Monday, November 30, 2009

Times have Changed, Issues are Different by Tavleen Singh(in Sentinel Assam)

There was a time when it seemed as if a solution in Kashmir could bring peace with Pakistan. That time has gone. The Taliban now have a grander plan for the subcontinent
Link -

T he average Indian is so bored with Kashmir these days that I always hesitate to raise the subject in a column. If I do this week it is because a meeting took place in Delhi that has to go down as one of the most extraordinary in recent times. It was organized by social activist Madhu Kishwar under the auspices of the Centre for the Studies of Developing Societies, on November 7, and I went along because she invited a glittering array of politicians from Kashmir. I have not been to Srinagar in more than five years and thought the meeting could be a good way to revive my interest in a subject I once wrote a book on.
Among those who came to the meeting in the library of the Nehru Memorial were Mehbooba Mufti, Muzzafar Baig who was Deputy Chief Minister in the last government, Mohammad Sufi Uri from the National Conference, Professor Abdul Ghani Butt from the Hurriyat and Yasin Malik from the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). The meeting was chaired by Ram Jethmalani and attended by journalists, academics, Kashmir activists and sundry others. It was a full house.

Madhu, an eager beaver peacenik as ever was, began the day’s discussions by emphasizing loudly and often that we were gathered together to find solutions. Despite this, things got off to an interminably dull start because Mr Uri from the National Conference made a long, boring speech that was full of historical grievances that everyone present was more than familiar with. Muzaffar Baig took over from him and was more interesting because he offered a solution. He said that Kashmir’s borders needed to be made irrelevant as Dr Manmohan Singh has himself often promised. Instead of redrawing maps there should be a softening of the borders so that Kashmiris, Pakistanis and Indians could come and go freely and there should be ‘‘dual currency’’. In view of what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan, this suggestion seemed so naively oblivious of geo-political realities that I went up to him when he finished speaking and asked if he had heard of the Taliban. Was he aware that this group of Islamist jihadis was close to threatening the existence of Pakistan and Afghanistan? How long would it take the Taliban to conquer Kashmir if Indian troops were withdrawn? He laughed sheepishly.

In any case the meeting carried on peacefully and in a dull sort of way until the late afternoon when it came to Yasin Malik’s turn to speak. I had not seen him in many years and was impressed to see him look dapper and elegant in a black, velvet jacket and a black and white polka-dotted shirt instead of the drab, Kashmiri clothes he usually wears. He looked more like an urbane Srinagar businessman than the terrorist he once was, but he was not allowed to forget his past. No sooner did he rise to speak than the meeting deteriorated into chaos. The hall was filled with insults hurled at him by a group of young Kashmir Pandits who till then had sat silent and unnoticed.

‘‘We will not allow this monster to speak,’’ they yelled, ‘‘ask him who raped and killed Sarla Bhatt? Ask him how many Hindus he has killed? He is a terrorist. He has no right to be here.’’ They said other things as well, angry, ugly things, and they made so much noise as they stood up and shouted their abuse that the meeting was totally disrupted for several minutes. Yasin Malik was infuriated and ready to leave. It was only after many entreaties from Madhu and Mr Jethmalani that he agreed to speak. But then Mr Jethmalani put his foot into it by saying that he himself loved Pakistan more than Pakistanis loved Pakistan and that all Indians should develop a similar love for Pakistan. Then he added there would have been no militancy in Kashmir at all if the 1987 elections had not been rigged to coincide unfortunately with a large number of mujahideen in Afghanistan suddenly becoming ‘‘unemployed’’ because the Soviet Union withdrew its troops.

Yasin Malik decided to pick this up as the starting point of his speech. He said, ‘‘I was shocked to hear Jethmalani Sahib say what he did. I was the one who started the armed struggle in Kashmir and I was neither Afghan nor unemployed. I picked up the gun because it seemed there was nothing else to do. We had tried peaceful means to achieve azaadi and failed.’’

He then gave details of how the JKLF was among the groups that had set up the Muslim United Front to contest the Assembly elections in 1987. ‘‘We contested the elections because we thought that if we won we would declare Kashmir independent through a resolution in the Assembly but they were not prepared to give us our basic democratic rights. So we had no recourse but to pick up the gun.’’ He added that he had given up violence because he was persuaded by the ‘‘Indian civil society’’ that solutions could come peacefully. He felt betrayed, he said, because he now knew that all the Indian civil society could do was talk.

The Kashmiri Pundits were not going to take that lying down even if the panelists were, and they started yelling that the armed struggle had never ended. What about the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen? Who were they? And who were the other militant groups that continued to kill innocent people in Kashmir?

In the end there was more rancour and rage than debate, and the solution to our Kashmir problem remained as elusive as ever. Sitting next to me at one point was General Lakhvinder Singh, a hero of the Kargil war, and I asked him if he thought that there was any chance of reducing the deployment of Indian troops in Kashmir. He said, ‘‘We’ve tried it. And wherever we have reduced deployment we have seen an immediate increase in militant activities. It is not as easy as these politicians make it sound.’’

It is not easy at all because it is clear to many of us who have followed the Kashmir story carefully for many, many years that the problem has changed. There was a time when it seemed as if a solution in Kashmir could bring peace with Pakistan. That time has gone. Kashmir’s struggle for so-called azaadi has been subsumed by the worldwide jihad. The Taliban have a grander plan for the Indian subcontinent. They want to conquer Islamabad, and when that is done they want the flag of Islam to fly over India.

Tavleen Singh

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Yasin Malik-by Madhu Kishwar(published in Outlook)

Dear Yasin,

The Dialogue on the Future of Jammu & Kashmir organized by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies gained enormously by your presence on November 7, 2009. We recognize that the overlap in timing meant you had to rush to Delhi after registering your attendance at a TADA court hearing in Jammu. I also appreciate the fact that despite provocative slogans against you by a group of Kashmiri Pandits opposed to your presence in the Dialogue, you sat through the meeting to the end and not only explained your politics but also made a public commitment to consider some of the solutions proposed at the meeting as a starting point for a wide spectrum dialogue for the resolution of the Kashmir problem.

However, your outbursts of anger, disappointment and your cynical comments directed at the civil society organizations of India seem to me so misplaced and misleading that they demand a public response; a lot of them were directed at Manushi and at me. Since they have been widely reported in the Kashmiri and Pakistani newspapers, hence my response is also through the media.

For those who do not know the background, let me summarize your grievances as stated in your presentation at the Dialogue. You said that you had given up the gun at the urging of civil society organizations in India, that you took to "Gandhian methods of struggle" due to our persuasion. However, despite your move to non-violent means of struggle, you feel "betrayed" by the human rights community in India for ostensibly failing to help you achieve your political ends. You also claimed that subsequent events and your failure in achieving "azadi" have convinced you that Gandhian methods do not work in today’s India. In your view, they worked only while the British ruled India because the British provided a supportive environment for non- violent struggles.

What proof do you offer for that conclusion? That Gandhi was not subjected to third degree torture by the British, nor was Gandhi killed in an encounter with the police! No responsible leader would provide this form of naive praise of the British. You cannot dismiss the brutalities of the British colonial regime so easily. You don’t have to go too far—just read the life story of Badshah Khan—Gandhi’s most valued colleague and the most inspiring satyagrahi of that period. The brutalities inflicted on the army of satyagrahis mobilized by Badshah Khan—popularly known as the Frontier Gandhi— would put to shame even the apartheid regime of South Africa. Lakhs and lakhs of non violent satyagrahis were tortured in British jails. Many innocents were murdered in cold blood. The manner in which unarmed women and children were massacred in Jallianwala Bagh by General Dyer was not an isolated example of British brutality. Hundreds of thousands of satyagrahis took deadly beatings without raising their hand even in self-defence during the Salt Satyagraha. The cruel treatment routinely meted out to the Indian peasantry in extracting unprecedented high revenue and confiscating their lands arbitrarily for failure to pay ruinous usurious revenue, not sparing them even during crop failures, led to millions dying in unprecedented man made famines and left many more millions destitute, malnourished and terrorized.

You claim to have taken to Gandhian methods and claim that the movement for "azadi" in Kashmir is non violent —all on the grounds that some years ago you gave up the gun. Dear friend Yasin, you gave up the gun after you were arrested and jailed, not while you were on the outside, fighting. You never gave up supporting and defending those who continued using the gun. In the November 7 meeting, you declared openly that you are proud of having been the first one to take up the gun for the cause of Kashmir. When a young Kashmiri Pandit commented: "You may have given up the gun but that does not mean Kashmiri Muslims gave up the gun. The Hizbul Mujahiddin is also comprised of Kashmiri youth." Your response was: Since the Indian government did not hand over "azadi" to the "non-violent" JKLF, and since human rights organizations in India failed to persuade the Indian government to do so, Hizbul Mujahaddin are justified in taking up the gun. Yasin bhai, a true commitment to non-violence should not be so conditional and fragile. Gandhi did not say: "Give India independence or else I will unleash terrorist brigades on you." That was Jinnah’s method, not Gandhi’s.
As one of many people committed to strengthening democracy and human rights in India, one of my mandates is to ensure that even those who take to terrorist means, are given fair treatment, due process, and a fair trial, and that innocents are not targeted by security forces while combating terrorism. Our primary task, however, is to try to prevail upon the Indian government that draconian laws should not be used to crush democratic dissent. I don’t think I have failed in being consistent about those issues. I have often done my best to intervene with the government of India to defend the Constitutional rights of you and your colleagues, even when I have strong differences with your political goals and means you make use of to achieve them.

