ZAFAR BANGASH — If Indian rulers do not understand why the Kashmiris hate them so much, the February 14 truck bombing in Pulwama, near Srinagar, should give them cause for reflection. A vehicle packed with 750 pounds of explosives was rammed into a military convoy killing 44 members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Scores of others were injured.
In a knee-jerk reaction, India immediately blamed Pakistan without any investigation. Facts do not bear out Delhi’s accusation. The suicide bomber identified as Aadil Ahmed Dar belonged to the town of Pulwama, where the attack occurred. The CRPF thugs had on several occasions beaten and humiliated Aadil Dar for no apparent reason. In 2016, he was shot in the leg, according to his friends interviewed by the New York Times (February 16).
A retired senior Indian military commander, Lieutenant General D.S. Hooda also rubbished Delhi’s allegation against Pakistan. “It is not possible to bring such massive amounts of explosives by infiltrating the border,” General Hooda told the New York Times. He went on to say that “the material may have been taken from stashes of explosives” being used to widen the Jammu highway where the attack occurred.
India has fenced the entire border — Line of Control — separating the two parts of Kashmir. The fence is electrified and Indian military checkpoints dot the area along the Line. The claim of infiltration from Pakistan is completely false.
Not surprisingly, Pakistan vehemently rejected India’s allegation, urging Delhi to avoid such “sad and baseless knee-jerk reactions.” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called upon the UN Secretary General to help defuse tensions. Prime Minister Imran Khan also called on India to provide actionable intelligence and Islamabad would act against the perpetrators if the allegations proved true.
There is absolute panic in the Indian military and political circles. Beyond the threats against Pakistan — a default position in India especially in an election year — India’s track record in Kashmir is grim. But now, even its trigger-happy soldiers are terrified of the latest developments. If more Kashmiris resort to such tactics, Indian troops would have little chance of surviving such attacks.
The Kashmiris have an intense hatred for India. Here is why. Since January 1989, Indian colonial forces have murdered more than 95,000 Kashmiri men, women, and children. During the same period, at least 10,567 Kashmiri youth were murdered in Indian military custody. Mass graves have been discovered where the remains of thousands of Kashmiri youth were unearthed. And to India’s lasting shame, at least 11,110 Kashmiri women and girls have been gang-raped. So far, not one perpetrator of this heinous crime has been arrested, much less punished.
The CRPF thugs are especially hated. These Hindu zealots are responsible for most rape crimes. In one particularly gruesome episode in February 1991, the twin villages of Kunan and Poshpura were attacked in the middle of the night. It happened to be the mid-Sha‘ban — a special night when Muslims offer extra prayers and make supplications. While the men and women of Kunan Poshpura were engrossed in prayers, a bunch of drunken CRPF personnel attacked the villages, dragging all the men and boys out of their homes and forcing them to sit in the bitter cold. The women and girls were then repeatedly raped. The youngest girl raped was only 7 years old; the oldest a 70-year-old grandmother. The Hindu beasts spared nobody.
For Hindus, these are routine matters. After all, more than 24,000 girls and women are raped in India every year. For the Kashmiris, such humiliating crimes leave deep wounds that are unforgivable.
Despite Indian protests, it needs pointing out that resistance to colonial occupation is a fundamental right of the people. The UN General Assembly in a near-unanimous resolution 37/43 in December 1982 affirmed the right of people under occupation to resist their occupiers “by any means necessary.” This is what Aadil Ahmed Dar did on February 14. India cannot claim innocence in the face of its own gruesome record.
Far from addressing the root cause of the Kashmir issue — illegal occupation and denial of the fundamental right to hold a referendum — Indians have resorted to attacking Kashmiris studying or working in India. Hundreds have been thrown out of universities or jobs; others have been evicted from homes they had rented. On February 19, Amnesty India issued a call to the Modi regime to protect the Kashmiris.
Modi will not protect Muslims. He is a Hindu fascist. He honed his murderous skills in the ranks of the Hindu Nazi outfit, the RSS, whose ideology of hate has targeted all religious minorities in India including Sikhs, Christians, and Dalits. Muslims are their special target.
What the Kashmiris ought to do is to intensify their resistance to drive the colonial occupiers out. They are left with no other choice.
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT).