Download The situation in the Indian controlled Kashmir remains tense with no respite in clashes between local protesters and Indian Security Forces.
The death toll now stands at 51.
The continuous civilian killings are now evoking protests from Kashmiris living outside the valley.
Bismillah Geelani has the story.
At New Delhi’s Parliament Street, hundreds of Kashmiri men women and children have gathered for an overnight demonstration against the ongoing civilian killings in the valley.
The protesters hold placards reading “stop genocide in Kashmir” while large banners with photographs of some of the protesters killed during past two months hang on the wall behind them.
A speaker at the gathering shouts “we are not terrorists but those killing our children in Kashmir certainly are”.
The audience voices its agreement in chorus
Among the protesters is 35-year medical practitioner Musharraf.
“Being in Delhi and listening to what was happening to my people back home, I was feeling like being a traitor. I was not being helpful in anyway. But this protest has given me an opportunity to vent my feelings.”
Bangalore, Chennai and Pune are among other Indian cities where Kashmiri students, professionals and businessmen have taken to the streets demanding accountability for the killings.
Musharraf says the protesters are also using the occasion to garner public support in India for their movement.
“If we can plead our case in front of any Indian national and make them see reason they will realize that what we are seeking is just and they will definitely support us. That’s what I think is need of the hour for all Kashmiris living outside that we convey our message to the Indian masses and make them aware that this is struggle for our rights that have been usurped since 1947.”
Kashmiris have held demonstrations in New Delhi before.
But this is perhaps the first time that they shouted pro-freedom and anti-India slogans right in front of the Indian Parliament.
Their anger was obvious and no less than what I observed on the Kashmir streets, though they didn’t have stones in their hands
Students like Lubna shared with the gathering their experiences of life back home.
“I came to this city to realize my dreams which were trampled in Kashmir where you see an occupational trooper at every step. Most of us here are those who have lost their childhood to the conflict. We didn’t see childhood; it was a luxury for us. But today seeing the youngsters getting killed, I think those days were still better because at least we are alive”
Local students, intellectuals and activists also joined the protests in large numbers and expressed solidarity with Kashmiri people.
Bano Jyotsna is a student at jawarharlal Nehru University.
“What’s going on in Kashmir is extremely shameful for a country which claims to be the largest democracy in the world. It just shows that it’s nothing but a fascist state which has kept the valley of Kashmir as its colony, has suppressed it with share military might. It’s now not even flickering once to shoot at unarmed civilians, children, women who are protesting for something which is a fundamental right of theirs.,ike their right to self determination.”
Locals also extended their support to the protesters’ demand that the Kashmir issue be resolved according to the wishes of Kashmiri people.
Many however say that the Government of India is not serious in settling the issue once for all.
Sanjay Kak is a filmmaker.
“The violence that we see on the streets in Kashmir is a manifestation of militarization. You can’t have this level of militarization for 20 years and not expect it to erupt. I think we will have to take a series of incremental steps. We see no signs of it. I think the tactic of the government has always been to manage crisis and I think they are looking for a solution to this crisis. I don’t see anything that anybody has said which indicates that they are looking at a political solution.
In its fresh attempt to placate the protesters, the government has expressed its willingness to consider autonomy for Kashmir within the ambit of Indian constitution.
While his offer has not been received well by the protesters and the separatists, it has drawn flake from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP
Ravishankar Prasad is spokesperson for the BJP
“Our stand is clear; Kashmir is a part of India. Our party would oppose any move that weakens India’s hold on Kashmir be it in the form of autonomy or anything else."
Meanwhile the Kashmir protests have now reached to the internet with protester using social networking sites like YouTube and face book to vent their pent up emotions and anger against abuses in Kashmir.
E-protester Owais says it’s their response to the restriction on Media in Kashmir.
“Indian media does not report the facts, they are biased. Our local media in Kashmir are choked, they are beaten up. So this is an alternate space. We are young men who protest, who are on the streets, who know the situation, they upload the picture, videos and whatever they can get and Facebook has developed as a great medium for kashmiris to raise their voice, to let the humanity know what atrocities Indian troops are committing in Kashmir and to take the struggle forward.”