Saturday, July 31, 2010

To save their humble homes, protesting Dalits smear themselves with human excreta
Protesting Dalits smear themselves with human excreta
Savanur (Haveri dist), July 20, DHNS

The above link would direct to a report of Dalits smearing human excreta for saving their homes.
The most common response from the above post we get is that it is very sad! Some people even may say SHIT! about the news. After this news was published the state government and the municipal authority is questioned for allowing such practices in their state. The government is not questioned on why they are removed from their homes, instead why they were allowed pouring human excreta. Here I quote
"The state government is undeniably guilty of continuing the system of manual scavenging despite reminders by the National Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commission," he said.

With the above news we could realize that the scavengers politicizing the shit have again been diverted. The protesters poured excreta on them not to claim they are still scavengers, instead excreta is the only option to cover our body/family, if the houses are removed. The act was politicizing the Shit. It is again neglected by the main stream and the So called ‘Dalit’ intellectuals too. People who are running the NGO dealing with Scavenging community should understand that removing scavenging profession is not going to give dignity for the community, rather politicize the profession. It is sad that the profession has never been theorized. Whenever it is discussed it is only seen through the visual, as a result only the sympathy/Pity is created and this is one of the main reasons of scavenging communities has been rejected by the masses. There are number of books written on scavenging and even documentaries which speaks of the job. Firstly the authors and the directors should start thinking that Caste professions cannot be removed.

What does it comes to mind when we speak of scavenging profession? Only bucket and yellow colour shit. Did any time their way of life came to our mind. Never! It is because of the way we are seeing the profession.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The curious case of OBC reservation and cut off marks

The third and final stage in the implementation of OBC reservation in Central

Dr. Hany Babu M.T.. Associate Professor Arts Faculty, North Campus,University of Delhi,

Universities and Institutions as per the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act, 2006 enacted by the Parliament of India is almost coming to a close. Many of the Central Educational Institutions (CEIs) have reserved 27% of the total seats for OBC students for the academic year 2010-’11 and correspondingly increased the total intake of students by 54% of the intake of 2006. The projected expenditure on the infrastructural development for the increase in seats was Rs. 17,000 crore. But hardly any attempt has been made to ascertain how effectively the CEI Act has been implemented by the Universities and Institutions which are publicly funded.

A cursory look at the data from the last two years when reservation was 9% and 18% respectively, tells us that a large number of OBC seats remained vacant and were converted to general category seats. Thus, a step taken to mete out social justice has turned out to be a windfall for the socially dominant groups as it has increased the number of seats available to them in the CEIs. Those who had vehemently opposed the implementation of OBC reservation may be having their last laugh. The OBC seats remain vacant not because there aren’t applicants who meet the eligibility conditions. Even though a large number of OBC candidates are available, many universities and colleges do not and, even if they so wish, cannot lower the cut off marks in such a way as to facilitate the entry of the non-creamy layer OBCs into the CEIs. One doesn’t have to look beyond the “meritocracy” argument to understand why they do not lower the cut off marks. However, it is beyond the scope of this article to get into a proper debate on what constitutes “merit” in a society where the opportunities and resources are so unevenly distributed. The question I want to address is why the CEIs cannot lower the cut off marks even if they so desire.

Relaxation of marks to be given to the OBCs
Right at the outset of implementation of OBC reservation, the question of balancing the standard of the CEI and social justice was a matter of grave concern. In the judgment in April 2008 by the Supreme Court of India in the Ashoka Kumar Thakur versus Union of India case, one of the five judges remarked that “five marks grace can be extended to such candidates below the minimum eligibility marks fixed for general categories of students”. Note that the statement refers to “eligibility” and not to the cut off marks. Another judge recommends “cut off marks no lower than 10 marks below that of the general category”. Later the same judge goes on to say that “To maintain standards of excellence, cut off marks for OBCs should be set not more than 10 marks out of 100 below that of the general category” . Apart from these tentative recommendations, there was no unanimity among the judges about how much relaxation should be given to the OBC candidates. In fact, it is unfair to expect any body to work out the extent of relaxation to be given for admission into an academic programme without having access to any empirical data regarding the situation of the non-creamy layer OBC category. It must be precisely for this reason that the Oversight Committee set up to work out the modalities for the implementation of the new reservation policy in Higher education suggested that “the threshold for admission should be determined by the respective institutions alone, as is done today, so that the level of its excellence is not compromised at all” (section 4.4.2). The Oversight Committee also spelt out a very important policy in the implementation of reservation for OBCs. The following extract makes this clear:
4.4.3 As regards 'cut-offs' in institutions other than those mentioned in para 7, these may be placed somewhere midway between those for SC/ST and the unreserved category, carefully, calibrated so that the principles of both equity and excellence can be maintained.