For example, when you asked me to intervene on behalf of some of your colleagues held in detention centres who you claimed and seemed to me to be innocent, I did so without hesitation. I even succeeded on some occasions in helping get them released—your verbal assurance that they were not involved in any terrorist crimes was an important consideration in my efforts. Do you think you could get such relief for your colleagues if they had been arrested on account of suspected terrorist links in England—a nation you so ardently admire— or in the US—the country you had put most faith in to help you gain "Azadi"?

In the November 7 meeting, you expressed your annoyance over the fact that representatives from Ladakh, Jammu, Poonch, and Rajouri had been invited. You dismissed their presence with open contempt saying: " Is this a mohalla meeting that we have gathered all these people to discuss local affairs?" This attitude of assuming that it is only Kashmiri Muslims of the Valley— and that too of a certain political persuasion— who ought to have the right to determine the future of the entire state of J&K has created huge fault lines and murderously hostile camps in the State.
No one organization has the right to be the sole spokesperson of the Kashmiri people. The strong voices opposing your politics in Jammu, Ladakh and even within Kashmir have to be given their due importance.

While you expected human rights organizations in India to help you secure "Azadi"—you have allowed the concept to remain so fuzzy that I have not yet understood what concretely you mean by it. I have spent hours trying to persuade you to work out the concrete modalities of your plank of "Azadi" and explain to us how your Azadi will be any different from the bloody 1947 Partition of India. What will be the fate of minorities in your 'Azad' Kashmir? What happens to the rights of those in Kashmir, Jammu, Rajouri, Poonch, Leh and Kargil and those in the Valley who do not wish to secede from India and do not want to live in your mythical Azad Kashmir? I never got anything resembling an answer. It also makes me very uneasy that the JKLF does not even have a constitution, leave alone any democratic machinery for managing its affairs.

Why on earth would human rights organizations help you partition Jammu & Kashmir in as senseless a manner as Jinnah did the entire subcontinent? Even for the November 7 Dialogue, I repeatedly requested you to give a concrete statement in writing on the form and content of Azadi. You said you don’t believe in putting things down in writing. Instead you preferred to talk about your personal trials and tribulations, how 600 of your JKLF cadres have been killed in encounters by security forces. Much as I mourn the loss of those lives, much as I deplore how our security forces sometimes lawlessly eliminate or brutalize those suspected of terrorism, Yasin bhai, you have to recognize that, unfair as it seems to you, those who live by the gun have to be prepared to be hunted down by the gun.
You say you are still proud of the fact that you took up the gun because without that the Kashmir issue would not have gained due attention. This is not how morally committed non-violent satyagrahis reason. That is not how those who draw inspiration from Gandhi should earn world attention. One does not become a satyagrahi by merely laying down arms, that too without ever expressing remorse for having unleashed a reign of terror and violence. A satyagrahi does not romanticize the power of the gun, especially when it has already caused havoc for millions.
To qualify being a satyagrahi also means:

Being an unconditional soldier of peace by actively opposing all forces of violence. Unfortunately, your love affair with the gun is not yet over, or else you would not claim to be proud of having been the first one to take up the gun as a means of furthering your politics; Even today, you do not condemn terrorist killings without reservations. Being committed to the path of Truth ( Satya) as a permanent seeker rather than as a self declared authority on Truth. A satyagrahi cannot be selective in choosing facts to suit his political arguments, which you often do. Being able to face unpalatable facts about one's own movement and an ability to take diverse view points and perspectives into account is vital for adhering to the path of Truth. A truth seeker does not indulge in mere partisan politics nor does he/she overstate his /her case, as you often do
Being able to keep one's anger under check and control so that it does not distort one's vision. A Satyagrahi does not demonize his/her opponents, nor does he/she hold malice and ill will towards others whose politics and vision are at variance from that of the satyagrahi. You seem to be in a permanent state of upset with people who do not agree with your politics.
It was a very revealing moment, Yasin, when you told me after one of your visits to Pakistan which I quote from memory:

"I have now realized the great difference between the human rights activists in India and Pakistan. The Indian activists mostly come from ordinary middle class families so they are small minded. The Pakistani human rights activists are mostly from aristocratic families—daughters of generals and wealthy land owning aristocrats. Therefore, they are large hearted and have a broader vision."

You have been understandably impressed by their pampering and hospitality extended to you. But you would do well to remember, many of them pamper you because you are a thorn in the flesh of the Indian establishment. They do not pamper their home grown secessionists--the Baluchis, the Pakhtoons and Sindhis, who wish to break away from Pakistan, as they do you.

You would also do well to remember that the aristocratic elite of Pakistan has done a poor job of defending their own democracy. They have also done a poor job of resisting the growing influence of the Taliban over their polity and civil society. Pakistan Administered Kashmir has a much poorer track record of democracy than the Kashmir you inhabit. The diverse ethnic groups and regions in Pakistan have far fewer rights than minority communities and regions have in India. No matter how well they treat you personally, the aristocratic elite of Pakistan are unlikely to deliver the "azadi" you are seeking.

Kashmiri society is being torn asunder by the conflicting ambitions of its leaders. As you well know, the mutual hostilities and suspicions of various Kashmiri leaders have even taken murderous forms. That is why it is vital to bridge these divides and important that diverse leaders come together to thrash out differences and explore common ground. Many of those who attended the November 7 meeting considered it an auspicious start of a new process whereby secessionist leaders who had never sat together on a common platform with mainstream political parties not only came together to seek out a consensually acceptable peaceful solution but also agreed to carry forward the debate around the concrete and innovative new Self Rule formula presented by the PDP.

Instead of expecting the human rights community in India to become your followers, instead of expecting them to fight your battles for you, it would be far better if you worked out a political platform that was more in consonance with their perspective. For all their limitations and humbler origins, the Indian middle classes which dominate democratic rights organizations in India have succeeded far better in keeping the authoritarian tendencies of their rulers under a measure of check and control. J& K has too many gun toting self appointed spokespersons of Kashmiri people. What it lacks is a vibrant community of people committed to strengthening human rights and democratic freedoms. Such voices have been marginalized or crushed by the gun in J&K. Reviving that tradition needs much greater courage and conviction than required for taking up the gun. I hope to see you occupy that space in the coming years.

With good wishes,

Madhu Kishwar,
Founder Editor, Manushi
Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
November 14, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"We will burn you like we burnt your temples"

There are only 3000 Kashmiri Pandits living in Kashmir now.The title of the post is the message that they were given by "peace loving Muslims of Kashmir".
Here is the press release of KPSS for everyone to see the brutal colours of Kashmiriyat.I can bet that no media house will ever take this story up because it would be hurt their "secular" credentials and neither will the "intellectuals" because then it would go against their creed.Shame India once again.

Sathu Barbar Shah, Srinagar Kashmir

Dated: 16.11.2009

1. Hon’ble the Prime Minister

Union of India

New Delhi

2. Hon’ble the Chief Minister

State of Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu / Srinagar.

3. Chairman,

All Party Hurriyat Conference (G)

Hyderpora, Srinagar

4. Chairman,

All Party Hurriyat Conference (M)

Raj Bagh, Srinagar.

Open Letter / Press Release

(It is not right time of return of Migrant Kashmiri Pandits

But it is ripe time for the left out Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley

to choose migration with dignity)

Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) is working for the last more than 3 years to create a space for reconciliation between Majority Community and Minorities in the Valley and initiated the celebration of religious functions in public to play a role to bring back the co-existence environment in the Valley.

From the last 2 years KPSS is also taking steps for the preservation of the religious places of the minorities and bring back them to their glory. And to make it a mark of success organized its maiden Seminar – cum – Temple Photo Exhibition on 31st March, 2009.

On 15th of November, 2009 two of our members went to Bhairav Ghat, Chattabal, Srinagar to take some pictures of the temple ruins so that its fate could be settled with the concerned authorities. But the members of the Majority Community who had encroached the temple land abstained them from taking pictures and used un-parliamentary language against the Kashmiri Pandits and the religious places. The started the slogans like “Jis tarah humne tumhare mandiroon ko Jalaya hai vaise hi tum logon ko jalayenge, aur kisi ko pata bi nahi chalega” The way we have burnt your temples in the same way we will burn you and no one will know about you. “Yehan sirf Islam Chalega” Only Islam will prevail here. “India ko lagta hai kit tum logon ko vapas layega, jo bi aaye ga mara jayega, hum log phir se gun uthayenge” India thinks that they can bring Kashmiri Pandits back to Valley, who so ever will come will die, we will again raise arms against you. The mob there even man handled the members of KPSS and they had to leave the place. Even they could not file an FIR against the mob due to the life threat given by these hooligans belonging to a particular community.

KPSS strongly condemn the act and appeal to the Separatist leadership to look into the matter and reply back within a stipulated time that when at one hand they recommend the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley then why on the other hand their men are thirsty for KP blood.

KPSS requests the State and Central Administration to re-think about their proposal to bring back the Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley instead they should be prepared to register the fresh lot of migrants who will leave the Valley in the coming days if the situation is not taken care of in due course of time.

