Chinore wakes up to terror 28 Aug 2008, 0157 hrs IST,TNN

28 08 2008
source:TOI
JAMMU: “I wonder why political parties and human rights proponents insist on the human rights of terrorists while common people don’t even seem to have the right to live” — this from Sohan Lal Sharma, who witnessed the encounter between security forces and fidayeen that jolted Chinore on Wednesday.

“I’ll never forget this black Wednesday. I was on a morning walk around 5.30am with friends when we heard what sounded like gunshots,” recalls Sohan, a student of MSc (Information Technology). Perplexed, they looked in the direction from where the shots were heard. When they couldn’t quite get a hang of what had happened, they returned to their morning exercises, thinking it could have been crackers.

Half an hour later, Sohan says his mobile phone rang. “It was for a friend. His mother had called on my phone and, sounding distraught, asked us to get back to our homes quickly. Apparently, she had heard the news that terrorists had sneaked into the area and were engaged in a gunbattle with army jawans.”

Within a minute of her call, the father of another friend phoned, Sohan said, scolding them for strolling around in a place that was far too dangerous. “We realised at once the danger we were in. Terrorists had hit our locality. It left us cold for a minute,” he says.

It was barely a few months ago, in May, that infiltrators had struck at Samba. “While the two terrorists were killed, the photographer, Ashok Sodhi, along with five others was killed during that encounter with terrorists,” Sohan recalls with a shudder.

They immediately turned back and began walking away from the rattle of gunshots, making sure not to run and attract the attention of the army or the police. As they walked, the entire area was cordoned off. “We stopped there. Soon, the security forces began retaliatory fire. We knew it was dangerous to be there but couldn’t help it. Those who had been called by their parents returned home while I hung around,” says Sohan.

“Between deathly silences, there were these crackles of gunfire. Army vehicles kept moving in. Around 9 am, heavy firing began and continued until afternoon. I thought the idea was to ensure that the terrorists ran out of ammunition. But the terrorists were able to sustain by periodic firing. One of them was apparently shot. That’s what we heard,” he says.

Mediapersons, he remembers, were asked to enter the cordoned off area only in bulletproof gear. The security forces were not going to take any chances after the Samba encounter. As the day came to an end, Sohan recalls with expectation, the army and other paramilitary forces had tightened their noose around the house in which they had holed up.

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Exiles in ghettos keep fire blazing SANKARSHAN THAKUR Agnishekhar Muthi (Jammu), Aug. 24: They live eight, often ten or twelve, to a room. To call th

25 08 2008
Exiles in ghettos keep fire blazing

Muthi (Jammu), Aug. 24: They live eight, often ten or twelve, to a room. To call them rooms is a stretch; hovels is more appropriate — barely six by eight, the asbestos ceilings knocked low over them, a vast and suffocating narrow-laned warren. They do with temporary power pulled on illicit lines, they have little access to water, they share unsanitary community bathrooms. They live marooned in the putrid discharge oozing from them, amid foraging pigs and pie-dogs.

These are Kashmiri Pandits uprooted from their Valley moorings two decades ago, and Muthi, on the forsaken outskirts of Jammu, is their home — a blistered tinderbox of frustration and rage, spewing communal pus. In Muthi, and other similar “migrant camps” littered around Jammu, could lie some of the clues to why this crisis has caught fires that refuse to die.

It’s so angry, it doesn’t even want to talk. “Go away, just go away,” protests P.N. Dhar, a former government employee and community leader. “What have you come here now for? To use us to douse the fires those (expletive deleted) Kashmiri Muslims are lighting up? Too late, now it’s our turn to light the fires, to get some notice from this country.”

Men from the ghetto have gathered around Dhar and it is instantly evident they have unspent payloads of fury and hatred accumulated over the years; they are now letting it off.

“This country has only been bothered about (expletive deleted) who carry Pakistani flags and spit on patriots,” says Sahabji Chrungoo, originally from Baramulla. “Nobody came when we were thrown out, nobody bothered when we were killed, nobody listened when we warned secession had gripped Kashmir. But how long could you have ignored it? This had to happen. If we have to light fires now to get attention, so be it. But this time, we will have it our way.”

As an unprecedented regional-communal conflict consumes the state, the Valley’s ousted Kashmiri Pandits have become Jammu’s sword-arm in battle. It’s a sword smelted in decades of unassuaged grievance and of rancour and prejudice. It’s a sword that has verily stabbed the celebrated and inclusive notion of “Kashmiriyat” to death and invoked in its place a ghoulish spectre of intolerance that threatens to extend the current rift.

Agnishekhar, convener of Panun Kashmir, the umbrella body of ousted Pandits, isn’t even remorseful or apologetic about pronouncing “Kashmiriyat” dead.

“What about it?” he asks combatively. “Where is composite culture when all Hindus have been driven out of the Valley, out of their homes and farmlands? They killed Kashmiriyat, not us. Don’t expect secularism of us when you are pandering to all shades of Islam and anti-nationalism in the Valley. Who is secular in the Valley that Jammu is being called communal in contrast? Those who are unleashing cries of Nizam-e-Mustafa (Islamic rule)?”

The Panun Kashmir leader won’t openly admit it, but the strident “Bam-Bam Bole” movement across Jammu is an hour of vindication that he is loath to let go of.

“We have been waiting for this for long,” he says. “Jammu didn’t exactly welcome us when we were driven out of the Valley in 1989-90, we haven’t had it easy here. But now Jammu seems to have understood what the problem with Kashmiri Muslims is, it has risen and we are with Jammu. This is not about land in Amarnath, this is about a deeper malaise of which Amarnath is only a symptom. Kashmir has held India to ransom for too long, now it is our turn. Half the Kashmiri leadership deserves to be put behind bars for sedition, we deserve to be reinstated to our homes.”

Does he realistically believe, though, that he and his fellow Pandits can make their way back to the Valley laden with such loathing? That they can even, in this surcharge, visualise the “yatra” to Amarnath proceeding next year?

“That is for the government to ensure,” Agnishekhar says. “Why does the law of the land not run in Kashmir, can Indians not go there? The government and secularists of this country have nothing to say of the anti-national Islamists of Kashmir, all they can do is blame us. What for? For agitating with the national flag?”

As his Muthi compatriots gather, a little clutch that has mushroomed in minutes, Agnishekhar, also a Hindi writer of fair renown, crossly throws off the burden of bigotry from his doorstep.

“I was once known as a progressive writer, until they threw me out for protesting the ouster of Pandits and began calling me a religious zealot. But should I not even protest my circumstances? Won’t you if you were thrown out of home? Hum aah bhi karen to ho jaate hain badnaam, woh katl bhi karen to charcha nahin hota (I get defamed if I so much as complain, they commit murder and yet get no blame).”

Agnishekhar claims no allegiance to the BJP or the Hindu rightwing, he’s been a Congressman all his life, paid obeisance to Nehru. He does concede, though, that today his worldview is closer to the Hindu rightwing.

“Where are Nehru’s children, where is the Congress, feeding the Muslim communalists of the Valley?” he asks. “It’s the BJP that helped us in crisis, if anybody did, we have to be grateful. And now we have to fight its battle to the very end.”

The assemblage behind him, virulently anti-Muslim and sporting saffron bandannas, is ominously nodding approval.





A word of caution for SS

24 08 2008

A word of caution for SS

–>

By K.N. Pandita

Sangarsh Samiti’s (SS) call for strike has entered 54th day. It is a long and unprecedented event in the history of Jammu.

Congress has come out with a warning asking SS to wind up the agitation. How should this be interpreted?

Tactically, SS is at some slight disadvantage. The agitation started with opposition to the withdrawal of land allocation order by the government. The catalyst to mass movement was Governor Vohra’s insult to Jammu people.

That was New Delhi’s brief for him.. Even Congressman, Mr. Mangat Ram is reported to have told the Governor that Jammu stir would not last more than two or three days. Politicians with short vision have tremendous capacity for self delusion.

The SS focused on the land – deal issue whereas other chronic issues of immense importance — mostly political and economic — cropped up as agitation intensified. Vigorous debates in the media made it amply clear that the Amarnath land deal notwithstanding; there were much more serious issues that needed to be addressed, and particularly the issue of discrimination of Jammu by Srinagar regime.

New Delhi Sultans are veering round the option of withdrawiang both government orders and upholding and implementing the court decision on Amarnath yatra.

In what may be called the farcical talks of All Party Committee, the official side meticulously tenaciously stuck to the land-deal issue and skirted the issue of discrimination, deprivation and lack of development in Jammu region.

Congress circles in New Delhi have not hidden their traditional malice against Jammu nationalist forces by alleging that the groundswell in Kashmir valley happened because SS went out of its way to play its agitation card. Economic blockade of the valley, which never was there, was invented to stir up emotions and mobilize people.

As New Delhi is circumventing the issue of discrimination against Jammu, it is bound to put SS is in an embarrassing situation abut how to shift emphasis from land allocation issue to discrimination issue. Playing its card cleverly, New Delhi wants to hold the bull by its horns.

SS should make the core purpose of the mass movement very clear to the people who have stakes. and more importantly to the state and central teams involved in talks. It means redrawing tactics of mass movement.

Full emphasis has to be laid on self-rule rights of the Jammu region without jeopardizing national interests or the interests of any other group. If the argument is that such a demand would mean secession of Kashmir Valley from the Indian Union, then the Indian leadership has been misleading the world for last six decades.

SS has to understand that New Delhi Sultans will never concede anything to the people of Jammu. The reason is the Kashmir heavyweight. It is of no importance to them that Pakistani flags were hoisted all over the valley on the day of funeral procession of slain Hurriyat leader. It is of no significance to them that hundreds of thousands tried to reach Muzaffarabad crossing LoC. They are happy with the idea that they manage flawed elections in J&K where one or the other party comes to power and India has a face saving.

If these elections were not farcical, why should the mainstream political leadership have vomited anti-India and anti-Hindu venom? Why should have they called it invasion of Hindu civilization on Kashmir? What are their “elected” NLAs and MPs doing when their mass base is eroded?

How long can a farcical game go on? Nowhere in the world has peoples’ mass movement been defeated. Nowhere has the might of the state succeeded in suppressing people’s voice.

Therefore the wise thing for the Indian rulers to do is to go in for referendum in all the three regions and decide according to the wishes of the people. It is time that a bluff is called to six-decade-long Kashmir blackmail.

If the Muslims of Kashmir want to get rid of Indian stranglehold, Jammu people of all shades of colour and content want to get rid of Srinagar stranglehold.

SS has performed its role very well. The time has come it should incorporate total autonomy for all the three regions in the agenda of its political movement. This is the time and this is the opportunity. The call comes from the masses of Jammu, as does form those of Kashmir and Ladakh. A democracy has to respect the wishes of people.. New Delhi may like getting blackmailed for unknown reasons but the Jammuites have all the reason in the world to get disappointed with Srinagar and New Delhi leadership as long as their right to self-rule remains suppressed.





Agitation in Jammu and Kashmir: A study in contrast

21 08 2008

Source: TOI
JAMMU: The peaceful demonstrations in this otherwise bustling city, in stark contrast to the high decibel protests in Srinagar, said it all.

If the idea was to play on the contrast with Srinagar in communicating that they have been differentiated against, Jammu’s agitationists succeeded in sending across the message quite clearly. In prominence are community langars in every locality where daily wagers and the poor are being fed by households that can cook their meals even as the more than month-long bandh continues. The picture is one of bonhomie among citizens, irrespective of denomination.

