photo of cover provided kindly from Time and Life Magazines
without their permission in breach of copyright.
James Travers-Murison, Australian News Syndicate Freelance travel
photojournalist Pass No. 3104.
Photographic slides of Kashmir available contact UOCA: email@example.com
soldier on border 1965
courtesy Life Magazine
Srinigar River dawn
an article on Kashmir. In 1993 I visited Kashmir where my British Raj
grandparents married. I enjoyed the local hospitality and ironically met
Islamic militants and in August 1998 I interviewed the UK General Secretary
of the JKLF. I hope you appreciate it was
a long time ago that I visited Kashmir. Slowly it is returning to peace again
after 20 years of civil war. The main militant groups have rejected violence
now. However in light of September 11, the nuclear bomb tests in Pakistan in 1999
Bhutto's assassination in late 2007 and Iran's nuclearisation, problems in
Iraq and Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, and the Jasmine revolution throughout
the Middle East, I believe this story has some relevance to resolving the war
on terror against fundamentalist Islamic faith as it seems that Bin Laden's war stemmed also from
Kashmir and not just Afghanistan or Palestine.
failure of the US to assist in Kashmir's independence particularly that
indifference leading to the failed Pakistan invasion of 1999, I believe was a
crucial factor leading to the plot to destroy the WTC though they had been trying to destroy the
towers since an attempted bombing of the building in the mid
1990s. The election of Bush and his indifference to peace in any of
the Islamic world and his desire to pull back US forces and become more
isolationist, beginning with Bosnia, yet still keeping the presence of US
soldiers in Saudi; the failure of the peace process in Palestine after
Clinton and again Bush’s indifference to negotiating a deal there. All these
cumulative factors may have turned what was just a general plan or plot into
a fully operational attack on US soil with possibly the final go-ahead given
by someone or group far higher up than Bin Laden in the Islamic power structure
- most likely from a Saudi-Jordan aristocracy secret society given Bin Laden
was from Saudi aristocracy and most of the hijackers were Saudis, there is no
doubt S11 went far beyond Afghanistan and the Taliban; given the large sale
of shares by wealthy Muslims on the stockmarket
just prior to the attack many rich Muslims knew it was coming.
is far closer to home for the Taliban than Israel. Therefore it is essential
to understand Kashmir in order to understand Al Qaeda, which although an international terrorist organisation
was based in fundamentalist Taliban controlled Afghanistan in 2001. Osama no
doubt was also acting out of revenge for the Clinton cruise missile attack
that killed Osama’s wife in Afghanistan after he had blown up the US
embassies in Kenya. But it was essentially Islamic fundamentalism that viewed
America as the devil full of promiscuity and evil freedoms to do as you
please that ideologically propelled the Al Qaeda Jihad. Bin Laden must have
been influenced by Kashmir’s plight being so close to that war zone in 2001
and he must have assisted the training of mujahedeen to go and fight there.
Militants from the notorious drug haven of Swat valley near Pakistani
Kashmir appear to have killed Bhutto in 2007, no doubt with links to foreign jihadi
groups, Baitullah Mehsud
and Fazlullah involved in Kashmir,
who Bhutto had threatened to crack down on. Speaking by satellite phone from
the South Waziristan
tribal area, a senior militant commander named Haji Muhamad
Omar called Bhutto an agent of Washington. "She doesn't come back by her
own choice. The United States and Britain are bringing her back to fight
against the mujahedin,"
he said just after she returned from exile. Perhaps the killers were more
concerned about a general crackdown on their tribal power bases in Pakistan,
and also their ability to supply of arms and troops to the Taliban in
Afghanistan, but unresolved Kashmir would also have driven them as Bhutto was
for a more peaceful approach with resolving Kashmir with India.
