Last Friday, August 5th, was Kashmir’s Bloody Friday

Published: August 10, 2016
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Prime minister Narendra Modi. PHOTO: AFP

August 9, 2016: Breaking his 32-day long silence on Kashmir, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has made a statement which is full of empty political rhetoric, and lacks enough substance to address the real issue concerning the political aspiration of Kashmiris.

“It is said that boys who should be holding laptops, cricket bats have been handed stones in their hands,” Modi said while addressing a rally in Madhya Pradesh’s Alirajpur district.

This irresponsible and juvenile statement stereotyped Kashmiris as gullible and naïve people who are ready to pick up a stone at someone’s behest.

“Every Indian loves Kashmir. The freedom that every Indian has also belongs to every Kashmiri. We want the same bright future for every youth in Kashmir,” he said.

A bright future after blinding them forever with pellets? Where all, aside from Kashmir, have government forces killed 60 civilians, injured 6,000 and blinded over 300 within a span of 30 days, he wouldn’t bother to explain. He further added,

“Whatever Kashmiris want for betterment of their livelihood, the centre will help. We want development for Jammu and Kashmir. Be it the J&K government under Mehbooba Mufti or the central government, we are finding solution to all problems through development.”

The development of pellet guns and bullets, perhaps.

For rhetorical purposes alone, Modi invoked Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous words again and ended up saying nothing concrete on ways to address the Kashmir dispute politically.

“There are ways, including dialogue, to resolve issues in a democracy. My government believes in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s mantra of insaniyat, jamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat (humanity, democracy and Kashmiriyat).”

Mr Narendra Modi’s silence over the killings of 60 unarmed Kashmiris, grave pellet-and-bullet injuries to over 6,000 civilians and the blinding of over 300 Kashmiri youth since July 9th is least surprising to most Kashmiris.

After all, it has been India’s ‘standard operating procedure’ (SOP) to speak to Kashmiris in a language of power since 1947, with the sole aim of criminalising their political struggle. In this endeavour of delegitimising the Kashmiris struggle for the right to self-determination, understanding the language of India’s corporate-owned media and the armed forces operating in Kashmir becomes very critical.

For instance if 50,000 common Kashmiris, including women and children, will gather at a place to demonstrate peacefully for their political rights, the Indian media will use the word “miscreants” for such a huge assembly of people. Mind you, this is being done deliberately to mislead the common Indians. They’re trying to make it seem that these people who have gathered in such colossal numbers have assembled at the behest of Pakistan, and, therefore, any amount of force used by government forces against them stands ‘justified.’

For the sake of an argument, if everything in Kashmir is happening at Pakistan’s behest, it is a reflection of India’s standing in Kashmir. That is, however, another story.

Not only this, when the trigger-happy Indian paramilitary Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF) and accountable-to-none armed forces open direct fire on peaceful and unarmed protesters, the injured are described as “stone pelters”, “miscreants”, “agitational terrorists” and “terrorist sympathisers.” This colonial language is employed by vast sections of the Indian media, especially television channels and government forces to justify India’s colonial practices in Kashmir.

Here is an example.

A statement issued by the J&K Police Media Centre on August 8th reads,

“….It is clarified that a mob of more than 2000 miscreants assembled at main chowk Langate (north Kashmir) and started heavy stone pelting on deployment and police post Langate, due to which 38 police/security personnel were injured. While dispersing the mob, 11 miscreants were injured, most of them due to stampede out of which three of them were referred to Srinagar. The condition of all of them is stable…”

Now look at this statement carefully and focus on the choice of words. First, the police use the term “mob” for common people. Secondly, they are described as “miscreants”. Thirdly, they are then accused of “stone pelting” on the deployed forces and police posts in Langate, north Kashmir.

These are blatant lies.

The number of people participating in a demonstration is reduced by design. The people are shown as “perpetrators” and the police as “victims”. Then, derogatory terms are used to describe people and their actions or lack thereof. The police never come up with solid evidence to prove their men are indeed injured. If they are injured, they should be admitted in hospitals, undergoing treatment. But that is not the case.

The question that arises is; where do government forces gather such courage, to peddle lie after lie, and that even on a public domain? The state’s shameless backing of violence against common people and a draconian law, which acts as a shield against persecution, are two major factors behind this audaciousness.

When Omar Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and working president of the pro-autonomy National Conference (NC), was running a coalition government with Congress from 2009 to 2014, more than 117 persons, mostly boys in their teens, were mercilessly killed by government forces during the summer mass agitation. Not a single guilty armed forces person has been punished till date.

