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Curbs continue on Kashmir media; is it martial law in Srinagar?

July 10, 2010

Media persons stage protest at Press Enclave in Srinagar against Government’s decision to gag media. Habib Naqash/GK

Update 2 on 11 July: As was being feared, the state has begun to crackdown on Facebook users for ‘anti-India activiies’. I can already spot one Facebook account missing. Very soon they will ban eating, drinking, breathing and shitting and offer curfew passes to some for these activities.

Update: Appeals to the Indian government by the Committee to Protect Journalists and IFJ.

In a clear signal that it continues to dictate what we get to know about the ground situation in Kashmir, curbs on the local media in the Valley continue despite government claims that they have been lifted. At the same time, Delhi journalists are able to freely move around and report in Srinagar. This is yet another blatant example of how the Indian state considers Kashmir its private property and the rights of its residents are secondary. As the Delhi media continues to do the bidding of the Home Ministry, the best sources of news on what’s happening on the ground remain Twitter and Facebook. Those updating their profiles and pages with information are doing so with the apprehension of censorship, state reprisal, blocking of these sites and suspension of internet services altogether in Kashmir.

Srinagar, July 9: Editors of Valley based newspapers on Friday ridiculed the government claim that it had lifted curbs on the local media and decided to suspend the publication of newspapers till authorities issue sufficient number of curfew passes for the staff members and distributors. [Greater Kashmir]

The state’s honesty about media freedom in Kashmir can be gauged by the planned violence inflicted upon a Kashmiri journalist working for BBC Urdu radio.

Perhaps Mirwaiz Omar Farooq is right: it’s martial law in Srinagar.

And In Jammu, is it time again for an economic blockade of Kashmir?

There have been some protests in Delhi and statements from Indians against the Indian repression in Kashmir. Please consider signing this petition put out by anthropologist Shubh Mathur.

Given below is the text of a joint resolution from various media associations in Kashmir:

PRESS RELEASE MEDIA PROTEST AT PRESS COLONY

RESOLUTION

Srinagar: July, 10, 2010

Journalist fraternity in Kashmir has condemned strong-arm measures of government to curb smooth functioning of media in Kashmir. It has been made impossible for the journalists to cover news and also publish the newspapers. Therefore, in these circumstances, it has been decided to collectively suspend publication of all newspapers in Kashmir to protest against the draconian measures.

The decision was unanimously taken at a joint meeting of  five representative bodies of media fraternity of Kashmir viz Kashmir Press Association, Press Guild of Kashmir, Kashmir Journalists Corps, Kashmir Press Photographers Association and Kashmir Video Journalists Association.

At a protest in Jantar Mantar, Delhi

The meeting resolved that publication of newspapers couldn’t be resumed unless concrete measures are taken to restore complete freedom of media in Kashmir. Issues confronting media fraternity were discussed in detail particularly the brazen action against News X correspondent Suhail Bukhari and other members of the organization, who have been booked under numerous draconian laws. Fearing their lives, News X has shut its office in Srinagar as members of the staff were being harassed.

The meeting condemned the restrictions on media and expressed deep anguish over the unashamed approach of the government, which has not shown any respect for the media as an important institution. Instead the government has adopted a discriminatory attitude and not only facilitated entry of Delhi based journalists but has put all help, assistance and full government hospitality at their disposal so as to ensure the coverage of the events, as it deems suitable. The meeting also condemned the curbs imposed on cable TV networks in Kashmir while similar networks in other side of the state are allowed to air whatever they like.

This situation has completely paralysed the media in Kashmir, which is unprecedented in last 20 years. The meeting resolved that until a public assurance is, not only made but implemented in letter and spirit, that there will be no restriction on media and cases against media persons wihdrawn, media persons in Kashmir will not be in a position to do justice to their profession.

45 Comments leave one →
  1. fayaaz permalink
    July 10, 2010 10:56 PM

    Dear Shivam,
    if it was a martial law, they would not have been able to hold the protest!

  2. Kalpana Tikku permalink
    July 10, 2010 10:57 PM

    The govt. fails to realize that this will have a springboard action.. the harder you suppress , it will bounce back doubly hard like a boomerang.

    • July 10, 2010 11:03 PM

      India nationalists don’t even realise as much. They think they can keep it repressed forever. We have been seeing for three summers now that that is impossible.

    • vijay koul permalink
      July 15, 2010 8:24 AM

      I dont think u have understood kashmir problem at all. Government has only two options- to supress the movement totally and to pack up bags and leave. But it is doing neither of them. Nationalistic forces in kashmir will support u only wen u let them feel safe by suppressing the movement and its links totally then only will India realise that there are so many India loving people in Kashmir from muslim population there. People inn kashmir are more secular than most of the indian people but it is only few that supress the secular character of the majority.Although people are attached to Pakistan emotionally yet they know that remaining with pakistan will ruin their kashmiri ethos and economy and that is why we are witnessing huge turnout in elections in between.
      But the government is just passing time as if it is not bothered about the issue at all. It is buying time and in the process so many innocent civilians and force personnel are unnessarily being killed.
      If it does not have the concerted will to crush the mischief mongers in kashmir, it was better if it left it to them. I mean Hurriyat.
      Till the government is not ready to do either of them loss of lives in kashmir and else where is not going to be stopped.
      I am also surprised about kalpana. Being a kashmiri herself she should have understood the problem. it is not about pakistan or india or religion for that matter. In fact it is about wounds inflicted in Pakistani mindset due to its partition. And to scratch that wound, India has to go for it lock stock and barrel to complete unfinished business.
      Intermediatory steps have not yielded results since 60 years and neither it will do in near future.
      Better that India either act or leave

  3. fayaaz permalink
    July 10, 2010 11:00 PM

    And also now that its been almost more than a week of protests, would you to be brave and state what should the state, people and activist do. O mean what in YOUR opinion is the answere..azaadi? fair enough but have guts to state it here!

