SRINAGAR: Pakistan has taken “battle” to another level by issuing a series of postal stamps in memory of various events and individuals concerning Kashmir. The development took place at a time when the UN General Assembly is about to start its session.
Slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was declared a ‘freedom icon’ by Pakistan. To commemorate the ‘victims of atrocities by government forces in Kashmir’, Pakistan has issued 20 such special postage stamps.
The Times of India report quoted a senior official of Pakistan Post as saying that stamps were issued from its headquarters in Karachi on July 24 to locally and internationally highlight the plight of people living in Kashmir.
The stamps also carry captions such as ‘Burhan Wani (1994-2016) freedom icon’. Wani (22) along with two of his associates was killed in an encounter with government forces in Bamdoora village of Kokernag in south Kashmir’s Islamabad district on July 8, 2016.
Besides the slain militant commander, other captions that feature on ‘commemorative’ stamps include ‘use of chemical weapons’, ‘use of pellet guns’, ‘mass graves’, ‘braid chopping’, Human shield and the pictures are that of militants killed in encounters in the Kashmir Valley over the last few years.
The stamps also carry pictures of pellet victim Insha a resident of Sedow village in Shopian district of south Kashmir, Insha was hit by around 350 pellets on her face when she was trying to watch the protests on the main road. She was watching from her kitchen. The pellets blinded her completely. It was July 12, 2016, few days after HM Commander Burhan Wani was killed in Kokernag.
The other stamp carries the picture of Human Shield Farooq Ahmad Farooq Dar a resident of Budgam who was tied on an army jeep as a “Human shield” on April 9, 2017, by an army team led by Major Leetul Gogoi and drove him 27 kilometres, parading him through 20 different villages. Gogoi is facing a court martial for a different reason: attempting to take a Kashmiri girl into a hotel for a night.
According to the newspaper report, the stamps were issued on ‘Kashmir Martyrs Day’ by the Philately Bureau, Karachi and are available on e-bay for $6.99 (approximately Rs 500). In Pakistan, the stamps are sold at Rs 8 (local currency) per piece.
Philatelists in India are not amused. “It is nothing but an attempt by the neighbouring country to malign our country’s image. I am a philatelist for more than two decades, but I have never come across such stamps that are a distortion of facts. The postal departments issue commemoration stamps to popularise their culture and uniqueness, but this is in poor taste,” philatelist C Tamilvannan told the Times of India.
The pictures have been used to mislead people across the globe, the report said quoting Jagannath Mani, a life member of Philately Congress of India. “The government of India should convey its objections and the Pakistan government should withdraw the stamps,” he said, adding that he would write to the external affairs ministry against this issue.
Philatelists said they have brought the matter to the he notice of Centre’s officials.
The development caught attention of media at a time when India and Pakistan are fighting a diplomatic battle with each other in Geneva where the UN Human Rights Council is in session. Already, the Council has issued a detailed report on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir. The Council is seeking access to Kashmir. While Pakistan has granted the access, India has denied the same. The new Human Rights Commissioner has thrown her weight behind the report that was prepared and released in her predecessor’s tenure.