Where does one begin the story of the Kashmir conflict? Does one begin at
1947 when India was partitioned and Kashmir became a bone of contention between
the two new dominions – India and Pakistan? Or does one just wish away history
with the blink of an eye and move on to 1989 when armed insurgents began to
surface in the Valley? Or does one move ahead to newly created histories of
prejudice framed by religious and ethnic divides – Kashmiri Hindus versus
Kashmiri Muslims, Kashmir versus Jammu Dogras, Gujjars versus Paharis, and so on
and so forth. The irony is that the story of the Kashmir conflict is read by
most just where the chapter of prejudiced histories becomes more pronounced. The
perils are that a conflict that was not essentially communal or regional in
nature becomes more vulnerable to such divisions and polarisation. While the gun
was introduced with the slogan of azadi and talk of a secular Jammu and
Kashmir, it was essentially the government response through its various agencies
and sponsored or patronised organisations that ensured that seeds of division
and consequent fanaticism were sown.
The Kashmir conflict can be dated back to the partition of 1947; the violent conflict is also steeped in long years of historic wars between India and Pakistan fought over the land of Kashmir. But the insurgency operations and counter insurgency operations are a far more recent phenomenon that gained momentum in 1989, beginning first in the Valley. Ask a Pandit from the Valley about the genesis of the conflict and he will blame the Islamisation of the Valley and talk of the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits following threats to Kashmiri Hindus in the Valley. Ask any Kashmiri Muslim and he’d swear that the threats are vastly overrated and that the Pandits deserted them when the azadi slogan gained momentum in the Valley. The two diametrically antagonistic histories born in 1989, when the gun arrived, have contributed in sharply dividing the two communities and shaped communal politics within and outside the ambit of the gun. The much-fabled Kashmiriyat, bonds of which every Kashmiri on both sides of the communal divide would love to eulogise, was the casualty. But if the bonds were so strong, why did they suddenly snap, the bullet piercing through age-old harmony?
It is necessary to first explore the genesis of the gun. Why did this come about? Was Islamic jehad a propelling force? It would be difficult to describe this genesis in a nutshell. And yet, for a cursory glance through the events that shaped the history of militancy in Kashmir one would have to begin in 1947 itself with the Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir State. Jawaharlal Nehru’s unfulfilled promise for plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir followed by New Delhi’s dictatorial policies and centralising control of the state had subverted all democratic institutions in Jammu and Kashmir. It was obvious that New Delhi could not implicitly trust any leader with a mass following in Kashmir, particularly one who questioned central policies or actions. Sheikh Abdullah was arrested, released, re-arrested and finally released on a number of occasions during the period between the Delhi Agreement, 1952 and the Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah accord of 1975. It was mainly government policy followed in New Delhi that led to the Sheikh’s oscillation from the demand for plebiscite to a mellowed autonomy, an autonomy that had been totally eroded long before his death. The puppet regimes imposed in Jammu and Kashmir may have been mere extensions of this policy but they were nevertheless a clear signal to the only state in the Indian union with not just a Muslim majority population but also a disputed history that New Delhi was in no mood to set aside its bid to rule the state through autocratic policies.
That religion may have had something to do with this is not known. For even in the case of Pakistan, which administers one-third of this divided state, with a majority Muslim population, various governments of Pakistan ensured that only puppet governments took charge in Pakistan administered Jammu and Kashmir. However, religion was definitely being liberally used by India to convey the message that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were not to be trusted owing to their ethnic and community identity. This was the same state, the south of which burned like other parts of the subcontinent in 1947, but where in the north, in the Valley, Mahatma Gandhi saw a beacon of light. Not a single killing was reported on communal lines. Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir under the secular umbrella of the National Conference also rallied for peace in October 1947 when raiders began their attack. Sheikh Abdullah’s clarion call raised 15,000 volunteers and a peace brigade was formed as all of Srinagar echoed with slogans of "Sher-e-Kashmir ka kya irshad, Hindu-Muslim-Sikh Ittehad" and "Hamlawar khabardar, Hum Kashmiri hain taiyar" ("What does the Sher-e-Kashmir decree, Hindu-Muslim-Sikh Unity" and "Attackers beware, We Kashmiris are prepared").
The secular essence of the Valley was embodied in the Sheikh’s words, when he addressed the people: "Today the raiders from Pakistan are a few miles from Srinagar. They are raising the slogan of Islam. It is open to you to be with them or to be with me. If you opt to be with me you must know that you have to live for all times on the principle that Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs are brothers. If that is the language of a ‘kafir’ you should raise your sword against me. If you want to raid or rape ‘kafirs’ I am the first ‘kafir’ and you must start from my place and my family." 1
The holocaust that raged through certain states like Bengal and Punjab in 1947 "failed to have any echo" in the Kashmir Valley, which had a 93.7 per cent Muslim population. The Hindus in the Kashmir Valley remained safe and protected even in the wake of communal killings of Muslims in the Hindu dominated Jammu region. Credit for this goes mainly to Sheikh Abdullah and his colleagues in the party. 2
If this was the picture of communal harmony in Kashmir in 1947, did it take five decades for the fabric of Kashmiriyat to be tarnished, or did this happen suddenly in the 1990s? Though the chasms between the two communities seem to have appeared suddenly, with both sides being caught a little unawares, a closer scrutiny of their prejudiced histories shows that cracks had begun to form long ago. Many did not realise this and many chose to overlook it as a passing phase. The Kashmiri Pandits formed a minuscule minority in the Kashmir Valley, being only about two to three per cent of the Valley’s total population. The rest were largely Muslim, mostly Kashmiri speaking. The creation of the gulf between the two sides was shaped by several events and follies of history and the manner in which both sides interpreted these events. The story probably began some time in 1947 itself, with an incident in Baramulla:
"Left behind in Baramulla [on 27 and 28 October] were assorted groups of [Pathan] tribesmen from the North-West Frontier Province and, even, it is very possible, Afghanistan. Discipline was not the strongest characteristic of such men; and their officers experienced serious difficulty in keeping them under control, particularly when stories began to circulate of the arrival of the Sikhs (who had been generally accepted by the tribesmen as the greatest scourge of the Muslims in the communal massacres which accompanied Partition, and the legitimate foe in any jehad, holy war) at Srinagar airfield. The inevitable killing of Sikhs and Hindus in Baramulla, particularly merchants who had remained to guard their stock, now began to be accompanied by indiscriminate looting and a considerable amount of rape, applied as much to unfortunate Kashmiri Muslims as to the infidel. Usually these outrages did not lead to massacre; but in a few cases, where leaders completely lost control over their men, an orgy of killing was the result. This was certainly the case at St. Joseph’s College, Convent and Hospital, the site of what was to become one of the most publicised incidents of the entire Kashmir conflict. Here nuns, priests and congregation, including patients in the hospital, were slaughtered; and at the same time a small number of Europeans, notably Lt.-Colonel DO Dykes and his wife, as well as the assistant Mother Superior and one Mr. Barretto, met their deaths at tribal hands." 3
The Baramulla affair has become central to the Indian or Kashmiri Pandit mythology about Kashmir. Events to the south of the Valley in the same state during the same period may also have shaped the sense of respective insecurities of both the Kashmiri Hindus and the Muslims. In the Jammu province, things went very differently. There, unlike every other part of the state, Hindus and Sikhs slightly outnumbered Muslims; and within a period of 11 weeks starting in August, systematic savageries, similar to those already launched in East Punjab and in Patiala and Kapurthala, practically eliminated the entire Muslim element in the population, amounting to 500,000 people. About 200,000 just disappeared, remaining untraceable, having presumably been butchered, or died from epidemics or exposure. The rest fled destitute to West Punjab. 4
According to official records of the United Nations Security Council, Meeting No. 534, March 6, 1951: "Shortly after the terrible slaughters in India, which accompanied Partition, the Maharaja set upon a course of action whereby, in the words of the special correspondent of The Times of London published in its issue of 10 October 1948, "in the remaining Dogra area, 237,000 Muslims were systematically exterminated, unless they escaped to Pakistan along the border, by all the forces of the Dogra State headed by the Maharaja in person and aided by Hindus and Sikhs"."
GK Reddy, a Hindu editor of Kashmir Times, said in a statement published in The Daily Gazette, a Hindu paper of Karachi, in its issue of October 28, 1947: "The mad orgy of Dogra violence against unarmed Muslims should put any self-respecting human being to shame. I saw armed bands of ruffians and soldiers shooting down and hacking to pieces helpless Muslim refugees heading towards Pakistan… I saw en route State officials freely distributing arms and ammunition among the Dogras… From the hotel room where I was detained in Jammu, I counted as many as twenty-six villages burning one night and all through the night rattling fire of automatic weapons could be heard from the surrounding refugee camps."
