India is losing Kashmir

Top LeT Commander Abu Qasim Killed In Kashmir
SRINAGAR, – OCTOBER 29: Kashmiri villagers carry the body of top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abu Qasim during his funeral procession on October 29, 2015 in Bugam district Kulgam some 75 km from Srinagar, Kashmir. Police on Thursday claimed that the most wanted LeT Commander Abu Qasim was killed during an encounter in Khandaypora area of Kulgam district, south Kashmir. (Photo by Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Kashmir has been simmering in decades of conflict since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. The violence reached its peak in the 1980s and ‘90s, when the Pakistan-backed Kashmiri insurgency was at its strongest. By the early 2000s, however, the violence seemed to have abated, and there was hope for a peaceful settlement of the issue. But now, optimism for such a peaceful settlement is dwindling. As Kashmir has seen a resurgence in violence, public support for the insurgency also seems to be increasing. India is losing whatever support it had among the general Kashmiri public, and this trend will continue unless it brings about a radical change in its Kashmir policy.

Following the 1947 partition, the political status of the formerly independent princely state of Kashmir was left largely contested by both Pakistan and India, which led to the establishment of the Line of Control (LoC), dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan after a U.N.-backed ceasefire. However, there were aspirations for political independence among some Kashmiris. By the late 1980s, such aspirations had taken the shape of an armed revolt, backed by Pakistan, against Indian rule in Kashmir. India responded with a massive crackdown on the militants, deploying over half a million soldiers in Kashmir, often leading to grave human rights violations.

The violence of the late 1980s and 1990s, which claimed thousands of lives, began to recede at the beginning of the new millennium, as people gained faith in the dialogue process. In the following decade, militancy-related causalities decreased significantly from 4,507 in 2001 to 377 in 2009. A major factor that contributed to the decline in the violence was the endorsement of the dialogue process by India’s then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which led to the historic Lahore Declaration in 1999, in which both India and Pakistan committed to the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. The repeated efforts of the Vajpayee government to bring the pro-separatist Hurriyat political party and even the Hizbul Mijahideen militant group to the table for talks led to a ceasefire. The option of autonomy within the ambit of the Indian constitution offered by Vajpayee further fed the optimism for a peaceful settlement with India. This political shift resulted in a relative calm over the ensuing years, with tourism and business in Kashmir flourishing.

However, a civilian uprising in 2010 and India’s brutal response signaled a shift in the political climate. In the subsequent years, there has been a new surge in Kashmiri youth taking up arms against the Indian establishment. Most of these young people are educated and come from well-off families in Kashmir. These youths – who are mostly joining Hizbul Mujahideen – are garnering huge support from the general population, and are increasingly attracting more and more peers to join their ranks. The face of this new insurgency has been Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a young, social media-savvy militant who openly poses for pictures with automatic assault rifles in hand and shares them on Facebook, drawing a huge number of sympathetic comments. He has since released audio and video messages inviting other young Kashmiris to join the insurgency and fight the Indian establishment. During a 2011 gunfight in Pulwama in southern Kashmir, locals threw stones and bricks at Indian soldiers in a bid to help a trapped militant escape the cordon. This has become commonplace to the point where security forces have sought to implement Section 144 of India’s criminal procedure code, which prohibits the gathering of people around an “encounter site” within a radius of 1.2 miles. On Feb. 21, local civilians were seen defying these restrictions when they marched towards such an encounter site in the southern town of Pampore, again hurling stones at the security personnel.

In October of last year, Abu Qasim, a top commander of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba – believed to be responsible for several attacks on the Indian Army including the 2013 Hyderpora ambush – was killed. A sea of people attended his funeral procession. Authorities confirmed that militants also attended the funeral and fired a three-volley salute to honor his death. As if this were not enough, people from the villages of Khandaypora and Bugam clashed with each other over “the honor” of burying his body in their respective villages. Then, in November, an armed conflict between militants and the Indian Army broke out in the Manigah forests of Kupwara in Indian-administered Kashmir, lasting 27 days, killing two Indian soldiers, and leaving six others injured. The General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Indian Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps stated that the militants were getting supplies from the locals in the area. In yet another incident, nearly 25,000 people attended the funeral procession of Shariq Ahmad Bhat, a member of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group, who was killed in Pulwama district on Jan. 20 of this year. Militants were seen firing their AK-47 rifles in salute. The growing participation of locals in insurgency-related events suggests resurgent support for militancy in Kashmir, which has set alarm bells ringing in the Indian security establishment. The renewed support is so strong that even the president of the Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Mian Abdul Qayoom, recently indicated his support for the insurgency, saying, “We can also use [the] gun as a last resort, and it is no offence under [the] U.N. Charter.”

During a November 2014 visit to Kashmir, discussions with locals revealed that Kashmiris point to the Indian government’s policies for the resurgence in violence. Many were of the opinion that India has not been honest in resolving the political problem of Kashmir. “India asked us to give up arms and come to the table, and we did it. What happened next? Nothing,” said one Kashmiri. “When the situation in Kashmir was bad during the ‘90s, India repeatedly said that dialogue is the way forward to the Kashmir problem and not violence. And now that India has strengthened its hold here, they say there is no political problem at all,” said another.

