Valley Journalists Reflect Upon Kashmir Situation25 March 2011
Srinagar: A number of Kashmir-based journalists Friday reflected upon the ground realities in Kashmir vis-à-vis security, human rights and resolution of Kashmir at a brainstorming session here. The session was organized by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi, to “gauge the security scenario in the Valley and also the ground realities in Kashmir vis-à-vis human rights, governance and Kashmir issue.” “In three years, the Government of India had a real chance in Kashmir to move towards peace. We had seen a genuine transition from violent to non-violent means of making a point,” said Muzamil Jaleel, the Bureau Chief of Indian Express in Kashmir. “People made this transition unilaterally by taking to streets in a peaceful manner. At one point in time, in 2008, the Hurriyat Conference was itself surprised to see this transition and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief, Syed Salah-ud-Din, made a statement suspending militant activities unilaterally. But there was no response from the other side to this transition.” He said the “security thinking” has been a major problem between India and Pakistan to address Kashmir issue and therefore I think the Pakistani and Indian Army authorities should hold a dialogue with each other to address this thinking.” Speaking in the backdrop of 117 killings in Kashmir last year, Muzamil said the Government of India needs to be more firm that if wrongdoings are happening, the guilty should not be protected. “The guilty should not hide from facing the trials,” he said. Bureau Chief of The Hindu, Shujaat Bukhari, who conducted the session, said nothing has been happening on ground with regard to relieving people of agony and pain they are facing. “Literally nothing seems to be happening towards narrowing down the trust deficit between New Delhi and Srinagar,” he said. “There are no serious efforts made to resolve the Kashmir issue, which people hoped more after the 2010 unrest in the Valley. The Government of India has not shunned the practice of looking at Kashmir through the prism of security.” Peerzada Ashiq, who works for Hindustan Times in Kashmir, called for confluence of ideas to address the Kashmir issue. “Today police fear is keeping Kashmiris inside. There is the issue of criminalization of police in Kashmir,” he said. Shuja-ul-Haq, who works with Headlines Today, said New Delhi always resorted to “diversionary politics” in Kashmir. “About 700 youth are right now participating in a Summit in Srinagar. They are all for a revolution whatever that is,” he said. He referred to the alleged power-pilferage by the NHPC. Journalist Riyaz Masroor, who works with BBC, said New Delhi won’t stop looking at Kashmir from the security prism. “No state looks beyond its strategic interests. India has security interests in Kashmir. But people at the IPCS need to inform New Delhi that how they should guard these interests. The methodology is somewhere wrong,” he said. He said things which should have come as a matter of right are coming as a matter of concessions. “This is unfortunate,” he said. He said after 64 years of conflict in Kashmir, the Government of India is still finding channels to talk and reach out to Kashmiris. Inayat Jehangir, Bureau Chief of PTI in Srinagar, said India and Pakistan must decide the points on which they can give concession on Kashmir. Faheem Aslam, senior correspondent of Greater Kashmir, said there was a strange dichotomy visible with regard to Kashmir. “The UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi makes a public statement that there is a genuine anger among the youth in Kashmir. But the same youth are arrested on ground. What kind of a dichotomy is this?” he asked. “The police recently booked a professor for mentioning a question on stone pelting, but two days back, police has issued a statement that it would hold seminars and debates in higher secondary schools and colleges in a particular area. Then why was the professor booked for the same thing that police is debating.” Aslam said certain issues with regard to Kashmir were being messed up. “If elections of 2008 are taken as a referendum, what is the 2008, 2009 and 2010 unrest in Kashmir then?” he said. Aslam said India and Pakistan should ask the people of Kashmir what they want as a solution to the Kashmir dispute. “You can’t expect Hurriyat to be on board after allowing people to attack them outside Kashmir,” he said. Nazir Masoodi, Bureau Chief of NDTV, referred to a series of massacres in Kashmir. “Nobody in Kashmir is demanding justice outside the ambit of the Constitution,” he said, referring to the JKLF Chief, Yasin Malik’s Public Interest Litigation on 117 killings last year. “There are so many police and Army men in jails. Their prosecution is not allowed. Pathribal and Ganderbal fake encounters are an example.” Other journalists who spoke on the occasion included Rashid Maqbool, Mir Fareed, Mufti Islah, Tahir Syed, Shabir Ahmad (ETV Urdu). The convener of the J&K RTI Movement, Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, also spoke on the occasion. The session was chaired by the newly appointed director of “Australia India Institute”, Prof Amitabh Matoo. “ Other members from IPCS included Dr Suba Chandran, Lt Gen VG Patankar, former Corps Commander 15 Corps Srinagar, and Maj Gen (Retd) Deepankar Banarjee, Arvind Kaul, former Chief Secretary Himachal Pradesh, Zaffar Chowdhary, Editor Epilogue.