Media Release – Kashmir Fact Finding Report
Andhra Bhavan, New Delhi, 15th November 2016
A seven member OPDR team (here afterwards ‘the team’) was in Kashmir on 10th,11th and 12th November, 2016. It met a cross section of Kashmir society in Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla cities. The team also visited Jagati Colony of Kashmiri pundits, 15 km from Jammu city on 13 November, 2016. Here follows a brief preliminary report of the team’s findings, conclusions and recommendations. We wish to share this information with the people and concerned authority of Indian Union through the media.
At Srinagar the team met
1) APDP leadership, including its chairperson Parveena Ahangar (her son a student of tenth class in 1990 was a victim of enforced disappearance)
2) Kashmir Motor Drivers Association
3) JKCCS representative and a senior advocate Parvez Imroz
4) All Party Sikh Co-ordination Committee
5) International Human Rights Organisation representative Sarbjit Kaur
6) Valley Citizens Council
7) Professor Hameedah Nayeem of Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies
8) Kashmir Economic Alliance Group
9) Pellet-killed Riyaz Ahmad Shah’s family
At Anantnag the team met
1) Dr. Adbul Majeed Mirab, Superintendent, MMAB Memorial Hospital
2) Adil Rasid Bhat, 33 years, pellet-blinded
3) Qasim Sajjad, Senior Journalist, Fearless Journalism
At Baramulla the team met
1) Trade Federation delegation, Baramulla
2) Abdul Hameed Kakru, 83 years, senior most advocate and Abdul Saram Rathode, President, Baramulla Bar Association
3) Tareeq Ahmad Mugloo, at martyrs’ Kabragah (graveyard)
The team met considerable number of ordinary people also.
What do Kashmiris want?
OPDR has been visiting the valley periodically since 1992. This time we observed a paradigm shift in the attitude of Kashmiri people when compared to 2013 too. Though there has been a heavy repression and repeated massacres resulting in disappearance of 8 to 10 thousand people and more than 30,000 people lost their lives, there were sections of Kashmir society with a hope that Government of India will mend its ways. But now in 2016, especially after the ‘murder in encounter’ of Burhan Wani on July 8 and subsequent shelling by security forces with pellets and bullets ‘to blind and kill’ the people, the entire Kashmiri population is monolithic in its demand – the Government of India should “implement the agreement at the time of wedding knot” on October 26, 1947. When the team asked to explain what they mean by it, many delegations said: In 1947 October we willingly entered into a contract marriage with Indian Union under the leadership of Shaheed Sheikh Abdullah. Our confidence in “secular democratic India” started weakening after arrest of the then Prime Minister of our Kashmir in 1953 and imprisonment of him for more than 14 years. In the subsequent 63 years we have seen and suffered from the various intrigues and horrible repression of successive governments of India. We feel bitter that the people of India in general are not empathetic towards our lawful demand of right to self-determination. Now nothing short of Azadi is acceptable to us. So we demand the Government of India, they said
1) Take initiative to organize a round table conference of all the stakeholders, i.e., Government of India, people of the whole of Kashmir which includes the separatist leaders and Government of Pakistan.
2) All cases against the people should be withdrawn unconditionally and all the imprisoned people should be released forthwith.
3) People of Kashmir should have the right to determine its future, i.e., a plebiscite is required in Indian administered Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir.
4) Governments of India and Pakistan should implement UN Security Resolutions on Kashmir question.
All sections of the people the team met unanimously declared that the people of Kashmir will continue the agitation and struggle until Independent Kashmir is achieved. “Let it take hundred more years, we don’t mind”, they firmly declared. They said they invite all the Kashmiri Pundits, who stand for Azadi back to valley and they further said they miss Pundits.
1. ATM Guard Killed in Srinagar
Riyaz Ahmad Shah was an ATM guard in an area of Srinagar. On 2nd August he was walking back home after duty at about 10 pm. The security forces, without any warning, fired on him from the back and killed him. The post-mortem revealed 65 pellets in his spleen and urinary bladder. Thousands and thousands of people, including hundreds of women, marched on the streets of Kashmir for three days demanding that the culprit personnel should be arrested and prosecuted. But the government did not do so. The sister of the victim, Sumera declared firmly and loudly that the whole family is prepared to die for the sake of Azadi.
2. Pellet Blinded Adil Rasid Bhat, Village Checkibonadal, Near Anantnag
Adil Rasheed Bhat, 23 years old, was returning from their family agricultural field along with his friend on August 21 around 2 pm. There was no agitation or morcha on that day in that area or even in Anantnag town. While they are walking on the footpath of Anantnag town, security forces fired on him and Rasid collapsed with unbearable pain all over the body. His friend was lucky to go unhurt and informed the family members of Rashid of this calamity. Rashid was referred to Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital at Srinagar which in turn referred him to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi. Rashid’s brother Mr. Abid told the team that the hands of the doctors AIIMS were full of such cases and so they took his brother to L.V. Prasad Eye Hospital at Hyderabad, the capital of Telengana state. His eyes were operated there. The team is informed that one eye is permanently blinded and the other eye may recover maximum 10 per cent vision. Mr. Abid also told the team that the family spent Rs 1.5 lakh on his brother’s treatment and they raised that money by selling a part of their land. The reports of L.V. Prasad Hospital treatment were shown to the team.
