[Reader-list] The Hindu on Tibet

S. Jabbar sonia.jabbar at gmail.com
Sat Apr 12 09:10:06 IST 2008

FYI This is from the neo-Gandhian in 2001, published in the op-ed section in
the Indian Express.

Cease Firing!

By Sonia Jabbar


After announcing one or the other step in Kashmir ³in the right direction²
the Indian State is in the habit of falling asleep with its head in the
sand, hoping that if and when it wakes up things would have sorted
themselves out‹somehow.  The Prime Minister¹s Ramzan Cease Fire announcement
is the most recent example of this policy.


I was in Kashmir in the early days of the cease-fire and the relief and hope
it promised amongst the Kashmiris was remarkable. There was a carnivalesque
feeling in the air: shops alight and open until late, large crowds in the
market places, mosques and shrines, feasting and revellry after the day¹s
fast. Even hardened separatists heaved a sigh of relief and welcomed the
Centre¹s move. Three months later things are back to normal: curfew,
custodial killings, firing on demonstrations, civilian casualties.


Consider the events of the last few days: Jaleel Ahmed Shah was picked up by
the Special Operations Group (SOG, the counter-insurgency arm of the J&K
Police) and the army from his residence in Haigam, Sopore, on the 13th. Two
days later the people of Haigam were told that Shah had been killed in
³retaliatory action² when he had ambushed an army/SOG patrol in the forest
area of Juhama, Baramulla.  As it often happens, the police delayed in
handing over Shah¹s dead body to his relatives. This prompted the residents
of Haigam to lead a demonstration of an estimated 6,000 people onto the
Srinagar-Baramulla highway, demanding Shah¹s body be handed over to his
relatives. An officer leading an army convoy, on finding the road blocked by
the protestors, ordered his men to open fire on the crowd. 5 civilians were
killed, 30 were injured. Police sources say that the police was already
present, persuading the crowd to leave when the army opened fire. One
policeman was also injured in the firing. Of the two women killed, one was a
first-year B.A. student.


The security forces claim that Jaleel Ahmed Shah was a dreaded district
commander of the Harkat-ul Jehad-i- Islami (HUJI) and had masterminded
several attacks on the army and on civilians. But this is in direct
contradiction to their own claim that the HUJI has no presence in the
Valley, but in the Jammu area.  Also contradicting the claim of Shah¹s
affiliation to the HUJI is a statement by Yasin Malik who says that Shah was
the Distict Secretary of the JKLF and had even participated in the blood
donation camp recently organised by the JKLF for the victims of the Gujrat
earthquake. The JKLF declared a unilateral cease-fire in 1994 and has since
advocated a non-violent, secular, political struggle. Since the Indian State
lifted the ban on the organisation last year it has a right, under law, to
exist. Its workers and office bearers have the right to profess their
ideology and engage in political activities.


A day after the Haigam firing, workers of the JKLF organised a demonstration
at Lal Chowk protesting the custodial killing of Shah and the 5 deaths at
Haigam.  A plain clothed security man fired into the demonstration killing
one young man immediately. Another is in hospital with a bullet in his head.
Curfew has been clamped in Srinagar. The tremendous goodwill generated in
the early days of the cease fire towards the Indian state stands to be lost
unless immediate measures are taken to rectify the situation.


The Centre must not be tempted to retract the cease-fire in view of the
escalation in violence. But an extension of the cease-fire would be
meaningless if it were seen simply as an instrument to score brownie points
against Pakistan in the international arena. It must demonstrate its
sincerity on the ground in Kashmir if it genuinely wants peace in Kashmir.


A high-ranking minister or official from New Delhi should visit the Valley
and listen to the grievances of the people. In the decade long war in the
Valley where thousands of innocent people have been killed, it is a rare
occassion when a minister visits. And yet, Kashmiri Muslims have seen how
the gruesome killings of 36 Sikhs of Chittisinghpora brought planeloads of
concerned officials from the Centre.


The SOG/STF should be reined in. Fifteen of the twenty-three extrajudicial
executions recorded since the cease-fire have been attributed to the
SOG/STF. The granting of impunity to the security forces under the bogus
claim that holding them accountable would somehow ³demoralise the forces² is
unacceptable to any self-respecting democracy.  Senior officers in the
Police and Army while admitting to working under tremendous pressure have
stated often enough how they would welcome a more transparent system as it
would discipline the forces. But finally, it should be recognised that
abuses by the security forces will only stop when they are pulled out of the
Valley. And that can only happen when a genuine peace gets a foothold in


For a genuine peace to be established Kashmiris need to be treated like
other citizens of this country with full democratic rights. If the Kar
Sevaks were not shot at in Ayodhya and the Shiv Sainiks during their V-day
celebrations, why should Kashmiris be shot at for protesting against
killings of non-combatant Kashmiris?


