Dear Members of the visiting Congress delegation,
KCSDS is an Advocacy Centre and the largest civil society formation in the state. It highlights and carries out advocacy on all issues of economic, social, cultural, environmental and political nature It also acts as a watchdog on the government. In other words, it builds an opinion on important issues facing the state on the universal principles of justice, human rights, equity and genuine democratic principles.
We the members of Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies put before you the following points for your thoughtful consideration, introspection and necessary course correction in your attitude and policy towards Kashmir.
1. First of all, let us remind you that it was Congress Government in India that pledged Right to self-determination to the formerly princely state in UNSC, and promised the same to people of Kashmir in Lal Chowk, in Indian Parliament and through communication channels very emphatically.
It was Congress Govt to whom Maharaja Hari Singh as a Sovereign of the state ceded only three areas on which it could make laws to which the Governor-General put a rider that in case of dispute, the matter should be referred to people for the final disposition of the state. It was in view of the conditional accession and UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir passed in 1948 and 1949 that Indian Constituent Assembly ( on the advocacy of Pt Nehru) included Article 370 as a temporary article in Indian constitution to define the constitutional \ administrative relationship of Kashmir with the Indian Union till the final settlement of the dispute.
But you began the relationship not only by reneging on all your commitments but violating each with impunity. You extended Act after Act of your constitution to our state to rob us of our residual sovereignty like 356, 357, 355 , changed the nomenclature of prime minister and sadre riyasat, abolished the entry permit system into Kashmir in 1960, discarded sadre- Reyasat as a permanent resident of the state, elected by JK Legislature . All that was done by questionable electoral practices.
2. To begin with, you turned a blind eye to the genocide of Muslims in Jammu in 1947 and saw to it that it does not find a mention in the history books. In fact, you rewarded some of the perpetrators of the carnage.
3. Your Government pandered to the will of RSS and such Hindu extremist groups from the very beginning in relation to Kashmir and committed the first murder of democracy by arresting Sheikh Abdullah, the prime minister of Kashmir in 1953 at the behest of the propaganda launched by RSS in Jammu and imprisoned him for 13 years on fabricated charges as present Govt is doing to Hurriyat leaders. After that, you never looked back but manipulated and prostituted democracy to engineer puppet governments in the state to do your bidding.
4. Congress Governments tried not only to territorialize but Hinduize Kashmir through cultural aggression through various institutions and even by politicizing Amarnath Yatra in recent years at the risk of environmental vandalism and ecological degradation of the fragile ecosystem in the region. Your regimes let the puppet governments. In the state do havoc with the environment and the forest land. Militarization has completely devastated our limited space and desecrated the sacred spaces of environment though-out the length and breadth of the state. In fact, it is your tilt toward the extreme right from the very inception of the modern Indian state that is responsible for the emergence in a big way of RSS-BJP Juggernaut in your country today. The jinni is out of the bottle and now you find it extremely difficult to put it back in its space. They have decimated all opposition including the biggest opposition, your congress party
5. Your government presided over the genocide of Kashmiris till 2014 when BJP took over the reins of power to better the example set by your government. All the fundamental rights and freedoms and civil liberties were suspended in response to the intensified demand by people to exercise the right to self-determination. In 1989-90 the slogan of Azadi not only symbolized popular protest against the denial of democracy but more so for freedom from Indian rule and restoration of dignity which was acutely felt had been violated by the Indian state. As simmering resentment transformed into mass rebellion, central government flung Kashmir into a virtual military rule- marking its descent into a state of militarization from which it is yet to emerge. Your govt made Kashmir the laboratory for giving security structure the supremacy over the democratic govt. So much so that even when your home minister Mr. Chidambaram advocated the withdrawal of AFSPA, it was army General who opposed the move and got it derailed by the pressure it builds up on your government.