Pundits in Baramulla Town
The team met two Pundits – one Mantu, a textile businessman in Market Road of Baramulla town, and another medical shop owner. They said that though there were a few selective attacks on Pundits in 1990, now they are safe and doing their business normally. They don’t want to leave either Baramulla town or Kashmir Valley. They said they are for independent Kashmir.
Pundits’ Colony near Jammu city
The team visited Jagit Colony, 15 km from Jammu and interacted with more than 5 families. The team was informed that there were around 25000 Pundit families in 10 colonies in that area. Another 30,000 families are living outside the colonies and some have migrated to various states of the Indian Union and there is a considerable number of diaspora of migrated Pundits in various other countries. All of them shifted out of Kashmir Valley in 1990. They alleged that in 1989 the ‘Muslims’ of the Valley announced over the loudspeakers from the Masjids that the Pundits should en masse embrace Islam or quit the Valley. They further told the team that there was some selected killing of Pundits including that of a retired director of All India Radio by the ‘Muslims’. Afraid of the situation they said that they left the Valley. They said that they are not willing to go back to their native land even if the Union government advise or force them to go back to the colonies under construction in the valley, which was being initiated by Government of India.
Observations and Conclusions of OPDR
1. The Security Forces at the obvious directions of the rulers at Delhi are firing upon the peaceful Azadi agitators and also the common people of Kashmir Valley “to kill and blind”.
2. The records of at D.M. Hospital, Anantnag revealed 30% jump in registered patients in the four months period starting with July 9th. The total number of patients registered in that period is about one lakh. The hospital records further revealed 370 were pellet-injured, bullet injured 37, blast injured 20 and eye-injured 102. More than 80 per cent of these injuries were inflicted above the thighs. Thousands of patients were trauma inflicted, said the superintendent of the hospital.
3. In Baramulla town alone more than 200 people were killed since 1990 and the team visited “Shahid Kabragah”.
4. Since July 9, 2016 more than 13 thousand people are injured, more than 100 civilians killed and more than 120 people lost their eye vision from the pallets, bullets, tear gas shells, rubber bullets and baton charge of the armed security forces.
5. The people of Kashmir including respected intellectuals allege that the security forces fired tear gas shells on the peaceful people’s ‘morchas’ and when the angered people throw stone on the security forces following which the forces indiscriminately open fire on the people. They opined it as a policy of “provoke and kill”.
6. The Central government policy undoubtedly appears to exhaust the people of Kashmir and thus to subdue them.
7. The team’s interaction with very broad sections of Kashmir civil society including unions of trade, workers, advocates, academicians, women, very clearly point out that the entire Kashmiri nation is more determined than ever before to fight for Azadi. They are comparing their situation with Palestine and the government of India to Israel.
8. They declare their hope lies in democratic sections of India in addition to their own struggle.
9. Overwhelming majority of the people are not for joining Pakistan nor remaining in India but to live in independent Kashmir with friendly relations with both India and Pakistan.
10. There were incidents of people waving the flag of Pakistan and also recently the flag of China. It is nothing more than an act of anger towards the government of India and an expression of frustration.
Demands of OPDR to Government of India
1. Send all the Security Forces like BSF, CRPF back to barracks.
2. Scrap Public Security Act,1978 and AFSPA
3. Restore the civil administration fully.
4. Withdraw all the cases filed against the people in the struggle and release all the imprisoned including young dynamic, persistent human right defender Khurram Parvez.
5. The security personnel who fired on the peaceful agitators and who forcefully entered the homes of the people and those responsible for the torture of the people in police lock-ups and elsewhere should be identified and their prosecution should be initiated.
6. With the purpose of implementing the resolutions of the United Nations, Indian government should initiate the process of organizing a tripartite meeting of the people of Kashmir including separatist leaders, government of Pakistan, representatives of Pak-administered Kashmir and Government of India.
Appeal to the People of India
Visit Kashmir Valley in large numbers and interact with the people there and find the truth of Kashmiri question. Demand the Government of India to implement all the terms and conditions of “Instruments of Accession” and the promises of the first Prime Minister of India Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru and UN Resolutions to which Government of India is a party.
