The Hindu – Yashwant Sinha led Concerned Citizens’ Group report on J&K indicts Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Special Correspondent

Srinagar, 15 March 2018. The Concerned Citizens’ Group (CCG), led by former Union Minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, on Thursday said its members were disconcerted to find “the situation in Kashmir deteriorated” and “Jammu being communalised” during their latest visit to the State.

“Within the Valley, despite security forces’ successes, recruitment to the militant ranks was on the rise with even highly educated youngsters choosing to pick up the gun,” said the report, drafted by the group’s members, which include security expert Kapil Kak, journalist Bharat Bhushan and activist Sushobha Barve.

Jammu was being communalised for narrow political gains, the report said. “The rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim was being used to fan communal passions by local politicians,” it noted.

During their visit to the border areas, the group observed: “Year 2017 saw a six-fold increase in ceasefire violation compared to 2015. On the Indian side alone, over 40,000 civilians had to be evacuated in the areas near the International Border and the Line of Control.”

It said the “hopes of the Kashmiris in Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed to have been dashed.”

“They had thought that he [Mr. Modi] would carry forward the initiatives of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, now they felt that he has brought nothing but despair and disappointment in Kashmir,” the report said.


The Times of India – Soldier demands action against man who attacked his family

Shri Puri

Dharamshala – Himachal Pradesh – India, 2 March 2018. The Himachal soldier posted with the Sikh Regiment in Jammu and Kashmir, who had taken leave from duty to be with his family attacked by a man of the same village a month ago, has again demanded arrest or action against the accused.

While the police had registered a case and a recovered blood-stained axe from the spot, the accused has not been arrested on grounds of mental illness.

Sohan Singh had returned home on leave to “protect” his family after a government employee had attacked his elderly parents and wife.

“I can’t stay for long with my parents. Accused is still moving free, I demand at least some action against him to make him fearful of committing crime again.

The government should suspend him if he is mentally ill,” he said, adding that accused was a repeat offender and police had been informed of threat from him even before the incident took place.

Singh said the accused initially escaped arrest after getting himself admitted to the government hospital. “Before he could be discharged, he took bail from the court and thus has not been arrested,” he added.

Inquiries revealed that accused Rattan Chand was a government employee with the irrigation and public health department (I&PH).

“He was shown absent from duty for last one month. Despite that no action has been taken against him,” said Sohan Singh, who was going to meet the CM on his visit to Kangra on March 3.

The incident had occurred in last week of January 2018, when Rattan Chand entered the house of the soldier’s family and attacked all of them with a sharp axe.

Superintendent of police Santosh Patial said they had registered the case under sections 307, 452, 323, 506, 504 of IPC.

“We have also recovered blood stained weapon from the spot. The accused is on bail at present. But lawful action would be taken against him in this case” he added.

ANI News – Jinnah didn’t want a separate country: Farooq Abdullah

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 03 March 2018. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said that Muhammad Ali Jinnah didn’t want a separate country for Muslims, but happened due to the Indian leaders’ refusal to accept minority status for Muslims and Sikh in the country.

“Jinnah was not going to divide the country. The commission was delivered and the decision was taken that India would be divided. It said we will keep a special representation for Muslims. We will keep special dispensation for minorities and Sikh, but will not let the nation divide,” said Abdullah.

Abdullah further said it was political leaders’ Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad and Sardar Patel’s refusal to the commission that led to Jinaah’s demand for Pakistan.

Jinnah agreed but Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad and Sardar Patel did not agree. When this did not happen it was then that Jinnah demanded for Pakistan. Or else there would have been no separation. There would have been no Bangladesh, no Pakistan; there would have been one India,” said Abdullah.

The Hindu – Centre must take steps for comprehensive talks with Pakistan: Prakash Karat (CPM)

Says there is an urgent need for the Modi regime “to back off from blinkered confrontationist stance.”

New Delhi – India, 01 March 2018. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Thursday said that the government should shed its “confrontationist stance” and initiate talks for resumption of a comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan.

In the editorial in the latest edition of CPI-M organ Peoples’ Democracy, former general secretary Prakash Karat wrote that the government by “closing off all avenues for talks” with Pakistan, has “painted itself into a corner.”