2009, Pakistan came close to disintegration as civil war broke out as Bhutto’s
husband Zardari in power fought major battles
against the Pathan and Obama as US President
focused on Afghanistan
with the surge in 2010, retaliation began with the Swat Valley
military operation by the Pakistani Army. This was almost over when he
launched another assault into the tribal lands of the Pathan
to drive the Taliban out. This hasn’t spelt the end for the Taliban as we
know them, who are regrouping as Western forces leave Afghanistan and despite Bin Laden's death by US Forces in 2011. He
was located near a military academy not far from Kashmir in Pakistan. The
connections are too great to ignore.
pull out of Afghanistan starting in 2012, halted in 2015 with 8,000 troops remaining
due to the Taliban immediately regaining temporary control of cities such as
Kunduz with a few hundred fighters against thousands of trained Afghan soldiers
who have no will to fight as the government predictably began to collapse.
Mutiny is a likely possibility. Reforms pushed through by Westerners
including land reform which Karzai exploited have added to a lack of public
support to the moderates. Ghani who replaced him has called for holy war
against corruption. They are going to have to make peace with the moderates
in the Taliban otherwise the corrupt current leader will fall just as the
Soviet sponsored government collapsed in the early 90s.This is going to be a
very long process as the Taliban is going to see no need to compromise if
they can easily overthrow the regime, so to prevent this a regional
peace keeping force is necessary coming from local Islamic nations to replace
the NATO forces.
the issue of Kashmir will not go away regardless. The fact that an Islamic
state exists within India that should have been part of Pakistan cannot be
ignored and once the extremists in the Taliban have been defeated and more
rational approaches to diplomacy are adopted then perhaps sense can come back
to the whole region and a legal civilian approach be taken to resolving
Kashmir. One way to defeat the extremists may not be through force of arms
but by addressing real greviences in the region. And this includes Kashmir.
for Kashmir from India could be a strong negotiating tool in ending the war
on terror that the Taliban moderates may understand as a fair exchange in
ending terrorist attacks on the West. This combined with setting up an
independent and prosperous Palestine excluding Israeli troops may seal the
deal. And perhaps then the Jasmine Revolution will become a reality in
bringing world peace as well as ending so much of the tyranny and
exploitation within Islamic countries. To date things are not going well for
that change in Islam. Initially there was hope with the people overthrowing
tyrants in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and a major civil war against Assad in Syria.
However, The Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt went a little too far in supporting
rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and then imposing dictator like
Presidential powers. A coupe resulted no doubt supported by the USA and a
reversion back to the military right wing tyranny of the past. Libya ousted
Gaddafi with Western airstrikes when he had rejected terrorism and made peace
with the West. But quickly the situation turned to anarchy with Al Qaeda
groups in partial control. The West as a result refused to support Syria’s
revolution with airstrikes, but the result had been even worse. ISIS has
developed invading Iraq with war between Sunni and Shi’ite in the most
barbaric form. In 2014 rather than attack corrupt Assad, the West has been forced
to launch airstrikes against ISIS. And in 2015, this led to Russia supporting
Assad in airstrikes against everyone including moderates. A mass
infrastructure collapse has occurred in Syria with millions of refugees now
invading Europe. The worst scenario has eventuated for the world, and like Murphy’s law it had to happen. An entire nation has been
destroyed and the worst form of Islamic fundamentalism has come to the fore.
lesson may be that democracy and human rights don’t work in the Middle East.
Better the tyrant you know than the terrorist organisation you don’t. It
appears regardless that Obama in particular has failed disastrously in
dealing with Islamic Middle East. The Jasmine Revolution is not over, but it
has been hijacked by extremists. The question is whether it is possible to
negotiate with them, or one has to simply destroy them. The West slowly seems
to be taking the latter approach, not very successfully or decisively. The
issue is how can the Jasmine Revolution by turned round so that it works for
the benefit of all and creates democracy and tolerance rather than jihadis. The only way to answer this is to get in the
minds of the extremists like ISIS and find out what makes them tick, whether
there is any possibility of reasoning with them, and how that can be done
through finding out what their real grievances are. Whether it is possible to
have moderates change their organisations so peace is possible like with
Islamic Brotherhood, or whether they are unchangeable in their goal to make
the entire planet a fundamentalist Islamic state of medieval feudal lore.
to the core of Islamic terrorism and theologically as well as ideologically
understanding what is going on and then winning that battle of the mind is the
only real solution. Like the Protestant Reformation, it was not easy and a
few hundred years of bitter civil war ensued in Europe. How can we avoid
that? European Christians had to learn to tolerate each other even if
religious views differed and not to force others to believe their views even
if they were convinced they were right. This has to be the change of
consciousness necessary in Islamic thinking.