The communal violence that gripped Jammu was not altogether one-sided. A large number of Hindu and Sikhs too were butchered in some parts of the region, particularly in Rajouri, Mirpur and areas now under Pakistani occupation. But the fact that there was an obvious bid by State forces to patronise the killings and victimisation of Muslims was a more glaring occurrence. Trouble was brewing in Poonch where a popular non-communal agitation was launched after the Maharaja’s administration took over the erstwhile jagir under its direct control and imposed some taxes. The mishandling of this agitation and use of brutal forces by the Maharaja’s administration inflamed passions, turning this non-communal struggle into communal strife. The Maharaja’s administration had not only asked all Muslims to surrender their arms but also demobilised a large number of Muslim soldiers in the Dogra army and the Muslim police officers, whose loyalty it suspected. The Maharaja’s visit to Bhimber was followed by large-scale killings in some areas of Poonch like Pulandri, Bagh and Sudhnoti with a large number of ex-servicemen and soldiers who had joined the British Indian Army and had served them in the Second World War raising a banner of revolt against the Maharaja.5 The events in Jammu province revealed that there was an attempt to change the demographics of the division. The 1947 carnage left several Muslim majority populated villages in Jammu district alone totally Hindu or Sikh populated. In Jammu district alone, which is a part of the larger Jammu province, Muslims numbered 158,630 and comprised 37 per cent of the total population of 428,719 in the year 1941. In the year 1961, Muslims numbered only 51,693 and comprised only 10 per cent of the total population of 516,932. The decrease in the number of Muslims in Jammu district alone was over 100,000. SUP>6 That there was a design to change the demographics is demonstrated by another incident. Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehr Chand Mahajan told a delegation of Hindus who met him in the palace when he arrived in Jammu that now when the power was being transferred to the people they should better demand parity. When one of them associated with the National Conference asked how they could demand parity when there was so much difference in population ratio. Pointing to the Ramnagar natural reserve below, where some bodies of Muslims were still lying, he said, "the population ratio too can change." 7
The events in Jammu may have stirred up insecurities among the Muslims and Pandits of the Valley for different reasons. The Kashmiri Muslims may have felt threatened by the State’s role in patronising violence against Jammu’s Muslim population. Added to this was the fact that while the raiders who attacked Kashmir in 1947 from the Pakistani side were notorious for loot, plunder and rapes, the policy of the Indian forces was not particularly sympathetic towards the Muslims. The Pandits had reason to fear a backlash for what happened in Jammu where Muslims were in a minority. The fears may have stemmed from a minority syndrome, which could to some extent have been natural due to their minuscule population in the Valley. But much of this fear stemmed from a history of the misplaced sense of persecution that Pandits began to feel especially after 1947 when the rule of the Hindu Dogra ruler was over and the state was ruled by a government led by a Kashmiri Muslim. The fears were misplaced on several counts. The Baramulla memory, one of the bitterest, was haunting for Pandits and Muslims alike because the raiders did not spare any community. Secondly, Jammu and Kashmir, despite its disputed nature, was for all practical purposes administratively a unit of India. The state was initially granted full autonomy barring three issues – external affairs, defence and communication. The presence of the Indian army, an epitome of security for the Pandits, itself ensured a smoother integration of Pandits with the rest of India and they were indeed a part of the larger Hindu majority. Besides, the New Delhi dominated politics that took hold in Kashmir in subsequent years was proof enough that Pandits had no reason to feel insecure where majority Hindu State-centric policies were to determine the fate of the land. Coupled with this was the State-sponsored bid to change demographics in 1947, followed by the Hindu nationalist demand to dilute Jammu and Kashmir’s special status with their slogan of "Ek Vidhaan, Ek Pradhan aur Ek Nishaan". In fact, Hindu right wing leaders like Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Balraj Madhok’s repeated rhetoric questioning the safety of border villages where Muslims were in a greater majority was a greater source of insecurity for the Muslims than it was for the Hindus. Thirdly and more importantly, in 1947, unlike elsewhere in the subcontinent, here it was the 97 per cent Muslims of the Valley who ensured full protection to the minority Hindus. But it seemed that one isolated event of Baramulla and exaggerated rumours were more likely to shape the psyche of the Kashmiri Pandits in years to come.
There were some more compelling economic reasons as well, making both the Pandits and Muslims reel under a minority syndrome. Sheikh Abdullah’s land reforms had mainly affected the Pandits or the upper caste Hindus of Jammu province in whose hands the major portion of landholding was consolidated. A mere two per cent of Pandits owned 30 per cent of all landholdings in the Valley. The land reforms introduced by Sheikh Abdullah from 1948 to 1953, together with the spread of free primary education, had created a new class of ambitious Kashmiri Muslims. But no new institutions had been provided to accommodate these Muslims; and the older ones were monopolised by the minority Hindus who ran schools and colleges and had a disproportionate presence in the bureaucracy. Thus on the part of Muslims there was also a brewing resentment against Pandits who had a history of being over-represented in government employment as compared to the overall proportion of their population. They were better educated and occupied all top posts in the bureaucracy and other professional fields. Even as Muslims started making indents in various fields, taking a share of what was otherwise a monopoly of the Pandits, during the 1960s and ’70s, the Pandits gradually began to slip into a syndrome of insecurity. They were aware of their minuscule minority and their history of monopoly, educational, professional and economic.
This feeling of ‘dispossession’, along with the interplay of rumours and some stray events that became part of a bitter collective memory, enhanced their insecurities within the Valley. Whether motivated by misplaced psychological fear or deliberate design, most of the rumours were exaggerated through a whisper campaign projecting the Pandits as victims and the Muslims as perpetrators. Several incidents such as the involvement of a group of five men with Pakistani agencies in the mountains of North Kashmir during the 1965 war, the murder of a Hindu youth in a downtown area and the damage to a temple in Anantnag in South Kashmir in 1986, were cited again and again to magnify the threat perception to Pandits. Kashmiris in the diaspora have been particularly active in engaging world opinion with this sort of perception. The Tiger Ladies: A Memoir of Kashmir, the memoirs of an expatriate Kashmiri woman, Sudha Kaul, is trapped in the same mindset. Despite its high literary merit, it talks of such myths as memories that are suddenly shaped into history without chronological details. This is a clever ploy as the writer jumps from the incident of 1965 to the militancy of 1989 as if the events are not just interrelated but as if there were no intervening period in between. Such myths that were only oral history became more prevalent after 1989. The perils here cannot be overemphasised as today these distorted histories from a community perspective are being handed down in written form.
In retrospect, several Pandits look back and recall that they had always felt secure amidst the presence of the Indian army, a presence of which most Muslims were wary. Their ‘patriotism’ towards India was their potential weapon against any Muslim domination or the threat that Muslim Pakistan would take their side. This is what essentially shaped the Pandit psyche in the years preceding the insurgency. Thus, when militancy suddenly surfaced, with reports that disgruntled Muslim youth were going across the Line of Control to receive arms training in camps set up by Pakistan, the fears multiplied. Added to this was the nationalist discourse going on at two levels – one at the government level and a parallel one at the Hindu right wing level. The killings of some prominent Pandits, including right wing leaders or men who had affiliations with the Hindu right wing like Tikalal Taploo, added fuel to the fire. The killings of all Muslims was eclipsed by the killings of the Hindus, projected more widely and with a twist both by the Pandit community, under the shadow of its growing insecurities, and the Indian agencies. The media happily played the role of force multiplier, this side or that.
When men from the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) began the armed struggle, it was not an Islamic jehad. Slogans of ‘azadi’ rent the air as the JKLF presented its vision of a secular Jammu and Kashmir, although aberrations by some over-zealous youth talking also of ‘nizam-e-Mustafa’ and sloganeering from mosques, which has been a traditional manner of politicking in the Valley, cannot be ruled out. The first casualty of the struggle was a Muslim, Mohd. Yusuf Halwai, demonstrating that the targets were not only Hindus but also Muslims. Though in proportion to their population a larger number of Pandits were killed in this first phase of militancy, they were not killed because of the community they belonged to. There were other reasons behind the killings. The Kashmiri Pandits formed a kind of elite in the Valley; they had a large presence in the bureaucracy, both in the Valley and in Delhi, where government policy on Kashmir was often dictated by the fears and concerns of this tiny minority. Their connections with India and their relative affluence made them highly visible targets during the first few months of the insurgency in 1990. 8 The myth of selective killings is further exploded by statistics. According to a report in The Times of India in 1993, quoting official sources, militants killed 1,585 men and women, including 981 Muslims, 218 Hindus, 23 Sikhs and 363 security personnel between January 1990 and October 1992. According to research by the Strategic Foresight Group, 29 Muslims were killed in 1988 in militancy related violence. There was no Hindu killing. In 1989 and 1990, six and 177 Hindus respectively were killed, as against 73 and 679 Muslims, besides six Sikhs. In 1991, the killings of Hindus are recorded at 34 and those of Muslims at 549. These killings are not Valley specific but hold good for the entire state. Moreover, these figures also include Hindu pilgrims or tourists killed in the state. The statistics reveal that at no point of time were more Hindus killed than Muslims. In fact, barring 1990, Hindus formed a minuscule percentage of the total killings. 9 In fact, the victimisation of Muslims is also greater in view of the large-scale atrocities by security forces.