People usually point to civilian uprisings in 2008, 2009, and 2010 as the major turning points. Local disgruntlement towards India intensified among the general public after hundreds of civilian youths were killed during these protests. India could have done some damage control by punishing the cops involved in shooting at the unarmed protesters and by following the recommendations of a government-appointed panel. Instead, the government chose to disregard the recommendations and continued to insist that Kashmir was an “internal issue.” India’s policies of curbing political space for Kashmiris by keeping the massively popular Hurriyat leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Shabir Shah and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under constant and repeated detention has further  damaged its reputation with the local population. In September 2015, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had invited Geelani to its annual meeting of foreign ministers in New York – India responded by suspending his passport for four weeks out of concerns that he would have raised the Kashmir issue.

India has repeatedly used the Public Safety Act (PSA) – deemed “a lawless law” by Amnesty International – to detain Kashmiri political leaders like Masrat Alam, who, on Dec. 31, 2015, was arrested for the 31st  time under the law. The detention came immediately after Alam’s release from jail following a High Court order overturning his earlier detention under the same law. In 2015 alone, 634 people, of whom 231 were students and 17 were minors, were arrested for anti-India demonstrations in Kashmir. The demolition of the offices of the Kashmir University Students Union, the imposition of a ban on student politics, and the repeated clampdown on internet and mobile SMS services have alienated Kashmiri youths in particular.

While the Vajpayee government welcomed any opportunities for dialogue – even allowing separatist Hurriyat leaders to hold talks with Pakistan – the current Modi government has taken a different approach. Modi has prohibited the Hurriyat leaders from meeting with Pakistani officials, citing the prohibition as a pre-condition for talks with Pakistan. This resulted in the cancellation of a meeting between the national security advisers of the two countries after Pakistan rejected the pre-condition. To many Kashmiris, India’s insistence on this pre-condition seemed to embody an effort to deny them a voice in the dispute. The repeated calls by various civil society and human rights groups for the repeal of draconian laws such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) – which gives sweeping impunity to the armed forces of India operating in Kashmir – have been met with a cold shoulder, as the Indian army has staunchly opposed any attempts to repeal it.

These kinds of reprehensible policies that the Indian establishment says are important to maintain peace in Kashmir have produced a disaffected Kashmiri population. And although it may appear to have strengthened its hold, India is losing popular support in Kashmir by sticking to its policy of focusing solely on economic development while maintaining the security status quo. In a vivid illustration of the problem, just a day after Indian Prime Minister Modi visited Kashmir last November and unveiled a $12 billion economic development package for the state, a 22-year-old Kashmiri man, Gowhar Nazir Dar, was killed by the Central Reserve Police Force. The resulting demonstrations carried on for days, with protesters across Kashmir combining to outnumber the attendees of the rally where Modi spoke.

At a time when the Islamic State is threatening to expand into Kashmir ­– even though it has found no buyers there for its message, thus far – there still remains a chance that the angry and agitated people who turn out in huge numbers at militant funerals could fall prey to its propaganda in order to fight the Indian establishment. For India to end this long quagmire of armed conflict with Kashmiris, it must shift away from its current policy and allow political space for Kashmiris. It should repeal its draconian laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Public Safety Act and punish soldiers involved in human rights violations. And, finally, India should work with Kashmiris and Pakistan alike to reach a viable solution so that peace may prevail. But until India realizes the damage it has done, the streets of Kashmir will reverberate with chants in support of its supposed martyrs, much like they did during the funeral procession of Abu Qasim.

This article was Published in Foreign Policy on May 5, 2016

India is Losing Kashmir

Unidentified Gunmen of Kashmir

File Photo

There is a killing on the streets of Kashmir and it is highly likely that the blame goes to this nefarious “unidentified gun man”. The term “unidentified gun men” has now become a part of our day to day lives, with people like me, who have grown-up listening to this term right from our childhood. It is so that this “cult” is everywhere, in every sphere of Kashmir life, capable of committing murders, day-in and day-out, while maintaining its anonymity even though it walks among us unmasked. The emergence of this term “unidentified gunmen” (in context to killings in Kashmir) came with the emergence of armed struggle against the Indian rule in 1989. During early and late 90’s when the militancy as well as the Indian counter-attack to it were at peak, this “unidentified gunmen” was attributed to numerous killings on both parts of the political and ideological divide. This phenomenon of unidentified gunmen has caused a kind of psychosis in the brains of Kashmiri people which instills a fear of being continuously under somebody’s watch; following you like your shadow and could pull out a gun in a market place or in a park and shoot at you.

I remember during late 90’s, when I was a young boy and for the first time came to know about a killing by the so-called “Na maloom Bandook Bardaar” (unidentified gunmen) in downtown Srinagar. I was so terrified by the fact that they could kill anyone; anytime; anywhere and easily disappear without leaving any clue whatsoever for police to trace them. For days I refused to go to toilet alone, such was the fear and I can only pity the kids of Kashmir going through this fear now. In the evenings, I would pray to grow up soon and think of strategies to catch this “Na maloom Bandook bardaar” which had created paranoia among the people. I would imagine how grateful and relieved the people of Kashmir would be when these unidentified gunmen would be caught and punished. However, little did I know that the people who are supposed to hunt them down were not going to do that, not because they are not capable of doing so, but because it serves their interests or the interests of their bosses and could well be in secret friendship with these killers. What else explains the inability of the authorities to unmask these perpetrators for more than two decades?