  4. July 10, 2010 11:02 PM

    That’s not true Fayaaz (if that’s really your name). In martial law the martial administrators decide how much freedom they want to give. A day or two ago such protest was not allowed. Anyway the point is whether or not it is martial law (it is not, is is like martial law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_law) but that such media gag is astonishing in part of a country that claims to be the world’s biggest democracy. I’m angry, aren’t you? And please see countless posts over two years or saw on Kashmir before asking if I am willing to endorse azadi

  5. ahmed permalink
    July 10, 2010 11:31 PM

  6. fayaaz permalink
    July 10, 2010 11:36 PM

    thats nice to hear that you are are for azaadi..that puts your arguments in perspective. i am glad you have said that. i agree and acknowledge the atrocities, dissappearences and all the trauma that kashmiris have faced. But creating another nation state i think is not the answer. surely there is a way to address the above issues without creating more formal divisions. By the way..these divisions are exclusivisionistt..linguistically, regionally, communally and in so many other ways. but i am not a kashmiri and i guess since you are in the thick of things and facing the buillets and media you would know better. all the best.. does name caste and relion matter? i guesss it does to you because thats how you judge arguments and people!

  7. July 10, 2010 11:43 PM

    See the discussion here:

    http://kafila.org/2010/06/30/if-protest-could-kill-what-would-bullets-do/

    Don’t have the bandwidth to go into another long never-ending discussion about the viability of a Kashmiri nation state. But I’ll say this much: morally seaking, a people who want to be free must be free.

    But what’s important right now is to do more than merely ‘acknowledge’ state repression. I asked you, don’t you feel angry about what’s been happening?

  8. fayaaz permalink
    July 10, 2010 11:43 PM

    shivam,
    people who have muslim sounding names and if they are also kashmiris may disagree with azaadi. dont you think so? otherwisae all hindus are RSS, they hate musilims and kashmiris and all pandits are anti-kashmiri peoiple..all dalits vote for BSP, if they dont then they are telling lies that they are dalits…all maosist are triblas……aap ko aapki azaadi mubarak….khuda bachaye

  9. fayaaz permalink
    July 10, 2010 11:46 PM

    khudaaa bachaye aise naujawanoo se! allah!

  10. Prashant permalink
    July 11, 2010 12:41 PM

    You know, there are so many people who support azadi for Kashmir on this website. You would get the impression, if this site was your window to India that most Indian sounding people cant wait to give away Kashmir. Had that been the case , why is Kashmir still a part of India ? Be honest, is Kashmir any closer to getting freedom from India ? If no, why not.

    I will tell you why. For every Shivam Vij supporting azadi for Kashmir, there are 1000 Indians who will not allow azadi for Kashmir to happen. It is Indians – all Indians, all 1.1 billion of them – who will decide the fate of Kashmir. Not a few million Kashmiri muslims full of hatred towards the kufr democracy call India and hatred towards kufr hindus – which they demonstrated by ethnic cleansing their Kashmiri Pandit brothers 2 decades back.

    Who are the 1 million Indian soldiers who are fighting Kashmiri separatists, killing them, sending them via speed post to their 72 virgins ? Sons of farmers, small time businessmen, traders, school teachers in rural India and semi-urban India. You kill one, 100 more will compete to take his place.

    Kashmiri separatists and their friends like Shivam and the rest of the gang who populate this website are not fighting the “Indian state” or the “Indian government”. They are fighting the Indian people. The Indian people. All 1.1 billion of them.

    You think you can beat us ? Try it. Try your best to defeat the Indian people. Lets see what you got. Can you beat the Indian people ? Let us see.

    (Infact you have been trying for 2 decades. With a lot of support from your brothers across the border. But with no success. So try harder, if thats possible. We look forward to it.)

  11. small blue permalink
    July 11, 2010 7:29 PM

    <>

    spoken like a true fascist – the poor make excellent cannon fodder – but one day, probably not too far away, they will turn on their oppressors,that is, the Indian ruling elite – as they already have done across central India – and it won’t be pretty –
    and actually, Indian soldiers in Kashmir are not being killed by militants in significant numbers, they’re committing suicide, or losing it and opening fire on their own units – even the “kill for food” deal you’re offering India’s poor has its operational limits -

  12. small blue permalink
    July 11, 2010 9:31 PM

    Hey Prashant, have you seen this news -

    http://outlookindia.com/article.aspx?266145

    elements in the Indian army in Kashmir have been supplying explosives to the Hindu terrorists to blow up Indian cities – we don’t need the Kashmiris or anyone else to “defeat India”, you and your Hindu friends are doing it just fine -

  13. Sam permalink
    July 14, 2010 9:20 AM

    Shivam,

    Regardless of the current protests and violence in Kashmir, the chances of any change in the soverignity of Kashmir is pretty remote.

    National self determination movements since independance have not had much success anywhere in the subcontinent without external military support. I suspect without the Indian military involvement, we would still have an East Pakistan today.

    small blue

    It’s easy to dismiss posters such as Prashanth as “facists” But he does raise an interesting point, I suspect there are more people who are opposed to Kashmiri independance than in favour of it among the Indian population as a whole.. Ultimately this makes the probablity of India voulantarliy agreeing to withdraw from Kashmir pretty low.

