Kashmir parties question crackdown on dissidence

Indian paramilitary troopers stand guard as Kashmiri women walk past during the enforcement on restrictions of movement in Srinagar on March 10, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019
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Kashmir parties question crackdown on dissidence

  • In 2001, Malik was part of the dialogue process with the BJP government under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee

NEW DELHI: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have questioned the wisdom of a ban on the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and called the crackdown on civil society groups and political activists an election gimmick.
“For four-and-half years Yasin Malik (the head of the JKLF) isn’t a threat, Jamaat-e-Islami isn’t a threat, and Pakistan National Day is a function that must be attended. Now suddenly once an election is announced an immediate U-turn is executed,” says Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state and leader of the National Conference (NC).
The president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti, who headed Kashmir as chief minister for close to two years in alliance with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), says that “detrimental steps like these will only turn Kashmir into an open-air prison. Yasin Malik renounced violence as a way of resolving the Jammu and Kashmir issue a long time ago.”
She added: “He was treated as a stakeholder in a dialogue initiated by the then-PM (of India) Vajpayee ji. What will a ban on his organization achieve?”
Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq denounced the ban: “Such anti-Kashmir tactics will not change the reality of the Kashmir issue nor the urgency to resolve it.”
On Friday evening, the Indian government banned the JKLF under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba told the media that “the murders of Kashmiri Pandits by the JKLF in 1989 triggered their exodus from the Valley. Yasin Malik was the mastermind behind the purging of Kashmiri Pandits and is responsible for their genocide,” Mr. Gauba said.
The decision followed a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Two cases, including in the murder of Indian Air Force personnel, were registered by the Central Bureau Of Investigation. The National Investigative Agency has also registered a case which is under investigation. It is evident from these that JKLF continues to be actively engaged in supporting and inciting secessionism and terrorism,” he said.
The JKLF, which began as a militant organization in 1970 seeking independence for Kashmir, declared an indefinite cease-fire under the leadership of Malik in 1994.
He declared that he would pursue the Gandhian way of peaceful struggle.
His organization is part of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), a separatist alliance in the valley.
In 2001, Malik was part of the dialogue process with the BJP government under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee. In 2006, the JKLF was also part of the delegation of the separatist leaders who met Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to start the peace process with Pakistan.
“The Indian government is not concerned about Kashmir but only about the election. All this crackdown is to show to the voters in the mainstream that the Modi government is serious about containing terror,” says Professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain of the University Of Kashmir.
“The JKLF abdicated violence and has been following the peaceful resistance movement. Indian people should question the government why they pursuing this kind of destructive politics in the valley,” Hussain told Arab News.


At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

Updated 17 June 2019
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At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

  • A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation
  • Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo: At least 161 people have been killed in a northeastern province of Democratic Republic of Congo in the past week, local officials said on Monday, in an apparent resurgence of ethnic clashes between farming and herding communities.
A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation, although the exact identity of the assailants remains murky.
Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo that left millions dead from conflict, hunger and disease.
Tit-for-tat attacks between the two groups in late 2017 and early 2018 killed hundreds of people and forced tens of thousands more to flee their homes, but a tenuous calm had taken hold until this month.
Pascal Kakoraki Baguma, a national lawmaker from Ituri, said the latest violence was sparked by the killing last Monday of four Lendu businesspeople.
“Members of the Lendu community believed that these assassinations were the work of the Hema,” Kakoraki said. “This is why they launched several attacks on Hema villages.”
“Sources affirm that 161 bodies have been found so far. But the death toll goes beyond the bodies recovered, as there were other massacres of civilians and police officers,” he said.
Jean Bosco Lalo, president of civil society organizations in Ituri, said 200 bodies had been found since last week in predominantly Hema villages, including the 161 mentioned by Kakoraki. Lalo said the toll would rise once his teams gained access to other villages where killings had been reported.
Ituri Governor Jean Bamanisa said provincial authorities were still working to establish the exact death toll and declined to say who was responsible.
He said the assailants’ tactics were to “empty out the villages, burn them and pursue those who had fled to the surrounding areas with bladed weapons.”
Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, who took office in January, is trying to restore stability to the country’s eastern borderlands, a tinderbox of conflict among armed groups over ethnicity, natural resources and political power.
Several rebel leaders have surrendered or been captured during his first months in office, but armed violence has persisted, particularly in North Kivu province, south of Ituri, which is the epicenter of a 10-month Ebola outbreak.