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The Story of Kashmiri Struggle By Dr. Hoodbhoy

The events in Mumbai and the media spotlight on terrorism have obscured the reality of the 60-year peaceful struggle of Kashmiris ignored by the media and dismissed by India as Pakistan-backed terror in the Srinagar Valley. Here is a comprehensive video on the origins of Kashmir dispute and the positions of various parties as presented by Pakistani Peace Activist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy:

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Comment by Riaz Haq on October 19, 2010 at 8:56am
Here is an excerpt from a piece by Girish Shahane, Mumbai-based freelance journalist. He writes the blog Shoot First, Mumble Later:

...These sorts of errors bothered me far less than the constant highlighting of atrocities, often fictional ones, by Muslim rulers. The entry on Konark read, "The massive Sun Temple was constructed in mid-13th century, probably by Orissan king Narashimhadev I to celebrate his military victory over the Muslims. In use for maybe only three centuries, the first blow occurred in the late 16th century when marauding Mughals removed the copper over the cupola. This vandalism may have dislodged the loadstone leading to the partial collapse of the 40m-high sikhara." As a child, I'd heard the tale of a giant magnet holding the Sun Temple's girders in place. By the time I was in my late teens, I knew Indian temples were made of stone and used little metal. The idea of a lodestone atop the Sun Temple keeping the structure together, while making compasses on passing ships go haywire, was manifestly absurd. Not too absurd for Lonely Planet, though, which lays blame for this imaginary vandalism at the door of Mughals, whose only connection with Konark in the late 16th century was a laudatory passage about the structure composed by Abul Fazl in the Ain-i-Akbari.

Temples, even grand ones can collapse from natural causes, as evidenced by the recent fall of the 500 year old gopuram of the Srikalahasti temple.

In India, however, any damage to old Hindu religious structures is reflexively attributed to 'the Muslims'. That phrase itself is objectionable, in my view. Lonely Planet never clubs the British and Portuguese together as 'the Christians', so why place rulers from varied ethnic backgrounds and historical eras into a hold all category such as 'the Muslims'?

The Sun Temple isn't the only instance of Lonely Planet inventing acts of Muslim vandalism. The entry for Himachal's Brajeshwari Temple states, "Famous for its wealth, the temple was looted by a string of invaders, from Mahmud of Ghazni to Jehangir". Mahmud did, indeed, loot the Brajeshwari temple. But Jehangir was neither an invader, having been born and bred in India, nor a plunderer of holy sites. He loved that region of the country, and did much to improve it.

Mughals keep unjustly getting the wrong end of the stick throughout the book. The background to Amritsar and its Golden Temple reads, "The original site for the city was granted by the Mughal emperor Akbar, but another Mughal, Ahmad Shah Durani, sacked Amritsar in 1761 and destroyed the temple." Durrani was, of course, not a Mughal at all. But hey, these guys are all Muslims, right? Mughal, Turk, Afghan, big difference. That attitude is probably why Allaudin Khilji is wrongly labelled a Pathan: "Chittor's first defeat occurred in 1303 when Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Pathan king of Delhi, besieged the fort, apparently to capture the beautiful Padmini, wife of the rana's (king's) uncle, Bhim Singh." Actually, misidentifying a Turko-Afghan as a Pathan is a minor error. The big howler in the sentence is LP's propagation of the myth of Rani Padmini. Back in the early 14th century, Khilji was on a campaign in Rajputana, capturing one fort after another, and Chittor was on his list. He didn't need a special reason to besiege it. The great poet and mystic Amir Khusro, who chronicled Khilji's campaign, made no mention of any Padmini. The story was dreamt up much later to contrast the treachery and lasciviousness of the Muslim ruler against the bravery and chivalry of his Hindu Rajput antagonists. I feel like saying to the Rajputs, "Guys, Khilji won, you lost, get over it."
Comment by Riaz Haq on March 6, 2014 at 9:37pm

Dozens of Muslim students from the disputed Indian territory of Kashmir were expelled from their university and briefly threatened with sedition charges because they cheered for the Pakistani cricket team during a televised match against archrival India, police said Thursday, while the Indian state's elected leader called for leniency.