A place like Kashmir which is marred by political strife for decades becomes a sanctuary for proxy agencies, fielded by powerful people, which cover their ulterior motives and present a more virtuous face. Here political parties use proxy agencies to execute crimes against their rivals to score points, while claiming to be the victims. And, in-between this political drama, the common Kashmiri has been facing the burnt. There is an unprecedented network of agencies and agents working in Kashmir and we hardly know which agency is doing what behind the scenes. In a scintillating piece of investigative journalism, (The Eerie NGO Phenomenon in Kashmir) Parvaiz Bukhari, a noted Kashmiri journalist, revealed that “there are nearly 16,000 NGOs, most of which are unregistered, working in Kashmir and many of which have affiliations with powerful people in Intelligence Bureau and political parties.” In 2013, General V.K. Singh (retd.), the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, admitted to The Hindu Newspaper that “Technical Services Division (TSD) which he set up as the Army Chief, worked with politicians and some pro-India NGOs to blunt anti-India propaganda of separatists” and further revealed that “money had been paid by Army to NGOs like J&K Humanitarian Services Organization (JKHSO) and Yes Kashmir”. He also attributed the 2011 Panchayat elections and a sudden end to the 2010 stone- throwing protests as two major achievements of the role played by NGOs.

In wake of the recent statement made by Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar trying to justify the use of proxy agencies to neutralize the state targets, many in Kashmir believe that these unidentified gunmen who have recently been on a killing spree, particularly in Sopore town, a hot bed of anti-India and separatist activities, could be acting for the state. After all, the state has such a huge nexus of intelligence agents in the garb of NGOs and other humanitarian agencies which on ground have churned collaborators, pitted a brother against a brother, a neighbor on a neighbor and a phenomenon of “Na Maloom Bandook Bardaar (unidentified gunmen)”.

A version of this article appeared in Greater Kashmir on June 23, 2015.

How cheap is Kashmir Blood

Funeral procession of Suhail Sofi in Srinagar, Kashmir
Funeral procession of Suhail Sofi in Srinagar, Kashmir

I am enraged. And, I am sure there are thousands of Kashmiri youth as enraged as me, for another of our youth has been killed while protesting the killing of another one. This is a vicious cycle where “if one from your people is killed in cold blood, you are expected to shut-up and move on, and if you choose to protest you might as well be killed” and the cycle can go on as long as you have the audacity to protest. It can go on and grow to figures like 68 in 2008 and 120 in 2010.

The latest incident began when the news of an encounter in Tral area of Kashmir broke. Soon the Indian media with their ritualistic “melodrama style journalism” praised their soldiers for their bravery. It was announced that a “terrorist’ has been shot dead in the Tral encounter. However, the bigotry and lies that the Indian media perpetuate came crumbling down when it was ascertained that the killed person was in fact a civilian, Khalid Wani, a Master’s student of Economics who happens to be the elder brother of Burhan Wani, a militant commander in Tral. Soon the J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed called Tral encounter unfortunate and like usual promised an investigation. Meanwhile, the Indian media kept flashing the army’s point of view claiming that Khalid Wani was an “over the ground worker” of militants and was hit by bullets from army when Khalid and three others were meeting a militant in Kamala forests of Tral. The hypocrisy and bias of Indian media and their so-called “kashmir experts” was to the extend that none among them questioned the absence of bullet holes in the body of Khalid Wani. Muzaffar Ahmad Wani, father of Khalid Wani is reported to say “I looked at his body from head to toe, I couldn’t find a single bullet hole. All his teeth were broken and even his skull. He was tortured to death and this was a fake encounter”. Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Javid Mujtaba Gilani, while demanding some time said “the cause of the death of Khalid Wani will be ascertained with the post-mortem reports”.

Demanding time to ascertain facts has been a very exhausted policy applied by the government in Kashmir. It serves the purpose to calm the flares down and at the same time keeps people in a limbo for facts. The investigations and the facts soon become a matter of past. As the revelations about the Tral encounter  unfolded, pointing to a custodial killing and an attempt to stage a fake encounter, there was a surge of anger among people who saw this as a vivid example of another killing by torture in custody and the high handedness of the Indian troops who are encouraged to kill without having to fear for consequences, thanks to the laws that provide them sweeping impunity.

Kashmiri youth see the space around them narrowing causing a claustrophobic sensation from where we want to liberate ourselves. We see the reductionist Indian media personnel calling us mis-guided youth who have no education, no jobs and hence protest on the streets of Kashmir. When a few Kashmiri people unfurled the Pakistani Flags in Srinagar upon the arrival of SAS Geelani, it was in defiance to the Indian state and in the pent-up of the anger caused by the killing of Khalid Wani. It was in response to the hypocrisy and bigotry of the Indian narrative of the events surrounding Khalid’s death and Masrat Alam’s release few weeks back.

The protests after Masrat Alam’s arrest were in spontaneity to vent the anger that had build-up due to the death of Khalid. So to speak, Protests in Kashmir mean every chance of police shooting at you and the Kashmiri people whose narrative has been so grossly distorted and reduced to “trouble making mischievous youth” by Indian media stand every chance in the line of fire to beat the Indian narrative and its establishment in Kashmir in small battles on ground where a rock hurled at an Indian policeman is an act of defiance and out of desperation for want of justice. It itches the Government establishment and its forces in the heart and often drives them into killing the protesters.