This became possible because the armed forces enjoy impunity and a license to kill in Kashmir under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, AFSPA, which is in force in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990. The fact that hardly any perpetrator is punished only emboldens the armed forces to go berserk and walk out scot free.

Even in 2008, when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress were running a coalition government, more than 60 Kashmiri civilians, most of them in their teens, were killed when they were protesting against the sanctioning of 99 acres of land to Amarnath Shrine Board.

Having said that, it may be very convenient and politically smart for the junior Abdullah to ask New Delhi whether “it has declared a war on the people in Kashmir” at a juncture when the PDP is heading a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir – but the fact remains that he too could not prevent civilians killings when he was at the helm of affairs in 2010.

On August 6th, Omar Abdullah said the following statement in a conversation with India Today,

“Has New Delhi declared a war on the people in Kashmir? Hundreds of young boys and girls have potentially life-changing injuries, most of them caused by pellet guns. Thousands of youngsters have sustained injuries in this unrest. To blame Pakistan for the unrest or to delude ourselves into thinking this is a law and order situation is criminal. There is an extreme sense of resentment and disenchantment among the youth of the Valley and that is the basis of this unrest.”

The Indian media is at liberty to dub Omar Abdullah a “Pakistan sympathiser” for making a statement that he has made as an opposition leader.

Take a look at another statement made by yet another pro-India legislator, Hakim Yasin, the People’s Democratic Forum (PDF) chief and MLA Khansahib Budgam, who said that the Indian forces were repeating a Jallianwallah Bagh type of massacre in Kashmir on a daily basis,

“The way British used brute force on unarmed protesters at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, forces in Kashmir are repeating the same in Kashmir every day. Why are unarmed protesters targeted by the forces in every nook and corner of Kashmir.”

Hakim Yasin told the local media.

The Kashmir story that the corporate-owned Indian media won’t tell the ordinary Indian audiences is precisely this.

Since July 9, 2016, at least 60 unarmed Kashmiris have been killed in cold blood by Indian armed forces; inflicting pellet and bullet injuries on 6,000 unarmed Kashmiris. Besides, more than 1500 Kashmiri youth have been arrested, some in nocturnal raids for participating in demonstrations. At least 1030 FIRs have been registered by the police for further persecution and harassment of the youth. Furthermore, Kashmiris are suffering under a strict curfew and unprecedented restrictions enforced by the PDP-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government since July 9th. A ban on mobile and data internet on all cellular services except the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has been imposed and outgoing call facilities are unavailable for pre-paid mobile phone customers.

Last Friday, August 5th, was Kashmir’s Bloody Friday. More than 400 Kashmiris received serious pellet-and-bullet injuries after government forces acted violently to stop people from demonstrating against the state violence across Kashmir. Doctors at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital told me that at least 324 youth, hit by the pellet guns, are on the verge of losing their eyesight permanently. Doctors said that most boys have been hit in the eye which has damaged their retina beyond repair.

Dr Raashid Maqbool said,

“We have performed as many as 65 surgeries until Monday morning.”

Dr Ruveda Salam, a lady IAS officer from north Kashmir, working as an assistant commissioner at the ministry of finance, government of India, could not stop herself from speaking against the state violence.

On August 3rd, Dr Salam took a dig at Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and PDP by writing this on her Facebook timeline:

“From wooing voters while wearing colour #green to painting #red the same valley streets, and then they question the credentials of the same religion whose symbols they used to mask their evil deeds” #hypocrisy couldn’t get worse than this.”

In response to her post, she was harassed by a senior police officer, who also made a misogynist remark, by calling Dr Salam an “ignorant lady”. Police officer Harmeet Singh Mehta threatened Dr Salam of government action, as if he was PDP’s spokesperson. He said,

“Government (PDP-BJP coalition government) must take action against you (Dr Ruveda Salam) as a civil servant spreading so much venum (venom) against state. Better resign and join some separatist group.”

Following the assassination of a popular tech-savvy Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani, on July 8th under mysterious circumstances in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, massive azadi rallies are being organised on a daily basis across the Kashmir Valley since. According to moderate estimates, at least 300,000 people had gathered in south Kashmir’s Tral, Burhan’s hometown, to participate in his funeral. Such a huge assembly had already made a statement and India was losing a battle of narratives in Kashmir.

