A Statement of Two National Seminars on #AFSPA in Bangalore and Delhi


The Indian Parliament enacted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in 1958 as an interim measure with the hope of suppressing the Naga Nationalist Struggle, the only such movement in the North East at that time. It was gradually extended to other North Eastern States and then in 1990 to Jammu and Kashmir.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is to-date the single most direct instrument violating the democratic rights of the people of the North East and of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act is implemented when an area is declared ‘disturbed’ by either the Central or the State Government.

The Act is under much debate today on several grounds, not only in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East, but also in the rest of India. One, it enables the security forces to “fire upon or otherwise use force even to the causing of death”. Two, according to Section 6, no criminal prosecution can be initiated against the security personnel who take action under this Act. Three, till now, but for a few exceptional cases of public fury or when the security forces were caught in the act by the public, no paramilitary officer or soldier has been prosecuted for destruction of property or murder or rape. Finally, five official commissions and committees have recommended either repeal or drastic review of the Act.

We the participants of these two seminars and other individuals consider this and other such acts a gross abuse of the Constitution. AFSPA has led to atrocities in the North East and Kashmir. Currently, a case concerning 1,528 deaths in alleged fake-encounters in Manipur alone is before the Supreme Court.  Over and above these, one can mention the Thangjam Manorama Devi case in Manipur in July 2004. She was arrested by the security forces and was allegedly raped and killed. Amongst other cases is the attempted molestation near Kokrajhar in Assam, on 23rd December, 2005, of some university students who entered by mistake a compartment carrying Haryana Armed Police personnel. Four students died when the police opened fire on other students who blocked the train after hearing the screams of the students. No action has been taken till today against the perpetrators of these and other crimes. Also many other cases of massacres, mass rapes and torture like the destruction of Oinam village in Manipur in 1987, the killing of some innocent persons in the Pathribal case, the Sophian sexual violence case and the discovery of mass graves in different places in Jammu and Kashmir raise similar concerns.

Many commissions and committees, such as the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee (2005), the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007), the Prime Minister’s Working Group on Confidence Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir (2007) headed by Shri Hamid Ansari, the Interlocutors’ Report on Jammu and Kashmir (2012) and Justice J S Verma Committee (2013) have recommended that the Act be repealed or amended. Even the Planning Commission in the 12th Five-year Plan document passed by the National Development Council has for the first time ever asked for not only a gendered review of the Act, but also of gendered violence in the ‘Disturbed Areas’, as women and children are the most vulnerable in conflict regions. These voices should be heard because AFSPA is symptomatic of a larger militarization. The negative impacts on human development such as health and education have been extensive so also the scars left by these acts and the negative effects on the psyche of people who live in a situation of low intensity warfare and are treated as unequal citizens

At the international level, India has been repeatedly flagged on the issue of AFSPA in the Human Rights bodies of the UN, including the Universal Periodic Review of the Council, in almost all the major human rights treaty bodies and Special Procedures. It is clear that the Act has not served its purpose. But the Government of India has not even amended the Act for more than 50 years. A reason given by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in a speech in New Delhi on February 6, 2013 is that there is no consensus because both the retired and present army generals oppose even the idea of making it more humane.

Why does the army oppose the repeal or even amendment of this inhuman Act? Is it because they want to protect their personnel who abuse power? Surely, as the Verma Committee (2013) has remarked, the armed forces cannot expect impunity for actions such as rape, which are not in the line of duty. Can a democratic country tolerate such an anti-democratic Act? The situation in Jammu & Kashmir and the North East is complex and can be resolved only through a political process and dialogue. Those decisions cannot be taken by the army. The elected representatives have to take decisions that should include Confidence Building Measures (CBM). That is impossible when such abuses under a draconian Act continue. The rights of the people must be protected by judicial and official / administrative processes such as grievance cells that protect the right to information of relatives of detainees.

The security situation in most areas where the Act is in place has improved enormously in the last decade because of ongoing peace processes and civil society initiatives. So the stated purpose of the Act no longer exists. The security forces cannot presume that they have an unfettered right to continue using the Act in perpetuity. There has to be sunset date in these legislative measures. Continuing such Acts indefinitely would be undemocratic and violative of human rights. As a result of such violations a trust deficit has developed between the people of the North East and Jammu and Kashmir on the one hand and the rest of India on the other.

In addition, major state legislative measures exist in Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland such as the Jammu and Kashmir Public Security Act and the Nagaland Security Regulations Act which are no less arbitrary. They provide the police with impunity. Such laws no longer have a place in our democratic polity, especially after the extensive peace processes in these states. We, therefore, call on States like Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland that have been demanding the repeal of AFSPA to take a lead in changing the undemocratic tenor of the legal regime. We call upon all political parties and political candidates, including the major regional parties, to take a position on the repeal of AFSPA in the run-up to the general elections.

