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 India's denial of democracy spurs violence in Kashmir - The Age (Australia)

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PostSubject: India's denial of democracy spurs violence in Kashmir - The Age (Australia)   Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:14 am

Salient points:
-The current protests in Kashmir have been masked by other news around the world
-Compares situation in Kashmir with that of Bosnian muslims and cautions that Indian leaders are just as culpable of comitting the same crimes that Radovan Karazdic committed namely, the killing of 7000 Bosnian muslims.
-Mentions India has a secret army (ikhwanis) carrying out extra judicial killings in Kashmir.
-Mentions security council resolutions
-Ridicules Indias claim to be the largest democracy, yet is unwilling to provide that right to 17 million Kashmiris

Quote :
India's denial of democracy spurs violence in Kashmir
Gerry Carman
August 26, 2008

MASKED by the Olympics, the bloody events in Georgia, and the forced departure from office of Pakistan's president Parvez Musharraf, another closely linked troublespot has begun to rumble.

For the first time in a decade, serious unrest has brought the troubled region of Kashmir to the brink of a full-scale rebellion by disgruntled Muslims, who form the overwhelming majority of the population.

Tens of thousands marched in the capital, Srinagar, last week demanding United Nation's intervention and freedom from India after police and para-military forces shot dead 15 protesters at an earlier demonstration. The shootings took the death toll to 34 since June, when unrest surged following the transfer of state land for use by Hindu "Amarnath Yatra" pilgrims.

The State Government was forced to revoke the transfer order, which prompted activists in the Hindu-majority Jummu area to erect roadblocks that stopped all trade between the Valley of Kashmir and the rest of India. The tit-for-tat reprisal meant that Muslims were the losers - at both ends.

The violence prompted Meenakshi Ganguly, senior Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, to call on the Indian Government to end the "cycle of violence" by ordering its security forces to act with restraint.

"With violence escalating, the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir is again at the brink of catastrophe," Mr Ganguly warned.

And with good reason. Many of Kashmir's restive Muslims have been smarting since the partition of British India into India and Pakistan in August 1947 left them in a tinderbox "no man's land". The anger has grown since a rigged election in 1989 led to massive agitation by Muslim Kashmiris and an increase in militancy backed by Pakistan. The upshot: hundreds of Hindus murdered by Muslim militants, but tens of thousands of Muslims slaughtered by Hindu nationalists, police, para-military forces and the Indian Army.

Some Indian officials acknowledge that about 10,000 people have been killed, but other observers, including human rights bodies put the figure at about 35,000. Others on the Muslim side claim as many as 75,000

Given that only recently Radovan Karadzic was tracked down and sent for trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for, most notably, the killing of 7000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, should not the civilised world be seriously looking at similar culpability by successive Indian leaders?

An earlier Human Rights Watch (Asia) report damned India for its jackbooted approach to security in Kashmir - New Delhi has up to 700,000 troops and para-military in the disputed territory - accusing it of culpability in state-sponsored terrorism.

The report also cited armed (Muslim) militant groups for human rights abuses, but saved its greatest condemnation for India and its paramilitary forces, including "a secret, illegal army . . . composed of captured or surrendered former militants." It said these Indian forces indulged in "extrajudicial killings, abductions and assaults" with no official accountability.

The report also revealed a little-known detail from the murky depths of the conflict: India's military and intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), created a paramilitary group called Taliban to operate in Kashmir before the Afghani version came to world attention, just to confuse the situation. An interesting twist given that India portrays Pakistan's ISI military intelligence as the devil incarnate.

Even allowing for India's response that it needs such large numbers of troops to keep insurgents from infiltrating from Pakistan-held Azad (Free) Kashmir, the number is disproportionate to the needs of border duties.

The long-festering Kashmir dispute won't go away until the fundamental questions are addressed fairly by India and the international community, which should have a vested interest. After all, Islamic fundamentalists - epitomised by al-Qaeda - terrorising the world have their roots more so in Kashmir than in Palestine. The Kashmir-Afghanistan mujahideen nexus is unbroken and has morphed into more sinister variants that use the often undeniable perception of Muslim subjugation as the glue of, and combustion for, their cause.

The underlying Kashmir dispute began amid the cycle of violence that accompanied partition. Precious little has been achieved from the earliest post-partition talks to summits in Tashkent after the September 1965 war, Simla in 1972 after the December 1971 war, and then in Lahore.

The adversaries simply must go back to the starting point of the dispute if it is to be resolved. There are two unfulfilled United Nations resolutions on the matter that were passed more than 50 years ago and reaffirmed in the Security Council in 1957 and again in 1964.

The essence of those resolutions is that the final disposition of the state of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations .

It is curious that India, a country of remarkable and laudable achievements in many spheres, fails to live up to its claim of being the world's biggest democracy when it continues to deny 17 million Kashmiris a plebiscite to determine their own future.

Gerry Carman is an Age journalist.

Source:
The Age - Australia
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