Archive for March, 2013

Shades of KASHMIR’S Red — By Rashmi Talwar Rising Kashmir RK


Our Moon has blood clots :- Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits  By Rahul Pandita

Our Moon has blood clots :- Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits By Rahul Pandita


Book Review:

“Our Moon has blood clots”- Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits written by Rahul Pandita
Shades of KASHMIR’S Red
— By Rashmi Talwar Rising Kashmir RK

Color red surely must have emerged from Kashmir–no one has ever returned from there without being fascinated by its red apples, reddest of cherries, tulips, red flower bells or strawberries on a reddish ride. When its dusk spreads that rare crimson, soothsayers in Kashmir are known to predict of bloodshed somewhere. Is it then a natural corollary that Kashmir’s waters be ruddied with blood through generations, just as the red appled cheeks of its light skinned people?

If that be the case, how could Kashmir’s legendry tales of a robust composite culture, deny the blemish and clots of red blood, on the fair face of its moon, and call it a flaw-less beauty. The stains come in the form of its belief and make-belief, its truth and half-truths, its faith and its faithless, which comes across boldly through Rahul Pandita’s book ‘Our Moon has Blood Clots–The Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits’.
The book reminds me of a famous couplet of Allama Iqbal:

‘Jis Khaak Ke Zameer Main Ho Aatish-E-Chinar,

Mumkin Nahin Ke Sard Ho Wo Khaak-E-Arjumand’

(The Earth that enshrines in its bosom, the autumn red fire of a Chinar tree,
It is impossible for that celestial Earth to cool down).

Iqbal too has recognized the red in Kashmir. Perhaps the Almighty in painting the beautiful picture of this Glorious vale, sought the brightest contrast of red and white, like the frothy white streams, waterfalls of its rivers and the snow blankets that make it so picturesque.

Rahul Pandita releasing his book "Our moon has Blood Clots" - Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits

Rahul Pandita releasing his book “Our moon has Blood Clots” – Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits

If Basharat Peer’s ‘Curfewed Night’ could blaze and awaken the collective consciousness of all with its painful episodes, Rahul’s book sears and tears through the shroud that had till now ‘burqaad’ the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits and becomes a must read to get to the bottom of the Kashmir’s maze of problems and puzzles.

‘Our Moon….’ races through two decades of mayhem and also touches the landmark of Indo-Pak partition of 1947-the partition that tore apart Kashmir and Punjab, yanking and wrecking families, dividing hearts and territories, then ripping apart the fabric of composite culture and bracketing them into Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs.

Bringing to the fore the history of the evolution of this land of Rishis, Rahul has unfolded the bands of blood, in episode after episode, relating to the helplessness of Pandits who faced the recent fiery militancy in Kashmir, as also the blazing tribal attacks of 1947 engineered by Pakistan to grab Kashmir. How Pandit families had fled then, during partition from marauders who spared none, not Sikhs and not even Muslims, and in recent militancy when even friends turned foes, is heart wrenchingly narrated in the book.

But militancy of 1989 was different, it targeted a soft community and Rahul’s extensive research has bared the lies, opened the cans of truth, the same way as majority community’s story was told by Basharat in his book.

Rahul’s book could have easily got colored by lenses of ‘my side, my coin’, but many episodes mentioned in the book have already appeared in newspapers. Some merely as four liner news reports and relegated to the corners in what appeared to be a covert immunity to the plight of a minority community when roaring guns and raging gun-battles had caught the headlines.

In the entire narration there is only one instance in the entire book when I laughed unabashedly and that is Kashmiri-Hindi ‘gobar-guss’ goof-up . But then the writer too has called it laughable, despite the creepy circumstances. The writer’s brother Ravi’s killing and their ‘tippi-tippi-tap’-bosom pal brothers remind me of another set of Kashmiri brothers, when one day the elder one suddenly died in a freak accident, I know how excruciating is it to see the shouting pain in the flooded eyes over that irreparable loss, as if the forlorn eyes were speaking thus:

Badley mein koi bhi imtihaan ley le
Kahe toh meri Jaan ley le
Bas ek dafa mujhe bataa de,
Kahan tu hai, kahan hai tu.

(In exchange put me through any test.
Or even take my life
But tell me just once
Where you are, where are you?)

The author, a 37-year-old Associate Editor with Open Magazine, says –“I wanted to write this book since I entered college”. The book’s beauty is also in the inclusion of several rituals and traditions followed by Shaivites, which many of us had heard in passing as per our acquaintances, friends and relations. Specks of poetry by Agha Shahid Ali and the famous poetess Lal Ded have aptly enveloped and developed the striking situations.

