“Hum kya chahtey? Aazadi!”
-A Popular Chant in Kashmir
The heaven on earth turned into one of the most conflicted region in the world. The conflict within the community had started since the accession of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to India, but the election of 1987 was the nail in the coffin for the people of Kashmir. This lead to the rise in militancy and various violent events which lead to massive human rights violations in the Kashmir Valley.
The Militancy which rose in J&K had declared a war against India and any other Pro-India voices which blocked Kashmir’s path to Independence. There were two major militant wings in J&K: Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front(JKLF) and the Hizb-ul-Mujhaideen. In August 1989, masked men shot down Mohammed Yusuf Halwai, a senior official of National Conference (NC) who had active role in the election rigging of 1987 These political parties were targeted because they were establishments which were trying to link Kashmir with India.
Kashmiri Pandits, who were an essential part of Kashmiriyat were targetted because their Hindu identity was linked with the Identity of India. JKLF published in the Kashmir Times that the Kashmiri Pandits should either join the Separatist movement or be ready to go through the consequences of their denial to support their movement. In November 1989, Justice Neel Kanth Ganjoo who was a Kashmiri Pandit was gunned down by militants in Srinagar because he had punished Maqbool Bhat with death penalty on the charges of murdering a Policeman during a Bank Robbery. In April 1990, Hizb-ul Mujhaideen had issued a public statement in Al Safaordering them to leave the Kashmir territory in 36 hours or they will be killed (Siddhartha Gigoo, 2015).
On the flip side, Kashmiri Muslims had to face the wrath of the Indian Army, which had created inhuman conditions for them in Kashmir. January 21, 1990 will always remain a dreaded day for people of Srinagar. Mr. Jagmohan Malhotra was just appointed as the Governor of J&K and it was after his appointment that a lot of crackdowns took place under his nose. During such crackdowns, women were molested because of which Kashmiris came together and organized a peaceful rally. When the procession reached Gawkadal Bridge, the CRPF open fired on them. Some jumped down the bridge into the water, others died because of bullet shots. Official records state that 21 were killed because they were raising “anti-India” slogans.
Hell came to twin villages Kunan and Poshpura on 23rd February 1991. These two villages were close to the LOC, probably why the Army went into the village for a crackdown. Men were dragged outside from the house. Women who stayed inside the house were allegedly raped by the Indian army men. A committee headed by BG Verghese (better known as Verghese Committee). The report stated that the women were “tutored and coerced into making statements derogatory to their own honour and dignity.” However, this report has been criticized for being one-sided because it took statement from the “authorities” and victim blaming the women. The report didn’t have adequate records of the statements of the people in the village (Manchanda, 1991). Since the last 27 years, justice is no where close for the villagers of Kunan and Poshpora.
Enforced disappearance is one more major problem in the Kashmir Valley. The Army randomly picks up people who they feel have links with militant outfits. The families of such people are kept in the dark about their locations. Family life is disrupted because of such disappearance. The women who lose their husbands because of such disappearance are called “Half-widows”. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) maintains that more than 8000 people have disappeared since the last three decades of insurgency in Kashmir. An Amnesty International report named Denied mentions that the Government has not done anything for such disappearance cases and has not allowed any sanction order against army personnel who were alleged to have committed crime in Kashmir. (International, 2015)
The Indian army had started a “catch and kill” policy, which led them to go forward and join hands with anyone who is willing to fight against the Azadi movement in Kashmir. Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon was founded Mohammad Yousuf Parrey aka Kukka Parray which was a counter insurgency militia group in Kashmir. They were local Kashmiris who helped the Indian army in fighting the militants in Kashmir by doing their “dirty work” and in return they used to get blanket Immunity from them. Ikhwans were feared for the crimes they committed openly. Kuka Parrey’s close aid Fayaz Nawabid was the most notorious Ikhwan in Kashmir. He would kill anyone who didn’t follow his orders and rape women irrespective of their condition. He once raped a girl and then killed her in the market area when she was 8 months pregnant. Ikhwans haad inflicted fear in the hearts of the Kashmiris, which they still dread. However, the Ikhwans were down by the time of 1999.
After knowing all of this, we must realize that if Kashmir is tied in the chains of conflict then Pakistan is not solely responsible for it. Pakistan has funded the Afghan Mujhaideen to start pro-Pakistani movement in Kashmir, but, It is because of India’s action both before and after the election of 1987 that the Kashmiris support such separatist movements. When Burhan Wani (a top leader of Hizbul-Mujhaideen) was killed by the Indian Army, 15000-20000 Kashmiris gathered for his funeral. This shows that they didn’t look at him as a Terrorist but as a Freedom fighter fighting for the cause of Independence.
The three parts of these articles on Kashmir Conflict was not written with an intention to make its readers decide whether to choose India, Pakistan or Kashmir on the entire conflict but to make them realize most of the issues which are there in Kashmir and how political games between two countries has destroyed Kashmiriyat. What was considered as the Heaven on earth has now deeply drowned in conflict.
Bose, S. (2009). Kashmir Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Harvard University Press.
International, A. (2015). Denied. London: Amnesty International, International Secretariat.
Manchanda, R. (1991). Press Council Report on Army in Kashmir. Economic and Political Weekly.
Siddhartha Gigoo, V. S. (2015). A Long Dream of Home. Bloomsbury.
 An Urdu daily in Kashmir.
Because they do not know whether their husbands are dead or alive.
 Official figures. Locals speculate that around 200,000 people had gathered.
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