No justice for Kashmiris

People knew that men in Indian uniform accused of heinous crimes like murder, extrajudicial killings and fake encounters would never be brought to justice as long as they kept serving the interests of their masters.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was dismissed for exposing fake encounters:

Se called Kashmir a Guantanamo Bay. India clamped Public Safety Act on former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Farooq to keep them under detention (February 2020). Mehbooba revealed her government was dismissed for expressing ennui at central-government atrocities, not returning dead bodies of `encounter’ victims and burning them, not allowing funeral prayers, demanding talks with Pakistan, registering an FIR against an army officer, resisting change in Kashmir’s special status, and so on (Indian Express dated April 18. 2019). A cursory look at Kashmir press is horrifying _ Sedition cases were slapped on three Aligarh- University Kashmiri students for trying to hold prayers for Hizb militant Wani, Kashmiri students and traders at Wagah border are forced to chant anti-Pakistan slogans and post them to Facebook. Kashmir students and traders were attacked or looted throughout India.

About 700 students, including girls, fled to Valley. Even holders of PM Modi’s merit-based competitive scholarships had to rush back to Valley for safety. Kashmiri journalists in Indian states were roughed up, mercilessly beaten, and told to go back Meghalaya governor officially directed to boycott everything Kashmiri. Some Kashmiris petitioned Supreme Court to intervene. In its order, the Supreme Court directed 10 states and various institutions to take remedial steps, but in vain. Voracious readers may explore:

India calls Kashmir an atoot ang, an integral part. Yet it is tearing it apart through its unabated reign of terror. India’s National Investigation Agency can declare anyone a `traitor’. Numerous innocent Kashmiris have been killed during cordon-and-search operations, carried on by day and night. Road closure had made it difficult for ordinary Kashmiri to buy even foodstuff from the market. A boy who bought battery cells was slapped with sedition charges. The security forces surmised that the battery cells could be used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Residents are `picked up’ without a warrant, and killed incognito in military custody. During searches, houses are burnt to ashes. Kashmiri leaders have to travel to and fro New Delhi to prove their `patriotism’ before lowly NIA officials.

Now even Mehbooba Mufti, a former BJP ally, has been compelled to call Kashmir a Guantanamo Bay prison. She called for lifting ban on Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Jama’at-e-Islami, withdrawal of `sedition’ or `terrorism’ cases against Kashmiri leaders or ordinary folk. What else could Mehbooba call Kashmir _ `Kashmiris feel that they are literally imprisoned in a cage from which almost all exit routes are barred save one, to India, which is also not without peril. Kashmiris are distrusted and treated poorly in many parts of India, whether as students or as traders’ (A.G. Noorani, Kashmir, a prison, Dawn January 12, 2019). Trade across the Line of Control has been stopped and `terrorism’ charges slapped on some traders. Even the tyrannical Dogras and their British overlords facilitated Kashmir trade with Central Asian and other states. Kashmiri markets used to be flooded with foreign traders and their merchandise _books, shawls, gold tillas, Russian textiles, Kokandi silk, Bukharan rumals (handkerchiefs) and coral. Trade from British India would flow through Kulu via the Chang Chenmo route to Yarkand, bypassing the maharaja’s customs officials in Leh. In 1870, Maharaja Ranbir Singh signed a special treaty in Sialkot with Viceroy Lord Mayo to accept this route as a ‘free highway’, later known as Treaty Route. Central Asians intending to perform hajj used to travel through this route to Karachi or Bombay sea-ports to board ships. To facilitate pilgrims, highway provided rest houses, and supply depots jointly supervised by British and Kashmir officials. Now, even the Kashmir Highway stands closed to civilian traffic during military-convoy movement.. A minor, violating road closure, was brutally crushed by an Indian army vehicle.