KPSS also appeals to the International Community to take the matter seriously and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to safe guard the Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.

(Sanjay K. Tickoo)



Sunday, November 8, 2009

CSDS Seminar on “Multi-Party dialogue on Political Future of Jammu & Kashmir”

I have a Maths test on Wednesday but I just can’t study. My mind refuses to concentrate. Two years ago, when Rashneek bhaiya made me write a speech for World Refugee Day, he said that Kashmiri Pandits were viewed as ‘collateral damage’ of the Kashmir issue by ‘intellectuals’. I understood what he meant but never really faced this harsh reality head on. Yesterday, as I listened to leader after leader talk, I understood how  insignificant we actually were to the ‘main issue’.

(Click to enlarge - Report in Punjab Kesri)

Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat from Moderate Hurriyat Conference looking towards Yasin Malik.

I came to Teen Murti in time only for the post-lunch session. I can only give you a brief summary of the first session (garnered from various sources). Abdul Ghani Bhat talked the usual about dialogue between India, Pakistan and Kashmir for peace and reconciliation. Muzzafar Baig accepted that Kashmiri leaders had time and again sold their conscience to India and Pakistan to remain in power. On the subject of Kashmiri Pandits, he said that all Kashmiri leaders wanted the safe return of KPs to Kashmir. He also said that his mother still cried, on remembering their KP friends and neighbors. Shafi Uri of NC talked about the NC’s willingness to negotiate with PDP and other parties on the autonomy document presented by NC in July 2000. Balbir Punj and Tarun Vijay demanded the removal of Article 370. 

CSDS fellow and seminar organiser Madhu Kishwar seen here defending Yasin Malik.

The post-lunch session started with Madhu Kishwar of CSDS calling everybody for a group photo with Yasin Malik; Ramesh Manwati of Panun Kashmir was the only person who refused to be part of the photo. Kishwar then announced that Ram Jethmalani had to attend a press conference at his residence and so would absent himself for some time. Jethmalani started the parting message by holding Yasin Malik’s hand (YM had come straight from the Jammu TADA court, where his presence was needed in the Rubbaiya Sayeed kidnapping case, and was seated beside him) and welcoming his ‘dear friend and honored guest’. Importantly, he mentioned that the problem in Kashmir started due to the coincidence of two events happening together. First, the Russians left Afghanistan and the terrorists in Kabul became ‘unemployed’, and second, India started rigging elections in Kashmir. He also said that it was the highest virtue of an Indian to love Pakistan, and that the entire discussion should be in the spirit of ‘love and affection’. After he left, Ellora Puri from Jammu talked of how it had always been ignored that the state was actually made of three geographically and culturally distinct regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. She proposed a federal system within the state, with the three regions having three separate ‘councils’.

JKLF Terrorist and Rapist Yasin Malik at the seminar.

 Protesting Civil Society members in the seminar. 


Panun Kashmir's Ramesh Manwati at the seminar.

Ram Jethmalani at the seminar.

After her, Sanjay Tickoo of Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (representing KPs who were still living in Kashmir for these 20 years) spoke. He first wanted to discount the notion that KPs fled because the then Governor Jagmohan told them to do so, quoting that in 1998, there were 19,000 KPs in Kashmir, whereas in 2008, there were only about 3000. This proved that conditions in Kashmir were far from being conducive to their return. He also demanded a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to be set up by the Indian Parliament where the different stake-holders could voice their grievances and demands. Ramesh Manwati of Panun Kashmir showed a report published in a national daily in which the government had placed “Relief and Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits” under the topic of Animal Husbandry. That aside, he talked a little about the concept of Panun Kashmir. He also talked about how 150 temples that had been desecrated and demolished in 1990 and blamed the media, civil society and HR groups for turning a blind eye to the plight of KPs. I personally thought that both speakers could not manage to convey either the past or the future in the right perspective, but it is pertinent to note that Madhu Kishwar interrupted both their speeches about 2-3 times, chiding them like recalcitrant children whenever they even mentioned 1990. We were expected to forget everything and start afresh. There really wasn’t any time for telling reality to the world. We were asked to make “tall demands” of the future. I know that rationally we should do that, and to an extent, we did do that too. What infuriated me was that only we were admonished for speaking about the old truth. Mehbooba Mufti went on and on about Kashmir being a “chota Iran” and how Accession to India had isolated Kashmir from the rest of Central Asia and West Asia. (The main point of her talk was more like propagating PDP’s agenda – she kept asking if India was ready to trust Kashmiris and uniting the 'two Kashmirs' - PoK and IK). There was a Mr. Tahir Khurshid Raina (Mr. Three-In-One – Rajouri and Poonch representative cum PDP member cum Yasin Malik supporter) who talked about how war had ravaged Rajouri and Poonch and how all these years they had few basic facilities. Yasin Malik went on to give the entire history (read: justification) behind his proud taking up of arms (reiterating that it was not an unemployment issue at all). But no, Madhu Kishwar did not have the guts or the rather the inclination to stop them and ask them to talk about the future. Only we were supposed to listen and digest.

I know we haven’t been the only sufferers – far from it. But I believe that if you remove KPs from the context of the Kashmir problem – it becomes a clear case for YM’s ‘freedom struggle’. I don’t pretend to know much about the workings of Kashmiri politics but to an outsider, ignorant of the ethnic cleansing in 1989-90, there would be little wrong in YM’s story (which he skillfully recited yesterday) of 3rd degree torture from Indian authorities, leading to ‘armed struggle’, leading to jail and finally “Gandhian enlightenment”. He was ‘forced’ to pick up arms and then by the strength of his character and the overwhelming sentiment of ‘azadi’ in Kashmir, he chose to become non-violent (despite seeing ‘600’ of his ‘friends and followers’ dead after coming out from jail). The intellectuals present yesterday knew both of our displacement and the ‘armed struggle’ but chose, peacefully, to keep them separate. They didn’t, of course, have any explanation for the former. It just happened. And now Kashmiri Pandits needed to go back to Kashmir to reverse history and show that everything was normal. As simple as that. As moral, just and enlightened citizens they needed to support the Kashmiris’ right to independence, even if it meant listening to YM saying that he had defeated India militarily, mentally, culturally and spiritually. When Madhu Kishwar showed some sense by asking YM how practical his notion of azadi was, Ram Jethmalani cut her short and said that he found no problem whatsoever with YM’s proposal.

When YM was announced as a speaker, I had thought that we would pounce on him during or after his speech with questions. Then Sushilji got up to protest his presence, as a murderer and a rapist. Once it started, we didn’t back off. The astounding part was how everybody in the room thought that we were irrational liars. They welcomed and pleaded him to continue while admonishing us for not listening to him. He talked about how the problem between KPs and KMs was essentially a “power struggle”, not a communal one. The educated Pandits got insecure of the increasing power with the poor, uneducated Muslims and hence the trouble. He said that he had visited refugee camps in Jammu, and commiserated with the old ladies there; he had the guts to quote a “sher” from Lal Ded. Better still, he said that in KPs, India had found a “weeping boy” for Geneva. Madhu Kishwar and Ram Jethmalani said nothing at all on this and instead scolded the PK representative who raised an objection. I asked YM to shut up on this topic at least; he didn’t have the right to talk about Kashmiri Pandits from his bloody mouth. When Sushilji asked for permission to ask a question, Jethmalani said that he could ask only if he promised to speak in the spirit of “love and affection”. Love and affection to your killers! Of the two questions Sushilji asked, only one was permitted – that of how YM could say that all KMs had left arms when Let and Hizbul Mujahideen continued to operate. The second and more important one, about just how YM could compare himself with Gandhi when he and JKLF had killed so many unarmed, innocent women and children was promptly and completely ignored. We were largely seen as deranged communalists shouting at a hero for no good reason.

When Mehbooba Mufti and Yasin Malik were speaking I really felt like we were banging our heads against stone walls who would never listen. It was suffocating. They had thrown us out of Kashmir and consequently we were left with no say in the ‘current problem’ of Kashmir. We were an ugly face of history that nobody wanted to recall, because we just didn’t fit in. Today, as I scoured newspapers, both online and paper, to see if anybody had reported us, I was shown the raw truth. The news people had got their quotes from YM, Abdul Ghani Bhat, Baig, Mehbooba Mufti and Jethmalani. We had given pamphlets to people explaining why we were protesting against YM but still we were only mentioned in one-liners as disrupters of YM’s speech. Nothing else. Regardless of the cries of rehabilitation and relief – succor for the past in the future – there was after all nothing in the present. Nobody wanted to talk about collateral damage. In the end, Muzaffar Baig, the man who ignited the Amarnath agitation by talking of “demographic” changes in Kashmir due to settlements for Amarnath pilgrims, showed why he was a successful politician. He talked about things I thought only we could understand – he talked about Kashmiri Pandits as a unique unit of civilization; he talked about how individual successes aside, the loss of homeland would always be irreparable.
The program ended there. Baig had said the right things; Madhu Kishwar volunteered to hold a signature campaign for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and also arrange for a private conference between Baig and KPs.


I only hope that we ‘heckled’ YM enough for the time being.

