Peace Activists Say Media Gives One-side Picture Of JK
21 April 2005
Srinagar: It was first time when activists from various parts of the country assembled here on Wednesday and took a position on Kashmir by extending support to the 'right of self-determination of Kashmiris'. In a daylong function, speakers from Punjab, AP, Delhi, West Bengal, Karnataka threw light on people's movements in various parts of India and called upon the civil society actors to reach 'people of India' and make them understand 'Kashmir dispute and human rights violations here.' 'The support of people of India is necessary for Kashmiris because media is presenting only one sided picture of the Kashmir issue,' said a speaker summing up the importance of mass awareness campaign about the issue. Varvara Rao of Revolutionary Writers Association (RWA) talked about Teligana movement in Andra Pradesh and narrated many incidents of rights abuses faced by people associated with the movement. Disturbed Areas Act, he said, was in force in Teligana region from 1969-1991. About the response of Indian elite towards various movements including Kashmiri movement he described their response as 'meek'. 'One fails to understand what has happened 1000 million people of India when Kashmir is under Indian occupation,' Rao said. However, he said, for him and all those associates with the RWA, it is but natural to support 'Kashmiris in their struggle'. But he has an advice for people of Kashmir: People have right to decide their form of struggle and Kashmiris too should decide their form of struggle. Navkiran Singh of Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) Punjab said Sikhs have gone through same experience as Kashmiris are going through presently. He said in various parts of India people suffer because of the state suppression. 'But our problem is we suffer individually, If there is human rights abuses taking place in one part, people in other part do not extended support to the victims. It gives state an opportunity to pick up its targets one by one', he said. Citing example of TADA, he said when it was enacted, whole India rejoiced presuming it will be implemented only in Punjab. 'And when the state implemented the same law in other parts there was hue and cry,' he added. He said Kashmiris have to project their struggle in various parts of India as media presents one-sided picture of the issue. Navkiran Singh, who is himself a lawyer extended support to 'right of self-determination' of Kashmiris and said LHRI will help lawyers and rights groups working in Kashmir, if asked. Prof. N. Babaiah of Peace Initiative Committee, Karnataka commenced his speech with a couplet from a poem, which reads: 'The Wolves are parading with guns. The goats are asked not to grow horns and if you grow the horns we will cut them'. He said rulers are most oppressive class and they have been like that. 'But we should continue our struggle and grow horns,' he added. He demanded withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers and other Acts and called upon the state to give people of Jammu Kashmir right of self-determination. The High Court Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom gave detailed history of Kashmir dispute. He also talked about various 'draconian Acts' implemented in Kashmir and said Disturbed Areas Act was first time enforced in Kashmir in 1984 when 'healing touch Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was Pradesh Congress president.' Qayoom said Mufti extended AFSPA in Kashmir through an amendment in Parliament. He also threw light on Public Safety Act and said state detains people under this act and even refuse to furnish grounds of detention. 'And if detention is quashed by the Court, it is again invoked against the same detainee for second term and then third term. It is up to the state for how much time it wants to keep a person in detention,' he said. 'Lal Chowk it may seem normal to you but I advise you to visit nearby villages, and you yourself (will) understand gravity of situation,' he said. He said the Bar Association had several times approached editors of leading dailies of India asking them to publish reports prepared by HCBA regarding human rights abuses. 'They plainly told us that they cannot publish the reports,' Qayoom said. He said Kashmiris have a strong case and called upon rights activists of other states to highlight issue in their part of the world and apprise the people there about the true picture of the Kashmir dispute and human rights abuses. Gurmeet Singh of All India People's Resistance Forum (AIPRF) said right to cessation should be also included in fundamental rights, while as Sampath Prakash of President All Jammu and Kashmir Trade Union Centre described Kashmir as 'colony ruled by New Delhi.' Political power in Jammu and Kashmiris, he said, lies with military not with people. He said the new generation would continue struggle in Kashmir. Others who spoke on the occasion included Hameeda Nayeem and Dr. Altaf. Karolena, a solidarity activist from Denmark, said after entering Kashmir she found Kashmir very beautiful, and went on say that there is such a heavy presence of troops 'it seems they are part of landscape.' Padama Kumari of Committee of Relatives of Martyrs Andra Pradesh who has lost her husband in a 'fake encounter' and has spent five years in jail, said, 'On this day 1981, 13 tribal people were killed in AP while demanding their rights. We observe this day as solidarity day with those killed and this time I should have been there. But I preferred to be in Kashmir just to tell people here that we are with you in your struggle'. Freelance journalist, Prabhu Ghate, said 'we should request people to see right of self-determination broadly as taking present geopolitics in consideration independence may not be an option.' Earlier, Zahir-ud- Din and Pervez Ioz while welcoming the guests talked about 'human rights abuses,' and described the denial of right of self- determination to people of Kashmir as 'human rights violation.' 'Pakistan and India are talking on Kashmir and releasing fishermen. They are not bothered about those Kashmiris who are languishing in jails or those who have been subjected to enforced disappearance. 'We welcome Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus, but at the same time we want government to issue statement about the missing persons,' Zahir-ud- Din, said. He called for withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and other 'draconian laws.' Pervez Ioz, the Chairman Coalition of Civil Society (CCS) apprised the audience about what he called 'misinformation campaign on Kashmir by Indian media' and called upon 'conscientious class of India' to take position on Kashmir. He said 'right of self-determination' was basic human right and Kashmiris have been denied this right. About dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, he said, 'under international law no two parties have right to enter into an agreement affecting third party.' He said if number of the militants is decreasing then why troops are being increased in Kashmir. He described 'Kashmiri movement' as democratic one and called for greater support of Indian conscientious class.