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NPR’s Julie McCarthy was in Kashmir earlier in September and reported on how different the unrest seems now compared to previous years.  “First of all, there's this unprecedented kind of force being used. There's these high-velocity pellet shotguns for crowd control. And it's left thousands of people riddled with pellet injuries. And a lot of them have damaged eyesight. And some demonstrators have thrown stones, attacked police stations and government buildings. And, unusually, this started in rural areas. And it has spread throughout the Kashmir Valley. And it's lasted over 60 days. That's also unusual.”
 
Perhaps it’s not enough to point out that the champion of this latest uprising, a person who was slain in a fashion frequently called “extrajudicial” by others in the press, and whose killing was the primary provocation for the current uprising, was a self-declared militant who had used social media to resist the Indian occupation. He was someone who had become a symbol of the true spirit of resistance in the hearts of all Kashmiris.
 
The protest over Burhan Wani’s killing was obviously different. Real different. Kashmiris are not a violent people.  The country has throughout history been known for its peaceful communal relations among Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Muslims.  Yet it expressed a state of frustration that had reached a boiling point.   His killing set off a protest movement that was unusual in its scale.  As many as 200,000 people attended his funeral in direct violation of a state curfew order that should have kept people immobilized in their homes. 
 
One wonders why the honoring of the dead with a funeral procession would scare the daylights out of India. Enough to shoot them with shotguns? These guns weren’t, it should be added, pointed at infiltrators sneaking across the Line Of Control (LoC). They were pointed at moms and dads, sons and daughters, of Kashmiris. Perhaps some Pakistani agent was handing everyone a Snickers candy bar to show up, but Kashmiris seem to have had sufficient incentive without such inducements to risk life and death, blindness and permanent disability to let their feelings be known, notwithstanding any goodies from Pakistan. Mani Shanker Aiyar, former Federal Minister of India confirmed it on July 25, 2016 by saying, “It is time we stopped blaming Pakistan for everything going wrong in the Valley, recognize our own errors, and take action to make the required course corrections.” India’s determination to put down any demand for azaadi had also reached a new level that expressed seemingly a deep resentment and hatred for all that Kashmir stood for, or a complete disregard for their standing as human beings.  Any respect for due process, human rights and the traditions of democracy were nowhere to be found. Women and mere babies were being shot in the streets. Hundreds had been blinded and maimed for life. For what?  Because they had a difference of opinion about under what kind of government they wanted to live?  Because they wanted to have a say in their own future?  Because they asked for democracy but got bullets instead?
 
“Wani should have served as an alarm bell for the government system,” said Siddharth Varadarajan, a former editor in chief of the English daily The Hindu. “Why would a young man, instead of taking up engineering, adopt a course that any reasonable person would tell him would end up in death?”" 
 
One man who might have had something to say about it is Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights activist and winner of the 2006 prestigious Reebok Human Rights Award who now sits in jail on charges under the Public Safety Act.  The PSA is in fact applied to anyone seen as a threat to India’s good public image, And Parvez was sure to do some damage to it.  
 
On September 14, Parvez was detained at New Delhi airport and prevented from flying to Geneva, Switzerland, to attend the annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The following day he was arrested and held without charges but later released under a court order.  He was then arrested again on September 16 and charged under the Public Safety Act. 
 
Parvez’ knowledge of the crimes of India is undoubtedly quite comprehensive. As a co-founder and coordinator for many years for the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), he was deeply involved in the issue of disappearances. According to the JKCCS, on the issue of “disappearances,” -- Kashmiris who have simply vanished after being taken into custody by the armed forces -- Parvez could have provided very damning testimony.  A report issued back in 2011 by The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons,estimated that around 10,000 people had gone missing in the previous 20 years, many ended up in several thousand unmarked graves that have been discovered in more than 40 different communities in Kashmir.  The practice India had adopted of just yanking people off the street, executing them, and then burying them in some unknown place has continued to this day. 
 
To press charges against such a high profile human rights activist speaks to the impunity and brazenly undemocratic means to which India will stoop to enforce its will.  It does this for all the world to see while at the same time saying that it has done no wrong.  The mask is quite visible, like you would see on Halloween, while the masked man says there is no mask.  Well, maybe not. India’s true face apparently is the mask, or can be seen through a very transparent one, which is the image of a monster creeping through the alleys in the dark, seizing little boys, and eating the flesh of their mothers. 
 
In his Opening Statement,  Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on September 13,  “I believe an independent, impartial and international mission (in Kashmir) is now needed crucially and that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides.”
 
The rejection by India was particularly upsetting.  “States may shut my Office out, “ he added, ” but they will not shut us up; neither will they blind us” -- a not so subtle reference, perhaps, to the hundreds of people blinded by shotgun pellets in Kashmir. 
 
“Human rights violations will not disappear,” he said, “if a government blocks access to international observers and then invests in a public relations campaign to offset any unwanted publicity. On the contrary, efforts to duck or refuse legitimate scrutiny raise an obvious question: what, precisely, are you hiding from us?”
 
India’s image suffers far more from the obvious duplicity and an incorrigible  unwillingness to confront openly its wrong-headed policies than it would if it just laid its cards on the table.  The flaunting of its inhumanity -- as if to say, we’re going to do it and you can’t do anything about it” -- is only deepening its commitment to permanent conflict and suffering in Kashmir.  It’s public posture of blaming Pakistan for its troubles in Kashmir is also fanning the flames of a nuclear holocaust.  It’s time for the international community to act decisively and intervene in the interest of global peace to settle the Kashmir dispute to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.
 