It is critical that a civil society alliance takes up a robust programme of advocacy and dissemination especially through the media. As a step towards it, we the 90 participants of the Seminar on AFSPA held at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi on 6th April 2013, and sponsored by ICSSR (NCR) and 160 persons present of the seminar held at Indian Social Institute, Bangalore on 13th April, 2013 demand the immediate repeal of AFSPA. We also demand that, that the armed forces be brought under the purview of the civilian government with no impunity.

Dr Joseph Xavier                                                                       Dr George Mutholil

Executive Director                                                                    Director

Indian Social Institute, New Delhi                                           Indian Social Institute, Bangalore

With Partner organisations and individuals

Human Rights Alert, Imphal, Centre for Policy Analysis, New Delhi, North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati, Altternative Law Forum, Bangalore, Mithra Foundation, Bangalore, NAPM, PUCL Karnataka, National Council of Churches in India, Nagpur, SCM, Bangalore, St Joseph’s College, Bangalore, Openspace, Bangalore, Vistaar, Bangalore, The Other Media, New Delhi, NAPM-Karnataka, Women’s Department, UTC, Bangalore.

Individuals

Ms Patricia Mukhim, Shillong, Mr Bashir Manzar, Srinagar, Ms Nandita Haksar, Goa, Mr Sanjoy Hazarika, New Delhi, Prof. Anuradha Chenoy, New Delhi, Prof. Ritu Dewan, Mumbai, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai.

 

No noble family will allow girls to become dancers: Hurriyat #Vaw #WTFnews


PTI | Feb 3, 2013, 08.13 PM IST

No noble family will allow girls to become dancers: Hurriyat
Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar said in a statement that Kashmir is a place of sufis and saints and there is no room to nourish western type of culture and immoral values.
SRINAGAR: Hardline faction of HurriyatConference today expressed surprise overJammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah‘s support for the valley’s only all-girls rock band, saying there is no room to nourish western culture and immoral values in the state.”Kashmir is a place of sufis and saints and there is no room to nourish western type of culture and immoral values,” Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar said in a statement.

“Though in a civilised society there is no place for coercion and force, there are some values a citizen has to adopt to safeguard the ethical and religious traditions,” he said.

“Hurriyat Conference expresses regret and surprise over the support of Omar Abdullah,” Akbar said.

“As a matter of fact no noble family will allow their girls to choose their profession as a dancer so as to be a mere thing of pleasure for strangers,” he said.

Akbar said Omar should have gone through the history of Kashmir to find out the high regard and esteem bestowed upon women in order to save them from being sold as commodity.

“It is a matter of concern for us the way Omar Abdullah backed the rock band because the dynasty he belongs to has since long disassociated itself from Islamic and ethical values,” he said.

Referring to the reported threats being given to the rock band, the spokesman termed it “not good”.

“Instead, parents should have rectified the things and provided advice to their daughters that their activities were not as per ethics of Islam, culture and our unique identity,” he said.

Omar had come out in support of the girls yesterday saying police will probe the threats.

“I hope these talented young girls will not let a handful of morons silence them,” he said.

The all-girls band, which came to limelight in late December last year after their performance at the annual ‘Battle of the Bands‘ competition here, had defied the convention by stepping into the male-dominated field of music.

The girls’ band has received abusive and hate messages on their Facebook page for defying convention by choosing the field of music.

 

BREAKING NEWS-Soldier in Jammu invokes Human Rights Commission against Information Commissioner #RTI


 

VINITA DESHMUKH | 16/01/2013 0, Moneylife

Being denied of information and humiliated during the hearing of his case on 10th January at the State Information Commission office, Sanskrit scholar and RTI activist Dr Subedar Surinder Sharma turned to the State Human Rights Commission to get justice


