(Forces in action )
Its morning and its cold outside. But a lot much colder is the sound of boots which is getting louder with every second. They all know what is going to happen. The approaching contingent of Indian Army has got some information of ‘movement’ in this area. The whole hamlet will be searched. All the men will be lined up in the nearby field and they will be search for potential arms. Meanwhile, their houses, with only women and children in them, will be intensively searched for any potential hideout of militants or any stockpile of arms. This is necessary indeed…but sometimes, or most of the times…as Kashmiris complain, it ends on an ugly note.
Reportedly , on February 23, 1991 at approximately 11:00PM soldiers from the 4th Rajputana Rifles cordoned off the village of Kunan Poshpora to conduct a search operation. The soldiers allegedly gang raped a large number of village women overnight till 9:00 AM the next day. Local villagers alleged that up to 100 women “were gang-raped without any consideration of their age, married, unmarried, pregnancy etc.,” The victims ranged in age from 13 to 80. This act was reportedly done in cold blood to avenge the massacre of 30 Sikhs by the militants.
However, Indian Government agencies denied they whole incident and termed it as a hoax created by the militants to get the sympathy of local public and spread hatred towards Indian Army. No police investigation was ever made.
A state government inquiry into the Oct 22, 1993 Bijbehara killings, in which the Indian military fired on a procession and killed 40 people and injured 150, found out that the firing by the forces was ‘unprovoked’ and the claim of the military that it was in retaliation was ‘concocted and baseless’. However, the accused are still to be punished.
In fact, Indian Government insists that only 3 percent of these allegations are true. Rest are hoaxes. But the fact remains that since 1989, over 50,000 and by some reports nearly 100,000 Kashmiris are claimed to have died during the conflict. State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has found 2,730 bodies buried into unmarked graves scattered all over Kashmir believed to contain the remains of victims of unlawful killings and enforced disappearances by Indian security forces.
Reports by Indian government state 219 Kashmiri pandits were killed and around 1,40,000 migrated due to millitancy while over 3000 stayed in the valley. At least 506,000 people from Indian Administered Kashmir are internally displaced, about half of which are Hindu Pandits.
In 2008, about 100 acres of land was planned by the J&K Government to be given to a Hindu trust to provide shelter to the pilgrims en route Amarnath Cave which is regarded holy by Hindus. The Kashmir Valley, with all its Muslim majority population, erupted in protests. Heavy stone pelting and violent clashes were reported. At last, 40 unarmed protestors were killed and 300 detained.
The valley no longer is a valley of flowers….its a valley of death, a valley of hate.
Is the local population completely innocent?
No its not…
Omar Abdullah wrote in his blog,
“Shop signs were painted green and white in Islamic colours and people were forced to set their watches to Pakistan Standard Time. As if these two things would make the dream of independence any easier to achieve — amazing how quickly people rediscovered the old colours when they could make a choice again.”
The movement which was initiated by Pakistan for personal gains, slowly morphed in a movement of separation and in 1989, it converted in a movement for creation of an ethnically clean Muslim state. In fact, Kashmiris are confused about the very thing they are fighting for. Or are they fighting for all the things at once? A ethnically clean, separate Muslim state with all the help pouring in from Pakistan.
One fact remains though….that people are dying. Muslims are dying, Pundits are dying and Army men are dying.
Will it ever stop?
We will try to explore it in the next and concluding part of the series……keep reading.
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