The Garb of Democracy Must Not be Taken as a Shield of Impunity

30th October 2011: World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance (WKDA) held a protest rally on Bloor Street in front of the Indian Consulate in Toronto, Canada. The protesters demanded a comprehensive investigation into the issue of mass graves that have been found in Kashmir in a similar manner that were held in Shibrinetza by the international community. Farooq Papa, who heads the World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance, an organization that is actively propagating the Kashmir issue globally on diplomatic front, said that it is appalling to observe that the findings of these graves have not raised any eyebrows in the power echelons of the United Nations and western countries, who do not waste any time when such atrocities are being committed in areas and territories where western governments have vested interests in raising the issue of human rights.

Condemnation and bringing the perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice must not be country-specific. The garb of democracy must not be taken as a shield of impunity by countries who run democratically. The international court of justice should not be used only for authoritative regimes, the international court of justice must also oversee that democratic countries’ functionality, vis-a-vis the universal human right adherence and obligation under international law. Towing of such policies that belie the values of declaration of human rights and fundamental rights adopted 63 years ago by the United Nations is going to create discord rather than beneficial understanding.

Habib YousafZai, the spokesman for WKDA, later talking to local media in Toronto emphasized that for Canada, human rights is an important part of foreign policy and its relations with other countries. We can not be mere spectators to the abuses that are being committed on Kashmiris. He said that the WKDA will write to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take up the issue of mass graves in Kashmir in the forthcoming G20 meeting in November 2011, and allow foreign forensic experts to investigate these crimes against humanity.

Habib YousafZai, Spokesman WKDA
Tel: 001-647-889-2829

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157628014064890″]

Article: Indian Inquiry Confirms Unmarked Graves in Kashmir

Full Article

Hundreds of unmarked graves in Kashmir hold more than 2,000 bullet-riddled bodies that may include innocent victims, despite police claims that they were militants fighting Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan territory, according to an Indian government report.

The report — following a three-year investigation launched amid allegations of rights abuses by the army, paramilitary and police — is the first official acknowledgment that civilians killed in the two-decade conflict may have been buried in unmarked graves.

It stops short of confirming that suspicion, long alleged by rights groups, but says “there is every possibility that … various unmarked graves at 38 places of north Kashmir may contain the dead bodies of locals.”

Previously, officials have insisted that all the bodies were of militant fighters, as claimed by police when they were handed over to villages for burial.

The report says 2,156 unidentified bodies were found in single and mass graves in three northern mountainous regions, while 574 other bodies found in the graves have been identified as local residents.

The findings by the Jammu-Kashmir State Human Rights Commission are likely to deepen cynicism in restive Kashmir, where anti-India sentiment runs deep and most people want independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars since 1947 for control of the territory, which is divided between them. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training rebel fighters, but Pakistan says it only offers moral and diplomatic support for their cause.

Rebel groups began fighting in 1989 against Indian rule, and more than 68,000 people have been killed in the uprising and subsequent Indian crackdowns. Most have been civilians.

WKDA Protest Against Indian Atrocities in Toronto

World Kashmir Diaspora (WKDA) held a protest in the heart of downtown Toronto in front of Eaton Square on the eve of India’s Independence day where Indian embassy had organized a parade of their independence day .The protest which was headed by WKDA chairman Farooq Papa. Later talking to media in Toronto he said that, while Indian government is deluding the international community by demonstrating through these parades brighter side of image of its country, it becomes imperative for us to expose the draconian and dark side of Indian democracy in Kashmir so that international community is not hoodwinked by orchestrated propaganda.

Farooq papa said that Kashmir Diaspora all over the world will continue to raise its voice against the Human Right abuses and India’s continued occupation of Kashmir, unless and until it respects its commitment that it has obligated to the world body under various resolutions of United Nation.

Spokesman of WKDA Habib Yousafzai in a statement reiterated that Kashmir Diaspora is united in their efforts to highlight the Kashmir issue in every forum around the globe that values the liberty of human dignity.

A.G. Noorani Opens Window of Understanding on Article 370 and the Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir

By Shujaat Bukhari
ARTICLE 370 of the Constitution is undoubtedly the most-discussed article in the constitutional history of India as it is about Jammu and Kashmir, which is at the centre of trouble between India and Pakistan. It gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir State within the ambit of India’s constitutional framework. Over a period of time, the subject of discussion has been the erosion of its potential to ensure the special distinction of the State.

All Prime Ministers of India to date have vowed to protect it to give the people of Jammu and Kashmir a feeling that theirs is a State that is different from other States in India. However, all of them have failed to do so. When Kashmir plunged into an armed rebellion in late 1989 following “large-scale” rigging in the Assembly elections of 1987, there was not even the faintest idea that it would be back in the Indian fold. In early 1990, a high-level parliamentary delegation led by the then Leader of the Opposition, Rajiv Gandhi, visited Srinagar, only to get confined to a fortress-like Centaur Hotel. On their return to Delhi, the members of the delegation were candid enough to tell the V.P. Singh government that “Kashmir is lost”.

