On the evening of February 28, terrorists shot at police officer deployed with Anti-Corruption Bureau, leaving them wounded. The attack was carried out while sub-inspector Firdous Sheikh finished his prayers and he stepped out of the local mosque. In the attack, he received bullet injuries in his neck. Firous Ahmad is a resident of Dhobi Mohalla, Batamaloo. This is a complete violation of human rights, where one person is attacked for his honesty to sustain the ecosystem of terror. It further puts a curb on the exercise of religious freedom. Many such incidents have been the part of Kashmir’s history. KRF condemns the attack and wishes for the speedy recovery of the courageous police officer.
World had witnessed thousands of the armed battles, unquoted and quoted inside pages of the history. Vast kingdoms lost their per-eminence with an urge to head on for the fight the weak or subtle kingdoms. The warrior-ticket in the common minds consequently provided them an a substantial hype which furthered the greed for more wars or, battles. World lost the wise men; women and plot-bearers from the pulpit, where their roles could have stunned the mankind. But for the sake of dominance, those game-changers were swept away like dust from the ground by a brisk wind.
Collectively, we have lost the right to call ourselves seed of wake-up from this slumberous apathy which engulfed and is still catching the men into its black-hole. We often see for ourselves, how even with the slightest of knowledge- we spew out the hatred that costs loss of wealth; men, machinery and upper hand of dominance to undo the effect that once together we offered to the roots of the disease. We have had to spend huge budget on defending ourselves from the other fellow men ironically having body parts that we have. Where does the sequence go wrong?
The vile of dominance and war of perceptions bury the whole treasury of humanism and walk over it like a winner. Many parts of the world face separatism- sponsored by the hate-mongers for their welfare destabilizing the region. But once the plan is public the cleverly trick turns around like three fingers while pointing towards the one. Thus the best thing is to spread love, and do the rightful, needful and absorb the little drops of anger.
The whole world must learn from wars, merely destruction is the result. The money invested in war machinery if implemented in welfare activities, even stones start to melt. And the harms, losses of nearer and dearers can’t be thrown out of minds. Today’s endurance can lead to the better future tomorrow, where history would pick no trace for trickier to spread hatred . But if wounds remain increasing, the warmth of time won’t be able to solace the next generation of the victim.
No war can solve the conflict, it splits the opinions and ideologies come out with strength, where no butter in the world can satisfy its logic for the rise. A new era should erupt now to vanish all the gaps, differences and people should be loved more. Thus, a new future will emerge with fruits of development and no requirement of weaponry would be felt.
Kashmiri women drop the veil on years of systematic rape and abuse by Islamist militants in the Kashmir Valley.
SRINAGAR – “After a point, all I begged of them was not to take me on the cold, hard floor – my back couldn’t take it, and the unborn baby in me would die, I told them. But they didn’t listen.”
Fatima had sobbed softly through most of her interview. She spoke barely louder than the slow cold breeze rustling the dried chinar outside the spare room we were sitting in.
But it was at this point that her crying turned to a helpless childlike wailing. Her large wet eyes darted from me to the translator and the women in the crew – turn by turn – silently asking if we were registering the injustice done to her.
“Is this jihad? Is this their piety?” she added, a note of anger entering the monotone of despair.
“I was very pretty when young,” she continued after a while, wiping her nose with her veil. “Everyone said so. Everyone. I could’ve found myself a good man to marry and lead a good life.”
The militants first came to her house in Ganderbal in 2005, when Fatima had just hit 14. Starting with that visit, the beauty the little girl had prided herself over turned to a curse that would haunt all her adult life.
“The militants knocked on the door and asked for water,” she said. “We opened the door, and they saw me. From then on, they sought out every opportunity to come to our place.”
Soon after, her father, a daily wage laborer, was shot dead not far from their home. And with the male guardian of the house gone, she became easy prey.
“They came to our house, stripped me, and asked me to lie down with them in the bed. When I refused, they just grabbed me by the hair and took me down.”
The repeated gang rapes went on till she turned 17, and she asked her mother and uncles to marry her off and send her away from her native village, hoping her nightmare would end.
“I was spoiled – no man would marry me,” Fatima said. “So, they hitched me to a paralyzed, wheelchair-bound first cousin who lived in another village. Even then, they didn’t stop. They found my new address and started coming there too. They didn’t stop even after I’d had my first child with my husband and the second was on the way.”
The prolonged physical abuse left Fatima with severe complications in her pregnancy and spinal injuries.