... if the divine deck of destiny cards can be played
correctly then a change in consciousness in Islam may manifest for the
better. But it does not just depend on Islam, it depends equally on Hindu
India and Jewish Israel - the two cradles and bastions of the opposing World
religions. Everyone shall have to make a sacrifice if they want justice and
peace. And the Pakies more than anyone else know
how to fix a match... whether it's cricket or not. Imran Khan may be the man
to hit the six and Malik giving up violence in the JKLF may just bowl the hat
trick the world needs to have India relinquish the Ashes of Kashmir - perhaps
through a special Commonwealth of the Sub Continent; Bangladesh, India,
Kashmir, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
return to Kashmir in order to glean an understanding of the Islamic mind and consciousness, that may assist in the process of
negotiating that change in fundamentalist mentality that has created terror
on this planet. I do this because Kashmir is clearly an example of failure of
power by the United Nations that resulted in an injustice to a minority,
failure in the British transitioning power to India, by ignoring human rights
and votes and instead leaving decisions up to Maharajas. That was a product
of Britain’s own unequal class structure in 1947. But one has to understand
the history to understand the present. And it is out of valid injustice that
the Kashmiri people seek independence from India. The failure in 70 years to
rectify this lack of self determination for a
people has led to continued civil strife. A BJP led by the anti-Muslimist Modi and communalism attacking Muslims in India
for eating beef in 2015, has not helped ease the tensions forged by Congress.
The fact is Hindus would never tolerate an entire region or state that was by
vast majority Hindu, under Pakistan and would no doubt demand its return very
forcefully. Double standards is in play with India.
has to factor into the Islamic mind the reality that they have been
mistreated by others. In Kashmir and
also in Palestine and Bosnia. There are valid reasons for them to feel
discriminated against. These are largely territorial disputes based on religion.
But one has to go deeper than territory to the religion itself and to the way
of perceiving the world. My discussions and experience in Kashmir in 1993 and
later, gives an inkling as to the operation of their mind and way of doing
things. Explains perhaps why they are so easily influenced by extremism, and
how it triggers something in their brain associated with Allah, that can turn
a normal person into a terrorist extremist. One has to go deep into the indoctrination
of what it means to be a Muslim to garner this. One has to distinguish
between truth and egoistic boasting and manipulation. Between propaganda
spread on both sides to win an argument and what is objectively actually happening.
One has to see the psychological state of the mind to control the emotions and
the level of development that is at. The level of self
control and the educative intelligence to not be manipulated by
religion or even politics. The Kashmiris are very hospitable people, but like
many Muslims a small slight can cause passions to rise quickly along with
feuds. But they also settle down quickly as well. They are emotionally sensitive.
They tend to boast even if it gets them into trouble unnecessarily. They have
an aggressive violent side that seems to enjoy violence. They are devout to
their religion, but happily breach its ethics and rules all the time to
fulfil sense pleasure and greed. They have a form of brotherly loyalty though
often fight each other. They are clever at business and tough negotiators, though
love to charm and smooth a deal out. In many ways they are fair in their
deals as they look more to what you have and being able to share it with
them, rather than a fixed price, though this is often construed by people as
cheating and greed – it is a fine line. They are not really fanatical Muslim
believers out to die for a faith, more simply want to rule themselves in a
fairly moderate friendly way. This may be partly due to their strong association
with Hindus for a thousand years and adopting some of that yogic detachment.
My time spent with them and interview of one of the more intelligent
militants showed to me that they weren’t insane barbaric people. That they
had practical grievances that anyone would be unhappy about. And that there
were solutions possible.
fact is if Kashmir were resolved it would largely end the cold war between
India and Pakistan. The stabilisation caused by that would have an influence
on Afghanistan-Pakistan relations and bringing regional stability there if
the Taliban could be appeased by a regional peace deal involving Kashmir.