Jammu-based soldier, Subedar Surinder Sharma was filled with grief when his sister, in her thirties, died under mysterious circumstances on 29 January 2011. Agitated over the fact that the police recorded the case as ‘suicide’ and not ‘murder’ despite alleged proof in the forensic laboratory’s autopsy report, Sharma invoked the RTI (Right to Information) Act. He asked for inspection of documents of all records pertaining to autopsy as well as “chain of custody” of autopsy samples from the Government Medical College and Hospital in Jammu.  He had also requested permission of assistance of his friend Deepak Sharma to be present during inspection as he is not well versed with English—this soldier though is a Sanskrit scholar having done his PhD in it.
The public information officer (PIO) declined information stating he does not have the copy of the autopsy report. Sharma then filed the first appeal but was informed by the First Appellate Authority that they indeed have the copy of the autopsy report but cannot allow inspection as records of other patients would also be revealed. Surinder Sharma, appealed to the FAA that he was only interested in his sister’s report but was denied information.
Hence, he appealed to the State Information Commissioner where his case was pending until he was asked to be present for hearing on 4 January 2013 at the Chief State Information Commission’s office where the case was to be heard.
His friend, Deepak Sharma also filed a separate RTI application on 29 April 2011 asking for the “crime scene observation report” of Surinder Sharma’s sister, from the PIO of the Office of Forensic Laboratory, Jammu. On 26 May 2011, he was denied information under the pretext of Section 8. He filed an appeal with the FAA on 12 July 2011 but was denied information. Deepak Sharma then filed a complaint with the State Information Commission but by a decision on 4 January 2012, the Information Commissioner dismissed the petition stating that the applicant has already received the information from the PIO. States Deepak Sharma, “the Information Commissioner without giving me a notice or hearing my side, gave such an order.” Aggrieved at this “lie, as I had never received the information”, he asked for a review application. Very strangely, the SIC sent back the application to the FAA who once again turned down his request. Finally, Surinder Sharma under media glare, wrote a RTI application with his own blood on 12 October 2012 and submitted it to the PIO. It was then that the SIC took it seriously and the PIO was compelled to give a copy of report.
However, Deepak Sharma’s hearing at the Chief State Information Commissioner’s office on 10 January last week turned ugly. Both the RTI applicants are crying foul over the humiliation meted to them by GR Sufi, Chief State Information Commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir.  States Surinder Sharma, “when we sat on the chairs, Mr Sufi asked us to vacate our chairs, saying it is not meant for people like us. He also humiliated us and threatened us that no appeal of ours would be entertained and that any case can be filed against us. He also took objection to my presence to assist Mr Surendra. He said that I am not an advocate. When I brought to his notice that the RTI Act allows assistance from any citizen, not necessarily a lawyer, he was very rude. Shocked at the arrogance we have made a petition to the State Human Rights Commission, to conduct a probe against Mr Sufi for his behavior.”
Chandigarh-based Surendera M. Bhanot, coordinator RTIFED who is campaigning against the arrogance of various information commissioners writes in Humjanenge blog, “Such behaviour of the Information Commissioners has brought the institution of Information Commissions to disrepute. This has opened a new front for the information seeker to approach the Central/State Human Right Commissions. Exactly so, one information seeker has really invoked this right.”
Lately, the information commissioners have come under ire for killing the RTI Act through their insipid orders. Now, it is a bit more serious as one of their fraternity members is alleged of misconduct towards RTI applicants.

Copy of the letter addressed to the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission
Surinder Sharma & Deepak Sharma, R/o Mandlik Bhawan, 412-C, Jeevan Nagar, Jammu (Complainants)
Vs
Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information
Commission, Wazarat Road, Jammu (Respondent)

 

Sub: Complaint of human rights violation and serious breach of constitutional rightof the complainants by Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission, Jammu.

 

Hon’ble Sir,

 

It is submitted with deep grief and pain that the complainants were humiliated, harassed, threatened to be implicated in false cases and the fundamental rights of Right to Equality before law, Right to Information, Right to a fair and transparent trial in the court of law, Right to life and liberty, Right to live with human dignity, Right to freedom of speech and expression and Right to enter in any public office were violated by Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission, Jammu.
The complainants would also like to bring in to the kind notice of Hon’ble Chief Minister Sahib that the complainant no. 2 had already submitted a written request to the J&K State Information Commission, dated 30 March 2012, receipt no. 2912, requesting for the videography of his cases pending for trial at J&K State Information Commission, for a fair and transparent trial. But unfortunately, for the reasons best known to the State Information Commission, the Commission remained insensitive and even did not bother to reply the complainant of his request.
The complainants would also like to bring this in to the kind notice of the Hon’ble State Human Rights Commission that the respondent had even himself violated the provisions of the state RTI Act and put the life of the appellants/information seekers on risk. The section 6(2) of the state RTI Act prohibits any personal question, motive and the purpose and use for seeking information, but the respondent had in utter violation of this provision of the Act in his decision no. 45 of SIC/J/Comp., dated 31/10/2011directed the information seeker to apprise him of the purpose of seeking and use of sought information.
The details of the present complaint case and circumstances are as follows:
That a case titled “Surinder Sharma Vs GMC” was listed for hearing in the open courtof Hon’ble Chief State Information Commissioner, Sh. GRSufi on 10/01/2013 at 11am. The applicant along with his duly authorized representative, Sh. Deepak Sharma (Complainant no. 2) approached to the State Information commission office on 10/01/13 at 10.45am.
That both the complainants after showing their presence to the private secretary of the State Chief Information Commissioner , entered in to the open court of State Chief Information Commissioner , Sh. GR Sufi , where the case was listed for hearing.
That both the complainants humbly wished the Hon’ble State Chief Information Commissioner and took their seats. The officials from the GMC, Jammu were already seating on the chairs.
That the State Chief Information Commissioner , Sh.GR Sufi suddenly in a very rude manner ordered the complainants to vacate the chairs immediately , stating the reasons that the complainants have no right and capacity to sit on chairs before him . He also remarked that the complainants and some others like the people of Jammu region do not deserve to sit on chairs before him and only senior officials/ bureaucrats like the officials from GMC, deserve to sit on the chairs before him.
That both the complainants as ordered by the State Chief Information Commissioner immediately vacated their chairs and in standing position requested to start the trial. The complainant no. 1 (Sh. Surinder Sharma ) requested to the Hon’ble State Chief Information Commissioner , that the complainant no. 2 ( Sh. Deepak Sharma) would present the case on his behalf. (This request of the complainant No. 1 was under the provisions laid down in the J&K RTI Act, 2009).
That the State Chief Information Commissioner, while violating the provisions laid down in the J&K RTI Act, 2009, rejected the request of the complainant no. 1 to present complainant no. 2 as his representative, citing the reasons that only an advocate with valid licence can only represent an applicant in the open courts of the Information Commission and since the complainant no. 2 (Sh.Deepak Sharma) is not an advocate , hence the complainant no. 2 could not be allowed to represent the case of complainant no. 1( Sh. Surinder Sharma).
That the complainant no. 2 (Sh.Deepak Sharma) humbly requested to the State Chief Information Commissioner  that the J&K RTI Act, 2009 , permits even a non-advocate to represent an applicant and no where in the Act it is mentioned that a non-advocate cannot represent an applicant in the case.
That the State Chief Information Commissioner in a fit of anger ordered the complainants not to speak in front of him, ordered to get out of his court immediately and also warned the complainants not to file any appeal/complaint in the J&K State Information Commission in future . The Hon’ble State Chief Information Commissioner even threatened to implicate the complainants in to false cases and also threatened to teach them a suitable lesson if the complainants approach to any forum against this conduct of the State Chief Information Commissioner and also ordered the complainants not to enter in to the premises of open courts of the Commission and even in the office of J&K state Information Commission.
That the complainants were even not allowed to mark their attendance on the attendance register. That the State Chief Information Commissioner also stated that in future the complainants/appeal under the J&K RTI Act, 2009, from the complainants would not be accepted/entertained by the State Chief Information Commissioner.
Prayer: Through this prayer, the complainants most humbly request to the Hon’ble State Human Rights Commission to conduct an independent probe in this matter, direct the State Chief Information Commissioner to honor the fundamental rights of the complainants ,direct the State Chief Information Commissioner to restrain from filling any false case against the complainants, direct the State Chief Information Commissioner to acknowledge and accept the appeals/complaints filed by the complainants under the provisions of the J&K RTI Act, 2009, direct the J&K State Information Commission to conduct the videography of all the cases of the complainants for a fair and transparent trail, direct State Chief Information Commissioner, Sh.GR Sufi not to restrict the entry of the complainants in open courts of the commission, not to restrain the entry of the complainants in the premises of J&K State Information Commission both in Jammu and Srinagar office, the State Chief Information Commissioner may also be directed not to infringe the rights of the complaints to seek information under J&K RTI Act from state public authorities, the State Chief Information Commissioner may also be directed not to violate Section 6(2) of the state RTI Act and not to put the lives of innocent information seekers on the radar of the corrupt elements by asking about the use of sought information, or to award any other suitable relief to the complainants as this commission may deemed appropriate.

 

Dated:

Surinder Sharma (complainant no. 1)

Deepak Sharma (Complainant no. 2)

R/o Mandlik Bhawan, 412-C,

Jeevan Nagar, Jammu – 180010

Mob. +919419110579

Breach of Human Rights

RTI activist moves SHRC against CIC Sufi

 

Jammu 14January 2013: A complaint has been filed in the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission against GR Sufi, the State Chief Information Commissioner on the allegations that he has humiliated , harassed and violated human right of the complainant.
A complaint dated 14 January 2013 has been filed with the SHRC through its secretary by one Sh Deepak Sharma of Jammu. In the complaint, the complainant has alleged that GR Sufi not only violated the fundamental rights of the complainant, but he has also threatened the victim to implicate him in a false case. It is also submitted in the prayer that CIC has restricted the entry of the complainant in the State Information Commission and had also verbally directed the victim not to file any RTI application with any Public Authority in future.
The three- page complaint further alleged that respondent GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, did not allow the complainant to remain present in the open court of the Commission during its proceeding on 10 January 2013, in a case titled “Surinder Sharma Vs Govt.Medical College, Jammu”. The complaint further states that the respondent not only asked the complainant to get out of the open court (RTI Commission Court) but also in a very rude manner ordered him to vacate the chair where he was sitting stating that the complainant as an ordinary citizen had no right to sit on chair and only senior officials/bureaucrats deserve to sit on chairs.
The respondent had also asked the victim not to approach the RTI Commission with any complaint/appeal under the RTI Act, as the Commission would not accept/entertain the same.
Prior to this appeal to the State Human Rights Commision , Deepak Sharma had already made a request dated 30 March 2012, with the State Information Commission for videography of all his cases for a fair and transparent proceedings in the commission but till date the Commission has not taken any decision on his letter for videography.
In his prayer, the complainant Deepak Sharma has urged the State Human Rights Commission to conduct an independent probe in this matter and direct the respondent,GR Sufi to honour the fundamental rights of the complainant and also to restrain him from filling any false case against the complainant and also to accept and entertain the appeals under RTI Act and not to restrict the entry of the complainant in the open court of the commission and the office complex of the commission as the complainant as a citizen has fundamental right of right to entry in any public office.
Another RTI activist had also filed an RTI application with the State Information Commission on 10 January 2013, where he has asked the Information Commission for providing the names and designations of the persons who are entitled to sit on chairs installed in the open court of CIC, GR Sufi. He has also asked the total amount spent by Sh. GR Sufi from his own pocket for the purchase of any furniture in the open court.”

