Three youth were shot dead on 27th March, when Armed forces deliberately fired upon hundreds of people who had gathered at the site of an “encounter” near Darbugh village at Chadoora in Budgam district in central Kashmir.
It may be recalled that earlier in February, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat issued a statement justifying such attacks on civilians. Rawat declared “mobs disrupting encounters” would be treated as “over ground workers of militants” and ruthlessly shot down. The then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar publicly justified this policy.
What General Rawat has publicly pronounced is what has been the Indian states policy towards Kashmir for over 27 years. The Indian state has treated the entire Kashmiri people as enemies. Instead of seeking a political solution to a political problem, it has unleashed savage state terror on the people.
There have been countless reports of people picked up by the armed forces in so called “combing operations” carried out in villages and towns. They are then declared to be “dreaded terrorists” and killed in fake encounters. Stories are spread in the Indian electronic and print media, about how these dangerous “terrorists” allegedly came across the border and planned to carry out all kinds of terrible activities. Army and security personnel are regularly awarded gallantry awards for carrying out these fake encounters. Subsequent investigations have revealed that the persons killed have been innocent people or youth in custody, who have not been proven guilty of any crime.
Kashmir is an armed camp and the people of Kashmir are living under the jackboots of the armed forces. There are over 7 lakh army and paramilitary forces stationed in Kashmir. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) gives complete immunity to the armed forces and security personnel from any kind of legal prosecution, thus giving them a free hand to torture, kill, rape and plunder.
The people in Kashmir are naturally enraged at this state of affairs. Reports indicate that over the last year, every time there is news of an “encounter” near a village, thousands of people from surrounding villages congregate at the site to protest against the security forces carrying out their diabolical plans. This trend is reported to be spreading rapidly, in all parts of Kashmir. The incident of March 27 was one more such case. In all such cases, the security forces fire indiscriminately, often killing and injuring not just some of the protestors but even ordinary bystanders and people in their homes in the locality. Each such incident leads to more protests and clashes of people with the security forces, more firing by army and security personnel, more deaths and injuries and more alienation of people from the state and its army and security apparatus.
It is clear that the savage repression unleashed by the army has not succeeded in quelling the flame of resistance burning in their hearts. The people are refusing to accept the status quo.
On March 30, news reports quoted Home Ministry Sources that Israeli built drones were now being used to carry out surveillance operations in Kashmir. A senior security officer is reported to have said that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was considered similar to Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip and that the use of Israeli-built drones suggests that in Kashmir, the Indian state wants to replicate Israel’s military strategy in countering Palestinians.
The aspirations of the people of Kashmir for a life free from the tyranny of the state and its armed forces cannot be crushed by brute force. CGPI condemns the policy of the Indian state and calls for a just political solution to the problem, based on respecting the right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination – that is, their right to decide their own political future without any outside interference or pressure of any kind.