The circular dated April 20, 2008 issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development also echoes this concern about maintaining a balance between the standards of Higher education and the implementation of the reservation policy when it states that
Each CEI is also authorized to fix cut off marks for admission / selection through admission test, etc. for the OBC candidates with such differential from the cut-off marks for the unreserved category as each institution may deem appropriate for maintaining the standards of education and at the same time ensuring that sufficient number of eligible OBC candidates are available in keeping with the directions / observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in this regard. This authorization by the Central Government to the CEIs to fix cut-off marks ins in compliance with the Apex Court’s direction asking the Central Government to examine the feasibility of determining such cut-off marks. The Central Government believes that each CEI would ensure that the directions / observation of the Hon’ble Court are followed.

However, in the reply to the writ filed by P.V. Indiresan and others in October, 2008, the Apex Court stipulated that “the maximum cut-off marks for O.B.C.s be 10% below the cut-off marks of general category candidates”. The context of the judgment makes it very clear that this suggestion was made to deal with the crisis precipitated by admissions in that particular year as it goes on to say that the seats remaining vacant should be filled up by October 2008. Following this, the MHRD issued a circular dated 17 October, 2008 which states “the maximum cut-off marks for OBCs be 10% below the cut off marks of the general category candidates”. This office order can also be only interpreted in the context of that specific year as the very next clause talks about conversion of vacant seats by “the end of October, 2008”. It is obvious that the ceiling of 10% on the relaxation of cut off marks for OBC was not made with the support of any empirical study. As the late K. Balagopal notes in his EPW (October 24, 2009) article, a judicial fiat by one of the five judges in the Ashoka Kumar Thakur vs. Union of India case has become a policy overruling the government’s policy as spelt out in the MHRD circular of April 20, 2008 cited above.

The ground reality
Due to the ceiling on the lowering of cut off marks for OBC category a large number of OBC seats could not be filled with OBC students. As per the Times of India report dated July 19, 2010, about 15% of the seats reserved for OBCs are remaining vacant and they are going to be converted to general category seats after August 6, 2010. The diversion of the vacant OBC seats is another fall out of the Supreme Court judgment. Just as in the case of the relaxation of marks, this was tentatively recommended in the main judgment of April 2008, and reiterated in the clarification made in October, 2008. In a sense it seems to have been evident right from the beginning that the non-creamy layer OBC students are not going to make it beyond the arbitrarily stipulated cut off mark. Just as one may have predicted, the question raised quite often right at the beginning of admissions in many of the CEIs is when the conversion of OBC seats will take place. As the Times of India report mentions, the University of Delhi has declared August 6, 2010 as the date from which such diversion will take place. In fact, some of the Delhi University colleges even admit general category students beyond the allocated seats in anticipation of the increase when the conversion of OBC seats takes place. All this shows that it is taken for granted that the OBC are not going to be filled. And it is not because there are no OBC candidates available, but because they fail to meet the arbitrarily fixed cut off mark. What this shows is that the non-creamy layer OBC candidates suffer the same amount of deprivation as that of the SC/ST candidates.