- Radhika Koul

Monday, October 5, 2009

One More Farce

In the past two weeks there seems to frentic activity over "the return of Pandits".The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has constituted an Apex Committee to oversee the 1600 crore PM's package as also to pave the way for smooth return of Kashmiri Pandits.
Ordinrily it would be a reason for rejoice that finally the Government has started addressing the Kashmiri Pandit Issue.But alas,thats not to be.The government constituted apex committee immediately evokes skepticism if not outright suspicion because of the names of some of the "Pandit leaders" in it.Now could anyone tell me what makes Vijay Bakaya(the ex-chief Secy to J&K govt) a leader of the Pandits.But he is not the only one.There are many like him who could tilt the scales in case the heads are counted at a crucial stage.Then there are leaders who have lost their security deposits in the last assembly elections.Who exactly does the Government believe is our leader?
Be that as it may,let us now look at the deliverables of the committee and the scope of its activities.While it talks about the much maligned semamtic of dignified return of Pandits to their homes and hearths, there is absolutely no mention of what led to their exodus neither does one encounter a word about justice for those who lost their lives to the grand Pan-Islamic terrorism.I havent even talked about reversal of ethnic cleansing yet.I am conciously choosing not to use words like Holocaust and Genocide for they may "irk" the sickulars and their apologists.
Now let us run the committee.Panun Kashmir the only Political ideology based group of Kashmiri Pandits refused to join the committee.I am told it was political naivette that they stood out.What was the harm in them joining and making a point.After all you have to be a part of the sysytem to change the system.Point well made.

With their experience at the Round Table Conference which is chaired by no less than the PM himself,one would be surprised that none of the points raised by either Agnishekhar or Ajay Chrungoo was ever included in the final declarations.Not even one of their recommendations has ever been documented leave alone accepted.With this kind of experience at their hands why should they join another farce.

And as far as the argument of being in the system goes,werent Kashmiri Pandits always a part of the sysytem of independent India.Did we change anything at all?
Could Manmohan Singh as a sikh himself bring to book his own Congressmen responsible for the 1984 anti Sikh Pogrom sponsored by the SECULAR Congress.Isnt he at the top of the system?

For all those Pandit organisations or individuals who attended the Apex Committe meeting may I ask,Are you prepared Sirs to have a house next to Bitta Karate's,Are you ready to see your relative's killer having tea when you go out to buy vegetables,Are you ready to go back to the same village where your own neighbours burnt your house, Are you ready to say Sallam to the very man who you know has pissed on the deity that you worshipped everyday.Sorry Sir,I may be a coward but I am not prepared to do so neither do I know of many unless they have already bargained a good price for their soul,mind and else.

This message from the youth of the community should be read in its letter and spirit that while we want to go home we do not want to sit with the government who trivialises the issue of our return.It isnt as if we had merrily left one day only to return now because they will pay us 7.5 lac rupees.Make no mistake about it.Let the government first show some resolve.Let them fast track cases related to killing of Kashmiri Pandits.Let there atleast be one conviction.Let them de-encroach the land of our shrines.

We cannot have the horse before the cart.We know our brothers back in Jammu need jobs.Give them jobs.That is their due but to link it return is sending us back into subjugation.Give them Jobs anywhere on this side of the tunnel.Show some resolve.And my elders please do not fall in to the trap of a farce.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kashmiri Pandits ‘in exile’ tonsure heads to mark 20th Martyrs Day

Gulf Times

New Delhi:
A group of Kashmiri Pandits living in Delhi tonsured their heads yesterday to mark the day 20 years ago when a member of their community was shot dead by militants in Jammu and Kashmir triggering their exodus from the valley.

“On September 14, 1989, militants killed a Kashmiri Pandit in the heart of Srinagar. This sowed the seeds of our eviction from our homeland. This is a symbolic protest against injustice towards our community,” said Kamal Hak, a Kashmiri Pandit living in Delhi.

“Twenty of our community members tonsured their head to mark 20 years of our Martyr’s Day,” said Hak, who along with his wife had left their home in the Kashmir in 1990.

Around 200 people of the community gathered near Yamuna river to protest. There was prayer meeting after which “people tonsured their heads”.

Hak said around 80,000 Kashmir Pandits are “living in exile in Delhi and its suburbs and all of them have expressed solidarity with the initiative”.

Tikalal Taploo, a lawyer, was the first Kashmiri Pandit victim to terrorism. “He was killed by terrorists right outside his house. After his death, hundreds of Pandits were killed by terrorists within the next four years. Post-1993, the number of killings has fallen as the majority of us have left the valley for other cities,” Hak added.

Aditya Raj Kaul, who was just a year old when his parents left the valley in fear, said: “Neither the administration, nor human rights organisations have ever highlighted our plight. The media too has overlooked us. September 14 is our Martyr’s Day and all Kashmiri Pandits observe it with a prayer for justice.”

Hak said that at least six of their community would meet National Security Advisor M K Narayanan to demand justice for “hundreds of those killed by militants”. - IANS

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Valley of no return



Anil Pandey - The Sunday Indian Magazine

Reduced to refugee status in their own land, uprooted Kashmiri Pandits live in the fond hope of a better tomorrow

The pain of deracination is writ large on 67-year-old Manohar Nath Raina’s face. Memories, two decades old, come rushing back. His eyes turn moist. And his voice chokes. But as he regains control of his nerves, he opens up, “My body lives here but I have left my soul on the chinar trees in my village in Kashmir”.

Raina, retired principal, wants to return to Kashmir, but the situation in his home state is still too precarious. He owns a mansion and stretches of land in Kanihama village, 19 km from Srinagar. But he now lives in a dingy one-room janta flat in Dwarka, a Delhi suburb. “I want to see my village once before I die,” says Raina.

Raina’s wish is shared by many other migrant Kashmiris who abandoned their land in fear and haste. It started in the late 1980s when local militants, fresh from training camps from across the border, targetted Kashmiri Pandits. Many died. Those that survived decided to flee. Shanties and decrepit tenements in Jammu became their new abode.

Though safe, Jammu offered little hope. Within years, a second exodus took place. Many left for other cities in north India. And so did Raina. Two of his sons, along with their families, came to Delhi and settled in the refugee camp at Balbir Nagar. Four years ago, the Delhi government allotted him a one room flat in Dwarka.

Bharat Bhushan, head of Kashmiri Sabha, a group of displaced Kashmiris, says, “Pandits are a learned lot. But we have no jobs. Our houses were snatched long ago, and now, without jobs, our youth are in despair. If the government wants to help us, it must provide jobs to economically backward youth.”

The jobless Bhushan had a flourishing business in the valley. The company he initially worked with in Delhi shut down. After a long struggle, he joined another firm. Then the recession struck. He was the first to be retrenched. His immediate concern is not how to return to Kashmir. His son’s school fees are his first priority.

This is a common story in every refugee camp you visit. Because of their education levels and acumen, they once dominated the government job scene in Kashmir, but no more. When the exodus started, there were more than 15,000 Pandits in government jobs. The corresponding figure after two decades is merely 3,000. If we accept the figures provided by Panun Kashmir, an organisation working for the rehabilitation of Pandits, only 400 Pandits have been offered state government jobs.

Of the four lakh Pandits who left Kashmir, two and a half lakhs reside in refugee camps and rented homes in Jammu. One lakh reside in Delhi and other north Indian towns. Many of them want to return to their land and Panun Kashmir has a plan in place. It has submitted the detailed plan to the government. It suggests declaring a portion of the state a Union Territory where Pandits can be settled. “Most of the plans regarding resettlement and reinstating Pandits are gathering dust in government offices. The government always goes back on its promise. It talks about returning our land and houses and yet protects terrorists,” says Utpal Kaul, vice president of Panun Kashmir.

Link to The Sunday Indian Magazine -

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Return Jobs

Abdul Rahim Rather, just in case you don’t know who he is, The Finance Minister of Jammu and Kashmir announced (during his budget speech) a job package of 15000 jobs for Kashmiri Pandits to enable them back to Kashmir.One would be tempted to believe that Mr.Rather is rather catholic and philanthropic only if one wouldn’t know the ground reality of Private Sector in Kashmir,the state of its PSU’s,the unemployment figures and last but not the least the fate of myriad packages that subsequent State and Central Governments have announced for the displaced Pandits. To give the reader an idea of what happened to the much hyped Rs 1600 crore package announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister here it is.So far only 1.6 crore of that money has been sanctioned to be spent of various welfare schemes for Pandits.

You may have made the right noises and played to the national media by projecting yourself as a man with secular credentials but Sir please don’t fool yourself into believing that there are 15000 jobs in entire Jammu and Kashmir leave alone Kashmir valley.Even today there aren’t 15000 people hired by the private organised sector in all of Kashmir.

Be that as it may, can anyone please tell the minister that it isn’t jobs that will lure us back to Kashmir because it weren’t jobs that “lured” us to the plains? The minister is either too blind to facts or so naïve that he doesn’t even understand this. This isn’t the first time that a minister has offered such a simple solution to such a complex problem. We have seen in the past how various politicians across the Political hue have offered such silly solutions like giving us money to “rebuild” our houses or offering us “jobs” in far flung areas of Kashmir. Understandably there have been no takers for such offers. This should have made the government understand that such offers will remain just offers unless basic issues of reversal of ethnic cleansing, instituting a commission of enquiry to probe murders of Kashmiri Pandits, destruction of their property and religious shrines.

I am tired of repeating this but not even one person has been punished for killings of Pandits and the Hon’ble minister if giving us lure of jobs. Imagine how Sarla Bhat’s relatives would feel every time they see her rapist Yasin Malik roaming as a leader. Imagine how Satish Tiku’s father would feel every time he sees Bitta Karate. There are thousands of such people who may want jobs but then wouldn’t feel like returning unless they see killers and rapists of their relatives punished. Imagine how I would feel when I go back to my village knowing very well that amongst them are the people who looted my house before they burnt it.

Mr.Minster please get it right. We need jobs, we want to return to our homes but before that we demand a life of dignity, we demand the right to practice our religion, we demand a right to justice.

I am told that Allama Iqbal is a huge favourite for invocation in Kashmir these days. So here for you Mr.Minister,Allama Iqbal’s answer to your job offer

Ah Tahir-e-lahauti us rizik se maut ache
Jis rizik se aatee ho parwaaz main kohtai

Friday, July 24, 2009

they killed 3 year old Arif.....

Maybe this is Nizam-e-Mustafa

On July 23,militants entered the house of Mohd.Aslam Awan and killed him and his three year old son point blank.Mohd Aslam is incidentally a resident of the same Shopian which had errupted upon the rape and murder of two women.Strange as it may seem the same Shopian is muted today because it is the terrorists who have killed.

Earlier in April terrorists had killed Mohd Aslam's mother when he survived a similar attack.At that time also no hartals were called for,no stone pelting took place,no Majlis Mushuwarat was formed,no SIT was ordered,No Jaan Commsiion was established.The separtists much like the other Kashmiri Muslims looked the other way.
What kind of a civil society is it that looks the other way when "its boys" kill a three year old kid.Does Islam allow this too?

One can only shame such a hypocritical society and wish that instead of Islam humanity dawns on them.One also wonders what kind of Islam is this and what kind of Nizam-e-Mustafa is this a three year old is killed and there isnt even a murmur.
Yet we have many Indians supposedly who call themselves liberals who support such sickness and some even make movies to eulogise such deviant and perverse behaviour and do they call it Tehreek-i-Azadi.Aazadi to kill three year olds and fifty five year olds!

The ubiqutios and ever shouting immorally incorrect Kashmir Bar Council too is silent.Does the Bar think it is OK to kill three year olds?

But then it isnt just about Kashmiri Muslims.It is about the Indian Media too.It is about those newspapers,Indian Express in particular who took every single bit of information about Shopian rapes to the front page yet this was on the 4th page today in India Express and no other newspaper including the HT even reported it.It took a Times Now to shame the separtists while the others shamed themselves.One must ask the Indian Media why is it so enamoured by the separtists or should I say so biased in favour of them that they dont report terrorists killing a three year old boy.

We at Roots in Kashmir are with the family who has lost three of its members including a three year old kid.We may not know them.We may be faar away in exile but in this hour we resolve that we will leave no stone unturned to get justice for them.Such was our stand on Nilofer and Asiya rapes and such is our stand now.If the Govt of J&K does not take action we will move the Supreme Court.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Challenge of Fundamentalist Intifada-Dr.Ajay Chrungoo


Separatists go for the Overkill

The headlines of local newspapers in the Kashmir Valley have been blaring with relentless intensity… July 09 - Woman’s rape, murder rocks Kupwara; July 08 - Asrar’s killing sparks massive protests in Srinagar. July 07 - Bomb hurled at Baramulla police station, 3 grenade explosions in 2 days; July 06 - explosions rock Srinagar, Sopore; July 05 - Army had abducted Basharat: Family; July 04 - Larkipora teenager released, Protests in Islamabad; July 02 - Protests in curfewed Varmul; youth succumbs, Varmul toll 4; July 01 - Police fire smoke shells at mourners, thousand attend funeral of 19 year old Amir.

Public mobilization campaigns and demonstrations reflecting seditious and secessionist intensity more than anti-government sentiment have been going on in Kashmir Valley since the police recovered the bodies of two ladies, Niloufer and Aisya, at Shopian in Pulwama district, on 30 May. The separatist mobilizations have reflected strange eagerness which needs to be understood and placed in a proper perspective.

The spate of hartals and orchestrated violence on the streets left a large section of people bewildered, contrary to propaganda by the local media. This bewilderment of the general public with the methodology adopted by the separatist leadership and the response of the government is not a fiction as many Kashmir experts sitting in Delhi would like us to believe. It involves a significant section of population in the Valley, and occasionally their voices find expression in the columns of an otherwise partisan local media.

Syed Rafiuddin Bukhari, columnist, Rising Kashmir, provides a glimpse: “Is Kashmir really fragile or has it been made to behave like that? Does this question boggle the mind of those who cover, analyze and interpret the political perceptions! This week’s incidents in Baramulla have shown that no one controls Kashmir, but only those who want to keep the pot boiling… in Baramulla where the police was handling a simple case of kidnapping of a 15 year old girl from Binner. The accused in the case was identified and one of the accomplices was rounded up. His wife went to the police station to seek his release but was not obliged. She came out and alleged that the police passed indecent remarks at her. This worked like jungle fire and the whole town was up in flames… it needs an explanation as to why the young Kashmiris should fall prey to such a situation in which four young boys give their blood for something which is not part of the struggle.” The culprit and this lady had known links with a local political party.

The over-eagerness of separatist formations to go for overkill was manifest from the day of the recovery of the dead bodies of Niloufer and Asiya in Shopian and the initial bungling of government response. In Shopian, local discourse reflected that people never believed the role of CRPF or Army in the killings. People asked why the bodies of the ladies were left just outside the CRPF camp if CRPF personnel had committed the crime. People suspected the moral integrity of the husband of Niloufer. Her own relatives were less enthusiastic about the public exposure of the affair. Justice Jan Commission brought this facet into the open. The report has undermined separatist mobilization more than anything else in Shopian, because it has found resonance with the common perception of the people.

The Justice Jan Commission recorded the rift between the two families from Tukru and Bongam in Shopian district. In April-May 2007, Niloufer eloped with Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar against the wishes of her family. The Commission noted, “It will be in place to mention here that Niloufer Jan belongs to a “Peer” family which is treated in the society with the degree of respect and honour for their upper class status, where as Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar belongs to “Khaar” family which is included in the other backward classes of the society. This marriage had given birth to a serious hatred of Peer family towards Ahangar family. It is reliably learnt that Zeerak Shah (brother of Niloufer), along with his friends, had even threatened the Ahangar family of dire consequences if Niloufer is not handed over to her family.”

The Commission recorded that after the burial of Niloufer and Asiya, Zeerak Shah pitched a tent at Tukroo and gathered his friends, relatives, and other villagers, blocked the road at Tukroo, smashed window panes of civil and government vehicles, and raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. The commission took note of the fact that Shakeel was known for his immoral activities and had amassed assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

“Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar was working with his brothers at welding workshop at Shopian. He eloped with Niloufer Jan in 2007 and went outside Shopian. After this return he started his own business by opening a shop of readymade furniture items near police station Shopian… in October 2008, Shakeel purchased an orchard (1 kanal 16 marla) in Nagbal-Dehgam for about 5.30 lakhs. He also owns a Maruti car and maintains a good living standard. Further it is learnt that he does not carry a good reputation among the society and is being known for his immoral activities.”

It can be safely presumed that these facts would have been known to separatists’ think tanks. They latched upon the twin murders to unleash frenzy, caring nothing for loss of face and credibility in case the facts about the gruesome incidents proved wrong. The cracking of Asrar’s murder case, which was nothing more than the outcome of jealousy in a love triangle, exposed separatist indulgence in matters which shamed one and all.

A strange hope seems to pervade the thinking of separatist echelons that if they build public pressure, something dramatic may happen. The Hurriyat leader and main force behind the public upsurge betrayed his feelings when he said, “People should make a difference between right and wrong and follow the right path. New dawn is awaiting us and it is the crucial juncture that demands patience and consistency.”

Another Hurriyat leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, described confusion among people as ‘anarchy’, ‘we should not look like a divided house, separatist organizations should not be in a rat race to issue strike calls… we need to think of creating alternative ways of protest. We have to carry on the movement and lives of the people as well.”

The roots of this hope lay in certain recent developments involving the region as well as the experience of last year’s agitation against land transfer to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.

India Ragdo-II and the Catalysts

The agitation on Amarnath land exposed cleavages in Indian polity. A section of the high profile liberal elite in India came out brazenly supporting separation of Kashmir from India one way or other. The likes of Arundhati Roy, Shabana Azmi, Vir Sanghvi, Prem Shankar Jha, and AG Noorani, through spoken or written words created an impression amongst the separatist rank and file that ‘Azadi’ was round the corner. ‘Ek Dakka Aur Do’, (just one push more) was the common refrain of separatist campaigners then.

The public mobilization had less to do with the actual land row and more with wrecking Indian sovereignty over Kashmir. The campaign was not called India Ragda/Ragdo-I for only sloganeering. It reflected the underlying motivation. Carrying the experience forward this year’s campaigners unleashed, after the recovery of the dead bodies of two ladies in Shopian, India Ragda/Ragdo-II.

Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, Department of Law, Kashmir University, called the recent unrest in the Valley the ‘resistance beyond the armed struggle;’ and the spirit underlying India Ragdo-II as, “Indian state needs to realize that it is confronting a highly informed and educated young generation of Kashmiris, they know the direction in which right of self determination is evolving and has evolved. It has definitely evolved in a direction which is advantageous to Kashmir, not against it. East Timor and Eritrea availed it despite being non- colonial possessions. Montenegro enjoyed the right of self-determination in spite of having forty five percent opponents to independence.”

The separatist mind articulates its position vehemently. It describes expressions of separatism as the expression of a ‘Resistant Kashmir’, and demeans political engagement and democratic process in the state as ‘collaborating Kashmir’. The manifest disenchantment of the common man with the separatist leadership and his confusion is trivialized as ‘vacillating Kashmir’.

The India Ragdo-II intifada in Kashmir is being guided by such a mindset. This mindset would have taken note of the admission in early May, towards the fag end of parliamentary elections, by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, “…I have always believed a strong peaceful moderate Pakistan in India’s interests. We worked very hard on that and in fact I and General Musharraf had reached nearly an agreement, a non territorial solution to all problems, but then General Musharraf got into many difficulties with the Chief Justice and other fronts and therefore the whole process came to a halt.”

Separatist think tanks in Kashmir have been relentlessly searching a way to circumvent the predicament in which Pakistan is caught up and chart out a course to bring a halt to the ‘halt’.

Columnist Syed Rafiuddin Bukhari, in Rising Kashmir, commented, “…Pakistan Government is grappling with the worst ever crisis, the Kashmiri leadership should stop looking towards Islamabad and think independently to charter their own course.”

India Ragdo-II is the course separatists have embarked upon. Their hope lies more on the support which they generate amongst a section of entrenched liberal elite, be it Arundhati Roy or Prem Shankar Jha, people who advocate a concession on sovereignty not to bail out India from international pressure but out of an ideological outlook which recognizes Muslim communalism as a progressive secular imperative for India to reconcile with.

Separatist rank and file see some space in the new American foreign policy. The new US ambassador to India, Timothy Roemer, statement that Kashmir “has been an extremely sensitive hotspot for the world and for the region where we have almost experienced thermonuclear war on several occasions,” has been music to the separatist rank and file. So have previous statements by Assistant Secretary of State William Burns or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Separatists have not missed the success of the Pakistani government in toning down India’s assertions on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. The release of Hafeez Syed is seen as a gradually stiffening stance of Pakistan on Kashmir. Keeping the pot boiling in Kashmir through a non-violent intifada serves Pakistan preserve its Kashmir Policy with reinforced moral legitimacy.

Last but not the least, the Indian Ragdo-II intifada as per separatist thinking delegitimises the democratic process in the state. Mr. Arjimand Hussain Talib brings out this aspect brazenly: “It should now be clear to India’s political and media establishment that high voter turnout in Assembly elections does not mean an end of Kashmiri Movement for self determination. Kashmir needs a real political settlement which goes beyond the pre-1989 military status quo”.

The Paradox

The Central government if it has any inclination to diffuse the situation on the ground has to resolve a paradox. The National Conference which leads the ruling alliance in J&K shares and identifies with the common minimum agenda of campaigners in the Valley streets. In a full page advertisement, the state government declared its three main and primary achievements since assuming power: i). Bold decision taken after 20 years to replace CRPF by locals police; ii) First CM to plead eloquently for withdrawal of AFSPA, Union Government flags the issue; iii) Presence of Magistrates with police/security forces made mandatory while dealing with law and order problems and iv) Bomai (Army) camp re-located within a month.

The main opposition PDP, both factions of Hurriyat and the local Bar Council all have revocation of AFPSA and demilitarization as their main demands. We have a piquant situation where the opposition, mainstream as well as separatist, and the state government are politically on the same side.

The situation becomes bizarre when a section of the Government of India identifies with this consensus. The incidental or accidental remarks of Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, while referring to the PM’s Working Group on Confidence Building Measures of which he was then Chairman, justified the key demand of separatists during the current unrest. The Vice President observed that implementation of its recommendations was considered by the Prime Minister as the key to retaining people’s confidence. In his own report then as chairman of the Working Group, ignoring the dissent within, Ansari recommended revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The entire report did not address anti- terrorism measures as a vital component of confidence building in the state.

Even though in all incidents which lead to protests in recent times, the suspected culprits were locals working in local police or territorial army or government officials, the foremost demand of everybody of consequence was removal of paramilitary forces and army from the state.

India Ragdo-Intifada has nothing to do with the incidents which caused public resentment. It essentially uses the incidents to lacerate symbols of Indian sovereignty. It seeks to project an extremely permissive, conniving and inactive state as a demonic police state. The Government, unwilling to defend its security establishment, takes a totally defensive position and allows public mobilizations by the most regressive and fundamentalist regimes operating on the ground. It declares lack of intention to act publicly by either withdrawing its security forces or ordering them not to intervene, whatever the provocation.

The ruling National Conference has an ideological resonance with the common minimum programme of agitationists to force demilitarization, but an existential need to preserve the military presence. The central government knows that any laxity in security operations in the state may lead to catastrophic results, given the situation in Pakistan. Yet it seeks to maintain the stance of a neutral player while its security forces are described and lampooned as an occupation force in the valley. Civilians in the valley know well that the very survival of civil society depends upon the security forces, yet they demonize them. The paradox is deep and powerful.

Inside The Present Turmoil

Most events which lead to public resentment invariably have a sexual angle. Separatists are instigating the public that organs of the Indian state are not only indulging in extra-constitutional violence, but are perpetuating moral debasement of Kashmir society. The mobilization by Dukhtaran-e-Millat had the same purpose, when sexual scandals involving government officials and politicians came to the fore. We are witnessing in the Valley glaring signs of social disorganization caused by militarization of the social milieu. Local papers have time and again highlighted the proliferation of sexual cartels and the flesh trade. Ahmad Ali Fayaz, special correspondent, Daily Excelsior, brought out the magnitude of increase in the number of brothels in Srinagar city a few years ago. A well known ideologue and lobbyist of separatists also referred to ‘prostitution cartels’ in the valley in his columns in the local media.

Most alarming is the penetration of flesh trade in the government and security establishment, rather than government promoting moral debasement in society. The concerns of a significant section of common Kashmiris are still unheard.

Jihadi militarization brought along with it the evil of temporary marriage – Mutah – which soon became a social sanction for debauchery. The dreaded terrorist Akbar Bhai is reported to have married 83 local girls. One Shakeela Bano was abducted from her houseboat by terrorists and subjected to mass rape before being burnt to death. Al Umar terrorists did this to Shakeela because she refused to marry a terrorist for two years of her captivity, during which she was raped regularly. After running away from her captors, she escaped to Jammu where an NGO looked after her. But when she ventured back home, she was again abducted and burnt to death.

Security forces then destroyed the prostitution cartels of the terrorists of Al Umar and rescued 150 women in captivity. Around the same time, security forces succeeded in freeing 10 women held captive by terrorists in Dacchan Marwa region of Kishtwar in Jammu.

Numerous such incidents can be quoted. The introduction of promiscuity by terrorists has taken a toll on society. Militarization of the social milieu in the Valley has played havoc with age old traditions and values. Government establishment and security forces are face to face with this menace, but are yet to devise a counter response to prevent penetration of the flesh trade in their rank and file.

The situation becomes alarming when we factor in reports that Kashmir tops the world in the list of opium abusers, as per research of ‘Community Drug Abuse Study Survey Kashmir,’ by well known psychiatrist Dr. Mushtaq Margoob. His evaluation has produced astounding statistics. 47.77 percent of population in Kashmir consumes some type of drug, including tobacco and its allied products.

There are 24.32 lakh substance abuses (including tobacco abuse) in Kashmir, which includes 2.11 lakh opioid, 1.37 lakhs cannabis and around 38,000 alcohol abuses. The number of female drug addicts is alarming. The NGO, Hindustan National Social Security (HNSS), conducted a de-addiction programme in 2008-2009 amongst females. The female drug addicts were literates in the age group of 18-33, from urban as well as village backgrounds.

Around the time the Shopian agitation was going, a national electronic channel showed how the army was involved in destroying poppy fields around Shopian. Police also reported recovering quintals of Bhukki - the locally produced poppy husk sold in north India.


Through the current Intifada, separatists seek moral legitimacy. They seek to accord respectability to a regressive anti-freedom movement. They are calibrating its interventions to remain relevant even if Pakistan continues to vacillate, or even collapses. The intifada is targeting the weakness of Indian policy to fight militarized pan-Islamic fundamentalism.

The moral of the story is to de-legitimise this Intifada by educating the public about the impact of militarization of society. Another imperative is to stop fiddling with dangerous ideas of self-rule or the Musharraf Plan. These plans undermine the ideological foundations of India. Government legitimacy to these plans keeps the pot boiling in Kashmir. We have to realize that ideological compromise eventually leads to crippling territorial consequences.

Dr. Ajay Chrungoo is chairman, Panun Kashmir

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Asrar and the art of stone throwing

Asrar Mushtaq - killed by his friends

Kashmiri Muslims have acquired a fetish for demonstrations, stone throwing, vandalising and asking for Azadi on every possible pretext. We have seen how whole Kashmir was on streets when the Shopian rape and murder came to light.

