‘Kashmir Million March’ is being held in capital city of United Kingdom on October 26, in support of freedom of Kashmir.
India reacted sharply to the event by calling on the British government to ban the march of British Kashmiris stating that such a march would be against the “open societies”.
Reports said that Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister (EAM) of India, met British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg last week here and raised concerns with him about the march, which will be led by former Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhary and other Kashmiri leaders.
Nick Clegg told the Indian minister that he appreciated her concerns but the rally in London will not be banned as it will be against the principles of free speech espoused by Britain. He told the Indian minister that Britain greatly valued its relations with India but will not go against a democratic march which is expected to bring thousands of Kashmiris to the streets of London on Sunday.
The irritation with the march was further evident when Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that the “Million March” should have been held in the valley rather than the “cosy capitals of the United States and United Kingdom”.
Barrister Sultan Mahmood said that India doesn’t need to panic over the march and should show grace by not trying to arm-twist the UK government. “This march is independent and being organised by the Kashmiris who want to expose the barbaric face of India before the western world. Thousands had marched against Israel in London over the Gaza bombings. More than 120,000 Kashmiris have been massacred by India and India has acted worse than Israel but its crimes have not been exposed before the civilised world. This cannot go on. India must be held accountable.”
Meanwhile another group, The Jammu Kashmir National Independent Alliance (JKNIA) will hold simultaneous “token hunger strikes” outside the Indian High Commission and Pakistani High Commission in London on Saturday with the message of “give peace a chance”.
“JKNIA believes strongly that former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir is forcibly divided and occupied; and that we are victims on both sides of the Line of Control, where both India and Pakistan are having armed skirmishes,” the group said.
This government saw protests all along. As the floods swept heart of Kashmir, protests don’t ‘budge to stop’. On its first day when Saddar Court Srinagar was shifted to Sanat Ghar, Bemina on temporary basis, the higher ups faced a lot of criticism for their ‘selective approach’, reports said.
They said that lack of basic amenities in newly shifted Lower Court in Sanat Ghar, Bemina in Srinagar city invited protest from lawyers on Friday who according to reports castigated judicial officials and the State Government for forcing lawyers to resume their work at a place which according to them not only lacks basic facilities but is unhygienic too.
“Rooms provided to lawyers lack all types of facilities. There are no doors and windows. There is no facility of bathrooms and other things. How can we work in such conditions,” the protesting lawyers who staged a massive protest amidst rains said.
They alleged that some top Judicial officers have occupied fully maintained portions of the temporary court buildings while lawyers have been provided wretched accommodation.
Meanwhile, the daily wagers with state government Friday staged protests inside civil secretariat in Srinagar.
The daily-wagers alleged that Higher Education Minister Muhammad Akbar Lone not only misbehaved with them but also told them categorically that he will not allow Government to accord sanction for their regularization till his own men are not put in the list.
Reports said that scores of daily wagers had arrived in Civil Secretariat Srinagar on Friday as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was scheduled to preside a meeting of Ministers in which the decision about the regularization of daily wagers was to get a final touch.
However, reports said that except, Chief Minister and few odd Ministers, most of them were absent and could not attend the meeting; as a result the meeting could not take place.
Annoyed by the government decision not to hold meeting, the daily wagers entered into the cabin of Higher Education Minister Muhammad Akbar Lone to enquire about their fate.
“Instead of responding to our queries, the Minister argued and misbehaved with us. Before directing his security staff to drag us out from the cabin, the Minister shouted that no regularization policy will be implemented till his own selected supporters are not put in the list,” PHE Employees Workers Union president Sajad Ahmed Parrey said adding that he was injured after Secretariat security personnel charged them with canes.
In a first, Jamiat Ulma-i-Hind Friday handed over the keys of 66 huts to 66 flood affected people constructed by them under rehabilitation plan in Gulshan Abad area of Mehjoor Nagar Srinagar.
General Secretary Jamiat Ulma-i-Hind, Maulana Mahmood Madni soon after handing over 66 huts to flood victims, whose houses were completely washed away during recent flood fury, said that several lakh people fell victims to the flood and they really feel acute pain for the suffering of Kashmiri brethren and sisters. The rehabilitation is being carried in collaboration with Darul Uloom Raheemiya, Bandipora.
“We thank Allah Almighty who enabled us to extend our helping hands to the victims and take rehabilitation work for them,” he said and thanked all the philanthropists who extended their financial support as well as those persons who cooperated with Jamiat Ulma-i-Hind in this endeavour.
Maulana Madni who was chief guest on the occasion also said that Jamiat always treats ‘Kashmir as their own people’ and therefore few months back it organized several programmes at Delhi, Deoband to express its solidarity with them.
“Jamiat always stressed that Kashmir and Kashmiri both belong to us. When flood ravaged the State, Jamiat swung into action to provide relief and rehabilitation to the victims in Kashmir,” he said.
Maulana Madni also said that it is an uphill task to provide relief to the people therefore, the State and Central Governments should pay special attention towards this task.
He maintained that these days relief and rehabilitation effort of the government to some extent have ‘lost momentum’. He said that government should come forward for sake of humanity and should help flood affected people without any delay.
Asking pro-India leaders and politicians who were ‘missing’ during devastating flood and are now advising pro-resistance camp to stop its resistance and work for the welfare of flood hit people, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik has said that “Pro-freedom camp has worked like labourers for their flood devastated brothers and sisters and don’t need any advice of these selfish politicians,” Malik responded to a recent statement by PDP leader Muzaffar Beigh in which he had advice pro freedom camp to halt its activities and work for the welfare of people.
“People of Kashmir know who worked for their welfare during recent floods. It was none other than the freedom camp who worked like labourers to rescue thousands of stranded people, and reached to them with relief and necessary things. It was freedom camp that arranged community kitchens for flood hit people and even worked as sweepers to clear garbage from flood hit areas,” he said.
“Pro-freedom camp kept its political struggle apart and worked for the welfare of the people for which they deserve appreciation but on the other hand it was pro-India camp that left people at the mercy of nature and ran away to Jammu and Delhi. People of Kashmir today want to know from these selfish politicians that where have they been during hard times and what is the moral authority with which these politicians drowned in the lust for power talk of the welfare of the people,” Malik added.
The JKLF chairman claimed that from National Conference to PDP, Congress to BJP and others, all stand exposed before the people of Kashmir today. “Muzafar Beigh and his party should answer a plain question that if they have so much of love for the people of flood hit Kashmir, why are they celebrating mandates and celebrating on the daily basis. People know that these politicians can go down to any limit for the lust of power and authority,” he said.
Malik added that among these pro-India politicians somebody is just “making lip servicing, somebody is shedding tears on twitter and some are showing their love for Kashmiris through news interviews etc.”
Nothing seems to be going right in state Congress cadre after floods. Floods seem to have deluged it too. On Wednesday senior leader and Health minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din alleged that Flood Control minister Sham Lal Sharma has little knowledge over the functioning of the Department and it was due to his (Sharma’s) ‘non-serious’ approach Srinagar city was drowned.
Taj Mohi-ud-din who has headed the Flood Control ministry in the past, accused present PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control minister Sham Lal Sharma of adopting non-serious approach vis-à-vis taming September’s devastating floods, saying had the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) adopted during floods, Srinagar would have been saved sans any devastation.
Talking to a local news agency Taj said that the regular patrolling over the rivers was not carried during floods resulting in breach of river Jehlum at several places. He also castigated Sharma for his ‘carelessness’ and ‘non- seriousness’ which led to the wide scale disaster in Kashmir including Srinagar.
“It was unexpected that waters with such huge quantity could enter Srinagar and drown it dreadfully. This was unbelievable for all of us that waters above 15ft entered Srinagar and devastated the business hub Lal chowk,” Taj said. .
“Sham Lal Sharma doesn’t know how to run his ministry. The carelessness led to devastation. His abrupt reactions over my earlier revelations about floods clearly reveal that he has been unnerved and has no patience to hear out the truth,” he claimed.
The Health Minister added that four battalions of NDRF arrived in valley and that the concerned ministry also failed to utilize their services on ground. “I believe that if serious attitude would have been adopted and regular patrolling alongside the Jhelum would have been carried, Srinagar could have been saved along with other areas as well,” Taj said.
Twenty-one years have expired and the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) personnel from 74th Battalion allegedly responsible for murdering scores of innocent and peaceful protesters in Bijbehara town of South Kashmir’s Islamabad district have not been brought to book and the ‘killers’ are still roaming free. Locals lament that justice has been eluding the families of the victims.
Amnesty International reported that at least 51 people died and 200 were wounded on 22 October 1993, while the UN Refugee Agency quoting Indian newspapers reported 35 persons were killed and about 76 wounded. Locals put the toll to 51 including 25 students. According to eyewitnesses, among the injured many were handicapped for life.
“Some militants who in common parlance those days were known as ‘Mujhadeen’ were holed up in Srinagar’s Hazratbal shrine while Indian troopers had laid a siege of the shrine to apprehend those militants,” an eyewitness told a local news agency adding that against this ‘siege’ October 22, 1993, hundreds of people mostly students soon after Friday Congregational prayers assembled in Bijbehara and started peaceful protest against the ‘siege’.
“All but 15000 people assembled in the courtyard of Jamia Masjid Bijbehara, and a procession was taken out, which marched through various streets. As the peaceful march reached near Goriwan locality, BSF personnel blocked the road and did not allow the protesters to proceed ahead. As the anti-India slogans reverberated in the air, the BSF men present there fired indiscriminately on the unarmed protesters, killing at least 40 persons on spot and injuring more than 200 others,” the eyewitness said.
The locals said that among the dead was a Kashmiri Pandit boy whose mother died soon after unable to bear the shock of losing her only son at the hands of BSF personnel.
Government of India conducted two official enquiries and the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) conducted a third. In March 1994 the government indicted the Border Security Force (BSF) for firing into the crowd “without provocation” and charged 13 BSF officers with murder. A non public General Security Force Court trial conducted in 1996, however led to their acquittal. When the NHRC sought to examine the transcripts of the trials in order to satisfy itself that the BSF had made a genuine attempt to secure convictions, then Vajpayee led Indian government refused. The NHRC then moved the Supreme Court for a review. In September 2000, the Supreme Court dismissed the case.
On September 10, 2007 the Jammu and Kashmir High Court ordered the state government to pay compensation to the victims’ families. People who survived while recounting the nightmare says the pain still lingers in their hearts and the horror still haunts them.