The number of unarmed civilians killed in instances of firing by the armed forces, police and paramilitaries enforcing the occupation of Kashmir by the Indian state in the latest wave of violence has crossed fifty. Many more have been blinded by pellet guns. Hundreds have been injured and hospitalized. Reports of protests are coming not only from the Kashmir valley, Kargil, Drass and Jammu, but also from many cities in India. From Delhi (where there has been a public protest at Jantar Mantar, a press conference at Gandhi Peace Foundation and a student protest at Jawaharlal Nehru University), from Kolkata, which saw a massive turn out in a public march, from Chennai, from Patna, and from Kochi and Tricky in Kerala.
On Friday 22nd July, I went to a night protest march and public gathering by students at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. The march was called by Shehla Rashid, Vice President, JNUSU and Rama Naga, General Secretary, JNUSU (Both AISA activists) There were perhaps two hundred students gathered peacefully. The march began around 10:00 pm, made its way around the university campus and the protest continued well past midnight. Several student organizations, AISA, BASO, Hundred Flowers, Collective, DSU and individual students participated in the march. Shehla Rashid, Vice President, JNUSU and an AISA student activist, addressed the gathering before the march began, stating clearly, that this was going to be a peaceful expression of the democratic right to protest against the atrocities being enacted by the Indian state on the people of the part of Kashmir that is under Indian occupation. She asked the students to be vigilant in case any disruptive slogans were raised by planted agent-provocateurs. The entire march, and the protest meeting was documented by the students, so as to ensure that no ‘doctored videos’ would raise their ugly digital heads in the days to come. The students raised the demand for freedom for the people of Kashmir, and for people in all parts of South Asia. The slogans connected the realties of the people of Kashmir, the North East, Bastar, Jharkhand, with the experiences of Dalits, Workers, Peasants, Women, Students and Minorities. Slogans were raised against the killings and blindings by pellet guns in Kashmir. against torture, again rape, against draconian acts like AFSPA and PSA. The march made its way through the entire campus and culminated outside Chandrabhaga Hostel, where a meeting was held on the steps. The meeting lasted over two hours, was completely peaceful,and more than two hundred students listened to the speakers with close attention.
Police officers and campus security guards were present, and recorded everything. The students also recorded everything. And the indefatigable Shamim Asghor Ali made video recordings of several speeches, and uploaded them on to youtube, which we are lucky to be able to share here. We are also grateful for the still images uploaded by V. Arun, several others also took pictures and videos, which are now being shared on Facebook.
Shehla Rashid, who herself hails from Kashmir, said that the most important thing was that the silence about Kashmir had been broken, and that a new, substantive conversation had begun again in the JNU Campus. She reminded the students that the people of Kashmir had stood in solidarity with the students of JNU after the 9th February incident earlier this year, and that by standing with the suffering people of Kashmir, the JNU students were only living up to the traditions of solidarity that the campus is known for. Shehla also spoke about the fact that it is not only the people of Kashmir who are suffering, but that the common Indian soldier, or CRPF trooper, who is sent by the Indian political establishment to enforce a militarized occupation in Kashmir, is also being killed or injured. She insisted that it is imperative that the occupation be dismantled, and that Indian troops leave, so that no Indian soldier or trooper need to sacrifice his life for the maintenance of an unjust status-quo.
[ Images from the March, courtesy, V. Arun]
Towards the end of the meeting, Umar Khalid, representing the Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Student Organization (BASO) spoke eloquently about the need for ensuring that all Indian citizens rise up against genocidial violence that is being perpetrated in their name by the armed might of the Indian state.
I was invited to speak, as was Engineer Rashid, an independent MLA, a lone voice who does not speak the language of the occupation in the J&K assembly, representing the Handwara assembly constituency. Engineer Rashid in his eloquent, moving, and often sharply ironic and funny speech, delivered in a rich rustic idiom insisted that he was speaking as a friend of the Indian people, and that he believed that India’s best interests lie in letting the people of Kashmir determine their own future.
Here are four video recordings made by Samim Asgor Ali of the statements made by Shehla Rashid, me and MLA Engineer Rashid.
