Indian army ‘halting peace in Kashmir’

Kashmiri separatist leader accuses India of “blocking the path to peace” just days after India-Pakistan talks.

Kashmir police - road block
Geelani says that the large security presence in Kashmir undermines prospects for peace [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has slammed the Indian government, saying that it is using armed forces to stop the peace process in the restive Himalayan region.

The chairman of the separatist faction of Hurriyat Conference said on Saturday that the large contingent of troops in the region was “blocking the path to peace”.

He was speaking during a seminar called “Kashmir: Road to Peace” in the provincial summer capital Srinagar, the Reuters reported.

“India has blocked the road to peace. One million troops are sitting and blocking the path to peace. The road to peace has been blocked by the Indian government’s police. The police [are] exhibiting a display of atrocity and force on the innocent people of the valley,” said Geelani.

“The presence of armed forces is not an answer to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. The presence of police is not an answer to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

“Using gunpoint to generate silence is not the solution to the Jammu and Kashmir issue. Using the strength of the police to create graveyard like silence in the valley is not the solution,” he added.

Geelani accused the Indian government of using its forces to suppress the people and issues of the disputed region.

Lashing out

“India is acting like a stranger to the issue. From time to time they are sending interlocutors, lawmakers or representatives of policy centres and other groups to know the opinion of the people of Kashmir.

“India is adopting the policy of behaving as if it is unaware of the situation Ianthe Jammu and Kashmir. Even after 63 years, we are suffering from this policy of the Indian government,” Geelani said.

A special series on the dispute in Kashmir will feature on Al Jazeera’s website from August 2, 2011

He further lashed out at Palaniappan Chidambaram, India’s interior minister for hailing state chief Omar Abdullah for restoring peace and normalcy in the state.

“He patted the back of Omar Abdullah (chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir) saying that you are very brave to send teenagers to jail, you are very brave for putting Syed Ali Shah Geelani under house arrest for many weeks without any law or order problem,” Geelani said.

Amnesty International reported in March that hundreds of people were being held each year in detention centres in the state without trial or a charge.

In recent weeks, the Jammu and Kashmir state government announced plans of a proposal to make some amendments to the Public Safety Act (PSA) after a public outcry over the law that allows the detention of people as young as 16 without a trial for up to a period of two years.  

Meanwhile, the AFP news agency reported that two Indian soldiers were killed on Saturday in a clash along the Line of Control – the de facto border that splits Indian and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The army said that a gun fight ensued when soldiers tried to intercept alleged fighters attempting to enter India from Pakistan.

“We have foiled yet another bid by militants to infiltrate into our territory from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” JS Brar, an Indian army spokesman, said.

“Two of our soldiers achieved martyrdom,” he said, adding that the fighting was “still going on in the rugged area”.

India-Pakistan talks

The latest fighting comes just days after Indian and Pakistani officials met for the first time in five months as part of revived peace talks between the two countries.

The two countries decided to restart the peace process in February and have since discussed a wide range of issues concerning the two sides, including Kashmir and the continuing threat of terrorism.
Kashmir has been at the core of the acrimonious relationship between India and Pakistan over the past six decades.

The nuclear-armed neighbours having fought two of their three wars since 1947 over the disputed territory,which is claimed by both in full but ruled in parts.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir since an armed revolt against New Delhi’s rule erupted in 1989.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies