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June 2024

 Author: GOWHAR FAROOQ  Category:  Published: June 1, 2024  Download

2010 Intifada, Teenage Killings and a Father’s Fight for Justice

Gowhar Farooq

The 2008 state elections in Kashmir witnessed a significant voter turnout of approximately 67 percent. This high participation was interpreted as a rejection of pro-freedom ideologies by the India. The National Congress, led by Omar Abdullah, emerged victorious, buoyed by promises of good governance and a commitment to addressing human rights violations. It is important to note that these politicians have been using slogans of autonomy, honour, addressing rights abuses, revoking draconian laws and development to lure people into voting. However, these assurances quickly dissipated as the daily reality of human rights abuses continued to plague the region.

Shortly after the elections, the rape and murder of two women in the Shopian district by Indian police personnel sparked widespread protests. The state government’s failure to conduct an impartial investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable further enraged the populace. By year’s end, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) declared that the women had not been raped and murdered but had drowned—a conclusion met with widespread skepticism and seen as an attempt by the state to shield the guilty. This incident exemplified the ongoing struggle for justice and accountability in Kashmir. Omar Abdollah, the then chief minister of the region backed the CBI findings and termed the heinous act as an incident of drowning to shield the perpetrators. To this day, no one has been held accountable in the case, and the rapists of Asiya and Neelofar continue to roam freely. It is important to mention that India has been using rape as a weapon of war in the occupied region to quell dissent and crush the freedom movement in the territory. In June last year, two doctors who had concluded that the two ladies were murdered after being raped were dismissed from their services by the military administration. Dr. Bilal Ahmad and Nighat Shaheen were dismissed from services for “actively working with Pakistan” and fabricating evidence in the postmortem report.

Before the memory of the Shopian incident could fade from the collective consciousness of the Kashmiri people, another scandal erupted, this time involving a fake encounter. While such encounters were tragically familiar to Kashmiris, this particular episode ignited a fresh wave of unrest. On May 30, 2010, it was revealed that three young Kashmiris had been killed by an Indian army unit in the Machil sector and falsely labeled as “cross-border terrorists”. The true motive behind this staged encounter was to secure monetary rewards and promotions associated with actions on the Line of Control (LoC). In this context, the findings of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian occupied Kashmir (IPTK) are particularly noteworthy. According to the IPTK, over 20 individuals were killed in encounters during April and May 2010, each reported as the elimination of “infiltrating militants”. However, only four of these incidents were investigated, and all were confirmed to be fake encounters. The group suspects that the majority of the cases—335 in 2008 and 236 in 2009—involved local residents falsely labeled as “cross-border terrorists or Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives”.

The revelation of the Machil killings acted as a catalyst, sparking widespread outrage among the Kashmiri population. Infuriated, Kashmiris flooded the streets in protest. Unlike previous demonstrations, this time, the youth confronted the occupational soldiers with stones. Tragically, during these protests, a 17-year-old student was killed by occupational soldiers on June 11, leading to a surge of protest demonstrations in which over 120 people lost their lives. Tufail Mattoo from Saida Kadal locality in Old Srinagar was killed in 2010 when they targeted him with a teargas shell on his head. Mattoo died on the spot as the shell broke his skull. The New York Times described the situation as a sweeping “intifada-like popular revolt.” The Indian government started using pellet guns in the valley thereby maiming people permanently.

India: The Child Killer of Kashmir

2010 was a tragic year for Kashmir, a year in which the region lost over 120 lives, most of them teenage boys. These young lives were snuffed out by Indian military and paramilitary forces thereby casting a dark shadow over the valley and marking India as the “child killer” of Kashmir. This brutal pattern of violence, far from being an isolated incident, has been a persistent strategy employed by Indian authorities both before and after 2010. The systematic targeting of Kashmir’s youth is a calculated attempt to crush the spirit of resistance and popular sentiment in the region. By framing young people in false cases, imprisoning them on dubious charges, and even resorting to extrajudicial killings, India has been deliberately dismantling the future of Kashmir. These actions are not just random acts of violence but a methodical campaign to destroy the aspirations and careers of the Kashmiri youth and effectively rob the region of its potential leaders and innovators.

History is rife with examples of colonizers and invaders targeting the younger generation of the territories they seek to dominate. This strategy is devastatingly effective, as the youth are the lifeblood of any society, the bearers of its future. They embody hope, progress, and the possibility of change. By crippling the younger generation, oppressors aim to break the spirit of the entire community, ensuring that resistance wanes over time.

In Kashmir, the loss of young lives is not just a series of tragic events; it is a profound wound inflicted on the collective consciousness of the region. Each life lost is a story unfinished, a potential unrealized. The teenage boys killed in 2010 were more than statistics; they were sons, brothers, friends, and students with dreams and aspirations. Their deaths represent a deliberate attempt to stifle the voice of Kashmir and to impose a narrative of fear and subjugation. The young generation is the cornerstone of every nation’s development and progress. They are the thinkers, creators, and leaders of tomorrow. The relentless targeting of young Kashmiris is an assault on the region’s ability to thrive and evolve and brutally crush any chances of the resistance movement becoming a formidable force capable enough of dragging India out of the region. India’s actions in Kashmir are a stark reminder of how oppressive regimes operate by using fear and violence to maintain control. Despite the relentless persecution, the youth of Kashmir continue to fight for their rights and their homeland. It is this spirit that gives hope for a future where Kashmiris can live in peace and dignity, free from oppression and violence.

Tufail Matto’s Death and His Fathers Fight for Justice

It has been more than 14 years since Tufail was killed in Shehr-e-Khaas (Old Srinagar) area of the Kashmir capital Srinagar. His father Bashir Ahmad Mattoo decided to fight for justice and bring the murderers of his teenage son to justice. Five years later, the case was closed due to the inability to trace witnesses. Undeterred, Tufail’s father, Muhammad Ashraf, pursued a legal battle for the case’s reinvestigation. Although the case was reopened, a resolution remains elusive. “My son has been in the grave for nearly ten years without justice. Despite the strong evidence, a fair trial was denied. Nonetheless, our struggle has exposed the system’s flaws,” Muhammad Ashraf Mattoo told a local newspaper reporter in 2020, a decade after his son’s death. Tufail, a Class 12 student at Government Higher Secondary School Hazratbal, had previously completed his Class 10 at Radiant Public School, Malla Bagh, Srinagar. On June 11, 2010, he was struck by a teargas shell near Rajouri Kadal, resulting in his immediate death. Ashraf left a lucrative job in Dubai to return to Srinagar and seek justice for his son. Now jobless, he supports his family with his savings, having dedicated his life to this cause, even if justice is never served in his lifetime. “I have committed myself to this fight. If justice eludes us here, I trust Allah will deliver it in the afterlife. My struggle aims to reveal a system devoid of respect for justice,” he further told the reporter. Knowing well the absurdity of fighting for justice in an occupied region, Ashraf’s struggle was more aimed at exposing the system and debunking India’s claim of having a democratic setup in Kashmir. And that is what the struggle of this age-old father devastated by the tragedy of losing his son has revealed. In an interview with Stand With Kashmir, Ashraf while answering a question about how his family coped with the loss all these years, Ashraf told that, “Tufail was our only child. Both my wife and I have rested our case with God. My wife is quiet and silent. I do talk about my son and discuss his case. I live with it every day. We both feel the pain deeply, but I talk about it and she doesn’t. We hope that God will deliver justice. No one dies unless it’s in his destiny but these killings are cold-blooded murders. These were innocent kids”. He further said that the whole National Conference, a pro-India party, should be prosecuted and that all countries should bar Omar Abdollah, Chief Minister (Chief Puppet) in 2010, from any visit.

Kashmir and International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict


The Weaponization of Rape in Kashmir

Writing this article took an immense amount of courage. As someone bound by the blood of Kashmir, my heart compels me to raise my voice in solidarity with my homeland. The weaponization of rape and sexual violence against Kashmiri women by the occupying Indian regime is a blatant act of cowardice. To this day, countless Kashmiri women have suffered horrific sexual violence, with their homes turned into places of torture. Women of all ages, from minors to the elderly, have been violated by Indian forces in unimaginable ways. At this point in time it’s difficult to think of a form of humiliation they haven’t endured.

A Harsh Reality Reports and Confirmations

The disgraceful Indian regime has relentlessly tried to bury the sexual violence incidents under mountains of lies, but truth is an unstoppable force!
The use of rape by Indian military personnel as a method of retaliation against Kashmiri women is horrifying and deeply disturbing. Human rights abuses have persisted for decades without any significant action being taken.

