Continuing Violence

The Indian Security forces shot dead many protesting Kashmiris including a prominent Hurriyat leader Sheikh Aziz. The shooting took place when over 100,000 Muslim Kashmiris marched towards the LoC. More people were killed when over 200,000 Kashmiri living in the Indian-Held Kashmir (IHK) marched towards Eidgah graveyard for the funeral of Sheikh Aziz. The Indian security forces quickly imposed curfew in all the 13 districts of the Valley.  

The violence cycle started following the illegal donation of 100 acres land by the Congress-led government in the IHK to the Amarnath Shrine Board which oversees the yearly pilgrimage of Hindus. A large number of people in the IHK protested for about nine days continuously expressing total dissatisfaction with the Indian hold of Kashmir. In addition, the recent discovery of mass graves had also substantively contributed towards the already piling of dissatisfaction of the people in IHK. Almost all independent observers have termed this protest as the biggest since the early days of the current intensification of Kashmiri’s struggle

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The continuous protest not only caused the fall of government in the IHK but also the revocation of land transfer. The protest was indeed a huge setback for the Congress-led government which was gleefully projecting the improved security situation in the Valley for the purposes of coming elections as well as encouraging tourism. Undoubtedly the situation had improved in the Valley if compared with previous years.

The withdrawal of land donation triggered large protests in the Jammu region where the Hindu population enjoys a narrow majority. The Hindu extremists imposed a blockade and effectively prevented all supplies of essential goods to Valley which increased the miseries of the people in the valley.

The blockade entailed not just the prevention of goods to the Valley but also no valley-products such as fruits were allowed to leave the state which in turn made the situation to rapidly deteriorate.

The economic blockade effectively prevented all the essential supplies such as medicines and food stuff etc. The fruit dealers were particularly hit as the fruit began to rot after the passage of few days. Consequently, the traders and fruit dealers threatened to cross the LoC so that they can sell their products to Kashmiri living on this side of the LoC. Hence the march was organised to move towards LoC. Police and other security agencies detained more than 100 traders and also deflated the tyre of trucks.

Reports are also indicating that the Indian security forces are not just supplying weapons to the Hindu extremists but are also imparting training to many Hindus. While the Hindu extremists are indulging in rioting, it is interesting to note that many temples of the Hindus are guarded by the Muslims despite the fact many Masjids and Dargahs in the state have been badly damaged by the Hindu extremists.

Given the dangerous situation in the IHK, the Prime Minter of India sought the help from other political parties particularly from BJP in resolving the situation. The imposition of Governor Raj has not, so far, demonstrated any improvement in the situation. On the contrary it appears that the suppression by the security forces is causing the undesired spread of violence to various parts of the IHK.

Cognizance of rapidly deteriorating situation in Kashmir the Pakistan called for immediate steps to end the violence against the people of IHK. Being a party to the ongoing Kashmir dispute, it is not unusual to express concerns over unnecessary violence. Not only the people of Pakistan have been regularly expressing their concerns whenever brute force is employed to suppress the legitimate protests of the civilians in IHK, but the international community also express their concern in some form. The recent rioting and economic blockade has attracted the attention of the OIC which has also expressed deep concern.

As usual the Indians not only misinterpreted the Pakistan call for ending violence in Kashmir and dubbed it as interference in India’s inter affairs but also unnecessarily linked it with the dialogue process between India and Pakistan. In addition, India has also curtly dismissed OIC’s expressed concerns. What is interesting to note is the fact that those who enjoy influence over India has, so far, refrained from undertaking any move for fear of annoying India.

Equally intriguing is the question that has been repeatedly put by an eminent anchor of a very popular Pakistani TV talk show in one of the discussion that why is it that when an Indian officials remarks about Pakistan’s political situation, it is not viewed as an interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs by the Indians but when concerns regarding the situation in IHK is expressed either by the Pakistanis or OIC’s spokesman, it is condemned as an interference in the internal affairs of India?

Almost entire world has already acknowledged the disputed nature of the Kashmir dispute and have repeatedly advised and encouraged both the Pakistanis as well as the Indians to resolve it peacefully through a process of negotiations. It also needs to be mentioned that one of the baskets in the ongoing composite dialogue is entrusted with the task of resolving this lingering dispute.

Despite Pakistani efforts, so far the Indian response has not been very encouraging. What India needs to fully grasp is the fact that the real peace in the region is heavily dependent upon finding an amicable solution to the ongoing Kashmir dispute. India would be well advised to capitalise on the current window of opportunity and seriously discuss the issue with the elected government in Pakistan.

Dismissal of advice to end the violence as interference in the internal affairs is not an appropriate response. Continuation of violence in IHK could not only invoke a much stronger reaction among the Pakistanis and the Muslim world but could also become a cause of communal meltdown. The situation can be easily controlled if the Indian government breaks the blockade and ensures the supply of essential goods to IHK and also enables the Kashmiri traders to sell their goods both inside India as well as across the LoC. Already both governments have agreed to start truck service between IHK and AJK.