THE DEPTHS OF OPPRESSION CREATE THE HEIGHTS OF CHARACTER
Every night has a day to follow; every winter has a spring to follow and every martyr has a revolution to follow. India’s forcible enterprise in Kashmir is a gruesome and gothic tragedy of injustice, blood, rape, torture and destruction.
The calmness in the peaceful ocean of Kashmir was deliberately forced to rupture with the secret and vindictive hanging and burial of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat in Tihar jail on 11 February 1984 by the Indian establishment in connivance with the then J&K State government. India denied the last rites to be performed by his family by not returning the mortal remains to them which amounts to a brazen violation of the basic human ethics and rights. This, in turn, bred a strong sense of alienation, anger and injustice among Kashmiris vis-à-vis India.
To placate the regular mass agitations against its gory establishment in Kashmir, India tried to suppress those voices through several of its ‘carrot and stick’ formulas, to which Kashmiris have equally resisted and opposed down to the present.
The notorious 1987 rigged Assembly Elections is a case in point which metamorphosed a naïve Mohammad Yousuf Shah of Budgam district into a Syed Salahuddin (Chief of the United Jihad Council in the Azaad Kashmir) who was deliberately declared a loser to make way for the Pro-Indian National Conference to strengthen the Indian footprint in Kashmir. Hence Kashmiris were forced to take to the unprecedented armed rebellion, underlying India’s deliberate injustice of Kashmiris.
1989 is a reference point in Kashmiri Freedom Struggle wherefrom began the Armed Resistance to the unjust, brutal and inhumane Indian occupation of Kashmir. Dancing on the beck and call of its masters in New Delhi (Markaz), the state government came very hard on the anti-establishment and anti-occupation elements with the help of the draconian oppressive laws like TADA, POTA, AFSPA and later the much-in-vogue PSA. Further, to neutralise, sabotage and divide the armed rebellion from within, the Central and the State governments created their own extra armed wing with the euphemistic-cum-Islamic nomenclature ‘Ikhwan’.
The decade of the nineties is a gruesome era on the patterns on the Nazi reign of terror in Kashmir, wherein the colonizer took to the worst kind of silencing methods by forcibly disappearing the innocent Kashmiris, by taking them to the Guantanamo Bays of Kashmir like The Hari Niwas, Papa II, Cargo, Kawoosa House, Red 16, Badamibagh Cantonment etc.
This era underscores a humiliation and suppression of Kashmiri Womenfolk as sexual violence was institutionalised to suppress the freedom struggle by its so-called disciplined forces when they mass raped the entire womenfolk of two remote villages, Kunan-Poshpara, of the border district of Kupwara. But the irony is that no culprit from those beasts was brought to the book even after several of those victims of sexual violence have died now as they (forces) enjoy the shield of AFSPA. Hence the tale of injustice continues.
The year 2008 saw a new wave of public uprising against Indian extension in Kashmir as it tried to encroach and annex the territory of Kashmir following the Amaranth Shrine Board Land Transfer episode, hence proving that India needs only Kashmir, not the Kashmiris. During this movement the outreach of the Hurriyat leadership down to the level of common men especially the youth was a significant development. New resistance tools were created to fight the oppressor viz, Kani Jung (Stone Pelting), the Chalo Calls ( calls for peaceful mass gatherings at prominent spots) and new anti-India catchy sloganeering to frustrate the subjugating forces. As usual, over six dozens of innocent youths were openly massacred by the security forces and hundreds of others left badly injured. The entire pre-freedom camp was incarcerated and some of them slapped with the PSA. Hence the nonviolent movement was forcibly muzzled through state repression.
The woeful tale continues as the oppressor carried on with his nasty and stinky designs in Kashmir. In 2009, the brutal rape and murder of two innocent women ( Asiya & Neelofer ) allegedly by the government forces took place in south Kashmir’s Shopian district triggering yet another bloody summer in the valley. The tragedy of injustice continued as after a long and so-called thorough investigation by the so-called independent and premier investigating agency of India, the CBI, was closed with the bizarre conclusion that the two ladies had ‘drowned’ in mere two-three inch deep waters! The family still awaits justice.
