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18 Sep 2008

People’s Union for Democratic Rights
New Delhi

Letter to the Editor

With Ref. to: Two Killed in Valley Clashes,The Indian Express, Sep.13, pg. 8.

On 12th September two more Kashmiris were killed in firing by police and paramilitary forces in Baramullah and Shopian, during peaceful protests for azadi at the call of the Co-ordination Committee. Large numbers were injured in police brutality with at least 25 sustaining bullet injuries. This brings the total number of those killed in Kashmir in pro- azadi protests in Kashmir since June to September are as high as 57 as per the findings of the Public Commission on Human Rights. These do not include the figures for militants shot dead in encounters, many of whom are again those wanting azadi but viewing it as waging jehad through armed struggle.

The firing by the police and armed forces on peaceful crowds was presumably a continuation of the hardline advocated by the National Security Advisor MK Narayanan on his visit to Kashmir. What the Indian government doesn’t seem to have realized is that its fighting a battle that can’t be won, given that the people of Kashmir, across civil society are today out on the streets. The State Human Rights Commission too has observed this stating on 11 September that the “rule of danda, gun, boot and batons”would have adverse ramifications, recommending that the state govt direct the Home department to issue strict instructions to all the security and paramilitary forces operating the Valley to exercise restraint and protect human rights of civilians under Article 21 of the Constitution and the Declaration of Human Rights. ( Greater Kashmir, 12 September)
But yet the Indian state refuses to see the writing on the wall. The only weapons it has are police and army brutality, curfews, sending summons to those who participated in the protests called by the Co-ordination Committee and now as per reports in the local press it is negotiating an agreement with the Israeli Defence Forces to train Indian soldiers in the tactics of Guerrilla warfare, and urban war to win the war in Kashmir(Greater Kashmir, 16 September). It is indeed ironical that the Indian government though it claims that Kashmir is an integral part of India, sees all Kashmiri people as the enemy to be decimated by any means.

It is after all the “enemy” whose places of religious worship , eg the Dastageer Sahib Shrine at Saraibala are to be desecrated with impunity by the “peacekeepers” ie the CRPF forces with complete impunity , whose right to life and liberty as well as the inalienable right to self- determination is to be violated, and whose stones are to be returned by bullets. The slow genocide of the Kashmiri people, the economic blockade, the prevention of free access to medical treatment are all acts of war as per the Geneva Convention to which India is a signatory. AS per Protocol Additional II (1977) to the geneva convention of 12 august 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts following Part III Articles 7-12 oblige states to protect the sick, wounded and those caring for them with special protection under Article for medical units and transport.

PUDR questions India’s ethical and political claim to Kashmir, and believes that it is time that the civil society of India as well as international bodies make the Indian state answerable for its policies and crimes against the Kashmiri people.

Nagraj Adve (Ph. Nos.011-26856749, 9910476553)

Harish Dhawan (Ph. No. 9811667776)

Secretaries, PUDR

[email protected]