Tuesday, 4 July 2017

When Communists World Over have stood up against this man’s illegal detention, Communists in India are observing total silence

Vivek Sinha 
twitter: @viveksinha28

It’s a case of gross human rights violation. A popular leader of Kashmir has been under illegal detention for the last five years without proper trial. His crime was to demand compensation for the thousands of villagers who are displaced due to a “man-made natural calamity”. Interestingly, when every instance of human rights violation—alleged or fabricated, are regularly reported from Kashmir it is indeed a wonder that this particular case has been singularly left out.


The person I am referring to is Baba Jan and this matter refers to Gilgit-Baltistan that is a part of Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK). Yes, it can be argued that the issue is not “from” India and that Pakistan has a track record of human rights violation and that this is just one of those violations. Well, the basic fallacy in this argument is about acceptance that Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of Pakistan. It is not.

Gilgit-Baltistan is an integral part of Jammu Kashmir and when Maharaja Hari Singh, erstwhile ruler of princely state of Jammu Kashmir, signed the Instrument of Accession on October 26th, 1947 the entire state of Jammu Kashmir became an integral part of India. Though Pakistan continues to occupy large swathes of Jammu Kashmir, which includes Gilgit-Baltistan, that region belongs to India and all developments should be reported by the Indian media.

Let’s first understand this issue about Baba Jan and why it should concern us.

This matter dates back to January 2010, when a massive landslide hit the Hunza Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan that killed around twenty people and blocked a portion of River Hunza. Due to this landslide a huge artificial lake was created that submerged several villages in Attabad.

This landslide was the result of massive on-going construction activities under the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), thus making the landslide as ‘man-made’ rather than a natural occurrence. The CPEC is a $46 billion (Rs 2,96,400 crore) project that runs through Gilgit-Baltistan wherein massive construction activities, excavations and detonation of mountains continue unabated.

Baba Jan, the local leader, and the villagers felt concerned and rightly so. Their concern was that this newly-formed man-made lake in Hunza Valley (due to CPEC construction activities) might further overflow and submerge several other villages. Baba Jan led the villagers to apprise about their apprehensions to the Pakistan government, since Pakistan continues to illegally occupy this part of Jammu Kashmir and is the de-facto colonial master of Gilgit-Baltistan. His worries went unheeded and six months later in June 2010 the overflowing water submerged two more villages in Attabad.

Protests and demonstrations under Baba Jan’s leadership continued through the year and yet nothing moved on ground.

When in August 2011 a Pakistani minister came to Hunza Valley the angry locals blocked the road in protest. The Pakistani officials who are overly keen to prove to their Chinese masters that they are in full control of Gilgit-Baltistan are ruthless in supressing any forms of protest in POJK. As a result the Pakistani Police immediately swung into action to disperse the mob and in the mayhem a father and his son were shot dead by the police. This was followed by blanket arrests of protestors across the Hunza Valley that included Baba Jan.

In September 2011, Baba Jan along with sixteen other protestors were sentenced to seventy one years in prison. Ironically, since Pakistan has never recognised Gilgit-Baltistan as its province so Baba Jan could not appeal against this ruling in Pakistan’s courts. Yet Pakistan treats the area as its colony so it rules the entire POJK through proxies. All institutions across POJK, courts included, follow the diktats from Islamabad.

Last year in June a Gilgit-Baltistan court ruled against Baba Jan and justified his detention in an effort to muzzle the voice of people across POJK so that CPEC activities continue unhindered.

After several delays, the appeal against Baba Jan’s illegal custody that was scheduled for hearing at the Supreme Appellate Court (SAC) Gilgit-Baltistan on May 25th, 2107 has now been adjourned. The adjournment came on the request of the advocate general of Gilgit-Baltistan who came ill-prepared to argue in the case.

The court has now fixed the next hearing sometime in the first week of July after Eid.

However, the tricky and most disturbing aspect in this saga is that Baba Jan is a member of the socialist Awami Worker’s Party and is seen as a communist leader of Gilgit-Baltistan. Around 400 eminent communists and their sympathisers from France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Tunisia, Malaysia and other countries across the world have openly supported Baba Jan and have signed a petition urging Pakistan to free him. This list includes the likes of Naom Chomsky, Sami Amin and Gilbert Archer, among several others.

Even as the communists and their sympathisers across the world rally around Baba Jan the “illustrious” communists of India are nowhere in the picture. The likes of Sitaram Yechury, Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat, Arundhati Roy etcetera who are quick to voice their opinion on anything and everything related to Kashmir have maintained an eerie silence on the illegal detention of Baba Jan.

And the reasons are not hard to fathom. Indian communist leaders are hand-in-glove with the separatist leadership of Srinagar. The Hurriyat Conference, the JKLF and all other separatist parties based in Srinagar are the de-facto allies of Indian Communist parties. So, the Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and others are their brothers-in-arms. These Hurriyat leaders operate on the funds and directions from Pakistani establishments and they never-ever dream of going against the interests of Pakistan in Kashmir.

Ditto in the case of Baba Jan.