The wounds of 2009 were yet to heal as the Machil Fake Encounter was enacted by the AFSPA-shielded armed forces in 2010, wherein innocent Kashmiri farmers were branded as dreaded militants after being killed brutally in the frontier district of Kupwara. Against this cold-blooded murder, Kashmiris took to streets in which a young Srinagar student, Tufail Mattoo, was killed after being shot straight into his head by the security forces. Then followed a months-long bloody summer in which death danced everywhere in Kashmir. Kashmiris were returned with the death-bags of over 110 innocent youths.
The state tried to curb the struggle by banning the SMS and the Internet services across the valley for the first time let alone the routine exercise of imposing continuous curfews, arrests, tortures, preventive detentions etc. To pacify the anger of Kashmiris, the GOI decided to send an All-Party Delegation of prominent parliamentarians to hold parleys with the pro-freedom leadership in Kashmir which ended up as a mere eyewash and wastage of time. This was followed by the sending of a three-member group of noted interlocutors to Kashmir which held talks with different civil societies, people, student unions, traders but the Hurriyat.
After the Group returned to Delhi, it submitted its report to the government with certain recommendations in order to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute, but those recommendations have fallen on the deaf ears of the people at the helm in New Delhi.
After the 2010 summer unrest, there followed an apparent interlude of “peace and normalcy” in the valley which proved a stye in the oppressor’s eye as it wants to keep Kashmir in flames. This time around the victim of India’s injustice was another Kashmiri, Afzal Guru, who was picked on a design from 27th serial as death row and was secretly sent to the gallows in Tihar Jail to appease the so-called ‘ collective conscience’ of an otherwise unconscientious nation.
As with the mortal remains of Maqbool Bhat, his too were denied to his family, thus brewing the anger and bloodshed in Kashmir. This unjust and hushed hanging of Afzal Guru decimated all faith in and credibility of Indian Judiciary among Kashmiris which resurrected the apparently dormant indigenous militancy. Young Kashmiri educated youths were forced to pick up the gun again and form fresh militant groups under the banner of Hizbul-Mujahideen.
This new wave of militancy did away with the fear of death and armed forces by openly flanking on social media with their charismatic and bold appearances through videos and images. This trend inspired a huge public rebellion, especially from the youth. The chief protagonist of this trend was a 16-year young boy from Tral town of district Pulwama in south Kashmir called Burhan Wani, who was forced by the security forces to take to arms. Through the adept and impeccable use of social media, this poster-boy brought the new militancy away from the forest dens to the open public gaze. Suddenly Burhan Wani became a household name across Kashmir as people gradually began to see in him a Messiah, who would transform the burning Kashmir back into the Mughal emperor Jahangir’s ‘paradise on earth’.
He was instrumental in getting more and more youths recruited in the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit. For the security agencies, Burhan became a severe headache and a huge bounty was offered to neutralise him. Finally on 8th July 2016, when the whole Kashmir was celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr, this young militant leader was secretly killed in a brief encounter in Kokernag area of district Anantnag in south Kashmir. As the news of his killing went public, entire Kashmir took to the streets for more than six months in protest of the brazen Indian brutalities in Kashmir.
This unrest witnessed a gory death-dance by Indian security forces as hundreds of innocent Kashmiris fell to the Indian bullets and pellets, thousands were brutally wounded and blinded by the first time use of the pellet guns. The Burhan aftermath jolted the entire India and the Kashmir issue was again internationalised in the annual UN General Assembly session in New York.
The killing of Burhan Wani breathed a new lease of life in the ongoing freedom struggle as scores of educated youths still join the militant outfit. The Indian security agencies had thought that the killing of Burhan would neutralise the entire wave of militancy, but ironically Burhan became a phoenix-like character by becoming more popular dead as he was alive, thus proving that “the depths of oppression will create the heights of character” like Burhan Wani.
The struggle is on as the currently active militants and general people are determined not to give-up before reaching the logical conclusion of gaining freedom from the coloniser. It is high time India realises that the denial of the right to self-determination promised by its first Prime Minister J.L.Nehru cannot be held hostage anymore long now ass the issue cannot be resolved through the use of force, but by sitting together with the concerned stakeholders viz Kashmiris, India and Pakistan.
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(The views expressed are authors’ own)