  14. Sunalini permalink
    July 14, 2010 5:47 PM

    Sam, so what exists in the world, our daily reality, our taken-for-granted, accepted view of the universe is also, happily, rational or ethical? What a marvellous world you live in! No conflict, no clash between reality and ideals. Everything is simple – just get the simple, undigested, oh-so obvious reactions of the majority, and make your policy accordingly. Or even better, don’t even bother going out and actually asking the majority (here I would really, really be interested in knowing for instance, what a landless farmer in Orissa thinks about Kashmir, or say, what the ten million odd tribals displaced by the Narmada project have to say on Kashmir and on the government’s wisdom in decision-making)…just assume what the majority’s opinion is, based on the sound principle that the majority is always right, and that well-intentioned rulers have a good grip on what the majority wants.

    So let me state it more precisely – in your world, what is ok for the majority is correct for the minority…Can’t think of a more succinct definition of fascism – remember a little guy called Hitler? Sorry, nothing ‘interesting’ about Prashant’s point there. Same old, same old. Blah.

  15. Rahul permalink
    July 14, 2010 9:25 PM

    Sunalini,
    You could try to convince people and political parties to make this an election issue. Or form a political party yourself. You could also file a PIL in the Supreme Court.
    Other that that, what structural changes do you propose in Indian democracy? Would you prefer a Swiss style referendum happy version?

  16. Prashant permalink
    July 14, 2010 10:17 PM

    Sunalini : “So let me state it more precisely – in your world, what is ok for the majority is correct for the minority…Can’t think of a more succinct definition of fascism ”

    Sunalini… thats a very interesting point. Now lets talk about the demand for freedom in Kashmir.

    The majority of Kashmiris – Kashmiri muslims – want freedom, while the minority – the Kashmiri hindus and buddhists want no part of this freedom thing and would rather be with India. For this reason Kashmiri minorities were persecuted by the Kashmiri majority and systematically ethnic cleansed.

    So what do you think ? Aren’t the Kashmiri muslims fascists ? Isn’t the demand for Kashmiri freedom a fascist demand ? for what you say,

    “what is ok for the majority is correct for the minority…Can’t think of a more succinct definition of fascism – “…. very wise words.

  17. Sunalini permalink
    July 15, 2010 11:19 AM

    Wow Prashant, you really got me there, didn’t you, clever person that you are….er….NOTTT (to be said Borat-style). Just as Rahul has kindly given me a list of basic lessons in electoral democracy (thanks so much Rahul, very kind indeed), maybe I should give you some lessons. First, majorities can be a potentially homogenising and oppressive for minorities; point is to not elevate simple majority to the status of gospel or self-evident truth; further, if the majority principle exists, to build in enough safeguards against its abuse. Second, Kashmiri Muslims are a majority in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, so yes, of course they can be a potentially homogenising and oppressive force for some, if not all minorities in the state. Third, nobody but the most blind person supporting azadi here would fail to concede the legitimacy of intra-Kashmiri divisions in drawing up a long-term plan for independence or power-sharing vis-a-vis the Indian state. Fourth, and this may be the most important point of all, the demand for azadi in Kashmir is a political one. I’m really not sure you understand the meaning of this term, so let me explain. Political as opposed to essentialist. Translated again, it means the conditions that led to the demand for azadi in Kashmir (as has occured in most national liberation or self-determination struggles, including the struggle for Indian independence from the British and the Naga struggle today) are complex, historical ones, not based merely on some simple notion of blood or religion, although these are very much a part of the picture too. The big question is: what are the political-historical conditions under which communities come to be defined as national, when does that self-definition become urgent and gather momentum, and how does a democratic society respond when the community develops a separate sense of nationhood? None of these questions unfortunately for people like Prashant, Somnath, Sam and Ashutosh, can be mandated by a grand wave of the hand. You have to go through the long, painful process of creating the conditions for a real conversation to begin, put your ear to the ground and hear what people are saying (all those residing in the state of J&K) and work out a long term solution. Its this uncertainty that’s unbearable for people of a fascist bent of mind…oh sorry, I see this answer is already too complicated for you Prashant, you who love simple mathematical equations and slogans when dealing with human and political problems – rah rah! blood! war! 100 indians for every kashmiri! majority is right…oh no! majority is wrong. Point is, for all your invocation of maths and logic, you believe majorities are right when they are Hindu, wrong when they are Muslim. Like I said earlier, same old, same old. Blah.

  18. Manash permalink
    July 15, 2010 1:32 PM

    I am glad that you have, in your haste, said the correct thing about Kashmir (despite the majority-minority debacle, but let us set it aside for a while). You said the Muslims want “freedom” while the Hindus and the Buddhists want “India”. This is a very profound and interesting distinction – I think you need to be patted in the back for throwing it up so simply. Indeed, the Kashmiris have two choices – to be free or to be with India (there are some fanatics interested in Pakistan too, but let us set them aside). As far as I know, fascists are not interested in being free – they are just interested in killing other people. So it is puzzling that you give Kashmiri Muslims credence for being both – freedom-lovers as well as being fascists. Maybe there is a genuine paradox there!

    And to come back to your majority-minority framework. This is a typical post-colonial, liberal-statist deployment, used by both centrist and right-wing engineers and doctors to constantly bully us by naming a design we don’t need and a pathology we don’t suffer from.

    There are Hindus and there are Muslims. The Hindus are in power in this country so they have more responsibility against other communities and will be pulled up more severely than others if they don’t. That was Gandhi’s understanding, and mine too.

  19. Manash permalink
    July 15, 2010 1:39 PM

    NOTE: My comment is addressed to Prashant.

  20. Prashant permalink
    July 15, 2010 2:16 PM

    Sunalini : “Point is, for all your invocation of maths and logic, you believe majorities are right when they are Hindu, wrong when they are Muslim.”

