IT SEEMS the current uprising in Indian-controlled Kashmir is turning into an unusual war between a nuclear-armed country, India, and an unarmed Kashmiri civilian population that out-rightly opposes India’s “illegal occupation” of the bowl-shaped Himalayan region.
On Saturday, two young men – Yawar Ahmad, 23; Sayyar Ahmad, 25 – were killed by Indian forces at two different places in the southern part of the disputed territory, taking the death toll to nearly 80 during the last two months of bloodshed orchestrated by the Indian State and supported by its surrogate administration in Kashmir.
During the last two months of unrest, Indian forces have used live ammunition on unarmed protesters. Around 80 people—mostly youngsters and children—have been killed; 10,000 have been wounded so far and more than 300 lost their eyesight because the forces shot them in the eye. Two policemen also died. The aggression by the Indian forces continues while protesters call for a referendum to the decades-old dispute.
The ongoing uprising erupted onJuly 8this year when a popular militant commander, Burhan Wani, was shot dead by Indian forces. Wani, the youngest ever leader of Hizbul Mujahideen rebel outfit, had taken to arms six years ago when he and his brother were humiliated and beaten up by Indian army personnel.
Wani’s death has infused a new lease of life into Kashmir’s resistance movement, political commentators note. Tens of thousands of people turned up for his funeral procession and anti-India protests sprouted across the region. In response to this, the government imposed curfew and has barred movement of general public till now. Schools have been shut, businesses closed and communication channels down.
It looks like the Indian government is stonewalling Kashmiris to their own homes. Yet common people are finding new ways to sustain their camaraderie. This has led to increase in volunteers who are lending a helping hand to those in need.
India’s federal government recently told its armed forces and Kashmir’s state government to deal with anti-India protesters with an iron hand. That’s what they have been doing: unarmed protesters being killed and maimed by the use of live ammunition. The Indian government refuses to engage with Kashmir’s pro-freedom leadership because it doesn’t recognise Kashmir as a dispute. Instead, it tells them to ask “anything” within the ambit of Indian constitution that would not support the option freedom.
Kashmir has witnessed such uprisings in the past as well. During 2008, 2009 and 2010, more than 300 civilians—again, mostly youngsters and children—were shot dead in alleys outside their homes by Indian forces.
Place such as Kashmir are prone to political uprisings because people are not given what they ask for: a political choice to make. As long as it remains a dispute, Kashmir is going to bleed.