Gruesome as Fatima’s story is, it’s hardly an exceptional one. The investigation for this story recorded similar cases across all districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Data from India’s National Crime Records Bureau shows that the number of cases of violence against women in Jammu and Kashmir increased by 11 percent in 2020, from 3,069 in 2019 to 3,414 the next year – even while the national rate fell by 8.3 percent during the same period.
In 2020, 1,744 cases of “assault on women with the intent to violate her modesty,” as well as 243 cases of rape, were reported.
Given the low reporting rate and the shroud of violent shame and social boycott that accompanies rape – especially in a society as conservative and patriarchal as Kashmir – the real numbers are likely to be significantly higher.
Beyond the numbers, the striking similarity of the militants’ modus operandi stood out in the narratives.
Like all guerrillas worldwide, Kashmiri militants sought shelter and food from locals. But soon after, their demands flowed to the satiation of other carnal needs.
“Men in groups of five to seven people would come to our house and ask for food – especially meat,” said Afroza from Baramulla.
“We didn’t have enough to feed everyone, but our father tried his best to serve them. We had only two rooms in our small house, and they [the militants] occupied one. We women were restricted to the kitchen all day.”
“Bring us water – they’d order from their room,” she continued. “And when I went in, they’d grab me and start fondling and teasing me. I was a little under 12 then. I didn’t even know what all was being done to me. All I knew was it was wrong and painful. And this continued for a very long time.”
It took Afroza a long time to muster enough courage to confide in her father – a decision she regretted immediately.
“My father politely and firmly asked the men to leave the children out of these things. Angered by that admonition, they took my father to the market the next day and killed him in front of everyone.”
The militants didn’t spare Afroza’s younger sister – barely 9 years old then – either.
“She was too young to be raped. So, they didn’t do that. But they teased and fondled her as well.”
“Where big violence is so common, it is no surprise that gender violence is hardly a priority issue,” explained Mantasha Rashid, founder of Kashmir Women’s Collective, a trust that provides support under a single window to survivors of gender-based violence.
“The rape and assault you’re referring to is akin to collateral damage. Women are caught in the crossfire in any conflict region, and the body of the enemy’s woman is seen as war booty by all the warring sides.”
The point about women being viewed as “war booty” to be plundered by the victor is evident in Bismah’s story.
“We were all home, the night the militants picked my husband up and killed him,” Bismah recounted from the night her husband – a driver – was murdered on suspicion of being an informer.
“Immediately after killing him, they took me forcibly. I was violated in every possible way… just unspeakable amounts of torture and humiliation.”
“The killing of my husband wasn’t vengeance enough,” she said. The first gang rape wasn’t either. “My torture continued for years after. The nightmare that started at 18 continued till I was 27.”
Beyond the overly conservative society that makes rapes the victim’s burden to bear, what compounds the problem in Kashmir is the political inconvenience of acknowledging rape and assault committed by the keepers of faith and upholders of the Shariah.
In the 1990s, when militancy in its current form first took shape, the jihad in Kashmir was seen as a popular movement seeking freedom from the Indian state. Women were encouraged to help the militants by playing supportive roles: cooking, cleaning, and offering shelter and comfort to those who fought the righteous battle.
Several radical political leaders of Kashmir have called upon women to give their bodies to the men who fight the holy war, becoming proud wives and mothers of the militants. Movements like the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, led by women, have called for harsh Shariah to be implemented and meted out beatings to women for not sticking to dress codes and yardsticks of religious morality.
For this political class, to turn around and acknowledge that the haloed freedom fighters can not only be violators of morality but also be outright evil is an inconvenient truth.
“I don’t really want to go out and say that Kashmiri society is particularly flawed or patriarchal because that can be misinterpreted,” Rashid of the Kashmir Women’s Collective said. “Whenever we speak about Kashmir one has to choose their words very carefully or else the discourse is hijacked by the bigger political narrative.”
Rashid’s point is a fair one.
Given the polarized debate around Kashmir, acknowledging the crimes of one side can very easily be misconstrued as batting for the other side. This sentiment is evident from the positions taken and abdicated by academics and activists alike.
For example, take a 2006 Human Rights Watch report on rape in Kashmir, shared by the organization’s South Asia director, Meenakshi Ganguly. The report acknowledges that abuses have been committed by state forces and militants alike, but there is no data on the latter.
“While in areas of armed conflict, sexual violence can often occur, survivors can choose not to report such crimes,” Ganguly added further. “A key need in Kashmir is to create a strong health infrastructure including psychosocial support so that people can receive the help that they need in spaces they can trust.”