    Sunalini, and what about you ? To you, and your lot – (we know who they are, JNU type jholawalas) , majority is right when they are muslim, as in Kashmir, and wrong when they are in support of anything that is pro-India.

    And whats with these long winded boring verbose comments writing style preferred by JNU jholawalas ?

  21. Rahul permalink
    July 15, 2010 4:28 PM

    “”You have to go through the long, painful process of creating the conditions for a real conversation to begin, put your ear to the ground and hear what people are saying (all those residing in the state of J&K) and work out a long term solution.”
    I completely agree with you. Did not mean to sound patronizing earlier! I believe there are no categorical answers at any moment for an individual like you and me;we have to constantly negotiate the rapidly changing turf and make our decisions, not siding dogmatically with either side/stakeholder.
    I really do want to consider the options we have under normal political process – also whether a swiss style democracy is feasible in India etc.

    @Manash
    “The Hindus are in power in this country” These kind of constructions are not only irresponsible but useless in terms of furthering any constructive debate. Not that Prashant is interested in it anyway.

  22. July 15, 2010 4:41 PM

    @Manash

    The Hindus are in power in this country so they have more responsibility against other communities and will be pulled up more severely than others if they don’t.

    From Mridu Rai (see comments on the “Sopore” post) to other separatists, a certain section of commenters here keep harping on Hindus being the rulers in India. How is that so? Hindus are in majority, Yes. But, Hindus are in power, No. Hindus would have been power, if a Hindu nationalist party would have been in power, that too with a ruleable majority. Congress is in power on the plank of being secular, pro-Dalit, pro-this and pro-that, everything but being pro-Hindu. Its president is a Christian, its PM is a Sikh. If other people in the government are Hindus they are not there because they are Hindus. So, how, someone tell me are Hindus in power? And how, someone tell me, are Kashmiris “Muslim Subjects under Hindu Rulers” (to quote Mridu Roy’s mischievously titled book). Has it been possible for J&K to have a non-Muslim CM for the last 63 years? Is it possible for J&K to have one in next 50 years? Kashmiri’s preference for non-alignment with what they perceive as a non-Muslim nation aside, how are Kashmiris, or even India, ruled by Hindus?

    • Mridu Rai permalink
      July 22, 2010 12:07 AM

      Raman, it’s so interesting that on the post you refer to, you insisted on answers to your questions but you vanished when people tried to address them. Don’t ask questions if you don’t want to hear the answers — in fact, as I remember it, some of us were far from even suggesting we had answers but were trying to think with you.

      And a rhetorical question for you (translation, if required: don’t bother to reply) to record another perspective on your specific personally directed comments: what is “mischievous” about that title for a study of princely Jammu and Kashmir (1846 to 1947) when the rulers (4 of them in succession in a dynasty that never legitimated its authority to govern anywhere but in Jammu) were Hindu, not incidentally so by virtue of their religious affiliation but constructed as such, and the vast majority of their subjects were Muslims and, again, not incidentally so by virtue of their religious affiliation but constructed as such?

    • July 22, 2010 10:31 PM

      @Mridu
      Well, some answers to my questions on the “Sopore” post were answered partly, some convinced me, while others befuddled the issue even more. For one thing, one can’t keep on arguing here aimlessly and indefinitely. Just like you do, all of us have other businesses. Since I have already lost Kashmir, it does not affect my daily life, although it does stir something emotionally inside me. Commenting and refraining from commenting on these posts is like trying to lose an addiction. While we are arguing here, it is the post-89 struggle that is killing people in Kashmir, and some of us are fueling that further.

      On answers, no Kashmiri (or other) commenters answered my question about why they haven’t been asking for separation from “J&K”, since Kashmir is the only part asking for independence. No Indian supporter of Kashmiri independence gives any indication of what post-secession India they envision. If KMs deserve independence, do we Kashmiri Hindus deserve our pound of flesh too, like Panun Kashmir demands? Where does the fulfilment of separation demand end — on state level, on province level, on mohalla level? What about Muslims in rest of India? Rohit talked about re-thinking about the plebiscite region, but what do Kashmiris think?

      Regarding your book, if you have only been talking about pre-47 Kashmir, then the title may be apt and I apologize for calling it mischievous, although it is not completely benign either. Post-47, it has been impossible for Jammu and Kashmir to have a government that is not Kashmiri Muslim dominated, and none of them can be called as Hindu rulers. Pre-47, there were “Christian Rulers, Hindu Subjects”, “Muslim Rulers, Hindu Subjects”, and many other combinations in the region, so the combination in Kashmir was not that much out of the ordinary.

  23. July 15, 2010 4:56 PM

    PS: Which of the laws in the country are based on Hinduism? So, how is it a Hindu country or a country with Hindu rulers?
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret this. On the other hand, I am proud of the fact that we are not a theologically governed country. But being accused of something we are not, and a demand for another religion based partition negates everything that India stands for — which you guys don’t care for anyway.
    Now for those supporting azaadi for Kashmiri Muslims, would you also support any future azaadi demands that could emanate from Muslim majority areas of UP, Assam, Meerut or Hyderabad? After all, where do you draw the line? If one part of one state can ask for azaadi based on religion, why can’t parts of other states, districts, cities or mohallas?

    • July 28, 2010 4:33 PM

      Correct me if I’m wrong but it is still illegal to sell (and therefore cull and presumably eat) beef in Kashmir (as it is in Gujarat and even Delhi). This is all thanks to some ordinance passed by the Dogra rulers in some ancient past (in case of Kashmir). That’s definitely one law based on Hinduism, won’t you say?

      Just like Kashmir has never hand a non-Muslim CM/PM it has also never had a Muslim/Kashmiri Muslim governor. Instead, Kashmir has had retired army rank holders like SK Sinha as a governor (who, incidentally, increased the duration of Amarnath Yatra from a couple of weeks to three months with some periods exclusively reserved for the personnel in the armed forces and their families).