 

J&K hockey coach arrested for allegedly molesting Punjab players #Vaw


JAMMU AND KASHMIR, Updated Jan 14, 2013 at 02:36pm IST

Hyderabad: The coach of Jammu and Kashmir Under-20 women’s hockey team Angad Singh has been arrested for alleged molestation attempt. The Cyberabad police have arrested coach Angad Singh on a complaint filed by Punjab players.

Members of the Punjab team complained that the coach tried to molest them on a train to Hyderabad where they are participating in the ongoing Women’s U-20 nationals.

A case has been registered against the coach under Section 354 and 506.

 

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) Condemns Exchange of Fire and Killings along the LoC #India #Pakistan


 

SAHR is deeply disturbed with the recent exchange of firing and report of the beheading of two Indian jawans along the LoC. The firing and killing of two Indian and one Pakistani jawan is highly deplorable and no sane person or society can accept such unwarranted and gruesome incidences. The said incidences have a potential to derail the ongoing peace process that has shown remarkable progress in recent times in easing the visa regime, improving trade relations and securing many other confidence building measures that hold great promise for both the countries.

 

Initially Pakistan alleged one Pakistani soldier was killed and another injured in an unprovoked Indian firing and accordingly they summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner Mr. Gopal Baglay and lodged their protest. The report of Pakistani troops crossing LoC in the Mendhar sector of Jammu & Kashmir on Monday and killing two Lance Naik’s is also shocking. The report also says that the body of one of the soldiers was mutilated. India summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner to protest the gruesome incident. If true, it is reprehensible and must be thoroughly investigated to punish the guilty and ensure such terrible incidences do not recur.

 

We have learnt that the Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries have spoken to each other after the incidents. We urge that suitable mechanisms must be evolved and implemented immediately to ensure that the concerned authorities on both sides are in constant touch to avert recurrence of any such incidences, rather than meet after some damage is done.

 

We sincerely appeal to both the countries to take immediate steps and see such incidences do not occur in the future. We propose an enquiry by third party be it the  United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) or by any other credible international organisation on the beheading and firing across the LoC. They should also resume normal trade across the LoC and enhance people to people contacts by easing the Visa regime further. According to the New Visa Agreement, visa on arrival facility for senior citizens above 65 years of age at Attari-Wagah Checkpost is to begin on 15th January 2013 and SAHR will see that it is implemented.

 

Such incidences will only help war mongers and enemies of peace when the need of the hour for both sides is to take the peace process forward. SAHR also does not support the reactionary responses to the incidence by the media and other forces. At the same time we appreciate the position taken by both India and Pakistan governments to continue to push the peace process forward.

 

We are confident that such dastardly incidences will not affect the dialogue, as it has to be uninterrupted and uninterruptible till we secure complete friendship and peace between our two countries.

 

 

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE-Appeal from Civil `Society of Poonch to Govt of #India and #Pakistan



*APPEAL * *FROM THE CIVIL SOCIETY OF POONCH TO THE GOVT. OF INDIA AND PAKISTAN*

Peace process means different things for the people living
in different parts of Jammu and Kashmir. For the people residing alongside
103km long LOC in Poonch region, ceasefire of 26 November 2003 had brought
peace,securityand created conducive atmosphere fordevelopment in border
areas. This was important as this region and   the people and their
socio-economic needs had remained neglectedfor 58 years,due to continues
firing and shelling across the LOC. These conditions had subjected people
to limitless pain and sorrow, Death and injuries and filled their life with
miseries and tension before ceasefire. *

*However  in November  2003, For the first time after 58 years, the people
of border areas got relief from war like situation. When the LOC CBMs were
introduced in 2005, and the cross LOC bus service started. It provided
opportunities for the divided families to meet their relatives after
decades. In 2008 tradersfrom both side of the LOC were able to
establishtrade relations. Thus an atmosphere of peace and hope was created
during the past ten years and the people residing alongside the LOC started
the journey of progress and prosperity.*

*                However in last few days this peaceful atmosphere has been
disturbed due to unfortunate incidents of firing and brutalkillings across
the LOC at various places in Poonch and Uri areas. These incidents have
shaken the confidence of the people. There is a lot of tension and panic
among the public.We the people of border areas who have enjoyed the fruit
of peace and the LOC CBMs following  the ceasefire on the LOC donot want
the escalation of the situation and lives being disturbed as a result
ofmore killings.*

*The members of civil society of Poonch would like to make a humble appeal
to Governments of India and Pakistan to take immediate steps towards the
restoration of peace on the LOC and implement in letter and spirit the
ceasefire agreement of November 26, 2003.

