Tag Archives: Indian Army in Kashmir

The Outsiders: Jagjit Pal Singh

This is a guest post by JAGJIT PAL SINGH

It was the year 2013; I took an auto-rickshaw from Dal Gate to Shankaracharya temple. As the auto-rickshaw took a right from the Boulevard towards the road that goes to the temple it was halted by a long queue of vehicles, mostly cars. I could see a security-check post from the distance, men in uniform grilling the drivers and their automobiles with the same thirst. You have to clear it before you pay visit to the deity. In Kashmir, these security-checks posts are just like traffic signals we habitually obey and cross in Delhi or in any other city, every day, every few kilometres. As I got off from the auto to take some fresh air a faujee approached me. He inquired from where I was coming, a very friendly tone in his voice. I was not new to these security-checks. I am half-Kashmiri, half-Punjabi, half-Sikh, half-Indian, half-Pakistani, half- refugee, and many others halves I could never put together to give a name to. He was visibly happy to see an ‘Indian’ in the land of ‘terrorists’, probably mistaken by my Punjabi/Sikh appearance. I’m more Kashmiri than a Punjabi though. If it were 1980’s or 1990’s the approach would have been different. Punjabis, mostly Sikhs, were terrorists those days. There are few other adjectives he used for Kashmiris I would like to skip. I instantly gathered all my Indian-ness and replied in an equally friendly-Indian tone to his friendly-Indian questions. It was a casual chat. Then, he went to the auto-driver in his role as a uniformed Indian in a ‘conflict-zone’; spoke to him in a dialect ‘only Kashmiris understand’, gave a green signal and in few minutes our middle-class auto-rickshaw bypassed all the expensive cars with JK number at the rear. Continue reading The Outsiders: Jagjit Pal Singh

What Made Burhan a Hero?: Muzaffar Ali

This is a guest post by MUZAFFAR ALI

Around two lakh people participated in the funeral procession of Burhan Wani: the slain Hizb militant from Shareifabad, Tral. Without a break Kashmiris are offering prayers in absentia and paying tributes to the `martyr.` Community kitchens in his locality have been set up to feed people who come to pay tributes. Defying curfew, people are crossing hills and hamlets on foot to reach his native place. Graffities in the Lalchowk area of Srinagar hail him as a hero who lives in “our hearts.” Never before has anyone witnessed such a tremendous support or tribute base for a slain militant. Militants have died before as well, but his death has given life to something unprecedented. Banners in his honour have been installed across the valley to convey the message that he will be remembered. The valley is on boil, and people are risking lives to attack armed police officers and CRPF personals. The death toll according to reports in Rising Kashmir has reached 43 and thousands of people are injured, many of them critically. While the state and the propagandistic TRP driven media emphasize Burhan being a ‘terrorist’, Kashmiris hail him as their ‘hero’ and ‘saviour.’ The question is what turned Burhan into a hero and why are Kashmiris across age groups eulogizing him? What is inspiring people to raise a slogan like, “mubarak tas maajeh yes ye zaav: shaheed hai aav, shaheed hai aaav” (congratulations to the mother who gave birth to Burhan—the Martyr). Continue reading What Made Burhan a Hero?: Muzaffar Ali

JKCCS Statement on Extra Judicial Killings by Army (Rashtriya Rifles) and Police in Handwara, Kashmir: Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society

Guest Post by Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society

On 12 April 2016, armed forces personnel of Indian Army’s 21 RR and Jammu and Kashmir police killed three persons – two young boys and an old woman – in Handwara, Kupwara District, and injured around 24 civilians. Initial reports suggest that the armed forces fired at civilians protesting against sexual violence directed at a minor girl in Handwara town by army personnel.

24 hours after these killings the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, and army spokesperson have only made statements that do not address the steps that must be immediately taken. The army spokesperson while regretting the killing has assured action and stated that it would need to be ascertained if the “standard operating procedures” have been followed. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has sought assurance from the Indian Defence Minister that action would be taken in this case. Meanwhile, it appears that the Jammu and Kashmir Police have recorded and uploaded a video of the victim of sexual violence exonerating the army and both the police and army have circulated this video widely, including to news channels.

First, the army personnel of 21 RR involved in the killings, including those present on the scene of crime and in command of 21 RR, and involved police personnel, must be immediately arrested for purposes of investigations. Arms, ammunition and any other physical evidence connected to the killings must be immediately seized. Arrest of armed forces personnel in Jammu and Kashmir is not barred by any law. No “standard operating procedures” need to be consulted, particularly as it appears from RTI information sought that no such SOP’s even exist for situations such as the instant one of protests. Further, this preliminary step in investigation does not require the intervention of the army, Defence Minister or any other authority. But, the move by the Chief Minister to approach the Indian Defence Minister does explain where political power vis-à-vis even law and order in Kashmir lies. Thus far, media reports suggest that ASI Mohammad Rafiq has been suspended. His suspension is not enough as the amount of violence witnessed by people yesterday is not possible to have been carried out by one police official. Therefore, other officials responsible from army and police should be arrested immediately.

Second, the Jammu and Kashmir Police must immediately suspend the Superintendent of Police, Handwara, Ghulam Jeelani Wani, subject to investigations in this case as his role in the killings would need to be ascertained. Further, it appears that the video of the victim of sexual violence, a minor, has been circulated to distract from the investigation of 21 RR personnel responsible for the killings. Further, the actual circulation of the video, and disclosure of the identity of the victim, would invite prosecution under criminal law and/or other disciplinary action for the Superintendent of Police and other police officials involved. The army circulation of the video must also be examined as on one hand they have regretted the killings but at the same time are deeply invested in prejudicing investigations against their personnel. The circulation of this video has serious ramifications for the security of the victim.