A look at the SC/ST reservation policy
In fact, the state of affairs of SC/ST reservation was almost the same in the initial stages. And it is this sense of déjà vu that makes this story even more tragic. In the case of SC/ST reservation also some seats may remain vacant, but there is a clear directive both from the Government of India and from the UGC banning the de-reservation of seats. Moreover, to ensure that the reservation policy is implemented more effectively the UGC has also stipulated that the cut off in admission tests has to be lowered even to zero if sufficient number of SC/ST candidates cannot be found. These two principles effectively sealed any attempt to deliberately keep the SC/ST seats vacant in two ways: firstly, no one benefits directly from the vacant seats as they cannot be diverted to the general category. Secondly, the low scores in admission tests could not be held as a reason not to admit a candidate. Still the guardian angels of “merit” do resort to any kind of strategy to keep off students from SC/ST communities, or in many cases, to ensure that such students are “weeded out” even after entering the system on the pretext that they fail to meet the required standards in the course of their studies. Quite often even students who meet the general cut off from the SC/ST or OBC categories are given Admission in only the reserved categories and not in the general category as required by the rules. Needless to say, this means that the general category is seen as being reserved for certain “specific” categories and candidates belonging to SC/ST/OBC category who need reservation are being deprived of their chances.

The question of minimum eligibility
A fact to be borne in mine is that we are talking about denying admission to students who meet the minimum eligibility condition. There is only a 5% relaxation in eligibility marks given to SC/ST students and no such relaxation is given to OBC students. A pertinent question to ask is: on what basis is a student who meets the minimum eligibility for a programme denied admission to that programme? The only reason can be this: there is another candidate who stands above him/her in the merit list drawn up by the Institute/department concerned on the basis of either the marks in the qualifying examination or in the admission test.

So, by lowering the marks of the admission test till sufficient number of candidates are found one is not at all compromising on the eligibility of a candidate to get admission. It is important to reiterate this point, as quite often you hear academics wonder about the logic of reducing marks till zero. The logic is straightforward: if you meet the minimum eligibility and if there is no other candidate in your category above you in merit, you have to be selected. This is the policy followed for SC/ST students. This is also the policy followed for general category students. (In some cases, however, there is a stipulated percentage of marks that a candidate has to secure in the Admission Test in order to be eligible for admission.) That is to say, whether a general category candidate scoring 45% gets selected or not depends on his/her position in the rank list. It does not depend on the performance of students belonging to other categories. In the case of OBC reservation, however, this principle has not been observed and they are left at the mercy of the performance of general category students. We should keep in mind that here we are talking about the students from the non creamy layer matching up to the performance of the cream of the cream.

Another look at “10% below the cut-off for general category”
The purpose of this write up is not to argue for a revoking of the 10% ceiling on relaxation of cut off marks for OBC. This matter is already under the consideration of the Honourable High Court of Delhi. The immediate context of this write up is the whimsical interpretation of the Supreme Court order of October, 2008 regarding the 10% relaxation. A careful reading of all April 2008 judgment as well as other documents like the report of the Oversight Committee tells us that the consensus is that the relaxation of marks given for OBCs should be somewhere between that of the General Category and the SC/ST. In many admission tests a general category candidate has to have scored a minimum percentage (say 40%) in order to be considered for admission, while in the case of an SC/ST candidate no such limit should be set (as already mentioned at the outset of this write up). It is in this context that the clarification by the Apex Court should be read. That is to say, if a general category candidate has to score 40%, then it should be fixed as 30% for an OBC candidate, while there can be no such limit for an SC/ST candidate. This is also the spirit of the April 20, 2008 order from MHRD, which states that
CEIs which are in the process of conducting admission tests may decide on the cut-off marks for the OBC category well in time, so that the consistent with the standards of education of the CEIs, sufficient number of eligible OBC candidates are available for selection on the basis of inter-se merit against the reserved seats.

As is obvious, a cut off that is made based on the last admitted candidate cannot be made “well in time”. So, where did the interpretation that the cut off has to be calculated on the basis of the last admitted candidate in general category come from? One should also note the irony that this interpretation places the OBC students at the mercy of the general category students. If the general category students score well, then the OBC students have to match up with theirs, or they are denied admission.

Bad as the above situation is, we see an even more regressive interpretation of the 10% relaxation. What is happening in universities like JNU and DU is that OBC students are given a relaxation of 10% marks of the last admitted candidate in the general category. That is to say, in an admission test of 100 marks, if the last admitted general category candidate has scored 50, then an OBC candidate is given only 5 marks (that is, 10% of 50) relaxation. This interpretation is nothing but a gross violation of the Supreme Court order and one can only see a devious strategy to keep away deserving OBC students from the CEIs.

