Sunday, January 14, 2007

# The Realities of Indian Occupied Kashmir

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem


Weekly Takbeer, Srinagar, October 31st 1990.

“Born in 1966, 24 year old Miss Loura Jane Lambie, a Canadian agricultural science student, was on a stroll on October 11th on the boulevard in Srinagar when it was just getting towards darkness. Near the Centaur Hotel, she was having a chat with three local boys asking them about what was going on in Kashmir and was immediately waylaid by personnel of the Indian National Security Guards (MSG) traveling in a white Maruti van. They were armed with automatic weapons and carried radios. One of them, tall but slim, warned Loura not to get into conversation with local Muslim youth. “All of them are very, very dangerous terrorists and can molest you in this desolate spot”, he told her.
When the guards asked her who she was, she replied “a Canadian”. “You shall have to accompany us to the police station” and thus Loura was asked to board the vehicle. Instead of any police station, Loura was taken to the Oberoi palace hotel where the guards had a drink, from their own bottles because the hotel bar was closed. She did not drink even though she was invited to do so. Then guards then ordered her to board the vehicle again as they told her it was not safe for her to go back to the house boat at that late hour, for the Kashmiri militants could kill her at any spot. The guards also took away her purse. Loura was then taken to a garden near Chasma Shahi. It was 1 am on October 12th.

One of the guards directed Loura to undress but she did not oblige. Her clothes were torn and she was laid down on the ground and gang raped. She cried under the open sky but there was no one to listen to her moans and shrieks except the sleeping state governor, Girish Saxena, in Raj Bavan, which is situated only a few hundred yards from the scene of the incident. For a change, Loura was taken to another adjacent garden and the gang rape by five guards continued until finally she fell unconscious.

A semi conscious Loura was then dropped on the roadside, at a slight distance from where she had been picked up the previous evening. On being sighted by the locals, she was carried to the police station a Nehru Park where a case for kidnapping and rape was registered under sections 366 and 367 of the Rambir Penal Code under First Information Report No: 90/40. The police officer at the station recommended a medical examination of the victim and Loura was taken to Lal Ded Women’s hospital in Srinagar.

Two female doctors examined her ascertaining that dead sperms were found in her uterus and the passage leading to it. There were scratches on her thighs, arms and breasts, which testify that she resisted.

Loura Jane Lambie told pressmen that very day how brutally the security guards raped her. The matter when brought to higher authorities in the state and also when it was taken up with the government of India by the Canadian high commission in New Delhi, the state police registered the case against the guards, arresting two of them whom Loura had identified in a batch of sixty four guards paraded before her. She recognized them even though both of them had shaven of their beards.

Loura was kept in protective custody by the state authorities and was allowed an interview with the state governor on October 13th who promised stern action would be taken against the guards turned rapists.

The authorities acted swiftly in view of the Canadian government taking serious notice of the incident and it was in record time that an inquiry was conducted and the culprits punished.

Here lies the difference between the rape of a foreigner and that of a Muslim Kashmiri woman. The latter is treated as an allegation and passed of unnoticed and unwept.”

William W. Baker’s treatise; “Kashmir, Happy Valley, Valley of Death.” The American author visited the Occupied territories in 1994. From his Medical section he wrote;
“Hospital crackdowns occur at all three major hospitals as verified by doctors. These “crackdowns” amount to a shutdown of the hospitals and usually the accusation of the doctors harboring illegal weapons and resistance fighters. While enduring these searches, the hospitals are completely shutdown. The doctors and hospital staff are not allowed to care for their patients while the search goes on. All the staff are confined to their quarters and offices, and as a result, many critically ill patients are left t die on the operating tables! Under the guise of conducting a “security search” the authorities often physically abuse the patients, as well as the case of Mrs. Perveena Sheikh, a forty five year old cancer victim, who along with other patients suffering from painful afflictions, were rolled over and over in their beds while the soldiers, laughing, continued to ask “where are the arms?” their lighter was unable to cover the screams of the victims as monitors intravenous lines and catheters were ripped from their veins. Mr. Abdul Rohm, thirty-five years of age and suffering from a liver abcess with metabolic acidosis and hypertension was on a life saving I/V line. As he was rolled over and over and the line was ripped away, the physician on duty was prevented from restarting the I/V line for nearly an hour, and as a result Mr. Rahim suffered a fatal cardiac arrest. I met six families at the hospital who had family members die while the security forces carried out their crackdowns. It is important to note that in all the crackdowns and searches of the hospital, not a single weapon or “militant” was found, nor had the doctors and staff ever knowingly hidden arms or resistance fighters. “Suspected” Mujahideen were often taken from the hospital immediately after surgery, and in some cases, in the midst of surgery! Many never returned, and those that were brought back to the hospital were near dead.”