Some of the most chilling and moving lines and incidents in this book are about an old Kashmiri who lies dead clutching a pack of chilled milk against his cheek- his last ice pack, to ward away the heat of the plains, unbearable for Kashmiris, who have never seen a fan in any room of their homes; the author as a 14-year old, holding a half tomato in the relief camp food distribution and recalling the times when unripe tomatoes of their vegetable garden became balls to play cricket with; the obsession with the tale of 22 room house by Rahul’s mother who is unable to come to terms with the exile.

Rahul lays bare the stark truth about vicious ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from their hearth and homes wherein not only militants from across the border but also some from the majority community in Kashmir played a cruel role out of personal grudge or by getting swayed by the hate-wave of the time. But the author has been careful in his writings not to add his own feelings to the inquiry and injury. His book is informative and thankfully devoid of chest-beating narratives.

Having met the new generation of Kashmiri Muslims, born after the exodus of Pandits, I have noticed that they have very little idea about their co-existence with Pandits or living with other communities, except in some pockets where Sikhs in a good number reside in and around the surrounding villages. This is not the only reason to have enlarged the gap between the two communities, Muslims and Pandits, but the fact that even Kashmiri Muslims hardly talk about how the Pandit exodus took place in its right perspective to their younger generation.

“In every home, someone has died; maybe he was a militant or died in an encounter, bomb blast, picked up by security forces, gone, disappeared,” says Rahul -“I remember all the names of people killed, where they were killed – it keeps playing in my head. I sleep with it at night. It’s a part of who I am now. Like the old newspaper which carries the headline of my brother Ravi’s murder.”

This book comes as a strong equalizer to the alternate tales woven around vicious militancy nurtured from across the border and atrocities attributed to security operations, the guile of some in the majority community had been carefully hidden and the real stories of exodus of Kashmiri Pandits had remained shrouded in mysteries and ever changing testimonies that bore little resemblance to reality.

Standing in the snow in Srinagar, lost in thought about those who must have played with snowballs and created snowmen, plucked the icicles hanging from their roofs through the windows, thrown them into a glass and poured sherbet on it or maybe just jutted out their tongue to lick the icicles as they remained suspended, I am about to fall. I grab to hold a nearby Deodar tree to hug it and help me break my fall in Kashmir’s snow. Rahul Pandita’s book is like an icicle that instead of giving you pleasure, pierces through your heart and leaves you bleeding forever and there are no Deodars in the story to hold on to for support.
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FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR BY RK : http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/shades-of-kashmiracutes-red-43822.aspx

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Daughters ‘unsafe’ in womb and outside — By RASHMI TALWAR–Rising Kashmir RK


Gang Rape

GANG RAPE

GANG RAPE

Like a fight, lost … like a pride, lost … like shame, lost…like a life, lost ..

Thus, started my morning, splashed in dark hues, over the news of death of the 23-year old Delhi Gang Rape victim.

It made me think of hundreds and thousands of women who faced similar rapist brutes and lived or died, deeply scarred, viciously violated in both body and soul. I also think of so many who hid this heinous outrage to suffer silently and picked up the pieces of their shattered souls.

Today ‘black dots’ replaced profile pictures all over twitter as a mark of protest and mourning . Each Indian is shamed, angry and as Tavleen Singh, a noted columnist wrote, “In a real sense, India died a thousand deaths today. In her death, she lives and in her death, India lives with shame.”

Anupam Kher actor, taunted and redefined the “Incredible India” slogan with a scathing take on female foeticide and rape – “Incredible India: A Nation where Daughters are neither safe inside Womb nor Outside.” Calling upon the Nation for a Revolution, to boycott the forthcoming Republic Day Celebrations in protest. He wrote “Let the PM & the President address vacant spaces & buildings. They don’t want our presence now , let us be absent when it matters most. Let them get a taste of our disgust.”

Each took on different expression following this heinous tragedy. Vivek Mehra, a resident of Amritsar shared his feelings –“ Jitna bhi rokoon khud ko; aaj har pal bekhud;, palkein nam, nam; ankhein sharm, sharm..”(No matter, how much I try to stop myself today; each moment involuntarily; my lashes turn moist, my eyes turn shamed).

While Chief Minister of Jammu& Kashmir wrote on twitter ‘Rest in Peace brave one..’ People in Jammu& Kashmir are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the recent Jammu gang rape case.

Actor Abhishek Bachchan, a father whose daughter just celebrated her first birthday, displayed his abhorrence for the declining values of the country and wrote –“This is not the country I grew up in as a child, this is not the country, I want my daughter to know whilst she grows up! Ayesha Takia Azmi, host for TV reality show ‘Surshetr’ as a new parent endorsed “We parents have to take much more responsibility, in bringing up our children.”

Sagarika Ghose a columnist and TV anchor quoted Shakespeare –“Thou art more deep damn’d than Lucifer, there is not yet so ugly a fiend of Hell, thou that didst kill this child.”