With Iran controlling its nuclear program and sanctions ending allowing normalisation
to occur there. Then the flow on effect to Iraq and Syria, if combined with a
Palestine state deal with Israel, may alter the balance of power against
ISIS. ISIS being such hardline fundamentalists it
is hard to envision negotiating with them, however a fracture in the organisation
if it is under severe pressure to survive, may see it break apart and Muslims
that are wanting peace and more capable of rational thought from ISIS, if
Assad can be persuaded to stand down and allow elections monitored by the UN,
there may be a chance of an implosion of ISIS and a ceasefire in Syria
followed by a truth and reconciliation commission to end the conflict. If the
Kurds and Iraqis can be brought into that along with Turkey, then a Kurdish
state could be formed and Turkey may have to relinquish some territory for
that as well. A complete reorganisation of borders along ethnic religious
lines is required in the Middle East to end this global war on terror.
Probably Iraq is best split into north and south along Sunni and Shi’ite
lines. And out of this the UN needs to be empowered with a new constitution
giving new definitions to human rights and in particular create UN Force to
intervene quickly where a nation is in gross breaches of human rights. The
initial means to achieve these massive goals and changes in state boundaries,
may well first need to come in Kashmir and with India proving and setting the
example of tolerance, justice and non-violent self
determination as their Hindu religion professes so strongly.
escaped and lived effectively in Pakistan controlled Kashmir with covert support
from the locals and no doubt the local military commanders. Hence the US didn’t
inform Pakistan of the mission to kill him. He fled there because he knew he
had support, so there is no doubt that Osama had good relations with
Kashmiris training them for years. How much he was influenced to attack the
US for the failed war in Kashmir in 1999 is conjecture. No doubt it was a factor
along with many others. But not long after his death in May 2011, the JKLF decided
to make peace with India. His removal and influence on the Kashmiris being
gone, may have been a factor in Malik’s decision.
July 28 2011: The Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Muhammad Yasin Malik said Kashmiris, on the call of international
community, made a positive historical transition from violence to
non-violence and were now struggling very peacefully and in a democratic way.
"Now it is the responsibility of the international community to persuade
India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue, he
22, 2002 / VOL. 160 NO. 2
'I Never Feel Scared' Exclusive Interview: TIME talks to Pakistan President
What would it take to make progress on the Kashmir issue?
Nothing is going to happen if there is no sincerity. We are killing each
other every day. So what nonsense is this that there is no issue? And that is
where, I would say, the United States comes in. U.S. involvementreally,
it must be there.
Kashmir (CNN) 02.0ct.2001 -- A suicide bomber rammed a car full of explosives
into the main gate of the state legislature building in Srinagar, Kashmir, on
Monday afternoon. At least 29 people were killed in the explosion and
subsequent fighting with rebels...
officials said there was some intelligence information suggesting that many
of the rebels, who include Afghan fighters, had been asked to withdraw to
their home base to fight a possible strike by the United States on
groups, however, have denied that any of the Islamic fighters were heading
out of Kashmir Valley.
Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani was quoted as
saying the global war on terrorism would eventually target Pakistani bases of
guerrillas operating in Kashmir.
Advani told the
Business Standard newspaper that the United States had assured the government
it would strike against camps in Pakistan where Muslim guerrillas fighting
Indian forces in Kashmir are trained.
two will include operations against cross-border terrorism in Kashmir,"
he said. "At the end of this chapter, militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is
bound to lose its sting."
map courtesy BBC News
1993: INTERVIEW WITH A MUJHAIDIN stop, story with pics available now stop.TIME LIFE MAG.