This is a guest post by BOBBY KUNHU
This is a guest post by JAGJIT PAL SINGH
It was the year 2013; I took an auto-rickshaw from Dal Gate to Shankaracharya temple. As the auto-rickshaw took a right from the Boulevard towards the road that goes to the temple it was halted by a long queue of vehicles, mostly cars. I could see a security-check post from the distance, men in uniform grilling the drivers and their automobiles with the same thirst. You have to clear it before you pay visit to the deity. In Kashmir, these security-checks posts are just like traffic signals we habitually obey and cross in Delhi or in any other city, every day, every few kilometres. As I got off from the auto to take some fresh air a faujee approached me. He inquired from where I was coming, a very friendly tone in his voice. I was not new to these security-checks. I am half-Kashmiri, half-Punjabi, half-Sikh, half-Indian, half-Pakistani, half- refugee, and many others halves I could never put together to give a name to. He was visibly happy to see an ‘Indian’ in the land of ‘terrorists’, probably mistaken by my Punjabi/Sikh appearance. I’m more Kashmiri than a Punjabi though. If it were 1980’s or 1990’s the approach would have been different. Punjabis, mostly Sikhs, were terrorists those days. There are few other adjectives he used for Kashmiris I would like to skip. I instantly gathered all my Indian-ness and replied in an equally friendly-Indian tone to his friendly-Indian questions. It was a casual chat. Then, he went to the auto-driver in his role as a uniformed Indian in a ‘conflict-zone’; spoke to him in a dialect ‘only Kashmiris understand’, gave a green signal and in few minutes our middle-class auto-rickshaw bypassed all the expensive cars with JK number at the rear. Read more…
This is a guest post by MUZAFFAR ALI
Around two lakh people participated in the funeral procession of Burhan Wani: the slain Hizb militant from Shareifabad, Tral. Without a break Kashmiris are offering prayers in absentia and paying tributes to the `martyr.` Community kitchens in his locality have been set up to feed people who come to pay tributes. Defying curfew, people are crossing hills and hamlets on foot to reach his native place. Graffities in the Lalchowk area of Srinagar hail him as a hero who lives in “our hearts.” Never before has anyone witnessed such a tremendous support or tribute base for a slain militant. Militants have died before as well, but his death has given life to something unprecedented. Banners in his honour have been installed across the valley to convey the message that he will be remembered. The valley is on boil, and people are risking lives to attack armed police officers and CRPF personals. The death toll according to reports in Rising Kashmir has reached 43 and thousands of people are injured, many of them critically. While the state and the propagandistic TRP driven media emphasize Burhan being a ‘terrorist’, Kashmiris hail him as their ‘hero’ and ‘saviour.’ The question is what turned Burhan into a hero and why are Kashmiris across age groups eulogizing him? What is inspiring people to raise a slogan like, “mubarak tas maajeh yes ye zaav: shaheed hai aav, shaheed hai aaav” (congratulations to the mother who gave birth to Burhan—the Martyr). Read more…
Guest Post by SONAM MITTAL
URGENT ACTION / APPEAL regarding deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir
On behalf of JAMMU KASHMIR COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY [JKCCS]
- Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
- Juan Ernesto Mendez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
- Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
- David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society [JKCCS]
Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir
July 16, 2016
Re.: URGENT ACTION / APPEAL regarding deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir
- With grave concern and urgency we write to you today to bring to your immediate attention the ongoing State violence and repression against civilians in Jammu and Kashmir including repeated attacks on medical services, particularly hospital ambulances, carrying the dead and critically injured civilians. Jammu and Kashmir once again faces a humanitarian crisis that requires urgent international attention and intervention.
- With the presence of an estimated 7, 00,000 armed forces, Jammu and Kashmir is today the most militarized zone in the world and its civilians have faced widespread and systematic attacks at the hands of Indian State forces over the last 26 years. Thus far, the region has seen the commission of human rights violations, including war crimes that have resulted in70,000+ killings, 8000+ enforced disappearances and innumerous cases of torture and sexual violence. The armed forces, through special legislation but more importantly due to direct political support of the Indian state, enjoy total impunity and to date not a single armed forces personnel has been prosecuted for criminal actions in civilian courts of law. Read more…
Earlier this month I caught up with Delhi Sultanate, a member of the SkaVengers – a Delhi based reggae ensemble – around the launch of their new album XX or Double Cross to talk about their music, the unlikely journey of Udham Singh, a Indian revolutionary best known for assassinating General Dyer, and “Why Reggae?”.
Apart from the interview below, we’ve also got links to some of their music – listen, learn and enzoy.
Here’s the video for Frank Brazil