However, things started turning around by the end of 1995, with New Delhi crushing the “popular rebellion” with an iron hand. Militants, mostly Kashmiris, were killed. Civilians who took to the streets demanding “azadi” (freedom) in unequivocal terms met the same fate. With a new composite policy, the government, through the then Governor G.C. Saxena, adopted a multipronged strategy to isolate militants from the Kashmiri social fabric. This was done mainly by bringing “renegades” under the banner of Ikhwanul Muslimoon, a breakaway group of the Ikhwanul Muslimeen militant outfit, the name derived from a popular pro-Islamic movement in Egypt. It surely did break the backbone of the pro-Pakistan militancy, but at a heavy cost.

Electoral process

This paved the way for the political reinforcement in Kashmir, making New Delhi confident enough to announce parliamentary elections in May 1996, the first in the State since 1989. There was hardly a genuine political party to join the electoral process. The influence of the militants had not waned and the people were yet to reconcile with “Indian rule”. Even National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, “the undisputed Indian character” in Kashmir, refused to take the plunge. The Congress was the only prominent party in the fray. Coercion became the hallmark of the process, but New Delhi “sailed through”.

By then the National Conference had opened negotiations with New Delhi around constitutional guarantees that emanated from Article 370. Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s announcement in Burkina Faso in 1995 that the “sky is the limit” with respect to the quantum of autonomy that Jammu and Kashmir could get within the framework of the Constitution had encouraged it. The pivot in this whole process was Article 370.

The National Conference submitted a detailed memorandum to Narasimha Rao in November 1995. Not only that, Farooq Abdullah represented India at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) meet in Geneva in 1994 to save New Delhi from economic sanctions being imposed on it in view of the alleged “gross human rights violations” in Kashmir. He says in private that he was promised the restoration of the pre-1953 constitutional status to Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1996, Farooq Abdullah was persuaded by Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda to take part in the Assembly elections on the assurance that the government would support his demand if he chose to take the legislative route. It took the National Conference four years to bring a resolution in the Assembly to demand greater autonomy and get it passed on June 26, 2000. But the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-led government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee summarily rejected it, thus adding another leaf in the history of betrayal.

This rejection was not new in the history of the “battered” relations between Srinagar and New Delhi. Such “breaches” have pushed the State into a turmoil, which refuses to die down even after pumping in billions of rupees for economic development. The alienation of Kashmiris stems from this process of “deceit” by successive governments in New Delhi.

Comprehensive picture

Against this backdrop, the recently launched book by the noted constitutional expert and author A.G. Noorani gives a comprehensive picture of how this history of broken promises has unfolded. The book, Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir (Oxford University Press), is well-researched and documented, and contains agreements, documents and letters that show how power has prevailed over a cohesive fight against these breaches. He not only exposes many Central leaders but also puts Kashmiri leaders in the dock for not rising up against the “injustice” meted out to their people.

This is the first comprehensive work on Article 370. It dwells explicitly on the contours of greater autonomy the Jammu and Kashmir State would enjoy. Supported with rare material, memoranda and White Papers, it gives an entirely different view of how the original draft of Article 370 was amended without taking Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah into confidence. The arrest of Sheikh Abdullah by New Delhi in August 1953, a watershed in the history of the State, would not have been possible without this amendment.

According to Noorani, Sheikh Abdullah and Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had serious differences on the original draft, and it was unilaterally altered by N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar without the consent of the Sheikh and his colleagues. He states that Sheikh Abdullah, along with Mirza Afzal Beg, was in the lobby at that time and when they learnt of the changes, they rushed to the House. But the changes had been passed. If the originally agreed draft had been approved, the ouster of the Sheikh later in 1953 would have been impossible. “It was an unfortunate breach that created distrust.”

Noorani has unravelled many potential issues in the book and has cornered the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on its stance in favour of the abrogation of Article 370. He shows how BJP ideologue Shyamaprasad Mookerjee supported the article at the time of its formulation. The book says this constitutional provision also had the complete approval of Sardar Patel whom the BJP invokes as a strong man who was opposed to Jawaharlal Nehru’s move to grant special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

What is interesting is that until 1960, it was a provisional clause as India had seemingly kept the option of a plebiscite open. Accordingly, the White Paper by Sardar Patel on Jammu and Kashmir, published by the Government of India in 1948, recorded: “In accepting the accession, the Government of India made it clear that they would regard it as purely provisional until such time as the will of the people of the State could be ascertained.”
The most significant revelation in Noorani’s book is how Jawaharlal Nehru “ditched” his “friend” Sheikh Abdullah, the tallest leader of Kashmir. Sheikh had too much faith in Nehru, who had off and on assured him that the special status to Jammu and Kashmir would not be tampered with. But going by his speeches and the communications, the rift over this “breach” was obvious.

Nehru and Article 370

Noorani’s research clearly shows Nehru’s intention on Jammu and Kashmir. He reveals that Nehru was for the abrogation of Article 370. In spite of being an architect of Article 370, Nehru told the Lok Sabha on November 27, 1963, that “it has been eroded, if I may use the word, and many things have been done in the last few years which have made the relationship of Kashmir with the Union of India very close. There is no doubt that Kashmir is fully integrated…. We feel this process of gradual erosion of Article 370 is going on. Some fresh steps are being taken and in the next month or two they will be completed. We should allow it to go on.”

Union Home Minister Gulzari Lal Nanda said in the Lok Sabha on December 4, 1964, that the “only way to take the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir is through the application of Article 370. It is a tunnel. It is through this tunnel that a good deal of traffic has already passed and more will.” According to Noorani, Nanda concluded: “What happens is that only the shell is there. Article 370, whether you keep it or not, has been completely emptied of its contents. Nothing has been left in it.”

The book makes a strong case for restoring full autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. With 92 historical documents reproduced in it, the book suggests revisiting Article 370 with a draft proposal. Noorani believes that with political will, sincerity of purpose and a spirit of compromise, it is not difficult to retrieve from the wreckage of Article 370 a constitutional settlement that will satisfy the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

He says that Jammu and Kashmir was the only State in India that negotiated its relations with New Delhi following Partition, and it took five months to complete this process. He believes that Article 370 was a solemn compact, with neither side mandated to amend or abrogate it unilaterally, except in accordance with the terms of that provision. The author has revisited Article 370 and presented it as a “solution” to address the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, though the separatists are demanding something diametrically opposite to it. But given the current situation, he makes it clear that the restoration of greater autonomy can be an alternative to what “is not possible”.

Noorani’s work comes at a time when the National Conference is pursuing its autonomy agenda as an “honourable solution” to the Kashmir problem and when the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) sees self-rule as a solution. Though their approaches are different, there seems to be no disagreement between them on the protection of Article 370. The PDP considers Article 370 as a permanent feature of the Constitution and believes that its abrogation will have serious consequences even for the accession of the State to the Union of India.

The National Conference also is a strong votary of the protection of the article, and its autonomy document mainly revolves around that provision of the Constitution. It believes that the crisis around this article can be resolved only by returning to the pre-1953 constitutional position the State enjoyed, with its own Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat besides the limited powers the Centre had. The vision document of October 2008, prepared by the National Conference, gives a comprehensive road map to the resolution of the issue.

Against this backdrop, Noorani’s book becomes the bedrock of any negotiation between New Delhi and Srinagar to find a solution to the problem and remove the mistrust emanating from the history of betrayals since 1947. The Centre’s team of interlocutors can also benefit a lot from this to formulate a plan for New Delhi to address the political problem and ward off the threat of disruption in Kashmir. Though the involvement of Pakistan in any settlement is imperative, the internal dimension can be addressed with a strong political will. Noorani has made a tremendous contribution by opening a window of understanding on this crucial subject.

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai Released on $100,000 Bond

Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday for a detention hearing. He was arrested last week on charges that he tried to influence the policy of the White House and Congress on Kashmir while working under the supervision of Pakistan’s spy agency. U.S. Magistrate Judge John Anderson released Fai into the custody of his wife and placed him under home detention with electronic monitoring. Fai is the executive director of the Kashmiri American Council. He was arrested on a charge of being an unregistered agent of a foreign government.

US and Western Countries must Investigate Shadowy Indian Organisations

The Kashmiri Diaspora has right to lobby for Kashmir`s freedom struggle in any country and they will continue to do that within the domain of laws of these countries. Reacting about the arrest of Dr. Fai in US, Chairman of the WKDA , Farooq Papa said that while we do not want to comment on the legal procedures as the matter is subjudice, but if the allegations are based on what FBI has charged Dr. Fai with, then it is imperative for both the United States and other Western countries to investigate the shadowy organisations of Indian and Kashmiri Pandits who have been lobbying in different parts of the world against the Kashmir freedom struggle, these individuals and organisation are allegedly been supported covertly by RAW.

These Indian sponsored and supported organisations are presumed funded by Indian intelligence agencies and contigent of individuals are running so called organisations as NGO`s all across Europe and North America. We see these individuals and organisations every year in Geneva, New York and Toronto, countring the Kashmir freedom struggle with allegation of terrorism and Islamic fundamantalism which is absolutely false. Kashmir is a humanistic issue, and the right to uphold human dignity and raise the voice to stop the human rights violations and facilitate the right of self-determination cannot be termed as a crime.

Farooq Papa said that Pakistans diplomatic support to Kashmir’s freedom struggle is its stated stand, and that it must not shy away with pressures from the West or India.

Kashmir Institute of strategic Studies (KISS) recommends Third Part Involvement for Siachen Dispute

Kashmir Institute of strategic Studies (KISS) recommends Third Part Involvement for Siachen Dispute. KISS hails Bruce Riedel recommendations, urges UNMOGIP to use their mandate.

Srinagar 10 June : Kashmir Institute of Strategic Studies (KISS) has hailed the recommendations of Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow in foreign policy at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institution, for recommended placing a neutral force on the glacier. The Kashmir Institute of Strategic Studies has urged the UNMOGIP to use their mandate and supervise the disputed area under their supervision .

KISS hoped that if the Siachen issue is resolved, it could also give headway to the resolution of long pending Kashmir problem.

Wasim Shah