People in Kashmir were already scared of India becoming a Hindutva project when right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi came into power – his statement has only made the situation worse. Kashmiris feel they are under severe attack as they have become victims of invasive politics, aimed at crushing their identity as Kashmiris and Kashmiri Muslims.

Even after 60 civilian killings and injuries to around 6,000 Kashmiris in the last 30 days, the state unit of the Hindu nationalist BJP has asked the government to deal with the current situation in the Kashmir Valley decisively and with an “iron hand.” BJP’s state spokesperson, Virender Gupta, said that there was no option for the government other than meeting the challenge posed by the “separatists and terrorists supported by Pakistan decisively and with an iron hand otherwise the situation will deteriorate further and it may not be possible to bring back normalcy in the Valley.”

Gupta told a news agency,

“At present the morale of the state police, CRPF and other security forces have gone down because of the recent happenings where lots of restrictions have been imposed on them.”

This is Kashmir’s story.

And this Karbala is Kashmir’s ‘normalcy’ for which the Indian media obviously has no time. It will relentlessly debate cows, cow protection and cow vigilantism and how Modi beats the drums in Kenya, but will not gather moral courage to narrate Kashmir’s story with a human heart and an unbiased journalistic approach; shedding jingoistic spectacles and hyper-nationalistic binoculars.

After all, India is a democracy and its image can’t be tarnished for the sake of 7.5 million Kashmiris.

Gowhar Geelani

Gowhar Geelani

The author is a writer, journalist and political commentator from Srinagar, the South Asian Journalism Programme (SAJP) scholar 2015, the first Kashmiri to be selected as Munich Young Leader 2014. He has also served the Deutsche Welle, in Germany, as an editor. He tweets as @gowhargeelani

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Rajagopal

    In the past few weeks, there have been a barrage of blogs and Columns of Pro-Kashmiri authors like Mr. Geelani.
    Who are “they” trying to convince? Are they hoping that “weepy” articles like these will bring them fan following? There is zero support from UN, UNSC, G-8 or G-12 or G-100.
    The entire world is sick and tired of Jihadists and their acts of random violence. Sorry, No takers here. Please move along.Recommend

  • Thomas

    These terrorists have to be eliminated. Let pakistan cry and scream……..” Nuke Bum” and all. Wipe them out so that the majority can live happily.Recommend

  • M.R.Srinath

    At the heart of Kasmiriyat are communal harmony and syncretic cultural values. The writer’s remarks smack of his intolerance towards Kashmiri Pundits & Buddhists. In the garb of self-determination, he is championing for the cause of Salafi Islam in Kashmir.Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Isn’t it true Mr Gowhar Geelani that J&K (inclduing PHK & GB) is deeply divided communally and intra-faith? If Yes, then how one can believe even your voice as correct and not politically or religiously motivated …??Recommend

  • pk

    Modi is bestRecommend

  • wololololow

    Indian brigade incoming. I’m surprised they aren’t here already tbh. Designated streets must be closedRecommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    Pakistani newspapers are the only ones that publish stories on this so called struggle. The rest of the world is scared of creating another Pakistan where bigotry and religious intolerance rules.Recommend

  • Vinod

    Yes we all know India is evil. Why don’t you write about Kashmiri pandits?Recommend

  • ranjit

    Mr. Geelani, the basic reality is that this is a religious war between kashmiri muslims and hindu India. It is a continuation of the 1200 year old battle for supremacy between islam vs. hinduism in the subcontinent that started when Mohd bin Qasim showed up in Sindh. Earlier muslims could defeat hindus and rule over the entire place, but they made a mistake not to convert everyone. Now they cannot defeat us or convert us, so they want to separate and have control over maximum amount of land possible as muslims. Well, we hindus will not allow it any more after 1947. The british are gone and no one can tell us what to do. We have nuclear weapons and will happily use them in Kashmir or elsewhere to defend our religion’s interests in the ultimate situation. If we cannot have it, no one else will have it either. Your appeal about death and blindness means nothing, since this is a life and death battle for our faith and we will not let our religion lose again. Unlike the west, we give two hoots for human rights and will fight you till eternity to preserve hindu interests of India. If you do not like it, you can leave for pakistan. If you are willing to live under our terms and conditions, we will allow you to live in peace, otherwise be prepared for bullets and pellets forever.Recommend

  • Gujesh

    The author has forgotten Wandhama massacre of hindu pundits in 1998. All Kashmiri pundits in the village were killed.Recommend