      The only thing that is clearly visible in the Army camp in Sonmarg is a Shiv temple with a prominent trident stuck atop it. More proof of a secular army of a secular state, I suppose.

      Raman do you really believe that the Indian state is functionally secular? Are you just naive or plain blind?

    • July 29, 2010 10:51 PM

      @Madhura ;-)

      You got me there. If some states prohibit selling beef, that law would definitely have a link to Hindusim. I am sure the ban in Kashmir should be limited to pork only, now that there are hardly any Hindus left there — and I am sure the state legislature can change an old law like this. But come on, does that make it more of a Hindu country. IMO, it doesn’t. Nor does extension of Amarnath yatra by a few weeks. I am sure we can discuss topics like Hajj subsidy, etc., but I don’t think that discussion belongs here.

      Madhura, I am neither naive nor blind. I have seen the system work from more perspectives than many — as a minority in Kashmir, as a majority in other parts of India, and as an outsider in other countries — and I firmly believe that given its location and circumstances, India is more secular than most countries in the world. That includes the aspect of the role of religion in armed forces, role of minorities in the government, in society, industry, sports, entertainment, etc. India is home to persecuted minorities from many countries (Bahais, Parsis from Iran, Hindus from Afghanistan, Buddhists from Tibet, Muslims from Bangladesh) and there has to be a reason why they made India their home.

      But all that doesn’t matter. I think the point should not be whether India is secular or communal, good or bad, rich or poor. You guys should not even be discussing India’s merits or demerits. If you are convinced of India’s greatness, will you be more likely to accept India as your country? If yes, let us debate. Otherwise, what is the use of counting India’s defects? If you don’t consider it as your country, its being good or bad doesn’t matter. Does it? We Indians, on the other hand, have a different perspective of the whole issue.

    • somnath permalink
      July 30, 2010 6:07 PM

      “The only thing that is clearly visible in the Army camp in Sonmarg is a Shiv temple with a prominent trident stuck atop it”

      Madhura,

      Have you ever been to any Army base (battalion, brigade, division or any unit)? COMPULSARILY, in every army unit there is a small “temple station” with a hindu, muslim, christian and sikh “temple” side by side..It is standard operating protocol for men (and officers) to pray at this “deity combo” before departing on any mission…Do you know that officers and men serving in “religious regiments” frequently observe the festivals of the main religionists of the regiment? For example, many non-muslim officers and men serving in JAK LI and JAK Rif observe ramzan fast? Or that many non-sikh officers serving with the Sikh LI or Sikh reg observe every sikh festival? Obviously you dont…

      “Instead, Kashmir has had retired army rank holders like SK Sinha as a governor (who, incidentally, increased the duration of Amarnath Yatra from a couple of weeks to three months with some periods exclusively reserved for the personnel in the armed forces and their families). ”

      In its 60 years post indepndence history, J&K has had an ex-Army officer as governer only twice….By the way, Punjab has had that “distinction” more often!
      The duration of amarnath yatra was extended because of the sheer increase in the number of pilgrims in this decade (as militancy waned) and the vastly incresed security infrastructure that has been put in place…But about “exclusive yatra facilities for armed forces” – where did you get that from? any sources??

      Critique can be with an ideological edge – but facts should not be given a complete go by in the process!!

  24. small blue permalink
    July 15, 2010 8:26 PM

    Sam:
    I use “fascist” in a purely descriptive, sense, a right-wing authoritarian politics – is it just the word you dislike or what it represents?

  25. Sunalini permalink
    July 16, 2010 2:16 PM

    Ha ha, so my hunch was right. My comment was in fact too complex for you, Prashant. Well, I would prefer long-winded, boring and verbose to short-winded, asinine and simple-minded, which is the style that you prefer. And oh by the way, thanks for being honest about your ideas of majorities and minorities. No thanks for misreading mine, but never mind. We can’t have it all, can we?! Cheers!

    Rahul, very sorry for assuming you were giving me advice from ‘on high’ earlier. However, I would be loathe to categorise myself the way you have, “there are no categorical answers at any moment for an individual like you and me; we have to constantly negotiate the rapidly changing turf and make our decisions, not siding dogmatically with either side/stakeholder.” The point for me is not that an ‘individual like you or me’ does not have categorical answers…its that the state of J&K is full of individuals and groups with history, and that scenario as a whole represents no easy, categorical solutions. This we have to take seriously. I feel humble in the business of prescription – that is the job of the Kashmiris, I really believe this – but I do have strong opinions on politics per se, and clear preferences on ethics and values. And that attitude, as you can probably see, is very different from being strategic or apolitical, which your description seems to be sliding towards. If I’m wrong in my reading of your comment, sorry again.

    And Raman and Rahul, about India having Hindu rulers…you really have to want to see this. You have to want to see beyond the jargon of secularism, minority appeasement, backward-class reservations and so on, and see deep inside the so-called secular 100-year history of the Indian State and Congress Party – the Congress’s secularism is not pseudo because it ‘appeases’ Muslims, it is pseudo because it can often function as a softer version of the BJP’s Hindutva. The rest (Muslim ‘appeasement’ bah blah) is the superstructure. Or more simply, eyewash. Of course, if your reaction to all this is ‘no way, what utter nonsense’ then this little comment box is too meagre to offer redress. Hell, a whole lifetime may too meagre.