Barkha Dutt, TV journalist reporting on situation in the capital said –“5000 security personnel deployed in & around India Gate to keep protesters away. Will GOI ever deploy as many to keep women safe?” To which, Shujaat Bukhari Editor of Rising Kashmir, a noted daily, retorted ‘Delhi becomes Kashmir’.

But there were others who rose to the situation and looked for solutions especially women. Actress Gul Panag, perturbed over mere hollow words stated “Enough said. Time, for action. We’re compiling a database of people, with their numbers/cities to help any lady in need.”

Her call aroused a lot of men, to post their numbers on social networking sites promising help to woman in distress in their areas. I call such a solution oriented action, a move forward, a gutsy route.

Following the Delhi case I had posted-“U board a PUBLIC transport! Take that Pepper Spray in one hand till you reach your destination.” Several responded – Davinder Paul Singh shot back “Time has come to take a little law ( & a pepper spray ) in hand”.

Keith Nathan Albrecht, from NY, who was a Taxi driver for 10 years shared –“ I carry a sharp tongue and an attitude, to avoid the victim syndrome.” Aditi Tandon, a senior journalist in Delhi wrote back –“Pepper spray? Are you joking or something? There are animals on the loose with iron rods in their hands. What will your spray do?” I answered, “Pepper spray is a deterrent, let us not advocate gun licensing after the Newtown massacre in US.” Keith seconded me with her take “It is hard for someone , if you immobilize them with a pepper spray in the eyes -that has a wide dispersal application.” And added –“It’s a deterrent not an execution!”

While Kunal Kapoor asked –“People across the country have risen, do our politicians have the will to rise, or are they still hoping, ‘this too shall pass..’”.
As an Indian, I demand- “If Political parties are so sincere, let them first put all those leaders on trial, who face rape charges. Let the accused re-enter the party only after being acquitted. Let us see which party takes a lead” …Calling ! –BJP, Congress, SAD, SP, BSP & others!

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR IN DECEMBER 31, 2012

Hafiz roams free on Twitter, Spews venom against USA, India…By Rashmi Talwar


hafiz twitterHafiz roams free on Twitter
Spews venom against USA, India

Hafiz roams free on Twitter, Spews venom against USA, India
..By Rashmi Talwar

Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, the 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind, sharing dias with JKLF chief Yasin Malik recently in Pakistan has landed the latter to face some hard questions from the Indian authorities in India, including his passport being confiscated, clamped and stalled for renewal. The term for clamp down on Yasin’s foreign visits may be in place for nearly a year or two according to highly placed Defence ministry sources. Sharing the dais with Yasin on the cause of Afzal Guru’s hanging -(a convict in the Indian Parliament attack-) this, for Hafiz, is not the only passtime that he undertakes these days.

The notorious terror mastermind, remains a free man with a security cover and all his fundamental rights intact despite huge terror related evidence against him. So free, in fact that he has jumped on the ‘Twitter’ band-wagon to sprinkle his poisonous views liberally.For many Kashmiris, Yasin may have looked scowling, maybe even unwilling, to sit beside Hafiz during his protest in Pakistan as seen in the pictures but he would have to explain long and hard about his alleged association with the terror mastermind, who is not only a key figure of the Mumbai attacks but also believed to be strongly linked with the terrorist organization LeT -Lashkar-e-Toiba under the garb of JuD – Jama’t ud Da’wah.

Hafiz is a free man in Pakistan. And why wouldn’t he be, he has been let off for by the apex court of Pakistan citing lack of sufficient evidence about his role in Mumbai attacks. To placate its own publics, Pakistan has thus emboldened an international criminal to freely roam the country, address public rallies as also turned a blind eye, as Hafiz chides, scoffs and heaps anti-US propaganda openly on the super power and Pakistan’s biggest benefactor and ally of many years.

Just so, Pakistan apparently postures to strive for good relations with India, while it gives a free rein to Hafiz, whose conviction may not only restore much of the trust deficit between the two countries, but help to gloss over many past wrongs committed by the errant neighbour. Few know this that Hafiz’s bunch of wiz-kids operates his account on social networking site ‘Twitter ‘on his behalf. This account was started in early November, last year.

~ ~ ~
Mushaal Hussein Mullik, a Pakistani national and wife of Yasin Mullik, had recently posted many pictures of Yasin and Hafiz together during the Guru’s hanging protest in Pakistan, on her Facebook wall, which has been deleted a few days back.
With a tense atmosphere prevailing in Kashmir post Guru’s hanging, the JKLF which had started the armed revolt in 1989 in Kashmir a few years after Maqbool Butt’s hanging may again get a shot in the arm with Afzal’s hanging wherein Yasin may appear like a hero, if not tackled sensibly on his return to India.