So what if Baba Jan is a communist leader of Gilgit-Baltistan who is demanding rightful compensation from Pakistan. If Islamabad feels that Baba Jan is wrong then in the eyes of Hurriyat and Indian Communists he ought to be wrong. Rather than take a principled stand where Indian commies will have to answer some tough questions they have chosen to maintain a weird silence on the issue.

And given the vice-like grip that Communists have on Indian media it is quite easy for them to black out news that is uncomfortable for them or puts them on a sticky wicket even if it’s about one of their own comrades across the line of control in Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir.

Baba Jan’s case has been adjourned till the first week of July and given the opportunist stance of Indian communists it would be good for him to re-think his ideological stance once he walks free.

(this column was first published in www.RightLog.in)

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Open Letter to the Editor-in-Chief, Hindustan Times

Dear Sir,

Hindustan Times wrote an editorial under the headline “Journalism is different from PR” on June 23, 2017, taking a high moral ground about objectivity and journalistic freedom about an event that took place in the Indian Capital.

But I feel the editorial was a classic case of distortion of facts.

This editorial took a dig at Lok Sabha Speaker, Ms. Sumitra Mahajan’s speech at the Narad Jayanti awards organised by RSS-affiliate Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, New Delhi to felicitate journalists. The editorial scathingly said “varnishing facts helps no one”, in a reference to the Speaker's request to journalists to rely on in-depth reporting.

Ms Mahajan's speech is on the You Tube, editors of Hindustan Times must have a look at it, they should not be misled about comments made by the Speaker, and they should not twist copy to suit their needs.

The issue of reporting in India's maddening newsrooms, whether it is good, bad and ugly, and whether its truthful or not, is now a subject of major debate among journalists themselves. In recent cases, top news channels have even booked hoarding space to criticize rivals who have been extremely vocal.

So, in this very context, one needs to evaluate what Ms Mahajan said at the event. Ms Mahajan categorically said that a journalist needs to go beyond superficial byte-collections and touch the crux of an issue. She took the example of ongoing conflict in Kashmir Valley and the stone pelters to make her point. In very clear words she said that merely running around with a mic and collecting bytes will not help one understand the real reasons of stone pelting in Kashmir Valley.

She explained that journalists need to connect with the youth’s heart in Kashmir Valley that can possibly be done through beautiful language to strike a chord with Kashmir’s youth. She referred to balance in reporting.  

It was this “beautiful language” that HT lapped up in its editorial and attributed it to Ms Mahajan’s sermonizing journalists to desist from reporting and writing about unpleasant truth.

It would be worthwhile to read what HT wrote.

“By saying that journalists should try to avoid unpleasant truths, what does Ms. Mahajan mean? Should we varnish information and dress it up for the public, which incidentally is paying to get authentic news? Does this mean that we don’t talk about the shortcomings of government programmes and like good stenographers take down whatever figures are given to us? And can beautiful language hide difficult truths?.....” says the HT editorial that went ahead and extrapolated such vitriol to the “mythical character” Narad Muni. The editorial also included a famous one-liner from George Orwell who had once said: “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations”.

And this is where most of the journalists, newspapers and news channels falter in India. Facts are suppressed and quotes taken out of context. Journalists have often been hauled over the coals for seeking favours, some have lost their jobs. The energy editor of Hindustan Times was fired for seeking favours from a corporate house, in her parting letter she opened a virtual Pandora's Box about how she routinely raised cash from hydrocarbon companies for the daily's annual, signature event. Worse, top editors have been caught on tape blackmailing corporate captains for cash and then landed up in jail, all leading to a big question mark on the credibility of journalists and media houses.

Never has the objectivity of journalists and news organisations been questioned as it is in present times. Ms Mahajan, gave another example of how three different newspapers quoted three different figures about funds allocated for roads in UP, such that one newspaper said it was Rs 10,000 crore, another mentioned Rs 50,000 crore whereas the third quoted Rs 1,00,000 crore. Surely, different figures quoted by different newspapers cannot be mere typos it can either be lazy reporting or a deliberate design to distort facts to put BJP-led UP government in the dock over misappropriation of funds. And this is what Ms Mahajan referred to during her speech.

Ms Mahajan never attacked journalists, nor their work. She merely highlighted an issue that has repeatedly been talked about by many independent editors themselves: The dangers of Biased news, Paid News.

I had expected the editorial writer to follow and understand the importance of the speech of Lok Sabha speaker, not turn it into a subject of ridicule.

In the age of mindless breaking news, where journalists call their visiting the site of the news Ground Zero reporting, words of caution are good. For the journalists, and all those in the profession.

I hope at least you, the editor of the daily, will agree.


Vivek Sinha
(former journalist with Hindustan Times)

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Kashmir Struggle is all about establishing Islamic Caliphate and Sharia

As different terror groups fight for dominance in Kashmir, they make it clear that resistance and struggle is only about Islamic Caliphate

As radical Islam spreads its tentacles in Kashmir an
increasing number of women can be seen in
fully covered veils (burqa) Photo: Vivek Sinha 

Vivek Sinha
twitter: @viveksinha28

Zakir Musa, the recently ousted terrorist commander of Hizbul Mujahideen’s Indian arm, has unveiled the motivations driving Kashmir saga for the world that had hitherto remained secretive and was never talked about in the open. In a series of video messages, Musa has clearly spelt out that Kashmir is part of Islamists’ agenda to establish Islamic Caliphate and there is nothing political about their “movement”.