In the protests after the arrest of Masrat Alam, the police killed another boy of class 10 in Narbal area of Budgam district. It has been reported that Suhail Sofi, 15 years, was first detained briefly by the Police and then asked to run before being shot in the back at point-blank. The Assistant sub inspector and the constable involved in the killing have been arrested and a case of murder registered against them. Meanwhile, the Indian Journalists with verified tweeter accounts reduced the killing to this.







A version of this article appeared in The Express Tribune on 21 April, 2015



Hazel Eyes


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Like in a gushing creek, that sways
into trembling the tender florets on the shore.
Hypnotizing the mind with the eyes,
into a dream with a lore.
Ah! that reeling which lurches the feet,
into a wobble that admonishes summer’s yore.
Such are your Hazel eyes my dove
that I unremittingly adore.

And the time my eyes met yours;
in the lap of your seminary,
Hooked they were, in the midst of awe,
to the sight of my fairy.
And the smile that eloped your lips
made my heart beat in binary;
Lub dub lost the norm
searching to meet yours in syncrasy.

Love was it, I had fallen into
looking at your delicacy
Praying to God for our union
so I relate to your intricacy.
The slow flutter of your lips
as if the hymns in aristocracy
And I wonder in fantasy
of the giggles in our intimacy.

Be as gentle, be as wise
be the best in the Rise.
Be as faithful, be as truthful
be the perfect of them all.

And, I shall crave for you as always
in the tide of my Life;
Beseeching for our love to thrive
in here and the Afterlife.

Published by Kindle Magazine on December 08, 2014



Article 370

Article 370 debate

“You may write me down in history
with your bitter twisted lies.Modi addressing People in Jammu
You may trod me in the very dirt, but still like dust, I’ll rise”- Maya Angelou

There has been a lot of debate going on in recent times about the article 370 of the Indian constitution. The Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP, Narender Modi, was seen calling for its complete revocation and redress from the state of Jammu & Kashmir during his recent Jammu rally – lalkar. He argued that this article stands in between the complete integration of the state of Jammu & Kashmir with the Union of India and for a better part of his rally he became a feminist protagonist declaring that the article is deeply unfair for the women of the state if they were to marry a non-state subject. Not only this, Narender Modi expressed his distaste toward the article stating that people of Jammu & Kashmir feel a sense of alienation because of the provisions  which grant J&K a special status as compared to the other states in India. On the other hand, the majority of the people of J&K seem to be skeptical of their future if the article was scrapped off. The situations lead to Omar Abdullah challenging Narender Modi for a debate on the article 370.

In the midst of this onslaught toward the abrogation of this article it is important to remember the situations which lead to the formulation of this article. When India and Pakistan got their independence on 15 and 14 August, 1947, respectively, the Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir under the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh chose not to integrate with any of the two, unlike other 565 princely states. This had mainly to do with the majority of the population of the state being Muslims and wanting to go with Pakistan while the rulers being Hindus. The Maharaja Hari Singh feared reprisal at home if he was to integrate with the Union of India, a Hindu majority.  This would scallop his already dent image as a ruler. The tales of atrocities during the Dogra rule are told and re-told to this day. Fearing a major revolt from his people, Maharaja Hari Singh, a dorga ruler, turned down the offer of integration with India. Thus Jammu & Kashmir became an independent state.

The independence of J&K, however, lasted briefly, as it had become a “sore in the eye” of the newly independent countries, Pakistan and India which were on prowl for such situations to arise in Jammu & Kashmir that would give them an ostensible reason for an intervention in the state and its take-over. At that time, there had been atrocities committed upon Muslims by the forces of Maharaja in Poonch region. Pakistan, on October 6, 1947, exploited these events as an excuse and unofficially sent tribal fighters called “Qabaeyl” to Kashmir as their saviors. There have been tales of their bravery as well as monstrosity been told by our elders and it is popular in Kashmir that the “Qabaeylis” had reached an area in Srinagar called “Shalteng” on their way toward Srinagar Airfield after which they were mislead in-between by some person whom they latter nailed to a tree.

In the meantime, Maharaja Hari Singh under such pressure situation solicited military help from India. However, sensing an opportunity, India had kept delaying their help so as to push Maharaja Hari Singh into acceding with India. Mehr Chand Mahajan, who was the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir at that time had been sent by Maharaja to Delhi in order to negotiate on terms with the Indian representatives, particularly, V.P. Menon, who was handling diplomacy of integration of Princely States and was representing Indian Union under Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. From here onward there have been a number of controversies regarding the deal that was struck and the manner in which it materialized. According to the mainstream Indian narrative, Maharaja Hari Singh in a letter directed to Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India, on 26 October 1947, solicited military help from India in exchange of a temporary accession to the Union of India and signed the “Instrument of Accession”. This was followed by the acknowledgement from Lord Mountbatten and eventual landing of Indian military on the soil of Kashmir by the morning of 27th October, 1947.