But the damage had been done. The minority syndrome, the perpetuated myths and baggage of distorted history that the Pandits carried, coupled with the killings, the sloganeering and mosque calls, which, like the Anantnag event of 1986 when a temple was damaged, became the accepted generalisation. This was further compounded by the appointment of a new governor to the state, Jagmohan, and the consequent announcement of governor’s rule. The exodus of Pandits from the Valley had become inevitable. For many, Jagmohan is seen as the man who engineered the mass flight. Whether this was true or not, Jagmohan did see the Kashmir problem as essentially a Muslim versus Hindu one, where Muslim was perpetrator and Hindu the victim. This was no strong departure from the myths those at the helm of affairs in New Delhi shared. In an interview to Current, May 1990, Jagmohan stated, "Every Muslim in Kashmir is a militant today. All of them are for secession from India. I am scuttling Srinagar Doordarshan’s programmes because everyone there is a militant... The bullet is the only solution for Kashmir. Unless the militants are fully wiped out, normalcy can’t return to the Valley." 10 It was in early 1990, during Jagmohan’s few months as India’s appointed governor – and, some say, with his active encouragement – that most of the community of 140,000 11 Kashmiri Hindus left the Valley. Jagmohan had originally been made governor of Kashmir in 1984 by Indira Gandhi in order to dismiss Kashmir’s elected government; he had served for five turbulent years during which his aggressively pro-Hindu policies further alienated Muslims in the Valley from India. His limited comprehension of the insurgency – as simply a limited law-and-order problem that could be swiftly contained – is apparent in his memoir about his time as governor of Kashmir. Many Kashmiris believe that he wanted the Hindus safely out of the way while he dealt with the Muslim guerrillas. 12
There is more evidence to suggest Jagmohan’s role in the exodus. Senior Jammu-based journalist and human rights activist Balraj Puri writes in Kashmir: Towards Insurgency:
"The Jagmohan regime witnessed the exodus of almost the entire small but vital Kashmir Pandit community from the valley. Padma Vibhushan Inder Mohan (later he renounced the title) and I [Balraj Puri] were the first public men to visit Kashmir in the second week of March 1990 after the new phase of repression had started. Though the Kashmiri Muslims were in an angry mood, they heard us with respect and narrated their tales of woe. At scores of the meetings to which we were invited during our short but hectic visit, Kashmiri Muslims expressed a genuine feeling of regret over the migration of Kashmiri Pandits (KP) and urged us to stop and reverse it. Encouraged by the popular mood, we formed a joint committee of the two communities with the former chief justice of the high court Mufti Bahauddin Farooqi as president, the Kashmiri Pandit leader HN Jatto as vice-president and a leading advocate Ghulam Nabi Hagroo as general secretary, in order to allay the apprehensions of the Kashmiri Pandits. Jatto recalled that the Pandits had reversed their decision to migrate in 1986 after the success of the goodwill mission led by me. He expressed the hope that my new initiative would meet with similar success. A number of Muslim leaders and parties, including militant outfits, also appealed to the Pandits not to leave their homes; Jatto welcomed and endorsed their appeals, but soon migrated to Jammu himself. He told me that soon after the joint committee was set up, the governor [Jagmohan] sent a DSP to him with an air ticket for Jammu, a jeep to take him to the airport, an offer of accommodation at Jammu and an advice to leave Kashmir immediately. Obviously the governor did not believe that the effort at restoring inter-community understanding and confidence was worth a trial.
The experiment came under crossfire. The official attitude was far from cooperative. The rise of new militant groups, some warnings in anonymous posters and some unexplained killings of innocent members of the community contributed to an atmosphere of insecurity for the Kashmiri Pandits. A thorough, independent enquiry alone can show whether this exodus of Pandits, the largest in their long history, was entirely unavoidable."
There was an obvious bid to use the theory of Hindu victims suffering at the hands of Muslim guerrillas and their exodus, which the Hindu right wing called ‘forced exile’, as a political tool to demonise the movement for independence through a systematic war of propaganda unleashed by the government, the Hindu right wing and the elite Kashmiri Pandits. The displacement of Pandits from the Valley has been the prime tool of Indian officials, politicians and media in the propaganda war over Kashmir since 1990. 13 There were two distinct kinds of displacement from the Valley. Those who were well off, mostly in government jobs, retained the rights to their salaries and looked for better career opportunities in Jammu or elsewhere in the country. And about 5,000 of those who left lived in shabby camps in the scorching heat of Jammu or Delhi. As the latter were left to their fate, there was a growing feeling that the community leadership, mainly the elite class, had betrayed their interests for the sake of vote-bank politics.
Pankaj Mishra writes about a Hindu, Gautam, whom he met in a camp. He had left his apple orchards near Baramulla in the north of the Valley in 1990 with sixty-five rupees in his pocket to come here. There had been no water for eight days and the plastic buckets used for storage had begun to run dry. He said bitterly, "We are like a zoo, people come to watch and then go away." He felt betrayed by Jagmohan and the other politicians, especially the Hindu nationalists, who had held up the community as victims of Muslim guerrillas in order to get more Hindu votes, and had then done very little to resettle them, find jobs for the adults and schools for the young. He had been back to the Valley just once: he had been persuaded to do so by his Muslim neighbour who personally came to the refugee camp to escort him back to his village. The warmth between the Hindu and Muslim communities of the Valley – so alike in many ways for the outsider, so hard to tell apart – had remained intact, and had acquired a kind of poignancy after such a long separation.
There may be some stories – of neighbours occupying homes of Pandits – but conversely there are also stories of how Muslim neighbours have looked after the property of Pandit friends and neighbours. In Tulamulla, it was a Muslim family that lit the lamps at a famous temple shrine considered sacred by the Pandits. In some cases there are stories of flight necessitated by the threats Pandits received in the initial years of militancy because envious Muslim neighbours wanted to grab their property. But equally, there are also cases of a Muslim neighbour grabbing the property of a Muslim or a Pandit neighbour grabbing the property of a Pandit. A middle-aged Pandit in a Kashmiri camp on the outskirts of Jammu I met a year ago, Krishan Lal mentioned how he had been persuaded by a relative, also a neighbour, in his village in Tangmarg in North Kashmir, to shift out. They had planned to leave together but the neighbour backed out at the last moment. His son was killed in militancy related violence some years later. Krishan Lal said, "We heard he was involved with some group." His Hindu neighbour continues to live in their ancestral village 14 years after Krishan Lal’s flight. Krishan Lal’s house and small restaurant are today in the neighbour’s possession, who visits Jammu occasionally to tell him that his property is in safe custody but his own return may not be safe. Visit the migrant camps or visit rural Kashmir, villages where Pandits had a substantial presence, and one hears stories with wide ranging reasons on why Kashmiri Hindus fled or how they managed to stay put due to the efforts of good old neighbours. A senior journalist in Kashmir talked of one Pandit family near Tangmarg who decided to stay on till 1991, when the few other Hindu families in their village also shifted out. They decided to follow suit but were stopped by Muslim neighbours. The neighbour’s son, in the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, assured them of protection. They continue to stay there till date.
The exodus itself may not have damaged the bonds of Kashmiriyat as much if the propaganda machinery on Islamic jehad started by the State and the Hindu right wing, which was becoming a force to reckon with in the ’80s, had not roped the displaced Kashmiri Hindus into their fold. Several Pandit organisations that were floated during or after the exodus and several elitist Pandits became a pliable tool in the hands of such propagandist tactics. The bitterness on the other side was a reaction. The timing coincided with the gradual decline of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front after the arrest or killing of its top brass and Pakistan’s conscious decision to strengthen the hands of the Jamaat-e-Islami backed Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM). Pakistan wanted more control in Kashmir politics and the JKLF’s independent approach could have been detrimental to its interests as compared to the HM’s pro-Pakistan agenda.
But first came the propaganda with its exaggerated statistics of Pandit killings and the number of those displaced. Statistics show that there couldn’t have been more than 160,000 Pandits in the Valley at the time of the exodus. But figures were inflated to 4 lakhs as many of those already settled outside the Valley also began to register themselves as displaced. Kashmiri Muslims resented the growing propaganda against them all over India, and which they saw Kashmiri Pandits as being party to. Pakistan’s plan in replacing the JKLF with the HM at this juncture may not have succeeded so well had the gulf between the two communities not widened so much. For even today the sympathies and aspirations of most Muslims in the Valley still lie with the independence ideology. The shift from secular Islam to jehadi Islam may not have triggered the large-scale displacements of Hindus from Kashmir but the latter may have played a part in popularising the jehadi groups during the early ’90s. Kashmiri Pandits did not figure in the HM’s game plan to Islamise the Valley. Most Pandits had fled by the time the HM entered the picture as a dominant group in separatist politics. But its warning – ‘Kashmiri Pandits responsible for duress against Muslims should leave the Valley within two days’ – published in the Urdu daily Alsafa on April 14, 1990, was critical in triggering a fresh exodus. Subsequently, it warned the Pandits against returning to the Valley because they had joined hands against the enemy forces, referring to India. The HM declared that Pandits would be allowed to return only after they had proved themselves to be part and parcel of the movement. The essentially Hindutva-centric approach on Kashmir in India, especially during the ’80s when the BJP and its allies were becoming a power to reckon with, was being complemented by a jehadi Islamic approach from Pakistan. Kashmir was the chessboard and the victims on both sides, swayed by the burden of their prejudiced histories, were, but naturally, the Kashmiris – be it the Hindu or the Muslim.
Both New Delhi and Islamabad’s intentions to reap the harvest of engineered divisions on communal and ethnic lines did not stop at the Valley, which had become a successful experiment for both sides. In the early ’90s it continued in the Doda region, where, unlike the Valley in 1989-91, militant groups carried out massacres on a purely selective basis. While the militant operations were designed to create communal polarisation between the Hindus and Muslims, the State’s role complemented these designs by scuttling all efforts at joint community initiatives. Instead, armed village defence committees were created to provide arms training and .303 rifles mainly to Hindus. The army crackdowns in Doda also created further divisions. In the first half of the ’90s, army crackdowns to trace militants in Doda, which has a 55 per cent Muslim and 45 per cent Hindu population, followed a deliberate pattern. People were asked to come out of their houses and the soldiers asked them to identify themselves. The Hindus were asked to form a separate queue and sent back after just a dose of abuse. The Muslims were often also beaten up. Thankfully, despite much provocation, Doda did not go the Kashmir way. But the bid to play politics of division amidst the conflict continues, now in the twin border districts of Rajouri-Poonch, where active militancy surfaced in the second half of the ’90s though the two districts were popular routes of infiltration for militants in the first phase. The divisions here, unlike in the Valley and Doda, are not so much religious but mainly on ethnic lines. Rajouri-Poonch has an interesting demographic pattern. While the districts have a majority of 80 per cent Muslims, in the two major towns of Rajouri and Poonch the Muslims form a minuscule minority of 20 per cent. Most of the Hindus in these two districts have settled in the towns. Much of the militancy here is concentrated in the rural areas. The forces thus play on the Gujjar Muslim versus Pahari Muslim divide, projecting the former as a ‘patriotic’ victim and the latter as perpetrator at the behest of Pakistan. In recent years several village defence committees formed in these two districts have an overwhelming Gujjar domination. Such engineered divides boded ill for the Valley. If this carries on unchecked, Rajouri and Poonch may fast slip into the same mould. And, as in the Valley, the damage will then be irreversible.
