Brutal Repression in Kashmir
On March 6, a protest demonstration was held in Baramulla against Afzal guru’s hanging, demanding the return of Afzal Guru’s remains to his homeland. Protestors pelted some stones at an army truck. In retaliation, the army men sprayed the protestors with bullets, killing a young Kashmiri man, Tahir.
Stones being met with bullets is an old script, played out again and again in the Valley. Kashmir has lost count of the number of times that it has had to mourn the murder of its children at the hands of Army firing, for the crime of a moment of anger against a symbol of oppression.
In the Kashmir Assembly, the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah made an emotional speech, asking “Do people in a procession throwing stones deserve to be shot at?” He expressed his helplessness and justified the Opposition walk-out of the Assembly. Whether this speech was a calculated political move or a spontaneous outburst, it underlines the hollowness and fragility of the façade of ‘democracy’ in Kashmir, when the writ of the Army counts for more than the opinions of the elected Chief Minister, leader of the ruling coalition at the Centre.
Meanwhile, when Kashmir mourned, Pakistan and India played a cynical game of competitive resolutions. Pakistan’s Parliament passed a resolution condemning the hanging of Afzal Guru and demanding that his body be handed over to his family, as well as implementation of the UNSC’s resolutions on Kashmir. India retaliated by passing a resolution asserting that Jammu and Kashmir “is and shall always be” an integral part of India. This ‘war of resolutions’ laying claim to Kashmir, in the midst of Kashmir’s mourning, is deeply shameful.
The terrorist attacks that followed underline the continued turbulence in Kashmir, which can only grow with every imposition of curfew, every refusal to repeal the AFSPA, every attempt to impose a draconian new Police Bill, every killing of innocent youth in fake encounters and firings, every renewed instance of impunity for Army officers accused of murder, and every time Kashmiri students are subjected to harassment and violence in Indian cities (as has been witnessed recently in Delhi, Dehradun and Hyderabad). The situation calls for a political resolution based on respect for the Kashmiri people’s right to determine their own future.