//Kashmir seminar favours self-determination

Kashmir seminar favours self-determination

Trivandrum : The first ever major seminar of its kind in South India on Kashmir issue held at Kozhicode on 25 February passed a resolution calling upon the democratic rights defenders to generate public opinion for recognizing self-determination as a fundamental right of every nationality.

Asking the Government of India to ‘initiate fresh moves by winning over the hearts and minds of the alienated Kashmiri people and in accordance with their aspirations’ to solve the problem in view of repeated failures of the past 50 years. The resolution also asked the Hurriyet Conference and various human rights groups in Kashmir to visit different states in India in order to clear the prevailing misconceptions and misimpressions about the Kashmir problem.

The seminar, jointly sponsored by Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (CHRO, Kerala) and the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS, Kozhicode chapter) termed the struggle in Kashmir as ‘a fight for the recognition of fundamental rights and the right for self-determination’. ‘There is an urgent need to put an end to the ongoing series of violence especially killing, custodial deaths, custodial rapes, illegal detentions, etc. in Kashmir’, the resolution said.

In his inaugural address at the opening session, Naseer Khora, a journalist and human rights activist representing ‘People’s Forum for Peace’ in J&K, pointed out that neither the India-Pak governments nor the J&K administration could take decisions in tune with the aspirations of the Kashmiris. ‘Kashmir problem, which could otherwise have been solved easily, has been turned into a complex one by the infiltrators from Pakistan and due to corruption of different governments which occupied power at Delhi. Apart from members of armed groups, large number of innocent public have lost their lives, scores of women were subjected to rape, and numerous children have been orphaned over the years. It is unfortunate that in the name of countering the activities of terrorists and infiltrators, the government forces, responsible to maintain law and order as well as to protect the citizens’ life and property, are indulging in atrocities’, Khora said. He pointed out how the police had killed a civilian under custody and opened fire killing several protesting demonstrators soon after the Prime Minister declared cease-fire extension the previous week. ‘Today, the Kashmiris are a heart-broken people whom no cardiologist can treat and cure,’ he added.

One of Kerala’s renowned historians, Dr. M. Gangadharan, repeatedly stressed that the only solution for Kashmir problem is holding plebiscite among Kashmiri people. ‘In Kashmir issue, India had adopted anti-people attitude. The then Kashmir king, Hari Singh, was forced to unify Kashmir with India. A democratic solution for Kashmir issue is only possible through plebiscite for which India should seek the help of neutral countries. We cannot feel proud about our democracy by controlling Kashmir through force any longer. The reality in Kashmir is that we do not know even the exact nature and extent of its territory and geography’, the retired history professor from MG University, Kottayam, opined.

Leading Malayalam journalist, K. M. Roy, said that India can save not only human rights but also crores of rupees by solving Kashmir problem. ‘We spend Rs. 16,000 crores annually for protecting the Kashmir borders, while even drinking water is still not within the reach of 32 crore people in India. Kashmir problem was the product of a British man who determined India’s borders without knowing anything about India. Instead of rectifying that mistake, the Indian army is killing Kashmiris in the name of countering terrorism. More people are being killed during cease-fire than before’, Roy, Editor of Deepika Malayalam daily, recalled.

Inaugurating the concluding session, Delhi-based human right activist, Gautam Nawlakha, pointed out that plebiscite was the only solution for Kashmir problem. According to him, India was compelled to declare cease-fire due to mounting pressures from terrorist groups. ‘Those who think that Kashmir issue can be settled without considering people’s aspirations are living in fools’ paradise. Plebiscite need not necessarily be construed as self-determination.’ By pointing out that the problems had mounted up ever since the Central Government rigged the 1987 elections, Nawlakha gave some salient insights into Kashmir’s history: ‘For the first time anywhere in the Indian sub-continent, the land-reforms were implemented in Kashmir. It was then opposed by Sardar Vallabhai Patel since majority of landlords were upper caste Hindus. During that period, the Kashmiri Muslim mind was not at all communal. Holding of plebiscite was a promise given to Kashmiris in 1947. Today national mainstream newspapers term those groups fighting for their rights in Kashmir as ‘secessionists’ or ‘separatists’., but for Kashmiris they are freedom fighters’.

MilliGazette, 01 -04-2001