Akhilesh Yadav, chief minister of northern Uttar Pradesh state, said he told state officials that such a serious charge as sedition, which carries a possible life sentence, should be not be used because the students probably didn't understand the gravity of their actions.

State Home Secretary A.K.Gupta said plans to impose the sedition charges were dropped late Thursday.

Yadav's statement in an interview with the New Delhi Television news channel came amid widespread outrage over the students' expulsion in the Indian portion of Kashmir, a divided Himalayan territory that both countries claim.

Earlier Thursday, authorities tried to track down the 66 students for questioning to determine whether sedition charges were appropriate, police officer N.K.S. Chauhan said.

Love of cricket - a legacy of Britain's long colonial role of South Asia - is one of the few things that unites Pakistan and India, despite a long history of animosity that has fueled three wars since the subcontinent's bloody partition in 1947.

But the fracas over Sunday's match - which Pakistan won - shows how easily passions are inflamed over predominantly Muslim Kashmir. Insurgents have been fighting for Kashmir's independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989.

Several of the students said their expulsion was discrimination.

"We didn't do anything illegal," said Muteebul Majid, a business administration student in his 20s. "Are they slapping these charges against us for being Kashmiris or for cheering for the Pakistani team?"

Like several other students who spoke to the media Thursday, Majid had returned to his home in Srinagar, the main city in India-controlled Kashmir, after leaving school.

Gulzar Ahmed, also a business administration student, said he and his friends were never given a chance to explain themselves.

"They (local students) attacked us with stones and abuse after the match. Instead of taking action against their hooliganism, police bused us to the railway station and directed us to go home," Ahmed said.

The students had been living in the dorms at the private College of Swami Vivekanand Subharti University, in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh state, about 560 miles (900 kilometers) from their homes in Kashmir.

Calls to the school were not immediately returned.

The students' cheers for Pakistan would not have raised any alarms in Kashmir. Minutes after Pakistan won the close match, hundreds of Kashmiris lit firecrackers and chanted "Long live Pakistan" and "We want freedom."

Omar Abdullah, the top elected official in the Indian portion of Kashmir, said sedition charges would ruin the students' future and further alienate them.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/india-question-kashmi...

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 7, 2014 at 8:18pm

..when she (Robin Raphel) made her controversial comments on the Kashmir dispute and the suggestion of a referendum, the Indian government saw her as a formidable, antagonistic voice to contend with. “The U.S. was seen as pro-Pakistan at the time,” describes diplomat Satinder Lambah, who was India’s High Commissioner in Islamabad then, “And Ms. Raphel was a real obstacle in bettering ties between the US and India. They improved dramatically, later, but it was in spite of her.”

The Narasimha Rao government issued demarches, both in New Delhi and Washington, expressing unhappiness over the comments. While Ms. Raphel remained in the position for several years, the Clintons changed their public positions on Kashmir soon after. President Bill Clinton, who had even raised concerns over “human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir” at a White house function in 1994, no longer brought those up, even as a visit by Hillary Clinton in April 1995 to New Delhi paved the way for better relations.


http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/robin-raphel-the-obstacle-in-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 9, 2015 at 10:41pm

For the first time since 1983, say analysts, Kashmir voted along religious and regional lines - the Hindu nationalist BJP swept the Hindu-majority Jammu region, while the regional "soft-separatist" PDP held sway in the Muslim-majority valley. "It is a disturbing verdict," says Shujaat Bukhari, editor of Rising Kashmir.

The verdict, says analyst Muzamil Jaleel, has clearly "exhibited the vast gulf between the political aspirations of Jammu's Hindu electorate and those of Kashmir and other Muslim majority areas". These elections, he mulls gloomily, "mark a beginning of the end for the fragile unity that holds Jammu and Kashmir together as a single state".

