Indian bureaucrat: Give young Kashmiris freedom to discuss their hopes of ‘self-rule’

Kashmiri villagers gather during the funeral procession for slain rebel commander Zeenat-ul-Islam of the Al-Badr militant group at Sugan village of Shopian, south of Srinagar, on January 13, 2019. (AFP / TAUSEEF MUSTAFA)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Indian bureaucrat: Give young Kashmiris freedom to discuss their hopes of ‘self-rule’

  • Top bureaucrat, who quit over mounting civilian killings, was once hailed as new hope by Delhi

NEW DELHI: A lauded Indian bureaucrat who resigned over mounting civilian killings in Kashmir, said the region’s people “don’t relate to India.”

Shah Faesal, who in 2009 became the first Kashmiri to top the prestigious Indian Administration Service (IAS) exams, told Arab News: “The present situation in the valley is that the Kashmiris do not relate to the status quo as it is now. They don’t see their future in this status quo.”

Once hailed by Delhi as the new hope for Kashmir, 36-year-old Faesal said young people there should be given the freedom to discuss their hopes of “self-rule, autonomy and self-determination.” 

He added that the Indian and Pakistani governments should reopen talks over resolving the long-running dispute over Kashmir.

Faesal said that there was now a “siege environment” in Kashmir which was only leading to more violence, and he blamed political intransigence for allowing the crisis there to continue.

“The escalation of violence, the killing of Kashmiris and the complete absence of conversation between New Delhi and the people in the valley, forced me to speak out,” said Faesal following his resignation. “If we engage people in conversation, we might stop them from picking up guns.”

Shah Faesal

The Indian government, he said, was inflaming the situation in Kashmir by failing to understand the aspirations of its people. “This only leads to more deaths and more youths taking up arms.”

Faesal added that India had “lost its moral compass” with the dominance of Hindu majoritarian politics in the country, and that had impacted on Kashmir.

He said the present-day lynch mobs were a far cry from the “certain morality” of Gandhi’s India of old. “This is not the kind of state Kashmiris would like to relate to. This leads to alienation and more disenchantment among people.”

“India and Pakistan need to get back to the negotiating table. Look at the border and the loss of lives in Jammu region. It’s important that both nations find a way forward for Kashmir.” He added that the Kashmiri separatist group, Hurriyat Conference, should be included in any future negotiations.

Faesal said the political climate in Kashmir was stifling democracy and alienating many young people.

Those elected to office, he said, were not representing the people and this had caused a political “deadlock.” “It would be very easy for me to join any political party and win an election,” he said. “But the younger generation don’t relate to the existing electoral politics of Kashmir. I am trying to understand their aspirations and demands, and trying to engage with them.”

“I see myself as a bridge or facilitator of conversation between Kashmir and the rest of India.” 


Rights group slams ‘inhuman’ treatment of migrants in Greece

Updated 13 min 36 sec ago
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Rights group slams ‘inhuman’ treatment of migrants in Greece

  • “Foreign nationals deprived of their liberty by the Greek authorities must be treated humanely and with dignity,” the Council’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture said
  • “Conditions of detention were found to be grossly sub-standard in some of the police and border guard stations visited,” they said

STRASBOURG: The Council of Europe rights body Tuesday condemned the “inhuman and degrading treatment” of migrants and asylum seekers held in Greece, adding it had credible allegations of abuse by police.
“Foreign nationals deprived of their liberty by the Greek authorities must be treated humanely and with dignity,” the Council’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) said.
The committee published the report after visiting the country — which has been at the frontline of the migration crisis in Europe — over ten days in April 2018.
“Conditions of detention were found to be grossly sub-standard in some of the police and border guard stations visited,” it said.
At one center in the Evros region in the northeast on the Turkish border, families, children, pregnant women and single men were held together for weeks and sometimes months in a center that offered just one square meter of living space per person.
It said such conditions “can easily be considered as amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment.”
The committee also said it received “credible allegations of police ill-treatment (slaps, punches, kicks, baton blows and verbal abuse) from foreign nationals held” in the Evros region and at a camp on the island of Lesbos.
Other migrants claimed to have been driven back to Turkey by border guards.
The number of migrants arriving in Greece peaked in 2015, when more than a million people, most of them Syrian refugees, crossed over from Turkey, mainly by boat.
A deal struck between the European Union and Ankara in 2016 helped stem the flow.
However, the number of people attempting to cross the river Evros into Greece has increased since naval patrols intensified in the Aegean Sea in 2016.
The CPT recommended that Greek authorities significantly increase the number of centers for unaccompanied minors.
In 2017 it had denounced the conditions of thousands of migrants who were held in cramped cells lacking food and drinking water as unacceptable.
In a response included in the report, Greek authorities said that investigations into unofficial removals and ill-treatment by officers had found “no disciplinary liability” by the police.
They blamed the poor conditions of detention in the Evros region on “increased migratory pressure” at the time of the CPT’s visit.