Musa’s video message has come in response to a recent statement from Hurriyat Conference leaders where they claimed that Kashmir struggle is political and has nothing to do with Islam. But Musa was quick to denounce Hurriyat’s intent. He minced no words as he questioned the rationale of using mosques and Islamic gatherings as a platform through the years where Hurriyat leaders openly advocated Islamic Sharia and an ambition to establish Islamic Caliphate across Kashmir. “…we want to ask these political hypocrites if Kashmir is a political issue then what’s the meaning of these slogans? Azadi kaa matlab kya? La Illaha Ilallah, (What is the meaning of Azadi? There is no God except Allah), Pakistan say rishta kya? La Illaha Ilallah (What is our relation with Pakistan? There is no God except Allah).”

He went on to say that these (Hurriyat) hypocrites cannot be our leaders. “We warn these Hurriyat people not to interfere in our matters…remain with their dirty politics… otherwise we will cut their heads and hang them in Lal Chowk (Srinagar, Kashmir Valley),” Musa asserted.

Musa’s video initiated swift reactions and denials came quick. Hizbul Mujahideen issued a statement distancing itself from Musa’s remarks, which was followed by a second video message from Musa, where he claimed that he stands by his stand and announced his decision to quit as Hizbul’s India chief. He explained that he cannot be a part of any political movement and will fight only for the cause of larger Islamic resistance. Musa followed this by a third video wherein he categorically asked his comrades not to fall in the trap of nationalism and remain on the path to establish Caliphate. “Khilafat (Caliphate) Unites but Nation Divides” read the poster in his video message.

Abdul Gani Dar, a local leader of the ruling People’s Democratic
Party (PDP) 
was shot dead at this spot by terrorists at
Pulwama in Kashmir Valley.
Photo: Vivek Sinha
Genesis of this “Kashmir issue” lies in Pakistan’s belief that erstwhile princely state of Jammu Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of India’s partition.

When India was partitioned, the princely states had the option to join either the Indian or Pakistani dominions. On October 26, 1947 Jammu Kashmir’s Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession with India thus making the entire Jammu Kashmir as an Indian state. Pakistan has refused to accept and honour this accession which was the same for all princely states and has been stoking Islamic passions in the Kashmir Valley to fuel disturbances. It’s propped up political outfit, Hurriyat Conference is a conglomeration of different leaders in Kashmir Valley who officially maintain that Kashmir is a political problem, but recruit Kashmiri youth into their fold by drilling into their minds that Kashmir resistance is part of the larger Islamic struggle to establish a Caliphate and Sharia across the world.

This double speak continued all through the years, but as penetration of social media grew in the Kashmir Valley and sources of news flow increased, the local Kashmiri youth have come to realise this double speak of Hurriyat and their masters in Pakistan. It was this realisation that led Musa to come out openly against Hurriyat.

However, an open acceptance that ‘Kashmir struggle’ is all about Islamic Caliphate and Sharia weakens Pakistan’s case on Kashmir across international forums. And so Hizbul Mujahideen quickly disassociated from Zakir Musa and he was asked to quit as its India chief. The Kashmir saga has now begun to unravel and the layers within layers are getting exposed by the day. Hizbul Mujahideen is struggling to keep its flock together, even as its members break away to form other splinter groups.

Musa has announced to set up his new group, an Islamic Sharia Rebel Group. The group has already announced its goal to set up Sharia in Kashmir. They called upon a meeting with some Salafi and Wahabi groups and have rejected to toe the line of Pakistan propped Hurriyat leaders. Musa announced to play a separate role for Nizam-e-Mustafa.

The Hurriyat Conference found itself on a sticky wicket when its top leaders admitted on camera that they continue to receive regular funds from Pakistan to foment trouble in Kashmir Valley. Hurriyat has since suspended its leader Naeem Khan.

India’s NIA (National Investigation Agency) is now questioning Naeem Khan and other Hurriyat leaders.

As old comrades break ranks they are now desperate to prove their mettle for Islam. They need new recruits, arms and a name for themselves. Muslims in the Kashmir Valley are thus being forced to participate in this larger resistance to establish Islamic Caliphate. A couple of days ago, Syed Naveed Mushtaq, a constable in the Jammu Kashmir Police stole four automatic assault rifles and service revolvers and fled to join Hizbul Mujahideen. Hizbul’s spokesperson confirmed that Syed Naveed has joined ranks with them.