Lastly, but most importantly, due to the role of the police, particularly the Handwara police, over the last 24 hours, the investigation of this case must be immediately, at the very least, handed over to a senior police officer of another district, with no criminal allegations against him.

Past crimes committed by the armed forces have been buried in a manner similar to what we witness today in the case of the Handwara killings. Following initial statements by the army and the State, no action is taken. The army claims to carry out an enquiry which is invariably not made public and is an essentially an attempt to take the case out of the public domain and protect the accused army personnel. It is pertinent to recall that in 2004 in Badra Payeen village, Handwara, when an army office was accused of rape of a mother and daughter, Mehbooba Mufti and then Chief Minister, Mufti Sayeed assured that the guilty officer would be punished. Mehbooba Mufti may have forgotten this case but people of Kashmir remember the case and also know that the accused officer was not tried by the civilian court but by army court-martial that did not convict him for rape and he was subsequently re-instated to the army. It appears the assurances by Mehbooba Mufti and the Indian Defence Minister in Handwara killings are no different from the standard role of the State in numerous cases, including the Badra Payeen case.

Two days in the Srinagar High Court: Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh

This is a guest post by SHRIMOYEE NANDINI GHOSH

Impressions of the Hearing of the Public Interest Petition on the Mass Rapes at  Kunan Poshpora

Day 1: 7th May 2013: I happen to be in Srinagar. I hear through a friend that a Public Interest Petition has been filed by a group of fifty odd Kashmiri women, before the Srinagar Bench of the High Court, asking that the Kunan Poshpora mass rape case be reopened, and re-investigated. It would take a group of very odd women indeed, to ask for something so far fetched. They are students, housewives, teachers, doctors, some of whom were not even born in 1991, when the rape took place on the ‘intervening night’ (as such records always read) of the 23rd and 24th of February during a ‘search and cordon’ operation by personnel of the Indian army.

Continue reading Two days in the Srinagar High Court: Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh

Full report: Alleged Perpetrators – Stories of Impunity in Jammu & Kashmir

Given below is a report put out this morning by the Srinagar-based INTERNATIONAL PEOPLES’ TRIBUNAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUSTICE IN INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR [IPTK] and ASSOCIATION OF PARENTS OF DISAPPEARED PERSONS [APDP].

Given below is a press release and the executive summary of the report.

Continue reading Full report: Alleged Perpetrators – Stories of Impunity in Jammu & Kashmir

The Place of Dissent in the Campus: Akshath Jitendranath

This is a guest post by AKSHATH JITENDRANATH, student at Symbiosis International University, Pune, where a screening of ‘Jahsn-e-Azadi’ by Sanjay Kak was cancelled under pressure from right-wing groups and the Pune Police.

The university campus is where nascent opinion moulds itself into ideological shape. Care must be taken to surround the student with ideologies of different shades. This is a prerequisite for any educational ideology that aspires to be holistic. Pursuant to this end the Symbiosis International University is guided by an ideology that reads, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning the whole world is one family. This is a high ideal to be guided by.

However, the events that transpired over the last few days have left this vision a little blinded. Following threats received from the Akhila Bharati Vidyarthi Parishad  (ABVP henceforth), the Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce have postponed indefinitely, ‘Voices of Kashmir’, a national symposium on Kashmir which was to be held with the support of the University Grants Commission. The ABVP’s major bone of contention was the screening of well known film maker Sanjay Kak’s film, Jashn-e-Azadi (This Is How We Celebrate Freedom). The ABVP claim that the film and the film maker represent an ideology that is anti-India. Further, they threatened violence if the film were to be screened. The administration of the Symbiosis International University, instead of being guided by their ideological vision, gave in to the ABVP threats. Continue reading The Place of Dissent in the Campus: Akshath Jitendranath

Mistaken Identity: Arif Ayaz Parrey

Guest post by ARIF AYAZ PARREY

The Indian army in Kashmir must be reading a lot of Manto these days. Or Borges. Or Kundera. Or –and this is most likely, given the approaching winter season and their ‘hearts and minds’ programme– Kashmiri folklore.

Not three months have passed since they made a highly publicized acknowledgement of “mistaken identity” after they had killed a mentally “challenged” “Hindu” youth in Poonch and declared that he was a “fierce” “Pakistani terrorist Abu-Usman killed after a 12-hour long gunbattle” (such valour exhibited by the Indian security forces is the stuff of legends in Kashmir) that they have followed it with another announcement of a (dis)similar “mistaken indentity”.

This time, like always, the culprits are the Kashmiri people (whose synonym in the Indian army’s dictionary is “miscreants”) Apparently, people beat to pulp a “member of a covert team of the army and J&K police” who were “sent to Sopore Town on getting info of presence of terrorists in the public rally addressed  by SA Geelani”. The person was carrying a camcorder and his service pistol. The people thought he was the terrorist.

Democracy? History? Or “mishtake”? Choose your option.

Kundera writes, “When the institutions of a state no longer feel the need to make sense or to give plausible explanations, the state can only survive as long as people allow it to lie shamelessly.”

See also:

Previously in Kafila by Arif Ayaz Parrey: