No Country For The Poor Featured
24 July 2017
"We Would All be Militants, If Guns Were Easily Available Like 90s"
“With the intensification of Killings India is losing grip over Kashmir and so are the regional parties, who have been maintaining an authoritarian tone on the Kashmir conflict,” feels Ghulam Hassan Dar one of the mourners gathered at the house of 19-year-old Rayees Ahmad in South Kashmir’s Shopian District. He was the third victim after Javaid Ahmad and Suhail Ahmad were killed in the army firing when youth demonstrated against the Government forces for taking off the posters of a local slain militant in the area. The convoy of 10 Garhwal Regiment of Indian Army on Saturday fired mercilessly at the boys killing three of them. The Government Forces later claimed that the boys were shot at in ‘self defense’ and also filed a counter FIR against the FIR that accused the Forces of ‘Murder.’
The year 2017 turned out one of the bloodiest year in Kashmir Valley. 207 militants including Abu Dujana, Qayoom Najar, Bashir Lashkari, , Majid Zargar, Junaid Matoo, Noor Tral, Jaish Chief Khalid Bhai, Sabzar Bhat, Umar Khatab, Muza Molvi of Sopore, Abu Surag of Pakistan, Adil Ahmad Reshi of Bijbehara, Abid Ahmad Sheikh of Saktipora and Masood Ahmad Shah of Bewoora village, Abu Musaib, Qari Anas Abu Ali, Azaharuddin alias Ghazi Umar, Sajad Ahmed alias Babar, Mudasir Ahmad Tantray alias Asim, Wakeel Ahmad Thokar, Farooq Ahmad Bhat, Younus Lone, Mushtaq Ahmed, Ayub Lehari, Muhammad Shafi Sherguri and Jahangir Ahmed Ganaie from different militant outfits were killed this year.
The Government Forces too suffered casualties, 93 armed personnel lost their lives during different militancy related operations which include 52 Army soldiers, 33 Policemen, 05 CRPF personnel, 02 BSF men and one security man from Sahastra Seema Bal.
Here Militants or anybody killed at the hands of Government forces is seen as a hero; however Militant funerals attract large crowds than that of civilians, which is a worrying factor for the state agencies. Thousands of people defying restrictions reach the Militant funerals from all the nearby villages and towns. It is not an amazing factor that people from up north in Trehgam reach to Khudwani Kulgam to show their support to militancy. There have been incidences when youth from down South Kashmir have been arrested during encounter site protests in North and Central Kashmir. The very fact is irking the Government agencies as well as the pro establishment people who believe that their space in Kashmir is shrinking fast.
A recently contested Law maker, Fayaz Ahmed (Name Changed) from South Kashmir’s Islamabad believes that it is getting tough for them to move out of their congested and limited spaces, not for the fear of being killed or being shot, but nobody is willing to listen to them, he says. Wishing to be not named, the lawmaker told The Kashmiriyat that the pro establishment parties are optimistic that people will forget every killing and come back to them, but I personally believe this situation is like none before. “People are losing faith in a political system and anarchy is dangerous for any system,” he said.
In the year 2017, A total of 384 casualties were reported this year, while it was militants as foretold who topped the casualty list, 73 civilians were killed in different parts of Kashmir Valley in one of the longest standing dispute between neighbouring India and Pakistan who have fought three wars over the Himalayan region of Jammu Kashmir. Both the nations claim Kashmir in totality to be their integral part.
A new year has started but there are no signs of normalcy anywhere close by, in the month of January this year at least 5 youth were killed in the last week of January alone.
Three youth were killed in firing by army in Shopian district of South Kashmir, while five days ago a teenager was shot dead by security forces in Shopian district only a week back.
On Wednesday, January 31, a teenager boy succumbed to his injuries at SKIMS Hospital here in Srinagar after battling for life for around five days.
The deceased youth identified as Rayees Ahmad Ganie son of Mohd Yousuf Ganie had received critical injuries on January 27 when Army opened fire in a village in Shopian district of South Kashmir. The incident had earlier resulted in two civilian killings.
19-year old Rayees Ahmad, of Narpora village of Shopian succumbed to his injuries at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS).
On January 27, Army shot dead two youth in Ganowpora village of Shopian district in South Kashmir. The slain youth were identified as Suhail Javaid, son of Javaid Ahmad Lone of Ganowpora village. Another slain boy was identified as 23 year old Javed Ahmad of of Balpora area of district Shopian.
Pertinently on January 23, a17 year old boy identified as Shakir Mir, resident of Qalampora village of Pulwama district was killed in army firing during an encounter between militants and security forces in Chaigund village of South Kashmir’s Shopian.
Here in Shopian, Mourners gathered at the house of Rayees Ahmed are in utter disbelief of Rayees being murdered. Many even claim that Rayees had never been a part of stone throwing gatherings. “The Government Forces fired at us indiscriminately after tearing apart the banners of militants in the area,” claims an eyewitness who wished to maintain anonymity for the fear of being tortured or even killed. “Before questioning our ways, why do they not look into their actions, who turned us into stone throwers?” he asks.
He claims that people in nooks and corners of Kashmir, who over the years had never participated in the Freedom movement are getting involved in it and the movement at this time is growing widely and the sole reason to it is, the Indian state and it’s authoritarian Government who impose laws like Beef ban and book every other Kashmiri under the charges of stone throwing, leaving them with no option but to take up arms.
“It is just a matter of availability, If arms were easily available in Kashmir, tens of thousands of young Kashmiris would pick up Arms,” he claims. “All of them including the Police, Army, CRPF and Regional parties have made us violent, we have also wanted to be educated, to learn and to cherish the good in life, enjoy, go on tours, travel across the world, but all we have been subjected by the state to, is; Gloom” he says.
“The trend is definitely worrisome and militancy cannot be answered with a Gun, because it (Gun) comes with a sentiment, it may be easy to kill the person, but we have to work on addressing the sentiment, rather than containing it momentarily,” Says Fayaz. He believes that Politics needs to come back to Kashmir and some seriousness on part of all the stake holders including Hurriyat needs to be shown to stop the bloodshed. “Nobody is happy to see the blood of young men being spilled on the roads,” he says. “We are losing the battle of narratives, we are losing a battle that we never contested, we cannot move out,” he claims.
Another Boy, Danish barely 17 years of age claims that Kashmir has been gripped by Political extremism which is later termed as Religious extremism by many who have vested interests in using such a terminology and licenses them to get Kashmiris shot at by their trigger happy forces. “In Kashmir, more number of people are gathering for militant funerals than the innocent civilians which is a testimony to the fact that Indian narrative has no takers here,” Danish says.
“If protesters and Militants are dealt in the same way, why should we not pick up Guns?” he asked.
On 28 May post the killing of top Militant commander, Sabzar Ahmed Wani, last year the Indian Government forces announced ‘Operation All out’, vowing to wipe out militancy they said 'Terrorists in Kashmir will not live to see this winter' Operation All-Out has in no uncertain terms been a success but Has the killing of militant leadership stopped new youngsters from joining militancy?
Figures reveal that at least 117 local youths have joined various militant groups this year. And many more are waiting for the right time and opportunity. Will killings solve the Kashmir Issue? If it was so, then officially More than 8,000 militants have been killed in Kashmir since 1988. Has killing them brought peace to the region?
As many Army officers and Jammu Kashmir Police chief SP Vaid have said, that they can tackle militancy but not end it. It is a high time for the Centre to take a brave political shift that can end the cycle of violence in Kashmir for once and all.
“Kashmir needs a serious Political approach; Kashmir needs peace rather than an enforced definition of Peace, which often is, the gap of time from one death to the other,” the pro Establishment man says.
Of Nationalism, Humanity and Politics
“I'm not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination, but the older I've gotten the less I understand the political end of war. I would love to see a day when all those men in national capitals decide they want to go to war for nebulous reasons and the common men and scientists and engineers refuse to go. If it's that important, let those men in parliaments fight it out”
To Find True Political conviction, beliefs that move humans, they must be tested, lived, embodied just as a suicide bomber, horribly embodies theirs. The RSS abides by its truth while the Anti RSS stick to their own truth and ears have ceased to exist. It is necessary to confront a painful abandonment. It is confronting to believe that the Governments can provide for us and protect us. Government wants us to believe it and we want to believe them. They want us to believe our country, that they rule is the preeminent and we are the unique creatures, the finely carved ones, and the best of them all. Unfortunately, it is ever more evident that this comfortable pact between us rests upon weak foundations indeed.
The unending tussle between the elected Representatives and various stakeholders whose ideology is not accommodated by the popular Governments ultimately leads us into a state of Anarchy. The genocide in the Syrian Nation since 2011 is a failed attempt of President Bashar Al Assad terribly falling short of boarding all stake holders. The appalling tussle leads to an intense genocide of civilians. The curious cases of Baltimore and Ferguson inside the mainland of the United States, again is a failed attempt of the popular governments to connect with the stakeholders, the public opinion. Mostly the elected Governments use military might to crush the rights of these stakeholders, the public. Elsewhere, wealthy philanthropists, Political industrialists, eminent journalists use their financial pull and foundations to promote the political interests of the Governments or to launder the public rights and in many nations they keep the public engaged on Televisions and Linking Adhaar Cards (Read Keeping a vigil on citizens), Ration Cards, Pan cards, Clean and Make Campaigns, Tax Reforms. It is not only big business that engages in lobbying business to complete in the jammed and dissonant legislatures of the modern halls of modern “democratic” legislatures anyone with axe to follow the same tactics of laundering public funds and paying the same to the Governments we elect.
There may be a twist in the traditional understanding of the programs put forth. “The Government of India has spent only 94 crore only on radio, Print and Television ads to promote the ‘CLEAN-INDIA campaign’, This activities may glitter beneficial, but they all share one common characteristic throughout the globe, No accountability to the stakeholders. In a “democratic” setup, the accord between the citizen and the Government is never clear. You can never spend an entire life obeying orders and laws, paying taxes, without once being asked whether you wish to sign the accord or stay out of it. The Elected Government insists to be informed on your birth and intimated about your death. And at no point does it seek your consent or a continual feedback about its working or your life which democratic setup provides space for, at least in theory.
The media too is an enterprise with a few men to rule it and influence the public opinion and notion it in a harmless “productive” conduct. The “rape” of a doctor makes a hue and cry, an entire nation roars on the streets, the same people dastardly rest in their bedrooms expressing anguish and anger watching the news of the same happening with a girl from a remote area who comes from a different class of people, on the elite media. “Save Tigers” campaign garnered a colossal support, farmers committing suicide is often concealed. Sometimes substantial truth which may lead to critics against fanatic traditionalism are concealed, the facts may also evoke anger and lead to an outstretched public outrage or an enlightened public opinion.
The people in power however are the master funders to the news enterprises in the form of advertisements. The elite capitalist hierarchy tries to maintain its hegemony over the other “middle class and the poor class” of the society to shape the progressive society or the society towards “progress”. The progress though exaggerates the fissures between classes of rich and poor.
“Ballot is the only answer”
Al Jazeera reported on the 17th of March 2014 “Indian Politicians distribute Freebies including Cows, Goats, and laptops to woo voters”. “In Afghan elections, signs of systemic fraud many cast doubt on many votes” NY times In Brazil, the commoners rely and bank upon the elections being an independent source of democratically electing their candidates however a lot of flaws have been found in the E Voting system as the machines do not produce a physical proof that the vote has been recorded. It is strongly believed that Political party Agents caste votes many a times. From Iraqi parliamentary election in 2010 and Syrian parliamentary election 2012 to Egyptian election 2014 and Ukranian Elections, 2014, we have substantial evidences to contradict the thought of ballot being the ultimate power or answer as there as always the “Power dominance” factor that corners the ballot.
The advent of internet has released a wave of enthusiasts who believe that democracy can be improved, saved perhaps. Though internet has its drawbacks too, a problem with “internet democracy” was revealed when the new regime of Barack Obama in U.S asked the citizens to submit their ideas “virtually” to the president. The most votes for received for legalizing marijuana and allowing Online Poker. It garnered votes thrice more than “raising funds for Childhood cancer” But Innumerable Social Networking websites where petitions can be created and propagated on any topic ranging from pushing the “Indonesian President to probe ‘national police corruption cases’ to freeing the imprisoned Burmese democratic leader Aung San Kyi. The internet in the last few years condensed the business of politics, elite public opinion, and eminent journalist franchisees. The internet handsomely acted as an “Alternate Media” gathering thousands of conscious against the Non state backed militants like ISIS, state sponsored terrorism, the continuous genocide in Palestine, the attempt to suppress Free Speech (Charlie Hebdo) in France, the attempt to muzzle the active resistance of people of people in Ferguson. It is clearly evident that internet played a chief player in the “Arab Spring.”
“A Tweet can land you into jail” Reported, The Washington Post over jailing of a plastic packaging businessman In India.
The ultimate Solution
The states develop a notion that belonging to a particular state makes them have some special place in the world as if being an American, an Indian makes you some sort of superior person or in a higher caste than the rest of the world. From India's point of view there are two kinds of people, Indians and foreigners. Indian politicians think that foreigners have no privacy rights and that there isn't even a debate as to whether or not India can collect any information about them. From the Indian perspective foreigners are a subhuman class. They are all terrorist suspects.
From the ancient Greek wars to the Gulf wars, From the Mexican-American wars to world wars the enormous hunger power has cost a greater cause of humanity a millions of lives.
The nation theory, the concept of nationalism, the battle for power, has always emerged in contrast with a larger humanitarian perspective. Nearly one in every hundred people on Earth today has been forced to flee their home in search of safety elsewhere. The vast majority are running from entirely man-made disasters that have unfolded under the watch of an increasingly lethargic UN Security Council. The war in Middle East which has swept across continents with the saddening figures of violence, killings and displacements. The Security Council is to officially crush, stamp out any conflict that threatens international peace and security, but due to a “proud” division between its power mongers, nationalists from Western and Eastern wings, it’s by standing a deadlock. The often evaluated period of Cold War is apt, because then, as now, the Security Council was virtually paralyzed. And due to this state of paralysis, the international community formulated an alternate plan for dealing with urgent threats to peace and security of a global planet.
This happened in the form of a 1950 General Assembly resolution called ‘Uniting for Peace’. Uniting for Peace basically states that if the Security Council is so divided that it is unable “to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” that the General Assembly (a UN body where all States have equal voting rights) can call an emergency session and take control of the matter. That can include taking any action up to and including the use of force which was Originally a US-led ploy for bypassing the Soviet veto during the Korean War, both ‘sides’ in the Cold War sporadically used Uniting for Peace to try to force action on issues important to them but in the current chaotic scenario, the world needs peacekeepers and their united body which holds no barriers of caste and nations to restore global peace.
During the Spanish War from 1936-39, nearly 30,000 people from more than 50 nations volunteered to fight against the nationalist Armies of General Franco. People, many of these volunteers gave up their Jobs, Homes, family to resist the potential threat of fascism to the Globe. The volunteers gathered fought in several key battles with antique, inadequate weapons and played a vital role in many battles including the Battle of Madrid. Out of these 10,000 were killed and 8,000 were killed. Many of them received Heroic receptions back home on their return.
Nationalism is not an ultimate poison though but too much nationalism is no less than poison too as it also motivates some to carry out the will of a nation at all costs, often in the form of attacking others. It tends to blind people. It would be a gross oversimplification to say people are notionised by states and those in power, but rather they are forced to conform to the mandated passion for the nation, sacrificing personal values.
The Author is a Journalist from South Kashmir and a ‘News Editor’ at ‘The Kashmiriyat.’ He can be emailed at email@example.com
Enemies in Life, But Buried in the Same Graveyard
On July 18 2016, a village in far Southern Kashmir hit the headlines of newspaper in Jammu Kashmir after three people had been shot dead in the locality by Army men. The Villagers playing cricket on a curfew day were all thrashed by army followed by a protest in the area and suddenly came the sounds of unprecedented army shooting, and people ran and ran. It was later found out that Showkat Ahmed Itoo a local resident had been shot along with two other locals from the locality. More than 90 civilians were shot dead during the uprising post the killing of Burhan Wani on 08 July, 2016.
Kashmir witnessed a political uncertainty following the uprising that was dealt with brute force, when thousands of civilians were maimed and tens of thousands injured. The Government forces unabated use of pellet guns blinded hundreds of civilians and hundreds were booked under the draconian Public Safety Act, however the resistance camp was not able to come up with something concrete during the uprising or post it. “A sense of failure that prevailed post the uprising among youth who had been solely involved in 2016 uprising forced them to take up alternative measures of “resistance,” observed many prominent analysts. Moreover the atrocities against the youth and then the glorification of death in the name of ‘Shahdat’ have been additional reasons to local youth rejoining militancy. The nail in the coffin was set when Indian army declared ‘All out’ against Kashmir Militancy, as Yashwant Singh mentioned after his Kashmir visit, “India has lost Kashmir Emotionally.” But the operation all out on the other side worked for the Indian state, more than 130 militants were killed post the launching of operation which included feared commanders such as Bashir Lashkar, Abu Dujana and Majid Zargar. Down South, the districts that once witnessed a massive electoral is now on the brink of explosion with the mammoth size of militant funerals, Stone throwing during encounters, During Cordon and Search Operations and the growing sympathy for militants.
On 10th of July, a Video was issued in which Bashir Lashkar, the lasshkar commander for Islamabad (Anantnag) District issued a warning to the local policemen to not be a part of anti militancy operations. He gave a lesson though, “We have to live, die and be buried in the same soil, Why be enemies.” A not so new trend was revived in Kashmir post that when 5 Local Policemen including a local inspector, Feroz Ahmed Dar were shot dead. It was told that Bashir Lashkar was responsible for the killings. Post the killing of Bashir on Ist july, Militants became a soft target for the Government forces, militants were hunted down here, there and everywhere. So pertinently, the militancy looked for fresh air like the early 90s and then as told by security agencies, men of Jaish e Muhammad crossed over and might hit security bases throughout Kashmir.
ALSO READ: INDIA HAS LOST KASHMIR EMOTIONALLY
On 26 August this year, we in Kashmir opened over Tv Sets to the news that militants had stormed into District Police Lines in Pulwama District in South Kashmir. The operation to hunt down militants ended only after more than 2 hours and after 8 troopers had been shot dead. Among the slain cops was Imtiyaz Ahmed Sheikh. Imtiyaz, 35 was the first one to be killed that day. Imtiyaz a resident of the same village in Qazigund in Churath is survived by a wife, a son and a daughter who suffers from a neurological disorder. Imtiyaz was posted as a Personal Security Officer of Assistant Superintendent of Police in Pulwama District. “He got a call from his officer asking him to be ready as they have to leave, Omar Abdullah was visiting Pulwama that day,” said Reyaz Ali bhat, Brother-in-law of Imtiyaz.
“He had been working in the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Police Department since 2006 and never in his life did he receive even a single threat from the locals when cops were openly being asked to leave the Police Jobs. Imtiyaz even attended the funeral of the three civilians killed last year during the civilian uprising here in Churath,” his wife told The Kashmiriyat.
“I personally feel that SOG is considered synonyms to brutality in Kashmir, however, he was a complete antonym, never in his life had he harassed any individual. He was a Kashmiri and he had taken the job, because he did not want his family to starve, was that his crime? Or his crime was he was a good Kashmiri son?” asks his brother, Aijaz Ahmed. He tells that he had spent a lot of money to save his father who as suffering from a kidney disorder before he died in 2016.
“He left the room after the call and then suddenly within moments we heard bullet sounds, we went down to find Imtiyaz lying dead in the pool of blood, his body pierced with bullets. That is all I remember,” his wife said.
The funeral prayers of Imtiyaz were attended by hundreds of civilians from the Churath locality and later he was laid to rest in the nearby graveyard. He was buried in a graveyard where the three civilians who were killed in 2016 uprising were laid to rest. I found his grave just next to Showkat Ahmed Itoo who was allegedly killed while throwing stones on the Government forces.
Hundreds visit the graveyard out of curiosity or in protest of the pain and the lost lives and the ultimate reminder of death. In Britain it is common to see, war cemetaries contain German graves, there are no germans here and nobody is even English in the graveyard. Though here,The same kind of stone which was carved by the same shopkeeper with the same Quranic verses firmed on the graves. Decades Ago Captain Callaghan transcended the American-Japanese chasm to recognize a common humanity, a defining patriotism, a shared idealism in this potential killer who, ultimately, was just a dead kid.
Even today, friends and family have trouble grasping the fact that the two are dead now. “It is painful to see these two guys, who challenged themselves and each other’s cause now they have to lie besides each other for eternity.” The myth of soldiers of the Great War being bitter enemies on the battlefield but comrades in death thus has some genuine resonance here.
An elderly man near the graveyard, Ghulam Hassan Khan who sells cattle expresses deep anguish and dissatisfaction over the political discourse developing in Kashmir. He is unhappy to see Kashmiri youth going to the encounter sites, “Suicide” he calls it. He says it was too painful to see irony dying a thousand deaths. “A protestor and the one whom he was protest against had to be buried side by side. We have to live, die and be buried in the same soil, Why be enemies. Why should the fight be Kashmiri against a Kashmiri? ” he asks.
The fundamental question that comes to mind when visiting this graveyard is for how long do young people of Kashmir have to make such a terrible sacrifice and keep fighting against eachother ? When the individual destinies of everyone is the same soil, they are buried under the same words, the same headstone.
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