In a 1993 report, HRW highlighted that Indian forces use rape as a form of retaliation during reprisal attacks following resistance ambushes, often under the guise of cordon and search operations. A 1996 report further stated that rape was used as a counterinsurgency tactic in Kashmir.

The Scholars’ Insights

Scholar Inger Skhjelsbaek, known for her research in conflict areas, has pointed out a disturbing pattern when soldiers enter civilian homes, they often kill or evict the men before raping the women. Seema Kazi has drawn parallels between the motivations behind rapes in Kashmir and those in Rwanda and the Balkans, describing rape in Kashmir as a “cultural weapon of war.” The rape of Kashmiri women by Indian security forces serves to subordinate Kashmiri men and demoralize the resistance. Some mercenary Indian soldiers have even confessed to being commanded to commit rape.

Evidence from the United Nations

At the 52nd United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Professor William Baker presented chilling evidence, showing that rape in Kashmir is not an isolated issue of undisciplined soldiers but a deliberate tactic used by Indian forces to humiliate and terrorize the population. He shared interviews with victims whose family members were forced to witness their rapes. During some interviews with soldiers on why they raped local Kashmiri women, some responded that Kashmiri women were beautiful. Others said it was a non-family station.

The System of Impunity

Amnesty International’s 1992 report stated that rape was systematically used during counter-offensives against militants to shame local Kashmiri communities. Interviews with soldiers revealed disturbing justifications for their actions, ranging from the beauty of Kashmiri women to revenge for actions committed by Kashmiri men against their own communities. The system of impunity provided to Indian soldiers for acts of sexual violence is deeply troubling. Section 5 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) grants immunity to Army officials, protecting them from prosecution unless the Central Government approves an investigation. This legal protection has led to rarely investigated cases of rape by Indian occupying forces in Kashmir.
According to Kashmir Media Service, between 1989 and 2020, 11,224 women were raped by the Indian occupying forces, including girls as young as 11 and women as old as 60. Victims and their families face immense social stigma, even though these acts were forced upon them at gunpoint. The AFSPA and the Public Safety Act (PSA) gives Indian occupying forces unchecked power, leading to atrocities such as the mass gang rape in the villages of Kunan and Poshpora on February 23, 1991. Mercenary Indian Soldiers from the Rajputana Regiment raped women aged 9 to 80 while the men were taken to interrogation centers.

An Urgent Appeal for International Intervention

On June 19, 2015, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 19 as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. With a heavy heart, I appeal to the international community and human rights advocates to imagine the daily humiliation and suffering endured by Kashmiri women. Are they not human? What crime have they committed to warrant such inhuman treatment? Every person is entitled to rights, so why are these rights denied to Kashmiri women? Justice for Kashmiri women is long overdue. The international community must acknowledge the atrocities in Kashmir and take decisive action to end this suffering. Justice delayed is justice denied.

A message to the rabidly occupying Indian regime:

Indian regime must know that they can’t just brush aside the heinous crimes committed against innocent Kashmiri men and women as if they were insignificant. We will not rest until the echoes of our outcry reverberate across every corner of the globe!!!

Remembering the Fallen Heroes
Shaheed Abdul Hakeem

Tahir Aijaz

Mang town has a unique significance in the context of Kashmir’s fight for freedom where that old tree continues to give a message to the visitors that:

چراغِ ظلم و ظالم تا دم محشر نمے سوزد
اگر سوزوشب سوزد شبِ دیگر نمے سوزد

This tree was young when dozens of Kashmiris were hanged from it during the Dogra rule, their skin peeled off, marking a new chapter of brutality in human history. However, this brutal era of Dogra tyranny didn’t last long. The sacrifices of Shaheed Sabaz Ali and his associates did not go in vain, and Mang was eventually freed from the clutches of oppression.

Years later, in 1995, a brave man named Abdul Hakeem, also known as Abdul Rehman, from the same region, rose to fight against the Indian occupation of Kashmir. He joined the ranks of Hizbul Mujahideen, crossing the ceasefire line under the leadership of Commander Sher Khan (Chitra Topi Bagh) and stationed himself in the Lolab area of northern Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Allah had gifted him with such talent that within a short span of time, he successfully achieved high-profile military targets in the valley.

During the tumultuous times of 1995-96, Abdul Rehman carried out successful operations against Indian military and renegades, thereby boosting the morale of the Mujahideen across the valley. Besides executing daring military operations against occupational forces, he played a key role in other organizational activities, helping to establish the group as a formidable force in northern Kashmir. Known for his integrity, honesty, and truthfulness, this great commander exemplified humility and friendliness. This fresh bud from the age-old tree of Mang spread its freshness throughout the valley.