On being asked specifically about this bias in the data, she said, “When we were conducting the research for this report, we did not receive complaints of rape by militants.”
“Who would I report to?” Chasfeeda from Uri hit back at me when I asked her why she had stayed silent for so long and was only speaking now.
“I was poor, illiterate, and completely helpless. Nobody was interested in hearing me out. In such matters, no one sides with the poor. Especially a poor woman. You are the first person in all this time who has come to ask, and I’m telling you!”
A group of militants that often visited their village sent her husband away under the ruse of some work that needed to be done.
“They parked themselves in our house and refused to leave. Feed us, they said, and ate every morsel of what I had at home. But even after eating, they refused to leave. Then they forced themselves on me and raped me.”
“I don’t know which group they belonged to or what their politics was. But whatever morality and piety they preach is bogus. Just to mislead people. Only Allah knows what evil truly lies in their hearts.”
“So many of them raped me so many times… I’ve lost count. In the darkness, I couldn’t even tell whether it was four or eight people at a time. They ate away at me until all my flesh was picked off clean, and I was left bone dry as I am now.”
All victims’ names have been changed to protect their identity and prevent reprisal.
Author: Siddharthya Roy(Siddharthya Roy is World News editor at Zenger News.)
On Feb 11, in a deplorable attack carried out by terrorists, a policeman was killed and four persons including three CRPF troopers were injured. The grenade was hurled towards security personnel at the Nishatshat Park area of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district. The injured, four policemen and a CRPF trooper, were moved to hospital for treatment. However, one of them identified as Zubair Ahmad (SPO- Driver) from the Papschan area of Bandipora succumbed to the injuries. These dastards attacks won’t stumble the courage of security forces, to fight the Pak backed terrorists. KRF condemns the violation of human rights by armed terrorists and wishes for the speedy recovery of the wounded security personnel.
The 9th February, a date often manipulated by the Pakistan and its mercenaries to provoke the bad sentiments. It has only relevance with Kashmir though, the name of the terrorist and his residence. Whichever the place a terrorist belongs to, the result of his intentions is terrorism; causing harm to the innocent population of the country. It matters less, whether the terrorist belongs to Kashmir or, to Delhi. It’s the actions- playing in hands of someone else, that drags the inhumane-mentality to the worst character.
One such terrorist in person was Afzal Guru, for his involvement in the terrorism, he was hanged in Tihar Jail in New Delhi on Feb. 9, 2013 on charges of his involvement in the 2001 attack on parliament in which 14 people, including five gunmen, were killed. Pakistan continues to back the terrorists to destabilize the peace in our region. Moreover, it had resorted to such infamous tactics earlier and plans to do the same in future as well.
Pakistan has no sympathy for the Kashmiris but, they have always wished to unbalance the friendly relation of India and the Kashmir in particular. In the path to destabilize the region, they speak ill, to maintain their needless role in the region. Their only roles include enmity, protests backing, backing sloganeering and likewise. What they get in return is the distraction of in-state problems that they have been facing through decades, whether it be economy, political instability or, religious extremism.
For many years the Pakistan’s propaganda showed some results in the region Kashmir, but with the time they were exposed and the as of now, all their passive and active roles are crystal and clear before the people. Who in return respond to the atrocities that Kashmiris were subjected to, through three decades of their proxy war via Separatism, gun culture and the ideological battle. Now, it is in the greater interest of the common people to counter the forwarded propaganda and positively give out a shut-up call to them and their mercenaries.
There are many sources made into use by the terror backing agencies, however, most of it is transferred by the ways that none can even think of- 25% from narcotics, 15% from illegal sale of arms, 10% through counterfeit currency, 10% through Zakat (an Islamic tax) & donations, 10% from international Islamic organisations & Organisation of Islamic Countries and 20% through extortion/bank robberies.
There are two main sources of terrorist financing-the diaspora and domestic. The latter includes co-ethnic, co-religionist groups which finance organised crime. The former includes the Pakistani State as well as Pakistani Kashmiris who are known to contribute to Kashmiri terrorist outfits operating on Indian soil.
It has been recorded that external funding is of a much higher magnitude than funding coming from domestic sources. Estimates indicate that between US $1,00,000-200,000 has been raised by JKLF, the diaspora and other Kashmiri groups. It is instructive to note that funding picks up in response to certain domestic events. For instance, the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 led to large contributions to the kitty of terrorists operating against India.
