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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Centuries-old Muslim/Hindu/Mountains Cry: human rights for Kashmiris

Kashmiri Women
Peace, justice: Kashmiri women’s part imperative
Re-reporting by Carolyn Bennett



The United States is on record assenting to Pakistan and India’s militarized nuclear power. The United States allies with India while bombing Pakistan; and effectively sides with India against Pakistan and with India against Kashmir. The United Kingdom, having occupied India and the Kashmir region is also implicated in today’s conflict in the region.

This area and its inhabitants extend to the third century, prospering through the ninth and twelfth centuries; and, after having been under a succession of Hindu dynasties, Kashmir in 1346 came under Muslim rule. After five centuries, the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab (1819) annexed Kashmir then the Dogra kingdom of Jammu (1846) annexed it. In its contemporary form, Kashmir dates to 1846.


The people in the Jammu area are Muslim in the west; in the east Hindu and speak Hindi, Punjabi, and Dogri. Inhabitants of the Vale of Kashmir and the Pakistani areas are mostly Muslim and speak Urdu and Kashmiri. Inhabiting the sparsely the Ladakh region and beyond are Tibetan peoples, who practice Buddhism and speak Balti and Ladakhi.


The Kashmir region is a predominantly mountainous region with deep, narrow valleys and high, barren plateaus lying in the northwestern Indian subcontinent. Its bounding areas and countries

Northeast: the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang
East: the Tibet Autonomous Region (both parts of China)
South: the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab
West: Pakistan
Northwest: Afghanistan

Since the Subcontinent was (UK) partitioned in 1947, India and Pakistan have disputed administration of this region of some 85,800 square miles (222,200 square km). Pakistan administers the northern and western portions made up of Azad Kashmir, Gilgit, and Baltistan (the last two part of a territory called the Northern Areas). India administers the southern and southeastern portions made up of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir north
Since the 1950s, China has been active in the eastern area of Kashmir and since 1962 has controlled the northeastern part of Ladakh (the easternmost portion of the region).

A ‘line of control” divides the Indian- and Pakistani-administered portions by agreement signed in 1972 but neither country recognizes this line as an international boundary.

Kashmir north
ver the past 20 years, reports reveal thousands of people in Kashmir have been killed. 

Conflicts have been exacerbated by foreign policies and interference of Western industrialized countries, extending across South/Central Asia. Kashmiris are in crisis and in revolt.

Late last year thousands of protesters in Indian-administrated Kashmir took to the streets of winter. They condemned killings 
of Shia Muslims in Pakistan and called for unity among Muslims. In the Magam area of the central Jammu and Kashmir Budgam district, they shouted, ‘Down with the U.S.!’ and ‘Down with Israel!’

In the Indian states of Mumbai and Rajasthan, two young people of Kashmir ancestry died under what has been called “mysterious conditions”; and this month, in the face of heavy paramilitary and police presence, thousands of angry protesters took to the streets.  Authorities routinely deploy large police and paramilitary troops in most parts of the capital of Srinagar to prevent fresh street demonstrations and separatist leaders have called on the Indian government to hold security forces accountable for human rights violations in Kashmir. Pro-independence groups who oppose New Delhi rule over the Muslim-majority region had called a strike.
Srinagar: In the Kashmir region on the Indian subcontinent, Srinagar is the city and summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir State (Jammu is the winter capital); its industries include carpet and silk mills, silverware and copperware manufacture, leatherworking, and wood carving; it lies along the banks of the Jhelum River at an elevation of 5,200 feet (1,600 meters) in the Vale of Kashmir.

Vale of Kashmir
The Srinagar contains the area’s most fertile agricultural land and is one of the most densely populated parts of the Kashmir region (Population, 2001: 898,440)

Vale of Kashmir: Intermontane valley lying wholly within the Indian-administered portion of the Kashmir region flanked by the main range of the Himalayas on the northeast and the Pir Panjal Range on the southwest. An ancient lake basin about 85 miles (135 km) long, 20 miles (32 km) wide, and 5,300 feet (1,620 meters) high that is drained by the upper Jhelum River; lined by mountains that rise 12,000 to 16,000 feet (3,600 to 4,800 meters); and sheltered from the wet southwest monsoon.

The Kashmir region’s population is concentrated in the valley, at the center of which lies Srinagar. Fertile soil yields rice, corn (maize), fruit, and vegetables, and scenic mountains and lakes (notably Wular, Dal, and Nagin) attract many tourists.

Women rising

New Delhi has reportedly remained in a state of denial concerning human rights abuse under its administration. Kashmiri women maintain that “the first step to peace in the region” is the delivery of “justice” in all human rights cases.

Though they have been equally affected by the heat of conflict in the past twenty-three years, Kashmiri women’s participation on political and social fronts has been missing but the status quo changing. Kashmiri women “are becoming politically sensitive”; they have realized that, while "women have suffered equally (with men), their voices remained unheard" because they were absent on "the political and social front.”

Realizing that they can play a part in ensuring justice in human rights cases, fifty Kashmiri women in a wide span of age groups have joined in pressing for justice in all cases of human rights violations that have happened since 1989, and that involved mostly women. In their first case, a February 1991 case of “mass rape of nearly 100 women by Indian security forces,” the women’s group filed a petition in Kashmir’s high court and achieved their first success. 

After two decades of denials, the court accepted the case and ordered its reopening and re-investigation. The women's success has boosted confidence and their initiative has been highly valued; but group members believe that “greater participation of women” is necessary “on all the fronts” to ensure the hearing of women’s voices.

Sources and notes

“Jammu & Kashmir witnesses rally against U.S., Israel,” December 16, 2012

“Kashmiris stage massive protest rallies amid tensions,” July 16, 2013, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/07/16/314073/kashmiris-hold-massive-protest-rallies/

“Kashmiri women launch campaign to push for rights,” July 14, 2013



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