As a member of the pious Ismai Jamiat-e-Talaba, Abdul Rehman nurtured the occupied land with his blood, reminiscent of the history of our ancestors in Islam. His legacy reminds us of the sacrifices made by those who came before us.

On several occasions, Abdul Rahman was granted permission to return to the base camp, but he was always eager to go elsewhere. Each time, he refused his comrades’ offer. I vividly remember Abdul Rahman’s words to Faisal Bhai from Padr Mastu Azad Kashmir when bidding him farewell towards the base camp: “I did not come here to go back.” Abdul Rahman never returned; instead, he went further, so far that he began to see his ultimate destination clearly. This is in line with the law of nature: “Man attains only what he strives for.” Abdul Rahman achieved what he aspired to.
In mid-1998, a group of comrades from Hizbul Mujahideen separated and formed a new group named Al-Badr. When this news reached the battlefield, Abdul Rahman was deeply troubled. He found it hard to accept that his comrades had split from Hizbul Mujahideen. He expressed his sentiments with these words: “May Allah never show me the day when I have to choose between joining Al-Badr or staying with Hizbul Mujahideen.”

In the end, he never had to make that choice. Most of his comrades had already attained martyrdom under the banner of Hizbul Mujahideen, and Allah fulfilled his wish. The Al-Badr organization was formed on the Kashmir front in October 1998, while Abdul Rahman was martyred in September 1998. His place of martyrdom was Gulistan-e-Anwari, Warnov Lolab, the hometown of the renowned Islamic scholar Anwar Shah Kashmiri, where he fought his last battle against the enemy. When his ammunition ran out and he was injured, knowing his martyrdom was imminent, Abdul Rahman handed over his weapons to his comrade Mujahid Shaheen from Kuligam Lolab. Even in his final moments, he was concerned that his weapon should not fall into the enemy’s hands. He kept a few hand grenades and a pistol for himself. Detached from the world, the son of Mang’s Niaz Muhammad, a true patriot of the Milat-e-Islamia, departed from us with these words:

شہادت ہے مطلوب و مقصود مومن
نہ مالِ غنیمت نہ کشور کشائی

Every eye was moist in the camps of Al-Fajar, Al-Hadeed and Al-Mudasir Battalions. On the martyrdom of such a noble fighter, Ameer-e-Hizb, while paying glorious tributes to the martyr, said:

گلستان انوری کے ہر چمن میں ہے سکوت
نہ چہک نہ مہک ہے، ہے کدھر آہ و گلاب
کون دہلائیگا صحرا کون مہکائے چمن
کون تڑپائے دلوں کو ہے کدھر وہ اضطراب
افسردہ ہے غمناک ہے یہ وادئ لولاب

June 2020: The Month We Lost Pearls

Ishfaq Ahmad Itoo

Ishfaq Ahmad Itoo, a resident of Hangelbooch Kulgam was martyred on 7 June 2020 in Reban Shopian. He had done his B.Tech degree and had dedicated his life to the freedom movement. The nation remembers Ishfaq, a brave soul who fearlessly fought against the military occupation of our homeland. His sacrifice will never be forgotten, and his legacy will inspire generations to come. We vow to honor his memory by continuing the fight he so valiantly led, ensuring his efforts and sacrifices were not in vain.

 Owais Ahmad Malik

Owais Ahmed’s honesty and bravery made him a remarkable figure in our struggle. A fearless fighter, he stood up against oppression with unmatched courage. The nation cherishes his contributions and remembers his unwavering dedication. We pledge to uphold the values he fought for and to never compromise on the sacrifices he made for our noble cause. Known by his code name Huzaifa, he had done his Bsc and belonged to Arwani Kulgam. He was martyred in Reban Shopian on 7 June 2020.

 Umar Dhobi

Umar Dhobi also known by his code name Zaid Khan was a paragon of integrity and intelligence and a fearless fighter against the injustices faced by our people. His courage and dedication are deeply etched in the nation’s memory. As we honor his sacrifice, we reaffirm our commitment to the struggle he so passionately engaged in. Umar’s spirit lives on in our continued fight for justice, and his sacrifice will never be in vain. Zaid Khan, a graduate, was a resident of Pinjoora Shopian and was martyred in the same area on 8 June 2020 while fighting hundreds of occupational troops.