Let us imagine the following scenario. Two candidates, Gen and Res score 60 and 51 marks out of 100 in a test. Now let us ask the question what percentage below is the mark of Res compared to that of Res. If we go by the “regressive interpretation” we have to say that the difference is 15% since 9 (which is the difference of marks between the two candidates) is 15% of 60. But anyone who has gone through at Secondary level of schooling will tell u that the marks scored by Res is 9% below that of Gen. One then wonders what makes the custodians of Higher Education ignorant of this elementary calculation.

The surplus seats
A final question is about the en bloc conversion of the vacant OBC seats to the general category. In the interim order passed by the Honourable High Court of Delhi on August 26, 2009 in the matter of Delhi University Reservation Execution& Anr. versus Union of India , it was made clear that the vacant seats cannot be given to general category students without taking into consideration the availability of OBC students within the stipulated cut off marks. That is to say, when the cut off for the general category is reduced in the process of filling up the converted seats, it should be “ascertained if any candidates in the OBC Category would also come within the 10% cut off with reference to the percentage of the said general category candidates and if any OBC candidates are available they should be granted admission.” But an even more serious question is about the implementation of SC/ST quota in the seats that get converted. If there is a Constitutional obligation to implement reservation, how is it that a proportionate number of those seats are not reserved for SC/ST students?

What I have argued for is the following:
• There should be a comprehensive review of how effectively the CEI Act has been implemented over the last three years.
• The Government of India should come out with a clear policy about the steps to be taken to ensure that the seats meant for the students from the weaker sections of the society are made available to them and that arbitrary restrictions do not come in the way.
• Till a proper policy is evolved about the relaxation to be given to the OBC candidates, it should be ensured that the clause in the October 2008 Supreme Court judgment about 10% relaxation of marks should be properly interpreted and implemented.
• If seats reserved for the OBC category are remaining vacant, they should be given to candidates from SC/ST category.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kerala forest guards held for 'raping' family of tourists

ublished: Jul 22, 2010 00:25 Updated: Jul 22, 2010 00:25

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Police in Kerala have arrested three forest guards after a website released mobile video clips showing them stripping and parading a mother and daughter who arrived here as tourists.

The arrests follow the opposition allegation in the state assembly that the guards tied up the husband and raped his wife and daughter in thick forests. The mother and daughter were also seen stripped and paraded in a video clipping appeared on

The family was holidaying at the border area of Aryankavu which is part of Thanmala, India's first planned ecotourism destination of Thenmala, 72 km from the state capital. The family, from the neighboring Tamil Nadu state, is yet to be traced.

The Forest Department had suspended them from service immediately after the opposition raised the issue in the assembly last week. On Tuesday, the police arrested the guards seen stripping the women, Manikantan, 24, Shahul Hameed, 33, and Unnikrishnan, 43, who is also former president of the Forest Protection Council.

"We have booked them under the relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act and Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act and they were produced in the court today," Forest Minister Binoy Vishwam told the assembly Wednesday.

The police took the trio to the tourist spot for gathering evidence before producing in the Magistrate Court in Punalur. They have also recovered the original version of the video clip from them and more arrests are expected soon.

The minister who confirmed the rape however expressed the inability of the police to charge them with the crime as the family did not come forward to file a complaint. The Kerala police had sought the cooperation of their counterparts in Tamil Nadu to trace them but made no breakthrough so far, he said.

The shocking incident was narrated in the House by Congress legislator V.D. Satishan who alleged that the government was going slow on the case because one of the culprits is a local leader of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy was soon on his feet demanding stringent action against them.

The minister said the trio was engaged on a daily wages basis and they were on the payroll for nearly a decade now. A team headed by Deputy Superintendent of Police (Narcotic Cell) Varadarajan is investigating the case supervised by Inspector General Hemachandran.

"We respect the sentiments of the house and we are viewing this very seriously. We have nothing to hide and we are not protecting anybody," the minister said amidst the protests by the opposition legislators who alleged that the government was shielding the culprits.

The opposition members also alleged that this was not the first incident involving the forest guards and more guards were involved in the crime. Such incidents would hit the state's booming tourism industry.