  • Sunil

    All talk and no action. Indians will not tolerate terrorism.Recommend

  • abhi0978

    everyday will be a bloody day from now in kashmir. Keep dreaming of azadi.Recommend

  • asad

    Indian Muslims are too scared for their own rights in India, forget about they rising for the cause of Kashmiris. And as for Hindus, Muslims in Pakistan had already decided to live separately because of the huge cultural as well as ideological differences among these communities.further, These Brahmans want to enslave the people by any inhumane means because for them it is their birth right to rule these petty creatures in the form of dalits and other minorities. The only way possible is if there is enough international pressure and sanctions imposed on India that should persuade her to look at Kashmirs as just humans and solve their 60 years long misery.Recommend

  • AD

    Today is Baluchistan’s Independence Day.. Happy Independence Day Baluchistan.Recommend

  • Across the border

    Its so interesting to see barrage of Indian commentators coming on Tribune to vent out against criticism no matter how oblivious They are. If they are terrorist then man up and kill them. What is stopping you. I mean the world believes in incredible India. What harm will it do If you kill a few hundred more. Right…..? The world is flocking to Modi’s hands to prosperity… You guys are literally getting away with murder and I don’t mean the whole of India only the state but reading the comments would make people think otherwise. Recommend

  • Arya

    If Wishes were horses , Beggars would rideRecommend

  • Mukesh Jethwani

    Can some enlighten- regarding jehad. first they will glorify martyrdom to teenagers .then if they become martyr then they will blame India .why??
    Recommend

  • Londonwala

    When you put blinkers on and keep writing and writing and writing it loses its meaning as clearly your disinterest in youth’s positive development comes ou loud. Grow up Mr. Geelani.Recommend

  • Kushal

    “If Wishes were horses , Beggars would ride”
    Ride what? Chinese chariots?Recommend

  • Kushal

    “People in Kashmir were already scared of India becoming a Hindutva project when right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi came into power – his statement has only made the situation worse. Kashmiris feel they are under severe attack as they have become victims of invasive politics, aimed at crushing their identity as Kashmiris and Kashmiri Muslims.”
    Dear Author can you be a little more specific. Like what “Hindutva” project was thrust upon the people of Kashmir. What are those policies that are being carried out by the current BJP government that according to you “crushes their identity as Kashmiris and Muslims”.
    Even article 370 the long standing demand of the rest of India was not repelled.Recommend

  • wb

    Get your facts straight before commenting.

    This is a war between extremist Sunni Wahabi/Deobandi Muslims of Kashmir valley and Hindus/Shias/Sufis/BArelvis/Sikhs/Buddhists/Christians/Atheists of India and JnK.

    If you don’t know facts, then better to keep quiet.

    Shia/Sufi/Ahmadi/Barelvi/Chrisitan/ Sikh/Hindu/Buddhists of Kashmir are with us.Recommend

  • fze

    Oh, I’m so afraid, I feel like hiding under the bed because big bad monster is coming. Really?? Childish.Recommend

  • fze

    No, USA’s tail.Recommend

  • p r sharma

    There is no mention of injury of more than 3000 police personnel, including death of few policemen , attacking the police stations and army camps , grenade throwing, stone pelting. . The blog has select narrative because of vested interest..Recommend

  • Bana Post

    I see, then why your PM,FM,IM OR HM are crying over kashmir. If you half backed brave enough take the gun, come to the border our men are waiting. And we can continue the previous class (1948,1965,1971,Siachin, and of course Kargil)Recommend

  • Kushal

    Ohh I got it now. Now I understand why Pak is the biggest recipient of US aid.Recommend

  • abhi0978

    1971 war should have been taught by your country.
    Your country lost half of ur population without any nukes. Imagine what nukes would have done after our nuclear test in 1974.

    Recommend

  • hp kumar

    As if anyone cares here about mulims and pakistanis?Recommend

  • hp kumar

    cant ask help from all weather friend?Recommend

  • Critical

    On 1989, half of the Pandits decided to commit suicide by falling on the swords of the Muslims and the rest of them decided to go on a long road trip to DelhiRecommend

  • Critical

    They didn’t get killed,they all commited suicide on the same day by eating bullets from a AK47 rifle…

    Stop blaming LeT for thatRecommend

  • LS

    That is the reality… Since last 40 days and continues… you can wear your green jihadi googles and pretend that nothing is happening. Your tantrums do not change anything.Recommend

  • LS

    Because they can… You can’t even do that…

    Last I checked your passport as well as visa ranking was at the bottom of the pile.