Kashmiri terrorists obtain financial support from dozens of Islamic charities and radical Islamic organizations that channel funds to terrorist groups. The Al Rasheed Trust based in Karachi is run by Maulana Masood Azhar, was originally set up as a welfare organization. In the 1980s it was co-opted by the ISI to channel Saudi Arabian funds to the Afghan Mujahideen. After the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, the ISI shifted the Trust’s focus to Kashmir and used it to finance insurgency in Kashmir. It publishes advertisements in the Pakistani press asking for funds for “welfare work in Kashmir, Chechnya, Kosovo etc.” But it clearly informs donors that it will decide how to spend the money. For instance, it says, if there is a “dire need of the Mujahideen” the money will be used for their needs.
The Pakistan based Markaz-ul-Dawa-Ishad, the parent outfit of LeT and a religious organisation puts out regular advertisements in its in-house monthly magazine, Al Dawa. It urges Muslims to donate money for Kashmir ‘Jihad Fund’ and deposit it in bank accounts. The mushrooming growth of madrassas on the Indo-Pak border and in the interior provides an indication of the channels into which these funds flow. A visible aspect can be seen on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway where unaccounted open collections are made in front of mosques.
The nexus between narcotics and terrorism had led to a new term Narco-Terrorism. It is recognized as one of the oldest and most dependable sources of terrorist financing, primarily because of the magnitudes of finance involved in both the activities. Arun Kumar, in his book on Black Economy in India says drug profits have been used to finance terrorism in the South, the North-East, Punjab and Kashmir.
Pakistan’s involvement in Narco-Terrorism dates back to the era of Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. President Zia’s involvement in narcotics trade is an open secret and he diverted some proceeds of this income towards funding the Kashmir ‘Jihad’ which continued even after his death. Narcotic smugglers based in Pakistan and controlled by ISI are reported to have earnings in excess of US $ 2.5 billion. According to a UNDP report, Pakistan’s heroin industry is estimated to have a turnover of US $ 74 billion. In early 1991, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief, is learnt to have said that, Pakistani Army Chief and the ISI Chief proposed a detailed ‘blueprint’ for selling heroin to pay for the country’s covert military operations.
Extortion and Fake Currency
Extortion has emerged as a major source of terrorist funding. Police and Intelligence agencies believe that most of the businessmen, shopkeepers, government employees, contractors, especially those dealing in timber and persons with sound financial background are easy targets. They have bought peace by coughing up, as and when extortion demands are made. During 1990-95, Rs. 7.30 crore was looted by terrorists to fund their activities. Needless to say estimates of extortion funds are impossible, but could run into several crores of rupees per year.
A perceptible increase in the circulation of fake Indian currency notes (FICNs) has been recorded in the recent past in the Kashmir Valley. Against seizure of FICNs worth 8,45,000 in 1995, the seizure in 2001 was 3.56 crore (FICNs are being sold at a discount of 60-70 per cent). Actual circulation would easily be several times this figure.
Seizures of FICNs specifically on the Indo-Pak and Indo-Nepal borders combined with the disclosures made by ‘carriers’ reveal indisputably that the ISI is behind this racket. It is easy to infer that counterfeiting confers double benefits: sabotaging the Indian economy and generating funds for terrorists activities.
Getting bound to a wheelchair after a tragic accident could spiral anyone’s life downward. But not of Inshah Bashir. The gritty girl from Kashmir went on to become the first wheelchair basketball player from the state. Her life journey is nothing short of inspiration.
Inshah Bashir was born in the Budgam District of Beerwah in Kashmir. Growing up, she loved studying and playing cricket with her siblings. Life was good, glowing with a renewed mirth. But, fate had other plans for her. When she was 15, she met with a gruesome accident – a foul play of fate. She had already been diagnosed with gastric ulcers and suffered oral bleeding.
Feeling light-headed and weak from the same, she came back home and went to her house’s balcony, feeling nauseous and dizzy. Vomiting blood, she lost her balance and fell from the balcony, resulting in a severe spinal injury. She underwent spinal cord surgery, but it didn’t bore any fruit. She was unable to walk and a lack of professional medical help and service at the time tied her to a wheelchair permanently.
The Sudden Change
The traumatic event had a profound impact on Inshah. The girl who would wildly roam around, playing cricket and volleyball all day, was immobile. Constant rebuttals from relatives made her journey worse. She was dependent on the family – both physically and financially. One of her relatives even went to the extent of telling her that she should have died in the accident. Every door of hope seemed shut for her as she spent eight years of her life bedridden, enclosed in her room.