  26. Prashant permalink
    July 16, 2010 5:14 PM

    Sunalini : “My comment was in fact too complex for you, Prashant. Well, I would prefer long-winded, boring and verbose to short-winded, asinine and simple-minded, which is the style that you prefer. ”

    Actually Sunalini, my comments maybe asinine or not, atleast they have the benefit of being short. Yours on the other hand, are boring, pointless, never ending and yes.. asinine. Typical of jobless JNU type jholawalas with too much time on hand.

  27. July 16, 2010 6:06 PM

    Well, that kind of discrimination can be found everywhere in the world. Against non-whites in the US and other “white” countries. Against non-Muslims in all Muslim countries. Against Hindus and non-Kashmir regions in J&K. India has more than its share of problems and imperfections, and has a long way to go, but none of that means such discriminations are reason for secession. Muslims have more representation in Indian society than minorities in ANY OTHER country have.

    Moreover, the discrimination to Muslims may apply to Hindu majority areas in India, but not to Kashmir. If there is no “freedom movement” (part of which is definitely instigated) in Kashmir, Kashmiris have everything. I have lived there all my life before the migration and it functions just like a Muslim majority country or society. This comment is really too meagre to document that, but a simple example is — some teachers in my village high school would make all “non-Mohammedan” students to raise hands so that they could be identified. So, in Kashmir, Muslims would not have been “persecuted”, or even inconvenienced if this unnecessary movement had not been started.

    With a state government that can never be “Hindu” (even if it is a puppet of the center), that also rules other non-Muslim parts of the state, the Kashmiri Muslim will never be discriminated against in Kashmir — if Kashmiris end this mindless war fo separation.

  28. somnath permalink
    July 16, 2010 6:37 PM

    Sunalini,

    The complexities of identity-based (or any other criteria-based) political agitations are well understood even by the supposed “neo-liberal statist” types..The Indian nation state is no stranger to these – it has confronted them in various avatars (language, religion, region et al)over the years..And at the end, almost in no case has the issue been resolved through “fascist majoritarianism” – consider the Andhra/Maharashtra state agitations, Hindi as national language, Mizoram, Punjab and many more..A mix of accomodation, dialogue, cooption AND state power has been used.

    However, there is surely a difference between the vote of an individual and (as Arun Shourie so eloquently points out) his veto..No society or state can unilaterally grant a group of citizens the right to “independence” without jeopardising the very basis of the state and society..What impact of a successful Kashmiri secession will there be on Muslims in the rest of the country? In popular (Indian) consciousness, muslims asked for and got their own “land”..A second partition would make the position of muslims simply untenable in the country…

    Nation states dont allow that, at least successful ones dont..A couple of centuries back, a nation state was confronted with a secessionist demand that was much stronger militarily (and frankly, far less important to its nation building project) than Kashmir is vis-a-vis India..It chose civil war to allowing a very large minority to secede..And it emerged from it to presereve the Union and become the most successful nation-state that the world has ever seen..

    The reason why the Kashmir issue keeps alive is partly the fault of the clumsy Indian state, but the same clumsy state resolved the states issue, or Punjab in less time…There is always a pattern to these things..Agitation, denial from the state…Violence, state forces come in at their “worst”…More violence, state refines its strategies..The “movement” is weakened through a mix of cooption and state executive action..Finally a mix of negotiation with the “movement leaders” and democratic process lays the problem to rest…

    If it isnt working in Kshmir, a very large part of the problem is Kashmir’s geographic location and strategic imperative (for Pakistan)..The problem still largely is Indian, we have to solve it…The solution might lie in NArasimha Rao’s “sky is the limit” offer, or Manmohan Singh’s soft borders aprpoach..But one thing is clear, under no circumstances can there be a realignment of Indian borders – that simply cant be (and wont be) allowed…

  29. Rahul permalink
    July 16, 2010 7:32 PM

    “And that attitude, as you can probably see, is very different from being strategic or apolitical, which your description seems to be sliding towards.”
    I was actually suggesting the opposite. To put it in perspective, my post followed your statement a few posts back of finding out what other Indians think about Kashmir..In that vein I was suggesting we should be open minded and listen. I think the bigger issue here is not what they think about Kashmir but what can we do to create certain political consciousness, so that what is personal to us can effectively be brought into political sphere and should manifest in some kind of political reality.
    For example. what a tribal thinks about Kashmir is probably irrelevant when he is powerless in matters of his own bread and butter. Therefore , the mention about Swiss democracy.
    And, “about India having Hindu rulers” in my opinion you are guilty of using the same Occam’s razor as Prashant.That is all that I wish to say about it.

    Thanks

  30. Sunalini permalink
    July 18, 2010 11:57 AM

    Prashant, this name-calling could go on for a while huh? Ok let me begin the end of it by apologising about calling your comments ‘asinine’. I wouldn’t normally use that language in any debate, and I see no reason to do so in this, however strongly I disagree with you. So that’s out of the way, hopefully. Now let me ask you a general, philosophical question. Would you explain to me why short comments are better than long ones? I mean Kashmir is not a simple issue: its not like which ice cream do you like better? Vanilla or butterscotch? I think everybody is entitled to their fantasies, and yours might well be that this issue could be resolved overnight. With some help from the Indian military of course. I thought on a blog like this we were trying to avoid more loss of life in a really complicated screwed up situation. Because hey, if we aren’t doing that, then why waste everybody’s time? So if you find these comments long (and wow, thats your critique of them?!!), then its simple, right? Don’t read them. And by the way, you do seem to think you know everything about me. Apart from knowing which university I studied at, you think I have a preference for floppy bags (jholas) and now apparently I don’t have a job either…are you a detective?

    Mr. Kaul, you and I agree on this: majorities can treat minorities like second-class citizens. I have already stated clearly that this can happen with any majority and any minority; religion is irrelevant here. However, we disagree on this: Muslims are not the best treated minorities in the world. There are a huge number of states that have a better record of minority treatment than ours. You already know my position on the Kashmiri demand for independence, so I won’t repeat it.

