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Intifada in Kashmir?

June 29, 2010

The last two weeks have seen violence escalate in Kashmir in an unprecedented manner. The violence is mainly in old parts of Srinagar, Baramulla and Sopore. One nine year old child lost his life when he was hit by a teargas canister.

Kashmir has never been out of national headlines ever since the National Conference-Congress government took control. Omar Abdullah was sworn as the chief minister and from the very inception of this coalition government there have been crisis after crisis. The name of the chief minister and his father Farooq Abdullah figured in the Shopian rape and murder case. When that did not stick, there have been ‘protests’ inside the assembly when Mehbooba Mufti, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief threw the Speaker’s mike and tore the papers on his desk. This was followed by an unapologetic boycott of the assembly.

It is true that the opposition needs to protest and show their displeasure on issues. But even such protests need to be done within some democratic norms. Boycotting the assembly and not allowing it to function for extended periods of time is no way to lodge ones protest. This is wastage of public money and shows an absolute lack of respect for those who chose these politicians to represent them.

Youths destroying burnt police jeep

The recent developments are worrying though.  There have been very aggressive stone throwing incidents that have been taking place in parts of Srinagar, Baramulla and Sopore. The aggression of the youth and the way they go about it is uncannily similar to the ‘intifada’ in the Middle East where Palestinian youths indulge in stone throwing at the Israeli security forces. There is a method in the madness and those who take part in such violent activity seem to know exactly what they are doing and what to expect from the security forces.

The chief minister Omar Abdullah has alleged that these are hired goons who are paid to throw stones at the security forces. They seem to be well organized and indulge in rock throwing that is vicious and has injured scores of policemen and paramilitary forces. A couple of days back when the security forces were returning from an encounter with terrorists where two foreign mercenaries were killed by them, they faced these stone pelting mobs and a few security personnel were injured. When they fired rubber bullets one of the kids in the mob got hit and died. The ruckus that followed was such that the security forces had to resort to baton charge to control the rampaging mob. The way they go about the whole thing is so much like what is happening in Gaza and West Bank that one is forced to conclude that these are well planed assaults on the security forces to keep them on the back foot.

Omar Abdullah has said that these are well planned and well orchestrated attacks. It is also said that the youth who indulge in stone throwing are not Kashmiri local youths but come from outside. If so, these terrorists in the garb of protesters need to be identified and apprehended. That should not be too difficult. The problem starts when opposition parties like the PDP use such elements to create trouble for the government and try to score political points. This is detrimental to the peace and prosperity of Kashmir and the frequent bandhs affect the lives of the ordinary Kashmiri.

The Chief Minister is so upset with these never ending ‘protests’ that he has asked the Home Minister to intervene and ensure that there is peace in Kashmir. When these stone pelting incidents started sometime last year he warned the stone pelting mobs but when that did not work he tried to douse the fire by castigating the security forces for their ‘high handedness’, obviously concerned that the public opinion does not veer off to the PDP and the opposition. He has also asked for a review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The fact of the matter is that the much maligned CRPF works under the command of the civilian administration, the magistrate and the local police chief. They are there to assist the local police. They cannot take decision on their own. If they are not there the Jammu and Kashmir police cannot quell these aggressive stone pelting mobs. In the last two weeks eight people have lost their lives in these skirmishes between the police and the stone pelting mobs. The Hurriyat Conference has called for a Kashmir bandh till the 5th of July.

I have a feeling that Omar Abdullah is playing into the hands of the opposition who are using these rabble rousing mobs to make life difficult for the government in Srinagar, by reacting so frequently to these violent ‘protests’. A good administrator needs to do more and speak less, especially to the press. Farooq Abdullah when asked as to what advice he would give Omar when he was about to take the oath for the chief minister’s office had said with tears in his eyes – that he should learn to remain calm. Many including yours truly did not understand what Farooq Abdullah was saying with so much passion and fervor. The man was crying and hoping Omar would do a good job as there was so much expectation from the young man. But his only advice to Omar was to stay CALM. Perhaps Farooq, with all his experience expected a lot of resentment to Omar’s leadership. Perhaps he knew the mindset of the separatists and the opposition. Omar lost his cool during the crazy Shopian insinuations against him and his father and again, the violence that has been engineered to derail his government has seen a rattled Omar surrender with his hands up in utter disgust and dismay at the unnecessary violence that has seen young kids getting killed. This is not to say that the Chief Minister should remain aloof and unconcerned about the violence but he as the head of the state must realize that these are incidents that are being engineered by those who do not want peace in the valley. Sometimes no reaction is the best reaction. Of course the security forces must be pulled up, but so must the parents who sent their kids to throw stones at the security forces or just stand by to watch the tamasha. What were these kids doing there? Why were they not in school or at home with their parents? Who are these hordes of stone pelting mobs and where do they come from. Their antecedents need to be ascertained. If they are being paid for stone pelting, who is paying them and how much. They must be brought to book too.

When Omar Abdullah echoes the cry for more autonomy for Kashmir, he is trying to steal the thunder from the opposition’s propaganda. Will greater autonomy lead to a cessation of stone pelting? Do the Kashmiri’s want to go with Pakistan? The answer is no. Do they really believe that they can have Azadi (independence)? Do they really want an independent Jammu and Kashmir? Will that better the lot of the ordinary Kashmiri? The answer is a resounding no. A survey by one of the opinion polls showed that only two percent of Kashmiri population wants Kashmir to merge with Pakistan. The future of Kashmir lies wholly and completely with India. An ordinary Kashmiri does not want to cut the umbilical cord with India. They know that a rising, progressive India gives so much more opportunities to the Kashmiri  youth who can travel from one corner of the country to another and find jobs and means of livelihood. Such protests as have been taking place since this government took office are political postures and the sentiments of ordinary Kashmiri are being exploited by those who want to keep up the pressure on the present government. In the process lives of ordinary Kashmiri are on line. It is time that the Kashmiri awam comes forward and repudiates the machinations of the forces that are out to create mayhem on one pretext or another. Parents must be advised not to allow their kids and young adults to indulge in such mindless violence. Loss of life for a cause that will benefit no one is needless. Every Indian is precious, and young kids have a life ahead. Parents must be exhorted to ensure that their kids use their time meaningfully away from this silly sloganeering and stone pelting that maybe a headache for the state but really is of no use to the ordinary Kashmiri. The claim by the PDP that they are going from district to district calling for peace is an insult to the commonsense of the ordinary Kashmiri.

As for Omar Abdullah, it is time he heeded the advice of his father and learnt to remain CALM.

Addendum: As I write the news is that curfew has been imposed in Baramulla, Sopore and Anantnag. Maisuma and adjoining areas of Srinagar are also under curfew. SMS services have been halted by cell phone providers. Army has been put on alert, ready to be deployed if needed.

Update 1.07.2010: Maulavi Abbas Ansari of the Hurriyat Conference has said that the PDP was paying the stone pelters and it was the PDP who were going out of the way to make life difficult for the present NC-Congress government.

Mehbooba Mufti has denied all charges and has called for a resignation of Omar Abdullah citing his inability to administer the state and because of the continued violence.

Update 9.07.2010: Security forces have intercepted conversation between separatists where one is instigating the other to get 10-15 more ‘martyrs’ and to continue the stone pelting. The other says it becomes problematic to manage stone pelter  as too many people join the crowd. From what has been recorded there is a question mark over whether those killed in the recent clashes were victims of bullets of security forces or killed by their fellow stone pelter. This is how Times Now has reported the conversation as follows:

Hurriyat (G) leader Ghulam Mohd Dar: I heard there is a protest march in Budgam.

Local Hurriyat activist, Shabir Ahmed: Where?

Hurriyat (G) leader Ghulam Mohd Dar: Budgam

Local Hurriyat activist, Shabir Ahmed: I believe one small one had. Where will they go right now?

Hurriyat (G) leader Ghulam Mohd Dar: No, I have heard that it’s a massive one – nearly 30,000

Local Hurriyat activist, Shabir Ahmed: 30,000?

Hurriyat (G) leader Ghulam Mohd Dar: I swear, 30,000 of them. Protest near the Magam Forest check post. You enjoy your salaries without doing anything for it.

Local Hurriyat activist, Shabir Ahmed: You have to understand the reason for it

Hurriyat (G) leader Ghulam Mohd Dar: Tell me

Local Hurriyat activist, Shabir Ahmed: The crowds get too big to handle at times. Lots of people join in and it’s difficult to manage them

Hurriyat (G) leader Ghulam Mohd Dar: We want 10-15 more martyred. Did you hear that?

(loud noise apparently of rally)

Hurriyat (G) leader Ghulam Mohd Dar: Did you hear that? That’s the rally in Budgam

Local Hurriyat activist, Shabir Ahmed: Ok

From the above conversation it is clear that these are not spontaneous stone pelting incidents and there is a larger game plan behind them.