The latest case was the case of murder of a boy named Asrar Mushtaq.The boy apparently went missing and everyone took to streets.Apart from throwing stones which has now become the favourite pastime of Kashmiri Muslims, cars were burnt, Hindus at Purshayar were forced to join the protests and shout “hum kya chahtee”,Kashmir’s only Coffee bar was Café Arabica was vandalised because it belonged to a non-Muslim.One can understand the agony over the death of a young man but Kashmiri Muslims today have to shout,scream,stone,stall,strike and call for Azadi even if someone is constipated.

Now as it turns out the boy was murdered by his friends because a Kashmiri Muslim girl earlier used to sleep with his friend and now was apparently sleeping with him. This infuriated Asrar’s friend so much that he tortured his friend to teach him a lesson. He tortured him and killed him and who knows then he also got to shouting “Hum Kya Chahte”. Do you believe it? It is all happening in “brand new Islamicized Kashmir” and what is Asiya Andrabi shouting at?

This tendency of equating everything with Azadi and throwing stones, burning and vandalising is slowly destroying the Kashmiri Muslims. We have already seen that drug abuse and prostitution is at an all time high in “the Islamicized valley”. It isn’t for anyone but for themselves that Muslims learn to behave civil or else they are sowing the seeds of tomorrow’s Afghanistan today.

Read Greater Kashmir report at - Friends Turned Killers

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wanted-One more Liberhan

Picture Courtesy-KPSS,Srinagar

Finally, finally the Liberhan commission has submitted its report. It took the commission a good 17 years to furnish a report which was to be submitted in 6 months. On Dec 6,1992 Karsewaks brought down the disputed structure called Babri Mosque which has supposedly built by the barbaric Mughal Emperor Babar after demolishing an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ram. This was done under the watchful gaze of the Congress government headed by P V Narshima Rao.

The day the disputed structure was demolished the very next the Govt of India instituted an enquiry commission under Justice Liberhan to find what exactly happened, what led to the demolition of the structure, who were the people responsible for the demolition of the structure.

In the November of 1986 dozens of temples were destroyed by the supporters of what is now called PDP in the south Kashmir district of Anantnag.Pandit women were raped, houses burnt and many Pandits were killed in these so called riots.Among the temples destroyed were the ancient shrines of Lord Shiva and the mother Goddess.

No Liberhan Commission was appointed then.

A certain Mufti Sayeed was known to be behind what had been done to Pandits.The same Mufti Sayeed later became a Home Minister.The same Mufti Sayeed later got his daughter kidnapped and released 5 dreaded terrorists in exchange for his daughter. But, more of it later.

After 1989 hundreds of temples have been either partially or completely destroyed, most have been desecrated and on their places now we have buildings and shopping complexes today. It was all common knowledge yet no Liberhan Commission was appointed.

Most Kashmiri Muslims blame Jagmohan for the exodus of Pandits.But the moment you ask them who broke these temples and who encroached the land or who defecated on an idol they have no Jagmohan to blame.But today it is not them but the Government of India that we are asking to get a Liberhan from somewhere to see who broke my gods.
If one Babri Mosque deserves a Liberhan,are Hindu temples in Kashmir so inconsequential that they don’t need a commission at all or do we have to presume Omar Abdullah’s Oscar Winning Speech in the Parliament as gospel truth that the Kashmiri Muslims broke no temples.Maybe I invented all the pictures that I am pasting here.

Maybe for Hindus no Liberhan is needed,maybe Omar Abdullah is too busy with something else,maybe he was abroad when those temples were broken,maybe he has partial amnesia.

There are too many Maybe’s, Maybe someday our broken gods may call a Liberhan…till then Saugandh Ram ki khatay hain hum mandir vaheen banayege…

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Chicken have come home to Roost

Two soldiers were killed and three wounded in a suicide bomb attack in Pakistani administered Kashmir on Friday, the military said, the first such bombing in Pakistan’s occupied Kashmir.

'The bomber blew himself up near a military vehicle. Two of our soldiers embraced martyrdom,’ a military spokesman told Reuters.

I remember initial days of terrorism in Kashmir and the same Pakistanis would say then"Do Hindustani Faujiyon ko jahnam raseed kar diya mujahidon ne" which means ,Two Indian Soliers have been sent to hell by The MujahideenThe official said three soldiers also were wounded in the attack.

Militants have carried out a series of bomb attacks across Pakistan in recent weeks in retaliation for a military offensive in the northwest but there have been no such attacks in Pakistani Occupied Kashmir.Benazir was proud of the very men who killed her.She would often say that they are sons of Ghazis-the slayers of Hindus.

I dont know whether to mourn the soldiers of Pakistan army or to feel happy that they have got a taste of their own medicine.Whatever the case may be the chicken have come home to roost.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Where are the protestors and the Press ?

Kashmiri Muslims are a sick lot.They will need absolutely no reason to bring down temples,write garffitis on them and deface them.They will find a thousand to throw stones and protest even if a security guard looks at their sisters. Yet they will stay silent when their dear Mujahids kill their sisters.

The following two barbaric killings barely evoked any noise leave alone protest. While the first case was that of 17-year-old Nigeen Awan which took place barely few kilometres away from the place in Shopian of South Kashmir which is witnessing protests over the alleged rape and murder of two women, the second took place at Sopore where the 45-year-old lady Rashma Jan was shot dead because her daughter and son-in-law worked with police force.

It is not case of Kashmiri Muslims alone but a malaise associated with Muslims in general that they will kill hundreds and destroy property, hold the state to ransom if an Infidel kills, rapes or even casts a look at the Believers (who are none but Muslims because the Koran says) yet the same people will do nothing, quite on the contrary, they will applaud when a Mujahid kills a fellow Muslim and will even justify it by quoting some Surahs from the Kitab-e-Asmani.

It is not without reason that Pakistan is today suffering from militancy, it is not without a reason that there are two million Internally Displaced People in Pakistan today, it is not without reason that Kashmiri Muslims continue to reap the poison ivy that they sowed, it is not without reason that the Muslims who shouted “Aese gache Kasheer Batev baghaer ti batenaev saan”(We want Kashmir without Pandit men but with their women) have hundreds of their own raped, quite a lot by their own Mujahids.It is law of Karma. What comes around goes around.

But it isn’t just the Kashmiri Muslims who are sick. Isn’t the liberal Indian Media an accomplice in Crime? Why doesn’t Shekhar Gupta’s Indian Express carry this story on its front pages when it reports even the smallest protest that separatists carry out in Kashmir. Is he too scared of the Mujahids or is the Kashmir Bureau so independent that Shekhar Gupta just goes along. Apart from Times Now who carried a story called “Valley’s double Standards” no other TV channel reported the killing of these two women. And then call themselves impartial!

It still is time for the Kashmiri Muslims to wake up before they too have their women being beaten by Taliban in the centre of the city. If they have it in them then Kashmiri Muslims should speak in one voice against anyone who commits a crime, be it a so called Mujahid. May be I am asking for too much from a community who have become mere puppets in the hands of Pakistan and a handful of separatists. They are like sheep that are goaded to go along and anyone who dares to talk another route is cut and eaten. That is probably what happened to these two women.Maybe one simply said no to a Mujahid's overtures.Havent we heard women being forcibly married to Mujahids?

It is for the government that they institute a similar enquiry as they did for Shopian rape victims and gets to the killers.The Police have identified the killers of Rashme Jan as Bhasharat,Latif and Riyaz.The deaths were supposedly carried out by Hizbul-Mujahideen. Omar Abdullah should show that he is ready to act against militants and not just Policeman.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No protest over murder of women by Hizb men

No Shopian-type protest over murder of women by Hizb militants

June 23, 2009

Srinagar In the uproar following the Shopian rape and murders, two separate brutal killings of women by militants in Jammu and Kashmir have almost gone unnoticed.

While the first case was that of 17-year-old Nigeen Awan which took place barely few kilometres away from the place in Shopian of South Kashmir which is witnessing protests over the alleged rape and murder of two women, the second took place at Sopore where the 45-year-old lady Rashma Jan was shot dead because her daughter and son-in-law worked with police force.

But these two deaths -- barbaric in their own way -- have gone little noticed. Police reasons that its because of the fear as these gruesome killings were undertaken by militants of prominent terror group Hizbul Mujahideen, armed wing of Jamaat-e-Islamia.

According to the police files, Awan was allegedly killed by Latif Theuuda along with Riaz of Hizbul Mujahideen at her residence on the intervening night of June two and three because she had spurned advances by the former.

Quoting eye-witnesses, the police alleged that Latif pumped over a dozen bullets into her at her residence in Dohnado in Shopian district and instructed that no one to take her to hospital.

The young girl died in front of her family members and villagers after struggling for 45 minutes.

Ironically, in the FIR 109/07 registered in police station Keller, police have quoted unnamed eye witnesses who refused to come on record because of the fear of gun except her father Sharief Ahmed Awan who told the police that he was "instructed" by the duo to bury the body and not to make any hue and cry.

While the Jamaat cadres in the Shopian district spread the word that Awan was working for police, senior officials brushed aside the charge saying that the victim had not even attained the age of 18 years which is mandatory for working as Special Police Officer .

Another killing by Hizbul Mujahideen militant was that of Rashma Jan on June 16 at Sopore in North Kashmir. This area is a Jamaat-e-Islamia stronghold and pro-Pakistan leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani also hails from here.

