World’s most militarized zone witnesses worst HR abuses: Speakers
Police-public ratio is Kashmir highest in India
Taking a dig over the issues and human rights abuses caused in Kashmir region due to heavy military presence- world’s most militarized zone, speakers today said that ‘militarization will only go when we civil society takes firm stand against it.’
Speakers at the one-day round table conference on need for demilitarization and restoration of civil liberties in Kashmir, said Militarization in Kashmir portrays different meaning as the State has been reeling since ages due to oppression caused by forces. The event was held at Hotel Grand Mumtaz, Srinagar here.
The event organized by Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) was a one day awareness program that was held to discuss the impact of military and their oppression in the state.
All the member of KCSDS, different academicians along with senior journalists of the state were present on the occasion and presented their views on how and why the Kashmir has been militarized.
The conference was initiated by Chairperson of KCSDS, Prof Hameeda Nayeem during which she said how the ‘militarization’ has different perspective in Kashmir.
“Militarization in Kashmir portrays a different meaning, while it can be termed as a safeguard for other states but in Kashmir militarization is all about oppression, occupation, rape, sexual abuse and much more,” Hameeda said.
Hameeda believes that militarization in today’s age means squeezing life of an individual in Kashmir, reinforcement and physical abuse.
“If we talk of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), it was launched as an emergency but now the act has been normalized and is permanently in stature,” Nayeem said.
“Kashmir has become complacent because we don’t question, we have developed a hobby of resisting. In last two years more than 300 boys and girls have been assaulted, mass blinding has been done,” she said.
Nayeem also said the army has developed their own way to rule as nowadays we are witnessing Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) and the number is increasing day by day.
“We are being used as a sophisticated occupation because the forces have nurtured some people and used them but the impact of military has made life of a Kashmiri scary and we are in dire need of demilitarization,” she added.
Senior Editor, Greater Kashmir, Hilal Mir, discussed about the illegal land grab done by the army across different regions of the state.
“There used to be 2400 kanals of land Under SKUAST but now only 800 kanals of land is left under them result being the illegal land grab by the forces. There was a Cattle Research Station under SKUAST that unfortunately landed under military occupation,” Hilal said.
“On many occasions military wrote to the professor of the university to vacate from there as they were to establish their base there,” he said.
Mir recalled many incidents in which the land of farmers was grabbed by the forces and lead villagers to suffer.
“In Drogmula Kupwara army settled their transient camp over the paddy land that belonged to the lady that was her only source of income. At least 105 Kanals of land was occupied by the army which deprived her only source of income,” Mir said.
“In Damodar Karewa army established its camp since 1977 on 30000 kanals of land out of which 4500 kanals belonged to the farmers. Army didn’t pay a single penny to these farmers and left them to suffer,” he said.
Mir also said that these incidents are actually unreported incidents and the need to expose this oppression is huge.
Mir asserted that these camps have connections in between as they lie at each other’s vicinity and also said that the army built heart and minds of people.
He also revealed statistics about the army reign here as he feels the number has kept on increasing day by day.
“There are 34 divisions in Indian Army out of which nine are in Kashmir. One division strengthens 1500 individuals. Also the number of Rashtriya Rifles is 84000 in the State,” he added.
Academician and Director UGC Human Resource Centre, University of Kashmir who previously headed Institute of Kashmir Studies, Prof Gul Wani believed that militarization is a culture here the change would only prevail when we will take a stand.
“Militarization is a culture here; it is not only about physically harsh laws. Realistically militarization is not a problem, situation becomes worse when militarization becomes a culture in area,” Wani said.
“Once it becomes a culture then the terms are being dictated on us that hampers us badly. Nowadays we see different Kashmiri, Afghani Muslims are preferred over the Indians and are provided the military training,” he said.
Wani believed that change will only prevail when realistic relationship should settle. The ties between India and Pakistan have also added fuel to the fire.
“We need strategic sympathies as currently India is on downfall as far as democracy is concerned. We should ourselves take a stand as it is the first step that marks an impact and will lead to change,” he added.
However, BBC Srinagar Correspondent, Riyaz Masroor blamed people who are the helm of affairs and said that the authorities are actually responsible for militarization effect here.
“It is actually the space that has been provided to them. Unless we won’t allow settling their bases here how is it possible that they will dictate terms on us,” Masroor said.
“Our chief minister is leading the huge military formation that is biggest in South Asia. It is politicians who are responsible for the oppression military forces in Kashmir,” he said.
Masroor said that questions should be asked by civil society to the political class only then change will prevail. He also revealed the figures of the military forces who have established their bases here.
“The number of army alone is 4, 81,576; paramilitary forces are 75000 in number, the number of IRP are 5500, CISF are 7000, ITBP are 3000, BSF are 37347. The number of J&K police is 1, 14, 000 and a total of 7, 50, 000 armed forces exist in the valley,” he said, adding that the police public ratio is Kashmir is highest in India.
Meanwhile the civil society members, academicians and journalists also passed resolutions, demanding complete demilitarization of Kashmir region and end to human rights abuses. They also urged world bodies to intervene into Kashmir issue and play their role into the final resolution of the long pending issue between two nebular powers – India and Pakistan.