Kashmiris decry world’s silence over killings

Activists lament lack of condemnation from India and international powers for violence that killed at least 30 people.

Kashmir shutdown
The killing of Burhan Wani is likely to ignite more protests in Kashmir, experts say [EPA]

As the death toll rises to 19 in Indian-administered Kashmir following a bloody crackdown on mourners and protesters this weekend, Kashmiris are lamenting the lack of international condemnation for the violence meted out to them.

By Monday, authorities recorded at least 30 deaths and 200 people injured after police and paramilitary troops opened fire on tens of thousands of Kashmiris who took to the streets to pay homage to the rebel leader Burhan Wani, who was killed on Friday. His death had prompted a mass funeral and demonstrations against Indian rule.

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Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Imam of Srinagar’s Jamia mosque and leader of a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, told Al Jazeera that the lack of condemnation from both India and international actors, proved that “Kashmiri lives did not matter”.

“No political party or institution has condemned the violence because they don’t feel the need … they are so disconnected from this place,” Farook said from his home in Srinagar, where he has been under house arrest since Friday.

It is a sentiment echoed by a series of observers and human rights activists, who allege that the killing of Burhan sent the Indian media into a jingoistic frenzy. 

Mirza Waheed, a Kashmiri novelist based in London, said in some cases, “one could not tell the difference between the media and state apparatus”.

But Gautam Navlakha, from the People’s Union for Democratic Rights, described the silence from India’s civil society over the events of the past three days as particularly problematic.

“There seems to be a conflation between extremism and the Kashmiri right to self determination. People seem to reduce all dissent in Kashmir to radical Islam, but the situation in Kashmir is different,” Navlakha, a human rights activist based in Delhi, said.

“They don’t realise that hearts and minds of the people there are not with India, and this is a fact,” he said.

 The state government and police have accused mobs of attacking security forces  [EPA]
 The state government and police have accused mobs of attacking security forces  [EPA]

According to Kashmiri civil society, the death toll is likely to rise.

They have also accused troops of disproportionate violence and for implementing a “shoot to kill” policy. One doctor at the SKIMS hospital in Srinagar confirmed to Al Jazeera that patients with bullet wounds had all been hit from the waist up.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the doctor said there were at least four patients in critical condition at the hospital.

“There are people still coming in with injuries, first they came from north and south Kashmir, now they are coming from Srinagar itself, suffering mostly from pellets wounds,” he said.

Responding to accusations of disproportionate violence, Naeem Akhtar, spokesman for the state of Jammu & Kashmir state government, suggested that security forces may have been justified in using force as method of self-defence.

“There have been attacks on barracks and camps […] if there are a mob of a 1,000 people attacking a group of 10 to 15, what do you expect them to do?” he told Al Jazeera, adding that there would be an investigation into the matter.

On Saturday, police said that angry crowds set fire to three police stations and two government buildings south of Srinagar, and blocked roads.

If people knew how India has denied them their rights, people will realise that this is a political problem needing a political solution

by Dilnaz Boga, independent journalist

At least one police officer was killed. K Rajendra Kumar, the director general of Jammu and Kashmir Police, said about 100 members of the security forces had been wounded. Three officers were still missing.

But Waheed said security forces were able to act with such brutality because they knew that they would never be prosecuted for their actions.

“When it happened in 2010, no one was held accountable for the violence … and so they do it again, and again,” Waheed said, referring to the protests of summer 2010 when Kashmir plummeted into months of protests. More than 120 young people died that year.

According to Dilnaz Boga, an independent journalist based in Mumbai, no condemnation from the world’s powers is likely to be forthcoming – given India’s relationship with the United States, France, Israel and United Kingdom in the so-called war against terror.

The problem is rooted in a lack of understanding and censorship over the story of Kashmiri resistance, she said.

“If people knew how India has denied them their rights, people will realise that this is a political problem needing a political solution,” she told Al Jazeera.

Follow Azad Essa on Twitter: @azadessa

Source: Al Jazeera