Twenty articles on Kashmir that non-Kashmiris must read

Maintaining bookmarks is a wonderful practice. But when one has to make a selection of 20 from hundreds of bookmarked items, not many of which you would remember anyway, it doesn’t seem to be a very wonderful task at hand. It is tedious. One has to go through every second item to remember what on earth it was about.
Of all the things that I do, I had been maintaining a bookmark folder dedicated to articles on Kashmir. I, initially, thought of compiling a list of 10 articles that all non-Kashmiris must read. But as I spent more time on it, I realised 10 would be too few — so 20 it is. Almost all have been written by Indians.
To me, the Internet is also about sharing. So here’s my Select 20 about Kashmir.
[I don’t intend expanding on this list.]

1. Not Crushed, Merely Ignored
July 22, 2010 | Tariq Ali | London Review of Books
Excerpt: The Abdullah dynasty continues to hold power in Kashmir and is keen to collaborate with New Delhi and enrich itself. I rang a journalist in Srinagar and asked him about the current chief minister, Omar Abdullah, a callow and callous youth whose only claim to office is dynastic. ‘Farooq Abdullah,’ he told me, ‘is our Asif Ali Zardari when it comes to corruption. Now he’s made his son chief minister so that he can concentrate on managing his various businesses.’ The opposition isn’t much better. Some Kashmiris, the journalist said, call Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the effective leader of the opposition, and his cronies ‘double agents. That is, they are taking money from Pakistan and India.’ He is the 12th ‘mirwaiz’, the self-appointed spiritual leaders of the Muslims in the Kashmir Valley, and is adept at playing both sides.

2. The Role Of ‘Memory’ In The Present Crises In Kashmir
August 1, 2010 | Inshah Malik | Counter Currents
Excerpt: Political talks and oppression can’t go hand in hand; one of these measures has to be clogged to strive for the sustainable solution of Kashmir crises. The immature governance sees the root cause of the problem outside the state but pure analysis can tell that this current resistance is the outcome of ‘memory’ instigated by state’s dim-witted response to the concerned youth.

3. Children of the Tehreek
August 2010 | Sanjay Kak | Himal
Excerpt: The CNN-IBN correspondent, happily embedded inside an army truck as it made its way through Srinagar, was extolling the impact of the flag march (even as an official was busy denying that there had been any such thing). NDTV provided its usual high-wire balancing act, with Barkha Dutt dredging up the ‘pain on both sides’. The grief of the mourning father of 17-year-old Tufail Mattoo, killed when his skull was taken apart by a teargas shell, was weighed against a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commandant ruing the damage to his truck’s bulletproof windscreen. But such expedient journalism paled before far more damaging hubris. While these ‘national’ reporters had the run of curfew-bound Srinagar, they omitted to mention that their Srinagar-based colleagues – local, national and even international journalists – had been locked in their homes and offices for three days.

4. Kashmir’s Forever War
Autumn 2010 | Basharat Peer | Granta
Excerpt: Pakistan was wary of the JKLF’s popularity, its demand for an independent Kashmir, and chose to support several pro-Pakistan militant groups who attacked and killed Malik’s men. Indian troops killed many more. Malik spent a few years in prison in the early nineties; his body still carries the torture marks as reminders. In prison, he read works by Gandhi and Mandela. On his release in 1994, he abandoned violent politics, turned the JKLF into a peaceful political organization and joined a separatist coalition called the Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, which pushed for a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

5. The politics of protest in Kashmir
August 6, 2010 | Najeeb Mubarki | The Economic Times
Excerpt: The sole departure from the past being that both the sheer intensity of the protests and the exceptional brutality of the response — given that it is mostly children and teenagers who have been gunned down — seems to have taken even certain sections within Indian society by surprise. The big question, however, is whether New Delhi realises that something new, a potent political challenge, has arisen in Kashmir, and whether the response now will be political or, in continuing mutilation of Indian democratic principles, purely based on disciplining and punishing Kashmiris.…

6. How I became a stone thrower for a day
August 7, 2010 | Hilal Mir | Hindustan Times
Excerpt: I picked up a stone from the debris of a housing cluster burnt by CRPF soldiers in 1990 and hurled it at the soldiers, a few of whom were filming the stone-throwers with mini-cams. Caught, I could have been booked under the Public Safety Act and jailed for two years without a trial. I would have been jobless because no news organisation would have a felon on its rolls. But I threw more stones. As I was hurling the stones it felt like this was the only legitimate thing to do in that cursed place. And after being restrained by my fellow journalists, disoriented, I walked to Nawab Bazar. In the Old City, where I was born.…

7. The last option: A stone in her hand
August 8, 2010 | Sanjay Kak | The Times of India
Excerpt: The government’s narrative of ‘miscreants’, of anomie and drug-fuelled teenagers working as Rs 200 mercenaries for the Lashkar-e-Toiba, has, meanwhile, started to appear faintly ridiculous. A more reasonable explanation is being proffered to us now: it’s anger, we are told, the people of Kashmir are angry at the recent killings, and that’s why the women are being drawn in. That is true, but only partially. For this is no ordinary anger, but an old, bottled-up rage, gathered over so many years that it has settled, and turned rock hard. That accumulated fury is the stone in her hand. To not understand this, to fail to reach its source — or fathom its depth — is to be doomed to not understand the character of Kashmir’s troubles.…

8. PM’s butt-numbing speech
August 13, 2010 | Aditya Sinha | The New Indian Express
Excerpt: You could defend Manmohan Singh saying that he has to be careful in his speeches because as prime minister he has to represent all shades of opinion and when it comes to Kashmir there are some very strong views, particularly among the conservatives. These views are not new, subtle or even well thought out: a corrosive former editor used to say that India should keep the land and throw out all the Muslims. This kind of thinking belies the general belief that Indians are an intelligent race, inventors of the zero and masters of modern software coding. The alarming part however is that Manmohan Singh is bullied by this opinion.…

9. Why silence over Kashmir speaks volumes
August 14, 2010 | Pankaj Mishra | The Guardian
Excerpt: This effective censorship reassures those Indians anxious not to let mutinous Kashmiris sully the currently garish notions of India as an “economic powerhouse” and “vibrant democracy” – the calling cards with which Indian elites apply for membership to the exclusive clubs of the west. In Kashmir, however, the net effect is deeper anger and alienation. As Bukhari puts it, Kashmiris hold India’s journalists as responsible as its politicians for “muzzling and misinterpreting” them.…

10. The Islamism bogey in Kashmir
August 26, 2010 | Najeeb Mubarki | The Economic Times
Excerpt: The drive to seek, invoke, an Islamisation of Kashmir is insidiously linked to regurgitating, within Indian public opinion, the subcontinental history of partition and the creation of Pakistan. It is also an act of dissolving the Kashmiris and electing the ‘Muslim anti-national’. That done, Kashmir can be presented as reflecting the danger of that partition, again. Which then becomes a major roadblock in even attempting to articulate to the wider Indian public what Kashmir is really about, leave alone seeking a solution to the problem.

11. Curfewed in Kashmir: Voices from the Valley
August 28, 2010 | Aaliya Anjum, Saiba Varma | Economic and Political Weekly
Excerpt: In particular, it seems that the mainstream Indian media has been unwilling to make sense of the spontaneous uprisings after Tufail’s death within the context of a broad-based Kashmiri movement for self-determination. “By trying to discredit all stone pelters as ‘hired agents’??”, says Sajid Iqbal, “the armed forces, the home ministry, and the powerful media houses are in effect implying that Kashmiris are perfectly fine dying without protest at the hands of the armed forces, since all ‘mobs’ are sponsored. They are trying to pass us off as an insensitive people, who experience no pain, have no heart, no feelings and no emotions.”

12. Pushing the Kashmiri to the Wall, Again
September 2010 | Shivam Vij | The Daily Star
Excerpt: It is clear that Delhi is not going to make any concessions to the people of Kashmir. The troops that Kashmiris see as a problem are for Delhi the solution. The Kashmiri common man feels frustrated to hear about Indo-Pak talks as though the Kashmiri people don’t matter. Not all of the infiltration encounters this summer have been fake, and there are rumours of more Kashmiris trying to cross the LoC into Pakistan. Delhi is pushing people to pick up the gun again, and perhaps it prefers that to non-violent protests for azadi that attract international attention.

13. Kashmiri Marginalities: The Construction, Nature and Response
September 9, 2010 | Gowhar Fazili | Rising Kashmir
Excerpt: The political uncertainty impacts different members and groups differently as they choose different strategies to deal with the onslaught from within and without. To grossly simplify, for example a large majority of Pandits have moved out of Kashmir and many have allied themselves with Indian right-wing parties. Kashmiri Shia and Sunni Muslims largely identify with the broad contours of separatist politics, Pashtoons are invisible, Gujjars maintain an ambivalent position depending on where they are physically, located. People in Gurez, Karnah, Uri, who are geographically isolated from the valley and live in close proximity with security garrisons do not manifest sympathy with separatism, or at least do not overtly do so for obvious reasons. Within the state of Jammu and Kashmir, people of Doda, Poonch and Rajouri ally with Kashmir or Jammu depending on which of their interests and identities are threatened at a particular moment of time. People of Kargil gravitate towards Kashmir if and when the Buddhist majority discriminates against them. Hindu majority areas of Jammu, and Buddhist Leh, have consistently favored India and alleged discrimination by Kashmiri Muslims and their appeasement by the Indian state.…

14. What Are Kashmir’s Stone Pelters Saying to Us?
September 11, 2010 | Sanjay Kak | Economic and Political Weekly
Intro: Kashmir’s sang-bazan – stone-pelters – have captured the popular imagination, but the uprising has yet to be accorded the same political pedigree as the Intifada. Nevertheless, images of boys as young as nine and ten being dragged off into police vehicles, or shot dead by the paramilitary forces, have begun to dent conventional truisms about what is happening in Kashmir.

15. Independent People’s Tribunal Report On Human Rights Violations In Kashmir
September 13, 2010 | Independent People’s Tribunal | Counter Currents
Excerpt: This excessive militarization has resulted in wiping out all space for the exercise of democratic rights by the people, the result being terrorization of the people at large. This has resulted in ruthless action on all dissent, and at the same time the military indulges in acts of violence against people with impunity.

16. Kashmir: Forced Ignorance And Intellectual Arrogance In India
September 14, 2010 | Inshah Malik | Counter Currents
Excerpt: Tossing into Kashmir discussions the fundamentalism and radicalism of Islam as a threat to existence to Indian state as a whole is a gross exaggeration, and only comes from the fascist global understanding of Islam as an enemy. But many of the radical thinkers in India still buy this view because it justifies the false filming around the Kashmir issue and also clears up their personal conscience and eradicates their duty towards humanity. When the experts from Kashmir are implanted in Bombay for consciously re-establishing lies about Kashmir by enforcing readymade answers via the media and intelligentsia, this feeds into the ignorance of a common Indian citizen continuously. And that has been happening ever since 1947. The current youth uprising is a political movement, which is an established fact on the ground. And it has happened before as well, in 1989. It is time to listen to the streets in Kashmir and understand with an open mind what the Indian state has been doing in Kashmir over the years.

17. Kashmir Coverage: Media in the service of misplaced ‘national interest’
September 17, 2010 | Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal | Counter Media
Excerpt: When the killings began in June, the media by and large blacked out the brutal violation of human rights, barring some exceptions, and thus gave a certain degree of legitimacy to the killings within the paradigm of ‘self-defence’ against ‘paid Lashkar agents’. It was a month later that the news channels and newspapers woke up to the tragedies suffered by the victims and their families. This, however, was balanced out with projections that there were tragedies on both sides. Barkha Dutt, Group Editor, NDTV, who spoke of victimized children and teenagers, families left grieving their dead, was quick to equate their trauma with that of a CRPF jawan with a broken jaw (suffered due to stone pelting) recuperating in a hospital. Even when it comes to expressing compassion over human tragedy, it is done with caution, no fingers ever raised against security agencies who ought to be responsible, but have been turned into icons of ‘nationalism’. Criticism of human rights violations is deemed to amount to an attack on the nation and Indianness.

18. Kashmir Coverage: A minorshift in attitudes and orientation
September 17, 2010 | Mohammad Sayeed Malik | Counter Media
Excerpt: What is a ‘mujahid’, ‘askari-pasand’ or ‘militant’ for the media in Kashmir becomes a ‘terrorist’ for the so-called national media, identified with the Delhi-based newspapers and television channels. A ‘Mujahid martyred’ in Kashmir media language translates as a ‘terrorist eliminated’ to readers and viewers beyond Kashmir. In the difference between these definitions and descriptions lies the key to understanding the nuances of growing emotional distance between the people of Kashmir and rest of the country. Such is the ingrained impact of this difference upon the psyche of the people in Kashmir that even the pro-India people and many in the state administration find nothing wrong in using expressions like “it is ok here but it might not work ‘outside in India’”

19. We are all Kashmiris! Or atleast should be!
September 20, 2010 | Dibyesh Anand | Kafila
Excerpt: Taking up guns is always an option. But for the last few years Kashmiris have remained steadfast in trying to keep their movement for self-determination confined to civil disobedience. With all the killings by the Indian security forces, Kashmiris have mostly refused to fall into the trap being set for them – to act violently so that they can be labelled insurgents and terrorists. Indian state seems to prefer the language of violence – the security mindset can fight violent insurgency and Islamic jihad. It feels frustrated when Kashmiris refuse to conform to the image of Islamic terrorists because India’s politics of violence is exposed for the whole world to witness. And yet, the world remains mute.…

20. Kashmir 2010: The Year of Killing Youth
September 22, 2010 | Parvaiz Bukhari | The Nation
Excerpt: Every day brings news of more unarmed protesters killed somewhere in Kashmir. The children of the conflict fight the soldiers with stones during daytime and record their memory at night, using Internet-based social media like Facebook and YouTube both to mobilize within Kashmir and to communicate with the outside world. They are delving deep in the archeology of their political history to establish connections with the past and build an archive of their memory for the future.

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