We urge that all efforts be made to defuse the tension on the LOC and restore trade venture and weekly bus
servicefrom Poonch –Rawalakote routeso that  we the people of border areas
can live in our houses and localities near the LOCwith a sense of  peace
and security in conducive atmosphere. This, we believe is in the utmost
interest of the people residing on both the sides of LOC.*

*Name of the signatories*

*1.       **Iftikhar Ahmed Bazmi                            Secretary BAR Association Poonch*

*2.       **Inder Raj Sharma                                     President BaparmandaPoonchl*

*3.       **S. Karishan Singh                                     Gen.Secretary Cross LOC Trader`s Association Poonch*

*4.       **S. Harbajan Singh                                    President,Journalist Association Poonch*

*5.       **MohdFarooq                                             Imam,Jamia Masjid Poonch*

*6.       **K.K.Kapoor                                                                Peace,Activist*

*7.       **Molvi Abdul Razaq                                  SarpanchPanchayat HariBudha*

*8.       **S. Divinder Singh                                     OwnerKhidmat Centre*

*9.       **Prof. MussarafHussain Shah               Chairman, SyedHabibullah Memorial Society *

*10.   **Muzaffar Ahmed                                     President,Public Peace & Development Foundation  *

*11.   **K.D. Maini President Heritage Centre Poonch*

*12.   **ZakiHaider
President Anjuman-e-Jaffria*

* *

 

An Open Letter to Yo Yo Honey Singh #Hiphop #Vaw #Misogyny


A number of voices — some cogent, some misguided — have come out in protest against Honey Singh’s ‘obscene’ & ‘inflammatory’ lyrics, but Annie Zaidi writes that the matter of vital important is the rapper’s casual depiction of wanton violence against women

ANNIE ZAIDI  5th Jan 2013, Sunday Guardian

 

 

 

Members of Progressive Student’s Association protesting against Honey Singh’s ‘anti-women, vulgar and disturbing’ music in Jammu on 4 August, 2012

Dear Yo Yo Honey,

Listen. What was your first word? ‘Ma’?

Words are one of the first things we ache for. A baby learns to say ‘Ma’ or ‘Pa’ or ‘Daadi’ because those are the words of first love. Then comes ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘Biscuit’. They point to eyes, say ‘eyes’. They are happy when they go to a park. They ask: Why do cats eat rats? Why can’t I follow you into the bathroom?

Yo Yo, a baby learns words as a way of understanding his world. Papa says he must go out to work so he can feed you. You learn that a man must make money. If Ma beats you, you learn that beating is alright. You listen to a song about heartbreak and learn that pain can be expressed through art. You hear of other boys stalking girls; you start doing the same. You want to know how sex works; you look for photos, books, videos.

Words are the tools through which we assimilate, and learn to negotiate society. This process never ends. Every year I change a little bit because of what I absorb, mostly through words. What I read, watch, experience, dream, overhear.

Society is a mish-mash of image, word and experience. This is what culture is. Artists are not loved for nothing. They grasp our shared truth. They help us derive meaning from the chaos of life.

But many male artists have confused ideas about sex, masculinity and femininity. Their lyrics and videos create fake meanings. For example, a man and woman are dancing. They are smiling. But the lyrics suggest violent sex, or hint at a disrespectful relationship. The viewer is left to connect the dots.

The women acting in most videos are not dressed in working clothes. But the men often are. Women are never shown doing any work, although most women put in twice the number of work hours.

What do the songs say? They tell a lie, right? A dangerous untruth about what women are like and what they deserve. Lyrics in your newer songs – High Heels, for instance – are entirely focused on the outer shell of a woman. It makes me wonder if you can see us as anything other than female-shaped thingies. Video after video after video.

Perhaps you’re feeling petulant. Perhaps you’ve moved on from that sort of video or lyrics, and you want everyone to forget your past.

Sadly, Yo Yo, it doesn’t work that way. Fame comes slowly. It took 6 years for your infamous song to reach my ears. Art is not witnessed or dismissed overnight. Just like violent ideas are not assimilated and put into practice overnight.

About your Gurgaon show, there were two petitions going around. I did not sign one because it used words like ‘pornographic’ and ‘offensive’. I know you have a right to give offense. Besides, I am not opposed to nudity or sexual imagery in any art form.

So, this is not about pornography. It is not about obscenity. It is definitely not about sex. I did sign the other petition because it objected to the violence embedded in your songs.

 
Lyrics in your newer songs – High Heels, for instance – are entirely focused on the outer shell of a woman. It makes me wonder if you can see us as anything other than female-shaped thingies. Video after video after video.

The free speech bogey was raised, although there’s a big difference. In other cases, it was the government imposing a ban, or a bunch of hooligans threatening physical violence, or damaging spaces where artists exhibit.