On a personal level, in most cases, traditional bonds of Kashmiriyat between neighbours and friends still exist as they did even in the initial period of militancy, and even though in the collective memory there is bitterness on both sides. But it is difficult to keep building on the hopes imbued by such personal bonds; bonds demonstrated for instance when Kashmiri Pandits visit the Valley every year during the famous Khir Bhawani festival at a Hindu shrine. Let down by their community leaders, many Pandits living in relief camps avow that they still maintain good relations with their old Muslim friends and neighbours, who also occasionally visit them from Kashmir. But as one such camp inhabitant, a man in his forties, Gopi Krishan says, "We know them, but do we know their children, they have not grown up amongst us. Who knows what is on their minds?" His words echo the fears of those on either side of the divide.
(Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal is executive editor, Kashmir Times)
1 Navnit Chadha Behera, State Identity and Violence: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
2 PS Verma, Jammu and Kashmir at political crossroads, New Delhi 1994.
3 Alastair Lamb, Incomplete Partition: The Genesis of the Kashmir Dispute 1947-1948, Roxford 1997.
4 Ian Stephens, Pakistan, New York 1963.
5 Public lecture, ‘Partition of 1947, some memoirs’ by Ved Bhasin, organised by SAFHR, Jammu University, September 2003.
6 India, District Census Handbook, Jammu & Kashmir, Jammu District, 1961.
7 Public lecture, Ved Bhasin.
8 Pankaj Mishra, Kashmir: The Unending War.
9 Cost of Conflict between India and Pakistan, Report, International Centre for Peace Initiatives.
10 Victoria Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and The Unending War, New York 2000.
11 Estimate of population of Hindus in Kashmir Valley in 1990:
The 1981 census in the Kashmir Valley records 125,000 Hindus (1981 Jammu and Kashmir Census Report). Taking the 30 per cent increase in the total population over the period 1971-1981 and extrapolating it to the period 1981-1990, we get an estimated total Hindu population of the Valley in 1990 as 162,500.
12 Pankaj Mishra, Kashmir: The Unending War.
13 Sumantra Bose, Kashmir: Roots of Conflicts, Paths To Peace.
Having crossed the LoC to train for the jihad, a number of disillusioned dropouts languish in Muzaffarabad
From Zafar Meraj in Muzaffarabad
Divided by the over 700 kilometer long border known as the Line of Control (LoC), the two halves of Jammu and Kashmir state, one called Azad Kashmir, under the control of Pakistan, and the other known as Jammu and Kashmir, under Indian administration, have a lot in common. In both parts of the state there is an overwhelming desire for azadi and a return to peace.
Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, is a small place compared to its counterpart on the Indian side, Srinagar. However, what is similar between the two is the lush green landscape, defined by rivers and mountains.
When I reached Muzaffarabad as part of a journalists' delegation from the Indian side of Kashmir on November 22, I virtually forgot that I was in a 'foreign' country and had to undergo the cumbersome process of obtaining a visa and special permission to visit Azad Kashmir. The people, the surroundings, the atmosphere were no different from home.
Had it not been a visit organised by SAFMA, however, I would have had to undergo a long wait before getting clearance to enter 'Azad territory.' There are people on both sides ,who have been waiting for decades to cross the LoC to meet their kith and kin, but their desire remains unfulfilled.
As I was checking into Sangam, said to be the best hotel in Muzaffarabad, someone called out to me "Zafar sahib, remember me, I am Fayaz (name changed), from the old Srinagar locality of Zainakadal. My elder brother was your classfellow and I have met you with him." It took me a moment to recognise Fayaz, who had aged visibly. Fayaz was part of a 20-member group of youth from Srinagar, who crossed the 'khooni lakeer' or LoC in the mid '60s for arms training in Azad Kashmir.
Like the others, Fayaz was inspired by the desire to liberate his homeland from the clutches of the Indian army. However, he seemed disillusioned. "I rue the day I crossed the Line of Control (LoC). I had big dreams of freedom for my motherland, Kashmir. But soon after I landed in Muzaffarabad, after giving the slip to Indian soldiers guarding the LoC, it dawned upon me that I and hundreds like me had fallen victim to the designs of some vested interests. They wanted to ensure every advantage for themselves in the name of jihad and were not interested in the wellbeing of the people at large," said Fayaz, tears welling up in his eyes.
Fayaz complained that he and his colleagues were ill-treated because they believed in Kashmir's freedom from both India and Pakistan and did not support the idea of a merger with Pakistan, as "our masters here wanted." In less than three months they left the camp and have been wandering around Azad Kashmir since.
At the hotel, Fayaz was joined by other young men, all from the Indian side of Kashmir, with a similar story to tell. For them, journalists from Indian Kashmir were something special. "We are meeting someone from there (Kashmir) after many years," they said. Local authorities, on hearing about the presence of the 'rebels,' swung into action and tried to prevent the boys from meeting us as a group. Their repeated requests for a formal meeting with their Kashmiri brothers was turned down. Eventually, the police were called in to prevent them from entering the hotel. Even visiting journalists were asked to verify their identity at the entrance of the hotel all the time we were in Muzaffarabad.
However, the boys somehow managed to meet us in twos and threes to narrate their tale of woe. Dejected by their experience in Azad Kashmir and homesick, they wanted to return as soon as possible. However, they realised that crossing the LoC had become almost impossible. "We are ready to face interrogation if we are allowed to go back," said Idrees Ahmed (name changed). When asked whether he would go as a militant, he shot back, "No, not at all, gone are those days, we want to live a peaceful life." His colleague, Jameel Ahmed, echoed his views and added, "(President) Musharraf is making friends with India to seek a solution to the Kashmir issue, why should we go as militants."
A senior officer of the Azad Kashmir government confirmed that any movement across the LoC was completely forbidden. "We stand committed to put a stop to the cross-border movement and, moreover, we know for sure that if these boys are permitted to go back, they will be shot dead by Indian soldiers."
Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Sikandar Hayat Khan has offered "every possible assistance" to the Kashmiri youth to help them settle down, but the situation on the ground is far from encouraging. Many of these boys are engaged in small time jobs, selling fruit and readymade garments on the roadside to support themselves. The authorities pay them an allowance of just 750 rupees a month. "Giving us 25 rupees a day is a cruel joke," said Mukhtar Ahmad (name changed), an engineer by profession who comes from a village in the south of Kashmir. He too was lured by the slogan of jihad and left his job in 1993 to join the 'mujahideen.' "I was the only person in my village who owned a Maruti car in the early nineties. I come from a well-to-do farmer's family and we have a big orchard that brings in revenue of over four lakh rupees a year," he said. "Here I am living a faqir's life".
Like Fayaz, Mukhtar too was keen to return to his home to lead a normal life. He was fully aware of the fact that once he crossed the LoC , he would be apprehended by the Indian soldiers. Even if he did not fall victim to their firing, he would definitely land in jail. " I know this well, but I still want to go back to my home and live with my family. At least I will not have to line up every month, like a beggar, to receive 750 rupees."
"I have to pay 3000 rupees rent and another thousand for electricity and other essential services. We are not even registered as refugees. I make ends meet with great difficulty," complains Imtiaz who works as a roadside vendor.
Having left the training camps, these young men are now virtually stranded in Muzaffarabad, living outside the camps set up by the authorities for refugees coming from the Indian side of Kashmir, mostly from the border areas of Karnah, Gurez and Keran.
The refugees have been provided with small hutments in Manakpayeen and some other areas of Muzaffarabad, and are given basic facilities like free rations, free electricity and education. On the other hand, says Shoukat, who hails from Srinagar city. "We are living a miserable life. We have no status at all. We are not mohajirs (refugees) nor can we claim to be citizens of Azad Kashmir. We are suffering from an identity crisis." Khalid Hussain Bukhari, now in his mid-thirties, was too young to know what 'azadi' meant, when he crossed the LoC along with 50 other boys as a JKLF trainee. "I soon gave up and now want to return home," he said. His parents live in Zainakote, a locality on the outskirts of Srinagar. "Meri sarzameen ko salam kehna, (Salute my native land)," he said when we left the Azad Kashmir University campus. Bukhari said that many of his compatriots from the Valley are depressed and homesick.
However, he does not regret joining the militant movement, saying that it was the need of the time. "We had to make India accept that Kashmir is a disputed area and the people of the state have the right to decide their future," he said, adding, "things have changed a lot since then. Today everyone talks about peace and I too want that peace should be given a chance." He was of the view that those who claimed to lead the "freedom movement" were not sincere. "When we arrived here, we were received with open arms. We were provided with good food, comfortable shelter and everything else but then the mood changed and we have been left in the lurch," Bukhari said.
Some of the young men got married in Azad Kashmir but it is difficult for them to provide for their families. "Even our wives are ready to go back to Kashmir with us," said Ali Mohammad, who hails from Patan village in north Kashmir. He wanted us to plead their case with the government in Srinagar to gain permission to return and "live a peaceful life."
The majority of the boys were highly critical of the militant leadership based in Pakistan, saying that the top commanders and senior militants enjoyed all the luxuries of life. "Their children are settled here. They have expensive cars to ride and palatial bungalows to live in," said Hanif Haider of the Refugee Welfare Organisation. Haider, who runs the Jammu and Kashmir Human Rights Movement, said that a few years back the government snapped the power supply to their camps. "When we protested we were lathi-charged," he says
However, a government official dismissed the allegation saying, "there was some internal feud leading to the police action."
Haider said that the NGO Siddique Welfare Trust has helped them from time to time. Surrounded by a dozen frustrated youth, he asked, "Who is responsible for making their lives miserable'? We need to fix the responsibility." He added that the Kashmir problem needs to be resolved in consultation with the people from all the five regions which existed on August 14, 1947. "We will not surrender our right to freedom," he asserted.