was seemingly on the verge of a resolution, when Vajpayee, the Indian Prime
Minister, in early 2001 was talking about involvement in a negotiated peace
with Pakistan, allowed militants to go to Pakistan to discuss Kashmir's
future and declared a unilateral ceasefire. But after a gradual erosion of
action by Vajpayee, culminating in the WTC attack and U.S. led anti-terrorism
alliance, prospects for peaceful talks looked dim. 10 years on and Kashmir
may look somewhat irrelevant due to the the wars
and upheavals in the Middle East, yet the reality may be that it with
Israel-Palestine is in fact the key to world peace and to explain
this perhaps my experiences in the Valley almost 18 years back are worth
face of one old peasant Kashmiri man, wrinkled like a walnut, wide light
brown eyes and most of his teeth missing, said it all - a sad, helpless and
bewildered look. It was October 1993.
pleading men were taken away by the notorious BSF Indian Security Forces,
there identity cards were not in order. That was at a checkpoint in the ride
in the bus from Sonamarg Zoja
La pass. The journey had been broken up by at least 4 checkpoints, to show
passage into Srinagar had us lying on the seats of the bus, heads down,
another strike and curfew. The driver would only let us ride if we hid from
view. I crouched under the seat huddling up to Christina, a young American
teacher. Half smiling, treating it almost as a game, the passengers all men
beckoned us down under the worn seats.
checkpoints lay with tops of worn canvas on the streets corners, covered in
sandbags with tense soldiers nearby holding AK47s and semi-automatic rifles.
The streets were practically empty with only a few soldiers and some
hurriedly moving passers-by. Once out of the bus we could see Srinagar's
wooden houses with slanted roofs, which gave it an almost European feel. We
passed one patrol, spread out, and searching the few street vendors. The
militant's presence heightened during our three-week stay in Srinagar.
our second day while on a boat tour by shikara of
Dal Lake, we headed from the Mogul gardens across the lake to the White
Mosque. The smell of the red and yellow flowers blooming filled the air. This
was where Sultans had romanced their beloveds for centuries. As we got closer
we could see plumes of smoke billowing up from the white Islamic dome and
long curved arches of the Mosque. Sounds of mortar fire and our old guide
refused to take the boat further. The White Mosque was under siege again. The
very day we were going to visit, the militants overran it.
visited some surrounding villages by shikara boat
using the canals and rivers to move as the area was under total curfew. We
moved like royalty as lovers on a grand holy tour under Josef, our
guide, who kept a watchful eye out.
through the canals in the middle of Srinagar we saw children living on
rubbish dumps on the side. Ducks quacking beside poor houses on stilts by the
river and poverty was driven home. The mood was sombre, punctuated by the
wailing of people at the mosques. A village elder pressed me to tell the
world what is happening here. "Why aren't you foreign people coming to
our help, we need you?" He told us earlier this year two village girls
were raped by soldiers. Furthermore he said several sons in the village
suspected of being mujhaidins were "taken
in" for interrogation and had disappeared. To be "taken in" is
synonymous with torture.
A faith healer of the Islamic
variety was the basis of our trip. He gave me a signet to wear around my neck
that did not cure a disease I had in my right eye.
one small town, in a bizarre coincidence, I made contact with a man near our
camping ground who turned out to be militant. He was an extremely dignified
young University graduate who spoke fluent English. It was through him that I
began to learn of the extent of the Indian Army's atrocities. That very day
demonstrators had approached the white Mosque and those refusing to turn back
had been fired upon by the Indian Army (BSF). Seven people had been killed.
In a separate much worse incident , at Bijbehara, a small town near Srinagar, 37 people were
killed and scores more injured when their protest march was fired upon by BSF
soldiers. This interview is a recollection of what we said compiling together
also other conversations with Kashmiris and checking the facts through later
research. He may not have said these exact words but it fairly accurately
gives the conversation and the picture then.
WITH A UNIVERSITY MILITANT 1993
does India stay in Kashmir?
is the most beautiful land in the world. And they know that if we go their
united democracy may collapse. India has many problems, many other states
want to rule themselves, and there is still conflict with the Sikhs in
Punjab, the Tamils in the South, Muslims in Assam.
