Gaza reverberations in Kashmir

By K.N. Pandita

Entire valley has lapsed into the throes of great commotion over Israeli bombing of Gaza. These attacks are resulting in the killing of hundreds of innocent Muslims mostly children and woman. Protest rallies have been brought out in towns and villages across the entire valley. There is hardly a political party or leader that has not come out with strong condemnation of Israel for these acts of brutality and barbarity as they call them.

Newspapers appearing from the valley whether in English or in Urdu, are stuffed with mews, views and commentaries that pour contempt on Israel for its inhuman behaviour. It is not surprising that though most of these carry the day to day news about the happening in Gaza but at the same time most of the commentaries and analysis are highly emotionalized.

In political, academic and social circles in Kashmir, in educational business and public relations institutions, Israeli bombing in Gaza is the talk of the town. In mosques and congregations, long litany of complaints and wrong doings against Israel and her western supporters is exuded to arouse public hatred against Israel, a country thousands of miles away from Kashmir.

Not only that, three Lok Sabha members from PDP of Kashmir tabled adjournment motion and demanded that the house hold debate on Israel’s brutalities in Palestine. But when the three-member team did not succeed in forcing the Lok Sabha to hold a debate on the issue of their choosing, they walked out of the session in protest and charged Narendra Modi government with not respecting the sentiments of the Muslims and not giving due urgency to a situation in which the blood of innocent Muslims is shed.

We do not discount the human element in these protests whether on the ground in Kashmir or in the Parliament. Separatists and secessionists of all hues have tried to capitalize on the situation in Gaza.

While Ali Shah Geelani, the Jamaat-i-Islami stalwart, has equated Israeli bombing of and attacks on Gaza strip with Indian army perpetrating “oppression and tyranny” on Kashmiris, Hurriyat (M) leader Mirwaiz Farooq has demanded that Muslim countries impose economic ban on Israel.

In several towns in the valley, and also in parts of Srinagar city, security forces and the police had to resort to strong preventive measures to diffuse the tense situation caused by public rallies and demonstrations.

Influential news papers in the valley have put questions to BJP-led government in Delhi to clarify its policy on Palestine and come out with condemnation of Israel for the “barbarian” treatment of Palestinians.

Incidentally, a road accident that happened two days ago when a private car ran into head on collision with an army pick up vehicle on Srinagar- Baramulla road resulting in the tragic killing of seven civilians besides two persons wounded, was seized as an excuse for giving a call for one day’s strike throughout the valley. Most of the shops in Srinagar brought down their shutters. The mobs that gathered on the spot in the twinkling of an eye would have lynched the driver of the military truck if timely reinforcement had not arrived to protect him.

However, not adhering to the AFSPA caveat, the police have picked up the driver and remanded him to ten days police custody. In the meanwhile prosecution of the case will begin as the police have launched FIR against the army driver; The GOC-in-C has expressed his anguish on tragic killings in the road accident.

None among political leaders in the valley tried to look at this accident from circumstantial point of view. The police arrived at the site of accident within minutes and took photographs of the damaged vehicles and proceeded with investigation into the accident. It launched FIR and picked up the driver of the truck.

None among local political leaders appealed to the people to observe restraint and let police or traffic authorities conduct inquiry into the accident and establish the facts of the event. Then alone one can say who has been at grievous fault.
If the slogan of “Indian dogs go back” or “Hindustani fauj murda bad” is raised by the mobs that had gathered on spot, verily these have a different undertone other than the element of anger exuded at the tragic deaths that have occurred.

In contrast to this surcharged atmosphere on account of Israeli attacks on Gaza, which, as we said, has received immense media hype in Kashmir, the disappointing news of burning of scores of tents and destroying kitchens of pilgrims at Sonamarg, a station in the pilgrimage to Shri Amarnath holy cave, has been totally underplayed. The Governor has made an appeal to maintain communal harmony and allow pilgrims to perform their religious duty in complete peace.

Killing of human beings and unleashing violence against unarmed civilians is the height of barbarity. No society in the world will tolerate it much less the Indian society which traditionally and historically believes firmly in the philosophy of non-violence.

But we would like to put a question to the fire brand Kashmir separatist-secessionist leaders and other ambivalent light or heavyweights why did not they use same methodology in denouncing Pakistan army’s attacks on TTP in North Waziristan where fighting continues in full fury? Hundreds of innocent people, women, children and men of that frontier area have been killed in Pakistani army’s indiscriminate firing and Pakistani air force’s indiscriminate bombing. Lakhs of people of North Waziristan have fled their homes and hearths as a result of heavy bombardment by Pakistani army on their villages and habitats. Those who are killed are of the same faith as those who kills them. Kashmiris should have raised their voice against destruction of human and animal life in North Waziristan.

Three Lok Sabha members from Kashmir moved adjournment motion to allow the house debate Israeli attack on Gaza. They staged walk out, and in their press conference demanded that India explain her policy towards Israel. Why did not they raise a similar issue in State Assembly when it was in session about the brutal attack of Pakistani army and air force on the masses of people in North Waziristan? Obviously they are using double standards for identical cases. They are trying to send a message to prove their allegiance to the Muslim cause.

In any case, Israeli action in Gaza has provided the separatists and secessionists in Kashmir a veritable handle to have a crop of protests, violent as well as non violent, in order to further inject hate-India poison into the minds of Kashmiri youth.

After the BHP government took the reins of the government in its hands, even the smallest mishap or the plainest Kashmir related narrative by a responsible central minister is interpreted in anti-Kashmiri parameters. Angry crowds setting the tents and kitchen on fire in Sonamarg is reported to be the handiwork of CRP. This distortion of facts reminds one of the big canard propagated by even well educated and well groomed people of Kashmir that it was Governor Jagmohan who advised Kashmiris to leave the valley because “he wanted to destroy the majority community”.

The people of the valley would be well advised to understand that Palestinian issue has been hanging fire ever since World War I. The issue came up forcefully as early a time when Kashmiris had not even heard the name of Palestine or Israel. World powers have tried to broker peace between the two warring sides but without any tangible success. Kashmiris ought to try to find out how Middle East Muslim countries led by Saudi Arabia have been responding to the Palestinian issue in historical terms.

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