The coming days could see these splinter groups fight for supremacy and cement their place as the torchbearers of Islam in Kashmir. This, in effect, would mean more killings and an increase in terrorist activities. Last fortnight, five policemen of the Jammu Kashmir police and bank security guards were gunned down by the terrorists in Kulgam, Kashmir. This was followed by the murder of an unarmed Kashmiri army officer, Lieutenant Umar Fayaz, in cold blood. The only crime of Lt. Fayaz or the policemen were that they did not agree to play a part in establishing Islamic Caliphate in Kashmir.

( This article was first published at IndiaFacts.org )

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

How new media ventures will change the meaning of "News"

Vivek Sinha  

The flow of information drives dialogue and discussions in a society, which is the bedrock of a vibrant democracy. The fourth estate comprising an army of Journalists aid and abet this information flow that in turn kick-starts societal discussions about legislative policies and executive actions. While doling out information Journalists rely on the five ‘Ws’ and one ‘H’ to apprise their audience, such that these five ‘Ws’ refer to What, Where, Who, When and Why while the ‘H’ refers to How. Several generation of Journalists have been taught and made to believe that of these six questions, ‘Why’ is the most important that requires the precision and trained eyes of a scribe to write a news report. This, ‘Why’ puts perspective to an incident by adding value to raw bits of information.

Interestingly, “Why” does an incident or an event becomes news worthy has undergone a sea change, for worse. To recall, in the pre-independence era newspapers were loaded with articles that castigated the British rule and dissected every decision taken by them thereby creating awareness about futility of British colonial rule in the Indian sub-continent. Why? Because the Journalists and Column Writers in that era were fierce nationalists whose aim was to initiate discussions about ways and means to gain independence from British rule. Things changed in the post-independence era and newspaper reportage was more about nation’s progress and talks centered on developmental issues.

However, over the last couple of decades the kind of news being reported has undergone a complete makeover. Entertainment has silently entered the lexicon and before we could realize it is now glued as a suffix to news and has given rise to the phrase ‘News & Entertainment’. Well, there is no anathema to Entertainment and happenings in the entertainment industry does have a news value, yet news and entertainment are of two different genres and attempts to club them together has deprived the sense of social responsibility that news dissemination once had.

This evolution has had far reaching ramifications. Now, events that have the potential to attract eyeballs and can boost TRPs (television rating point) are played up in the hierarchy of news importance. Reporters can be seen in pursuit of only those information-bits that have a sensational value or the potential to rake in moolah for their media houses.

In this scenario, news that is not 'sell'-able is no news at all. There is lure of money and in the process if ethos of Journalism gets eroded then so be it. This in effect explains attitude of the so-called “mainstream” Newspapers and News Channels where information presented as news have rarely any informative value or educative component. Pressing issues that concern well-being of our nation gets buried in the noise of ‘entertaining news’. The domino effect has led to constantly falling standards of discussions within the society with people shunning away all forms of social responsibility.

Ironically, all this is being done in the name of reader interest or the-audience-wants-it-so-we-give-it. Real news gets lost in this blind race to serve the lowest common denominator and discussions get skewed in a manner such that trivial issues take precedence on the nation’s center stage.

Thankfully, technology has been a great enabler in modern times that has opened new avenues across sectors, including news media. News dissemination is now no longer the preserve of a select few and rising Internet penetration has opened new possibilities for the exchange of ideas. The tech-revolution has pulled down the cost of setting up a new media venture. As a result, news portals are coming up across the world that raise issues untouched by big media organisations. 

Often the level of conversation in these newly born news portals through their incisive articles and columns is far superior than what the established media brands cater to their audience. Experts with vast experience in their respective fields of knowledge who were hitherto spurned by big media brands look towards these news portals to share their stories. New voices improve the texture, tenor and quality of discussions. 

This, indeed is a refreshing change but much depends on whether the momentum continues. Current indicators point that this momentum will build upon in the coming years. It should. Because healthy discussions lead to a better society.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Dream-Robbing of Young Kashmiris

How Islamic Terrorists are recruiting young Kashmiri boys to be play-things in their evil design