India is not united.
is ruled by often corrupt, wealthy politicians and businessmen. The rich
maintain more wealth per capita than any other country in the world, in other
words they do not look after their people by an effective redistribution or
social welfare system. They claim to be the spiritual centre of the world,
yet they have created the poorest and financially most unequal nation in the
I think the real reason why India stays in Kashmir is that they think they
will lose it to their archenemy Pakistan if they give us independence.
is your age?
long have you been a mujhaidin?
photo courtesy JKLF News
made you join?
was a graduate unable to get a job watching my people being humiliated and
abused by a foreign army, seeing Islamic values being ignored or defiled.
you killed people?
would prefer not to answer this.
is not something to be proud of. If I have or would do, it would only be in
any of your family been killed?
does the presence of the Army affect the daily life in your village?
are watched, searched, prevented from going out at night, have to carry IDs,
many people are in fear as occasionally the army has a crackdown and many
people are arrested and beaten. No reason is required. Some of my friends
were kept for several years, no reasons given. Some have disappeared. We
survive. It is not pleasant.
has your standard of living been affected?
is harder to survive, but we manage. It is very hard to get work; food is
getting more expensive. But we will sacrifice everything if we have to.
atrocities have the Indian Army conducted that you have personally witnessed?
have seen houses burnt, women and children shot at. People being severely
beaten. Friends of mine tortured, terrible bruising with electric burns to
their body - chest, back, testicles and face. Soldiers have raped women in
have heard rumours that militants have used violence against Kashmiris to
obtain money and food and co-operation. Can you explain why this is necessary
and do you think that this is not also oppressive?
groups are doing this. Not ours, not the main groups. We have enough money,
enough support. Some bad elements always try to take advantage.
We have heard of informers
being killed, shopkeepers who break strikes being beaten up.
who betray their own people, own land, cause the deaths of their brothers for
money, get what they deserve. Shopkeepers who are greedy and open their
stores, breaking a strike, and often charging double prices to make a profit
must be stopped. During this strike some shopkeepers tried to profit by
tripling the price of rice, now due to our encouragement they are selling it
for 10% below its normal prices. We stop drugdealers
and prostitutes, no one starves, and the towns are safe from crime. We must
protect ourselves, we must remain united, and we cannot have a small number
of greedy individuals harming us. If this is oppressive so be it.
have been told that Indian newspapers have been reducing the number of people
injured, killed, or imprisoned in Kashmir. Is this true?
they report at all it is at least half or one quarter of the total figure.
how many people have been killed in Kashmir if you know?
don't know. The puppet chief minister Farooq Abdullah was quoted recently as
saying that up to 60,000 have been killed.
many in prison?
least 30,000. Many of them have disappeared now, but their relatives still
hope that they are alive. But in prisons. Mostly in remote Indian prisons
where no one can visit and verify the figures.
many soldiers are here?
many have been killed?
you know any of the freedom fighters that are inside the Hazratbal
you prepared to see them die?
is not my wish, but they are prepared to give their lives if necessary. The
decision was theirs ... they were prepared for any eventuality
about the civilians who are in there, what choice did they have?
believe all care was taken to ensure that no one was harmed.
understood it was necessary. They were willing to make the sacrifice. We do
not want anyone to die, once the Indian Army leaves all in our country will
are you going to protect the civilians in there from dying?
are protected. No one has died inside.
how long can they survive in there if the Indian Army stops providing food
and ends up not agreeing to allow the militants to go free?
is a hypothetical question. They did not provide food. The locals provided
are you going to get them out?
is up to the Indians. The idea was to air our voice. For the world to listen
surely a sacred place should be free from violence?
is free from violence in Kashmir. The Indian Army brings its violence into
our streets, our villages, our homes, and our mosques. Two weeks ago the
Indian Army searched one of our holy mosques in Srinagar. No place is free
this really the wish of all Kashmiri people?