The Centre should recognise that the Kashmir issue has festered for over
half a century because it did not allow any healthy opposition to grow and
democratically challenge the governments that New Delhi foisted upon
Kashmir. Opposition and protest are vital safety valves for any democracy.
Plug them and you have pressure growing and exploding like it did in 1989
when Kashmiri youth picked up the gun.


Opposition to the National Conference government and Farooq Abdullah is
virtually non-existent in the Assembly. This is hardly a healthy political
scenario. The only opposition rests outside the Assembly, within the
Hurriyat Conference.  In such a situation the Centre needs to be a little
less paranoid about the Hurriyat¹s miniscule pro-Pak element and engage with
it seriously.  This would be the next logical step in the peace process.


The Hurriyat had announced in early December its intentions to visit
Pakistan to hold talks with the militant organisations, and set the date for
their departure as January 15. The mandarins in the Home Ministry vacillated
and continue to stall their initiative by not issuing passports‹ a decision
entirely uncalled for. Abdul Ghani Lone¹s brave statements against foreign
militants on his last trip to Pakistan and the Hurriyat¹s transparent agenda
for Pakistan should have convinced the Centre how necessary it is to allow
the Hurriyat to travel without impediment.  The continued intransigence on
the passport issue impresses no one, and only underscores the whimsical
high-handedness of the Indian State.


The Valley is in shadow again today. Six families are bereaved. There will
be six funerals. I have seen this scene played out hundreds of times:
Mothers, grandmothers, children, uncles will be sitting around the bodies
weeping; weeping for a boy or girl who was a student, a worker, a
businessman.  He or she was just going to be married or just had a child, or
there would be some little detail about this person that would make the
whole thing terribly tragic. Afzal or Imran or Ghulam Mohammed was
soft-spoken, I would be told, had never picked up the gun.  And yet, here he
lies, cold, never to wake again.


This has got to stop. People cannot be killed every day because our leaders
have no idea on how to proceed with initiatives that they themselves take.
If Kashmir is indeed an inseparable part of India as we have been told for
more than 50 years, then we must as Indians rise, and in one voice say: stop
killing our own people.

On 4/11/08 8:41 PM, "Wali Arifi" <waliarifi3 at gmail.com> wrote:

> One would have hoped that this response was posted on the Sarai forum. These
> are no personal issues though...
> Now that Ms Sonia Jabbar wants a response to her work/writing about Kashmir,
> may I ask if she considers Kashmir a military occupation, just like Tibet, or
> a law and order issue most nationalist Indians like to beleive it is?
> Not that her readership and observance is not aware of Ms Jabbar's
> neo-Gandhian activism in Kashmir. Could Ms Jabbar also, for the benefit of
> Sarai subscribers, point out any published stand on what she believes Kashmir
> issue to be?
> And does she also have anything to say about Kashmir reportage by the likes of
> Praveen Swami and Barkha Dutt both of whom along with many others owe their
> careers as journalists to misrepresenting Kashmir.
> best 
> On 4/11/08, sonia jabbar <sonia.jabbar at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Easy for you to accuse me of  enjoying 'an organic
>> relationship with the powers that be.'  Easier to say I  observe criminal
>> silence than to find out what I've said  and  respond intelligently and
>> substantively to my writings and activism.
>> On Fri, Apr 11, 2008 at 12:28 AM, Wali Arifi <waliarifi3 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Dear all
>>> It is not clear why the signatories to the letter are agitated about the way
>>> The Hindu has dealt with the Tibet issue. The editorial in question actually
>>> reflects the newspaper's consistent outlook about many similar issues.
>>> The newspaper's well known Rural Editor simply chose to overlook recently
>>> exposed state terrorism by the CPI(M) government in Nandigram. Mr P Sainath,
>>> the interrogator of Indian social reality, in complete contrast to what he
>>> is known for, chose to remain silent about purging, massacre and onslaught
>>> of corporate world. All this in conformity with the newspaper's proximity to
>>> the so called CPI(M) ideology and the party.
>>> Similarly, The Hindu's "ace reporter" and its "Kashmir expert", Mr Praveen
>>> Swami, appears to have been left above any ethical or professional scrutiny
>>> - the right a newspaper is supposed to unequivocally reserve for itself and
>>> its readers. The newspaper willingly chooses to ignore how Swamiji has over
>>> time been turned into a dumping yard for its scrap book by the country's
>>> intelligence establishment. The ace journalist does not even seem to
>>> exercise the basic minimum professional duty of cross checking information
>>> dolled out to him by his intelligence handlers.
>>> For patient readers the link bellow provides just an example, the tip of the
>>> Swamiji iceberg.
>>> http://www.thehindu.com/2008/04/04/stories/2008040458210100.htm
>>> While the ace reporter was being briefed for this particular report (I am
>>> taking the sweet liberty to imagine once like Swamiji so regularly does),
>>> his (and thus The Hindu's) trusted handlers forgot to check that the Hizbul
>>> Mujahideen (HM) ceasefire dates were off the mark only by three years.
>>> According to Swamiji, HM's July 2000 ceasefire was scripted by the group's
>>> ideologue in 2003!
>>> For a discerning reader, The Hindu cannot be disappointing in this regard.
>>> Be it Tibet, Kashmir, Nandigram or the issue of Northeast. In fact, its
>>> Kashmir reportage happens through the intelligence establishment with just
>>> tulip gardens from the ground. Or, may be the newspaper is mandated only to
>>> write about US imperialism.
>>> For the signatories of the letter to the newspaper, particularly Sonia
>>> Jabbar, Shashi Tharoor and Ramachandra Guha, who enjoy an organic
>>> relationship with the powers that be, it is easy to understand how they give
>>> themselves the moral right to talk about Tibet and choose to exercise
>>> criminal silence about what India has been doing in Northeast and Kashmir.
>>> Nationalism, lady and gentlemen, is quite a mandate!
>>> Best
>>> On 4/9/08, radhikarajen at vsnl.net <radhikarajen at vsnl.net> wrote:
>>>> >
>>>> > I very much appreciate your concern and anguish, but it is wellknown fact
>>>> > that our "cadres" always hail china and welcome them with painting red
>>>> the
>>>> > whole of the city like they did in 1962.The very fact that the line
>>>> marked
>>>> > as Mcmohan line as border between british india in 1945 after the end of
>>>> > world war, even today remains unsurveyed, thanks to our cadre friends
>>>> > engineering hindi-chini bhai bhai. It is not late even now to make a
>>>> joint
>>>> > survey and with dialogue end the border row and disputes with China, then
>>>> > two nations, the developing economies of Asia, both India and China can
>>>> have
>>>> > honourable  interaction with all nations in the comity of nations, even
>>>> US
>>>> > would be thinking twice if our leaders think of the nation and its
>>>> freedom
>>>> > than kickbacks in N-deal for the first family.!
>>>> > Regards.
>>>> >
>>>> > ----- Original Message -----
>>>> > From: "S. Jabbar" <sonia.jabbar at gmail.com>
>>>> > Date: Wednesday, April 9, 2008 5:44 pm
>>>> > Subject: [Reader-list] The Hindu on Tibet
>>>> > To: sarai list <reader-list at sarai.net>
>>>> >
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > Letter to the Editor:
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > The Hindu's bias in favour of the Chinese Government in its
>>>>> > > editorial on
>>>>> > > Tibet (March 28, 2008) is dismaying.  The reasons behind the recent
>>>>> > > demonstrations by Tibetans are transparent. You speak of sustained
>>>>> > > growth,omitting the fact that Han Chinese control the economy,
>>>>> > > Party and
>>>>> > > government. Impartial observers have documented the onslaught on
>>>>> > > naturalresources, the repression of Buddhism, the enforced
>>>>> > > denunciations of the
>>>>> > > Dalai Lama.
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > The subjugation of Tibet is most evident in re-settlement policy.
>>>>> > > In 1952
>>>>> > > Chairman Mao complained that there were "hardly any Han in Tibet."
>>>>> > > By 1953
>>>>> > > there were 100,000 Chinese in the province of Qinghai, the renamed
>>>>> > > easternTibetan province of Amdo. In 1985 there were 2.5 million
>>>>> > > Chinese and 750,000
>>>>> > > Tibetans in Qinghai. By the 2000 census only 20% of Qinghai's
>>>>> > > population was
>>>>> > > Tibetan.
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > This demographic engineering undermines the comparison you draw
>>>>> > > betweenTibet and Kashmir. Right-wing groups in India have long
>>>>> > > demanded the
>>>>> > > re-settlement of the Kashmir Valley. However, Article 370 disallows
>>>>> > > non-state subjects from buying land; and it is to allay Kashmiri
>>>>> > > anxietiesthat New Delhi has not granted autonomy or separate
>>>>> > > statehood for Ladakh and
>>>>> > > Jammu.
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > Beijing's abusive denunciations of the Dalai Lama and its
>>>>> > > stonewalling of
>>>>> > > his proposals make it difficult to accept their sincerity. A just
>>>>> > > solution"within the framework of one China" is precisely what the
>>>>> > > Dalai Lama has
>>>>> > > pursued.
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > The Hindu's wholesale reproduction of the official Chinese line on
>>>>> > > Tibetdoes it little credit.
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > Yours sincerely,
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > Sonia Jabbar
>>>>> > > Ramachandra Guha
>>>>> > > Mukul Kesavan
>>>>> > > Madhu Sarin
>>>>> > > Jyotirmaya Sharma
>>>>> > > Dilip Simeon
>>>>> > > Tenzin Sonam
>>>>> > > Shashi Tharoor
>>>>> > > _________________________________________
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>>>> > _________________________________________
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