There have been huge controversies regarding the whole Indian narrative to the extent that Alistair Lamb in his book “The Myth of Indian Claim to Jammu & Kashmir- A Reappraisal” states that there was almost no possibility of the signature on the Instrument of Accession to have taken place before the overt Indian intervention in Kashmir.  He reasons his claims by stating that “The earliest possible time and date for their signature would have to be the afternoon of 27 October 1947. During 26 October 1947 the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir was travelling by road from Srinagar to Jammu. His Prime Minister, M.C. Mahajan, who was negotiating with the Government of India, and the senior Indian official concerned in State matters, V.P. Menon, were still in New Delhi where they remained overnight, and where their presence was noted by many observers. There was no communication of any sort between New Delhi and the traveling Maharajah. Menon and Mahajan set out by air from New Delhi to Jammu at about 10.00 a.m. on 27 October, and the Maharajah learned from them for the first time the result of his Prime Minister’s negotiations in New Delhi in the early afternoon of that day”. The popular narrative in Jammu & Kashmir is that Maharaja Hari Singh, after huge surge in uprisings against his atrocities, ran away to seek refuge in India and hence the state was still independent when the Indian troops landed in Kashmir and started their overt involvement.

With their ruler on run to India, there was chaos in the situation. India feared of a big reprisal if it pushed for the complete integration of the state which allegedly acceded against the wishes of its people and in the circumstances that still remain gloomy.  Hence, Shiekh Abdullah, the then interim Prime Minister of J&K along with Mirza Afzal Beg and Maulana Masoodi pushed for and negotiated with Jawaharlal Nehru and Gopalaswami Ayyangar, who was a former Diwan to the Maharaja of J&K, on the formulation of Article 370. The substance of the article granted a degree of autonomy to the state of Jammu & Kashmir under the Indian Constitution’s  Part XXI.

The article meant that the Indian Parliament had a limited or restricted jurisdiction in the state of Jammu & Kashmir and hence, excluding the matters of Defence, Communication, Finance and Foreign Affairs, the laws passed by the Parliament of India do not get implied on the State of J&K unless passed by its own government. It gave the people of Jammu & Kashmir right to form their own Constituent Assembly which was set up on 26th January 1957 and J&K’s constitution was drafted and a Flag was chosen to represent the State of Jammu & Kashmir. As per this article, the Part IV and IVA of the Indian constitution which correspond to Directive Principles of State policy and Fundamental duties, respectively, do not apply to J&K. However, the Laws ensuring fundamental rights and right to property are applicable to the State. Article 370 inhibits any non-resident of Jammu & Kashmir or the non-state subject to purchase any land or property in the state and hence such rights are enjoyed only by the permanent residents (PRs). The article, however, was thought to curtaile the status of PR to a women who married a non-state subject or a non-PR. However, in 2004, the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir, in a case, Sheela Sawney Vs State of J&K, announced that there was no law existing that dealt with the PR status of women who married a non-PR and hence, because of lack of legal basis declared the PR status is not lost. Having said that, I believe Narendra Modi did not update himself before shedding tears for the of women of J&K which have or were to marry a non-PR.

There have been attempts and demands to abrogate article 370 from various Indian politicians and reformers who relentlessly want J&K to be completely integrated to India even against the wishes and aspirations of the people of the state. The degree of autonomy ensued by this article when it was implemented has changed to the extent that the Sadar-i-Riyasat and Prime Ministerial positions(till 1965) have been replaced by Governor and Chief Minister, respectively. There have been many other Presidential orders which have lead to the gradual erosion of various clauses in the article. Shiekh Abdullah knew that India will try to erode this article for the complete integration of J&K with India and in 1953 he pressed hard for an “iron clad and complete autonomy of the State” which made him a popular figure among the people of J&K, however, orchestrated by Nehru, India soon dismissed his government and jailed him for 11 consecutive years. After his release, Shiekh Abdullah ensured that the state of J&K be related to Indian Union only through article 370 and there be no erosion of the same when he signed 1974 Indira-Shiekh accord.

The revocation of article 370, which provides a political space to the people of Kashmir, is and would be seen as an imperialistic tactic. History teaches us that the sentiments of Independence arise when the political space of a people is narrowed to a mere stint. Narender Modi’s foray toward the repeal of article 370 can have serious repercussions and could prove counter-productive, if he becomes the next Prime Minster of India and decides to scrap this article. However, article 370 provides itself immunity from revocation unless and until its revocation is accepted by the Jammu and Kashmir’s legislature and its constituent Assembly. Now that the Constituent Assembly of J&K no longer exists, it is a big question for Narender Modi of how to implement the amendment of article 370.

Published by The Kashmir Walla on February 24, 2014


People’s Representatives

downloadPolitics in a democratic country is supposed to be a collective execution of the policies by the representatives of the people so that it would fit in the definition of the democratic fundamentals of – “of the people, by the people and for the people”. As long as the selected or elected representatives genuinely and unequivocally push for the mandate that represents the aspirations of the people who elected them and refrain from the narcissistic endeavors of arrogance and being presumptive heads of a sole decision making machinery,  the system runs well. The people get their voices heard, their demands fulfilled and their aspirations effectuated. The reflections come home in the prosperity, growth and expansion of the state with an atmosphere of satisfaction and contentment and the joy of being heard. That makes a successfully functional government and healthy leadership.

The outcome of recently held assembly elections in various places of India, and particularly Delhi, are an example of a failed governance and the gap that the leaders at the helm had created between themselves and the people who elected them to their posts. The people eventually had their say in the affairs of the state and outrageously voted out congress from their so-called stronghold, which they had taken for-granted. At this moment, it is better to play safe and not comment about the sincerity  and candor of the party which is still in its infancy and promises to deliver big, however, what is interesting is the belief and enthusiasm that the young people have shown towards Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), marking its debut with a loud thud and turning it into a tough competitor of the gang of same old babus who patronize the saffron brigade.