Vivek Sinha
twitter: @viveksinha28
Yet again the picturesque Kashmir Valley is in news for wrong reasons. This time the big talk is about violence that occurred during the by-elections in the Srinagar Parliamentary constituency, which led to the death of eight boys.
Over next few weeks there will be a barrage of news-analysis wherein reams of newsprint will be devoted to the “targeted killing” of “innocent” Kashmiris, and hours of newsroom debates will focus on how Indian state is losing the plot in Jammu Kashmir. Discussion and debates will underline the alienation of Kashmiri youth, plebiscite, UN resolutions, human-rights violation, AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) and several others.
During the last months, flash mobs have indulged into targeted stone-pelting at security forces, leading to deaths. Immediately after such incidents there’s always a media frenzy that talks about Kashmir slipping into chaos.
In fact, this follows a pre-mediated script. There’s no deviation from the preconceived trajectory.
No, I am not undermining or belittling the deaths of Kashmiri youth killed in violence during the recent Srinagar by-elections. Of course, these deaths are unfortunate and should not have happened. However, my point is about the selective and prejudiced reporting of the events leading up to such incidents. It’s this biased reporting about Kashmir Valley that has created a vicious cycle of deaths and has helped to cement a farcical narrative about Jammu Kashmir.
Let’s take a hard look at the facts. Kashmir Valley is just 7 % of the geographical area of entire Jammu Kashmir state, which also includes Jammu, Laddakh, Pakistan-occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK) and China-occupied Jammu Kashmir (CoJK). Of this 7 % geographical region, incidents of stone-pelting occur in only five districts of the Kashmir Valley—Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag, Shopian, and Pulwama.
So why do incidents of stone-pelting and violence occur at regular intervals in these five districts of Kashmir Valley?
It needs to be borne in mind that the pro-Pakistan rabble-rousers dubbed as “Kashmiri Separatists” are fighting a battle for their survival. These Separatist leaders live in Srinagar and yet wish that Jammu Kashmir should secede from India and join Pakistan. The entire coterie of Kashmiri Separatists that includes the likes of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Asiya Andrabi and Yasin Malik, among others, have their support base in only these five districts of Kashmir Valley.
Interestingly, even in these five districts their hard-core supporters are confined to a few colonies. A large proportion of people in these five cities are either peace loving or support these Separatists out of fear of being ostracised. These fence-sitters are average Kashmiri middle class people, who aspire to lead a happy and content life. Their children want to be doctors, engineers, lawyers, pilots, civil servants, singers, actors or have similar other career ambitions.  Several of these youngsters have even joined the Indian Armed forces. They want to move with the economic development and prosperity of India. And this is what frustrates these pro-Pakistani Separatists.
If an average Kashmiri chooses tourism over terrorism then the entire gambit of Separatists comes to a zero. The Separatists are well aware of this and know that their back is on the wall.
And when the devil (read Separatists) is pushed to the wall (s)he unleashes a devious design. So, they have developed a web of paid agents across Kashmir Valley who work under diverse pseudonyms but for a common master. A human rights activist and an armed Islamic terrorist work in tandem in the same locality and are helped by several other proxies. Their modus operandi, over the last several months, have been to target school children in the age bracket of five to fifteen years.
Roping in children has its own set of benefits. It’s much easier to indoctrinate a school child at an impressionable age plus if he gets hurt (or dies) during stone-pelting violence then his picture is used for propaganda and helps play the victim card.
The Left-leaning media is always eager to lap up such stories. That’s precisely the case in Srinagar by-election violence. None of the journalists who report from and about Kashmir ask a simple question: Why do kids come out during stone pelting? This obvious question was finally asked by the Indian Supreme Court a couple of days ago. “But what are children aged seven, nine and fourteen years doing in a mob? Why are they placed in front of the mob to confront security forces?” asked a Supreme Court Bench that included Chief Justice of India and two other Judges. The question was posed during an ongoing hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by J&K High Court Bar Association to ban pellet guns used by security forces to quell restive crowds.
A closer look at the stone pelting videos and pictures clearly shows that only a handful of masked youngsters are keen on throwing stones while the rest remain as passive bystanders. The ones who are keen to throw stones and Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs) are the active cadres of these pro-Pakistan Separatists while the much larger crowd of bystanders are the kids who have been forced to come out. A further dichotomy of these bystanders reveals that a large group among these kids comprises of those who have been brought out with the lure of money, and most of them are paid between three hundred to five hundred rupees (USD 4 to USD 7.5)
The remaining and largest segment comprises of kids who have been literally dragged out of their homes. These children join ranks with the notorious Separatist elements only because if they do not, their family will be branded as informers of the Indian Army. Once that happens, the family comes on the radars of Islamic terrorists who work underground. The women from these marked families are mere lumps of meat for Islamic terrorists, who rape and molest them at free will. Every family wants its women to be safe and if the family’s young boys need to pay a price by being a face in the stone-pelting crowd, then so be it. The average Kashmiri has no option but to be a mute spectator during the stone pelting episodes and to take part in the funeral processions of terrorists killed by Indian security forces.
Over the years a perception has been assiduously built that local Kashmiris, especially the youth of Jammu Kashmir, are alienated with India and that they support and endorse Islamic terrorist attacks. This ‘perception management’ works in such a way that opinion, especially the Separatist’s viewpoint, is passed upon as news from the Valley. It is hardly reported that these Pakistan-sympathiser Kashmiri-Separatists and Islamic-terrorists are a mere handful and they do not enjoy the support of masses.
Of late, stories of high handedness of Islamic terrorists and Separatists have begun to trickle down, further eroding their support base. In order to stay relevant they have been desperate to play any kind of mischief.
Recent violence during Srinagar by-elections is a case in point. Whatever be the outcome of this election, it will have no bearing on the state or the national politics. Yet Sheikh Abdullah’s son Farooq Abdullah joined ranks with pro-Pak Separatists to save his National Conference from slipping into political oblivion. His party has lost support over the years due to anti-people polices and he knows that if he loses the by-elections, then its curtains for him and his party. A strategy was thus chalked out to disrupt election voting such that all those who are opposed to Farooq Abdullah are not able to come out to vote and only his supporters would vote, thus paving victory for him. The mere 7 % polling signals the success of these forces who kept common Kashmiris away from the polling booth. During re-polling this voting percentage dropped to a further 2%, such is the fearful atmosphere created in the Valley.
This indeed is a devious strategy. Farooq Abdullah will thump his chest at the electoral victory and yet claim to be a victim saying innocent Kashmiris lost their lives for his victory. The Separatists, on their part, will dismiss the elections as a sham, saying that the people of Kashmir had rejected India’s electoral process.
The fact remains that security forces faced grievous injuries. More than a hundred security personnel have been seriously injured due to stones targeted at them and the deadly Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs) that were hurled upon them.  Yet, the most worrisome aspect in this saga is that the psychological warfare waged by Islamic terrorists in the laboratory of Kashmir may now be tested elsewhere in the world as well.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Jammu Kashmir acceded to India on 26 October 1947. Period.