Kashmiri people support us. They give us food, shelter, and money. We have
the overwhelming support of the people. Listen in the night and you will hear
the people cry for those in the Mosque. The people are angry and they want
the Indians to leave.
hear there are 35 groups fighting against India. What is your group?
cannot tell you, but I can say we are one of the largest groups fighting for
you ever feel that you've had enough?
there is a slogan: "We will sacrifice everything to obtain freedom. We
will fight forever; we will never give up!"
our way back I photographed an old Kashmiri fishing from his boat with his
Shisha pipe by his side, oblivious to all the turmoil, he could have been
there a thousand years ago.
few days later we attempted to arrange an interview with one of the militant
leaders. Luck seemed to be favouring us when a boat came to the houseboat we
were staying at. The boat was avoiding an Army water patrol. A sub-commander
was on board. Overweight and looking extremely agitated, he eagerly agreed to
arrange an interview with one of the leaders of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation
Front (JKLF). The day after next, we waited patiently, but the meeting fell
through. We never found out why, our hosts told us they were either too busy
negotiating with the Indian government, or too afraid that we might be informers.
However, with the help of our friends I managed to talk to two mujhaidin freedom fighters.
people's names and descriptions have been changed to protect them. Mohammed,
a handsome young boy of 22 from a village outside Srinagar and Fayez, his 28
year-old friend who was squat and swarthy with a bar-like moustache, light
brown eyes and an unshaven face. Our Kashmiri friends translated as the
militants spoke no English. Both said they had killed soldiers, Mohammed claimed
45 killed, Fayez 10 to 15 killed. The boy said he had used hand-grenades on
jeeps and the man a Kalishnakov to snipe soldiers.
The weapons came from Pakistan and Afghanistan. They both said they wanted to
be free from India, "we want Islamic country, Islamic law" he
had never confessed to the BSF that he was a mujhaidin,
despite being tortured by soldiers - beaten with rifles and given electric
shocks. Fayez had a scar across his chest from the torture he was subjected
to. He was picked up during a crackdown. They felt no guilt about killing
soldiers and it was hard to know if they were telling the truth or it was
tribal boasting. "They are Indian dogs," Fayez smiled. Soon after
our militant companions got edgy and decided to leave.
night the wails and drumbeating were unbearable from the nearby village.
Cries of anguish and hatred, a chant invoking a mystical strength to their
trapped brothers, we were told. It continued along with a complete strike and
a total curfew imposed by the Indian Army. Some trade in food and basic
necessities still went on, as did the gentle sound of the small "shikara" boats paddling through the waters. That
afternoon, drinking Kashmiri tea and listening to the sounds of the birds
crying as the sun set over a placid Dal Lake, we relaxed in our comfortable
houseboat. That night I hoped for no more nightmares. During a late bath, I
heard the distant rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire and later an explosion,
dogs barking and through it all the haunting wails of the people.
then turned sour at our houseboat when we purchased some silk carpets from a
competitor. A few days later at the beginning of November 1993, with more
than 2 weeks of continuous strike and a city suffocating from the curfew--
deserted streets and trigger-happy soldiers -- we made one last sojourn of
the streets and then left. Every 10 meters we passed a soldier, until at last
we were persuaded to turn back at a bridge near a mosque surrounded by a
dozen soldiers and barricaded in sandbags.
We chatted to a Sikh soldier who
smiled and said he did not want to be there. The Sten
gun and sour expression of the officer told me it was time to leave. A long
nauseous bus ride winding up to the Jammu-Kashmir tunnel, past columns of
army trucks and we were out of Kashmir.
history permeates the land. It was a Hindu then Buddhist, then Hindu Kingdom
again, finally falling to Islamic raiders from Persia well over 700 years
ago, when the crusades were dying out in the Holy Lands. The beautiful, cool
Kashmir vale became the summer place for the Muslims' Mogul Emperors of India
from 1585 to 1756 and has been staunchly Islamic ever since. Hindu-Sikh
Maharajahs and the British have come and gone. The partition of the former
British Raj into Pakistan and India brought on the first of Kashmir's modern
day conflicts in 1947...
edition of tmmag.com we look at the history of the modern conflict and talk
to Dr AZMAT KHAN, General-Secretary of the JKLF in London where we discuss
why Kashmiri's seek independence.
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