The support by the young people was a huge factor in the emergence of AAP. What remained at the roots of this whole affair were the aspirations of the youth to bring a positive change, and, whether AAP delivers or not remains an unanswered question, however, the  lesson learnt is that it takes the energy,vision and involvement of the young people of any nation to bring the change.

It hardly matters  whether AAP or Congress, even BJP for that matter, comes into power at the center because I don’t think there is going to be any change in the policies towards Kashmir which more often remain dependent on the so-called “collective conscience” of the people of India rather than on the factual and legitimate grounds. However, the results of this election should provide the leads to the Omar Abdullah government or to any aspiring party in Kashmir that you cannot deviate from the mandate which you had promised. As far the current scenario in Kashmir, the youth who had put in enormous faith in the election of a young leader, deeming him dynamic and a torch-bearer seem to be disheartened and cheated. 24 years old, Sameer Bhat (name changed) who had voted for Omar Abdullah told me that ” he was a young person and it was easy to relate to him. I thought, being young he would have that fire in him to do something for his people but now I feel he could not even save his own people during 2008 and 2010. The conditions of Kashmir and Kashmiris remain the same, I see no development and he could do nothing all this while”.

The critical assessment is that when the so-called leaders or representatives of the people stop delving into the conditions of the people they claim to govern, the people start to feel the distance between themselves and the person they created. Eventually, they get fed up of the lavish enterprise that such leaders enjoy at the largess of the people and finally hit them out of their safe potholes as is evident in the assembly elections. However, as mentioned earlier, it takes the realization by the youth to make any changes and whether Kashmiri youth are ready to change their representatives, mainstream or separatist, remains to be seen.

Published by The Kashmir Walla on December 13, 2013

What is wrong with Muslims today?

downloadAs I am compiling this piece there is crisis in almost entire Muslim world. There is a proxy war going on in Syria where thousands have already lost their lives, Egypt has erupted into a Civil war with fissures deep into the nation after Democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi was toppled by General Al-Sisi in one of the world’s most shameful coup; Pakistan has lost its integrity with its people divided on all grounds among fundamentalists and far-Liberals, both unable to stand each other, and hence, annihilating the national interests into speckles of gunfire on every argument. Sudan, which was till recently, Africa’s largest Islamic nation divided, with south Sudan in deep crisis right now. Iraq after Saddam, has seen Sunni’s and Shia’s blowing up each other in Mosques, buses and on roads. Afghanistan, which once prematurely and insanely celebrated the fall of Taliban by American onslaught, is now incurably debilitated into pieces of dirt and sand, with its people sick of American toys capable of shooting hell-fire missiles at them from skies.

These are a few in a long list of Islamic nations that are in one or the other degree of conflict with itself or with the rest of the world. It inflicts pain in my heart to see Islamic nations in shatters, its people in a mad race of arms, killing each other on alibi which they call “revolution” and boast of it as “Jihad”- the holy war. I really don’t understand how terribly mentally challenged could these people be to kill a human who they differ with on politico-ideological front and deem it Islamic.

Most of the violence in the Muslim world particularly in Middle-East began with “Arab Spring” which was a result of decades of autocratic and authoritarian rule. It was at the individual level, for and by the people towards positive change. Change that would provide them freedom at discrete and collective levels, and accountability for the people at helm. Change that was supposed to bring Arab nations out of oblivion and away from the western influences into the affairs of running the nations. In Egypt, unexpectedly and to the disgust of US, it up-rooted America’s long ally Hosni Mubarak who in order to amuse his western masters always choose not to interfere into the atrocities in the neighboring Palestine by Israel and in their favor blocked all the passages of exit from Gaza at times when Israel would bomb this small strip of densely populated land, an example of a loyal Dog he had set up.

Interesting to analyze is how this movement for the upliftment, advancement and unity, which would mean lesser foreign influence in the political matters was hijacked and used as an impetus to divide the same people who started and took part in it. Today, after a couple of years of its inception, Arab Spring has turned into a monster with a killing machine in its hands, inexorably conquering city after city and village after village in the Arab World, leaving rubble of bodies on streets, ripples of divide running strong into the inhabitants which now have turned into factions and sub-factions, each interested in defending its own small group from the other. The hijack of the emotions and situation is such that the Muslims (term “Muslims” has been used deliberately instead of “people” to signify the gravity of the decline in the sense of brotherhood within the community) of a nation are being made to recognize and realize subtle ideological differences or differential interpretations of their religion as lines of separation and factionalism.

The western Powers who are always on prowl for acquiring more and more resource- filled Muslim lands, particularly, the Arabian Peninsula, seem to delve onto their ever favorite “regime change” policy, should there be any hindrance in their foreign policy goals by the existing regimes. Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya (North Africa) are the proven examples where Western powers, particularly, United States, meddled into the internal affairs of sovereign nations, provoked people against their regimes which had become unfavorable for western interests and aggravated them into fighting each other. The proxy wars thus began, fuelled by the evoked sectarian sentiments and the supply of arms and ammunition from CIA and others. In Syria, Shia and Sunni interpretations of Islam have been so grossly exploited that the Sunni Muslims (which form the major part of the so-called rebels) cannot stand to be ruled by Bashar Al- Asad, a Shia Muslim. The situation is immensely distressing, to the extent that Abu Sakkar, the beast in the skin of a man (Commander of the Farouq Brigade, a major rebel group fighting against government troops), not only kills his fellow brothers, who till recently were regarded as great soldiers of the Syrian government, but chops out their hearts with sharp knives and eats them whilst chanting Allah u Akbar. What a shame!