 Saqlain Ahmad Wagay

Saqlain Ahmad, known by his code name Zia Mustafa in the ranks, was a resident of Reban Shopian. He was also a graduate and a highly skilled fighter with very sharp brain. The nation honors Saqlain Ahmad, whose intelligence and bravery made him an exceptional leader. His fight against military occupation and his stand for justice have left an indelible mark on our collective conscience. We remember his sacrifice with deep respect and promise to carry forward his mission with the same determination and resolve. He was martyred in Pinjoora area of Shopian on 8 June 2020.

Shakir Ahmad Pal

Famously known by his code name Inamul Haque, Shakir, a resident of Muloo Dangerpora Shopian was a computer engineer with exceptional skills and courage. His fearless dedication and honesty were instrumental in our fight against oppression. After remaining active in ranks and fighting like a true Mujahid, he was eventually martyred in Pinjoora Shopian on 8 June 2020.
His bravery in the face of adversity remains an inspiration to us all. The nation pledges to remember his sacrifices and to never compromise on the principles he stood for. His legacy will continue to guide us in our quest for justice and freedom.

Adil Ahmad Lone

Adil Ahmad Lone, also known as Afaan Bhai was also a computer engineer. He was unique in handling different affairs of his organization and exceptionally good at making bold decisions amid a searing atmosphere. Afaan Bhai was a resident of Ganahpora Shopian and was martyred on 8 June 2020 in Pinjoora area of district Shopian. He was a highly educated and courageous fighter who stood unwaveringly against the injustices inflicted upon our people. His contributions and sacrifices are etched in the heart of the nation. We honor his memory by steadfastly continuing the struggle he championed, ensuring that his sacrifice will forever remain meaningful and impactful.

Nadeem Ahmad Malik

Uqab was the name by which people knew Nadeem. He was Uqab in the real sense of the word. A graduate and a top cricketer, Uqab left no stone unturned to see his homeland free from the clutches of slavery. A resident of Hefkuri area of Shopian, Uqab was martyred on 21 June 2020 in Bandpawa area of district Pulwama. He was a fearless and honest Mujahid, who fought valiantly for the rights of our people and against the military occupation of our homeland. His intellect and bravery were his greatest weapons. The nation remembers his dedication and promises to uphold the ideals he fought for. His sacrifice will never be forgotten, and we will ensure that his efforts lead to the justice and freedom he envisioned.

Haris Manzoor Bhat

Known by his code name Abu Ubaida, Haris was a civil engineer and belonged to Kavil Shikargah area of Islamabad. After joining the resistance ranks, Haris turned out to be a great military strategist who kept his enemies on tenterhooks. He was eventually martyred at Chewa Olar Tral on 26 June 2020. Standing resolute against the forces of oppression that sought to subjugate our people, Haris was a great Mujahid who will be remembered forever for his services to the nation. Highly qualified, he was a mechanical engineer and deeply committed to the cause who fought with a fearless heart and unwavering determination. The nation honors his memory and the remarkable sacrifices he made. We pledge to carry forward his mission, ensuring that his efforts were not in vain. His legacy will continue to inspire us and remind us of the strength and resilience needed to achieve justice and freedom for our homeland.

These brave souls, in the prime of their youth, set aside their personal ambitions and promising careers to fight for the dignity, freedom, and justice of our homeland. Their selflessness and courage have paved the way for a brighter future for all of us, and their sacrifices serve as a powerful testament to the high cost of our freedom.

Their legacy is a clarion call to all of us to remain steadfast in our pursuit of the noble cause they so valiantly championed. Any attempt to compromise on their sacrifices would not only dishonor their memory but also undermine the very foundation of our collective struggle. We must stand firm in our resolve, for to do otherwise would be to betray the immense sacrifices they made for our better tomorrows.

We will always remember these heroes and their contributions to our cause. Their mission is now our mission, and we will carry it forward with the same determination and integrity that they embodied. Our commitment to their vision is unshakeable; we will continue their fight until the oppressive soldiers leave our land and we reclaim our autonomy. Their sacrifices will not be in vain, and we will not rest until we achieve the justice and freedom they fought so hard for. Their spirit lives on in each of us, guiding us as we strive to complete the mission they began. The keys to our future, once lost, will be ours again, and we will honor their memory by building the better tomorrow they dreamed of.