Vivek Sinha 

twitter: @viveksinha28

Quite often when a product has shortcomings its manufacturer resorts to deceptive marketing. It creates a smoke screen over the product’s limitations and marketing managers take it further by confusing and corrupting the minds of gullible people into believing that the product is not flawed, rather it is fabulous. That this is a common practice for corporations and businessmen is known, what is unknown is the fact that even historical events are subject to such devious designs.

While this may sound strange, a look at the recent propaganda on Jammu Kashmir confirms this belief. The state has been a victim of countless propaganda yet the recent efforts are subtle and have the ability to confuse all and sundry.

It is a historical fact that the erstwhile princely state of Jammu Kashmir acceded to India on 26 October, 1947.

Yet, in the month of August this year, Congress Parliamentarian Dr Karan Singh said that Jammu Kashmir acceded to India on 27 October 1947.

“….the day my father (Maharaja Hari Singh) signed the Instrument of Accession it (Jammu & Kashmir) became an integral part of India there is no doubt about it. 27th October I was in the room I was in the house when the Accession was signed…,”Dr Karan Singh said during a debate in Rajya Sabha. Dr Singh further said: “…he (Maharaja Hari Singh) signed the same Instrument of Accession that all the other Princely States signed. But, all the other Princely States subsequently “Merged” Jammu & Kashmir did not “Merge”

Apart from being a Congress politician, Dr Karan Singh is the son of Maharaja Hari Singh, had been the regent of Jammu Kashmir, served as the state’s Governor and has been actively involved in the matters of Jammu Kashmir.
In a cursory look, Dr Karan Singh’s statement appear benign and well intentioned. It is only after the surface is scratched that the real and devious intentions become clear. Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 and NOT (emphasis added) on 27 October 1947 as has been stated by Dr Karan Singh in his speech in the Rajya Sabha.

“… I Shriman Inder Mahinder Rajrajeshwar Maharajadhiraj Shri Hari Singh ji, Jammu & Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibbet adi Deshadhipati, Ruler of Jammu & Kashmir State, in the exercise of my Sovereignty in and over my said State do hereby execute this my Instrument of Accession…. under my hand this 26th day of October, nineteen hundred and forty seven.”  

This text is quoted from the original Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh and it clearly mentions the signing date: Twenty Sixth October Nineteen Hundred and Forty Seven.

Further, all Princely States became part of the Indian Union by signing the same Instrument of Accession and there was NO (emphasis added) “Merger Document” that needed to be signed by any of the erstwhile Princely State. In fact, Dr Karan Singh has himself conceded that his father Maharaja Hari Singh had signed the same Instrument of Accession and yet he goes on to state that the State of Jammu Kashmir did not “merge”.

Dr Karan Singh being the son of Maharaja Hari Singh is well aware about the exact date of Jammu Kashmir’s accession to India. This is not an innocent slip of the tongue rather a carefully crafted strategy, especially since efforts are being made by columnists, journalists and other opinion makers to establish 27 October as the date of accession.

The big question is why a concerted effort is being made to establish 27 October as the date of accession when it is a historical fact that Jammu Kashmir acceded on 26 October 1947.

A closer scrutiny of the sequence of events that led to the accession of Jammu Kashmir reveals subtle details. And a review of historical context in the run-up to partition is worth recounting to understand this nefarious design.

At the time of partition the Princely States had the option of joining either of the two dominions -- India or Pakistan. An Instrument of Accession was prepared wherein the Head/Maharaja/Ruler of a Princely State would sign and accede to either India or Pakistan.

Once the head of a Princely State signed on the Instrument of Accession it was deemed to be final and that particular state was considered to have become a part of that dominion. The most important fact to note is that after the Instrument of Accession was signed on a specific date nobody had the power to refuse or renege upon the accession. Neither the British Queen nor her representative Lord Mountbatten had any role about that Princely State’s accession.

Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 and on 27 October 1947 Lord Mountbatten made a file entry about it.

Mountbatten’s counter signature and “acceptance” of Hari Singh’s signed Instrument of Accession was merely a file noting. Mountbatten did write: “I do hereby accept this Instrument of Accession. Dated this twenty seventh day of October, nineteen hundred and forty seven.” In reality this was merely a type of recording that Mountbatten had made about Maharaja Hari Singh’s Instrument of Accession. His counter-signature had no legal basis nor was it mandatory. 