Altaf Ahmed, Assistant Relief Commissioner in the Azad Kashmir government, maintains that the Kashmiri youth preferred to live outside the refugee camps. "They don't like to live in these conditions," he said.
During a visit to the Manakpayeen camp set up along the banks of the river Jhelum, refugees told visiting journalists about the "atrocities and brutalities" inflicted on them back in Kashmir that forced them to flee their homes. "It was impossible to live there," claimed Raja Izhar Khan, coming from a border village in Keran sector with a population of six thousand people. "We want to go back but our homes stand destroyed and we may not be able to return till azadi," he said.
Muhammad Ashraf Khan, a police officer at Keran, spent six months in army custody, charged with murder. "Actually, the murder was committed by Indian soldiers and as a policeman I tried to discharge my duty but they held me responsible for the murder," he alleged. According to Altaf, there were as many as 15 refugee camps in 'Azad Kashmir' where 4, 350 families live. Nine of these are at and around Muzaffarabad and every registered refugee is being looked after, he says.
None of our nuclear weapon scientists seems to
have realised the terrible significance of their
work and broken ranks to help inform the rest of
society about the nuclear threat that we all now
face. Instead they have chosen to happily accept
the privileges and status that the government has
heaped upon them
By Ammara Durrani
Dr A H Nayyar, who has a PhD from Imperial College, London, has recently retired from the Department of Physics at Quaide Azam University, Islamabad, where he taught for over 30 years. He has also held several visiting appointments abroad, including at Princeton University, USA. He is currently a visiting fellow at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad. He is active in the peace movement, and is serving as President of the Pakistan Peace Coalition. He has published widely on issues of education reform and peace. In December 2004, he was awarded the Star Award for Activism by US-based Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA).
In an e-mail interview with Political Economy, Nayyar shed light on various aspects of debates on nuclear weapons, educational reforms, India-Pakistan peace process and energy politics in the region. Excerpts follow:
PE: Why should natural scientists like you feel the need to play a socially active role in areas of peace, human rights and education? Shouldn't you instead be busy in addressing the many industrial and technological problems that Pakistan faces?
AHN: Scientists are also citizens of their society and have to make choices of how to fulfill this role. There have been many scientists including some of the most eminent such as Albert Einstein, who have chosen to try to combine their roles as scientists and citizens. Einstein, for example, wrote many articles and essays for the general public on issues of war and peace, capitalism and socialism, and so on, including explaining why he was a pacifist and a socialist.
One of the major problems confronting our country, the region and the world is the threat of nuclear weapons. Physicists have been central to the development of nuclear weapons. They have also been part of campaigns against nuclear weapons everywhere. In fact, the very first anti-nuclear group was founded by some of the scientists who had been involved in building the bomb in 1945 for the US and realised the danger they had brought to the world. Many of these 'citizen scientists', as my friend Frank von Hippel of Princeton University calls them, were harassed by their governments for their anti-nuclear activism. But they persevered and have established a tradition of scientists taking seriously their social responsibility.
In Pakistan, we have not been so fortunate. None of our nuclear weapon scientists seems to have realised the terrible significance of their work and broken ranks to help inform the rest of society about the nuclear threat that we all now face. Instead they have chosen to happily accept the privileges and status that the government has heaped upon them.
For citizen scientists, the challenge is to use their technical knowledge and expertise to educate policymakers and the public about the consequences of having nuclear weapons. In particular, they are well placed to challenge the claims of the scientists in the nuclear weapons complex who always push for more and bigger and more sophisticated nuclear weapons and missiles. They can also help humanity chart a path towards nuclear disarmament by tackling the many technical problems that are involved in getting rid of nuclear weapons.
Along with the threat of nuclear weapons, the key questions that face Pakistani citizens are those of poverty, illiteracy, extremism and injustice. Scientists and other professionals need to take more seriously their responsibility to use their skills in understanding and solving problems in the public interest to try and address these concerns.
PE: Your work on changes in Pakistani curricula generated a lot of political controversy last year. What lessons did you learn from that episode, and what are your post-debate reflections?
AHN: The work you are referring to was a 2003 study done by a number of academics on the state of curricula and textbooks in Pakistan's public schools. Our report (available from SDPI, Islamabad), entitled "The Subtle Subversion", exposed how our children are being fed bigotry and hatred and filled with the most extreme, narrow-minded and violent ideas of Islam and what it means to be Pakistani. Our report made a series of recommendations to try and change this including reforms in the Ministry of Education, curriculum and textbooks.
The report and its proposals gathered a lot of support. It also attracted a lot of hostility. Rather than engage with our findings or our suggestions, the criticism came as attacks on our character mixed with blatant lies, baseless accusations, and conspiracy theories. Some of the attacks came from hawks who want Pakistan to remain forever hostile to India. Others came from Islamic political parties determined to push for an ever more extreme Islamic Pakistan. The two groups were united by a desire to maintain the ideological stranglehold their ideas have had over the education system for two decades.
We learnt some important lessons from this whole process. We saw just how important control of the education system is to the Islamist groups--they even created the Anjuman Tahaffuze Nisab to co-ordinate their opposition to any reform. We were also surprised by the depth of resistance to reform from within the educational bureaucracy. It was amazing to see this bureaucracy collude with hawks and Islamic ideologues by lying about our report to parliament. They claimed that a government appointed committee had examined and rejected our report. The committee, in fact, had agreed with our findings and supported our recommendations.
This response from the bureaucracy was not because of any overwhelming ideological commitment on the part of high officials, but more, in my view, to their proverbial inertia and a narrow, short-term view about the future of the nation. Officials seem to be more worried about damping down controversies than about what is good for the nation. They thus become very susceptible to pressure from groups that threaten to take to the streets.
It is not just bureaucrats who give in to pressure. The education minister at that time came under so much attack from Islamic political groups that she found it expedient to declare herself a fundamentalist. What was even more disappointing was that the rest of the government, despite all its rhetoric of reform, did not come to her support. But with time, and a lot of effort from civil society and progressive members of parliament, it seems that the government has finally agreed that there is a need to revise curricula and textbooks. The recent statements from the new education minister are encouraging.
However, the battle is not over. The recent case of the Aga Khan Examination Board shows that the pressure from those who have an ideological stake in the existing system is continuing.
PE: One feels that the anti-nuclear and peace groups in Pakistan did not address the A Q Khan nuclear proliferation controversy, as they should have. They lost an important opportunity to strike home their point. Do you agree?
AHN: No, the peace movement has always warned of the many dangers of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme--the danger of nuclear war, the risk of nuclear accidents, the inevitable arms race, the health and environmental impacts of nuclear facilities, the diversion of public money from social needs, the risk of proliferation and the prospects of Pakistan being seen as a danger to the international community. Many of these fears have been realised, including the A Q Khan affair. Sadly, those in power in Pakistan do not yet understand the full seriousness of the harm the nuclear programme has done to us. The peace movement has a long way to go.
Many of us in the Pakistani peace and anti-nuclear movement who have followed our nuclear weapons programme closely over the past three decades were not surprised by the revelation that A Q Khan was running an international network selling nuclear information and technology. Some people made a lot of money from being in this business. It was common knowledge in Islamabad that not only was A Q Khan above the law but was also living beyond his means. He used his power and his money to build up a cult of personality around himself, with lots of support from successive governments. Among other things, he paid for the reprinting in Pakistan of a book The Islamic Bomb in which he had several sections critical of him taken out and replaced with praise. As part of this and other efforts, including books published about himself, he used the enormous unaccounted money at his disposal to buy journalists.
It is hard to believe that A Q Khan and his subordinates were involved in this trafficking without government permission or knowledge. This is clear both from the enormous security that surrounds Pakistan's nuclear weapon facilities, its officials and scientists, and the countries to whom nuclear information and technology was sold. There is no way that these people could have traveled to North Korea, Iran and Libya (and anywhere else they went) without government knowledge, to say nothing of taking with them entire centrifuges and other components. The choice of countries was not random; North Korea, Libya and Iran all have had close strategic relations with Pakistan since the days of Z A Bhutto.
There is another aspect to the spread of knowledge and technology from Pakistan's nuclear complex that is perhaps even more important. Many of us have long worried about the growing presence of radical Islamists in our society and seen it happen in the nuclear complex. The loyalty of the Islamists is as much, if not more, to the Ummah and Jihad as to the country. It was no surprise to learn that senior scientists from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission had been trying to share their expertise with the Taliban and al Qaeda. It will be much harder for the government to deal with religious radicals in the nuclear programme, some of whom are to be found at the very highest levels in these establishments. The problem will persist even when they retire, since they will take their knowledge with them. As long as the Jihad is able to mobilise Muslims by pointing to injustices against them, such people will always have an incentive to play a part in the 'grand struggle'.
PE: You have been playing an active role on the India-Pakistan Track II diplomacy front. What is your reading of the current situation vis-a-vis India-Pakistan peace?
AHN: Track II efforts have been very successful in some ways. At the end of 1996 about 150 Pakistanis chose to cross the border at Wagah and travel across India by train all the way to Calcutta for a convention of the Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy. Now we have hundreds of people going across the border in both directions to these and other such meetings. The phrase 'people-to-people diplomacy' has now become a part of the diplomatic lexicon, and is often welcomed by governments. Another measure of success is how these people to people processes have expanded from peace activists to include a multitude of new horizontal contacts between the business community, journalists, writers, lawyers, parliamentarians, artists, students etc. This is creating a diverse array of interest groups who see the benefits of improved relations and peace between the two countries.
It seems that there is greater caution on the part of the Pakistani government about the increasing people to people contacts. This may be because decision-makers here fear that as relations improve, the Kashmir dispute will disappear from the radar screen of the international community. This apprehension is mistaken. In fact, the new people to people ties and growing sense of their shared interests, if allowed to flourish, will inevitably add to pressure on India and Pakistan to resolve their disputes, most importantly of Kashmir.