Experts from India and Pakistan both feel that there is little possibility of any armed revolt this time around with Pakistan having forsaken the Kashmir issue, but who is to stop the readily available stones and the stone-pelters to flare up Kashmir once again and push into the darkness for decades ahead.
~ ~ ~

Interestingly, to the US’s announcement of a 10 million dollar bounty on Hafiz for his alleged role in 26/11, the terror mastermind retorted that he was living his life in the open and America could contact him whenever they want, as they know where he was and was ready to face any American court to answer charges. “I am not hiding in a cave!”. He tweeted through JuD – “I have written to the UNSC (United States Security Council) saying that these allegations have been charged against me. I am ready to answer any questions”

Surprisingly, on November 3, last the terror mastermind condemned Mumbai attack in a post –“26/11, I condemn this attack and innocent lives that have been lost. No matter which country they are from”.

While India keeps hammering Pakistan about his arrest and trial, given India’s bundles of dossiers pointing a direct finger at Hafiz, he freely flies on cyber space although his Facebook link has been blocked or deleted recently.

Did we hear Union Communication Minister Kapil Sibal once say something in early December last year about filtering internet content on social networking sites? I wonder if Sibal ever thought beyond the morphed pictures of the PM-Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. He probably conjured ‘objectionable religious content’ for an added effect to escape allegations of being a watchman for the Congress high command. Has he ever raised the issue of ban on cyber activities of terrorist organizations and their members inimical to India, that vociferously?

Hafiz’s twitter account started in November, 2012 last year. It has in a matter of about 5 months, collected 5,342 followers with nearly 500 new followers in just a few days when he posted his first tweets. This means an addition of nearly 50 to 60 followers every day, given the fact that few ‘tweeties’ are aware about his presence on twitter, the compounding effect of having a monumental following would be far greater. Many of them who follow his account are from the media though, following on just a curiosity wave cannot be ruled out.

Hafiz is following only 30 persons out of which one is popular journalist Hamid Mir, Syed Talat Hussain Senior Anchor at Express News affiliated with Sach TV, Former Pakistan Ambassador to the US 2008-2011- Hussain Haqqani’s verified account, Kamran Khan –group director of Geo News, Shehbaz Sharif Chief Minister, Punjab, Pakistan, Declan Walsh of the New York Times Pakistan Bureau Chief. Murtaza Solangi journalist heading Radio Pakistan, Ijaz Ul Haq- a Pakistani Politician and son of Former President of Pakistan General Zia Ul Haq. While among his followers are not many prominent persons.On his wall are also posted pictures of him and Yasin Mallik that caused a stir in India.

Hafiz’s s organization Jama’t ud Da’wah claims to be a Islamic Dawah and a philanthropic organization and claims –“Hafiz ‘Sahab’s account is managed by his media team and RT’s are not endorsements”.

In one of his posts Hafiz Saeed retweeted a October 30 post of JuD offering aid to Hurricane Sandy affected Americans. His organization JuD offered to send volunteers, medicine and food to those on the East Coast who were struggling to cope in the aftermath of the storm. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad turned down the offer and officially stated: “We respect the Islamic tradition of help to the needy but we can’t take Hafiz Saeed’s offer seriously.” Hafiz on his twitter had posted –“If US allows, JuD will send its doctors, relief and rescue experts, food and medicine on humanitarian grounds. We have differences with US Gov policies, but the American people are only human; we are all human. It’s not their fault”.

A twitteratti viewed this as a blatant taunt to the superpower on whose crumbs Pakistan has been existing and HuD -not even a pin-prick of the US might, notwithstanding its banned organization status.

Just days after offering help to Sandy victims in US, the terror ideologue posted- “The American New World Order will come to an end by the will of ALLAH. This is what they fear, hence their last ditch efforts to save it. On one hand we have the New World Order and on the other we have the Muhammadi World Order – In reality, the war is between these two. It is our responsibility to make sure that the Muslim world stands up properly End differences between each other”

Just 10 days later, he reiterated his venom against India- “India and Israel have hatched conspiracies to spread violence in Pakistan on the basis of religious beliefs”. Regarding the silence of UN following attacks on Palestine he predicts in a post –“Sacrifices by Muslims will result in America’s collapse. America is trying to save itself from being divided into smaller parts, but by the will of ALLAH (SWT) this will not happen. America & its allied forces are now trying to divide Muslims after facing tremendous defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan.” “Hostile Jews, Crusaders and Hindus are trying to divide Muslims and succeed in retaining their capitalist system. They believe that this is the same thing that caused Muslim’s defeat previously, and today, the same thing can weaken the Muslims.”

On December 12, the terror outfit chief had increased his rhetoric against India and also underscored the connivance of Pakistan government in making Kashmir a non issue –“India wants to drive the issues of Kashmir, Samjhota (blast in the train between India- Pakistan) Siachen (Glacier) to oblivion with complete support of our (Pak) government. ”People of Pakistan will never accept these conspiracies tantamount of treachery against our Muslim brothers in Kashmir”.

