Kashmir — Use of violence begets violence

The Daily Times

OP-ED

Kashmir — Use of violence begets violence

Dr Syed Nazir Gilani

FEBRUARY 17, 2019

The first ever suicide attack on a CRPF convoy on Thursday February 14, on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Awantipora in Indian held Kashmir, killing a large number of CRPF personnel was unfortunate. It has many lessons for both sides, the common citizens in Kashmir and the armed men from India. Death in Kashmir at the hands of Indian security forces, is a regular feature of life. These forces have killed a generation in the last 27 years but since October 2018, the killing has been maintained as Strong State Doctrine.

No one would subscribe to any loss of life, unless there is no exit ramp from violence. Owning the responsibility for the ambush by Kashmiri sympathisers or capitalising on the loss of life in India by Modi is no answer. The suicide attack needs to be examined in its proper context. The first and foremost lesson for Delhi and others to learn is that, the suicide attack has reduced the military pride of Delhi to a mangled heap of iron. Man and metal have been turned into a charred heap of debris by a single individual who seemed to have a genuine and aggravated grievance against CRPF in Kashmir.

A suicide attack is of course a planned action but such acts are executed in desperation. Indian security forces have overwhelmed the life, habitat and civil administration in the Valley. Killing a Kashmiri youth and abusing a Kashmiri man or woman has become a common sport for a gun wielding CRPF man or any other security personnel in Kashmir.

The Awantipora suicide attack on CRPF convoy has many layers. One of these, which is less debated, is that it may have been staged by deep the state in Delhi, to line up BJP radicals against Muslims and help Modi in the elections. There is no harm in keeping all options open for a debate. Prima facie it has helped the Hindu radicals in Jammu to repeat the Jammu Muslim massacre of 1947. Life and properties of Muslims in Jammu and in the vicinity, including the Valley Muslims stranded in Jammu and their properties, like houses and vehicles, have been torched. There is a curfew in Jammu and no one would know for a long time to come, the extent of damage inflicted on Muslims in aggregate. New Delhi has the ability to manage the information and subdue the evidence.

The UN High Commissioner’s report of 14 June 2018, called on India to respect the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir and the new phenomenon of suicide attack on 14 February, in Awantipora, places the onus on India for course correction. It will not help India or the region, if Kashmiri people are continually subjected to State violence. Our condolences go out to the families of the killed CRPF personnel

Violence in Kashmir has been started by the State to humble, dishonour and control an unwilling people. Therefore, condemnation of the violence of one party and granting a licence to the other party to kill is iniquitous and is not the answer. This suicide attack may have shaken Delhi but there is more to it, than being disturbed. The phenomenon of conscious self-destruction to take with you as many other lives, that represents death and destruction in Kashmiri homes, has just begun. There is an urgent need to stop the brutality of Indian soldiers in Kashmir.

The first point that comes to mind is how to differentiate between the merits of the violence inflicted by the State forces and responded by the aggrieved defenceless Kashmiris. Indian soldiers have no genuine cause to tangle with the civil population in the Valley. They are in Kashmir under a guarantee and under a reference of their ‘good behaviour’. Their sole purpose (which is obsolete now) at one point was to remain in aid of the civil administration, to defend the territory and protect life, property and honour.

However, after 15 January 1948, when India surrendered her decision of sending the army to Kashmir at the UN Security Council for a UN supervised vote, the role of Indian soldiers could have been fulfilled by a UN Force or a force comprising of joint forces of India and Pakistan, until the UN arranged to conduct a referendum.

Indian soldiers have overstayed their term in Kashmir and have continued to violate the seven restraints placed on them. All of their actions to profile Kashmiri youth and actions that have continually and severely wronged the people and habitat are crimes against humanity.

The Thursday suicide attack has changed the behaviour of the theatre of violence in Kashmir. There is every possibility that the constituency of this violence would surface in many parts of the world, where people of Kashmiri origin live. Their support of their brothers and sisters in the Valley will take various shapes and forms according to their political culture or habitat. It would not be a suicide action but good community relations between the people of Indian and Kashmiri origin living in these countries would change.

The Government of India has a key role to avert the recurrence of any such or any other form of fresh violence in Kashmir. As a start it has to bring its security forces under the seven restraints, four of which stipulate the raison d’être of their admission into the Valley and three under UN which prescribe for their behaviour, number and location. Otherwise their presence and actions at variance to these restraints render them occupation forces and make them a legitimate target for such suicide actions.

Government of India does not have any credibility in Kashmir. One main reason has been that Indian Governments have continued to ensnare the Kashmiri leadership in renewed promises and deceive the people. For example, Government of India has pleaded urgency and immediacy in the settlement of Kashmir dispute. At the 230th Meeting of UN SC on 20 January 1948 India pleaded, “But I particularly wish to stress the fact that we attach the greatest importance to the urgency and the immediacy of dealing with the situation in Kashmir. Our first efforts should be directed toward the commission’s taking such steps as may be necessary to resolve this particular dispute and to bring about the stoppage of fighting there.” But even after 71 years, India has continued to dodge the people of Kashmir, the Government of Pakistan and the international community.

India dodged Pakistan and the international community by making a false statement at the 230th Meeting of UN SC that, “We hope to be able to convince the Security Council that once we have dealt with the Kashmir question, there will probably not be anything of substance which will divide India and Pakistan to the extent of endangering international peace and security.”

The UN High Commissioner’s report of 14 June 2018, called on India to respect the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir and the new phenomenon of suicide attack on 14 February, in Awantipora, places the onus on India for course correction. It will not help India or the region, if Kashmiri people are continually subjected to State violence. Our condolences go out to the families of the killed CRPF personnel. We should not forget the Kashmiri suicide bomber, Adil Ahmed and his future constituency. It was a precious life too. Adil Ahmed has left behind a bereaving family, friends and others who would see a sense of purpose in his act.

The writer is the President of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. He is on UN Register as an Expert in Peacekeeping, Humanitarian Operations and Election Monitoring Missions. He has represented unrepresented peoples and nations at the Vienna UN World Conference on the Human Rights

Published in Daily Times, February 17th 2019.