    Somnath, why are you in this debate? To tell people that there’s no debate? In your words: “But one thing is clear, under no circumstances can there be a realignment of Indian borders – that simply cant be (and wont be) allowed…” Well, then! When the basics are so clear to you, the rest is all a question of management and trouble-shooting. So get into government or a private think-tank that advises government, and make clever management plans that can control and direct human behaviour according to what you think is best, because the ordinary people can’t be entirely trusted of course (they didn’t go to a management institute like you)…

    But don’t fool yourself that you are debating here, because some of us are actually doing the unthinkable on this blog and in thousands of other sites and locations: not treating the national borders as sacred. To me, that’s a real debate.

  31. Prashant permalink
    July 19, 2010 2:55 PM

    Sunalini : “But don’t fool yourself that you are debating here, because some of us are actually doing the unthinkable on this blog and in thousands of other sites and locations: not treating the national borders as sacred. To me, that’s a real debate. ”

    Why limit yourself to blogs and websites ? Form a political party, stand for elections in India with the agenda that India’s national borders are not sacred. That Kashmir should be given away. You talk a lot about ordinary people , common people – let us see how many of these ordinary people vote for you……

  32. somnath permalink
    July 19, 2010 6:01 PM

    Sunalini,

    The sanctity of national borders is the not the crux of the debate here..That is only a collateral point, if I may..the crux of the matter is whether a nation state expresses its will as represented by a democratic “votes”, or by individual and communitarian vetos..Because as I had mentioned elswhere, if it is the latter, then there is really no end to the expression of those vetos..Starting with Kashmiri pandits wanting to have their own “homeland”, to Ladakhi buddhists to of course pretty much all citizens of Mumbai wanting “freedom” from Maharashtra as a start..

    There is a case for greater finesse in the political approach in J&K, but clearly the “will” of the nation, as expressed in a unanimous resolution in Parliament is for a non-secession of Kashmir..In case you have a contrarian view, thats fine (though in most countries a view espousing division of the nation is treated as treason – not in India though!)..but do not convert THAT into a principle (and principal) of the debate..

    The issue is about “management”, regardless of my background (dont know where from you get that though!) or your views..And the outcomes will be decided by the quality of that management..Bangladesh didnt break away because the Pakis were willing to let them go..they broke away because the Pakistani management was far inferior to Bengali (and Indian) prosecution of the movement..And the management is reflected in th political will of the “manager”..In a democracy, that political will arises from the political constituency for that will – in India’s case, that constituency is very very large..Larger than a couple of million Kashmiri muslims, and a few thousand “prgoressive” activists.

    Think about it, an independent Kashmir will be a land-locked state in the tri-junction of India, Pakistan and China, and the fountainhead of every single river that nourishes northern India and Pakistan…Even if India were to adopt a laissez faire approach, will the Pakistanis or Chinese do the same? What do their own track records tell us? In which case, why should the Indian state, any state that cares for the future generations of the country let Kashmir go? And keep our future generations at the mercy of a couple of rapacious uncivilised states (Pakistan is not a nation)? If it is a toss between the future of a billion Indians and the views of a couple of million Kashmiri muslims, the choices are clear -as I said before, far clearer than the choices before Abe Lincoln while deciding whether the civil war is worth the bloodshed..

    But something mor interesting in your comment that I noticed -

    “There are a huge number of states that have a better record of minority treatment than ours. ”

    Can you name a few out of that “huge” number, if I may? And yes, please dont restrict yourself, for the purpose of sheer intellectual honesty to countries where muslims constitute a “rounding off error” in their numbers…

    • Mihir permalink
      July 20, 2010 7:43 PM

      “Can you name a few out of that ‘huge’ number…”
      Pretty much everybody, surely? Most European countries have tried harder to integrate than ours have, in spite of more formidable cultural differences; at least they ask the right questions, if nothing else. And the United States seems to do pretty well.

      You may be right about ‘management’ — surely the whole point of the original post was that restricting the press was mismanagement — but I am not sure what border is sanctified here. The one we can all draw freehand, with PoK included? The Line of Control? The state’s internal borders?

      Frankly, the only people in India who really care about Kashmir — when they’re not told to by Arnab — enough to make all this talk of “collective will” and vetoes even slightly relevant are the Hindu Right, people who live there or used to, the armed forces, and non-Kashmiri Indian Muslims, many of whom are pretty unsympathetic to Kashmiri self-determination. Making it a great national issue more than that is frankly a little ridiculous.

  33. July 19, 2010 9:50 PM

    @Sunalini
    “I have already stated clearly that this can happen with any majority and any minority; religion is irrelevant here.”

    But religion is not irrelevant in the Kashmir debate, even though the separatists are making you believe it is. The one and only reason that some (well, most) Kashmiris don’t want to be part of India is that they are Muslims. Period. Not because as Muslims they are ill-treated in India, because they are not. Muslims may be ill-treated in India’s such regions, where they are in a minority. In Kashmir, they are the ones who are in a majority, and they are the ones who ill-treat the minorities. But, as you said before, you have to want to see this stuff.

    “There are a huge number of states that have a better record of minority treatment than ours.”

    In our region, the sanctity of human rights and even human life is generally lesser than in the West. That aside, name one country where such important positions have been held by members of minority. For example, in the US, would Nikki Haley or Bobby Jindal have even been in reckoning for gubernatorial positions if they had not converted to Christianity?

    My position on Kashmir, once again, is that the valley should have been carved out and given to Pakistan in 1947, but the incongruent structure and political setup of the state precluded that. Now, it is too late for everybody in the game — nobody has the will to do the unthinkable, and doing the unthinkable will produce more bad than good. We are all wasting our time here.