“Unity is needed to defend Pakistan. India is not a friend, it is worst enemy. We can never allow Kashmir on the back burner and bring trade ahead endorsing a ‘No’ to the MFN status to India. We want to tell India, if few people consider you friend in the (Pak) Govt – whole Pakistan knows you are an enemy. Mr.Rehman Malik if you have presented proofs of Indian involvement in Baluchistan then why MFN??”

Significantly, on December 18, 2012, Hafiz was at Wagah Indo Pak Border just days before beheading of India soldier in Jammu sector that caused a major standoff between the two countries. He had then posted “Pray to ALLAH to accept the hard work of everyone here at Wagah.” On Hafiz’s account are other posts of – “The Era of Freedom has begun, US is returning – India should learn lesson; will not be able to sustain Kashmir.” Sometimes the tone of his posts is self contradictory sample this- “Kashmir does not mean hatred against Indian people – It’s meant to expose the atrocities and violations by Govt. Of India”

In his posts Hafiz writes “We believe Indian govt to be contributing in US regional game. They want to make Kashmir a lost cause, which is not possible at all.” Perhaps, this may have pushed Hafiz to sit with Yasin Mallik who held a protest in Pakistan over the hanging of Afzal Guru.

Interestingly in one post it is written “We serve and respect humanity, we took pride in being able to serve Hindu community at many occasions during natural calamities faced.” And in another –“No Hindu, No Christian should feel threatened in Pakistan. We should enlighten them with message of Islam through character and service.”

Indian Minister for Home Sushil Kumar Shinde seems to be on a hot and cold platter with Hafiz. When Shinde spoke about presence of Hafiz on LOC before the beheading of the Indian soldier, Hafiz wrote on Jan 10- “HuD strongly rejected Shinde’s allegations as spineless and fact less of Hafiz’s involvement in LOC raid” – The very next day a number of posts were shot by Hafiz’s account – “I will accept every Indian allegation if they prove my alleged visit at the LoC”. And more “It is nothing but blatant lies. India is trying to shift focus from its internal problems of Rape, Communal Riots and exploiting the sentiments against Pakistan.” At the time in India, the ‘Damini rape case’ had gathered steam.

Taking the Pak Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani line for a UN probe into the soldier beheading case, Hafiz literally roared on Twitter to call for a UN probe on the LOC violations as also injustice, rapes, mass-graves and abductions in ‘Occupied Kashmir’ – he went on so far to post –“Shinde has blatantly lied against me, if unable to prove evidence then world has the right to question their (India’s) propaganda & lies on 26\11”. His Jan 20, post reads –“Pakistan should raise this (Shinde’s confession of BJP and RSS Terrorist Camps) in UNSC and OIC”.

Hafiz’s war rhetoric with India has also emerged giving a warped view of the situation. On Feb 17 a post stated –“Pakistan will soon become the center of trade of whole world; US, India never want this to happen. Their wishes will turn into dust. India is planning a war on Pakistan in 2013-2014; Make no mistake – India wants to fight for its survival and disintegration due to Kashmir. These are not the days of 1971 – India knows this very well. They are in a rush to engage and intimidate Pakistan, fearing backlash from Afghanistan.”

Simultaneously, Mushaal Hussein Mullik, a Pakistani national and wife of Yasin Mullik, had recently posted many pictures of Yasin and Hafiz together during the Guru’s hanging protest in Pakistan, on her Facebook wall, which has been deleted a few days back. With a tense atmosphere prevailing in Kashmir post Guru’s hanging, the JKLF which had started the armed revolt in 1989 in Kashmir a few years after Maqbool Butt’s hanging may again get a shot in the arm with Afzal’s hanging wherein Yasin may appear like a hero, if not tackled sensibly on his return to India.

Experts from India and Pakistan both feel that there is little possibility of any armed revolt this time around with Pakistan having forsaken the Kashmir issue, but who is to stop the readily available stones and the stone-pelters to flare up Kashmir once again and push into the darkness for decades ahead.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN https://saanjh.wordpress.com

India has no constant policy on Kashmir: Gen (retd) VK Singh… By Rashmi Talwar /Sify


Retd COAS Gen VK Singh

Retd COAS Gen VK Singh



EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Gen VK Singh

India has no constant policy on Kashmir: Gen (retd) VK Singh
By Rashmi Talwar

Gen (retd) VK Singh former COAS (Chief of the Army Staff), post his retirement has chosen to come into public life . The Army Chief, had once waded through thick layers of controversies. He first came into the limelight with the confusion of his date-of-birth, then bugging allegations of defense ministry’s office, pushing the panic button on inadequate ammunition in Indian army’s arsenal and others. Now out of power, out of office, secrets are slipping from him, baggages of silence have been shed and many a behind- the- scene, brasstacks are being readily exposed.