And clearly, any attempt to suggest that a single political party has taken over the movement that the Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti has sustained for 53 days is clearly a non-starter. There is a rare unity to be seen in Jammu for a cause that seems to have built up over years of what the people here see as institutionalised neglect.

Also, there is a careful attempt to ensure that it does not take a communal turn. This was clear when a local BJP leader confided that a proposal by Baba Ramdev to join the movement by marching up to the Amarnath shrine with a contingent of sadhus had to be stalled, so that it did not create communal trouble and spoil the “legitimate demand” to allow the shrine board to use the adjacent land for pilgrims’ facilities.

Even BJP, which has taken up the Amarnath issue to build up a national level campaign against the ruling Congress for “offending the sentiments of Hindu pilgrims”, has had to redraw plans to participate in a rally organised by the Sangharsh Samiti.

In fact, BJP has called it “communication gap” between the two organisations. Going on the backfoot after being snubbed by Sangharsh Samiti chief Leela Karan Sharma, who denied there were any plans for a rally, leave aside any invitation to BJP leaders L K Advani and Rajnath Singh to participate, the party’s state president Ashok Khajuria told TOI , “The Sangharsh Samiti is the last word on this movement and BJP is only one among its 42 member units and hence will follow what the Samiti says.”

Interestingly, a good number of field level National Conference and PDP workers in Jammu have joined the Samiti. Surinder Singh Shinghari of NC, a corporator from the city’s Bakshinagar area, has resigned from his party and post and joined the movement. He is not the only one.

It is not easy for a city that thrives essentially on trading and business activities to sustain complete closure of shops and business establishments for 53 days without having any idea as to how much longer they will have to take it. Leela Karan Sharma said, “We are ready to talk as equals to all – the Centre, Kashmiri leaders – but only if our core issue of allowing the High Court order on the land is reverted back to.”





Colours of patriotism paint Jammu

21 08 2008

Source: Daiy pioneer

Kumar Uttam | Jammu

Tricolour in hand, protesters shout ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’

The sun is about to set on the city and the roundabout is deserted. A youth suddenly emerges from one of the bylanes, carrying a National Flag in his hand and shouting slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. Soon, the solitary protest at Kacchi Chhawani Chowk in ‘paralaysed’ Jammu turns into a mass frenzy as hundreds join him to express solidarity for a cause that has gone far beyond the Amarnath land row.

In fact, the Tricolour has united people in this winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir to fight the “neglect” they faced in the last 60 years. The controversy over allotment of a land plot to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board was a mere flashpoint. “We raised the Tricolour and were greeted with bullets. They (separatists) in Kashmir hoisted Pakistan’s flag and brought the Government to its knees. It will not be allowed to continue any more,” thunders Subhash Dogra, a protester.

Everyone in Jammu has suddenly turned leader, brushing aside allegations that “communal elements” are controlling the movement. “We are leaders in ourselves. Nobody is leading us. We are ready to face problems today to ensure a better future for the generations,” adds Gurpreet Singh, owner of a few taxis. Though he has been getting no business for 50 days, he is ready to bear the losses for “many more months” but not the humiliation at the hands of the Government.

Everyone in Jammu has just one complaint. “Kashmir wants freedom, we love our country. They got everything, we were left empty-handed,” people living in the Mishriwalla refugee camp on the Jammu-Akhnoor highway say.

A senior employee in the Divisional Commissioner’s office revealed more. “You don’t get promotions on time if you are not from the valley. Jammu has more population and area, but Kashmir gets better representation in all Government bodies and organisations. Jammu contributes the most to the State’s exchequer, but Kashmir reaps the benefits. Electricity dues are more in Kashmir, but Jammu faces power cuts,” he told The Pioneer.

The Amarnath controversy has come in handy for all those who nurse the “wound of neglect”. They are in no double minds — the Government revoked the allotment of the land to the shrine board for a Hindu yatra under pressure from the same separatists whom they have been appeasing since Independence.