The 45-year-old Jan, work ing as an employee of UCO Bank, met her death when terrorists barged into her house at Sopore on June 16 and fired indiscriminately. She died on her way to hospital as she had received bullets in her head and chest.

She was allegedly killed by Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Basharat, who had nurtured a grudge against her because she had a fight with his mother over marriage of her daughter.

The daughter -- Shameema, a police constable – was married off to a Policeman and at present posted in Baramulla.

When approached, neither leaders of the ruling coalition of National Conference and Congress nor the opposition PDP are willing to comment about the two incidents and are even refraining from saying on record that culprits need to be brought to book.

..another report published in Hindustan Times.

Arjun Sharma, Hindustan Times
Srinagar, June 24, 2009

Amid protests over the Shopian rape-cum-murder case, two separate killings of women by militants in Jammu and Kashmir have almost gone unnoticed.

While the first case was that of 17-year-old Nigeen Awan, which took place barely few kilometres away from Shopian, the second took place in Sopore where the 45-year-old Rashma Jan was shot dead on a doubt that she was a police informer.

Superintend of Police, Baramullah, Viplav Kumar said: “The members Hizb-ul Mujahideen entered the house of Rashma Jan on the intervening night of June 2 and June 3 and gunned her down. The militants have been identified as Basharat, Latif and Riaz.”

But these two deaths have gone little noticed.

Police reason that it is because of the fear as these gruesome killings were undertaken by militants of Hizb-ul Mujahideen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Married to Militants and Living in Hell-Kashmiri Girls

by Binoo Joshi(IANS)
Not all marriages are made in heaven. Some are solemnised at the point of a gun - as many women and teenaged girls in Jammu and Kashmir will tell you.
Forced marriage to militants has wrecked their lives in the insurgency-wracked state. Fatima Bi , now 16, who belonged to Chatroo, a mountainous village in Kishtwar district, told IANS over telephone that she was just 12 when she was abducted by militants.
She was studying in Class 7 in a local government school when one day a group of four militants led by Sher Khan, then divisional commander of Harkat-ul-Jehad- e-Islami (HUJI), barged into their house and kidnapped her.
'I was studying at that time when they abducted me,' she said.
'They took me to their hideout in the nearby forest where they beat me and tortured me for eight days. They hit me with rods on my thighs and threatened to kill my family if I did not marry Hashim Ditta ,' she said.
She said Ditta was a close friend of Sher Khan and a helper of HUJI.
'She was forced to marry Ditta at gun point,' said a police officer in Kishtwar.
Fatima wanted to study and become a teacher. 'But my dreams were shattered after they abducted and forcibly married me to Ditta,' Fatima said. Ten months after her marriage she gave birth to a son and her 'childhood was snatched away when I delivered this baby'.
A 'happy moment' for Fatima came when Sher Khan along with his two associates surrendered before the security forces last year.
'Except for bearing Ditta's child I never took him as my husband and there never was any such feeling as it was a forced marriage that ruined me,' she said.
Sher Khan was sentenced to imprisonment for eight years. Fatima took this as an opportunity and fled Ditta's house along with her infant son.
Ditta's parents, however, lodged a missing person report with police. Fatima went to her relatives in an adjoining village and fell in love with a farmer.
Her second chance at life was however not so easy as the local clerics said even if it was a forced marriage, Fatima would have to live with Ditta until they got legally separated.
Similar is the story of 18-year-old Chana whose nightmare started in early 2007.
A Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA) militant called Farid fell for her when he saw her grazing cattle in the Chicha area of Kishtwar district. She too was forced to marry at gun point.
'I too had dreams of getting married to a well-to-do person with all the rituals,' said Chana. 'But in forced marriages like ours it is just a couple of militants and a maulvi who form the marriage gathering.'
A few months later, a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant, Khalid , operating in the area, wanted to marry Chana and asked Farid to divorce her. But when Farid declined, the LeT militant shot him dead and also shot Chana in the left leg.
She was forced to marry Khalid and now lives with him along with her and Farid's infant son.

--Courtesy: IANS Service

Monday, June 15, 2009

Obituary-Dr.Jagat Mohini Thusu-Florence Nightangle of Kashmir

Dr. Jagat Mohini Thussu, a true rattan of Rattan Rani hospital and Kashmir
by Dr. Navin Atal and Neera Goyal

We lost a great soldier of Kashmir valley, a woman who towered like a giant in the valley for the last seventy years of Kashmir history. The noble lady left us on the early morning of 14th June 2009 at the age of about eighty eight years, after bravely battling her ailments for more than a year. She sought the love of her fellow people till the very end, the fellow Kashmiri people, whom she once served with all her passion.
Dr. Jagat Mohini, who had her roots in Punjab , did her M.B.B.S from King Edward Medical College , Lahore . She came to Kashmir in 1945 as a young bride and a young lady doctor, in a culture different from hers. She settled down quickly and adopted the Kashmiri culture to become an integral part of it. Since then she dedicated her entire life to the service of the people of Kashmir valley. She and her husband, late Dr. Onkar Nath Thussu, a renowned Pathologist, started the Rattan Rani Hospital at Barbarshah, Srinagar , named in memory of Dr. Onkar Nath’s late first wife. It was the very first hospital of Kashmir based on modern treatment and is now a century old heritage site. Dr. Jagat Mohini’s battle for upliftment of the society was fought for the last seventy years or so from Rattan Rani Hospital with her field of operation being the Kashmir valley.
Dr. Jagat Mohini worked selflessly for people of Kashmir at a time when there were very few doctors and hardly any specialist. She treated all types of patients and battled all diseases deftly, but the most important contribution to the society has been the upliftment of women of Kashmir valley. She was a champion of fighting issues of women, like discrimination, violence, dowry, health issues of women etc. She was widely known for her generosity and charity.
She not only treated them medically, but also put a healing touch to their socioeconomic ailments also. She became a champion to the cause of women of the valley. She worked day and night her entire life, sleeping just four hours in a day, totally dedicated to her profession. She saved, treated and cured countless patients. As time passed, people looked up to her, as a mentor, guardian and a saviour. She earned the nickname, “Mummy” from her staff and all her patients. She was literally a mother to all as she brought endless many to this world as a gynecologist. She is truly the “Florence Nightingale” of Kashmir , or the “Mother Teresa” of the valley. The national newspaper “The Hindustan Times” wrote on its front page an article of her achievements and it was titled as “the supermom of Kashmir ”. Her work was also recognized and complimented by many other national papers.
She worked as a social reformer and a philanthropist, doing a lot of charity work without looking for any reward. She was a social worker who fought all evils of society and became a source of inspiration to many. She was instrumental in providing employment to many people, both directly in the hospital, as well as by opening vocational centres of training in occupations like stitching, sewing and knitting, including Pashmina shawls making. A multi-talented women, she used her knowledge of stitching, sewing, and knitting to open centers to train women from the weaker sections of society so that they could live a life of dignity. The vocational training camps and centers started and run by her provided a source of livelihood to countless women in Kashmir . She was successfully running a Nursing school which enrolled many students from many parts of the country and again provided a source of livelihood to women of the state and other parts of the country.
A bold upright woman, she stood for justice and never wavered inspite of all odds. Whenever and wherever a person needed help, she was there for them. She opened a school, “Viswa Bharati” which from a two room set up became a college, later having a branch in NOIDA near Delhi . She had the foresight to acquire land for the school at NOIDA and then converted it into a successful school. She organized and conducted health camps in and around the city for the benefit of poor and needy people of the state.
She was a brave and fearless soul, who never deserted the people of the valley in all times. She stood tall and courageously faced both the good and bad times of the valley. A simple and good human being, she never faltered to help a fellow Kashmiri.
Dr.Jagat Mohini has given her entire life to Kashmir . Now it is for the people of Kashmir to see how they can repay a small part of good she has done to the valley. It is time to repay her debt by carrying on her legacy for the betterment of the valley.
Mrs. Thussu was predeceased by her husband, Dr. Onkar Nath Thussu, daughter, Seema Thussu, and brothers Anand Kumar Atal and Dr. Pushkar Rattan Atal, brother in law Janki Nath Kaul, and nephew Vimal, brother in laws and sister in laws Hriday Nath and Prabha Thussu, Pushkar Nath and Kamla Thussu, Kameshwar Nath Thussu, Raj Dulari Thussu, Prithvi Nath Coraji, and Radhakishen and Uma Raina.
Her survivors include her son Ashok and daughter in law Promila, granddaughters Vidisha and Nisha and their families, sister Manmohini Kaul, brother Dr. Chand Kumar Atal and sister in law Saroj, brother Jagdish Ratna Atal and sister in law Sheila, and sister in laws Rekha Atal and Indira Atal, brother in laws Rajinder Nath Thussu and Janki Nath Chaku, and sister in laws Kaushalya Chaku and Lalita Thussu, and the extended families. She is also survived by the following nephews and nieces, and their families on the Atal side: Gitanjali, Urvashi, Manjula, Neelima, Neera, Navin, Anuradha, Ritu, Nidhi, and Subodh and the family of Vimal, and those on Dr. Onkar Nath Thussu’s side, with extended families: Sheela, Surender, Kuldeep, Priti, Iqbal, Usha, Kanwar, Kamlesh, Sudhir, Rita, Nancy, Satish, Shami, Bittie, Girija, Nirmala and Suresh.