Dread in their eyes and out for manslaughter with guns and bazookas provided by the Western Powers to kill their own brethren for the benefit of their masters and they call themselves Muslims. What a mental condition these men are inflicted with not to observe the fact that they are waging a war against their own people, for and under the guidance of people, who do no service to the Humanity unless for their “national interests”, which often cross all borders and become “international”. What a shameful mis-understanding of situation these people are into, believing that these super powers are concerned with the development of the people of Arab. Doing so they are ignoring what these proponents of democracy did in Iraq and Libya; and they played a significant role to topple democratically elected leadership of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

In this profane carnage Muslims are massacring fellow Muslims whilst shamelessly calling upon Allah u Akbar. Even women and children are not spared. Sadly, this whole affair is costing not only Muslims as individuals but Islam as a religion. Two of the Islam’s historical mosques, Khalid bin Waleed Mosque in Homs and Umayyad Mosque in Damascus caught fire in the cross-firing. The image of Islam as a religion of peace has been devastated. Muslims are considered to be the people with fundamentalist approach to society which is exactly opposite to what Islam actually teaches but then as the saying goes “actions speak louder than words”.

It is important for Muslims to analyze any given situation in a rationale sense and that is what Islam taught. Islam teaches tolerance, patience and civility even in worst possible scenarios. It taught brotherhood among the community and with non-Muslims. Our Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) taught us the affairs of rule, and; the manners through which to seek change of rulers. I feel terribly sorry that Muslims instead of safeguarding each other are rather collaborating with forces that want us divided for their sinister interests. It is extremely important to propagate kinship and not let another Reconquista smudge the face of Muslims.

May Allah guide the Muslims to the right path and make us able to distinguish between friends and foes!

Published By Rising Kashmir on February 01, 2014

Malala vs Nabila; And the Hypocrisy that surrounds


On October 22, 2013, Amnesty International released its report “Will I be Next?” (US Drone Strikes in Pakistan). The report, first of its kind, lashed out at the United States for alleged civilian deaths caused by its drones in Pakistan. The report according to Amnesty International “is a detailed research of 9 out of 45 drone strikes that occurred in North Wazirstan agency between January 2012 and August 2013.” Mustufa Qadri, the Amnesty International researcher in Pakistan who wrote the report told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now that “United States could stand trial for War crimes as there group found almost 19 civilian killed in only 2 of those drone attacks”. The United States, sidelining the findings and facts of the  Amnesty International report, went on to defend the drone strikes with Jay Carney, the White House Spokesperson, reiterating that ” US drones are precise, accurate and lawful”.

The report brought to focus one particular case wherein a 67 years old grandmother named Mamana Bibi was killed and 7 of her grand-children injured by a US drone Strike on 24th of October 2012. The family of Mamana Bibi had been collecting okra in their farm land when a US drone shot hell-fire missiles at them. Nabila Rehman, the 9 year old grand-daughter of Mamana Bibi said that “we were collecting okra for Eid preparations when a drone hovered over us and shot at us directly. It left my grandmother into pieces and many of us injured”.  Nabila Rehman with her father Rafiq ur Rehman and brother Zubair ur Rehman came to Washington DC to seek answers from the United States authorities for the killing of her grandmother.  While testifying to Congress on 30th of October, Mr Rehman said that ‘ his mother was the string that holds the pearls together and since her death our family has fallen apart’. The testimony was such emotional that the translator broke down to tears in between.

Nabila stands opposite to Malala in the western media and the political circles. Malala yousufzai, the adorable young Pakistani girl who out of her bravery and idealism stood firm on her resolve for the education of girls to the extent she was almost killed by Pakistani Taliban. Her bravery is an example and inspiration for the entire world. However, unfortunately, the West saw in her a tool for their reductionist propaganda; of “we and they” or “Good guys Vs Bad guys”.  They grabbed hold of her and took her to their side of the line of the political divide and with few brushes of make-over; everything that West does seemed to be right. It drones, its wars gave the impression of liberating girls like Malala from the fundamentalist clutches to the liberal world. She was used to send that “cozy” feeling that “everything is fine and what we do is write.” The West made this one girl into a celebrity to over-look upon thousands of girls like Nabila whose lives were shattered by its Wars and drones. Malala became a name that everybody knew. She was nominated for a Noble Prize. It seemed that entire world wanted to adopt Malala and in fact Jon Stewart while interviewing her on “The Daily Show” offered to adopt her.

Malala and Nabila actually stand together in idealistic rationale. Both survived the bid on their lives, Malala survived the Taliban attack while Nabila survived the drone attack. The hypocrisy of the west however remains exposed with their exploitation of Malala affair while at the same time ignoring Nabila and thousands of such children who have been the targets of brutal US policy. In fact when Nabila and her family came to give their testimony to the Congress in Capitol, out of 430 members only 5 appeared to listen to her. There are no mainstream television studios welcoming her on their shows to so she could tell her story.  The reasons are evident as she demands answers from the west for the killing of her grandmother.

