Published On: Mon, Jul 22nd, 2013

Killings in Gool Ramban

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

The strength and respectability of Indian State lies in its secular and democratic institutions, duly aided by rule of law and an independent superior judiciary. Indian society has a tradition of realising its ends through the instrument of non-violence. As a member nation of United Nations it has committed its forces to Peace Keeping around the world and is helping these societies to defend against violence and build institutions.

Bilateral Agreement

At home India has committed its Security Forces in Jammu and Kashmir on 27 October 1947 at the request of the Government of the State. These forces have entered the State under a bilateral agreement and are in fact a Peace Keeping force. Their role is expressly defined and it includes, “to help Kashmiri forces to defend the territory, protect lives, property and honour of Kashmiri people”.

International Agreement

Indian Security forces have an international obligation to discharge in Jammu and Kashmir. Under paragraph 2 (a) – (c) (i) (ii) and (iii) of UN Security Council Resolution 47 (1948) of 21 April 1948 Indian Security Forces of a minimum strength have to “support the civil power in the maintenance of law and order. International community has remained ahead of its times in April 1948 and has made a clear reference to the behaviour, number and location of these troops dispatched to Jammu and Kashmir under a bilateral Agreement with the State Government.

In fact Indian Security Forces could have been the best ambassadors for Indian interests in Kashmir. It could have been possible if these Forces were educated about their duties under a bilateral agreement and requirements under international mandate. Under the international mandate, the principle remains that the reduced number of these forces had to be stationed in accordance with the following three principles:

(i) That the presence of troops should not afford any intimidation or appearance of intimidation to the inhabitants of the State.

(ii) That as small a number as possible should be retained in forward areas

(iii) That any reserve of troops which may be included in the total strength should be located within their present base area.

Killings in Gool Ramban

The killing of six civilians in BSF firing in Gool Ramban on 18 July 2013 is not only unfortunate, it is outrageous as well. The forces involved in these killings have failed to discharge their higher burden of responsibility in Kashmir and the killing act during the month of Ramadan and involving the Imam of the mosque and the Quran make the issue exceptionally very very serious. The political and military leadership should not make an error of judgment, that the incident is a repeat of July 1931 incident after 82 years.

It is a serious incident under normal circumstances and in a State like Jammu and Kashmir and during Ramadan, the no holds barred freedom enjoyed by BSF in the use of live ammunition against civilians makes it extremely serious. The action is a violation of the manner of duties assigned to these Security Forces in Jammu and Kashmir under the 27 October 1947 bilateral agreement and the principles defined for their stationing in Jammu and Kashmir under the UN Resolution of 21 April 1948.

Graded Outrage

The outrage should not be dismissed as a routine reflex of political parties only. Every decent Indian should express his and her outrage and share the grief of the people of Kashmir.  This column may not be appropriate for enquiring into the manner of the merits in which politics has been conducted by Kashmiri leaders for the last many years, in particular from 2001. If press statements, attending funeral prayers and visiting the aggrieved families were taken out as evidence of a political activity, very little is left behind as a substantive political activity.

Even on Gool Ramban the reaction of “Separatists” (if they are so) is mediocre and fails to convince. It is more a mockery than a response of an aggrieved people. Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat (G) called for shutdown on three days, from July 19 to 21, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat (M) called for strike on Friday and Saturday, JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik called for complete shutdown on Friday, Democratic Freedom Party called for complete shutdown on Friday and National Front also called for complete shutdown on Friday and demanded punishment to the killers. Many other smaller groups have shared these choices.

The manner and duration of shut downs in this disjointed manner does not accredit in favour of these leaders. It does not increment the sense of outrage and falls short of a genuine and truthful response. Politics in Kashmir seems to be free for all and there is no common ground. If the practice to act individually and routinely  in accordance with individual political beliefs of these leaders  is allowed to continue, the politics may very rightly be accused of incurring a serious criminal liability for the abuse of public trust. Kashmiris are modest and humble people and it is uncommon for them to be led by Caesar’s.

For the sake of Islam

Syed Ali Shah Geelani has stated that, “These martyrs have laid down their lives for the sake of Islam and we have a responsibility to safeguard their sacrifices”.  He has further added that it was as what happened in 1931 when they were protesting the desecration of the Holy Quran and “it is a painful moment for the entire nation”. There could be no issue with this statement except that it narrows down the scale of tragedy. The nation does not include Muslims only. Other faiths like Hindus (Kashmiri Pandits), Sikhs, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and non-faith  people are part of the nation and have a duty to defend the ‘life’ and right to freedom of religion of Muslims.

Kashmiri Muslims should not shrink their size into communalists. They should relax into a fuller responsible role and take the case of killings in Gool Ramban to other faiths in Temples, Gurdawras, Churches, Synagogues, Monasteries and other places to accommodate non-faith people. Kashmiri leaders seem to have made it easy for the administration and have consigned themselves to the lap of police interceptions and confinements. It is time that they shake themselves into action and move beyond their present ‘turfs’. Travelling beyond Ramban and beyond Srinagar deep into various parts of India is very important. It should appear that they are representing all the people of Jammu and Kashmir according to their Constitution adopted on 31July 1993 and do not subscribe to any pre-determination of views at this stage.

Accession to Pakistan Day x 3

Kashmiri leaders who are represented in Hurriyat PaK/Pakistan chapter have to learn to be honest to themselves and fair to the people in their conduct. They have a higher burden of responsibility to monitor the political character of their outsourced politics in Islamabad.

Hurriyat PaK/Pakistan chapter joined the local politicians in its office in Islamabad and celebrated 19 July 2013 as “accession to Pakistan Day”. Muslim Conference organised the accession day programme at its Secretariat in Islamabad and Prime Minister PaK organised the accession day in his office in Muzaffarabad.

There could be no issues with local politicians engaging into these political stunts to reserve a berth in power in Muzaffarabad and to keep the people that matter in Islamabad in good humour. Hurriyat has a formalised and Constitutional role to play. It can’t afford to be part of a controversy that surrounds 19 July 1947 Muslim Conference ‘accession to Pakistan Resolution”.

A meeting convened  to consider the future of a nation, comprising of Muslims, Hindus (Kashmiri Pandits), Sikhs, Christians, Buddhist, Jews  and many other faiths and non-faiths, had to discharge the first criterion of fairness and honesty, providing due access to all. Muslims in Muslim Conference at this meeting on 19 July 1947 could not condemn people of other faiths without a say in the Resolution. The meeting has not provided any opportunity to others whose interests had been threatened/prejudiced by the proceeding of the meeting.

The Stand Still Agreement of the Government of Pakistan in August 1947 (one month after) with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, the Declaration of the Provisional Government of Pak of October 4 and October 24 1947, Act 1974 of PaK have given no credence to this Resolution. Government of PaK formed under the terms of UNCIP Resolutions does not accord any recognition to the Resolution of 19 July 1947.

Article 257 of the Constitution of Pakistan does not recognise this Resolution either.

Accession to Pakistan or India requires first the independence of the State through a free and fair Plebiscite. Accession to Pakistan is a voluntary choice and the procedure is laid down under Article 257 of the Constitution of Pakistan. It is time for Kashmiri leadership to ready itself for being honest to themselves and fair to the people. Even Caesar remained mindful of these two basics.

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.  He is on UN register as an expert in Peace Keeping, Humanitarian Operations and Election Monitoring Missions. He could be reached on email dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com


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