Kashmiris' movement could again turn into armed struggle: Yasin Malik

18 August 2008
The Nation


Washington: A prominent Kashmiri leader, who sought to promote non-violence amid massive unrest in the disputed state, fears that their freedom movement could again turn into an arms struggle, and he called on the international community to intervene.'Such a show of violence is pushing Kashmiri people, especially our youth, toward revolution,' Yasin Malik told The Washington Post correspondent in New Delhi by telephone from his Srinagar hospital bed after ending a hunger strike. 'At this point, I think the international community has to step in. Otherwise, we fear a growing extremism. This kind of anger comes at the worst time.'The Post said:'Over the past six weeks, tensions between Muslims and Hindus have left 34 people dead, most of them unarmed protesters shot by Indian security forces. Like many leaders here, (Yasin) Malik worries that Kashmir's separatist movement is once again on the verge of becoming an armed struggle...'Malik has led several peaceful protests, but many young Kashmiris now say they are ready to fight. Some here worry that his peaceful solutions will soon have little relevance.'We hate the sight of these security forces,' said Rizwan, 15, a student in Srinagar who declined to give his last name for fear of retaliation by Indian authorities. 'We are Kashmiris, not Indians. Earlier, my mother used to tell me not to join protests, but yesterday even my mother was in the protest with me.'The focus has shifted dramatically from the shrine (issue) to a larger national debate over Kashmir's status. Columnists at mainstream English-language newspapers published out of New Delhi on Sunday acknowledged the Kashmir independence issue, with one calling for a vote on Kashmiri independence - once a rare statement. Some analysts say live television images of the unrest, police actions and anti-India sentiment in Kashmir were beginning to impact public opinion. There was no such coverage during the uprising in the early 1990s.'Until recently, the federal government has offered little leadership on the issue. Analysts say such involvement could have calmed the situation. But Friday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for an end to the protests and violence in Kashmir.'In this hour of crisis, divisive politics will lead us nowhere,' he said, speaking from the heavily fortified ramparts of New Delhi's historic Red Fort to mark the 61st anniversary of India's independence. 'It is my conviction that all issues can be resolved only through dialogue and peaceful means.'