Members of the fact-finding team:
1. C. Bhaskara Rao (all-India convenor, OPDR),
2. M Srinivasulu (President, AP State Unit and All India Committee member, OPDR),
3. U. Sambasiva Rao (President, Telangana State Unit and All India Committee member, OPDR),
4. B. Narsimha Reddy (Secretary, Telangana State Unit and All India Committee member, OPDR),
5. Siddhartha (social activist, AP),
6. Hanumesh (Advocate and All India Committee member, OPDR - Karnataka)
7. Vivek Ranjan (Advocate and All India Committee member, OPDR - Odisha)
Organisation for Protection of Democratic Rights
Central Office: Flat No 203, Sri Sai Laxmi Arcade, Car Shed Junction, Visakhapatanam – 530 041
1) Call for making the September 2 All India Strike a success; 2) Against the proposed New Education Policy of the Modi government framed with the aim of corporatization and saffronization of education; 3) Condemning the Hindutva onslaught on Dalits and minorities in the name cow and beef, and in solidarity with all the oppressed; 4) Solidarity with the people’s struggle against nuclear plants including Koodankulam; 5) Demanding resolution of the Kaveri water dispute taking both the people of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka into confidence; 6) Condemning the military repression on the Kashmiri people and demanding resolution of the Kashmir question based on people’s right of self-determination; 7) In support of the workers’ struggle against the unlawful lock-out of the New Rubber Tools and Dye Product at Hosur; 8) In solidarity with the with genuine demands of the struggling Street Flower Vendors in Krishnagiri district .
Seventy five comrades who were active in the CPI(ML) Liberation and other left parties in the past and who accept the Party program and Constitution of the Party attended the Special Conference which decided to start the membership campaign and formation of area, local and branch committees. The meeting decided to strengthen the activities in the trade unions and among the agricultural workers
The meeting discussed the national situation when the corporate-communal raj of Modi govt is intensifying the miseries and oppression of the masses and emphasized the importance of strengthening the DPF. The meeting finalized the 7th November mobilization program at Delhi. A sub-committee was constituted to draft handbill and the slogans to be sent to all constituents for finalization. The meeting appealed to all constituents to mobilize maximum number of comrades and organize a vigorous campaign in all the areas to make the program really effective.
The meeting declared solidarity with the 2nd September All India Hartal. It called for rejecting the draft New Education Policy of the Modi government. It condemned the growing atrocities against dalits, adivasis, women and all other oppressed sections and called for political solution to the Kashmir issue involving the people.
The meeting decided to hold discussions with other remaining struggling left and democratic forces and dalit/adivasi forces based on the CMP, and to win over them to DPF. The meeting called on the constituent organizations active in UP, Punjab and Delhi to chalk out common minimum program based on the concrete problems of the states and to organize DPF at state level for contesting the coming elections with the objective of building people’s alternative
In 2011 the first attempt was made to coordinate the slum dwellers movement at all India level in a meeting held at Bhubaneswar which adopted a Charter of demands. In 2015 the 2nd coordination meeting was helded at Bhubaneswar and the Declaration was adopted. Keeping this Bhubaneswar Declaration as a basic understanding, it was decided to coordinate the urban poor for their livelihood and housing right at all India level. Presently organisations from 6 states are part of this coordination, from many other states like Tamilnadu, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, UP, Jharkhand, MP etc. activists have come forward to expand their activities.
The meeting decided to observe 15th August as All India Protest Day raising demands if the Bhubaneswar Declaration. The meeting decided to strengthen the activities in all states in the coming days and to maintain living contact. It is reported that Constituent organisations observed 15th August as All Inida Demand Day with the slogans: Even after 70 years of Independence, crores of Indians are deprived Food, Employment and Shelter; Ban Slum Demolition/Eviction; Scrap Smart City projects. Guarantee Employment/Livelihood; Ensure Housing Rights Close to their work place.
He asked the government to make a clear distinction between large-scale encroachments of government lands by powerful politicians, mighty landlords and influential religious institutions and the bagair hukum lands that had been cultivated by poor and landless farmers for a living. “No governments after Devaraj Urs took the land and housing issue seriously. Instead of clearing the large scale encroachments, these governments have been harassing and attempting to evict bagair hukum farmers. Lakhs of applications seeking regularisation of bagair hukum lands by their genuine tillers are piling up and gathering dust in government offices,” he said. The Bengaluru agitation raised 15 major demands including five acres of cultivable lands to every landless farmer, a home or residential plot to every homeless family and regularisation of bagair hukum lands to their genuine cultivators, he added.
Following state level campaign by KRS (AIKKS), TUCI, Karnataka Janasakthi, DSS and more than 25 organizations who had formed the struggling committee for land and housing for all landless and huseless people of Karnataka turned in to a massive mobilization which marched more than 3 kms to the state secretariat.
The revenue minister came to the maidan where the march had reached and discussed with the leaders assuring immediate steps to start distribution of land and housing on priority basis. The leaders warned the state administration that unless these steps are not immediately taken the Horatta Samithi shall launch direct action. This militant rally raising their demands has inspired the landless people for preparing themselves for direct action for land and housing.
of India, PUCL, SDPI, TUCI, Komu Souhard Vedike, Karnataka Jana Shakti, DSS (Parivarthane) and other organisations participated in it.