No wonder then that the two leading parties PDP and BJP make for strange bedfellows.

The BJP has said it is very keen to form a coalition government in Kashmir and is said to have held informal talks with PDP, but they haven't quite worked out for what many say are obvious reasons. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-30739270

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 25, 2015 at 10:58pm

#US report cites disappearances, dangerous jails, arbitrary arrests among rights' abuses in #India


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Significant-rights-abuses-... … via @timesofindia

"The most significant human rights problems were police and security force abuses, including extra-judicial killings, torture, and rape; widespread corruption that contributed to ineffective responses to crime, including those against women and members of scheduled castes or tribes; and societal violence based on gender, religious affiliation, and caste or tribe," the report said.

According to the State Department report, other human rights problems included disappearances, hazardous prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pretrial detention.

"The judiciary remained backlogged, leading to lengthy delays and the denial of due process," it said.

Noting that there were instances of infringement of privacy rights, the report said the law in some states restricts religious conversion, and there were reports of arrests but no reports of convictions under those laws. Some limits on the freedom of movement continued.

Rape, domestic violence, dowry-related deaths, honour killings, sexual harassment, and discrimination against women remained serious societal problems, it said.

Child abuse and forced and early marriage were problems, the State Department said.

Human trafficking, including widespread bonded and forced labour of children and adults, and sex trafficking of children and adults for prostitution were serious problems, it said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 8, 2015 at 9:13pm

On way out, #India's Manmohan gave PM #Modi file on hush-hush #Kashmir talks (backchannel diplomacy) with #Pakistan http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/on-way-out-...

Kasuri’s book quotes General Musharraf as stating that the secret Kashmir agreement envisaged joint management of the state by India and Pakistan, as well as demilitarisation of the territory.
The Indian negotiator said the final draft of the framework agreement in fact spoke of a “consultative mechanism”, made up of elected representatives of the governments of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, as well as officials of the two national governments. The consultative mechanism, he said, was mandated to address regional “social and economic issues”, like tourism, religious pilgrimages, culture and trade.
New Delhi, the official said, had rejected General Musharraf’s push for institutions for joint management of Kashmir by the two states, arguing it would erode Indian sovereignty.
Prime Minister Singh’s hand-picked envoy, Ambassador Satinder Lambah, and General Musharraf’s interlocutors, Riaz Muhammad Khan and Tariq Aziz, held over 200 hours of discussions on the draft agreement, during 30 meetings held in Dubai and Kathmandu.
Lambah, a former intelligence official recalled, was also flown to Rawalpindi on a Research and Analysis Wing jet as negotiations reached an advanced stage, travelling without a passport or visa to ensure the meetings remained secret.
“In early talks,” the Indian diplomat said, “Pakistan reiterated its public positions, calling for international monitoring of the Line of Control, and so on. However, it became clear that both General Musharraf and Prime Minister Singh were keen on arriving at an agreement that would allow them to focus on their respective agendas, without conflict over Kashmir sapping their energies.”
“Each paper exchanged between the two sides,” the diplomat said, “was read by him personally, and his instructions were then given to Lambah. There were just two people in the Cabinet, and perhaps three more in the bureaucracy, who were privy to what was going on.”
Later, Prime Minister Singh’s interlocutor on Kashmir, now Governor N N Vohra, was also tasked with briefing secessionist leaders in the state on the looming deal. “I think the agenda is pretty much set,” Kashmir leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said in an April 2007 interview. “It is September 2007,” he went on, “that India and Pakistan are looking at, in terms of announcing something on Kashmir.”
Prime Minister Singh, a former aide involved in the talks said, was scheduled to begin consultations with his Cabinet and opposition leaders on the deal, when a tide of protest unleashed by Pakistani lawyers pushed General Musharraf into a corner in March, 2007. “He seemed confident the talks would soon be able to revive,” the aide said, “but ended up being swept out of office”.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 13, 2015 at 10:17pm

Explore the Beauty of #Kashmir. WSJ reporter hears common refrain: "THIS ISN’T #INDIA. This is Kashmir” http://on.wsj.com/1RqNaEi via @WSJ

“THIS ISN’T INDIA. This is Kashmir,” a fellow passenger told me as we landed at the Srinagar airport. Now, as if cued by the scenery—striking alpine vistas of snowcapped mountains surrounding a vast lake fringed with lotus flowers and terraced Mughal-era gardens—my taxi driver says the same thing. It’s a statement I’ll hear repeated many times during my two-week visit, expressing a popular belief that Kashmiris want to live in an independent state, free of India and Pakistan. Beyond politics, it also recognizes a fundamental truth: Kashmir is culturally distinct from the rest of India.

The last time I set foot here was more than 20 years ago—long before 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, when the idea of Western tourists seeking beauty in Sufi shrines, mosques and other Islamic sites wasn’t unusual. Shortly after my visit, an American tourist was shot and killed in the streets of Srinagar’s old city; the following year six European and American tourists were kidnapped from a mountainous region popular with trekkers. Violence here peaked in the early 2000s, when President Clinton called Kashmir “the most dangerous place on earth.” A tourism industry that had been the envy of all Asia was shut down by a protracted conflict that left tens of thousands of Kashmiris dead and more than half a million Indian troops here on high alert.

Recently, however, a new peace has taken hold in Kashmir. Though there have been no grand political compromises or history-making treaties, things are fast returning to normal. The number of civilians killed annually in terrorist attacks, which often exceeded 1,000 during the worst years of the conflict, has shrunk to fewer than 35 for each of the past five years. And most of these attacks have taken place far from Kashmir’s tourist trail. Tourists from other parts of India and abroad are starting to flock here, drawn to a place immortalized in Bollywood blockbusters and travelers’ tales as a kind of earthly paradise. Looking across the city from the garden of the Vivanta Dal View, a luxury hotel built in 2012 on a mountainside above the lake to cater to this new wave of tourists, I begin to understand why. As the sun sets over the Himalayas, the lights of the city flicker below. An ancient fort is visible in the distance, and songs from dozens of mosques echo in the brisk night air. Today is Shab-e-Barat, a Muslim holiday traditionally celebrated by song and prayer sessions that last through the night. Unlike any other state in India, Kashmir—or Jammu and Kashmir, as the region is officially called—has long been a majority Muslim place, with a language and culture that owe as much to Iran and Central Asia as they do to the Indian subcontinent to the south.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 5, 2016 at 9:59pm

#India Losing #Kashmir as Public Anger Intensifies With Atrocities, Abuses Under Armed Forces Special Powers Act

http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/05/india-is-losing-kashmir/

The repeated calls by various civil society and human rights groups for the repeal of draconian laws such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) – which gives sweeping impunity to the armed forces of India operating in Kashmir – have been met with a cold shoulder, as the Indian army has staunchly opposed any attempts to repeal it.

As Kashmir has seen a resurgence in violence, public support for the insurgency also seems to be increasing. India is losing whatever support it had among the general Kashmiri public, and this trend will continue unless it brings about a radical change in its Kashmir policy.

In October of last year, Abu Qasim, a top commander of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba – believed to be responsible for several attacks on the Indian Army including the 2013 Hyderpora ambush – was killed. A sea of people attended his funeral procession. Authorities confirmed that militants also attended the funeral and fired a three-volley salute to honor his death. As if this were not enough, people from the villages of Khandaypora and Bugam clashed with each other over “the honor” of burying his body in their respective villages. Then, in November, an armed conflict between militants and the Indian Army broke out in the Manigah forests of Kupwara in Indian-administered Kashmir, lasting 27 days, killing two Indian soldiers, and leaving six others injured. The General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Indian Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps stated that the militants were getting supplies from the locals in the area. In yet another incident, nearly 25,000 people attended the funeral procession of Shariq Ahmad Bhat, a member of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group, who was killed in Pulwama district on Jan. 20 of this year. Militants were seen firing their AK-47 rifles in salute. The growing participation of locals in insurgency-related events suggests resurgent support for militancy in Kashmir, which has set alarm bells ringing in the Indian security establishment. The renewed support is so strong that even the president of the Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Mian Abdul Qayoom, recently indicated his support for the insurgency, saying, “We can also use [the] gun as a last resort, and it is no offence under [the] U.N. Charter.”

