Posts Tagged ‘Kashmir’
Online campaigns are viewed as the most democratic medium in contemporary times. There are numerous examples of social media resulting in change and enhancing accountability in countries, towns and villages. As someone who studies the positive impact of social media on civil society interactions, it’s heartening to witness these developments. Various forms on online protests, exchange of ideas on Twitter and open discussion forums available on Facebook have demonstrated the power of social media.
But a recent incident has forced me to accept the inevitable – social media is an open forum and can be misused if the users so intend. I am referring to the cancellation of the Harud Autumn Literature Festival in Kashmir, India. The festival scheduled to be held in the last week of September was a unique opportunity for the budding literary minds of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh to engage with stalwarts from across the country. The reason for cancellation was spelled out by Namita Gokhale, the festival advisor: “What would you do if 5,000 people on Facebook are running a campaign for boycott of the festival and plan violence.”
Regions of the Kashmir Valley, administered by India have witnessed unprecedented protests since May 30. From University teachers to Government employees, from protest strikes to student’s demonstrations at Lal Chowk, the entire valley is submerged in expressing displeasure and anger in one form or another. The protests have been prompted by the alleged rape and murder of two Kashmiri girls by the personnel of the Indian Security Force. The two women, who were sisters-in-law, went missing on the way home from their orchard on Friday. Their bodies were found the next morning, one in a canal and one on open ground about 1km (0.6 mile) away. The initial official was that the girls had drowned in the stream where their bodies were later recovered. However, forensic tests have established that the girls were raped before dying. The month-long inquiry ordered by the State Government is viewed by the people as delaying tactic and they are demanding immediate action. The Government inquiry commission has been declared as eyewash and the Shopian Bar Association has launched a parallel investigation. Protests across the valley have crippled normal life and the Government has responded by firing tear gas shells to disperse demonstrators and imposing curfew.
The Shopian incident is a stimulus for the Government of India to re-think its politico-strategic policy in the state of J&K. Home Minister P. Chidamrabam has already given hints of refurbishing the policy with the announcement that the CRPF would henceforth play a secondary role in the state. But the Government of India needs to realize that two additional measures will have to be taken for ensuring the short and long term resolution of the current impasse. In the short term, the Government should conduct an impartial inquiry into the Shopian incident and punish the guilty; any attempt to shield the CRPF personnel will breed greater discontent among the people of J&K. In the long term the Government will have to supplement its politico-strategic involvement in the state with a well-planned socio-psychological approach to address the root causes of discontent in the state. Click to continue…
This is a Guest Post by Shreen Malik from Kashmir University
The mystic waters of Kheer Bhawani once again drew Kashmiri Pandits in large numbers to their homeland. The grand festival of Kheer Bhwanai was observed on May 31 at the holy shrine of Kheer Bhawani in Maheshaspora village about 25 km from Srinagar. The significance of this festival goes beyond religious sentiments and has become a sort of spiritual homecoming for thousands of Kashmiri Pandits.
Jammu and Kashmir’s new Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah said in an interview to Reuters today that the recent elections in J&K have handed India a lifeline; referring to an opportunity for the Government of India to refurbish relations with the people of J&K. The very premise of his contention is flawed and overlooks the basic cause of discontent in the state. Omar Abdullah’s assumption and rule (in line with his father Farooq Abdullah) is based on the understanding that discontent in J&K can be addressed if the government of India adopts a more emphatic view and caters to the socio-economic development of the state. His analysis skips over a vital intermediary link between the people of J&K and Government of India – the State Government. In the very first place Omar Abdullah’s government will have to win the confidence of the people of J&K and better comprehend their grievances. Click to continue…