terrorists, separatists, extremists and imprisoned for indefinite days and even handed over harshest of punishments.
    As long as state becomes terrorist, Kashmiris or adivasis, everyone tries to get away from the brutality. The Kashmiris hatred towards the government is obvious and should not be construed as their hatred towards Indian mainland people. The policies of government have also been instrumental in displacement of Kashmiri pundits. At least now, the pundits without falling a prey to Hindu fanatics must understand Kashmiri problem and demand the immediate withdrawal of armed forces. Clear guidelines must be issued to police not to use their arms at the slightest provocation. Every army or police personnel should be booked and tried for offences like rapes, killings, custodial deaths, illegal arrests, brutal and atrocious behaviour,etc. Only then will Kashmiris (or any common people) believe in the sincerity of the government. Otherwise their fight for a ‘seperate’ Kashmir continues with even more intensity and sacrifice.

  10. Sagar

    Fake news with fake people.and dear Kashmir Muslims,Kashmir belongs to India right before1947 it was your fore fathers who invaded India and was washed out by great Indian rulers. Also see the correct news from the girl itself here…will post the link soon. Everytimethe local kasmiri creates issue no one care to show it and again this time local did it blaming it to indian army.

  11. Jatin patro

    This is an unfortunate incident and the soldier involved should be court martialed..but some of the youth of Kashmir is no different than what we call “Nanak haram”..reason is very simple.we live in a great country India.this is our motherland.I love this country.we pledge to treat everyone as our brothers and sisters.so when we see a brother from Kashmir celebrating India’s defeat ..then yes I will hit that guy..yess I will!! In fact we are too much tolerant towards this. In us there is a law that would allow court to take appropriate action. Nationalism is and should be an inborn and I don’t see a point where we need to explain the fact that Kashmir should respect it..soldiers posted there are angry. Reason is too much simple. A fellow soldier dies trying to protect civilians from militants and youth then condemns and mourns for the militants..obviously this is gonna make them mad. What happened to the so called “brave youth of kashmir” when Pakistan was shell firing at villages..why didn’t they gave the effort like the army did during flood ?? Where were they then???? I think Kashmir should learn to respect the union of India. And maybe then even the people would respect them. Jo some ghar mein rehkar ussey kharab bolta ho usko uski maa bhi izzat nah deti. Jai hind

  12. Sunil

    Mr sengupta ppl like u jus need some fuel to spew venom against soldiers n ur own country n govt …u can’t even wait to find out the thruth…or wait for both side of the story to come to light…have u even been at the place where the alleged incident happened. .have u ever seen the type of circumstances our soldiers operate challenge ..u wud jus pi** in ur pants…n u talking bout their SOP. ….shame on u…..

  13. This post has received several comments, many very abusive, all belaboring the point that there is a video circulating that apparently contains a statement by the young woman/girl at the centre of the maelstrom in Handwara who has now said (and the videos show her saying this) that it was not soldiers, but locals, maybe schoolboys who harassed her. Many of the commentators had posted links to this video on youtube.

    The update in the main body of the post already takes these developments into account. And the contents of the original post were substantially modified in the light of these developments. That being said, the facts of who did or did not molest the woman have no bearing on the issue of troops and/or policemen shooting at crowds of protestors in a manner that leads to the loss of life. Shooting to kill, as a crowd control measure, is an unacceptable response under any circumstances.

    Now, about the video – the circulation of this video – which reveals the identity of the young woman/girl, is a highly irresponsible act, and can place her and her family in danger. In the update to the post, I have linked to a news report that gives her testimony in full, but obscures her face digitally. I am not at all interested in ‘hiding’ or ‘hiding from’ this video, which is why you can see and hear the news report, and even witness the girl speaking, without her identity being revealed. However, we have a duty to protect the privacy of the young woman concerned, and so, all comments that link to the unfiltered video of her speaking have been deleted.

    It needs to be repeated, that, there is as yet no foolproof confirmation about whether or not this video that is being circulated points to the incident that lies at the heart of what happened in Handwara. It may be true, and again, it may not be. We need to take all claims and counter-claims at this stage, with a pinch of salt. What is undeniable, and unequivocally condemnable, is that the occupation has taken four more lives. There can be no debating that.

  14. Sayan

    Dear Shudhhabrata,

    There are very few writers/journalists in India who have the intellectual courage to criticize the egregious human rights violations by the Indian army in the Kashmir valley. I agree with many of the points you make in the post. For one thing, the army should be held accountable for their crimes. AFSPA must go. The Indian government must hear the voice of the people in the Kashmir valley. And it is also a fact that most of them are demanding “Azadi” from India.

    Having said all this, I will try to formulate two counterpoints below which I rarely see addressed by the intellectuals who support the separatism in Kashmir.

    1. While it is undoubtedly true that people in the Kashmir Valley want to secede from India, it is also true that the Kashmiri Pandits leaving in exile want Kashmir to be part of India. Don’t the Pandits have a say in this whole dispute? Note that I am not referring to the standard right wing talking points made by an Anupam Kher or an Ashoke Pandit. Think of a journalist like Rahul Pandita and what he had to say in his book “Our moon has blood clots”. I do not believe any reasonable person can accuse Rahul Pandita of being a right wing fanboy. It is indeed quite puzzling for me. How come the cause of the Kashmiri Pandits got hijacked by the BJP? It ought to have been taken up by the liberals/radicals/leftists. It seems like there are only two options: (a) You have to be a jingoist and cheer for the army, or (b) You have to support “azadi” and turn a blind eye to the religious fundamentalism in Kashmir (which led to the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits). Neither of these two options sounds appealing to me.

    2. If Kashmir secedes from India, that might have serious adverse repercussions on the muslims living elsewhere in the country. Shouldn’t this factor be taken into consideration?

    To summarize, if the demand is to repeal AFSPA and make the army accountable for the human rights violations, then I am completely on board with it. If the demand is for “azadi”, then it is quite a different matter altogether.

    Best regards.
    Sayan

  15. nagendra kumar

    while Indian army personnel are not specialist molesters , please note that incidences of sexual offences are plenty across the country; army personnel are also human; should be punished if found guilty; pelting stones is not way to protest n raising azaadi slogans is not situational. what azaadi do kashmiris want – azaadi to walk Scott free after attacking Indian parliament; azaadi to raise anti India and pro pakistan slogans; please clarify . Manipur has also AFSPA; they never raised azaadi slogans.

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