WikiLeaks cables: India accused of systematic use of torture in Kashmir

[In one of many such news reports from Kashmir this year, it was reported: “Srinagar, Aug 29: Torture of youth by police and paramilitary CRPF (central reserve police force) is proving deadly in the current unrest in Kashmir. Among the 64 victims of past 79 days, five persons have lost their lives due to alleged custodial torture and thrashing by the forces, the youngest victim being the 9-year old Sameer of Batamaloo.” Now, in the Wikileaks release of “government secrets” we find further elaboration of torture as a basic method in India’s occupation of Kashmir–which the US has called “India’s internal affair.”–Frontlines ed.]
The Guardian (UK), 16 December 2010

Beatings and electric shocks inflicted on hundreds of civilians detained in Kashmir, US diplomats in Delhi told by ICRC

US officials had evidence of widespread torture by Indian police and security forces and were secretly briefed by Red Cross staff about the systematic abuse of detainees in Kashmir, according to leaked diplomatic cables released tonight.

The dispatches, obtained by website WikiLeaks, reveal that US diplomats in Delhi were briefed in 2005 by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about the use of electrocution, beatings and sexual humiliation against hundreds of detainees. Continue reading

Srinagar, Kashmir: Protests continue against human rights violations of the Indian occupation forces

[The Obama administration gives no recognition to the just struggles of the people of Kashmir, and opposes even any consideration of Kashmir as an unresolved international issue.  On November 15, this stance was reported:  “US Ambassador Timothy Roemer, commenting on the UN excluding Kashmir from its list of unresolved international issues: ‘The President (Barack Obama), I think was very articulate on this issue of Kashmir. This is an internal issue for India.”–Frontlines ed.]

A masked Kashmiri protestor holds a banner and participates in a demonstration organized by Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a day before International Human Rights Day, in Srinagar, India, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. (Mukhtar Khan - AP)

A relative of a disappeared person leans on a placard during a demonstration organized by Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a day before International Human Rights Day, in Srinagar, India, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. (Mukhtar Khan - AP)

Kashmiri protesters sit during a demonstration organized by Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a day before International Human Rights Day, in Srinagar, India, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010. (Mukhtar Khan - AP)

Reactionaries try to disrupt Arundhati Roy’s trip to Orissa


Writer-activist Arundhati Roy is escorted by security personnel as ABVP activists stage a black flag protest against her remarks on Kashmir, during her visit to Bhubaneswar on Sunday.

Writer-activist Arundhati Roy is escorted by security personnel as ABVP activists stage a black flag protest against her remarks on Kashmir, during her visit to Bhubaneswar on Sunday.

BUBANESWAR: Writer Arundhati Roy was at the receiving end of her own tactic of dissent and protest here on Sunday when ABVP activists tried to stop her from attending a meeting on tribal rights for her controversial remark last month supporting ”azad Kashmir”.

The activists of  the youth wing of the BJP [the Hindu supremacist opposition party in the Indian government–ed], wearing black badges, shouted slogans like ”Gaddar (traitor) Arundhati hai, hai”, and, ”Arundhati go back” just as she got down from the car to reach the meeting venue, said an eyewitness, and added, ”They waved black flags and also chucked one of them at her.”

A scuffle between ABVP workers and Roy’s supporters, comprising representatives from anti-land acquisition lobby, followed. Her supporters cordoned off the venue at Swadheenta Sangram Manch to stop the ABVP activists from disrupting their meeting.

While some of Roy’s lathi-wielding supporters chased the ABVP men, said to be around 12 in number, the latter hurled shoes at them. At least two people were injured in the melee that went on for half-an-hour until the cops arrived and picked up eight ABVP men.

Talking to reporters, Roy said, ”They (ABVP) have a right to protest, I have a right to speak,” and added that she was sticking to her opinion on Kashmir. She had said, ”Kashmir was never an integral part of India.  It’s a historical fact.”

