In a meeting held to discuss the recently released report by the Government of India’s appointed Interlocutors, the KAC’s Board of Directors today expressed their disappointment at the "conclusions" arrived upon by the distinguished committee. Apparently, months of study have brought the committee to the same conclusion that their masters have sought. Adding salt to the wounds of Kashmiris, the report focused on cultural, business and other non-political avenues aimed solely at concentrating Indian occupation of Kashmir. It constructively ignored the history of Kashmir, the multiple United Nations resolutions on Kashmir, the numerous human rights violations occurring on a daily basis in Kashmir, and the lack of any accountability on the parts of the federal or puppet state governments to respond to on the ground issues being faced by Kashmiris seeking redress of their political grievances. Formed in response to Kashmiris’ unified, peaceful, daily protests over the continued murders and rapes in Kashmir, the committee’s conclusion has left Kashmiris wondering what exactly it was that convinced the esteemed members of the group that their destiny resided within the Indian Constitution.
The KAC reviewed the report, and considered the groups mentioned as having participated in meetings with the Government appointed team. The Board questioned if the team met with the family of Shaheed Jalil Andrabi, the eminent human rights lawyer whose eyes were gouged and body thrown into the Jhelum, the victims occupying the thousands of mass graves being discovered on a far too regular basis in many towns and villages of Kashmir, the families of those children arrested for the grave crime of participating in peaceful demonstrations, and who remain jailed, the parents of those murdered in 2010 for protesting the continued egregious acts of Indian occupational forces, and other similarly situated Kashmiri citizenry? The Board questioned how the team understood the response from those left unmentioned, wondering where religious extremism and ethnic and regional chauvinism ranked in their since muted ability to respond. The Board sought further clarification on the definition of "legitimate dissent," and how it was to be expressed, when India’s unmentioned response to dissent is well documented in Kashmiri jails, torture centers and graveyards.
The KAC questioned the delay in the report’s release, wondering how many times it had been amended to accommodate the various special interests involved. Focus on "disadvantaged groups," "minorities" and "women" seemed designed to accommodate government interests, rather than report with accuracy the cries from the ground. Confirmed in numerous media outlets, of which the team’s chair Mr. Padgonkar, himself a media man, should have been aware, were polls taken of Kashmiris who, when asked what they wanted, replied with the unmistakably simple AZADI, or freedom from Indian occupation. It is indeed unfortunate that a team of such highly educated members could have ignored this oft-repeated cry.
In response to a question on the "broad consensus" of points to which the report referred, Sareer A. Fazili, Esq., KAC Spokesperson, wondered which Kashmiris felt that they should remain as a "single entity, within the Indian Union." Was it those who are unable to remove the draconian PSA, AFSPA and similar regulations despite their status as state legislators? Was it those who rule Kashmir from behind the barrel of a gun? Was it the armed forces themselves whose opinions were sought? Or did the team speak with the hearts and minds of the Kashmiris whose blood and sweat brought the committee into existence? It seemed laughable to the Board that the committee that was born from unrelenting street demonstrations, mass public programs concluding with marches to the imposed barrier separating the two parts of Kashmir, and mass protests over Indian domination could conclude that continued occupation was a "consensus" opinion.
Finally, the Board bemoaned the team’s continued call for a political settlement of the Kashmir problem, without it’s acknowledged recognition of the disputed nature of the situation itself. The Board reminded the team that numerous parlays, talks and meetings have failed to produce any movement on Kashmir, due to the simple fact that Kashmiris have never accepted any solution that was imposed upon them. Rather, they have demanded an equal seat at the negotiating table, and no one will be allowed to bully them into submission or acquiescence. The Board respectfully reminded the Chair of the team of his participation in the KAC’s 2005 Peace Conference Declaration team, where he and they affirmed, among other things, that a lasting settlement of the Kashmir issue would be according to the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmir people. The Board affirmed its support and continued effort towards the pursuit of a settlement of the problem that centered solely on the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.