Nabila seeks answers to the questions which would put the West’s claims in a shaky position. She provides the other part of the story which says that “all is not actually well”. Her questions remove the cozy blanket that west likes to have on. And that is the reason nobody knows her name. Her question “What did my grandmother do wrong?” ridicule Jay Carney’s claims; because either her grandmother was killed deliberately and if so, then US drone operatives have committed war crimes and should stand trial as per the Geneva Conventions or the drones are not precise in target!

Published by Rising Kashmir on November 20, 2013

Kashmir in Ramzan


bd5ff485-2a69-4777-958c-07c10381e392HiResRuben, an Australian christian/athetist became Abu Bakr after he converted to Islam. Whilst researching about different religions what struck his mind and heart when he first visited a Mosque was a huge congregation of people of different races and colors, praying in unison to One God, hearts and bodies in oblivion to the differences that exist. Such Grand is the Religion of Islam, he thought and converted to Islam. Later he came to know that it was the first night of Ramzan. Ramzan, a holy month in the Islamic calender witnesses a huge rush of people to Mosques, praying for the forgiveness for the sins they commit through-out the year gone by and for the sins they are going to commit in future.

Kashmir is not different to the scene around the world. We begin our preparations days before for the Holy month in our own grand fashion keeping in-view our appetite, the eggs, babr’e buil, butter, fruits and even cigarettes for smokers get stocked up in our store rooms. The fervor of Eid at the end of Ramzan sets the children all excited about fasting with a meal in the afternoon called particularly in Kashmiri as “Tap’e Sahar”.

The day begins with “Sahr Khan” beating his drum in the streets and singing hymns and chants to wake people up. This is a particular custom in Kashmir and people hold “Sahr Khans very dear and noble. At a time when Kashmir is loosing many of its traditions and custom, we still hold this tradition in fervor, even though “Sahr khans'” role is played by alarm clocks.. For most of the people waking up for this meal becomes a war between sleep and Sahr and eventually if Sahr wins, it would be in the last frame of time. From then on it is just a job of filling up your stomach- as much as you can, gulping every bit of the bread and stuffing the mouth with an egg while the “mu-azzin” calls for Azan, which means no more eating and drinking for the rest of the day till he again calls Azan at dusk.

Owing to the excitement and chaining of the Satan, the first few days see a phenomenal attendance at all the five times of prayer and all of a sudden the people become pious and complete followers of Islam, some shunning cigarettes while others refrain from watching movies. At the evening prayer people sometimes take out sweets and other dishes into the mosques for people to break the fast which of course drives more attention and even duhl khaavs (those who don’t fast), pretending to be fasting come to mosques to break their beguiled fast with all the pabulums available.  After almost half of the month it seems the Satans loosen out of the chains and escape to delude people from their religious ardor. Skipping few days of fast on one pretension or the other and omitting the four prayers, one prayer at the time of breaking the fast never looses the flow of people because of the free confectioneries available at Mosques.

The Satan by now seems to regain its strong hold – divide and rule policy. The prayers in the night called “Taraweh” become his point of division which culminates into people abusing each other and, if Ramzan is in winter, it sees fire-pots (Kangrees) flaring from one group who believe that “Taraweh” involves 8 “rakats” of prayers to another who believe that they are not less than 20 Rakats. However, as the Ramzan reaches the end, the faith and piety again take a leap during the night of “Shab-e-Qadr”. The brotherly between all the sects behavior gets restored and the numbers in the mosques surge, all in unison, praying to One God, seeking His forgiveness for the sins committed in the Ramzan and asking for good health till next Ramzan so as to rectify our misdeeds during the current Ramzan.

Ramzan finally ends with the chanting of “Alvida ai Mah’e Ramzan” and preparations for Eid-ul-Fitr. The children get all the options to choose and buy new dresses and toys which they showoff at the Eidgah during the special prayers of Eid. The sermons during the eid include a lot of greetings and wishes and advises- advises against burning fire crackers. As soon as the Imam finishes the Eid prayers children run away to their hideout filled with stocks of fire crackers. The loud bursting crackers by children announce the commencement of Eid. After the advises of Imams subside the adults join the children and the Kashmir air smells of War.


Published By The Kashmir Walla on August 20, 2013

Mother’s Call


The night’s ghosts came prowling down 

All geared in a khaki gown

Wielded upon by a ghost with a frown


walloped and whacked my door that midnight

O horrible! My heart drubbed in fear

at the ghost’s monstrous eyes


Fear I had, for my family that was.

My only son- the crown of my head,

the moon in my dreams!


The khaki ghost saw its prize

Pushing, pulling and dragging

while I kept trying, begging and beseeching.


Whilst I, a hole in my heart now

Days to months; and months to years

Nothing sufficed the khaki ghost.


Days and nights have lost distinction,

Nothing is true anymore

My whole being only a facade.


As my heart whimpers and my eyes wail

I turn left and I turn Right,

Only your Image is my past.


Here and there, everywhere

I tried to inquest the events of that night

As all Khaki ghosts look alike.


Without a news of him

How will you rest O my bleeding heart?


Only the Angels of Death 

would cut us apart-

me, your thoughts and this despair


In thy Kingdom O my Lord !

Disgrace not my Faith in Thy Lordship

Re-join a mother to her disappeared son.

Dedicated to the Mothers of Disappeared People around the World

Published By The Kashmir Walla on August 31, 2013