[Reader-list] The Hindu on Tibet

S. Jabbar sonia.jabbar at gmail.com
Mon Apr 14 09:33:27 IST 2008

The article was directed at the people of India who have singularly failed
to stop human rights violations in Kashmir.  It is extremely critical of the
Indian state's militaristic response. Nowhere in the article or indeed
anywhere in my writings have I supported the military action against
civilians in Kashmir.  If you choose to interpret the article as hypocrisy
I'd suggest you read it again. If you still choose to do so, it is your
prerogative, and I am saddened by what I see as your prejudiced reading.

But as someone who admires Gandhi I take your criticism seriously and
somewhere I agree with you. I have tried since 1995 to work on Kashmir, to
somehow stop the killings, rapes, disappearances and torment of innocent
civilians whether by the Indian armed forces or the militants through my
writings and activism. In this I have singularly failed. All I have managed
to do in all these years is to generate a little debate and comfort a
handful of families.  In return I have received more than my share of love
and hospitality from the people of Jammu and Kashmir, a debt that I can
never repay.  It is this debt that makes me continue my work in Kashmir.

Having said that, I'd like to draw your attention to a question I have for
you and to other young Kashmiris. I, as an "Indian" may have failed to help
people in Kashmir through the twenty devastating years of war, but what have
you done? I find the moral high ground you occupy just because you happen to
be born a Kashmiri unacceptable.

I am reminded of the time when I could not go to Kashmir for a few months
because of Gujarat.  I was deeply involved in organising and coordinating
efforts of activists, lawyers and NGOs.  When I returned to Kashmir, a
prominent human rights lawyer accused me of forgetting Kashmir.  I explained
the Gujarat situation to him, described to him how we had worked day and
night to counter the monstrous actions of the Sangh Parivar, but in the end
he said, 'OK, OK, but you haven't done much for Kashmir.'  I asked him what
he had done for Gujarat and he fell silent.

The point is I believe there cannot be an hierarchy of pain.  The pain of
the Kashmiri is not greater than the pain of a Sri Lankan or an Afghan or
indeed, a Tibetan. In this I find Rosa Luxembourg most instructive and I
will quote her in full:

What do you want with this particular suffering of the Jews?  The poor
victims on the rubber plantations in Puntamayo, the negroes in Africa with
whose bodies the Europeans play a game of catch are just as near to me.  Do
you remember the words written on the work of the General Staff about
Trotta's campaign in the Kalahari Desert? "And the death rattles, the mad
cries of those dying of thirst, faded away into the sublime silence of

Oh this "sublime silence of eternity" in which so many screams have faded
away unheard.  It rings with me so strongly that I have no special corner of
my heart reserved for the ghetto.  I am at home wherever in the world there
are clouds, birds and human tears.


Returning to the issue of what you call my hypocritical engagement with the
Tibet issue.  Instead of stopping me from doing so, I suggest you encourage
more people to engage with the Kashmir issue.  Let there be debate.  Let the
Indian government be shamed into repealing its draconian laws and punishing
those guilty of rights violations.  And I don't believe that it is
hypocritical for a Japanese to engage with Kashmir when his or her
government has as yet not apologised to China or for an American to do so
because of Iraq, or for a Kashmiri Muslim to speak up for the Tibetans
because of the Pandit exodus.

The world is small.  You accuse me of nationalism and yet you want my
energies to be confined to the borders of my nation.  There are many
struggles I should have done more for, not just Kashmir.  I am deeply
disturbed by what the Indian state has done in the Northeast.  I believe
India's attitude here has been one of a colonial power, and yet I have not
had the time or energy to do more.  The same goes with Burma, as well as

The Tibetans are a small nation of 6.5 million people and yet there is
something about their non-violent struggle that has attracted millions of
people across the globe to come to their support.  I think Kashmiris can
learn something from them.

If you are based in Delhi please join us.  The Tibetans have been camped in
Jantar Mantar for the past few weeks and every evening there is a candle
light vigil.  On the 17th we are planning a parallel peace run: the Torch
for Tibet.  Nothing would make me happier than to see a Kashmiri running
with us.

With this I close my end of this particular debate, again for want of time.

On 4/13/08 8:02 PM, "Wali Arifi" <waliarifi3 at gmail.com> wrote:

> *"This has got to stop. People cannot be killed every day because our
> 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:
> killing our own people."*

The end lines of Ms Jabbar's piece sums it up and
> describes her position
about places like Kashmir. All the questions raised so
> far stand answered!

Double standards of people like Ms Jabbar come out clear.
> For her, the
world's highest militarised area doesn't qualify as an occupation
> because
its the military of her own nation that she appears to be advising in
> her

Hypocrisy... Is this?


On 4/12/08, S. Jabbar
> <sonia.jabbar at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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 "in the right direction"
> 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 Minister's 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 day's
> fast. Even hardened separatists heaved a sigh of relief and
> welcomed the
> Centre's 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
> "retaliatory action" 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 Shah's 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 Shah's 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 Shah's
> 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.
> 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 "demoralise the forces" 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
> Kashmir.
> 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 Hurriyat's 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 Lone's brave statements
> against foreign
> militants on his last trip to Pakistan and the Hurriyat's
> 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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