The former army chief is trying to wean the public towards the newly formed-Jantantar Morcha (JM) of which Anna Hazare is the patron, and the former COAS Gen Singh, the chairperson. How much militaristic experience in planning, precision, implementation he brings into this civil movement through the fledgling organization that he calls apolitical, is yet to be seen.

His take on National and International issues are thus gathered by RASHMI TALWAR in an exclusive interview with the former COAS, during his Amritsar visit, to announce the flagging-off of the JM from Amritsar’s historic Jallianwala bagh on March 31.

Q. Why have you joined hands with Anna Hazare?

Ans: Because I am equally perturbed about where our country is heading. I too can contribute much to arrest the nation’s current downslide, due to corruption.

Q. Having remained a COAS what is your take on India and Pakistan?

Ans: I am for peace between India and Pakistan. I favor good neighborly relations with trade, business, commerce and other soft channels, but in no way am I in favor of Kashmir being a condition for any forward movement towards peace. Next to its obsession with Kashmir since 1947, Siachen has been the biggest bone that is stuck in Pakistan’s throat since it lost the glacier to the Indian Army in 1984.

Q. Recently former Pakistan President Gen Parvez Musharaff talked about solving the Kashmir issue by revival of the 4-point programme, what do you make of that ?

Ans: In recent times, demilitarization of Siachen is being touted as ‘the’ ultimate solution to the Kashmir problem. Do you know who all were in the 11-member Indian committee formed for Track-II diplomacy? Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi , ‘Fauji’ Journalist Col Ajai Shukla. They were calling for demilitarization of Siachen Glacier in the Saltoro range. (Agitatedly), these are those people who have not visited nor have any notion of the reality of Siachen and the Indian position there. Pakistanis are on the west side of the Saltoro Range. Pakistan has a zero presence in Siachen and is fooling its people. All upper regions are under India’s control and Indian troops are well-entrenched. I wonder, if demilitarization has any scope of spreading this troop withdrawal by Pakistan, from Baltistan as also areas further in the west? Till now, there has been no move to arrive at an agreement by Pakistan to draw a ground demarcation i.e. AGPL (Actual Ground Position Line) to identify which side is where and here we are talking of demilitarization and troop withdrawal. I see no logic, it is ridiculous. In Siachen, Indian army is at an advantageous position sitting on strategic heights, why should we vacate it, for Pakistan to engineer another Kargil?

Q. It is being speculated that USA is bringing India and Pakistan closer to counter the growing power of China?

Ans: If USA is thinking that by bringing India-Pakistan together it can counter China’s growing power then US is ‘naive’. However this idea is too far-fetched. Does America not know that a country like Pakistan can do to it. How it is a complete supply chain for terrorism.


Q. And the Kashmir issue?

Ans: So far, Kashmir has served as a domestic gain for Pakistan. Kashmir is a like pinprick, albeit a large pinprick, that Pakistan uses on India when it wants or unwants something. Kashmir is merely being used by Pakistan. See how Pakistan has spent billions on its anti-India stance and jeopardized its economy. Club that with Pak’s multiple problems of Baluchistan, Quetta, Karachi, Lahore, judiciary, civil society; each of them is flaring. Pakistan army has a vested interest in keeping the turmoil along the border with India alive.

Q. What about India’s handling of Kashmir?
Ans: India’s drawback is that it has never had a constant policy on Kashmir. Its policies go up and down, governed more by political motives than by national interests.

Bad governance is the single major reason for the state of affairs in Kashmir today. Congress in coalition with present NC in J&K was PDP’s partner earlier. Look at the level of opportunism. The kind of money pumped into Kashmir, is unimaginable. As per the present regime’s record, see how the Shopian Rape case was handled, how stone pelters were handled? They had a successful Panchayat election, but do not want to empower them. How was the Amarnath issue handled? Corruption is so rampant and money hardly reaches the needy. I have been a commander, led a Battalion, a Brigade and a Division in Kashmir and I know the ground realities there.

Q. What about AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) that gives unlimited powers to army in Kashmir without answerability or trial?

Ans: AFSPA has been deliberately ‘demonized’ to deflect attention from main issue of misgovernance by vested interests. Kashmir is a highly emotional place. In one instance a rumor in Pattan had all Shias, chest-beating without a single one of them knowing the reason for it. There are hundreds of such instances that could be cited similarly in Kashmir. It is easy to manipulate a highly biased public. More hurt is caused by distrust and suspicion. Once such rumors spread, no one is willing to listen and no one can set the record right. It’s about hyperbole and all hell breaks loose, much like a chinese whisper or a spreading wild fire. In J&K, Pakistan has unleashed a proxy war and the situation has to be tackled by the army to safeguard interests of the nation.

Q What about Afzal Guru’s hanging?

Ans: I do not wish to go into legalities of Guru’s case. But concerning the political manipulation, there is no end to it. There can’t be appeasement of any sect or have double standards.

Q As former army chief do you think Op Bluestar was the right decision?

Ans: Operation Blue Star, in 1984 to flush out militants from the Golden Temple, was a ‘hastily taken political decision. The then COAS Gen AS Vaidya was unwilling to carry it out.

It is the manner in which it was presented that made all the difference. Gen Vaidya was not in favour of it .Gen Vaidya was against the whole plan of action including the timing of it (Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev). I was a major at the time and I know Gen Vaidya had said, “No” to army action against people belonging to the nation, but he had to follow orders.

Q Did Gen Vaidya follow orders reluctantly?

Ans: (Shrugs his shoulders!) Orders are orders! (Operation Blue Star was carried out at Golden Temple to flush out militants led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, holed up there, who had fortified the holy precincts. Bhindranwale was also killed during the operation by the army.)

Q. What is the plan of Anna Hazare’s Jantantar Morcha for the public?

Ans : Jantantar Morcha is an apolitical organization aimed to reach the grass roots level in villages and cities on a 25-point charter prepared by Anna Hazare .

Q. How can you clean up the filth in the well of politics if by not jumping into it? Will you support any party or individual in the political fray? What are the chances of Arvind Kejriwala’s ‘Aam Adami’(AA) party? Any hierarchy created for your JM?

Ans: We shall inform, create awareness and motivate the masses to rise in a peaceful manner to change the system. We need not be in politics to clean it up, because it is difficult to change the set of rules laid in politics for the past six decades. But yes, we will support clean individual candidates in the forthcoming elections. As far as Kejriwala’s political party is concerned, it would have a very limited success. Some of the party workers of AA met us here and are willing to support our organization to make village ‘leaders’. As of now there is no hierarchy or line of command created in the organization. We plan to take our yatra in the form of a public rally from the strongest symbol of Freedom Movement- the Jallianwala Bagh, covering most of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi . The last leg of this All India rally would be from the Punjab areas to Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pardesh besides others.

Q3. Do you think you can replicate or expect a mass movement yet again, as was seen in Jantar Mantar supporting Anna Hazare ?

Ans: People are fed up, now is the chance for the people to make their voices heard, presence felt and act as a pressure group to change the rules that have brought ruination. This mass presence, this frustration and anger with the system was recently seen in the ‘Damani Gang rape case’.

Q4. Damini’s case aroused the public anger as they identified strongly with the security of their children? How does JM plan to trigger such a movement? Is there a plan to charge the masses? It could cause a law and order problem, what then?

Ans: The boiling process has already started and we are targeting the first time voter numbering 9 crore and the 2nd time voter numbering 19 crore. Youth is where JM draws its strength. Yes, we do have a plan but I am not about to share it. It will be visible at the right hour. Our aim is to carry forward this agenda peacefully with a mass movement and we have full faith in Anna ji who will flag the Morcha from Jallianwala bagh on March 31. JM wants the 25- point charter, to be progressed in this one year. Its moot points are ‘Right to Reject’, formation of ‘Gram sabhas’ as watchdog units at village level since panchayats too have become political, Criminals be disallowed to contest any election, besides others.

Post Script: Army Chief Gen Singh who at one time was refuting allegations of phone tapping of defense ministry during his ongoing ‘date-of-birth’ related controversy alleged that his phone was tapped .

FIRST PUBLISHED IN SIFY.COM at : http://www.sify.com/news/interview-vk-singh-on-anna-movement-kashmir-s-problems-and-afspa-news-national-ndfnvcajdei.html

How the Rajoana hanging was torpedoed ?—— By Rashmi Talwar RK


Secret Hangings

Original Heading – ‘Secret Hanging’- a new political tool?
By Rashmi Talwar

How the Rajoana hanging was torpedoed ?—— By Rashmi Talwar RK

Has the ruling government at the center found a new tool in ‘secret hanging’ to wrench the power of political manipulations for its exclusive use? This question has been uppermost in the minds of political parties, especially regional ones whose role has suddenly been eroded in the power-plays.

In the past, these very parties had employed sharp tactics of ‘arouse-n-appease’ their publics for vote bank politics, whenever dates of hanging of convicts were announced. Similar political tactics have been seen to be used blatantly by successive union governments by manipulating CBI case hearings, case announcements, judgments or even new cases openings, to puncture the opponent’s rising influence, especially as a diversionary tactics or in some cases ‘just to put the opponent in their place’.