“There is an urgent need to back off from blinkered confrontationist stance. First of all, there should be talks to restore the ceasefire and peace on the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border in Jammu and Kashmir.

Simultaneously, the government should initiate talks for the resumption of a comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan,” he said.

‘2017 saw highest number of violations’

In his piece titled ‘Reverse the no talks stance,’ Mr Karat said that even though the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had claimed the surgical strikes as the only “befitting reply” to the ceasefire violation by Pakistan, it could not stop the constant shelling and artillery fire by Pakistani army and attacks by extremists from across the border on army and BSF camps.

He has also reminded the government that since the ceasefire was put in place in November 2003, the year 2017 witnessed the highest number of violations.

There were 860 incidents across the LoC and another 120 on the international border and the situation has worsened in the last three months with December 2017 and the first two months of 2018 with 400 violations in the first two months of this year, he pointed out.

‘One-dimensional view to blame’

The Left leader has also alleged that the Modi government’s “one-dimensional view” that all protests and separatist demands are Pakistan-inspired has prevented it from taking any serious step for a political dialogue within Jammu and Kashmir.

“Its purely security and militaristic approach has further worsened the situation in the valley,” he said.

Mr Karat suggested that the government initiate confidence-building measures, which can be done along with the government making it clear that it will continue to take firm measures to check cross border infiltration of extremists.

The CPI(M) leader also emphasised that the government must realise that despite all its “bluster and nationalistic posturing” on Kashmir, a dialogue with Pakistan is an essential part of arriving at a “political settlement” on the Jammu and Kashmir issue.

The Hindu – Shutdown call by separatists affects life, restrictions imposed in Srinagar

Srinagar-Jammu & Kashmir-India, 17 February 2018. Life in Srinagar was affected due to a strike called by separatists to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to stay an FIR against Army personnel in the Shopian firing, while restrictions were imposed in parts of the city to maintain law and order.

According to a police official, strict restrictions under CrPC Section 144 have been imposed in Nowhatta, Rainawari, Khanyar, Safakadal and M R Gunj police station areas of the city, while partial restrictions were in force in Maisuma and Kralkhud areas.

Restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of the strike called by separatists, he said.

Life was affected elsewhere in the city as most of the shops, business establishments and fuel stations were shut, while public transport was off the roads, the official said.

However, private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws were seen plying in many areas of the city where there were no restrictions, he said, adding similar reports were received from other district headquarters of the Valley.

Separatist groups on Thursday had called for a complete shutdown in Kashmir on February 17 to protest against the apex court’s decision.

The Joint Resistance Leadership, comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammed Yasin Malik, had issued a statement criticising the apex court for restraining the Jammu and Kashmir Police from taking any coercive steps against Army officers accused in the Shopian firing case.

Three civilians were killed when Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village in Shopian on January 27, prompting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to order an inquiry into the incident.

The FIR was registered against personnel of 10 Garhwal Rifles, including Major Aditya Kumar, under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code.

The father of Major Kumar, the officer named in the FIR, had approached the Supreme Court seeking the FIR be quashed.

The Supreme Court on February 12 restrained the Jammu and Kashmir Police from taking any “coercive steps” against Army officers and asked the State government to file a response within two weeks.

The Nation – Kashmir: The foreign policy quagmire

Avoiding talks and boasting national pride with delusions of sheer military strength and numbers will not get India or Pakistan anywhere

Jammu & Kashmir, 05 February 2018. The voices of emancipation and freedom of Kashmiris from the empires of Indian mainland, have been echoing in the valleys of Kashmir, even before the era of Habba Khatoon and her enchanting poetry.

Kashmir, maintaining its position as the jewel of the subcontinent, through the dynasties of Shah Mir, Mughals, Durranis and finally the Sikhs, preserved its cultural integrity and uniqueness.

Sadly this jewel; ever since the advent of modern weaponry and the rhetoric of state-centered staunch realism, has turned into a 21st century nuclear flashpoint.

The global notions of expansionism and power maximisation have transformed this two lac square kilometers area into a political and military stalemate where three major powers of the world are engaged in conflict.

From the illegitimate violations of the Line of Control (LoC) to the military incursions by China in Aksai Chin and the irreprehensible excessive use of force by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the valley, Kashmiris are ever fearful and insecure even in their own beloved homeland.