Thenmala, which attracts foreign and domestic tourists, is also a favorite shooting location for south Indian films. The ecotourism project's attractions include boating on the lake, a rope bridge, trekking, mountaineering, biking and wildlife.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

KASHMIR – The Dispute That Continues to Rock South Asia

KASHMIR – The Dispute That Continues to Rock South Asia
by Shahid R. Siddiqi
July 20, 2010
The Conflict
A cartoon published in an American newspaper in 2002 showed former President George W. Bush sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office, utterly confused by a news report he was reading about India and Pakistan going to war over Kashmir. “But why are the two countries fighting over a sweater,” he asked Dick Cheney, who stood by with his usual sly smile on his face.

Besides reflecting the intellectual capacity of the American president of the time, the cartoon was a realistic portrayal of the understanding that American leaders have generally shown of this longstanding dispute between Pakistan and India.

Protests against Indian rule in Kashmir erupted earlier this month after a 17 year old girl was killed by a police teargas shell (AFP)
The unresolved Kashmir conflict has rocked South Asia for six decades. It has created an environment of distrust and acrimony, forced the people to sink into poverty with bulk of the resources consumed by the war machines and claimed lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, as well as soldiers who died in the three wars fought between India and Pakistan. India, whose forcible occupation of Kashmir in 1947 created the conflict, refuses to settle it. The other stake holders, the Kashmiri people and Pakistan, insist on a fair solution. The international community, including the US and the United Nations, played little or no role in diffusing it either. Consequently, the conflict has developed into one of the most intractable problems of international politics that remains a continuing threat to peace of the region.

Indian Brutalities and the International Reaction
India has not hesitated to use brutal force to maintain its hold on Indian occupied Kashmir and suppress revolt. The US, UN and other international organizations failed to take note of grave human rights violations. They failed to provide any specific, actionable proposals for a permanent solution. All they extended were diplomatic courtesies, suggested vague formulas and generalities that are open to multiple interpretations.

Although the US considers South Asia to be a sensitive and strategically important region from its geopolitical, security and economic standpoint and has expressed the desire to see peace prevail, yet it has so far paid only lip service to finding a permanent solution. It would not chastise India for human rights violations, which would have attracted its immediate attention if these were taking place in a country that it had chosen to punish, for fear of displeasing or alienating India which it has aggressively been courting in recent years.

This situation was compounded by the Indian dreams of regional hegemony that led it to dismember Pakistan in 1971 and go on to become a nuclear power, which forced Pakistan to develop its own nuclear deterrent for safeguarding its security.

Consequently, India has consistently and blatantly refused to honor the will of the people, negotiate Kashmir’s future status and stop the use of brutal force.

The Conflict Leads to the First Kashmir War
In the wake of the August 1947 partition of British India that brought into existence two sovereign states of the Indian Union and Pakistan, the British left after having midwifed the Kashmir dispute that has since bedeviled peace between the two countries. Essentially, the agreed principle that governed partition was that Muslim majority states to the east and west of British India would form Pakistan, while rest of the subcontinent was to form Indian Union.

Decisions by several Muslim rulers for accession of their states to Pakistan that had Hindu majorities (Hyderabad, Junagadh and Manavadar being cases in point) were rejected on the grounds that a Muslim ruler did not have the right to overrule the will of the Hindu majority population. But the decision of the Hindu Raja of the princely state of Kashmir, which was predominantly a Muslim majority state and should have acceded to Pakistan, was immediately accepted by the British viceroy and the Indian government, despite a popular Kashmiri revolt against his decision. Although an agreement of non-intervention in Kashmir had been signed between India and Pakistan, the new Indian government sent troops into Kashmir at the request of the Hindu ruler to enforce the instrument of accession and forcibly occupy the territory, in disregard of the agreed principle of accession applied elsewhere.

This led to the first Kashmir war in 1947 between India and Pakistan. In 1948 India sought cease fire, taking the issue to the UN Security Council, which passed resolution 47 on 21 April 1948, imposing an immediate cease-fire along the line of actual control of territory by both parties and calling on them to withdraw their troops. It also ruled that “the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.” The cease fire was enacted in December 1948, with both governments agreeing to hold the plebiscite in areas under their control. Ever since, India has been rejecting all resolutions of the Security Council and the proposals of the UN arbitrators for demilitarization of the region—all of which were accepted by Pakistan.