Take the case of, Balwant Singh Rajoana, the assassin of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, who was to be hanged on May 31, 2012. Three days prior to carrying out the death sentence, a clemency plea in favour of the convict, no-less, than by the present Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, was admitted by President Pratibha Patil, who returned it to Ministry of Home Affairs to further review the case and saved him. The Rajoana case was ‘stayed’. In other words it was the victory of a regional political party, Shiromani Akali Dal led by Badal, who emerged as a saviour for an assassin, convicted of killing Beant Singh- a ‘Congress’ Chief Minister.

In August 2011, when Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha moved the resolution in the state assembly to commute the death sentence of former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins- she used the arouse-n-appease tactic to save Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan the killers, citing the sentiments of Tamils.

No sooner had Jayalalitha’s plea for mercy been broadcast, a simmering Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah angrily tweeted that ‘if Jammu & Kashmir made such a mercy plea for Afzal Guru- a convict in the Parliament Attack (a Kashmiri), then the public reaction would have not been so subdued’. He even went ahead and queried that if other states were throwing their weight behind Rajiv’s assassins, Beant’s assassins and mass murderers, why was it wrong to ask for clemency for a Kashmiri Afzal Guru.

The clemency pleas of Rajiv’s assassins, Rajoana and Davinder Pal Bhullar, spiralled into issues of sharply divided opinions, arousing passions and subsequently opportunism in political parties. The field was open for all political parties, especially regional parties, to politically manipulate the situation by arousing local passions and finally stepping in to save the state subject. Thus, gaining popular support for this supposed ‘gallantry’.

On the one side it was seen as a virtual ‘defeat’ for the ruling party at the centre in such scenarios. In a quick swoop, the supporting (regional) parties showed the central government as a cruel ‘imposing authority’. On another side, these very parties were successful in making the convict appear as a forthcoming martyr or hero for its community as the state chief ministers came out openly in their support.

Defeating such ploys of state governments, the first secret hanging in recent times came of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving assassin of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Although, in Kasab’s case the state governments had limited role to play in view of the fact that he was a Pakistani national, this was probably an experiment by the central government in deriving political mileage out of such ‘secret hangings’. This hanging was seen by all, as resurrecting the sagging image of Congress that was viewed as ‘weak’ owing to slow or delayed reaction on vital issues of major public sentiment and interest. Enthused by the positive feedback generated Kasab’s ‘secret hanging’, the central government was now ready for the second such experiment, this time around with an additional advantage of taking the wind out of sails of the regional satraps.

This time it seems to be Union Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde’s loose statement had antagonized the majority community. A senior political analyst sees it as -“It may appear to be farcical but the statement made by our Home Minister wherein he said that ‘training camps of both BJP and RSS are promoting Hindu terrorism’ may have proved to be the proverbial last nail in Afzal Guru’s coffin”.

While Kashmir flared up post Afzal Guru’s hanging, the senior political analyst, equally upset with the manipulations of the union government, made the picture clearer, he said – “Shinde’s remark, coupled with the fact that the Congress party is popularly perceived to be minority appeaser, had obvious negative fallout. The Congress poll pundits viewed Shinde’s outspokenness as a ‘verbal bomb’ that had antagonized the majority community and results of this blunder would surely emerge in the forthcoming elections in 2014.”

He further analyzed– “Whatever the ruling Congress party may do to woo the minorities, no political party in India can afford to win the parliamentary elections without a strong support base in the majority community. Hence, as a damage control exercise, as also to dodge a belligerent Narendra Modi- a projected candidate for PM and a three time CM of Gujarat- who is breathing down their necks, Afzal Guru had to go”.

Otherwise why is it that convicts before Afzal Guru like Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for killing Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995, Devinder Pal Bhullar, another sikh extremist on death row for killing nine persons in a 1993 car blast case, Murugan, Perarivalan and Santhan – convicted in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi-are still alive and Afzal Guru is hanged?

In the case of Afzal Guru, senior political analysts have castigated Omar Abdullah for speaking about the negative fallout of the hanging. Prabhu Chawla, the editorial director of The New Indian Express and The Sunday Standard asked –‘Why is young and bright Omar Abdullah taking up the issue of Afzal Guru. Didn’t Guru attack India of which J&K is an integral part?’ Akhilesh Mishra, a right wing activist contends about Omar’s stand that – “By publicly saying that a new generation of Kashmiris might be driven towards separatism, Omar Abdullah is actually seeding the idea himself.” What they probably have missed out though is that Omar Abdullah’s ire may actually be expression of the frustration of a regional political party (NC) against the central government (UPA) for maneuvering such cases to their own political advantage.

In this entire scenario, it is sad to see this disgraceful trend, in which the ruling party at the centre on one side and state governments on the other have jumped on to a populist bandwagon of either hanging or defending hardcore convicts on partisan lines of community or caste or region, only for vote bank politics! Whichever side gains advantage in this sad game of one-upmanship, it is the nation that loses in all circumstances.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR –

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