South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

Kashmir Martyrs’ Day
Kashmir Martyrs’ Day

This day reminds us of 23 Kashmiri martyrs who had laid down their lives fighting the Dogra rule to keep the torch of freedom alight. It was, indeed, due to this movement that British government had appointed Glancy Commission to investigate into the atrocities committed by the Maharaja. It was as a result of the above episode that Kashmiri leadership realized the need to build up an organization with a view to waging struggle for their freedom. In 1934, State’s first elections were held, and the Muslim Conference won 21 out of 16 seats. After two years in 1936, it succeeded in getting 19 out of 21 seats. Congress was upset with these results, and tried to create division in the ranks of Kashmiri leadership. In 1937, a meeting was arranged between Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah and the latter agreed to convert Muslim Conference into National Conference. When Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas and his colleagues realized that Sheikh Abdullah was toeing Nehru’s line, they revived the Muslim Conference. Anyhow, Kashmiris have passed through the longest ordeal, and faced repression, death and destruction even before the partition.

The British had played an ignominious role in bringing Kashmiris to the present pass, firstly as they had sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh, former governor of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, for 7.5 million rupees. Once again at the time of partition when people of Kashmir had dreamt of freedom from oppression, India accepted Lord Mountbaten as the first Governor General of India to contrive an insidious plan of annexing Kashmir, which was implemented by Lord Mountbaten and Nehru when Raja Hari Singh was coerced into signing the controversial document on 26th July 1947, which was prepared by Lord Mountbatten. It was on the basis of this document that Indian forces entered the Valley, and endless dark night for Kashmiris started. On 19th July 1947, Muslim Conference held a convention and passed a resolution to merge Kashmir with Pakistan, which stated: “This convention of Muslim Conference has reached the conclusion that geographical conditions, 80 per cent Muslim population, important rivers of Punjab passing through the state, language, cultural, ethnic and economic relations and contiguity of the state with Pakistan make it imperative to merge with Pakistan”.

In 1989, valiant Kashmiris started armed struggle and at least 90000 Kashmiris have laid down their lives, but they are determined to take their struggle to the logical conclusion. There is a perception that it is an article of faith with Congress leadership to weaken Pakistan, and has kept the Kashmir dispute unresolved so that Pakistan continues spending on defence. After the elections in 2004, the first policy statement issued by the Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh was reflective of its intentions when he referred to Simla Accord of 1972 as the basis for resolving the Kashmir dispute. He perhaps lost sight of the fact that the region and the world had undergone profound changes since 1998, and India and Pakistan are now atomic powers. However, 9/11 events have changed political landscape of the world and since then even genuine struggle for freedom is construed as terrorist act. India has taken full advantage of the situation and has tried to ruthlessly crush the Kashmiris’ struggle. In June 2008, Kashmiri Muslims had protested against allotment of land to Delhi-based Amarnath Shrine Trust, which was violation of the law. Later, there was strike in Muslims’ areas of Indian Held Kashmir against anti-Muslim riots, vandalism, looting of Muslim properties and economic blockade of the Valley.

In fact, Congress-led government had earlier allotted a piece of land near the shrine apparently to facilitate Hindu pilgrims that throng the shrine in hundreds of thousands, but Kashmiris were suspicious of the government’s intentions, as efforts were being made to encourage migration of Hindus to the state with a view to diluting Kashmiri Muslims’ 98 per cent majority in IHK. Over sixty Kashmiris had lost their lives in the brutal Indian state response, then. In June 2009, it was the rape of two Kashmiri women by the Indian security forces’ personnel that had caused the wide scale anger to erupt and spill over the entire landscape of the Kashmir Valley. Two women, 17 Years’ old Aasia Jan and her sister-in-law Nilofer Shakeel aged 22, had gone to work in their apple orchard in Shopian but failed to return. Their bodies were found floating in shallow waters of a stream on May 30. As the public grew and fingers of accusation were pointed against members of Indian security forces, the government was in the denial mode. The autopsy results and forensic investigations however confirmed that the two women had been murdered following rape and had not drowned. How many such incidents go unreported due to shame or cover-up is not known. According to data maintained by a media portal of United Kingdom nearly 500 women were raped in various parts of IHK between 1990 and 1994.

Kashmir is in the grip of a nearly 20-year insurgency that has left more than 47,000 people dead by official count in India but more than 90000 by independent reporters. It has to be said that International community’s apathy to the sufferings, death and destruction in Kashmir is the reason that Kashmiris have to live in the long nightmare with no end in sight. According to Kashmir Media Service, the Amnesty International in a statement issued in London in July 2010 said that Indian authorities should avoid excessive use of force while dealing with demonstrators in occupied Kashmir.

It said that during the last month, a total of 11 persons, at least eight of them teenagers, were killed in shootings by the Indian paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel stationed across the Kashmir valley, as protestors held demonstrations in Srinagar, Sopore and other towns, which were put under curfew. The AI demanded probe into all the killings and urged India to take steps to ensure protection of the right to life in the occupied territory under international law. It said that at least 35 people sustained injuries during the demonstrations so far. Harassment, humiliation, acts of cold-blooded murder, mass rapes, arson, and endless human rights violations perpetrated upon the hapless Kashmiri people by Indian security forces, including army, BSF, CRPF and police continue unabated. In April 2010, police spokesman in a statement had said that troops allegedly raped 51 women in Jammu and Kashmir in six years between November 2002 and July 2008, whereas 38 rape cases allegedly by troops were reported from November 2002 to October 2005. “From November 2005 to 10 July 2008, 13 rape cases allegedly by troops were reported.”

The spokesman said that from 11 July 2008 to 4 January 2009 only one rape case allegedly by troops was reported. “During the period from 5 January 2009 to 23 February 2010 no rape case by troops was reported.” The police spokesman said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had mentioned in the Legislative Assembly that 11 cases of rape allegedly by troops were reported between October 1996 and October 2002, thus taking the number of raped by troops between October 1996 to July 2008 to 62. It should be remembered that these figures have been issued by Indian police; therefore one can imagine that the incidence of this heinous crime would be much more than what has been stated by the Police.