During a November 2014 visit to Kashmir, discussions with locals revealed that Kashmiris point to the Indian government’s policies for the resurgence in violence. Many were of the opinion that India has not been honest in resolving the political problem of Kashmir. “India asked us to give up arms and come to the table, and we did it. What happened next? Nothing,” said one Kashmiri. “When the situation in Kashmir was bad during the ‘90s, India repeatedly said that dialogue is the way forward to the Kashmir problem and not violence. And now that India has strengthened its hold here, they say there is no political problem at all,” said another.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 6, 2016 at 7:43pm

#India Held #Kashmir Commander: “Militarily, there's not much more to do than we already have done. We're losing" http://www.voanews.com/content/ap-kashmir-villagers-rise-up-foil-re...

Indian military officials estimate there are some 200 militants in the region, staging attacks on Indian law enforcement and crossing back and forth over the de facto border with Pakistan. It's a steep drop from the 20,000 estimated to have waged the insurgency in the early 1990s, but military officials say their job is getting harder as the villages increasingly get involved.

“It's a big problem, a challenge for us to conduct anti-militant operations now,” said Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, India's senior military commander in the region. He noted that armed soldiers had little hope of competing with the militants for public sympathy.

Most citizens in the mostly Muslim region have long resented the Indian presence, and support rebel demands that Kashmir be independent or part of Pakistan.

“Frankly speaking, I'm not comfortable anymore conducting operations if large crowds are around,” Hooda said. “Militarily, there's not much more to do than we already have done. ... We're losing the battle for a narrative.”

Human rights activist Khurram Parvez said that, while the rebels are fewer in number, their influence has grown. Beyond their usual guns and grenades, rebels now carry smartphones to coordinate their movements with village supporters, and load photos and videos onto social media sites.

“It's a more like a symbolic militancy now which tries to rally the support for freedom, and glamorizes militants, resistance and defiance,” Parvez said. “But people listen to them and support them more openly and fiercely.”

Kashmiris in the countryside regularly defy the curfews imposed when the military plans an operation in their area. Some militants have even become household names.

“India's military might have crushed militancy to a large extent, but they've failed to change people's minds,” Parvez said. “Their support for militants and freedom (from India) is now increasingly manifesting in fierce ways.”

Indian forces admit the village defiance is forcing them to change their strategy.

“During an average counterinsurgency operation, general law and order has become more important to tackle than the actual operation itself. It's a matter of serious concern,” top paramilitary officer Nalin Prabhat said.

They're trying to reach out to Kashmir's youth, organizing school debates, sightseeing trips throughout India and visits to sporting events in hopes of persuading them to stay away from the insurgency and anti-India protests.

But the so-called “Operation Goodwill” campaign has so far had little impact among Kashmiris aged 18 to 35 - two-thirds of the region's 7 million people - who have grown up politically radicalized over decades of brutal armed conflict.

Kashmir continues to be one of the most militarized regions in the world. The countryside is crisscrossed by coils of barbed wire. Police and army checkpoints are a common sight, and emergency laws grant government forces sweeping powers to search homes, to make arrests without warrants and to shoot suspected rebels on sight without fear of prosecution.

“Earlier the sight of an army soldier would send us into hiding,” said Zahoor Ahmed Reshi, sitting amid the rubble of what was once his home in the southern village of Gudroo, near Lelhar. The modest wood house was destroyed by an army mortar fired at a rebel who took shelter there during a firefight.

When the village came under siege again in May, hundreds of men and women clashed with the soldiers to help three trapped militants escape.

“People have overcome their fear,” the 48-year-old villager said. “Everybody is now saying, it's do or die.”

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