Times of India, November 22, 2010

San Francisco: Human rights activists protest ban of scholar from Kashmir

Richard Shapiro Banned From India For Academic Work On Kashmir

On November 8th at 11am, a group of more than 50 students and community members protested India’s banning of Richard Shapiro. The protest took place at the San Francisco Consulate General of India and lasted over an hour. Statements were read attesting to the violations perpetrated by the indefinite ban placed on Professor Shapiro’s travel to India and called for its revocation. A memorandum crafted and signed by students and friends of Richard Shapiro was delivered to, and accepted by, consulate staff.

Since 2006, Shapiro has regularly traveled to Kashmir, and interacted with various human rights defenders, scholars, and youth to bear witness and to learn from their experiences. The focus of his scholarship and academic work is not India or Kashmir, but issues of race, class, gender, and alliance building in the United States, and discourses on power and subjectivity.

The Indian state has regularly targeted those that have been outspoken on injustices and military governance in Kashmir. For example, the Indian state has targeted Professor Angana Chatterji and her colleagues in Kashmir, Parvez Imroz and Khurram Parvez, for their work defending human rights. Friends and Allies of Richard Shapiro point out that when academics, writers, and journalists are banned, such actions speak to the intent of the Indian State in maintaining impunity, and in deliberately isolating Kashmiris from the world, and the world from Kashmiris.

November 8th, 2010

Protest at the Indian Consulate: Revoke the Barring of Professor Richard Shapiro, End the Isolation of
Kashmiris Continue reading

Speaking out on Kashmir and Palestine in the US

Yasmin Qureshi, The Electronic Intifada, 9 November 2010

Kashmiri protesters throw stones at paramilitary soldiers and police during a protest in Srinagar, September 2010. (Rouf Bhat/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom)

The United States has become a battleground for both the struggles of the peoples of Palestine and Kashmir, for freedom from military occupation and for justice.  Awareness amongst the US public is broadened as the repression of both struggles grows ever more violent, and meanwhile those wishing to stifle debate on these issues in the US resort to harassment and intimidation.

The same day that renowned activist and writer Arundhati Roy commented that “Kashmir was never an integral part of India,” for which her home was later attacked, I was subjected to harassment here in the US while I spoke about the human rights situation in Kashmir. Though not threatened in the way that Roy was, what we both experienced were attempts to silence us. Forces sympathetic to the same right-wing ideology as those who attacked Roy mobilized their ranks by putting out an alert stating: “An Indian Muslim Woman is speaking about azadi [freedom] of Kashmiris and we should protest.” Continue reading

‘Trading Kashmir for Boeing’, says India’s Arundhati Roy in New York Times

Thursday, 11 November 2010

NEW YORK CITY, US—India’s renowned activist and novelist Arundhati Roy has made another impassioned plea for Kashmir’s right to self-determination in an op-ed in The New York Times. In her ironic style, she has ridiculed US President Barrack Obama, the Indian military and government, and reintroduced Shakeel to the world, the young Kashmiri whose 22-year-old wife and 17-year-old sister were raped and murdered by Indian occupation soldiers and thrown into a river.

But the best part of her op-ed, titled, Kashmir’s Fruits’ of Discord, is her take on the Indo-US double blackmail: how the United States is using Kashmir to blackmail India, and how India is using arms purchases to blackmail the US.  This is how she puts it:

“While [Obama] spoke eloquently about threats of terrorism, he kept quiet about human rights abuses in Kashmir. Whether Mr. Obama decides to change his position on Kashmir again depends on several factors: how the war in Afghanistan is going, how much help the United States needs from Pakistan and whether the government of India goes aircraft shopping this winter. (An order for 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, worth $5.8 billion, among other huge business deals in the pipeline, may ensure the president’s silence.) But neither Mr. Obama’s silence nor his intervention is likely to make the people in Kashmir drop the stones in their hands.”

There is widespread suspicion among analysts that President Obama has traded Kashmir for India’s Boeing order. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy on Obama’s wars, poverty and India’s Maoist rebels

November 8, 2010

Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now” interviews Arundhati Roy, award-winning Indian writer and renowned global justice activist. Her latest book is Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers.

AMY GOODMAN: We move now to Arundhati Roy. Maoist rebels in India called for a strike Monday to protest President Obama’s visit. The Indian media reports, according to the police, Maoists blew up a new school building this morning and killed four people in the eastern Indian states or Orissa and Bihar.

Last month, I had the chance to sit down with author Arundhati Roy in London about the Maoists in India. But first I began by asking her for her assessment of President Obama.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, I think the big lesson today is look at the richest country in the world, America, having attacked and made war on the poorest countries but not being able to win those wars.  They have not been able to win. And here’s the lesson. You couldn’t win Vietnam, you couldn’t win Afghanistan, couldn’t win Iraq, cannot win Kashmir.

Obama, he’s involved in all these war crimes. It’s not as though he has expanded the war in Afghanistan, moved it into Pakistan. Pakistan is a country that is in such a lot of trouble because of this. Right when 9/11 happened, I remember writing saying you forced them to raise the Taliban in their midst, and now you want them to garret the pit that they grew in their own backyard. It’s going to lead to civil war. You didn’t need to be a genius to figure that out. And that has happened, you know? Continue reading

India bans US professor from Kashmir, threatens Indian writer with sedition

November 2, 2010

On November 1, 2010, shortly after 5.10 am, Professor Richard Shapiro was
denied entry by the Immigration Authorities in New Delhi. Richard Shapiro is
the Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology at the
California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. He is also
the life partner/husband of Angana Chatterji, who is the Co-convener of the
International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in
Indian-administered Kashmir (IPTK) and also Professor of Anthropology at CIIS.

Richard Shapiro, a US Citizen, has been accompanying Angana Chatterji, a
citizen of India and a permanent resident of the US, to India since 1997, and
has travelled here approximately thirty times. His area of work is not India or
Kashmir, but focuses primarily on issues of race, class, gender, and alliance
building in the United States, and discourses on power and subjectivity. He is
not someone who has made India a “career,” but invested in thinking and
learning through the various struggles that Angana has been a part of across
India. Continue reading

Indian occupation forces attempt to keep the lid on Kashmir news

    Murtaza Shibli, 28 October 2010

    The current unrest in Kashmir has met with an increasingly brutal response from the Indian military.

    The news that the prize-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy may be arrested for her remarks about Kashmir is not surprising. It is a sign of growing Indian intolerance towards the issue. During the current phase of the Kashmiri intifada, the only Indian response to Kashmiri demands for justice and self-determination has been the use of overwhelming military force. More than 112 civilians – mostly youths – have been killed and several thousand injured, mainly by the Indian military and paramilitary.

    In the absence of strong international criticism, the Indian state has been emboldened to crush any dissent or demands of justice ferociously. Intimidating Kashmiri civil society has always been part of the standard Indian response, but it has grown exponentially over the last few months. In early July, the police arrested Mian Qayoom, president of the Kashmir Bar Association (the main lawyers’ body), for protesting against human rights violations. He was arrested under the draconian Public Safety Act, which authorises incarceration for up to two years if the authorities feel that the detainee may disturb peace and order or threaten the security of the state.

    Several other human rights activists, such as Ghulam Nabi Shaheen and political workers remain behind bars, along with hundreds of Kashmiri youths who have been detained for offences such as throwing stones at gun-toting Indian armed forces. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy: “I’m bored of my critics”


Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 44, Dated November 06, 2010

‘An independent Kashmiri nation may be a flawed entity, but is independent India perfect?’