  34. Sunalini permalink
    July 20, 2010 5:50 PM

    Somnath,
    Your ability to say the most rabid, intolerant things in the most reasonable tone is quite astonishing. I am not going to engage with most of your ‘points’, because I can only do so with somebody who has a healthy amount of suspicion towards their own prejudices. Let me just translate your seemingly rational language (as I’ve done before on other posts on Kafila): we (Indian Hindus) are the best…better than those Muslim Pakistanis, better than those slant-eyed Chinese, not yet as good as the white people, but with a little better ‘management’ and suppression of the pesky anti-national minorities, we’ll get there. Inshallah! Oops, sorry, Jai Ganesh!

  35. Manash permalink
    July 21, 2010 4:04 PM

    This debate, which includes voices of critical sanity and love on the one hand and voices of crude post-partition pathology and instrumentalist nationalism on the other, reminds me of a few lines I had written in an article after 9/11:

    The State interrupts our dialogue with the other through its language of law and order. Its sub-text is the fetish of nationalism, the old suspicion between communities, the need for state secrecy and the importance of security over freedom. This is a circular plot. No wonder then that we are sentimental about Kashmir but not about Kashmiris (for Hindus, I must add, certainly not Kashmiri Muslims). The fetishism of territory matters to us much more than the aspirations of the other. It’s strange how some people feel they have more stakes in Kashmir than the people who live there. But isn’t true that with the death of each Kashmiri we are losing the spirit of the land?
    (‘ “Where was he wounded?” You don’t know/ if they mean a place in his body/ Or the place in the land’ — Yehuda Amichai).
    Any indifference to the spilling of the blood of the other would be the spilling of the blood of our own self-denial.

    The whole article is here:

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/lr/2001/12/02/stories/2001120200220300.htm

  36. somnath permalink
    July 21, 2010 5:39 PM

    Mihir,

    “Pretty much everybody” has a better track record than India on (muslim) minority treatment?!! Lets disregard the fact that muslims constitute a “rounding off error” in their numbers in almost all countries of Europe and in the US – a fact which by itself makes the argument untenable..(Barring France and Holland, muslims constitute less than 5% of the population of any country in Europe and the US)..And the exemplars of minority muslim treatment are Europe and the US? And Europe is “asking the right questions”? Sure – like demanding of all its muslim citizens to suspend being cultural muslims..In the centuries of post-enlightenment, is there any record of ANY muslim head of state, chief of the services or ANY position of national state power in Europe or US?!!

    About the sanctity of borders, its not about the cartographic skills of the populace..Its about the psychological impact of, and concomitant reaction to what is being suggested, ie a vivisection of India…Lots of Indians would be blase about Kashmir (for that matter, in our day-to-day lives, people in Mumbai dont think all that much about those living in Kanpur!)..But surely they are not blase about a possibility of Kashmir’s secession from India – and that IS a major national issue, which by all indicators (not least the Parliamentary resolution) is a non-negotiable one for most Indians..

    Sunalini, given your self-description of a “social scientist” (in a spearate post), your taking recourse to racist stereotypes comes as a surprise ..My definition of the Chinese state has no bearing on what I think of Chinese people (many of whom I work with everyday at my workplace)…But maybe its just so much easier for you to engage with the “RSS-types” (represented by the likes of Prashant on this site) – their sheer rabidity and lack of reason and scholarship make them easy “targets” to demolish…But dovetailing “liberal progressive” ideals into compulsions of statecraft is a far trickier job!!Most variables (and constants) do not conform to the neat categorisations in the ceterus paribus conditions the liberalati seems to define…

    BTW, if anything, I actually think average Indians in most respects are a lot smarter than the “white people”, while the Chinese are right up theere with us in sheer brainpower – so much for racial profiling!!:)

  37. somnath permalink
    July 22, 2010 6:07 PM

    Manash,

    You exaggerate the capability of the state to sustain a societal “will” through its various machinations…The Pakistani state, a lot more brutal than the Indian one, couldnt sustain societal interest in Bangladesh, the Soviet state couldnt sustain “Soviet society’s (if there was ever a creature like that!) interest in itself, the Americans couldnt sustain interest in Vietnam or Iraq/Afghanistan either…

    And in various parameters of state ruthlessness and competence, the Indian state falls spectacularly short of all the states mentioned above…therefore to ascribe territorial emotionalism to a well-executed Indian state conspiracy is a convenient liberal axiom, but really doesnt explain the full story..

    How else does one explain the vast outpouring of support for the Kargil war effort? Even from places with varying degrees of disaffection with the Indian state (like Assam and Nagaland)? How is it that one did not see the same reactions on the Pakistani side of the border?

    The reason according to me is simple – there is an undeniable thread of “Indian-ness” that increasingly binds most citizens of post-independence India together..It does not manifest itself in day-to-day lives..But in national euphoria (cricket being one example) and national emergencies it shows itself in many ways…

    The doggedness of the Indian state’s position on Kashmir is a reflection of the same societal will…Subconsciously maybe, but a majority of Indians are tremendously proud of a lot of what has been achieved post-independence, and see a Kashmiri secession as a big move backwards…In realpolitik terms, it would start with a redefinition of the character of the Indian “state” – a Kashmiri muslim secession will mean a second “muslim-inspired” division of the country – imagine what it would do to the 130 million muslims in India…The societal will has an intuitive sense of that, even if its not articulated in as many words..

    Otherwise, given the venality of the Indian political class, if a majority of Indians acquiesced to a “let Kashmir go” philosophy, they would cut a deal in no time at all…

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