I did not threaten to attack the hotel. I just let them know that I would cease to respect the management. These are the tools of democracy, Yo Yo. If the hotel did not care for my opinion, they could have gone on with your show. But perhaps, they want to be thought of as responsive. Or maybe they’re just avoiding bad press. Maybe you’ll do a show in Gurgaon a week later.

If the government bans you, Yo Yo, I’ll protest on your side. But you have exercised your right to free speech. Now I am exercising my right. And I’m saying – Stop!

I have no desire to destroy your career, Yo Yo. This is actually about your fans. And hotels, sponsors, record labels, film producers – everyone who banks on misogyny to make money. I cannot help it if fans of songs like Choot exist. I cannot stop people from acting on their hatred and fear of women‘s sexuality. But I will not let it flow on, unchallenged.

I’m not unreasonable, Yo Yo. I read petitions before signing my name. And I accept that people can change. You could spend time thinking about what kind of music you make, and whether it is honest, whether it hurts women. You could just put out a note in the papers – or even on Facebook – taking a stand. You could do it even now.

But our ideas about democracy are funny. We forget that with fundamental rights come fundamental responsibilities. That’s what it means to be free – taking ownership of your work, your environment, your ideas.

Slowly, slowly, our society learnt to associate sex with shame and violence and self-hatred and woman-hatred. Yo Yo, we must unlearn it very quickly.

But I have said enough. You say something now. And make it mean something.

Annie Zaidi is the author of Known Turf and the co-author of The Bad Boy’s Guide to the Good Indian Girl

 

Protect reporters in conflict zones, say experts


 

New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS)

Mediapersons reporting from conflict zones, including Jammu and Kashmir, Maoist-affected Chhattisgarh and the northeastern states, should get government protection, media experts said at a seminar here Saturday.

“The state institutions are expected to provide adequate protection and other systems to the journalists – irrespective of the views of the newspaper and channel concerned,” said a statement passed at the seminar on ‘Reporting Conflict Zones’ organised by South Asia Media Commission under the mandate of Indian chapter of South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA).

“There is no organised machinery to either protect or to project objective truth about the situation in those areas,” said a release issued by the commission, which facilitates free flow of information among Saarc countries.

The experts put the onus on the owners of the media organisations to “give monetary and legal back up, including special insurance, to the journalists”.

The statement issued on the conclusion of the day-long seminar regretted that there was a general apathy threatening the free flow of information which was a “prerequisite for maintaining national unity, integrity and sovereignty”.

The families of newspersons reporting from conflict zones too were subjected to blackmail, the experts said.

The statement said this while noting the “permanent threat” to the lives of the scribes reporting from “conflict zones like J&K, naxal affected areas like Chattisgarh or the northeast to various districts under Maoist influence…”.

The media commission urged the “state institutions, media owners and independent media organisations to join hands to face the grave threat to free media”.

“We should express solidarity with those who do a difficult job of reporting from the battle lines as it were,” the statement said.

Calling upon the governments to repeal the laws that restricts freedom of press in any manner, the seminar urged the governments particularly the Jammu and Kashmir government not to resort to the “stoppage of advertisements to newspapers and desist from resorting to persecution”.

–IANS

 

Condemn Strongly the Brutal Assault of Masarat Alam and Mushtaq ul Islam in the Jail in Udhampur!


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025      Contact: thearrested1@gmail.com

Date: 01/10/2012

The Conditions of Prisons in the region of Jammu are Abysmal and Inhuman especially for Kashmiri Muslim Prisoners!

 

The CRPP strongly condemns the murderous assault on Masarat Alam and Mushtaq ul Islam in the prison in Udhampur. Such acts of brutality by jail authorities on political prisoners who have been put behind bars for their uncompromising political views is an age old strategy that was adopted by the British colonialists on the freedom fighters of the Indian subcontinent. Today the same strategy is being implemented much more brutally by India on Kashmiri Muslims who have been put behind bars for their political aspirations of Azadi! These kinds of brutalities and specific targeting of the political prisoners should be condemned by every freedom loving citizen of the subcontinent.

It should be noted that India is also a signatory of the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights which recognises the rights and status of the political prisoner. But when it comes to dealing with political prisoners India has a track record of being the worst lawless state. The living experiences of Kashmiri Muslims who have been specifically targeted through various draconian laws and lodged in different prisons in the subcontinent let alone undisclosed torture centres in Jammu & Kashmir bear testimony to these acts of impunity of the Indian state.

Today in the Indian subcontinent and especially in Jammu & Kashmir, prisons have become torture centres where the undertrials detained under the notorious PSA, AFSPA, or UAPA have become easy targets of brutalisation. The jails in the region of Jammu have attained the notoriety of being torture centres as is termed by many of the relatives of the political prisoners of the region. The assault on Masarat Alam and Mushtaq is a grim reminder of the continuing policy of brutalisation of the prisoners in the jails of Jammu. It should be noted that the Srinagar Bar Association and the various people’s leaders of Jammu & Kashmir have time again pointed out this brutal treatment of the prisoners in the jails of Jammu. The prison conditions in the jails of Jammu are the worst.

