Kashmiris have seen too much suffering over the past two decades (and before) not to see themselves as at the receiving end of the policies of an imperial state. The security apparatus is too visible and intrusive on a daily basis to be understood as anything other than a reminder of an occupation force and a subject people. And there has been no justice offered for even the most egregious acts of violence committed by the military, the paramilitary, or the police. There have been spectacular instances of murder, torture and rape, and no immediate moves to bring criminals to justice ……
….the highly intrusive security footprint to think about, I had travelled in Punjab in the worst years of the Khalistan movement, and I remember just how humiliating and fear-inducing it was to be stopped and questioned over and over again, to have your car searched, and occasionally to be patted down. This is how Kashmiris have lived for twenty years now. No one goes anywhere, even in times of relative peace, without being aware of surveillance and check-points. An entire generation – the young on the streets now – have grown up with no other sense of the Indian state. India is the jawan who slaps you because it has been a long day and you are less patient in the checking-line than he would like. India is the officer who smiles sardonically as you are pushed to the ground and kicked for good measure; India is the force that tears you and your family from your home to stand around for hours as entire neighbourhoods are cordoned off and searched. And this is low-level business. There have been far harsher crimes committed by state agents, but no one has been punished, and that fact alone rankles and will not die.
For a people bruised and battered by fifteen years of an armed struggle, every single mechanism by which they could find representation, or hope to be heard, or access minimal justice, had been dismantled and put away, Elections, the judicial process, the rule of law: all had been hollowed out. In their place we had the draconian provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), and the Public Safety Act (PSA). Despite the fact that an elected legislature was in place, real power was widely regarded as lodged in three specific sites: Badami Bagh, Srinagar’s cantonment, where the corps headquarters of the Indian Army are located; Gupkar Road, where a slew of Indian intelligence agencies are based; and Raj Bhawan, formerly the maharaja’s palace, now the governor’s home. (Kashmiris don’t fail to make the obvious connection that all three sites are implicated in a century of highly oppressive rule by the Dogra maharajas.)
Aaliya Anjum and Saiba Varma
Since 1989, civilian life in Indian-administered Kashmir has been governed through the presence of more than half a million troops, making the region the most heavily militarized zone in the world. This despite the fact that last year, official government figures put the number of militants operating in the Valley at less than 500.
More than two decades of brutal warfare between largely Muslim separatist insurgents and largely Hindu Indian troops in this Himalayan region have left Kashmiris exhausted, traumatized and broken. The rate of suicide, once unthinkable in this Islamic society, has gone up twenty-six-fold, from 0.5 per 100,000 before the insurgency to 13 per 100,000 now ….Drug abuse is epidemic. Depression, stress and mental illness are rampant …..
When post-colonial states deploy troops to bring a rebellious people, formally their ‘own people’, to submission, and hand over that area to the military, then in actual fact they act as an alien force. The relationship that ensues between the military force and the people is akin to that between a subject people and their imperial masters. The military force seeks to restore the authority of the state on a reluctant people, however long it takes to do so. ….The reason we do not perceive it as war is that it takes place within the borders of the nation-state, where the deployment of the armed forces of the union is somehow considered legitimate, even when it is engaged in suppressing our ‘own’ people.
…..1 August 2006 …there were more than 6,67,000 security forces in the state. This is an incredibly high concentration of troops for an area whose total population is not more than ten million …one soldier for every fourteen-fifteen people.
There cannot be any dialogue inside an army camp
- Yirvun Kreel
IOK has never been an indisputable part of India …It is no coincidence that Kashmir and the North-East were two of the least involved regions during the nationalist freedom struggle which led to India’s independence, and it is these regions which have remained least understood in the mainstream nationalist imagination.