Posts Tagged ‘ Srinagar ’

Arundhati’s Statement From Srinagar: Full Text

By Arundhati Roy
October 26, 2010
Noted Indian Hindu writer Arundhati Roy Tuesday said her speeches supporting the call for azadi were what “millions” in Kashmir say every day and were “fundamentally a call for justice”. Following is the full text of the statement that she has issued.
 
“I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning’s papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villags in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.  

“Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get ‘insaf’—justice—from India, and now believed that Azadi—freedom— was their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

“In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.”

Arundhati Roy is a novelist, essayist and human rights activist. She won a Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things. For more on her read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arundhati_Roy

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s NoteArundhati Roy’s courageous plea to her country is to be lauded. Although branded a traitor by many in India and within the government, she knows that she stands for peace, justice and fairness for all humanity. She wants self determination for all Kashmiris, be they Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian.

We at Pakistanis for Peace want nothing more than peace between India and Pakistan and therefore understand that Kashmir is the one and single most important issue between the two countries. Solve it and you do not have the threat of cross border attacks, friction, animosity, perpetual war and a tense border between two neighbors of nearly 2,000 miles. If we continue to ignore it then it will eventually be the crisis that starts a 4th and possibly nuclear war between the two neighbors. A war that neither the neighborhood nor the world can afford.

Crisis in Kashmir

By Ashok K Metha for The Wall Street Journal

A few months ago, Pakistan was virtually begging India to restart the dialogue process between the two governments, suspended after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. Now Pakistani spokesman Abdul Basit asserts that Pakistan will not agree to “any preconditions for resuming the dialogue process.” Why did Islamabad’s attitude change?

The answer lies in two cities: Srinagar and Kabul.

With 62 civilian deaths in the ongoing rioting in the capital city Srinagar and two districts, over the past couple months Kashmir has witnessed a fresh uprising against the symbols of the state. Kashmiris are using every avenue they have—from stones to the Internet—to demand azaadi, or freedom. The mostly spontaneous upheaval involves young men, women and even children. Kashmiris want freedom from corruption, bad governance and the overbearing presence of soldiers.

For decades Pakistan has been trying to wrest Kashmir away from India by sponsoring insurgency. But today, thanks to the ineffective administration in Srinagar, Pakistan doesn’t have to try very hard. After the security forces managed to restore law and order three years ago, India failed to take the political initiative, and frittered away its gains. The result is widespread disillusionment. At a ceremony commemorating India’s Independence Day this month, a local policeman threw a shoe at Omar Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, whose grandfather Sheikh Abdullah ratified the state’s accession to India.

Up until 2008, the state had a lot going for it: several round-table meetings for self rule and confidence-building measures, periodic release of economic packages, annual visits by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, conferences connecting the people and quiet dialogue with moderate and hardline separatist leaders. The ceasefire on the Line of Control was holding, and a four-point formula for resolving the Kashmir dispute hammered out with Pakistan through back channels seemed as good as done.

Indian security personnel beat detained Kashmiri Muslim protesters in Srinagar, India.
Mysteriously, the peace process then ground to a halt. The India-Pakistan dialogue began unraveling soon after Gen. Pervez Musharraf left the scene. The new Pakistani Army Chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, a Fort Leavenworth graduate and favorite of the U.S. establishment, reversed the process of reconciliation. The ceasefire has become shaky, and the Pakistani government’s rhetoric on Kashmir has returned to the rights of the people to self determination and “diplomatic and moral support to Kashmir in their legitimate struggle no matter how brutally Indian forces try to suppress it.”

The reason Gen. Kayani feels emboldened to take a harder line is easy to discern. Tensions deepened after the U.S. elevated Pakistan from “major non-NATO ally” to the linchpin of its Afghan exit strategy, and excluded India from a political solution in Afghanistan. Despite the denials of U.S. Af-Pak point man Richard Holbrooke, the Afghanistan-Pakistan free trade agreement has only underscored India’s irrelevance to Kabul.

Civilian strife in the Kashmir Valley will only strengthen Pakistan’s case that resumption of a dialogue on Kashmir alone will enable a more focused fight against the Taliban on the Western frontier. This is not entirely true, as the Pakistan Army has already redeployed to the west 52% of its offensive and 45% of its defensive forces previously devoted to facing down India.

The priority for Delhi is to stop the stone-throwing in Kashmir. Every death—one recent fatality was a child of eight years old—is fresh cause for protests. On an hour’s notice, 10,000 people will come out on the streets to join the funeral procession of someone they don’t know. Further, Kashmir’s moderate Islam is being radicalized by the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami, which has made even separatist leaders irrelevant. No one is willing to talk unconditionally anymore.

Delhi will have to start from scratch in rolling back alienation by reaching out to youth. Yet Rahul Gandhi, India’s prime-minister-in-waiting and supposedly its youth leader, has not reached out to his favorite constituency in Kashmir. Neither has Congress President Sonia Gandhi or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Srinagar since the troubles began in June. Until a few months back, Kashmir was the most violence-free state in India, as security forces had significantly marginalized insurgent and terrorist groups over the last three years.

Islamabad is not about to take over Kashmir—according to a survey by London-based think tank Chatham House last month, just 2% of the population favors joining Pakistan. But as the cry for azaadi grows louder, no one has a clue when this uprising is going to stop. Even as the faithful observe Ramadan, Delhi needs to do something before U.S. President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit in November.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh Renews Kashmir Talks Offer

As reported by BBC

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has renewed an offer of talks with Kashmiri separatists who shun violence. He made the comments during a visit to a university in Indian-administered Kashmir. He is on a two-day trip to the state to review development schemes. Separatists have called a shutdown. The PM has disappointed those who expected him to announce a political package, the BBC’s Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says.

“We felt that the people of the state are not only interested in financial assistance and development projects, but also desire a political process that meets their aspirations,” Mr Singh told gathering at the agricultural university in Srinagar.

“We want to take the dialogue process forward. We are ready to talk to representatives of all sections who are opposed to terrorism and violence,” he said. ‘Strict instruction’  The prime minister repeated his government’s policy of “zero tolerance” for human rights violations.

“The security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have been strictly instructed to respect the rights of the civilians. We’ll act to remove any deficiency in the implementation of these instructions,” he said. The PM’s visit was greeted by protests against human rights violations  The prime minister’s visit came a day after the Indian army suspended a senior officer accused of killing three civilians in a staged gun battle.

The incident happened at Machhil near the Line of Control, the de facto border which separates Indian-administered Kashmir from Pakistani-administered Kashmir, in April. The Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley staged a total shutdown to protest against the prime minister’s visit. The strike was called by a hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Mr Singh’s visit has also disappointed the moderate faction of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, our correspondent says. Mr Farooq had urged the prime minister to announce a political package during his visit.

He had demanded withdrawal of troops from cities and towns and release of political prisoners to facilitate talks between the separatist leadership and the government, our correspondent adds. Violence has declined in Kashmir in recent years, but analysts say militants opposed to Indian rule are now trying to regroup. There has been a spate of clashes in recent months along the LoC. Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops are based in Kashmir, where there has been a two decade-old insurgey against Indian rule.

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