As a section of the political class and the media bays for her blood, author Arundhati Roy tells SHOMA CHAUDHURY why her opinions do not amount to sedition

Speaking her mind Arundhati Roy’s views on the Kashmir issue have invited brickbats from all possible quarters

The State has been contemplating charges of sedition against you for your speeches in Delhi and Kashmir. How do you understand sedition? Did you see yourself as being seditious? What was your intention in speaking from those two platforms in Delhi and Srinagar under the rubric — Azadi: The only way.
Sedition is an archaic, obsolete idea revived for us by Times Now, a channel that seems to have hysterically dedicated itself to hunting me down and putting me in the way of mob anger. Who am I anyway? Small fry for a whole TV channel. It’s not hard to get a writer lynched in this climate, and that’s what it seems to want to do. It is literally stalking me. I almost sense psychosis here. If I was the Government of India I would take a step back from the chess board of this recent morass and ask how a TV channel managed to whip up this frenzy using moth-eaten, discredited old ideas, and goad everybody into a blind alley of international embarrassment. All this has gone a long way towards internationalising the ‘Kashmir issue’, something the Indian government was trying to avoid.

One of the reasons it happened was because the BJP desperately needed to divert attention from the chargesheeting of Indresh Kumar, a key RSS leader in the Ajmer blast. This was a perfect opportunity, the media, forever in search of sensation, led by Times Now, obliged. It never occurred to me that I was being seditious. I had agreed to speak at the seminar in Delhi way before it was titled “Azadi: The only way”. The title was provocative, I guess, to people who are longing to be provoked. I don’t think it is such a big deal frankly, given what has been going on in Kashmir for more than half a century.

The Srinagar seminar was called ‘Whither Kashmir? Enslavement or Freedom?’ It was really meant for young Kashmiris to deepen the debate on what they meant by and what they wanted from azadi. Contrary to the idea that it was some fire-breathing call to arms, it was really the opposite — it was about contemplation, about deepening the debate, about asking uncomfortable questions. Continue reading

Interview with Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani

Frontlines has received the following comment on this interview from the MLM Revolutionary Study Group in the US,

“In contemporary times, revolutionary Marxists, Leninists and Maoists have insisted on the necessity of building revolutionary political forces among the basic masses, and uniting all who can be united in struggle against imperialism and reactionary regimes. The relationship between these two tasks has never been more complex than in recent years, with the rise of new Islamic and nationalist forces which have been playing a more prominent and contentious role among the masses, especially in the Middle East and Asia. Communists in India, the Philippines and Turkey have built united fronts with nationalist and Islamic movements while maintaining the political independence and integrity of the proletarian and peasant revolutionary forces.'”

28 October, 2010, New Age Islam Foundation

Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Jamaat-e Islami of Jammu and Kashmir is a veteran Kashmiri politician. Presently, he heads the Tehrik-e Hurriyat-e Jammu Kashmir. He talks about the Kashmir conflict and its possible solution in this exclusive interview with Yoginder Sikand.

Q: In your writings, and in those of other similar Islamist ideologues, the Kashmir conflict is often described as a war between Islam and ‘disbelief’. Do you really think it is so? Is it not a political struggle or a nationalist struggle, actually?

A: The Kashmir dispute is a fall-out of the Partition of India. The Muslim-majority parts of British India became Pakistan, and the Hindu-majority regions became the Dominion of India. There were, at that time, some 575 princely states in India under indirect British rule. Lord Mountbatten gave them the choice of joining either India or Pakistan, and instructed that their choice must be guided by the religious composition of their populace as well as by the borders they might share with either India or Pakistan, as the case might be.