Dr. Fai is the Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness and can be reached at:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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  • Major set-back for faction-ridden Hurriyat Conference 

SRINAGAR: The diplomatic discourse at United Nations General Assembly marked a historic frame shift in Pakistan's Kashmir policy which has also come as a huge setback for the local separatist leadership and an evident distancing of Pakistan from the faction-ridden Hurriyat conference.  Pakistan has traditionally stood for a tripartite dialogue to address Kashmir issue. From Pakistan's point of view the third party to dialogue, besides India and Pakistan, is meant to be the separatist leadership.

In his UN speech when Nawaz Sharif invited India for dialogue to address outstanding issues including Kashmir, he skipped reference to separatist leadership, let aside any specific reference to Hurriyat. Nawaz Sharif also made a reference to Burhan Wani, representative of militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen whose chief sits in Pakistan. By inviting India for dialogue, mentioning Hizbul commander and not mentioning Hurriyat and host of smaller groups working on separatist ideology, he appears to have delegitimized the separatist leadership. This could be Pakistan's policy shift on Kashmir where they want the militants to be new representatives.

In its response, India took a strong exception to Pakistan's continued and open support to terrorism and allowing its soil to be used for cross-border terrorism. {Elaborate on this, as per statement} Political experts observe UNGA latest development on this front as a historic shift in Pakistan's policy for active involvement of Hurriyat and its recognition as representative of Kashmiri people.

In 2009 Pakistan had made all out efforts to unite the faction ridden Hurriyat Conference when Pakistan National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza held a meeting with Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Farooq and others urging them to unite under one organisations for their separatist goals, however the attempt failed as Geelani stuck to his 1993 Hurriyat Constitution as the pre-condition for any unifications. Pakistan had always been making covert attempts to unite the factions and internationally claimed Hurriat as the third party to any dialogue for resolution of Kashmir issue, apart from India and Pakistan.

Strategic analysts cited the Cross Border travel of separatist leaders to Pakistan in 2005 when seven separatist leaders travelled to Pakistan and held talks with President as well as series of discussions however the factionalist came to fore with Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani coming up in open criticism of dominant faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. The factionalist within Separatist camp and its diminishing clout in Kashmir is seen a major reason for Pakistan openly dropping Hurriyat the important platform of United Nations while vehemently supporting the terror organisations operating from its land. The Separatist leadership has been forced to introspect for a course correction. INAK approached senior Hurriyat leaders for comments however there was no response.

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Internationally, Kashmir is contested territory between India and Pakistan. That explains the now off, now on dialogue between Delhi and Islamabad. Currently, the unrest following the killing of Burhan Wani is a new phenomenon the valley is witnessing – shut down, violent street protests, retaliatory action. Children using slingshots to target the security forces are an audacious turn of events for which the security establishment was not prepared.

On Friday September 15, the Lok Sabha MP of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Srinagar-Budgam, Tariq Hameed Karra announced his resignation from party and Parliament. Karra was the founding member of the PDP and he had boycotted the oath taking ceremony of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti earlier this year. Karra quit complaining about government’s handling of the ongoing unrest and PDP alliance with BJP.

Interestingly, Karra resigned from PDP and Lok Sabha days after separatist Hurriyat issued an appeal to mainstream politicians to quit the parties and posts and join the ongoing agitation against the killing of wani. Significantly, like the Hurriyat, he also appealed to the “ Conscience” of other leader to follow his footsteps.

Uri fidayeen attack inflicted high casualties among soldier, which has brought Kashmir in focus and once again highlighted the need to adopt and active strategy to eliminate terrorist from J&K. No government can ignore the death of 18 soldiers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has responded by saying that the perpetrators of the attack will not go unpunished.

These incidents come at a time when the security apparatus has had its hands full. For over two months now, the forces have been trying to control the stone throwing youth in valley. A deadly attack in the midst of the turmoil that had engulfed Kashmir suggests that this is time for some serious strategic and tactical thought. India will not only have to calibrate its response vis-à-vis Pakistan.

Despite additional troops being moved into South Kashmir –the epicenter of the protests- the youth are not showing signs of exhaustion. Senior officials believe that this Pakistan’s way of boosting the civil unrest keeping the troops tied down and making New Delhi pay for its Balochistan belligerence.

The Valley’s senior-most army officer has warned that the combination of terrorist and agitators is proving to be a challenge. The killing of the Jawans compounds the Problem and while the temptation will be to crack down the government must distinguish between increasing the cost for Pakistan and offering relief to the Kashmiris who were kept indoors even on Eid. The attack makes it imperative for New Delhi to be cautious and calibrate its response.

The state government has adopted a soft and permissive attitude towards people collaborating with terrorism. The government must adopt a professional and strict approach in dealing with collaborators. Militancy has survived and, in fact, prospered because of the help it has received from its back ground supporters. Action must be initiated against such supporters.

This will help in breaking ‘ideological motivation and drying up resources which the terrorist enjoy among the local people. India’s strategy should focus on aggressive action to end terrorism and to isolate the local population from their influence. It should also emphasize on active domination of our borders to deny any possibility of infiltration. A more aggressive and active posture against Pakistan should be adopted considering its role in keeping the pot boiling in the valley at all times.

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