The prisoners are paraded naked, beaten to pulp, made to do things which are against their religious beliefs. Further they are provided with insufficient food and are made to eat in the lawns in the scorching sun at a time in Jammu when the temperatures were around 45 degrees. These reports were abuzz in the Srinagar press since July 2012. It should be noted that the Indian state is violating its own law when it is shifting a political prisoner from the prison nearer to his/her residence. Most of the political prisoners in the jails of Jammu are from the Kashmir valley and have been shifted to the region under the pretext of overcrowding of the prisons in the latter. Notwithstanding the fact that it violates the Jail Manual, an undertrial or detainee is made to cut grass, clean toilets and utensils. There have been orders from the courts for various committees appointed since 1994 to visit the prisons and take stock of the situation by talking to the inmates. But seldom are there any such visits or reports. There is hardly any media attention on such acts of impunity of the Indian state in Jammu & Kashmir except the regular negative profiling of Kashmiri Muslims. Only the relentless vigilant protests of the people of Jammu & Kashmir have ensured that the media and the powers that be forced to take up the issue.

CRPP would call upon all democratic and freedom loving sections in the subcontinent to unitedly condemn and expose this total disregard of the Indian state for the genuine democratic aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir and thereby the permanent reign of the terror of impunity enforced on their everyday life. We unequivocally demand that the Indian government release unconditionally all such people incarcerated for their political beliefs in the valley as well as other jails in the Jammu region immediately. We also demand that such people be granted the status of political prisoner pending their release and put an end to the reign of terror through the draconian instruments of PSA, UAPA and AFSPA which have made the state impervious to all kinds of civility, propriety and respect for the life of the common people in Jammu & Kashmir. All such officials who indulge in and abet the torture and mistreatment of the political prisoners in Jammu & Kashmir should be immediately brought to book!

In Solidarity,

SAR Geelani

Working President

Amit Bhattacharyya

Secretary General

Rona Wilson

Secretary, Public Relations

India- Why #Independence is #blackday15august – Killing Kashmir


Thousands of Kashmiris have allegedly been forcibly disappeared during two decades of conflict in the region, their whereabouts unknown. A police investigation in 2011 by the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) found 2,730 bodies dumped into unmarked graves at 38 sites in north Kashmir. At least 574 were identified as the bodies of local Kashmiris. The government had previously said that the graves held unidentified militants, most of them Pakistanis whose bodies had been handed over to village authorities for burial. Many Kashmiris believe that some graves contain the bodies of victims of enforced disappearances.

The government of Jammu and Kashmir has promised an investigation, but the identification and prosecution of perpetrators will require the cooperation of army and federal paramilitary forces. These forces in the past, have resisted fair investigations and prosecutions, claiming immunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Free Waqar Campaign

While we all are happy the Free Waqar campaign worked online and after 277 days of illegal detention , waqar was released but Waqar’s case is representative of the youth who are detained under the garb of PSA to suppress the genuine voice of the people of Kashmir.His release does not signify an end to the campaign but is a part of the continuum of the long and relentless struggle against the illegal detention of many kashmiri youths under the garb of draconian laws .

 Just after Waqar was released a, teenager Mushtaq Saleem Beigh has been detained without trial in Jammu & Kashmir, northern India, following a grenade attack on the town police station on 19 May.

Mushtaq Saleem Beigh’s family claims that he is 17 years old, but does not have any proof of his age. They say they are trying to get proof from his school records. According to the family, he stopped going to school a few years ago, and has since been working as a mason to support his family.

According to Mushtaq Saleem Beigh’s family, the state police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) took him and his uncle to an SOG camp for interrogation following a grenade attack on 19 May on a local police station in Sopore town, Jammu & Kashmir, in which nine people were injured. They released his uncle the next morning, but held Mushtaq Saleem Beigh for 12 days. They later moved him to Sopore police station where he was detained for a further 15 days. He was later produced in a local court and transferred to Baramulla sub-jail.

On 2 June, police announced that Mushtaq Saleem Beigh, along with Ishfaq Shafi Kana, another resident of Sopore, were arrested for their alleged involvement in the grenade attack. However, Mushtaq Saleem Beigh’s family has not been allowed to see the first information report or formal charge-sheet. Fearing that he may have been detained illegally, on 28 June, the family entered a petition in the Sopore court seeking his release on bail. Following this, the court ordered the police to file a report stating the reasons for his arrest. However, no such report has been filed so far.

Mushtaq Saleem Beigh’s father, Mushtaq Ahmad Beigh, has said that when he went to Sopore police station and sought documents including a copy of the report, he was detained there for two days and physically assaulted. The family was able to meet with Mushtaq Saleem Beigh at the police station and at the Baramulla sub-jail. They have said that he was tortured at the police station and the SOG camp in an attempt to force him to confess to his involvement in the grenade attack, and hence he was unable to walk when they met him.

There are are many such cases, which need proper judicial intervention . Indian authorities need to stop killing kashmir.

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