We must live
WHY KILL INNOCENTS. CAN'T WE ASKS THIS, WRITES IMMAD NAZIR
Recently I was taking a walk with my friend and we were discussing the Kashmir issue. He was justifying the killing of a hundred people by telling me that the forces didn’t intend to kill – people were attacking them with stones and they were forced to shoot, to control the crowd. I asked him what he meant by “intend to kill”, because out of the 100 killed, most were shot above the waist – many of them in the head! Remember here that the protestors were only throwing stones; they were not throwing petrol bombs or attacking with swords or tridents. Now the question that arises is, is shooting the best way of tackling such protestors? I hear people saying that if the Kashmiri people were to fight for their rights rather than “Azadi”, then the whole of India would back them in their fight for justice. But does anyone actually know what the people of Kashmir are fighting for?
The main thing that a Kashmiri is fighting for today is the right to survive. He is demanding the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), reduction of army personnel, release of political prisoners and the right to self-determination. Kashmir has been under seige for the last one hundred days now. Does anyone outside Kashmir care? Have you ever seen a single candle light vigil in any part of India to show solidarity with the Kashmiris? Has any politician from any party even sympathized with them? All we hear are high pitched voices saying, the AFSPA should not be revoked; the troops should not be reduced. The reason for this is that they have never known the facts correctly. They have always been fed misinformation. Every news is presented differently – even we get confused when we watch news on the national channels. The news is so biased that many people in Kashmir have stopped watching national news channels altogether. The people in India get a totally different view of events than what is actually happening in Kashmir.
Big political names in Delhi who come on these national channels say that there is no need to revoke the AFSPA as it will hamper the working of the army in Kashmir, but do they even know how the people of Kashmir are living? Do they realize what circumstances a Kashmiri breathes air in? A few days ago the Chief of Army Staff gave a statement about Kashmir needing a political solution rather than a military one. He further added that politicians had lost the advantage that had been gained over the years; and also said that Kashmir has been freed from the militancy problem. Now, if this last point is true, then the only thing that the army should have been doing is checking infiltration, that is, guarding international borders. I ask the people who are sitting in their air-conditioned, fancy homes, sipping their beverages, flipping pages of a magazine, that, do you even have a slight idea about what a common Kashmiri goes through every day? Have you ever imagined what it would be like to see your children beaten to death or shot in the head? Has your brother disappeared never to come back? Would you stay quiet if your sisters were molested? Do you have any idea how it feels when you have to leave your ancestral home and move to an urban area, for fear that you might lose someone you love in a blazing fire and, before you know it, have them labeled a terrorist? These might sound “filmy”, but these are the things that a common Kashmiri has been going through over the years. You may be wondering how such things can happen in the largest democracy of the world; how can such things happen and no one even be questioned.
Last year, the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, said that Naxalism remains the biggest threat to the internal security of India, even more than terrorism. It is true; more deaths are caused to army personnel in Naxalite affected areas than in Kashmir. Then why aren’t Naxalite affected areas under the Disturbed Areas Act and more importantly, why aren’t AFSPA powers given to the army there? Coming back to the Army Chief’s statement, if Kashmir is militancy free then what does the army need AFSPA for? Why is the government hesitating to revoke it? Doesn’t a common Kashmiri have the right to breathe free?
The people of Kashmir have another demand, namely, the reduction of troops. Kashmir is the most militarized non-war zone in the world. The population of Kashmir is around 10 million; the number of troops, close to 1 million. In other words, the troop to civilian ratio in Kashmir is 1:10.
Compare this to Afghanistan, considered to be one of the most dangerous places in the world, where the troop to civilian ratio is 1:70. Does this mean that Kashmir is considered more dangerous than Afghanistan? At one point even Obama was talking about troop reduction in silent war zones, yet Kashmir keeps getting more and more troops every day. The day is not far when we will see a 1:1 troop to civilian ratio in Kashmir. Does anyone have any idea about how vulnerable a common Kashmiri feels when he has to face so many troops everyday, troops who have the right to kill him without any fear of facing trial?
The third main issue that the people of Kashmir have been fighting for, for over 60 years now, is the right to self-determination. The people have been given this right by the United Nations, whereby they have the right to choose what they want. The Home Minister of India has declared in parliament that the Kashmir problem is a unique problem, and hence needs a unique solution. Kashmir had annexed to India in a difficult situation; India has to accept that Kashmir is not an economic problem but a political one. People talk about the economic packages given to Kashmir but can money be the solution to every problem? Kashmiris don’t want economic packages – they want the freedom to live freely, in an atmosphere free from fear. If it is possible, take away the economic packages and return the lives of those 1 lakh people who were brutally murdered. Give back the dignity of the Kashmiri women, which was snatched from them. Give us back our Kashmir and give it back to us in peace.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Oct 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 5 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Oct 2010 00:00:00 IST
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