The common Kashmiri boy, who sells kulchas in his small shop to make his living, is full of vigour and zest to stand up against the barrage of pellet guns and tear gas shells just to make his demand for freedom heard in the highest echelons of international decision making.

Unaware of the sorry fact that hegemons of the world are inconsiderate of their blood and busy painting rosy images of the harsh realities of this world in verbose Security Council resolutions, which find no standing ground or materialization in the realpolitik of this diplomatic realm.

Such a resolution was passed by the UN to pacify the conflict between India and Pakistan, suggesting a withdrawal of forces from the region followed by a plebiscite, without giving due regard to the level of mutual trust deficit that existed between the two countries after fighting a major war.

This insecurity and lack of trust has subsisted from the day of independence to this very day after 70 years, shaping agendas and policies of both the major stakeholders.

Over the years, foreign policies of both India and Pakistan under various types of military, conservative and even liberal governments have been unable to decide an amicable solution for Kashmir.

A look into the external policies of both the states in the past, reveals an inherent unwillingness by the Indian side to change the status quo of the Kashmiri people for the better, rather strangling the population with a more and more restrictive and authoritarian internal Kashmir policy.

Whereas as in comparison, the Pakistani side has been forthcoming in seeking any plausible and appropriate solution for the Kashmiri people, ranging from bi-lateral to multilateral forums, this fact is substantiated by the insistence of Pakistan to have bi-lateral talks the previous year on Kashmir, that met a blatant refusal by Indian counterparts to engage in any kind of talks, as former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief A S Daulat in his recent interview to The Indian Express said, “I have never understood, why is India afraid to talk about Kashmir with Pakistan ?…I am sorry to say but it’s easier to talk to Pakistan than to Kashmiris”.

The Indian foreign policy with regards to Kashmir has followed a non-linear path of trends, with certain governments being very open in regard to negotiation with Pakistanis, achieving some progress like the opening of cross LoC trade with India and the initiation of Muzaffarabad-Srinagar and Rawalakot-Poonch bus services.

These along with the visits of certain Huriyat leaders in Azad Jammu and Kashmir reflect the positive trend that was observed in this overall hap hazardous relationship.

With the negative trend constituting the current Modi era in which the intra-relations between the Indian Government and the Jammu and Kashmir government as well as the international relations between India and Pakistan in regards with Kashmir, are at their all-time low.

The worst spike of this whole scenario was witnessed soon after the extra judicial killing of Burhan Wani, which led to wide spread agitation and protests all across Kashmir, as tensions between the government quarters running so high due to this indigenous mobilisation that even the Indian army with over six lac active duty personnel in the region, had to resort to tying up a Kashmiri boy in front of their armored vehicle just to save themselves from young stone pelters, protesting against this state sponsored aggression.

The current situation in Kashmir has come to the brink of a muffled civil disobedience, quoting the former RAW chief, “They are no longer hiding. School girls and women are coming out to throw stones.

The Kashmir situation has never been so bad.” Indian government is following an American foreign policy doctrine of avoiding international meddling in case of domestic unruliness, by not engaging in talks on Kashmir while the internal condition there is hanging by the thread.

The current position of Jammu and Kashmir has come to a point where the Indian government has had to appoint a former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief of Kashmiri origin, Dineshwar Sharma as interlocutor for talks between the Indian government and the Kashmiri people, this shows the despair of the government that is hopelessly trying to quell the Kashmiri furor against the usurpation of their fundamental human rights.

In Pakistan however, the overall strategy of dealing with India in terms of Kashmir has changed quite a lot since the days of Ayub Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the myth that Kashmir can be liberated by sole military might and armed support of the Kashmiri people has been repudiated.

This belief has however, changed considerably since the inception of the global war on terror, in which Pakistan has been on the forefront with over 30,000 lives sacrificed for this very cause.

The idea of using or facilitating non-state actors especially to sponsor the freedom struggle of Kashmiris has long eroded and almost ceased to exist in the prevailing security situation, as Senator Mushahid Ullah said in a meeting with US senators that, “There is no role for militancy in policy-making and non-state actors cannot be allowed to operate from the Pakistani territory.”

