Guest Post by Ashoka University Students and Alumni
Letter condemning the State Violence in Kashmir
The Govt of India. and the Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir.
We, the undersigned—current students, alumni of the Young India Fellowship, and faculty of Ashoka University—write to voice our deepest anguish and grave concern at the violent turn of events in Kashmir in the past few days. The violence perpetrated by the Indian State after the extra-judicial execution(1) of 22-year old Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani (2) is highly condemnable. The Indian Army, Kashmir Police and other task forces have reacted violently with bullets, pellets and lathis in the clashes that erupted after Burhan’s funeral. This was immediately followed by many more protests and demonstrations as part of Kashmiri resistance to the military occupation of Kashmir by the Indian State. In the violent repression of the protests which had a huge ground support (evident from the large attendance to Burhan’s funeral) , 55 civilians (3) have been killed and around 3100 people (4) were severely injured by the pellets(5), lathis and bullets, some of whom have lost their eyesight. We, unequivocally, condemn this brutal use of force by the Indian State in dealing with the protests after the killing of Burhan Wani. Continue reading Statement Against State Violence in Kashmir: Ashoka University Students and Alumni→
Guest Post by New Socialist Initiative, Delhi Chapter
The valley of Kashmir is on the boil again. Forsaking the so-called normal routines of their lives, people are on the streets. Not just young men, but even children and women are out, challenging the military might of the Indian state. Any fear of the police and army appears to have been discarded. Police stations and even CRPF camps have been attacked. A popular upsurge, it is energised by mass fury. Forty people have lost their lives in one week at the hands of the Indian security establishment. Hundreds of others have suffered serious eye and other injuries from presumedly ‘non-lethal’ pellets used by the police. While people are out confronting the police, para-military and army, the other organs of the Indian state in Kashmir, the elected government and its bureaucracy, elected members of the legislature, panchayats, etc. are in a rathole, fearing public appearance. It is just the people of Kashmir valley versus the institutions of organised violence of the Indian state.
While the immediate cause of popular anger is the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, reasons for this anger go much deeper and have a longer history. The stifling and repression of the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination stands at the root of this conflict. This repression has taken on extreme violent forms. For twenty five years now, the Kashmir valley has been among the most militarised places in the world. More than half a million troops of Indian army and para-military forces have been stationed in the state and its border with Pakistan. Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF camps dot the land scape. Highway checkpoints and random searches are part of everyday life. Thousands of men have disappeared, been picked up by security forces, thrown in the black hole of interrogation camps, often ending up in unmarked graves. The hated AFSPA gives Indian security forces legal cover to assault basic rights of Kashmiris to live a life of elementary dignity. If an average valley resident is alienated from the normal practices of the Indian state such as elections and its administrative initiatives, s/he harbours deep resentment against the presence of Indian security forces in their homeland. This resentment has erupted in mass protests again and again.
UoH Alumni Open Letter against the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, the return of Dr. Appa Rao as UoH’s VC, and the brutal display of state violence in campus.
As alumni of the University of Hyderabad, we observed with dismay the return of Dr. Appa Rao Podile as the Vice-Chancellor of University of Hyderabad (UoH) on March 22. We strongly condemn this provocation that led to the police brutality on campus. The shutdown of the university which has followed is unacceptable and unlawful.
A couple of days ago, a report ranked three departments of the University of Hyderabad among the top 500 university facilities in the world. The education we received at UoH helped us to not only shape our careers, but also to question, critique and analyse concepts such as equality, fraternity and social justice. Upon entering a central university of this size, we were exposed to the sheer diversity of this country. UoH, like other central universities in India, is an amalgam of many languages, cultures, religions and regions.
However, much like the rest of the country, the university campus is a space where systematically oppressive caste structures operate and are institutionally legitimised. Recent events at UoH have left us dismayed and angered at the treatment meted out to peacefully protesting students at the hands of the administration and the police.
Protests against Sexual Violence continue in Delhi. Earlier this morning, there was a gathering to protest against the gruesome sexual violence committed on Soni Sori while in custody in Chhattisgarh under the supervision of Ankit Garg, Superintendent of Police, Dantewada. Ankit Garg was awarded with a presidential police medal on Republic Day (January 26) in 2012.
I just finished a long essay for the cover of the May 2011 issue of Caravan magazine. In “At the Bloody Crossroads”, I plot the fate of the village of Tarmetla in the course of a year of ‘counterinsurgency”.
At 5:55 AM ON 6 APRIL 2010, Golf Company of the 62nd battalion of India’s Central Reserve Police Force [CRPF] radioed field headquarters at Chintalnar to report they were receiving small-arms fire in the “Tarmetla sector” and had sustained one injury. Golf Company was conducting a three-day area-domination exercise in the forests of Dantewada…
Operation Khanjar (“Dagger” in Hindi) was Golf’s last manoeuvre before the company was rotated out of Chintalnar to a less sensitive post. They were accompanied by their replacements from Alpha Company, who had just arrived from battalion headquarters in Barsur. The objective was to make their presence known in the district’s scattered hamlets: they were to spend three days sanitising the sector of guerrilla presence and acquainting the men of Alpha Company with the rolling hills and dry riverbeds that surround the CRPF camp at Chintalnar….
At 7:45 am, Golf Company’s deputy commandant, Satyawan Yadav, made a phone call from the vortex of the ambush to say that his company had been completely surrounded—and then the phone went silent.
Ever since Mukram hit the news, there has been a sure and steady attempt to cut-off access to the areas surrounding the Chintalnar Camp.
In the meantime, sources who helped me and a reporter from Tehelka access the villages are worried about their safety. SPOs in Chintalnar have reportedly threatened to “take action” against villagers who help the press.
A series of shots rang out in the night far beyond the barricaded perimeter of the Central Reserve Police Force camp here in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. For a few minutes, the sentries on duty returned fire before their guns, and the ones that sounded in the distance, fell silent.
By morning, the adivasi settlements around the camp had emptied, the villagers wary of being caught and questioned by the CRPF’s morning patrol. “Everyone is hiding in the forests,” said a villager from Markaguda, a village about two km from the camp, “I expect we shall be beaten up this morning.”
Mukram: Rumours swirling around Mukram suggest that this adivasi village in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district may soon be abandoned. “There is talk of going to Orissa or Andhra [Pradesh],” said a prominent adivasi leader with familial ties to Mukram, “It could happen in as little as a week. Villagers say there is too much pressure from both, the Maoists and the Police.”
A mid-sized village of about 100 houses, Mukram shot to prominence as the site where an ill-fated company from the 62nd Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) rested on the night of April 5 this year. At dawn on April 6, the company was ambushed by about 300 armed cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), resulting in the death of 76 security force members.
In a statement released after the attacks, the CPI (Maoist) praised the efforts of Comrade Rukhmati, a Maoist commander and Mukram resident, who was killed in the ambush. On May 11, The Hindu reported the death of Kunjam Suklu, a Mukram resident who, his family members allege, was beaten to death by the CRPF in a fit of retaliatory rage.