Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Who Will Pay for the Silence?

Arif names names as killers of well known Kashmiri personalities turn out to be mostly local boys heading various tanzeems, and not the Indian state

(Mr. Arif Bashir, 26, was born in Check-e-Ferozpora, Tangmarg. He completed his schooling in his native village, and obtained his Arts degree, with emphasis in English Literature, Urdu Literature, Political Science and English, from the Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He subsequently completed his Master of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the University of Kashmir. He is a Reporter for the Kashmir Images, a leading English daily of Kashmir Valley. He has written, scripted and directed two Documentary Films - 85 Degrees, and Faces of Hope - and one fictional Film - Dastak. His ambition is to become an outstanding Film Maker.)


A sudden bout of truth-telling by the ‘respected’ separatist leader Prof Bhat has set the cat among the pigeons.

Various political circles (mainstream as well as separatists) in the Kashmir valley are seemingly “experimenting with truth” these days after a debate was triggered by a senior separatist leader and former chairman of Hurriyat Conference, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat. Bhat created a flutter on Jan 3, when he said that Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq (Hurriyat chairman Umar Farooq’s father) and Abdul Gani Lone (veteran Hurriyat leader and father of Sajad Gani Lone and Bilal Gani Lone) were killed “by our own people” and not by Indian security forces.

Following this, mainstream parties including the ruling National Conference applauded Bhat for his “courageous revelations” while most of the separatist groups including the Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, remained mum.

In the meantime Syed Salahuddin, the Hizbul supremo, in an interview with a Kashmir based news agency last Thursday (13 Jan), said, “Those who killed innocents should be brought to public court. They are accountable before the Almighty Allah as well as people of Kashmir. But this isn’t the appropriate time to touch these issues as it may harm the movement.” The debate, however, seems to be picking up and, according to political analysts, indicates a dramatic shift in Kashmir’s polity.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Hurriyat leaders had begun to accept the reality. “Earlier leaders accused the government of killing Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone. But now they have admitted that the killings were a result of their ideological differences,” Omar said in Srinagar after inaugurating a Community Hall at Zaina Kadal, Srinagar.

Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq was killed at his residence on May 21, 1990 while Abdul Gani Lone was shot dead during a commemorative rally for the senior Mirwaiz on the same day in 2002.

The state government had maintained that the then commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Mohammad Abdullah Bangroo was responsible for killing Mirwaiz while a commander of Al-Umar Mujahideen militant outfit had shot Abdul Gani Lone.

While Prof Bhat’s statement continues to create ripples in Kashmir’s political circles, political analysts suggest there could be a series of “introspections” in the near future. They say that the revelations made by Bhat were the beginning of a “healthy and much needed process of questioning and accountability.” “Though late, the Hurriyat leadership has finally realized that it is not only the state but the non-state actors also who should be blamed for killings and rights violations. It is a part of a positive strategy to look inwards too and fix responsibilities,” Iqbal Ahmad, a columnist and political analyst pointed out.

Iqbal further said that “the ugliest part in any conflict situation is when ideological differences of, and among the struggling lot remain voiceless and unspoken.” These differences, he said, sort of compete among each other and those who prevail, elbow out others, sometimes through physical violence, including killings.

Kashmir has seen numerous such killings as scores of prominent political and militant leaders belonging to various camps and ideologies were killed during the hey days of militancy here.

Soft target killings continued in latter years too although not with such ferocity.
Some of the prominent leaders killed include Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq, Abdul Gani Lone, Qazi Nisar, Abdul Ahad Wani (professor of law at Kashmir University who was believed to be very close to the JKLF), Dr Abdul Ahad Gooru (a doctor also close to the JKLF), Abdul Ahad Lone, Majeed Dar (former commander of Hizbul Mujahideen who was killed on March 23, 2003 soon after he initiated talks with New Delhi).

Dar was labeled "an informer of Indian agencies" by Al-Umar Mujahideen who took the responsibility for his killing. Mohammad Yusuf Parray famously known as
Kuka Parray, a militant turned founder of the counter insurgent group (Ikhwan), a former MLA, in Kashmir valley was also killed in an ambush by militants along with two of his close associates at his hometown Hajjan in northwestern Bandipora district.

Tahir Mohiuddin, chief editor of the weekly Chattan said, “Though people always knew who killed whom in Kashmir, the statement is instrumental in breaking the silence over such killings. Now people can openly question political strategies and seek answers to demystify various secrets kept in cold storage so far.” He also believed that the statement would have garnered more impact and relevance had it been made earlier when militancy was at its peak. “Had the statement been made earlier during the time when militancy was at its peak and numerous such killings took place, it might have saved a few lives,” Tahir Mohiuddin regretted.

Besides the fateful end to numerous leaders, the infamous group clashes in Kashmir also saw militants belonging to different ideological groups clashing and killing each other. These clashes left numerous militants dead during the armed confrontations that occurred in almost every corner of the Valley, with Hizbul Mujahideen militants, involved in most such confrontations in a bid to replicate LTTE’s strategy of establishing its dominance in Kashmir’s armed militancy.

Another political analyst and chief editor of Daily Uqab published from Srinagar, echoed Mohiuddin’s feeling when he said: “It can set the stage for introspection and accountability in Kashmir. People always knew the reality but needed someone to brak the ice, and I feel Prof Bhat did so.” Anjum, however, cautioned against the fallout of such a statement saying it could well start a civil war in the Kashmir valley. “There are also risks involved as the infamous group clashes left numerous militants and civilians killed at the hands of armed militants belonging to rival camps. Both the killers and the killed belonged to families living within the valley and in most cases people know the killers and their families too,” Anjum said.

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