India: Kashmir Is Burning…Again



Protest in Kashmir. Image by Flickr user Kashmiridibber, CC BY-NC-ND

If you thought the the issue of burning the Qur’an would not have repercussions across the world then you may think again. The mayhem in Indian administered Kashmir on the 12th of September was instigated by violent protests which ensued after the emergence of a report of a Qur’an desecration in Michigan, USA. The Jammu and Kashmir cabinet condemned the reported burning of the Qur’an and asked the people to stay calm. However, according to BBC, thousands of people defied curfews and took to the streets, chanting anti-India and anti-US slogans and burning effigies of US President Barack Obama.

Mobs set fire to several government buildings and a Protestant-run school and the police fired back. At least 18 people have been killed and scores were injured. People are asking how much of these protests bears the anger over the desecration of Qur’an and how much on the anti-Indian feelings and their freedom struggle. Journalist Altaf Hossain said to BBC: “the anger against the US may subside soon, but the killings have ensured that hatred against India has been re-inforced.”

As the street violence in Kashmir increased in recent months, the Indian security forces shifted in the hard-line. A number of protesters were killed and many were detained. Videos have emerged showing repressions and tortures against the detainees by the security forces like Abu Gharib, which have angered more Kashmiris.

Here in this amateur video uploaded by Kashmir Nation, protesters are seen shouting slogans of “Azadi” (freedom) from India:

The popular Indian blogs seem to be mostly silent on the issue but the Twitter users are discussing this in greater numbers. Although most tweets contained misinformed rage and rumors, some communicated voice of reason. Here are some tweets showing reactions on the different aspects of the situation.

The efforts of the Indian government:

@sardesairajdeep: kashmir cant be solved in delhi. need to invest in the people of the valley, in their hearts and minds, however tough that is.

@sardesairajdeep: its taken the pm 3 months to call an all-party meeting on kashmir. should have happened much earlier.

@SachinKalbag: By deferring the AFSPA (note: Armed Forces Special Powers Act) decision, the government has given the separatists further proof of how the Valley remains an open field for anarchy.

Indian army patroling in Indian administered Kashmir. Image by Flickr user Kashmiridibber, CC BY-NC-ND

News and rumors about burning of installations:

@AdityaRajKaul: @samar11 My great grand-father was among founders of Biscoe School which was set ablaze by #Separatist Goons in #Kashmir

@AdityaRajKaul: Confirmed News #Kashmir #Separatist mob this evening set ablaze Shiv Temple @Nayi Basti in Khaanabal, Anantnag. Police post destroyed #Taliban

@pawandurani: Startling revelation. No temple burnt in #Kashmir in absence of Govt confirmation. Govt censoring news … Ashamed of Indian sickulrism

Help and distress calls:

@polgrim: The hospitals in Kashmir are running out of blood. To donate call – Incharge SMHS Blood Bank, 094-19-415373. v @FaizanAli


@polgrim: It is disheartening to report many of the Indian media folks on Twitter have a perverse sense of reality when it comes to Kashmir. Very sad.

@NitishaKaul: Kashmiris asking for Azadi shd be prepared to be painted/spinned as ever more Islamic, pro-Pak, violent, militant. #Kashmir #India

@Deshbhakta: @bdutt what purpose or larger cause did ur channel serve by not telecasting d news of hoisting of pak flag in Indian Srinagar’s Lal Chowk?

@Kalkharab Koshur: O #india ,let me tell you,you will get tired of imposing curfews but we wont get tired in our struggle.You have to leave #kashmir

On possible solutions:

@smitaprakash: @ranga_chennai i dont think anybody is quite sure what wl wrk now in Kashmir. Quelling violence is a priority but so is meeting thr demands

Image by Flickr user Kashmiridibber. Used under a CC BY-NC-ND license

Kashmir Blogs writes about the use of religion to set the agenda of the secessionists:

The viscous cycle of violence continued unabated, except some intermittent and brief periods of peace. The armed forces of India and terrorists backed by Pakistan played the cat and mouse game of killings with each other and many innocent kashmiris lost their lives in this deadly game.

The separatist political parties of Kashmir are obviously paid handsomely by the Pakistani agencies to keep the pot of hatred against India boiling. This is the main reason that they are not interested in talks with the Indian central government. So what do the separatists do to ensure that peace never returns to the strife stricken valley? The answer is that they are using the religion to incite the hatred for India without considering the implications of their devious act.

The Kashmir says that Kashmir is not an economic problem as “the state is not at the bottom in terms of development indicators”. However the problem lies elsewhere:

The Valley is imitating Pakistan on two counts. Pakistan begs globally by threatening to self-destruct even while the elites of Pakistan send their children to study abroad and the poor Abduls and Kasabs are made to die for the cause. The same hypocrisy is practiced in the Valley by its leaders.

K.R. Surendran opines that Kashmir needs a holistic approach and questions:

Who brought this part of our nation to such a pass? Who converted it into perennially bleeding State? Pakistan alone… or the State authorities? Central Authorities or all these factors combined?

There are lots of questions to be answered and there is no sign of resolving this conflict.

First published in Global Voices Online.