On this basis, almost all the princely states opted for either India or Pakistan. There were, however, three exceptions to this. Hyderabad, a Hindu-majority state with a Muslim ruler, opted for independence, but India argued against this on the grounds that the state had a Hindu majority, and so ordered the Police Action to incorporate the state into the Indian Dominion. Junagadh, another Hindu-majority state with a Muslim ruler, opted for Pakistan, but India over-ruled this decision, again on account of the state’s Hindu majority, and annexed it. Continue reading

Indian government backs off on filing charges against Arundhati, Geelani

Writer and activist Arundhati Roy addresses a seminar ‘Whither Kashmir: Freedom or enslavement', organised by the Coalition of Civil Societies, in Srinagar, on Sunday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

The Hindu

New Delhi, October 26, 2010

Siddharth Varadarajan

The Union government has no intention of filing criminal charges against Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, writer Arundhati Roy and others who spoke in favour of ‘azadi’ for Jammu and Kashmir at a seminar here last week, highly placed sources told The Hindu on Tuesday.

The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is taking a strident position, insisting that a case of sedition be lodged against those who spoke at the seminar, but the Centre believes that acting on this demand will undermine the fragile dialogue process the government’s three interlocutors have begun in Srinagar.

With Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari urging those Kashmiris raising slogans in favour of ‘azadi’ to put their thoughts down in writing, the irony of criminalising a mere speech has not been lost on New Delhi.

“We knew the BJP would try and make the holding of the seminar an issue,” the sources said, adding police permission for the public event was given because the organisers could easily have gone to court had the authorities tried pre-emptively to gag them. The meeting was thus videographed, and the proceedings were scrutinised.

The sources said permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs was not needed for the police to file a case of sedition, but added that North Block did not believe that charging or arresting Mr. Geelani and Ms. Roy made sense. Continue reading

Some historical background on the struggle for self-determination in Kashmir


The division of Kashmir, dating back to the India-Pakistan war of 1947--a legacy of British colonialism

This is an excerpt from an article by a World to Win News Service dated October 25, 2010.

Kashmir lies on the northern borders of India and Pakistan. Its more than 12 million people are mainly involved in farming or work in workshops and small factories making shawls, rugs and carpets. Kashmir’s population is multi-ethnic and multi-religious, with a Moslem majority but also many Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Christians.

After World War 2, before British imperialism ended its formal rule and left the subcontinent, the colonialists deliberately aggravated the differences between various nationalities and religions, as they did in other parts of the world.

This policy resulted in the partition of the former colony of India and the creation of the country of Pakistan after a bloody war between Hindus and Moslem that led to millions of deaths and several millions refugees. It was the biggest displacement history had ever seen until then.

After partition and the creation of Pakistan, the subcontintent’s small states that had never been under direct British colonial rule were not allowed to choose whether or not they wanted to be independent. In practice, they were forced to choose to be part of India or Pakistan. Continue reading

The right to dissent in India, and for a plebescite in Kashmir: Please endorse

Statement from the Concerned Citizens of India on Kashmir

We are deeply concerned at the recent media reports of possible cases of ‘sedition’ to be levelled against some of the speakers at the public convention on Kashmir held in New Delhi on 21 October 2010 titled “Azadi: The Only Way” organized by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners(CRPP) with sections of political forces fomenting jingoistic feelings. We are appalled to find how impatient sections of the Indian society have become, and how attempts are consistently being made to silence voices of dissent by the Indian government by branding such voice crying for justice as ‘seditious’—a term the new Indian state borrowed from the days of the British raj.

We strongly believe that freedom of speech and expression is an in-alienable fundamental right guaranteed under the Indian constitution which can never be curbed in a country which boasts of ‘having the largest democracy in the world’.

We also strongly feel that the Kashmir issue is a political issue which has a history since the late 1940s and that history makes it amply clear that the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir would have to be decided through a plebiscite under the supervision of the United Nations as testified also by the existence of a UN office at Srinagar since then.

We strongly demand that instead of trying to gag the voices of sanity and justice through violent means, the Government of India should come forthwith in addressing the most vital political issue—the issue of exercising the right of self-determination and openly invite the people of all parts of Jammu & Kashmir to come forward and decide their own future through plebiscite under the supervision of United Nations as accepted by the Nehru-led Indian government itself.

Kolkata, 27 October 2010

Continue reading