“We have to restore the pride of Baba Amarnath and that of Jammu. We are not going to be defeated at the hands of the anti-nationals. We will be on the roads until the target is achieved,” says 80-year-old Anil Sharma, as he and his grandson Ankit raise slogan of ‘Bam Bam Bhole’ outside Sarwal police post in Rewari locality.

Police have lost public sympathy (they allegedly fired at peaceful protesters and manhandled many) and the Army faces a situation it never confronted before. “How can you expect us to fire at them or even wield a lathi when they come with a Tricolour in their hands and shout slogans in favour of us?” says an Armyman posted in the most sensitive Kacchi Chhawani Chowk of Jammu.

Jammu has been simmering for the last 60 years. It for the first time they have been heard.





Colours of patriotism paint Jammu

21 08 2008

Source: Daiy pioneer

Kumar Uttam | Jammu

Tricolour in hand, protesters shout ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’

The sun is about to set on the city and the roundabout is deserted. A youth suddenly emerges from one of the bylanes, carrying a National Flag in his hand and shouting slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. Soon, the solitary protest at Kacchi Chhawani Chowk in ‘paralaysed’ Jammu turns into a mass frenzy as hundreds join him to express solidarity for a cause that has gone far beyond the Amarnath land row.

In fact, the Tricolour has united people in this winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir to fight the “neglect” they faced in the last 60 years. The controversy over allotment of a land plot to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board was a mere flashpoint. “We raised the Tricolour and were greeted with bullets. They (separatists) in Kashmir hoisted Pakistan’s flag and brought the Government to its knees. It will not be allowed to continue any more,” thunders Subhash Dogra, a protester.

Everyone in Jammu has suddenly turned leader, brushing aside allegations that “communal elements” are controlling the movement. “We are leaders in ourselves. Nobody is leading us. We are ready to face problems today to ensure a better future for the generations,” adds Gurpreet Singh, owner of a few taxis. Though he has been getting no business for 50 days, he is ready to bear the losses for “many more months” but not the humiliation at the hands of the Government.

Everyone in Jammu has just one complaint. “Kashmir wants freedom, we love our country. They got everything, we were left empty-handed,” people living in the Mishriwalla refugee camp on the Jammu-Akhnoor highway say.

A senior employee in the Divisional Commissioner’s office revealed more. “You don’t get promotions on time if you are not from the valley. Jammu has more population and area, but Kashmir gets better representation in all Government bodies and organisations. Jammu contributes the most to the State’s exchequer, but Kashmir reaps the benefits. Electricity dues are more in Kashmir, but Jammu faces power cuts,” he told The Pioneer.

The Amarnath controversy has come in handy for all those who nurse the “wound of neglect”. They are in no double minds — the Government revoked the allotment of the land to the shrine board for a Hindu yatra under pressure from the same separatists whom they have been appeasing since Independence.

“We have to restore the pride of Baba Amarnath and that of Jammu. We are not going to be defeated at the hands of the anti-nationals. We will be on the roads until the target is achieved,” says 80-year-old Anil Sharma, as he and his grandson Ankit raise slogan of ‘Bam Bam Bhole’ outside Sarwal police post in Rewari locality.

Police have lost public sympathy (they allegedly fired at peaceful protesters and manhandled many) and the Army faces a situation it never confronted before. “How can you expect us to fire at them or even wield a lathi when they come with a Tricolour in their hands and shout slogans in favour of us?” says an Armyman posted in the most sensitive Kacchi Chhawani Chowk of Jammu.

Jammu has been simmering for the last 60 years. It for the first time they have been heard.





Giving Kashmir away? No way :: Rajiv Sikri

21 08 2008


Soure: Rediff.com
August 21, 2008

Is it an orchestrated coincidence or random chance that on August 17, two leading national dailies prominently carried commentaries advocating independence for the Kashmir Valley? With surprising ease and lack of angst, each author has argued in favour of secession by part of an integrally constituted state of the Union of India.

Tremendous efforts by all the state and non-state personae in Jammu & Kashmir and the rest of India over the last six decades have seen sharp ups and downs, almost see-saw phases in the feelings of alienation followed by assimilation, poverty followed by growing prosperity among the people of this state.

The last few years have brought in the most sustained period of political stability, free and fair elections, economic recovery and strengthening integration, achieved through painstaking efforts and sagacity by all players. Heading into the November 2008 state assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir, the separatist groups found themselves on the sidelines, threatened with further irrelevance and declining support should these elections be held as smoothly and with equally wide participation as those in 2002.

The Amarnath Yatra [Images] land issue that surfaced in June has been extremely poorly handled by the state and central governments at every stage. The nation needs answers and accountability about why in less than two months the marginalised separatist groups are once again being allowed to set the political agenda in the Valley. Why have no efforts been made to explain the reality of the proposed temporary land allocation scheme (for the Amarnath Yatra) to the agitating people in the Kashmir Valley? Why have the strong feelings of every community in Jammu over the cancellation of the allocation been so deliberately ignored and under-estimated? Why is it that even the most elementary efforts were not undertaken to disabuse the people of Kashmir Valley about a so-called economic blockade? If there was at any point the possibility of a shortage of essential supplies for the people of the Kashmir Valley this should have been overcome by arranging sufficient airlifts and/or trucking in such supplies through the alternative Manali-Leh route.

At the same time, no matter how serious these lapses, the answer cannot be to suggest that the Kashmir Valley be allowed to secede from India. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is as much a composite whole as the human body is. If there is an ailing part of the body, you diagnose the problem and take remedial measures, not carelessly, almost casually, suggest an excision and discarding of the offending section.

For those who advocate a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir [Images], there are some questions. Do they feel that Jammu and Kashmir legally and constitutionally cannot be considered a part of India? On what basis can there be a referendum in the Kashmir Valley, or separate referenda in Jammu, Ladakh and the Valley? On what basis can “independence” be considered as the so-called third option? Should the proposed referendum be based on the UN resolutions of August 1948 and January 1949? Or are such sentiments the manifestation of a simultaneous bout of exasperation and giving in to the separatists who have been quite unnecessarily allowed to mount pressures in a sudden reversal of the peaceful situation that existed in the state prior to June?

The UN resolutions of 1948/49 (adopted by the UN Commission for India and Pakistan) are unequivocal and specific in making the proposed plebiscite in all the five regions of Jammu and Kashmir conditional upon (i) withdrawal of Pakistani troops from all the areas of the state of Jammu and Kashmir that it has occupied (this includes PoK, the Northern Territories and the Shaksgam valley that has been ceded by Pakistan to China); and (ii) the withdrawal by Pakistan, from these occupied areas of Jammu and Kashmir, of their tribesmen and nationals not ordinarily resident in these areas. The UN Commission in an aide-memoire issued on January 14, 1949, stated that in the event of Pakistan not implementing these pre-conditions, India’s acceptance of the UN resolutions would no longer be binding on them.

As recently as March 2001 former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, speaking in Islamabad [Images], accepted the legal and practical difficulties in implementing the UN resolutions and hence their irrelevance. It is evident that the UN resolutions no longer provide any basis for holding referenda either in the Kashmir Valley or in Jammu and Ladakh.

Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, and will remain so. The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir itself recognises this. Any move to hold a referendum in any part of Jammu and Kashmir would contradict the fundamental statement in Section 3 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir that ‘the State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India’. Section 147 prohibits any amendment of Section 3 by the state legislature. In any case, India has stringent laws that forbid secessionist activity.

It is time that the people of India and all national political parties come out unequivocally against anyone who advocates secessionism. In this context, the print and electronic media too should be more responsible about giving prominence to such views.