September 26, 2010


Kashmir separatists reject Indian peace package (AIJAZ HUSSAIN, 09/26/2010, AP)

The mountainous region is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both. Protesters reject Indian rule and want independence or a merger with predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

India offered Saturday to urge authorities to release detainees and review deployment of security forces, and to hold talks with all stake-holders in the part of Kashmir it holds. The steps “should address the concerns of different sections of people, including protesters,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said.

New Delhi’s proposal follows a visit to Kashmir by about 40 lawmakers from major Indian political parties to seek ways to end the turmoil. India has also offered compensation of 500,000 rupees ($10,800) to each of the families of those killed since June 11.

The separatists, however, rejected the Indian government’s proposals.

“The so-called political package by New Delhi is a time-gaining exercise, unrealistic and mere eyewash,” said Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a top separatist leader who is spearheading the “Quit Kashmir” campaign against Indian rule.

“India is wrongly mistaken if it thinks it can buy peace in Kashmir by releasing a few students and paying ex-gratia relief to the families of martyrs,” Geelani said, referring to those killed by Indian security forces.

'Kashmiris speak of azadi passionately even in hospitals' (Rakhi Chakrabarty, 9/25/10, Times of India)
On Saturday, the government unveiled a package of measures for Kashmir. This was almost a direct response to the suggestions made earlier this week by an all-party delegation to the state. The delegation included CPM politburo member and Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury, who was one of five parliamentarians to meet separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Srinagar. Fluent in five languages besides his mother tongue Telugu, Yechury spoke to Geelani in "chaste Hyderabadi Urdu"

What is your assessment of the ground reality in Kashmir?

The gravity and depth of alienation is much deeper than we thought. People speak of azadi passionately even in hospitals. Any discussion begins with immediate problems. At the hospital, for instance, relatives told us to ensure chemists remain open during curfew. And, then suddenly the azadi element comes to the fore.

The Centre and the state government didn't recognize the build-up. The deep alienation is due to three reasons: governance deficit (providing civic amenities, hospitals etc), trust deficit , both at local and national levels, and almost no employment generation.

Wherever we went, people said they faced bullets when they went out to fetch rations, or they couldn't take a patient to hospital. The youth feel their prospects are bleak. No private capital is entering the state. The public sector is also in bad shape. For instance, 200 employees of Srinagar's Centaur Hotel have been thrown out after the government decided to privatize it.

Agroup of Indian Airlines employees met us. When militancy was its peak in 1993 and many employees left, Kashmiri youths were employed as ad hoc workers. They say, "When nobody wanted to work, we kept the airlines running. Even after 17 years, we remain casual workers. Where are your labour laws? Why don't they apply to us in Kashmir?"

All the so-called packages for development... where is the money going? Both governments have to answer these questions.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at September 26, 2010 7:36 AM
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