Indian authorities alarmed over signs of increasing militancy in Kashmir

Kashmiri relatives and friends of slain Indian paramilitary soldier Sharief-Ud-Din-Ganaie mourn during his funeral at Nagam Chadoora village of central Budgam district on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Indian authorities alarmed over signs of increasing militancy in Kashmir

NEW DELHI: The involvement of two local Kashmiri boys in a suicide attack on a paramilitary camp in Indian-administered Kashmir on Sunday has rung alarm bells among security personnel and political experts who have rarely witnessed homegrown suicide bombers.
Fardeen Mohiuddin Khanday and Manzoor Ahmad Baba, age 16 and 21 respectively, were among the three suicide bombers who targeted the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp at Lethpora in Pulwama in Kashmir on Dec. 31 in which five security personnel were killed.
Khanday was from Hiana in Tral area of Kashmir and Baba from Drubgam in Pulwama district of the valley.
“It is a serious and worrisome sign,” said Suresh Paul Vaid, director general of police of Jammu and Kashmir.
Talking to Arab News, he said: “We are taking this matter seriously and are having high-level discussions.”
Masood Hussain, the editor of Kashmir Life, a weekly magazine from Srinagar, also expressed alarm at this development.
“This is the first time we have local boys going inside a military establishment and blowing themselves up. It is a new aspect of militancy that we have not witnessed before,” said Hussain to Arab News.
“This is the first time that the entire operation has been carried out by local boys. Security personnel here admit that this is a very disturbing trend in militancy in Kashmir,” he added.
However, Srinagar-based senior journalist, Yusuf Jameel, said: “It is not a good sign for Kashmir that young educated boys are joining the militants.
“This new trend of youngsters joining militants began after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani, in July 2016 who was an icon for the new generation.”
Immediately after the attack on the CRPF camp, the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed released a video message by Fardeen who blamed what is described as “Kashmir’s occupation by India” and ravaging “the modesty of our women” as the reason for “the rise in militancy in the valley.”
Well-known Kashmiri academic, Professor Siddiq Wahid, called it “a response to force with force.”
“It proves once again that India’s use of state force against both civilians and militants is not the answer to the Kashmir conundrum.”
Wahid stresses that youth are being driven to this kind of extreme violence due to “the lack of dialogue, the Indian government’s taking the Kashmiris for granted, and the lack of international attention to a dispute that is among the most complicated in the world today and is at the center of three nuclear states.
“Prime Minister Modi’s insistence on the insignificance of dialogue, its denial of Pakistan’s role in the dispute, and its insistence on nothing short of total surrender by Kashmiris has added new dimensions and accelerated the critical aspects of the problem.”
Jameel said that the “desperation” among the youth is due to “the sense of injustice and the government is not willing to address that injustice.”


Key member resigns from Myanmar advisory panel on Rohingya crisis

Updated 54 min ago
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Key member resigns from Myanmar advisory panel on Rohingya crisis

  • Retired Thai lawmaker and ambassador Kobsak Chutikul was secretary for the panel hand-picked by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to advise her government
  • Kobsak Chutikul said his position became untenable ahead of a second full meeting of the panel with officials in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw this week

YANGON: A key member of an international advisory panel on Myanmar’s crisis-hit Rakhine state has resigned, telling AFP on Saturday that the Aung San Suu Kyi-appointed board risks becoming “part of the problem” in a conflict that forced 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee.
Retired Thai lawmaker and ambassador Kobsak Chutikul was secretary for the panel hand-picked by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to advise her government on how to handle the aftermath of a military campaign that drove the minority out of the country.
The brutal crackdown started in August last year and left hundreds of Rohingya villages razed to the ground.
Refugees to Bangladesh have recounted horrifying testimony of widespread murder, rape and torture in violence the UN and US have branded as ethnic cleansing.
Kobsak Chutikul said his position became untenable ahead of a second full meeting of the panel with officials in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw this week.
“I verbally gave my resignation in a staff meeting last Tuesday (10 July),” he told AFP by phone from Bangkok.
The board, he said, risks becoming a “part of the problem.”
“It lulls authorities into thinking they have done enough to respond to the concerns of the international community, that they’ve ticked that box,” he added.
“It becomes dangerous in terms of an illusion that something is being done... that they’re going to do something while Rome burns.”
The credibility of the advisory board was undermined early on by the resignation of veteran US diplomat Governor Bill Richardson a one-time close confidant of Suu Kyi.
He left the panel in January in a vicious war of words with the Nobel laureate.
The government insisted it had terminated his involvement but Richardson said he stepped down due to fears the committee would only “whitewash” the causes of the Rohingya crisis.
A statement by his office Saturday said that Kobsak’s resignation “further reinforces the concerns” he held.
Kobsak, however, told AFP that he thought Governor Richardson’s departure had been premature.
But he said the board’s poor organization and funding severely curtailed its work.
“We were winging it on the fly, not really in full grasp of the full facts and figures. Everyone was all over the place — we don’t have a permanent office anywhere,” he told AFP.
Suu Kyi’s reputation lies in tatters internationally for her failure to speak up on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims, a stateless group persecuted over decades in Myanmar.
There was no immediate reaction from her office or the panel.
The advisory board has so far dismayed rights groups for not mentioning the word ‘Rohingya’ — a name Buddhist-majority Myanmar rejects, preferring the pejorative term ‘Bengali’ that implies the community are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Kobsak Chutikul said the international community should rally round new UN special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener, who he said “offers the best hope in the circumstances.”