6. The transformation of the military by your government into an agent of domestic repression, arbitrary detention, extra -judicial killing, torture, rape and sexual abuse constitutes part of the process of militarization. In a context characterized by the elimination of the distinction between war and human rights abuse, the military functions as an agent of the state not only not bound by the rules of war, the rule of law but in fact empowered to violate each with impunity. Kashmir exemplifies the intersection between militarization for external defense and use of the military for domestic repression that has transformed the Indian state into a source of deep insecurity for its citizens in the state and converted the Indian army into an illegitimate agent of oppression. Both, in turn seriously undermined the democratic credentials of the state.
7. In fact, it is your Govt. that obfuscated and mystified the real issue by giving it any name other what it is in reality. It tried to change the whole rightist discourse into a discourse of cross-border terrorism thereby justifying the highest militarization and securitization of Kashmir. Instead of taking steps to resolve the issue according to universal principles of justice, democratic principles, you gave a free hand to your agencies not only to terrorize us with the use of brute force but to intensify divisions in the state- religious, sectarian and regional to create a blizzard of viewpoints, a babble of voices to stall a just and democratic solution of Kashmir imbroglio. Over the years you generated a postmodernist discourse on Kashmir whereby each voice other than that of the majority community is privileged in the state. General Sinha, the Governor, actively put in place a psychological war in the state and tried to prolong yatra for at least six months by installing artificial shiv lingam in the cave. Your agencies created the dreaded force of renegades from among Kashmiris to create havoc as counterinsurgency brutal tactics in the state. Your agencies further tried to fracture the monolithic narrative of Kashmir freedom movement by creating dissension even within our community. Naturally to build consensus in such a situation you thought is an impossible dream and this way you found an escape route to wriggle out of the issue altogether. You demonized rising voices against your dirty business in Kashmir from India like Arundhati Roy so that truth never prevails.
8 You shattered our economy from 1947 through slow poisoning. You never made Kashmir part of the growth trajectory of your country. Till 1947 our trade ratio was to our benefit. You have reduced us to a dependent consumer economy and made it possible for NHPC to loot and scramble our water resources; whereas we are plunged into darkness in winters, our power is enjoyed by people in the north.
8. Narasimha Rao promised, “sky is the limit” to resolve the dispute but never moved an inch forward on the resolution. In fact, your governments only moved backward regressively by using draconian tactics to control the populace.
11. You appointed five working groups for recommending CBMS, only to put the recommendations in the dustbin of history.
12. You appointed interlocutors only to deflect the attention of the world from your dirty doings in Kashmir. That is why you did not even care to look at their recommendations.
13. Your unique gifts to Kashmir have been extreme repression, the militarization of the society, brutality and brutalization, enforced disappearances, the horror of pellet guns, fake encounters, torture, rape, custodial extrajudicial killings, murders by invisible hands beside the visible ones and the list is too long to mention here.
14. Your performance in Parliament regarding the resolution of Kashmir has been a huge disappointment. You have buried your principles to appease the right wing anti-Kashmir, anti-Muslim ideology.
Kashmiris are insulted, humiliated, demonized and ridiculed by the corporate media under a Govt sponsored agenda, and your response to this character assassination has been dismal. In fact, even your spokespersons join the ‘ heavenly choir’ of RSS-BJP brigade in this war propaganda! But the media as the predator rather than the protector of human rights and dignity started during your era. Ironically the said media demonizes the victims of repression and lionizes the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity. The prime-time slot is used for anti-Kashmiri propaganda. Every day since BJP took over, but you have never raised a finger against it. You used the hanging of even Afzal Guru as a double-edged weapon to pander to the RSS brigade on the one hand and to stall the juggernaut of Modi on the other. But you failed miserably in both. This is what happens when you set aside your principles for expediency. You could not communicate to people your glowing achievements in India during your tenure but tried to outsmart BJP in appeasement of the rightist ideology which brought your downfall.