Nonetheless, the present dialogue between the governments is very encouraging. But we have still to see some concrete results. Suspicions persist, and are fueled by powerful forces opposed to peace on both sides. The situation is not helped by the two countries continuing their arms race, testing missiles and making nuclear weapons. There is obviously still a lot of work to be done by civil society in Pakistan and India to push their respective leaders to make real commitments to resolve their disputes and make peace. It will take a long time, a lot of political courage and perseverance to undo fifty years of conflict.
PE: You have also been participating in various dialogues between Kashmiris from both sides of LoC. How do you view the prevailing Kashmiri attitudes and concerns? Are Kashmiris changing as a people?
AHN: The peace movements in India and Pakistan have always taken the Kashmir issue very seriously. It was and remains one of the core issues in the Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy. Activists from both countries, including Dr Mubashir Hasan and I A Rahman from Pakistan and Tapan Bose and Gautam Navlakha from India have been speaking to Kashmiri leaders on the respective sides to better understand the situation and what Kashmiris want. This has included helping to organise meetings of Kashmiri civil society groups so that Kashmiris could talk to each other about their future.
I have been involved in meetings with Kashmiri leaders from Azad Kashmir and in a recent historic conference in Kathmandu that brought together Kashmiri leaders from both sides of the LoC for the first time. From my meetings with leaders of Azad Kashmir I gathered that they were all eager to have an intra-Kashmiri dialogue to create a Kashmiri voice in the India-Pakistan negotiations. In Kathmandu, the Kashmiris met in a closed session, without Pakistanis and Indians, to talk to each other. They chose not to give a blueprint for a final resolution of the dispute. Rather, the consensus was that the violence in Kashmir must end, and steps be taken to improve the social and economic situation (specially restoring the rule of law), and that the dignity and welfare of the Kashmiri people must be of paramount importance in any effort to find a solution. They agreed that any solution must be sought peacefully, must be honourable and feasible.
All the Kashmiri leaders I have met believe that the process of Kashmiris meeting and talking to each other needs to grow, especially across the LoC. It is a good sign that the governments of Pakistan and India seem to recognise the need to allow this kind of interaction. An agreement on allowing bus services across the LoC would be a big step forward.
PE: Energy diplomacy and politics has resumed centre stage in our region beginning last year. How do you view the responses and strategies of various governments currently involved in the energy game?
AHN: An important energy issue that has been engaging the governments of Pakistan and India is the prospect of gas pipelines from Iran and Turkmenistan through Pakistan to India. All the governments involved want the pipelines. There is also a sense among the governments of India and Pakistan and the larger international community that these pipelines would create increased mutual dependence between the two countries and so help improve their relations. A problem for all these governments in coming to agreement is the question of security of the pipeline and the supply of gas. There are armed groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan who might find threatening the pipeline a way to strike at or blackmail these states.
The present crisis in Balochistan undoubtedly adds to concerns about the viability of securing gas pipelines. The other countries involved in the proposed pipeline projects will see in the present crisis good reason to make alternative arrangements to buy and sell gas, ones that might be more expensive but would be more secure since they would not involve Pakistan.
The Musharraf government seems to recognise its vulnerability, but rather than seek a solution that would meet genuine Baloch demands it has chosen to threaten massive use of military force. Not only would this be completely unacceptable, it would certainly add to Baloch grievances in the long term, and perhaps imperil the stability of Pakistan.
Jan. 28 . — India and Pakistan will have to show magnanimity, flexibility
and courage if the dispute between the two countries is to be resolved.
But, says Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, the Baglihar dam issue,
involving an Indian project in Kashmir, has caused the peace process to
stutter. In an extensive and free-wheeling interaction last night with
editors of the Asia News Network, on the fringes of the World Economic
Forum here, Mr Aziz said several confidence building measures had been
initiated by his country. While he did not say it in so many words, he
hinted that the Indian response had sometimes been less than enthusiastic.
Pakistan, he said, had offered the energy corridor to carry gas from
Central Asia to the subcontinetft arid had done so de-linking it from
all other trade issues. "This is born out of our conviction that inter-
dependencies create peace." But, Mr Aziz said, "We have been getting mixed
responses from India." Asked pointedly if he saw a qualitative change in
the Indian approach after the change of guard in New Delhi, Mr Aziz said,
"I have had only one meeting with Dr Manmohan Singh. I believe he also
wants peace. Give me time and I will answer your question." The at the
forthcoming Saarc meeting.
The explosion and fire in a smelter recycling the military scrap imported by a recycling unit in Delhi in Sept 2004 had received wide media coverage. As per the reports the cargo originated from Iran. Iran and Iraq were locked in a 10 yearlong war during the eighties. In comparison to the wars fought by the US and allies in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan during the past 14 years, that one was a very low-key conflict. All these countries also share a land border with Iran. Moreover, Iraq and Afghanistan are still in a state of disequilibria, their foreign trade is not normalized as of now. Hence, it is likely that the scrap is the byproduct of these recent conflicts. The wars fought during the past fifteen years under the leadership of USA in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo were radioactive wars. They did not use atom bombs, but the projectiles they fired contained uranium238, which is generally known as depleted uranium (DU).
What Is Depleted Uranium?
Depleted uranium is a waste generated during the production of atom bombs and nuclear power. Uranium found in nature contains two isotopes, U235 and U238. The atoms of U235 can be fissioned by a neutron and this generates one or two fission products, well known among them being strontium90, cesium137 etc and a couple of neutrons. A part of the matter in the fissioned atom is converted to energy, as per the well known Einstein's equation-- E=mc2. This conversion happens instantaneously in a bomb and slowly in a controlled manner in a nuclear power plant. U238 is not in itself fissile, but it can capture a neutron and transmute into plutonium239, which is fissile. U238 is known as a fertile material. The uranium ore found in nature contains 99.3% of U238 and 0.7% of U235. The concentration of U235 has to be increased to about 3% in the case of reactor fuel and about 20% for the atom bombs. (All the reactors in India, other than the US supplied ones in Tarapur are of CANDU type, which uses natural uranium.) During the enrichment, the natural uranium goes through a centrifuge, where the metal is gasified and the two isotopes are separated. With the technology now available, only about 75% of U235 contained in the natural uranium can be extracted. This leaves a waste that contains 99.8% of U238 and about 0.2% of U235, known as depleted uranium (DU) -- depleted of U235. An estimated 1.5 million tons of DU is lying as radioactive waste in about half a dozen major nuclear nations, like US, Russia, France and Germany. This is growing by about 50,000 tons a year. The stockpile in US is about 600,000 tons.
DU in Conventional Weapons
U238 in the densest element found in nature. It has a specific gravity of 18.5, it is 75% denser than lead. American and British military industry has been coating the conventional weapons (artillery, tanks and aircrafts) with DU since the seventies. Projectiles with DU can penetrate the armoured steel of military vehicles and buildings, more easily than the conventional warheads that use a lead and tungsten alloy. Likewise a tankís DU-coated armour plate can withstand the hits from conventional projectiles. Secondly, it is pyrophoric, i.e., it inflames when reaching its target generating such heat that it explodes. Apart from the USA, countries like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Taiwan, South Korea, Pakistan and Japan are reported as having DU weapons. When a projectile hits a target, 70% of its DU burns and oxidizes, bursting into highly toxic, radioactive micro particles. Being so tiny, these particles can be ingested or inhaled after being deposited on the ground or carried kilometres away by the wind, the food chain or water. A 1995 technical report issued by the American Army indicates that "if depleted uranium enters the body, it has the potentiality of causing serious medical consequences. The associated risk is both chemical and radiological". Deposited in the lungs or kidneys, uranium 238 and products from its decay (thorium 234, protactinium etc) give off alpha and beta radiations, which cause cell death and genetic mutations causing cancer in exposed individuals and genetic abnormalities in their descendents over the years.
Until 1990, these weapons were tested within the national territories of US and Okinawa in Japan. In its 110,000 air raids against Iraq, the US A-10 Warthog aircraft (which is essentially a plane made around a gun) launched 940,000 sorties using projectiles, each having 300 grams of DU. In the land offensive, their M60, M1 and M1A1 tanks fired a further 4,000 larger caliber DU projectiles. According to the data released by the pentagon, 300 tons of DU has been used up in the 1990 assault against Iraq. A few more tons of DU munitions were burnt and aerosolized in a fire at the US military base in Doha, Qatar. Quantity used in Kosovo was 11 tons. Pentagon has not released the data on DU used in Afghanistan and in Iraq during the wars of this century.
After the Gulf War, Iraqi and international epidemiological investigations have revealed the appearance of new, difficult to diagnose diseases (serious immunodeficiencies, for instance) and a spectacular increase in congenital malformations and cancer, both in the Iraqi population and amongst several thousands of American and British veterans and in their children, a clinical condition known as Gulf War Syndrome. More than 90,000 of the 600,000 US soldiers who participated in these wars have illnesses attributed to their exposure to DU aerosols in the battlefield. These new class of victims are known as DU veterans. Similar symptoms to those of the Gulf War have been described amongst a thousand children residing in areas of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia).
Who are at Risk in India?
The UK war minister was arrogant enough to say that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will decontaminate the West Asian battlefields! That did not happen. The orphaned and impoverished children around the war zone, who make a living out of selling the scrap, do this dirty job which could have cost about a billion-pound for the polluter. The first victims in India will be the workers in the smelting plant. Part of the melting metal will be aerosolized, the workers will inhale these micro-particles, which will settle down in their lungs, irradiating the stem cells that are the target cells for lung cancer. If uranium deposited in the respiratory tract is dissolved by the body fluids, it will further move to kidney and other internal organs. Part of the uranium that reaches kidney will be excreted through urine. The aerosolized uranium can also travel beyond the shop floor. In the US, DU has been found in the air, some 50 kms away from the source of emission. If the smelting unit is in a densely populated region, children and pregnant women in the neighborhood will also receive their exposures. Fetus and children are more susceptible to radiation insult. From the smelting units, the recovered metal will be shipped to factories manufacturing consumer goods, exposing the workers there also. And from here, it finally reaches the homes and offices.
