Memorandum on Kashmir Submitted by All India Left Coordination
(The following memorandum was submitted by the leaders of the four constituents of All India Left Coordination on 12 August. Ed/.)
The Hon'ble President,
Union of India
We the undersigned are deeply disturbed by the situation in the Kashmir Valley, where scores of young people have lost their lives in firing by security forces on street protests. Reports suggest that around 50 people have lost their lives in this manner in the past two months. It may be noted that the street protests this time around started with demonstrations against the fake encounter of three civilians at Macchil. Since then the street protests with the visible participation of women and youth have gained momentum with every instance of killing of people, especially children and teenagers, due to tear-gassing or firing by security forces.
What is even more disturbing is the refusal by the Government of India to concede the legitimacy of the protests by Kashmiri people. Instead, attempts have been made to suggest that the protests are all orchestrated by militants or anti-nationals. The death of young people in police firing usually witness popular anger and protest anywhere in the country. The Kashmiri people are exercising their natural democratic right to protest against excesses by security forces. The attempt to deny the legitimacy or authenticity of the protests, and the stubborn continuation of a policy of repression of mass demonstrations, are contributing to the alienation and anger of Kashmiri masses. Draconian laws like Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act AFSPA are emboldening security forces to commit crimes like fake encounters and killing of civilians.
The response from the Prime Minister of India too is wanting. In a long-delayed statement, he has promised various economic packages and on the key political question, has said that "autonomy can be considered if there is a consensus." It is clear that in Kashmir, economic packages cannot assuage the sense of alienation. It is only if justice is done in cases of fake encounters and such human rights violations, draconian laws like AFSPA scrapped, and the military shadow lifted from civilian life in the Valley can some measure of trust be built. As for the political question, we recall that former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had after all said "the sky is the limit" as far as autonomy for Kashmir is concerned. It is necessary for the Government of India to come up with a credible political proposal of maximum autonomy without making 'consensus' any condition for such a proposal.
We appeal to your office to intervene to ensure that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act AFSPA is scrapped; moves taken to investigate cases of human rights violations and excesses of security forces and the guilty punished; and immediate measures taken towards a democratic political solution to the issue of Kashmir.
General Secretary Secretary
Mangat Ram Pasla
Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Maharashtra
M R Murali
Left Coordination Committee, Kerala
Kashmir Solidarity Letter to PM by UK- and US-based Organisations
(On 20 August, coinciding with the Kashmir Solidarity Day called all over India by the All India Left Coordination, various organisations in the UK and US submitted a letter to the Indian Prime Minister via the Indian High Commission in London. The text of the letter along with signatories is reproduced below. Ed/.)
The Prime Minister of India,
Prime Minister's Office
South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi, India-110 101.
20 August 2010
Dear Prime Minister,
We the undersigned wish to express our grave concern about the ongoing killings of civilians by security forces on the streets of towns and villages of Kashmir. The brutal murders of more than fifty unarmed people, a majority of them children and teenagers, in the space of two months, demonstrates a complete disregard for the humanity of the Kashmiri people on the part of the security forces who, directed by the Indian state, are acting with complete impunity.
The current phase of violent repression against Kashmiris began with attacks on demonstrations against the cold-blooded killing of three civilians at Macchil by security forces in a fake encounter. On 11 June 2010 security forces opened fire with tear gas and live ammunition on one such demonstration by unarmed civilians, killing Kashmiri schoolboy Tufail Ahmad Mattoo. In protest against this murder, people, women and youth in particular, came out in very large numbers but security forces fired on each protest, and the death toll of protestors has risen daily.
We are extremely concerned that Kashmiris are not even being allowed to express their anger in public protests when children are killed in police firing. Some of the numerous incidents which indicate the gravity of current human rights violations include, on 1st August alone, the shooting and then bludgeoning to death of a seven year old boy by the CRPF in Batamaloo; the torture and killing of a disabled youth Arshid Ahmad (17) of Reshipora Sangam by CRPF personnel inside their camp; and the killing of a fifteen-year-old girl, Afroza Teli, who was shot in the head during a protest demonstration in Khrew village in Pulwana district.
We also remind you that current events are taking place against a background of two decades of violent repression in Kashmir which has resulted in up to 32,000 women being widowed, nearly 100,000 children orphaned, approximately 10,000 men 'disappeared', and countless rapes of women by the army and paramilitary forces.
As representatives of Indian and South Asian diaspora organisations and civil liberties organizations in Britain we would urge you to act immediately to ensure:
• An immediate end to the atrocities against Kashmiris by security forces
• That those who committed and sanctioned these atrocities are brought to justice
• Immediate repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, (AFSPA) which provides impunity to security forces
• That the military shadow is lifted from civilian life in Kashmir
• That the Indian government demonstrates a credible commitment to a democratic political solution in Kashmir
Amrit Wilson, South Asia Solidarity Group
Avtar Jouhl, Indian Workers' Association (GB)
Raj Pal, South Asian Alliance
Jasbir Singh, The 1857 Committee
Estella Schmid, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities
Marai Larasai, Imkaan (a national charity supporting Black, South Asian, and Minority Ethnic women's organizations working on violence against women)
Saima Yousaf, National Union of Students
Anu Mandavilli, on behalf of Friends of South Asia, USA