On August 7, the so-called Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir came out with a report titled Two Years Of Lockdown: Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir, August 2021. The report is a severely jaundiced, prejudiced document. It is dangerously severed from reality. In page after page, the report is a total denial of terrorism in Kashmir. There is a constant attempt to isolate Kashmir from the terrorism context. It is amazing to observe that individuals who have held high positions of authority for the Indian state seem to exist in cuckoo world where Kashmir is concerned.
They live in some fake, make-believe space where the security forces are in Kashmir without reason. These individuals have created in their mind some alternate reality where men in uniform are stationed with no justification. They do not admit that the gun is stationed in Kashmir in response to the guns wielded and used by the terrorists. In the mindspace of the individuals associated with the report, the globally proscribed terror organizations do not exist in Kashmir.
One wants to ask the moonstruck members of Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir about Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Al-Badr, Harkat-ul- Ansar, Jaish-e-Mohammad, The Resistance Front and others. Are these football clubs gathered in Kashmir for some happy league? Are the men carrying guns and grenades, terrorizing the local population daily just a bunch of “our angry boys”? The narco-terrorism unleashed by Pakistan; the drugs, arms and terrorists being pumped into Kashmir – are these just fancy words on a government security dossier?
Alarmingly large sections of the report are deliberate erasure of truth. What has reduced men and women of intellect and reason to peddle deceit and distortion where Kashmir is concerned? In the box alongside, we pose some questions to this Judas gang on Kashmir.
QUESTIONS FOR THE JUDAS GANG ON KASHMIR
* You are aware that Kashmir isn’t a normal region. Pakistan has made it a war zone in order to bleed India. Why do you amplify the voices of only those individuals who are Pakistan’s strategic assets in India? There is concrete evidence against these individuals that they are members of Pakistan’s terror eco-system in Kashmir. Why are they the only ones on your radar?
* You have made the human rights issue the central theme of your Mission Kashmir. All your efforts are built on the premise of safeguarding the human rights.
Why then do you all collectively suffer from selective amnesia? How come your current report or your previous reports do not highlight the extreme and daily human rights violations by the terrorists in Kashmir? The brutal killing of Kashmiris on mere suspicion of being police informers or being aligned with a political party, the sexual exploitation of women by terrorists, the enforced closure of all economic activity, all educational institutions for months together – why is this not listed in your dossier on human rights in Kashmir?
* Why are you all continually and deliberately blind to the elephant in the room? Why does your report erase the reality of terrorism in Kashmir? Why are you all collectively trying to bluff your way around the roots of global terrorism planted by Pakistan in Kashmir?
* On the mere hearsay of some lawyers and so-called civil society groups who are part of the terror ecosystem in Kashmir, you prepare bogus, distorted reports and circulate them internationally. What is your true aim? To search for the truth or seek 15 minutes of fame? Are you working at the behest of invisible, unknown forces seeking to constantly bleed us?
What Is The Forum For Human Rights in J&K?
Read the description of The Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir as given in the group. The report says the Forum “comprises an informal group of concerned citizens who believe that, in the prevailing situation in the former state, an independent initiative is required so that continuing human rights violations do not go unnoticed. This is the third report issued by the Forum. It has largely been compiled from government sources, media accounts (carried in well-established and reputed newspapers or television), NGO fact-finding reports, interviews, and information garnered through legal petitions. The various sources listed above have been fact-checked against each other to ensure the information is as accurate as possible, and only that information has been carried that appears to be well-founded.”
GEMS FROM THE REPORT
On August 4, 2019, the union government arrested close to 6,000 Kashmiri politicians, dissidents, intellectuals, journalists and youth, snapped tele and internet communications across the state, imposed a blanket curfew, and stationed an additional 40,000 troops at the valley’s towns. The next day, the President of India removed the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution, and on August 9, Indian parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, dividing the state into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The combined military, police and communications lockdown continued for the next six months, only to be replaced by a pandemic-related lockdown that lifted only intermittently. In the meantime, the union government took a series of deeply controversial steps that invalidated the state’s residency laws and privileges, removed restrictions on land use and transfer, and denied legal rights to habeas corpus, bail and speedy trial. While there was some improvement in the second half of 2020, it was only marginal.
HERE ARE THE FACTS. CHECK!
The decision taken by the Indian Parliament was monumental and was fraught with law and order implications. After August 15, 2019, the government started reviewing the security situation and went ahead with a relaxation plan. By the end of August, curfew was lifted from many parts of Kashmir.
The Clampdown By The Terrorists
From September 1, 2019, restrictions imposed by the government were completely lifted barring some sensitive places in old Srinagar city, Anantnag and Shopian. People were allowed to offer prayers in local mosques all across Kashmir, though mass gatherings were not allowed in the grand mosques.
Now started the clampdown by the terrorists. All across Kashmir, terrorists enforced a shutdown to achieve their strategic interests. People were threatened with dire consequences if they violated the diktat. Internet and mobile services were still suspended. So the terrorists released posters to impose their writ. Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish e Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Al Badr and other terrorist groups pasted posters all over Kashmir, asking people to observe complete shutdown and stay indoors. They threatened to burn the private cars on the spot if seen on roads. Local truckers were asked not to venture out to ferry apples to the rest of India. Truckers from outside were asked to leave Kashmir immediately and never come back.
The Daily Dance of Terrorist Posters in Kashmir
Day after day, intimidating and threatening posters were pasted across the length and breadth of Kashmir by terrorists. On September 5, 2019, the poster of Hizbul Mujahideen threatened Muslim policemen to surrender. The poster asked the shopkeepers and drivers to observe complete shutdown. On September 9, 2019, Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) came out with yet the poster threatening the people, shopkeepers, truckers and private transporters and petrol pump owners of dire consequences if they ventured out on streets. The poster said that anyone caught on the roads would be burnt alive. Petrol pumps owners were threatened that those providing fuel to vehicles would be set on fire without giving any second chance. Terrorists threatened auto drivers with dire consequences for ferrying passengers. Three petrol pumps were also threatened with strict punishment. Their offence – they had allegedly provided fuel to vehicles and motorcycles plying on roads. In the opening paragraph, the poster stated that strict lockdown was the only weapon available with the people to force the Indian state to leave Kashmir.
On September 10, 2019 Hizbul Mujahideen came out with the poster threatening government employees, mainstream political activists and policemen to join the resistance movement forthwith or be ready to face the death. On October 5, 2019, the threat poster was released by a militant organization named Afghan Taliban. They threatened people from all walks to observe complete shutdown and never indulge in normal activities. Afghan Taliban dared the teachers and students to open the schools. The poster said that any teacher or student seen walking towards the school would be killed on the spot.
The poster warned government employees to stay away from offices. The poster: ‘Any policeman, employee or common man found guilty of not following the diktat will be killed on the spot’. Further, the poster threatened apple growers – men and women – not to visit their orchards, or they would be killed and the orchards bulldozed. The poster said that banks and petrol pumps must observe the shutdown in letter and spirit. Shopkeepers would be killed and shops set ablaze if found violating the diktat. The poster urged the youth to sing patriotic and religious songs and shout slogans against India in every mosque.
From August 25 to January 2020, hundreds of copies of more than a hundred different posters were sighted pasted on shops, boundary walls of residences, mosques and diverse spaces across the length and breadth of Kashmir. All of them asked the Kashmiris observe complete shutdown.
Government Wanted To Restore Normalcy In Kashmir, Terrorists Enforced Lockdown
Whenever the government announced any measures to resume normalcy in Kashmir, terrorists would issue diktats threatening people against it. The media completely ignored this daily dance of posters. It steadfastly blamed the government for the lockdown in Kashmir. The logic was simple. If you kept blaming the government for the lockdown, terrorists would not kill you. If you decided to reveal the truth, you would meet the same end as thousands of Kashmiris who have been killed by terrorists for over three decades. The international media faced no such threat. Nevertheless, for the international media, the siege and the clampdown was always a government imposition in Kashmir. All could conveniently be blamed at India’s door.
Why must The Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir be indicted for completely ignoring the true picture in Kashmir? The Forum must be indicted for its complete denial of the fact that Pakistan has made Kashmir a war zone, where lies and subterfuge are potent weapons. By peddling lies in its report on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, the Forum has walked straight into the Pakistan trap.
The fact remains that the Forum comprises Indians who may be seen as conscientious and responsible. Why have they exhibited total irresponsibility and abdication of rational thought in relation to Kashmir? What unseen, invisible forces are guiding them?
Govt opened Schools, Terrorists Hurled Grenades at Students
In October, the administration announced the opening of educational institutions in a phased manner. The terrorists and their over-ground supporters threatened teachers, students and parents, asking them to stay away from schooling. Vendors selling fruits and vegetables were targeted at many places. In November when the annual examination for higher classes was finally conducted, terrorists hurled grenades at many examination centers to sabotage the exercise. In Pulwama, a grenade was lobbed at the examination center, injuring many students. In Srinagar, stone pelters appeared outside examination centers to ensure disruption.
Despite threats and attempts to physically harm students and teachers, around 90% students appeared in annual examinations for Class 10 and 12.
Kashmiris Braved Terrorists’ Diktat
In the countryside, despite killing truckers and attempts at physically harming the people, fruit growers, vendors and labour went against the diktat massively. The government procured apples from the orchards itself at impressive rates.
Terrorists Killed Kashmiris And Outsiders
For violating the diktat imposed by the terrorists and trying to go on with normal life, terrorists killed Kashmiris and outsiders indiscriminately. Five Bengali workers engaged for farm operations with Kashmiri farmers were killed in Utrasoo village in Kulgam. Three truck drivers who had come to Kashmir to ferry the local produce were killed in Chitragam in Shopian district. A truck driver who was in Kashmir to facilitate movement of goods was killed in Bijbehara in Anantnag district. Two policemen were killed in Shopian. A fruit merchant was killed in Sopore. His son and a minor girl were injured. There were daily threats. There was daily intimidation of fruit growers, transporters, teachers, students, government employees, bankers, policemen, venders. This is the elephant in the room the so-called Forum For Human Rights does not want to acknowledge in order to advance their antagonistic narrative on Kashmir.
(The passages above carry excerpts from Kashmir: The War of Narratives, the third book by Bashir Assad, Editor in Chief of KZINE)
Members of the Forum
Justice Madan B. Lokur, former judge of the Supreme Court of India
Radha Kumar, former member, Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir
Justice Ruma Pal, former judge of the Supreme Court of India
Justice AP Shah, former Chief Justice of the Madras and Delhi High Courts
Justice Bilal Nazki, former Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court
Justice Hasnain Masoodi, former judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court
Justice Anjana Prakash, former judge of the Patna High Court
Gopal Pillai, former Home Secretary, Government of India
Nirupama Rao, former Foreign Secretary, Government of India
Probir Sen, former Secretary-General, National Human Rights Commission
Amitabha Pande, former Secretary, Inter-State Council, Government of India
Moosa Raza, former Chief Secretary, Government of Jammu and Kashmir
Hindal Haidar Tyabji, former Chief Secretary, Government of Jammu and Kashmir
Shantha Sinha, former chairperson, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights
Major-General Ashok Mehta (retd)
Air Vice-Marshal Kapil Kak (retd)
Lieutenant-General H S Panag (retd)
RD Sharma, former Vice Chancellor of Jammu University
Enakshi Ganguly, Co-founder and former Co-director, HAQ Centre for Child Rights
Ramachandra Guha, writer and historian
Anand K Sahay, columnist
Next Week, KZINE shall demolish some more gems culled from the report. Keep reading