But, her spirit didn’t diminish. For Inshah the biggest challenge was to accept that she is wheelchair-bound now, has lost mobility, was hanging with a sliver of hope and yet had to reinvent herself. And the reinvention came in full as her enthusiasm for the sport came back.
Overcoming the Setback
During her rehabilitation, at the Shafqat Rehabilitation Center in the valley, she met many with a fate as her – or worse – who were utilizing sports like Basketball to redeem what fate had taken away from them – the chance to feel alive again. The chance to move and play. Insha describes it as a life-changing moment because playing games made her life busy and also helped her in maintaining her mental and physical state up to a certain extent.
And since then, the sport of Basketball has been with her, every turn of the hour. The Kashmiri sportsperson stated that once she’d overcome initial hesitation, she found the game to be enjoyable, and convenient and suitable to partake in, from a wheelchair. She found the game very interesting and was pushed by the enthusiasm of representing her state Jammu & Kashmir, as a consequence of which, she motivated and inspired others in the valley to overcome their inhibitions and impediments and take up sporting pursuits.
The journey to success for Inshah Bashir
She says “It is my path which motivates me to prove my potential to the world. Basketball as a sport has a huge role in making me strong”. But her challenges were not limited to her. Along with her disability, Inshah had to stand strong in a game that was mostly dominated by men. Moreover, the lack of sports facilities for the specially-abled in the region and lack of support and incentives has come as appalling. But she came out on top, to become the first female wheelchair basketball player from Kashmir. Inshah Bashir even got an invitation from U.S. Consulate to participate in the prestigious Sports Visitor Program in 2019 and is also a member of the Rest Of India Women’s basketball team.
Presently, Inshah’s core passion is to excel in this game. She aspires to become a captain of her basketball team. Moreover, she wants to become a ray of hope for those who have accepted their disability as their destiny. Her story poses strong evidence for this resolve. Inshah’s story might have started ordinarily, but her willpower has brought out the extraordinaire in it. Let it become a renewed moral for all – disabled and abled alike. We realise that disability is not just physical, it often resorts to a state of mind too.
“My wheels are my wings,” says Inshah Bashir when asked about her continuous source of motivation. It fuels her purpose in life even after facing deterrents and shortcomings. This is where her attachment of willpower to a sport plays out beautifully. Inshah gives us hope; hope in the fact that life is like a sport. Even if you might have lost the first round, there are plenty more to catch up, fight, and come out on top. All we have to do is play and not bow down.
This article is in continuation to the Article ‘Directing the Energies our Kashmiri Youth’
Arif Khan, a Kashmir born skier born in the hills of Gulmarg saw his dream turn into reality last year as he earned a spot at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The Alpine skier from Kashmir is the lone Indian participant in the February 4-20 quadrennial event. The 31-year-old secured his berth in the Winter Olympics in a qualifying event in Dubai last year. On 01 Feb 2022, Arif left for the Chinese capital along with Chef De Mission Harjinder Singh and support staff. Arif will take part in the Slalom and Giant Slalom events which are scheduled to take place on Feb 13 & 16. Hailing from J&K’s Tangmarg area of Baramulla, Arif was introduced to the sport at a very young age by his father.
There are a lot of examples of the young Kashmiris making their country proud at various international pulpits, whether in games and sports, science and technology, literature, or in any other field. Proper guidance from the parents at a very young age is the basic thing that needs to be understood by all the people and the government to direct the energies of the youth. This is the prime responsibility of the parents to ensure their future is in good hands, rather than playing in the hands of the inimical elements, whosoever. The gain of the opportunities at the specific time is requisite for securing the future of a happy home, and a free-of-confusion mind.
Many find it difficult to decide between one narrative and another, as many ideologies had had taken the free space in the mind of the youth— thus right from the inception of understanding in the children, the future mindset needs to be secured for positive phenomenon. We have experienced in many cases, the pollution of thoughts due to carelessness or, waywardness from the right context to be unrolled to the child leaves a negative impression on his mind, which creates a gap between the positive processes— nationalist, patriotic activities going around and the rebellious nature nurtured due various elements, whether due to the wrongful literature or, due to inimical elements.
Putting the things in line, the responsibilities lie deeper, multiplied, in order to shape the future of youth, eventually transforming the future of Kashmir. The loss of youth to terrorism is loss of huge wealth— human resource, the gold in gold itself for excavation.