Update 10.07.2010: Omar Abdullah called an all party meet to discuss the law and order situation in Kashmir. While others attended, Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP abstained. It is clear that the PDP does not want to let peace prevail in Kashmir as long as Omar is the Chief Minister.

Farooq Abdullah was away in London and has arrived in New Delhi today. He has had a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister and has flown to Srinagar. If it needs a Farooq Abdullah to maintain peace and harmony in the valley, then it is poor reflection on the opposition. I fail to understand as to why Omar is such an eyesore for the PDP. They have been calling from all fora for his removal. If they believe that they can come to power by creating such massive strife, they are mistaken. If I were Farooq Abdullah, I would refrain from going to Kashmir and let Omar handle the situation. To be fair to Farooq, he has given all the time to Omar and when it became impossible has he descended in Srinagar. The opposition must be told that Omar Abdullah is the chief minister and that he will remain the chief minister for the remaining term of this government. And they have to learn to live with this.

Update 11.07.2010: Mehbooba Mufti has again refused to join the all-party meet in Srinagar. Omar Abdullah himself called her and urged her party to join in the talks but Mehbooba refused. The Prime Minister also called Ms. Mufti, to no avail. I guess National Conference and the Congress are wasting their time and giving too much importance to Ms. Mufti. The PDP lost the last elections and that is a fact. If she and her colleagues in the PDP cannot learn to sit in the opposition and play the role in a constructive manner, well, then the best the NC and Congress can do is to ignore them. I guess Manmohan Singh should not have called Mehbooba Mufti urging her to join in the all-party talks. This is giving too much importance to the PDP. The only reason perhaps is because her father Mufti Mohammad Saeed is held in high esteem in the valley and even in Delhi – remember he was the Home Minister at one time.

Remarkably, there is a lull in the violence ever since Farooq Abdullah reached India. I hope this peaceful atmosphere remains and Kashmiri’s can live a normal life.

Update 29.07.2010: That this whole unrest in the Kashmir Valley was a clash of personalities came out into the open when Mehbooba Mufti along with her party members staged a sit in outside the Secretariat. It is said that she then locked the Secretariat from the outside leaving many stranded in their offices. This is turning into an ugly tug of war between Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.

Update 23.08.2010: It is now reported that the shopkeepers and the people of Kashmir are coming out and pelting stone at the mischief mongers who create trouble by pelting stones. This has happened in Batmalu and other places and even the maulvis are calling from mosques to refrain from stone pelting. So the stone pelters are getting a dose of their own medicine. The names of a few stone pelters have also been registered in FIR at the local police station.

Update 26.08.2010: Farooq Abdullah today reminded the Lok Sabha during a debate on Kashmir that it was India’s stated stance that the parts of Kashmir that are under illegal occupation of Pakistan and a part that was gifted to China by Pakistan are an integral part of India and that we need to resolve to get beck the lost territory.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2010 10:38 pm

    do u have a twitter

    • sharma24 permalink*
      August 2, 2010 9:32 am

      visit my blog, you will find the answer

  2. August 8, 2010 7:35 am

    I don’t usually reply to posts but I’ sure will in this case. Seriously a big thumbs up for this 1

  3. August 11, 2010 2:22 am

    did you vote for obama? be honest

    • sharma24 permalink*
      August 11, 2010 8:44 am

      Did you visit my site? I am an Indian, not an American. I vote in Indian elections. Yes?

  4. Reema permalink
    October 12, 2011 3:17 am

    heeehhehee..being a kashmiri i am having very much pitty on ur blog,u call ten’s and thousands of people were being paid, have u ever watched the long marches from pampore to trc and iddgah…after india’s independence india have never gethered that much of people..their whr people in millions..not in hundreds…i thought u wrote this blog at night with every window shut so that no truth should enter this blog of yours. Sir this is the biggest problem of India today that they never see the truth or ground realities. May god give u courage to see,hear ,speak and write the truth…….rewind ur self and listn again the echos of those marches u will get what kashmiriz want. India cant have places captured just on sheer supression,force or grab…..when ever u need to write a blog write it nicely with open heart..here u will also choose to speak lies it is a sad story of ur’s ……

  5. sharma24 permalink*
    August 8, 2010 11:05 am

    It is true that the unrest in Kashmir cannot be called Intifada as the Indian security forces are not using excessive force, do not cross the border and there is a rule of law. Nor is this a David vs. Goliath situation. Stone pelting however has been so ferocious that it reminds one of the situation in the Middle East.
    Political sagacity is required, especially by the opposition to ensure that innocent lives are not lost.

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  1. What’s happening in Kashmir is not the Intifada

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