Radium-Laced Ganapathi Idols
As if that is not enough, India is also importing radioactive consumer goods. According to a Lucknow datelined report in the Hindu during the last festival season, radium-coated Ganesha --(the Hindu God with an elephant's head, the one who removes the hurdles in the path of the believers) idols from China was available in the market at Rs 500 and upward. Radium is a daughter of uranium. Because of its luminescence, it was earlier used in dials of wristwatches and military hardware. Radium is now being replaced by a less hazardous element. A little bit of radium in the dial will not cause any hazard to the wearer, but its ingestion, even in nano-gram quantities can have dangerous consequences. Like DU, radium is also a by-product of the nuclear weapon and power projects.
The Regulatory Regime
There are rules that prevent the movements of radioactive materials. These rules are more or less common in all the nations today. A German physician working with the affected children in Iraq was arrested at the Berlin airport for carrying a small piece of DU ammunition from Iraq for laboratory investigations. In India, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the citizens from all unnecessary exposure to ionizing radiation. The radiological dimension of the recent wars is not unknown to the Indian nuclear scientists. On hearing the news, the agency should have acted immediately, cordoned off the area, analyzed the scraps and declared them as radioactive waste, if they contained DU. Exposure to the soldiers who defused the live ammunitions, firemen, workers of the smelting units and of course the journalists who covered the story should have been avoided.
The DU recycling industry in India may be as old as the new radiological war. In which case, Americaís radioactive waste is now in many an Indian homes and offices. Thousands of workers may have also been exposed, without their knowledge. AERB has to step in, as it is never too late. All the scrap and the smelted metal ingots containing DU will have to be treated as radioactive waste as per the international guidelines. The believers who have installed the idol in their homes and the traders who are holding the stock should avoid personal contacts and deposit them with the nearest science labs for their final destination, i.e. the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Trombay.
India, as they say, is a responsible (sic) nuclear weapon state. Besides the bombs, India also has nuclear power stations in six States, all of them near densely populated cities and villages. The US supplied reactors in Tarapur, Maharasthra, are more than 40 years old. According to the textbook, the maximum useful life of a nuclear plant is 30 years. More than three fourth of the nuclear reactors under construction in the world today are also in this blessed land. All of us should feel relieved as we only narrowly escaped from a Chernobyl like accident at Kalpakam recently. The floodwaters of the Asian quake of 27th Dec 2004, surely might have carried the intermediate and low level radioactive waste, which are usually dumped in the open ground, to the Bay of Bengal. That surely will come back to the land and enter the human bodies through fish. The amount of radioactivity lost to the sea will probably remain unknown for a long time.
Radiation cannot be seen, felt or smelt. Sophisticated gadgets are required to detect its presence in the environment. There are only about half a dozen crude portable radiation counters with non-governmental individuals in India, about one dosimeter per 200 million people, not bad for a cow country, if the comparison is between the N weapon states in our neighborhood. Almost all the sophisticated gadgets that measure radiation are with the nuclear establishment. None of the well-known environmental NGOs in the country have any expertise in any branch of radiation either. The mainstream media, print as well as audio-visual, seem to be blissfully ignorant of the sources and hazards of ionizing radiation. A Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) committee appointed by the Supreme Court of India to look into the environmental hazards from industries in Cochin, Kerala, did not know what do look for in the Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IREL), which has one of the largest radioactive waste repositories in Asia. The committee members who visited the industrial area might have inhaled a few aerosols of alpha emitting thoron-daughters like polonoium, thalium, bismuth etc, which originate from the stocks inside IREL and move along with the wind to other factories, homes and schools. Incidentally, unlike other nuclear facilities in India, independent data on this facility are available in the public domain, lot of it in EPW also.
If the cargoes contained radioactive elements, their import and further movements in the civilian arena is illegal. The regulatory regime in the country has been caught napping. They have to be woken up. But as the regulators are also embedded in the weapon establishment, they might desist from 'scarring' the people. Who knows, the Indian soldiers may also have to fight the radiological battles some day. It is time that the information industry, non-weapon establishments and the civil society in Pakistan, China and India behaved as responsible institutions in a nuclear weapon State.
For the Adivasi (First People) uranium is the Rainbow Serpent. Disturbing the Serpent, they believe, will cause unimaginable suffering to all life forms on the planet. Half a century through the fissile era, writing in the science journal Nature in 2002, Eyre-Walker and Keightly -- two prominent scientists in evolutionary biology and genomics, tell us that the human genome is essentially disintegrating. Several independent scientists believe that this disintegration manifested in the form of infertility, genetic disorders and hereditary cancers is caused by exposure to ionizing radiation. From the sacred lands of the aboriginals in Saskatchewan and Colorado in North America to the banks of Tigris and Euphrates -- one of the cradles of civilizations, and from there to the fertile plains of the Yamuna and the Kaveri - the abodes of Kaali, Patanjali and Kabir - the Serpent has had a long, dangerous and torturous journey. This is not an ominous sign. India can do well without the warmongers' crap.
This writer is aware that this is not an analytical paper to be published in an academic journal and hence accepts part of the moral responsibility for the unnecessary exposure of several people after the news of explosion was flashed. The excuses that he had sent emails to some newspapers and that he was busy reviewing the post-Chernobyl infant leukemia epidemiologies in Europe is not very convincing at this stage.
Over the years, Republic Day has been reduced to
a meaningless display of state might. We are
supposed to celebrate our democracy by swaying to
the beat of jackboots and the whirr of tanks. It
is time we defined nationhood in more civilised
terms. Plainly put, it is indefensible that we
spend over Rs 70,000 crore on defence when 350
million people - or our total population at the
time of Independence - still go hungry. A
government that claims to have come to power on a
pro-poor mandate must effect a major transfer of
resources from defence to development. Reports
that the government is planning to bridge the gap
between the two, by effecting a major hike in the
allocation for rural development, are heartening.
To begin with, even a 25% cut in defence spending
would act as a trendsetter in budget-making. The
argument that higher allocations towards the
creation of rural assets and social security
would be nullified by corruption in the system
does not carry conviction. The state, as a matter
of principle, should provide for the health,
education and livelihood of its people. As
Amartya Sen says, growth statistics sound hollow
when even one person goes hungry. It is not for
nothing that the UN Human Development Report
ranks India at 127, even as it is one of the
fastest growing economies and largest armies in
the world. How can one justify defence spending
that amounts to nearly a fifth of total
We are one of the largest purchasers of armaments in the world, our present craving for weaponry surpassing our appetite during the Cold War years. India's defence expenditure has increased by seven times since 1990-91, even as it remains by far the biggest military power in South Asia. Pakistan's capabilities cannot ever match ours because it lacks the resources, both human and financial. We need not stock up stuff against China when we cannot take them on, anyway. So, why the arms fetish? It is clear that a nexus of weapon dealers, politicians and strategic affairs intellectuals virtually determines the nature of the budget, and by implication our social and economic development. Expenditures on defence, interest payments and subsidies leave little room for addressing other concerns; the current emphasis on paring non-merit subsidies, while being justified, should not be used to deflect attention away from defence spending. We would have truly arrived as a Republic the day the government announces a rural development outlay in excess of that for defence.
New Delhi, Jan. 24: India on Monday rejected Pakistan's allegation that
its troops violat ed ceasefire in the Mendhar sector along Line of Control
on January 21. The ministry of external affairs spokesman, Mr Navtej Singh
Sarna, said here that India has investigated the allegation and it was
found to be baseless. Pakistan had alleged that Indian troops had opened
small arm fire on January 21 between 3 pm to 6 pm. The MEA spokesman said
that India has conveyed its point of view to the Pakistani authorities. In
Islamabad, Pakistan foreign office spokesman, Mr Masood Khan, said, "The
Indian troops fired small arms fire at Pakistani positions in the Mendhar
sector on January 21 and the firing took place from 3 pm to 6 pm."
"Pakistani troops observed restraint and did not fire back. There was no
damage to life or property in the incident," he said. This is the first
time that Pakistan has pointed out the ceasefire violation by India. Mr
Khan did not provide the reason why it took four days for Pakistan to make
its allegation public. The jpgkistani official said that the first
incident of firing took place within the area under the control of Indian
If we in South Asia do not act now we will
bequeath succeeding generations hundreds of
nuclear weapons, in the shadow of whose hazards
they will have to live.
NOTWITHSTANDING THE lip service that they periodically pay to the goal of a nuclear weapon-free South Asia, in practice the Governments of India and Pakistan are not taking serious steps to move towards it. Most of our national security experts also seem to consider nuclear disarmament to be no more than a pipe dream of peace activists. Admittedly, given the state of India-Pakistan relations and the proximity of a nuclear China, the prospects for ridding our country of these weapons do seem bleak. But I do not believe they are hopeless. However in order to achieve disarmament people advocating it have to go about it in graduated steps, rather than demand immediate disarmament on an all-or-nothing basis.
Taking on the task of full disarmament of South Asia at this stage may be forbidding . But the more modest goal of capping the arsenal at existing levels may be achievable. As of now, South Asian nuclear forces and their associated infrastructure are still relatively small compared to those of other nuclear powers. If further growth and consolidation could be stopped soon, it may be possible eventually to roll back the arsenal. It is the first step on the road to full disarmament. Keeping the arsenal from becoming larger also lowers the various risks attendant with the possession of nuclear weapons. These risks include the possibility of accidents, fires, launch through human and instrumental error, and theft by non-state actors.
Therefore a concerted effort should be made by peace lovers and arms controllers to demand the capping of South Asian nuclear arsenals at current levels as soon as possible. We in India should do this unilaterally, in our own enlightened self-interest. Even this smaller goal of capping the arsenal will not be easy to achieve. It can only be done by evolving a broad consensus among people with different shades of opinion on the nuclear issue. There are some in the subcontinent who, like me, strongly believe that nuclear weapons are not essential for national security. But there are others, many more in number and most of them not hawks by nature, who genuinely feel that nuclear weapons are a necessary evil to deter our nuclear neighbours. Their concerns must be addressed if a consensus is to be evolved to stop the onward march of nuclearisation.
The concept of nuclear deterrence is based on shaky foundations that are as much psychological as they are logical. Nevertheless, in order to address the concerns of those who believe in it, let us accept the notion of deterrence for the sake of argument. That raises the question of how large an arsenal of warheads is really needed for that purpose. The strategy of deterrence relies on possessing a nuclear capability that can still inflict, even after a first attack by the enemy, unacceptable damage to the other side. This, it is argued, would deter them from attempting a nuclear first strike.
Now, just a couple of modest 15-20 kiloton weapons dropped on Lahore and Karachi or New Delhi and Mumbai would kill half a million people. Surely, that should already be "unacceptable damage" to an even remotely responsible leadership. A leadership that finds this "acceptable" is beyond the pale of rationality and cannot be relied upon to feel deterred even by the prospect of a larger attack. Given that a successful attack on a few major cities with a couple of 20 kiloton weapons each would inflict unacceptable damage, it is not clear why the notion of deterrence should call for dozens, let alone hundreds, of weapons.
All one needs are a few surviving deliverable weapons. With clever camouflaging techniques, mobile launchers, and submarine-based missiles, losses due to limitations of reliability, accuracy, and survivability in the event of a first attack would at most be about 50 per cent. Altogether then, about a dozen safely stored warheads should really be sufficient for such deterrence.
Now, a conservative estimate based on most reports would suggest that India and Pakistan already have 40 or more nuclear weapons each - more than sufficient to serve the requirements of deterrence. Unfortunately, even with so many weapons already in hand, they see their nuclear arsenals as still being at some incomplete stage. Despite the fact that relations between the two countries have improved over the past year and a dialogue is proceeding on different fronts, there has been no interruption in the further build-up of their respective nuclear forces.
In fact not too long ago Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharraf, assured his nation, in connection with the Dr. A.Q. Khan episode, that its nuclear assets and its missile programme would not be rolled back. On the Indian side too one has not heard any person in authority talking of stopping or even slowing down further growth of nuclearisation. India's nuclear doctrine, which is presumably still the blueprint for its nuclear strategy, speaks of a triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles, and sea-based assets with multiple redundant systems. So the present thaw in India-Pakistan relations notwithstanding, if no decisive steps are taken to reverse the existing policies of nuclear build-up there may be well over a hundred nuclear weapons on each side within a decade. Certainly I know some influential voices in India that would want even bigger arsenals.
We are aware that India's nuclear strategy is not just a bilateral matter involving Pakistan. It is designed as much, if not more, with China in mind. That we have three contiguous nuclear nations certainly makes the de-nuclearisation of this region a very complicated matter. But as far as capping the Indian arsenal is concerned, the preceding arguments for it hold just as much when applied to China as the adversary. The assured prospect of, say, Nanjing and Shanghai receiving a couple of bombs that would kill half a million people should be ample for deterring today's China (we do not yet have the missiles to deliver them that far, but no doubt we are working on them). In China's perception its main external threat comes from the United States and its missile defence programme and not India.
Furthermore, China is now focussed strongly on pursuing its economic growth and domestic prosperity. It is extremely unlikely to initiate any adventure against India that could invite nuclear retaliation against any of its major cities.
The fact that China possesses several hundred nuclear warheads does not negate the argument for capping the Indian arsenal at a much smaller number. The tenets of deterrence do not require that your arsenal match that of your adversary, but only that it be capable of inflicting damage that is unacceptable to any rational leadership on the other side. Recall that China itself has been content to stay with just a few hundred weapons, even though the U.S. and Russia, which it views as its main adversaries, possess several thousands of them.
The call for capping the arsenal may be opposed not just by pro-nuclear strategists but, ironically, also by staunch anti-nuclear groups for different reasons. The latter may feel that in arguing that the existing arsenal is "more than enough," the weapons are being rationalised and sanctified. That is not the intention. We must remember that the present arsenal is a reality that is already there. Worse still, it is growing with time. If you cannot even stop its growth there is no question of eventually achieving total disarmament.
Hard-headed strategists, on the other hand, may view the suggestion for a cap as naïve and impractical given the state of India-Pakistan relations. But there are special situations when governments have to rise above traditional postures and diplomatic caution in order to achieve special goals. The dangers of increasing nuclear arsenals further are far too serious and call for drastic measures immediately.
There is an urgent need to cap the nuclear arsenals now. For, once deeply entrenched, nuclear weapon systems will not go away so easily even after political tensions get defused. We only need to look at Russia and the U.S. 15 years after the Cold War has ended. Each of them still has several thousand weapons on alert with no discernable threat left to justify them. If we in South Asia do not act now we too will bequeath our succeeding generations hundreds of nuclear weapons, in the shadow of whose hazards they will have to live for decades if not centuries.
(The writer is Professor Emeritus of Physics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.)
New Delhi: INDIA HAS registered a strong protest with Pakistan about the
second incident of firing on the Line of Control (LOC) in the last two
days. Determined to maintain peace and the 14-month old ceasefire on the
LOG, Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt-General AS Bahiya
called his Pakistani counterpart Major-General Mohammad Yusuf soon after
the second incident on Thursday night and registered India's protest. The
Pakistani DGMO told India that he was not aware of the incident and would
probe the reported violation of ceasefire in Rajouri and get back to the
Indian DGMO after verifying the veracity of the incident, Lt General
Deepak Summanwar, in charge media relations, Indian Army, said on Friday.
The Indian DG MO talked to his Pakistani counterpart on the hotline
soon after the second incident in Gambhir sector of Rajouri,
Lt-General Summanwar said, adding there were no casu alties and the Indian
Army continued to show restraint. Incidentally, the Indian and Pakistani
DGMOs had talked to each other on Thursday morning as a follow up of
their conversation a day earlier when the first violation took place in
NEW DELHI, JAN. 19. After an initial denial of information, Pakistan today
promised to investigate and keep India informed of the firing of mortar
shells by its troops on Indian Army posts in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday
night. "The Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) spoke to his
Pakistani counterpart this morning and informed him about our concerns on
the issue. We told him that [it] is a violation of the ceasefire. Weapons
of this calibre have not been used since the ceasefire came into effect
from November 2003," the Vice-Chief of the Army Staff, B.S. Thakur, said
here today. Lt. Gen. Thakur underlined the seriousness of the situation
and hinted at the possibility of the involvement of middle-level Pakistani
army officers. The officer declined to link the firing to the killing of
five militants the previous night. According to intelligence reports,
terrorists possessed the 60 mm mortars but the Pakistani army uses the
higher calibre 82 mm mortar. While the 60 mm mortar shell has a range of
500 metres, the 82 mm shell can travel 5 km. "Initially the Pakistani
Director of Military Operations said that his troops had only heard the
blasts and were not aware of what had happened. When we gave details of
the exact positions from where the shells were fired, he promised to
investigate and come back with details. We take it as violation of the
ceasefire agree ment and are exercising restraint, which is what we have
done so far. We are sure the Pakistan Government will consider the issue
in all seriousness." Asked about the limit for Army restraint, he said:
"We would go on a case-by-case basis when the situation flares up. There
is nothing that has been quantified as a trigger- point."
London, Jan. 19: Pakistan high commissioner to the UK, Dr Maleeha Lodhi,
has called on the West to stop misusing the term "terrorism" and recognise
the just freedom struggle of Kashmir. "The term terrorism cannot be
misused to cast the legitimate freedom struggle in Kashmir in a negative
light. The tragedy of Kashmir has stemmed from a denial of self-
determination and the foreign occupation of the region. At a time when
India and Pakistan are in the midst of a composite dialogue, violence will
soon be replaced by peaceful means if there is hope for its people," Dr
Lodhi said on Tuesday, when she returned to her alma mater — London School
of Economics — to speak on Islam. Blaming neighbours like India for
Pakistan's chequered past of coups and bloodshed, she added: "We didn't
choose the neighbourhood we live in. If we had a choice, we would move out
of the rough and tough region with Afghanistan on one side and India on
the other. But we are forced to fight for our own security and we are
proud of our nuclear deterrent which has prevented a full-scale war in the
NEW DELHI, JAN. 18. In the first major violation of the ceasefire
agreement in force since November 2003, the Pakistan Army today fired a
dozen mortar rounds across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir
tonight. The 81-mm mortars were tar geted near the border town of Poonch
between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. in retaliation to the killing of five
infiltrating militants in the same area, claimed Army sources. With both
the countries not wanting the situation to escalate, the two
Directors-General of Military Operations (DGMOs) will try to thrash out
the issue at their weekly telephonic conver sation due on Wednesday. Army
officers here linked the firing to the killing of the mil itants on Monday
night. They see the move as one to dissuade their men from entering the
mined area where the bodies of the five militants were lying. While the
Army has recovered the bodies and identified the militant organisation
which had sent them in, the Pakistani mortar firing has dissuaded the Army
scouts from combing the area more thoroughly to pick up the clues to the
modus operand. However, the mood here is to close the chapter through
dialogue as was done in a minor skirmish about six months ago, say Army
officials. At that time, the troops on both sides were in an eyeball-to-
eyeball confrontation over differing perceptions of the LoC.
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