Spotlight on Kashmir's struggle for freedom
In the governance of violence, India, the post-colony, has proven itself co-equal to its former colonial masters. Kashmir is not about “Kashmir.” Dictating Kashmir is about India’s coming of age as a power, its capability to lay out violence, to maneuver and dictate. Kashmir is about reminiscence, about wherewithal, and buffer zones. The occupation of Kashmir by India renders an make-believe past real, illustrative of India’s dominant unification as a nation-state. Controlling Kashmir requires that Kashmiri demands for justice be depicted as threatening to India’s integrity. Issue of Kashmir is an important subject in the India and Pakistan politics, but it needs to be highlighted internationally. India’s contrived enemy in Kashmir is a plausible one – the Muslim “Other,” India’s historically manufactured vengeance.
Ok, so what is at pledge?
Between June 11 and September 13 of 2010, Kashmir witnessed the murder of 87 youth, men, and women by India’s police, paramilitary, and military. Forces opened fire on crowds, tortured children, arrested elders without explanation, and coerced false confessions. Since June, there have been 63 days of curfew and 69 days of strikes and agitation. On September 11, the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, the violence continued. The paramilitary and police verbally abused and physically attacked civil society dissenters. Summer 2010 was not unprecedented. Kashmir has been subjected to much, much worse.
Kashmir is about the spectacle. India’s violence functions as an intervention, to discipline and punish, to provoke and dominate. The summer of 2010 evidenced India’s manoeuvring against Kashmir’s determination to decide its future. The use of violence by the Indian forces was deliberate, their tactics cruel and precise, amidst the groundswell of public dissent. This was the third summer, since 2008, of indefatigable civil society uprisings for “Azaadi” (freedom).
Such aggravation as strategy is a blunder. Such legitimating of military ruling will fabricate obdurate difference and hostility. All indications are that Kashmiri civil society resistance will not fade away, and their support in Pakistani politics will increase in future. It is not externally provoked, but historically constrained.
Dominant nation-states overlook that freedom struggles are not adherent to the moralities of violence versus nonviolence, but reflect a desire to be free. Dominant nation-states forget that the greater the oppression, the more fervent is resistance. The greater the violence, the more likely is the provocation to counter-violence.
Indian potentates disrespect that repression acts to catalyze the resistance movement in Kashmir. The Government of India continues to observe the confrontation movement, changing the borders of acceptable practice of civil liberties. Kashmiris are allowed to protest in New Delhi, while in Kashmir sloganeering (“Go, India, Go Back,” “Indian Dogs Go Home,” “Quit Kashmir,”) is met with force. When Masarat Alam Bhat, a rising pro-freedom leader, issued an appeal to Indian soldiers in July to “Quit Kashmir,” Indian authorities prohibited its distribution.
Acts of violence by protesting civilians increased as military violence continued into September. On September 13, crowds in Kashmir torched a Christian missionary school and some government offices while protesting the call to desecrate the Qur’an by Florida Pastor Terry Jones. On September 13, 18 civilians were killed by the Indian forces in Kashmir (a police officer also died). Provocation is easy in a context of sustained brutality. Provoking Kashmiri dissenters to violence serves to confirm the dominant story of Muslims as “violent.” Yet again, several pro-freedom leaders condemned the attack on the Christian school and renewed their call for nonviolent dissent.
I have met with torture survivors, non-militants and former militants, who testified to the sadism of the forces. Men who had petrol injected through the anus. Water-boarding, mutilation, being paraded naked, rape of women, children, and men, starvation, humiliation, and psychological torture. An eagle tattoo on the arm of a man was reportedly identified by an army officer as a symbol of Pakistan-held Azad Kashmir, even as the man clarified the tattoo was from his childhood. The skin containing it was burned. The officer said, the man recalled: “When you look at this, think of Azaadi.” A mother, reportedly asked to watch her daughter’s rape by army personnel, pleaded for her release. They refused. She then pleaded that she could not watch, asking to be sent out of the room or be killed. The soldier pointed a gun to her forehead, stating he would grant her wish, and shot her dead before they proceeded to rape the daughter. |
Who are the forces? Disenfranchised caste and other groups, Assamese, Nagas, Sikhs, Dalits (erstwhile “untouchable” peoples), and Muslims from Kashmir, are being used to combat Kashmiris. Why did 34 soldiers commit suicide in Kashmir in 2008, and 52 fratricidal killings take place between January 21, 2004 and July 14, 2009?
Laws authorize soldiers to question, raid houses, detain and arrest without chargesheets, and prolong incarceration without due process. They blur distinctions between military/paramilitary, “legality”/“illegality.” Citing “national security,” Indian forces in Kashmir shoot and kill on uncorroborated suspicion, with impunity from prosecution. Yet, revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, for example, will not stop the horror in Kashmir. India’s laws are not the primary contention. India’s political and military existence in Kashmir is the issue. Legal impunity is the cover for the moral impunity of Indian rule.
New Delhi has been the self-appointed arbitrator in determining the justifications of Kashmir’s claims to freedom. Kashmir’s claims are historically unique and bona fide. History — the United Nations Resolutions of 1948, Nehru’s promise of plebiscite (to rethink the temporary accession determined by the Hindu-descent Maharaja, Hari Singh), Article 370 of the Indian Constitution — is jettisoned by an amnesic India. Official nationalism seeks to rewrite history, affixing Kashmir to India, to overwrite memory. Within the battlefields of knowledge/power, official “truth” becomes the contagion sustaining cultures of repression and mass atrocity, creating cultures of grief.
Where is the international community on the issue of Kashmir? In present history, Palestine, Ireland, Tibet, and Kashmir share correspondence. In Tibet, 1.2 million died (1949-1979), and 320,000 were made refugees. In Ireland, 3,710 have died (1969- 2010). For Israel, the occupation of Palestine has resulted in 10,148 dead (1987-2010), with 4.7 million refugees registered with the United Nations (1987-2008). In Kashmir, 70,000 are dead, over 8,000 have been disappeared, and 250,000 have been displaced (1989-2010).
During British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent visit to India, he was asked to refrain from bringing up the “K” word. United States President Barak Obama’s proposed visit to New Delhi in November is already laden with prohibitions. India’s rule in Kashmir and its larger human rights record are among them. As well, right-wing Hindu advocacy groups have been successful in securing the silence of many on Capitol Hill on the issue of Kashmir. The Kashmiri diaspora has been partly effective in bringing visibility to the issue, even as the community remains ideologically and politically fragmented. International advocates have propagated an “economic” approach to “normalcy.” This avoids the fact that militarization impacts every facet of life, making economic development outside of political change impossible.
|Powered by Sigsiu.NET|