It’s important to understand the real significance of 27 October 1947 and why is this date being stressed upon as the ‘date of accession’. When on 26 October 1947 Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession, the Princely State of Jammu Kashmir became Indian Territory and defending Jammu Kashmir’s frontiers became India’s right. It was due to this authority that the Indian Army reached Jammu Kashmir on 27 October 1947.

The Pakistani Army had attacked Jammu Kashmir on 22 October 1947 and they were creating havoc across Jammu Kashmir. The Pakistani Army was killing people, looting properties and raping hapless women. Pakistan’s attack came in violation of its Standstill Agreement with Maharaja Hari Singh wherein Pakistan had clearly said that it agrees to continue with the existing arrangements with Jammu Kashmir until a final settlement is reached. Yet, Pakistan did not wait for a final settlement and instead invaded Jammu Kashmir on 22 October 1947. After Jammu Kashmir’s accession on 26 October the Indian Army took it upon itself to drive away the invading Pakistani Army.

The likes of Dr Karan Singh are well aware of the sequence of events. And they also know that if they have to “sell” the “Kashmir dispute” it needs to be marketed well. This can only be done if confusion and doubts are created about the legality of state’s accession and so they have unleashed a malicious campaign to project 27 October 1947 as the date of accession of Jammu Kashmir.

And what better way to cement this confusion than to say that Maharaja Hari Singh signed the accession under coercion of the Indian Army. This can be done by first establishing the date of accession as 27 October 1947 and later on creating an uproar that since Indian Army had reached Jammu Kashmir on October 27 so it was the Indian Army that bullied Maharaja Hari Singh into signing the Instrument of Accession.

A coterie of historians further these untruths about Kashmir and “market” this “Kashmir dispute”.

The only way to correct the discourse on Jammu Kashmir is to counter this malicious propaganda though hard facts. A beginning can be made by remembering that Jammu Kashmir acceded to India on 26 October 1947.

(This Column was first published in IndiaFacts.org)  

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Army’s surgical strikes on PoJK are an opportunity to change the narrative about India