    Like 94 out of 95.. oh my a shade better than Afghanistan!

    https://www.passportindex.org/byRank.php

    Here is the visa restriction index.. here again its 103 out of 104 countries just a shade better than Afghanistan who you have ruined beyond recognition.

    http://www.visaindex.com/#

    Quit whining…Recommend

  • LS

    Talk about your own minorities and how they are vanishing in pakistan. Who ever can is running away… Thousands of them come to India every year… None of the muslims go to pakistan.. None…Recommend

  • LS

    Gowhar Geelani: Kashmir is none of your business… None. From the days of Sikandar Butshikan till today Muslims in the region have brought nothing but killing, murder raping and forced conversion.. to top it all Sikandar Butshikan was a sufi… follower… so much for religion of peace… you don’t talk about how millions of Pandit or Sikhs who were kicked out after suffering one massacre after another… Who were threatened every night from masjid that they would be killed. That Kashmir will become free with Hindu women without Hindu Men… Where were you then? Where were you when the extremist started violence in the region and still do it at pakistan’s behest and not since today but since 6th October 1947!! This one sided story telling does not benefit anyone… They are NOT innocent.. they are as criminal as YOU are who is fanning the violence.

    I am glad that the German institutes refused to provide prayer rooms, I am glad that Germans don’t care about your religion… Islam has the worst Criminal record in Germany keeping in mind the low % of population… This map below shows what muslims do… Every muslim crime since 2016 is recorded in Germany… with proof of link…. embedded for each and every incident…

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1_rNT3k2ZXB-f9z-2nSFMIBQKXCs&hl=en_US

    Not only Germany.. this is the story everywhere in the world… Every where…Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Umrikis are not giving cash to Punjabi Muhammadins for Kashmir and chanda boxes in Karachi & Lahore are empty since there is no cash in 2% growth wali Pakistani economy. World is also in the mood of killing Jihadis so Kashmir Burhan Wani/Bania will die. Kashmiri Mantos, Jilanis write good Hum Tv drama scripts. So please stick to these Urdu dramabazi and leave bandookbazi. You have surrendered and converted to alien legion with littlest of duress. Price of oil is also low so Arabs are not going to give you cash. Cheeni are scared of your Muhammadin. So mere pyare Kashmir, give up the fight and if you hatenative Dharma and spirituality then make a dash to the other side of the border. High time India starts settling retirees of Armed Forces.Recommend

  • Sane

    remember 1947 when India lost almost half of their land and a new independent country Pakistan emerged. History may repeat again when Indian occupied Kashmir shall be liberated.Recommend

  • Sane

    If you say freedom movement as terrorism, this is your mindset. Even then you are tolerating since years and you shall be doing this till Kashmir get liberty.Recommend

  • Sane

    Have you named Asam as Baluchistan? Amazed.Recommend

  • Sane

    ………. among all criminals. At least he is among top ten of the world.Recommend

  • Sane

    Have you abandoned Russian chariots?Recommend

  • fze

    @LS @hpkumar @abhi098 @Bana Post have I put my foot on somebody’s tail? Jingoistic, childish behaviour!Recommend

  • fze

    Don’t you know who is riding on US’s tail now a days? It’s definitely not Pakistan. You all got hyper for nothing. Recommend

  • Kushal

    Like a true father, we are passing on that property to our “son”. Hope you will enjoy it.Recommend

  • Sane

    Okay. We always enjoy when it bumps Indians. What new chariot you have?Recommend

  • Sane

    Saying here and there is not going to solve problems you have. Kashmir is at verge of liberty and Khalistan is in queue. Pakistan and Muslim phobia or mania…..whatever you call it is not a problem solver.Recommend

  • Kushal

    “It’s definitely not Pakistan”…Tsk Tsk. Shows how far we both came.Recommend

  • Kushal

    “We always enjoy when it bumps Indians”. You will get to see our new chariot in no time.Recommend

  • Bana Post

    sun should rise in the west. Half of land ?.Consult a doctor .Recommend

  • Sane

    Fix the wheel well. It stinks and smokes.Recommend

  • Kushal

    After witnessing the “love” since 1947, we do not have any other feeling. And before talking about Kashmir and Khalistan please take care of Baluchistan and Sindh first.Recommend