Since BJP took over, it has been a descent into hell. They not only followed your footsteps but have been trying to outdo you in every aspect of life in Kashmir. Besides brutally killing small boys every day who join militancy out of the extreme repression, and used the pellet gun to spread the dark vision it has envisioned for Kashmir, and in spite of world, condemnation has not removed it from the field. It has denied any political space to Hurriyat and is trying to decimate them by using NIA now under Doval doctrine to crush the entire movement. They have made elaborate plans of changing the demography of the state by identifying land for Sanik colonies, separate pandit enclaves, earmarked some twenty thousand crores for building shelters for roughly five lac homeless persons from outside the state under NULM central scheme and now seeking a judicial route to abrogate article 35A as the final solution to Kashmir dispute. The repression has reached extreme limits, and only bold political initiative could retrieve the situation.
It extended SARFESI Act, Central Statistical Act and now GST within a short span of time to bury the remnants of the residual sovereignty of the state. PDP has become a willing handmaid of BJP and succumbs before it on every issue for remaining in power.
We were self-reliant till 1947 with surplus trade on our side, but today we have been reduced to dependent consumer economy with the fraudulent policies of the center to weaken our economic power The center never gave counter guarantees to foreign investors in our proposed power projects.
This Civil Society deposed before Justice Verma commission constituted in the aftermath of Nirbaya episode. While Verma Commission recommended that rape should be delinked from the line of duty which is granted immunity from prosecution in case of violations under the purview of AFPSA, it was a Congress Minister, Mr. Ashwani who opposed it on the plea that such a move will demoralize the forces and your govt rejected the recommendation.
It was Karan Singh who patronized the West Pakistani Refugees to raise voice for permanent residence in and outside Parliament to change the demographics and politics of Kashmir.
1. First and foremost, for making a forward movement, you owe it to the Indian people to educate them about the genesis of Kashmir issue and the pledges made to Kashmiris from time to time by the government of India which has remained unfulfilled.
2.Demonstrate your sincerity and seriousness by educating the public opinion, talking about the issue in all relevant fora including the parliament and earn the confidence of people of JK by promoting settlement of Kashmir by the promises made to the people of Kashmir.
3.Educate the Indian public about the actual reasons behind the temporary nature of 370 and article 35A as a protective article of the residual sovereignty of the state. Because the state had a sovereign position when it entered into a limited conditional relationship with the Indian union. Kashmir has given India a jurisdiction over three areas, even though the majority of Kashmiris interrogate the legitimacy of accession document itself. Be that as it may, India has not granted any particular position to the state We are the givers and you are the receivers and not vice versa. Hence the argument that India has given us special status is false and factually wrong. This false impression you need to correct by using various communication channels with the people of India to tell them that India has not granted any special status to Kashmir. Instead, Kashmir has given India some of its sovereign powers.
4. Advocate a halt to all coercive measures resorted to discrediting the leadership and businessmen by so-called investigation of their belongings.
5. Float a proposal in parliament for the Restoration of the pre-1953 position as a grand CBM to be followed by the final resolution through meaningful time bound tripartite negotiations.
6.Emphasize on Demilitarizing the entire civilian space and sending the army and other forces to their respective original places from where they came.
7. Withdrawal of draconian laws like AFSPA, PSA, NSA and other such laws forthwith.
8. Sensitize Indian masses about the actual story of the Kashmir issue.
9. Advocate an end to all human rights abuses and violations and punishment to the guilty personnel and restoration of all civil and political liberties.
10. To atone for its wrongs, let Congress members educate public through their writings in daily papers and taking time slots on prime time TV channels, to tell the truth about Kashmir.
11. Let leading congress lawyers like M/s Kapil Sibal, Singhvi & Tewari appear before SC to defend Article 35A.
These are the only tip of the iceberg. The real story of enormous suffering and tragedies remain untold in the short space. In fact, it is almost impossible to make you understand what Kashmir is and has gone through especially for the past three decades of attack on all human rights and freedoms.
O’ intelligence give me the exact word
So that my word becomes the thing itself, the experience itself
Freshly created by my soul
So that you can understand what it means to be held against your will, to be imprisoned in your soil by forces which are alien to you and who are ever ready to pounce on you!