Vivek Sinha 

twitter: @viveksinha28

Certain events in a nation’s history are etched deep in its collective consciousness and have the potential to set the tone for future narratives. Quite often, we Indians have squandered away the positive opportunities presented by history and clung on to the negatives, only to remain as a self-doubting country that debates and discusses frivolous concerns and skirts the real issues.
Great civilizations are built only when public opinion is shaped by historical events and the discourse is turned towards cohesive national development. As a nation, we must learn to identify and build upon such opportunities.
Indian Army’s lethal strikes on September 29 on the terrorist base camps in PoJK (Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir) is one such historical opportunity. These strikes happened within days after the Pak-Army trained mercenaries attacked the Indian Army camp at Uri, in Jammu Kashmir. The counter-attacks by the Indian Army gave the message loud and clear to Pakistan, to the international community and to the Indian people that enough is enough and India will no longer show ‘strategic restraint’, if fidayeen strikes happen on its territory.
Of course, there was no shred of doubt about the capabilities of India’s defence forces. The doubt was about the dithering political class that on numerous occasions has failed the common man and our brave soldiers.
During their tenure, the Union Government of UPA-I and UPA-II were found lacking in their response to the continuous proxy war that Pakistan has waged upon us. Every time a terror attack happened on the Indian soil or an Indian soldier was murdered in cold blood, the puppet government led by Manmohan Singh gave the meekest response possible as the Head of the State. This had a cascading effect on the nation’s psyche and collective consciousness of Indians.
We began to believe that howsoever gruesome, may be the terrorist attack by the Pak mercenaries, India will always show “strategic restraint” and that these killings, bombings and terrorist attacks will continue. Public memory is often short and the memories of Kargil Victory began to ebb. This, coupled by the perception battle by a few agenda-driven high-profile journalists and fiction-writers masquerading as historians, played upon the collective consciousness of India. Concerted efforts were made to create doubts about the outcome of the 1965 India-Pakistan war. Attempts had also begun to shroud the outcome of the 1971 India-Pakistan war. Though India has emphatically won all wars with Pakistan and it can easily crush Pakistan in all future wars as well, notwithstanding its borrowed nuclear capability.  Yet, the dithering Congress politicians during their reign and the murky propaganda by their Communist comrades made the Indians feel frail and puny. We began feeling that India could hardly stand up strongly to Pakistan’s terror attacks.
After the terrorist attacks at Uri, Indians felt worse. Social media was abuzz with talks and jokes that the best response India can give to Pakistan is to strongly condemn- Kadi Ninda– terrorist attacks. No amount of assurance from Prime Minister Narendra Modi or any other minister in the government could change this perception in the minds of Indians. Such was the nature of our collective consciousness that had got into a self-destructive mode. This was the extent of damage done by the UPA-I and UPA-II on the psyche of Indians.
But, things had changed, since Modi took the reins at Delhi. He knows how to walk the talk. He also knew that India has to talk tough with the rogue neighbour. The Indian Army was given the green signal and it conducted successful surgical strikes on PoJK, destroying terrorist camps and liquidating terrorists waiting to enter India.
When news of Indian Army’s successful strikes across the LoC (line of control) first broke, there was a sense of disbelief and people seemed cautious in their response. The disbelief stemmed from the anxiety that “if” India had the guts to conduct a daring cross-border strike on a nuclear armed Pakistan.
This is the magnitude of the havoc that a few agenda-driven journalists, commentators, historians and a few politicians have played on our collective psyche. Once this process sets in, it is a race to the bottom and the collective consciousness of a nation becomes all about disbelief and scepticism about its institutional capabilities. Without even our realising we were gradually becoming a bunch of people, who chose to run away from problems rather than facing them boldly. Instead of building a strong public opinion and give a robust response to Pakistan’s terrorist attacks, we chose to somehow adjust and forget about it. We were slowly imbibing an escapist mind-set in our consciousness. Initially, we refused to discuss and build strong opinion, and when the national problems became too overwhelming, we chose to look for an alternative abode, without realizing that this scourge of terrorism will follow anywhere and everywhere we run.
All this can change and needs to change. Thankfully, the cross-border strikes by the Indian Army has given us an opportunity to change this.
The Indian Army is capable of annihilating Pakistani Defence Forces with or without nuclear weapons. This is beyond doubt and India has proved it in all the wars fought with Pakistan.
Great civilizations are built only when its people show the grit to face challenges. We need to remember that wars are not won only by the men in uniform. The huge mass of civilian population is also a party to it. After all, who is the soldier defending at the borders? And the Indian soldiers have never ever failed the nation, rather it is the masses that have been misled time and again about the capability, commitment and professionalism of our armed forces.
All this is done in a very subtle manner. And it has begun once again after the surgical strikes on the terrorist launch pads in the PoJK.
Questions are now being raised about the ‘objective of these strikes’ and ‘whether terrorism will stop after these strikes’. Congress politicos, rabble rousers from AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) and Communist parties have started demanding evidence of these strikes. Taking a dig at Prime Minister Modi over the surgical strikes, Rahul Gandhi has accused him of doing ‘khoon ki dalali’. Over the next few days, they will come up with some other stratagem to demean the Indian Army and try to create scepticism about India’s capabilities to deal with terrorism.
Well, evidence is not required in every case. At certain places it is the trust that reigns supreme. For instance, does a child ask his/her mother for evidence about who the father is? It is the trust that the child has on the mother that (s)/he accepts the man whom the mother says is the father. Ditto for Indian Army.
We must clearly bear in our minds that the Indian Army is a highly disciplined force that acts only on the commands of a democratically elected government.
It is worth recalling the meeting of Field Marshal S.H.F.J. Manekshaw with Indira Gandhi after India’s emphatic victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. Manekshaw was hugely popular after the convincing victory over Pakistan and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was extremely worried that General Manekshaw (he was later on promoted as Field Marshal) would topple her government in a coup and take charge. Manekshaw flatly denied this possibility, dismissed them as mere rumours and said that there was absolutely no consideration of a coup by the Indian Army!
Our armed forces are led by men of character and their level of commitment to Indian democracy is of the highest order.
Unlike the Pakistani Army that “owns” a country called “Pakistan” and competes with IS fighters in committing atrocities; the Indian Army vigilantly defends Indian borders and protects its citizens. So, when our Army says that it has successfully conducted the surgical strikes, then we ought to believe it.
Also, whether we like it or not, the war has been thrust upon us by Pakistan. It may not be a full-fledged war, but is definitely a low-intensity proxy war, where along with terror strikes, a psychological warfare has been unleashed. There will be a jostling for our mind space and we need to brace for it. For instance, the talks of misuse of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Acts), or the atrocities being committed by the Indian security forces on the civilian population or the human rights of a terrorist. All these are deceitful and sheer propaganda.
The question is what should be our response? Well, the first and foremost duty is to identify our role in these pressing times. The civilian population can no longer afford to remain an innocent bystander. While the soldier on the border fights with a gun, we the civilians need to fight with facts and logic, and present a counter-narrative to the devious propaganda being run by fissiparous forces. It is not the time to let our guard down.
This is a historical opportunity to shun and isolate the naysayers, who find fault with every single thing about India. It is just a matter of time, when the perception managers and naysayers will start fabricating reports about Army’s excesses in Kashmir, misuse of pellet guns, false rape stories and human rights violation of “innocent” terrorists, among several others. The list is endless and given the vice-like grip they have over mass media it is just a matter of time that this starts popping up. The demand for “evidence of the surgical strike” is one of those illogical, but misleading arguments being put forth.
The strikes by the Indian Army could be a game changer for the nation and help shape our collective consciousness in a positive manner. This can happen only when we the people of this nation for whom a soldier sheds his blood are aware of his sacrifices and trust his word. Certain things are non-negotiable and India’s security and integrity is one of them. Period.
(This Column was first published in IndiaFacts.org)