A new initiative to deal with the Kashmir scenario had been devised, implemented extensively by the previous government, extenuated by the current government, which ascertains and recognises the fact that the solution for Kashmir can only be sought in diplomatic and internationally recognised forums of arbitration.

Serious effort in this regard has been seen in the recent past with Pakistan speaking and demanding serious attention on numerous international forums for the Kashmiri cause, including the United Nations General Assembly and SAARC, SCO as well as NAM summits.

However, even after all these endeavors a possibly amicable solution for Kashmir is nowhere to be seen on the horizon.
The Kashmiri people are suffering like never before at the hands of rogue state machinery, given utmost arbitrary legal backing for this excessive use of power and aggression, through illegal injunctions like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

While completely ignoring the demands and rights of people and undermining the puppet government of CM Mehbooba Mufti that has no real control whatsoever in J&K.

The way forward for Pakistan at this point in time would be to allocate more manpower and resources to enhance its diplomatic efforts in international arena, through a tailored and comprehensive Kashmir policy keeping in consideration all tangible and non-tangible stakeholders and factors.

This can only be done by gaining the complete trust of the indigenous Kashmiri political parties like the Muslim Conference (MC) and the All Parties Huriyat Conference (APHC) moreover, taking on board the general Kashmiri population by increasing their representation in foreign delegations and establishing specialised committees of Kashmiri youth that can help in disseminating firsthand information about their movement to the international community.

Pakistan and India both have to accept and recognise that negotiations and a bi-lateral solution is the only effective and sustainable remedy to this foreign policy quagmire that has strained the relations of both the countries and pushed them into war time and again, resulting in loss of lives and significant economic blowbacks.

Avoiding talks and boasting national pride with delusions of sheer military strength and numbers will not get India or Pakistan anywhere. The precondition so that both the countries can even dream of becoming stable economic and political powers in the global front, is to first become stable at home, and that is impossible without ameliorating the contemporary public and political atmosphere of Kashmir.

Chanting the slogans of Akhand Bharat and Kashmir as the Jugular Vein of Pakistan are good for political rallies and for gathering popular opinion, but at the negotiating table these hysterical rhetoric have to be brushed aside and the greater national and public interests have to speak with utter cold-hearted rationality.

The News – Indian authorities rattled by Kashmiri and Sikh protest in London

Saeed Niazi

London-UK, 28 January 2018. Two groups of protesters clashed outside Indian High Commission as Kashmiris and Sikhs jointly protested against Indian government actions while a group organised by the Indian officials attacked the protesters.

Sikhs and Kashmiris who traditionally demonstrate on India’s Republic Day outside the Indian High Commission in London to declare their desire for freedom from Indian occupation but for the first time Indian officials organised counter protest which turned into violence as pro-Indian protesters attacked Sikhs and Kashmiris.

Scotland Yard officials tried to separate the protesters and then called more force to take away pro-India protestors who were issuing threats and threw a few water bottles at the protesters.

Carrying placards accusing the Sikhs and Kashmiris of being terrorists, shouting “Modi, Modi” and howling abuse at their opponents the Indian protesters eventually beat a retreat once it was clear that they were getting a more than robust response from a spirited gathering of Sikh and Kashmiri self determination supporters.

India has been incensed at its diplomats being recently banned from speaking at many Sikh Gurdwaras in the UK, Canada and the USA. High Commission officers were also visibly stung seeing vans parked outside the London High Commission proclaiming “Khalistan Zindabad”, “Free Kashmir” and calling for freedom in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

Indian lobby complaints last week led to Transport for London issuing a circular to stop advertisement agencies from displaying these messages on public transport.

Lord Nazir Ahmed led the protestors and condemned the ‘extremist Hindutva’ elements that had sought to prevent peaceful democratic protest. Speaker after speaker said their communities would never be intimidated by such cowardly tactics.

Amrik Singh Sahota, OBE, President of the Council of Khalistan said the international community, including the Commonwealth, should hold Modi to account for his own personal and his country’s diabolic record on human rights.

As a country that formally rejects the right of self determination (enshrined in international law as Article 1 of the 1966 Covenants on Human Rights), he said the role of responsible international bodies was to punish, not, reward India.

