Srinagar, August 30, 2019 (PPI-OT): In occupied Kashmir, as India extends its military lockdown, there are fears that the resistance movement may adopt a strategy of violence to fight against the punishing measures – which include mass arrests, a communication shutdown and police brutality and harassment, reports Al Jazeera.
In a report, Al Jazeera said, chants of “one solution, gun solution” have recently resounded at protests in occupied Kashmir, which on August 05 was subject to a military crackdown after the Indian government revoked Article 370, which granted special status to the territory.
It said, since August 05, residents have reported a widespread campaign of police violence and harassment, with more than 150 people suffering injuries from teargas canisters and pellets in clashes with paramilitary personnel, as the forces rounded up thousands, including children, sometimes in the middle of the night.
Rasheed, a 24-year-old graduate from the town of Awantipora, said paramilitary police have targeted him since he rejected their offer to spy on his community. “If this harassment continues, the only way to protect myself is to join the militants, pick up a gun,” he said.
“I prefer to die only once, rather than dying multiple deaths every day. Recently, two paramilitary personnel came to my house and threatened me with a case under the Public Safety Act if I don’t accept the offer. I would never work for an Indian security agency,” he told Al Jazeera.
In Tral, a town about 40 kilometres from Srinagar, police told Al Jazeera that “many troublemakers” had been arrested over the past three weeks. Residents estimated the number of arrests in the area was in hundreds, and included a 12-year-old boy. “They picked him up for stone-pelting but the truth is, he was confined to his house. He didn’t even go to school,” the boy’s aunt told Al Jazeera.
Tral resident Tariq Dar feared that these experiences might push boys and young men to violence. “When they are being picked up, questioned and tortured for no reason, how else will they heal their wounds, other than picking up guns?” he said.
Sameer, an 18-year-old from Tral, said he feels particularly hurt now by the suspension of phone lines and the internet as the Indian government stripped the region of its special status. “The Indian government has made us non-existent in one blow,” he said. “If we follow the path of armed resistance like Burhan [Wani], we would at least feel we have done something fruitful to avenge this humiliation.”
The occupied territory last witnessed extreme curbs in 2016, after the killing of popular youth leader, Burhan Wani. Wani’s death triggered mass uprising in which hundreds of protesters were martyred by Indian troops. Speaking to Al Jazeera, Wani’s father, school principal Muzaffar Wani, said, “Currently, everyone has been forced to remain silent. We will know how the boys react only after this lull.”
The Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Syed Ali Gilani, recently called for peaceful protest demonstrations against the naked Indian brutality. In an open letter dated August 23, he said, “We must remain absolutely disciplined and not give the enemy, who is armed and ready to kill, any excuse whatsoever to hurt our lives and property. It is very important that our demonstrations remain absolutely peaceful so that more and more people are able to join.”
“If the Indian armed forces still attack our gatherings, the entire responsibility for the possible loss of lives and property will be on them, and the world will remain witness to their deeds,” he added.
Dilbag Singh, Director General of Jammu and Kashmir police, claimed that 70 men had joined armed resistance so far this year, compared to 120 in the same period a year ago.
Former chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), A S Dulat, said, “The excessive use of force won’t work if you use it as a policy to sort out Kashmir insurgency. There will be a reaction to it. Remember, the whole population is angry.”
New Delhi-based analyst Happymon Jacob, said historically, “political missteps” have led to more violence in Kashmir.
Rasheed, a young graduate in Tral, reflected on how young men like him are viewed by the Indian state. “The Indian government labels all Kashmiris as terrorists,” he said, suggesting if the lockdown continued, perhaps time would come to “prove them right”.
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