The Security Council Steps In
Although the resolutions of the Security Council were regarded as the ‘documents of reference’ for a durable and internationally acceptable solution, no steps were ever taken for their implementation. This was because in technical terms these were not enforceable—not having been based under Chapter VII of the Charter. This allowed India to get away, dashing the false expectations of the Kashmiris as to the possible role of the United Nations as facilitator of a solution to the Kashmir problem.

This injustice to the Kashmiri people was intrinsically linked to the veto privilege of the permanent members of the Security Council and the lack of unanimity between them for enforcement measures according to Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter. Their plight is similar to that of the Palestinians, in whose case also resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) that call upon Israel to withdraw from occupied Arab territories are not based on Chapter VII and have hence enabled the occupying country, Israel, to ignore them.

That the United Nations Organization follows double standards was clearly visible when it adopted compulsory resolutions in other conflict situations, such as in case of the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990-1991, where the US—a permanent member, having an interest in the matter, was able to force the hand of other permanent members to do its bidding.

The cease fire line between the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir has since become the Line of Control and continues to be monitored by UN observers.

India Annexes the Disputed Occupied Kashmir
Thereafter, ignoring the Security Council resolutions, disregarding the internationally accepted ‘disputed’ status of the state and defying the will of the people, India went on to annex Occupied Kashmir into the Indian Union through an amendment to its Constitution, claiming it to be an integral part of India. For its part, Pakistan continues to regard the part of Kashmir under its control as disputed territory and allows it self-rule. It continues to plead for a final settlement taking the position that the people of Kashmir on both sides must get the right to choose their future through self determination.

People of Kashmir Demand the Right Of Self-Determination
The people of Kashmir had begun to wage a struggle against the Hindu Raja’s rule as far back as in 1931 and refused to accept Indian occupation from the day it was imposed in 1947. Their struggle has since intensified and they have called for accession of a united Kashmir to Pakistan. Rejecting their demand, successive Indian governments have tried to suppress the struggle by use of force.

Writing in Kashmir Watch of July 11, 2010, a Kashmiri academic, Dr. Manzoor Alam, urged world bodies like the Arab League, OIC, Asia watch, human rights organizations and the European Union to make a paradigm shift in their policies and move from ‘mere condemnation’ to throwing their political weight and resources behind the Kashmiris in their freedom struggle: “[W]we are talking about freedom from India which is our basic and fundamental right and this right was promised to us by Jawaharlal Nehru on June 26, 1952. We make an earnest and urgent appeal to the conscience of the world to act promptly to save Kashmir and her people. It is time for the United Nations to wake up to its responsibilities. It has to assume its duty in saving millions of Kashmiri lives. Enough is enough.”

Grave Human Rights Violations
Indian troops in combination with paramilitary forces and state police have let loose a consistent and massive reign of terror on unarmed civilians. Men, women, and children, young and old, are being indiscriminately killed, injured and maimed and women are being raped with impunity.

A recent report on Human Rights violations states that that between 1989 to June 30, 2010 the number of Kashmiris killed at the hands of Indian security forces stands at 93,274. Additionally, there have been 6,969 custodial killings, over 107,351 children have been orphaned, 22,728 women widowed and 9,920 women gang raped. In June 2010 alone, 33 people were killed including four children, 572 people were tortured and injured and 8 women were molested, 117,345 people were arrested and 105,861 houses or structures in the use of the communities were razed or destroyed.

Human rights groups blame the culture of impunity among security forces in Kashmir on a controversial 1990 national law granting soldiers the right to detain or eliminate all suspected terrorists and destroy their property without fear of prosecution. Critics call this provision a license to kill as it does not clearly define “terrorists”.

The murky cycle of violence is picking up speed. The killing of innocent civilians draws protests in all nooks and corners of the state by enraged people which in turn provoke the security forces to indulge in more killing. More recently, the state has remained on a knife’s edge since June 11, when angry protests began against the killing by Indian security forces of three 11th grade teenagers without provocation. This continues to happen also because the state or the federal government does not believe in explaining their actions or carrying out investigations and punishing those who use excessive force. Instead, the Indian government proudly calls all of these achievements as successful counter-insurgency operations.

To punish the Muslim population of Jammu and Kashmir for the uprising, the state machinery is economically strangulating it through the ruthless action of road blockades that have resulted in acute shortages of foodstuff, medicines and other critical items of daily use in the valley. Protestors were fired upon earlier this month, resulting in the loss of hundreds of innocent lives, including some prominent leaders.

India Attempts Demographic Changes
Under a well thought out plan, India has brought about a demographic change in Jammu after the Hindu rule was imposed in October 1947. Muslims constituted 62% of the population there according to a 1941 census, a percentage that now stands in the 30s. The Indian government is now focusing on the Kashmir valley where land allotments to Hindus from outside the state are being made to encourage population transfer in order to reduce the Muslim majority.

India Cold Shoulders Pakistan’s Out Of the Box Solutions
Pakistan’s willingness, as stated by Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf, to get away from old paradigms and launch fresh proposals for a just and durable solution, did not draw any bold steps or a concrete response from India. Although he went so far as to say that for the sake of a settlement, options that are “unacceptable to either side” should be set aside and he went on to float the idea in December 2005 of a “United States of Kashmir” that would include all regions, India did not show any interest in engaging in a meaningful dialogue. India has continued hedging the core issue and has instead been raising peripheral issues one after the other as an evasive tactic. It has been demanding confidence building measures before any dialogue could seriously get underway but even these CBMs initiated by Pakistan did not prove enough. The track II diplomacy has also not been able to achieve much. This causes frustrations, not only for Pakistan but also among the Kashmiris, causing a very volatile climate, further raising the political temperature.

In Search Of the Solution
After six decades of bloodshed and armed confrontation, Indian leaders should realize the impossibility of sweeping the issue under the carpet or keeping the Kashmiris subjugated through force, an option which has acquired an entirely new dimension due to India and Pakistan having become nuclear powers. It is now time that India should move, and move with sincerity, towards resolving the dispute with the following in mind:

(a) A solution must be pursued not only on the basis of bilateral approach involving India and Pakistan but also on the tripartite level that would take into account the wishes of the people of Kashmir.

(b) Kashmir must be treated as an issue of basic human rights, which forms part of the jus cogens of general international law. Kashmir is also an issue of religious rights and identity where the majority Muslim community has been adversely affected by the partition along the “Line of Control”.

(c) Kashmir is not only a regional issue in terms of territorial claims by three states, including China, but it is, at the same time, a matter concerning the international community since it has implications for global peace and security. The nuclear potential of the three powers actually controlling parts of the disputed territory can simply not be ignored.

(d) The struggle of the people of Kashmir must not be confused with the so-called “global war on terror”, which happens to be a superpower agenda that is alien to this conflict. Instead of falling in this trap and making this issue further intractable, India needs to understand the dictum: “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”

(e) In the interest of finding a durable solution, India will have to move away from the police and military approach, or as India likes to put it, as “a battle against terrorists”. Instead of dealing with symptoms, it must address the root cause of the conflict—the question of self-determination.

(f) Police brutalities, rape and other human rights violations will have to come to an end and have to be prosecuted with full determination and without bias. At the same time, deliberate attacks on civilians will have to be terminated once and for all.

(g) The legacy of the Security Council resolutions 38 and 47 (1948) as well as the resolutions adopted by the UNCIP in 1948 and 1949 cannot be discarded, in spite of the time that has elapsed since their adoption, as these have neither become obsolete, nor invalid nor have they been recalled by the Council at any stage. On the other hand, ten years after the initial resolutions, Security Council resolution 122 (1957) reaffirmed the same democratic principle as basis of a just solution. India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru is on record fully endorsing this principle when on November 2, 1947 he said: “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given […] not only to the people of Kashmir but the world. We will not, and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been established to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations.”

It is time for Indian present leadership to listen to its founding fathers, if it does not wish to listen to the rest of the world.

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