The conflicts arising from that illegal position had led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and untold misery. Dr Mukul Hazarika of Assam Watch (UK) said India must “return the sovereign status of the shackled deserving nations viz the Kashmiris, Khalistanis and the nationalities of Eastern South East Asia”.

Lord Qurban Hussain, also participating in the protest, spoke of the need for the UN to intervene and bring peace to what is perhaps the most dangerous conflict zone in the world today.

The Asian Age – UK lawmaker launches campaign against India, claims minorities not safe

London-UK, 26 January 2018. One of the first British Muslims to be appointed to the House of Lords on Thursday launched a protest campaign against India, claiming that minorities in the country are not safe.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, who was born in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, raised in South Yorkshire and has regularly made common cause with “Kashmiri Pakistanis”, is leading the campaign that will involve five billboard vans traversing the streets of London.

On Friday, a group led by the politician will gather outside the Indian High Commission in London.

“It will be a peaceful demonstration by a small gathering because we cannot have very large numbers outside the High Commission,” he said.

The Indian High Commission in London said it has raised its concerns with the UK authorities, but the billboard vans are private vehicles and therefore not directly under state control.

Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma, who was in London to attend the Education World Forum earlier this week, dismissed the protest as “fringe elements” keen to foment trouble.

Meanwhile, some pro-India groups have also organised a ‘Chalo India House’ demonstration in London to “celebrate India’s Republic Day by opposing anti-India lobbyists”.

The Tribune – UN chief asks India, Pakistan to resolve Kashmir issue through talks

United Nations, 23 January 2018. UN chief Antonio Guterres has ruled out any mediation to resolve the Kashmir issue unless all parties agree to it and asked India and Pakistan to address their outstanding issues through dialogue.

The UN Secretary-General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that in principle good offices of the UN chief are always available for mediation, but everyone needs to agree on involving the world body.

Asked about escalating tensions between India and Pakistan due to ongoing skirmishes and firing along the border, Dujarric said, “We’re obviously aware. We’re following this… what’s been going on, really for the last 10 days.”

Asked why the Secretary-General is not so keen to involve himself in this crisis, Dujarric said, “In principle good offices of Guterres are always available for mediation, but everyone needs to agree on involving the UN.”

“As a matter of principle I’m not talking specifically about this issue, but about any issue where there is conflict between parties, the Secretary-General’s good offices are always available,” he said.

“As in any issue, both parties or more than… you know, if there are multiple parties, everyone needs to agree on involving the UN. That is true of any mediation effort,” Dujarric said.

“The Secretary-General would encourage both sides to address any outstanding issues through dialogue,” he said.

The Times of India – Rijiju: Will help UK deport illegal Indian migrants

Naomi Canton

London-England-UK, 13 January 2018. India has agreed to assist the UK in deporting illegal Indian immigrants while London has agreed to work to stop Kashmiri and Sikh radicals active on British soil.

Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju said here on Friday that he had “initialled” two MoUs with his UK counterparts that would be signed when PM Modi visits London in April for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

While the first MoU dealt with illegal Indian immigrants, the other related to sharing criminal records. Indian deputy high commissioner Dinesh Patnaik explained there were “some few thousand” illegal Indian immigrants in the UK.

“A few illegal migrants create a situation where legal migration becomes a political issue. The idea is to allow illegal migrants to go back so that legal migration becomes easier,” he said. “When they find somebody we will help identify them and then we will help them to go back to India,” Patnaik said.

Khalistan is no more an issue in India but some fringe groups in the UK keep creating problems.”

The UK government has assured us they would take care of such issues… and ensure anti-India activities, also by Kashmiri separatists, are not allowed in the UK,” said Rijiju, who is here on the invitation of Brandon Lewis, former immigration minister and now chairman of the Conservative Party.

Rijiju also said the UK was keen to learn from India how to counter radicalisation among Muslims. He pointed out that India had the world’s second-largest Muslim population but radicalisation was negligible because of an “effective counter-radicalisation process”.

Commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu is also in the UK for meetings with his UK counterparts and industrialists to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues, from increasing trade to encouraging British SMEs’ entry into India.

A joint event in India was being planned to bring together startups in India with UK innovation companies to find ways to work together. “They need not be physically present, they can do business with each other through the virtual world,” he said.

Italics by Man in Blue