Christopher Thomas, The Times, London, August 10th 1993.

“Students are targets in the streets of Kashmir, as was the case of a twenty year-old man walking to school in the middle of the afternoon. An Indian army truck with a machine gun mounted on the back pulled alongside and soldiers ordered him to look at them, upon doing so he was shot through the throat. He was left where he fell until some other civilians took him to the hospital. A doctor explained that the bullet tore through the young man’s trachea and oesophegus, finally crushing his spine. This handsome young Kashmiri was unable to speak, and the doctor continued to tell the effects of that single bullet, that this young man could not eat, could not breath, could not even move and was only awaiting the peace and freedom of a hastening death. It was asked for the young man’s prognosis; “he is going to die very, very soon” was the reply. Mercifully this innocent youth died several days later.
Masroof Sultan, 19 takes off his shirt to reveal ten bullet wounds and the scars of torture by electric shocks. A doctor’s report states that bullet injuries were sustained to the right thigh, both arms, neck, chest and head. That he lived is embarrassing to those who shot him; he is scared that will come back to complete the job his story tells much about the tactics of the Indian Security forces in Kashmir. The official version is that he was shot in “crossfire”, which must be dismissed as nonsense by any body who has seen Mr. Sutan's multiple wounds. According to him, he was put up against a tree by soldiers from the Border Security Forces, a paramilitary group, and shot by men with rifles. He said he was shot again when he was seen to be alive. A third wave of bullets smashed in to him to make sure. “ An officer put his hand in front of my mouth to see if I was breathing. I held my breath. I was semi conscious,” he said. He has had four operations so far, and doctors say he needs two more. He cannot walk properly because his thigh was broken and his knees were injured, he says, from the being beaten with sticks during interrogation the doctor’s report, from the bone and joint hospital in Srinagar, is unequivocal in it’s prognosis: “permanent disability”. Until recently, before soldiers ordered him off a bus and decided he was a freedom fighter, he was a science student. He was apparently singled out for interrogation because he had come from an area of Srinagar with a reputation for resistance. He had not even been identified by “cats” –informants. They are called cats because only their eyes can be seen i.e. they wear a hood. “The cat has power over life and death”, says Mufti Bahauddin Farooqi, former chief justice of Jammu and Kashmir and now a human rights worker. “He can get anyone arrested and murdered by pointing a finger”; cats usually turn informer because they are threatened or tortured; it is probable that some are paid. Mr. Sultan’s life changed forever when, some hours after being taken off the bus, he was sent to an interrogation center. He said there was a rope hanging from the ceiling, a big roller, this heavy device is used for rolling over the legs and body, a common and well documented form of torture in Kashmir, and a piece of apparatus that turned out to be an electric shock system. He said bare wires were attached to his penis and big toes, then water thrown over him. “I was given three shocks. I lost my senses. Blood came from my nose and mouth. They beat my knees with sticks.” After the torture, he was taken away, and outside a building used by the Border Security Forces, he was shot. No young man in Kashmir is safe from the Security Forces. That is why so many of them live refugee camps on the Pakistani side of Kashmir. It is exceptionally hard to find someone, young or old, in the Kashmir valley who does not want Kashmir to secede from India.”

**** ****

“They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty, rejoicing for the sake of those who have not yet joined them, but are left behind (not yet martyred) that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve.” (Soorah 3: 170)

Ghazi describes the treacherous departure form occupied to Azad Kashmir.

“The route which we embarked upon was the one which Naeim (a guide) has recently been Shaheed upon Insha Allah, having fallen to his martyrdom. We consider it to be a mid lengthy one, spreading over a dangerous journey of approximately four to five days.

This notorious crossing, as most routes are, is known for the steep mountain faces that it harbors, ridges, some of which are located over and above cloud level, which the Mujahideen return would cover. Steep ledges coupled with river crossings that involve leaping over and onto huge boulders and small rocks, both of which can be wet, moss covered and dangerously slippery.

Under and around these rocks, fast flow rivers gush forth at white water rapid speed. This sort of river hopping will spread across entire nights, nights of profound desperate exhaustion and extreme chills, worse still when raining and the wind may be blowing powerfully. Exhaustion which cannot be confounded simply by resting because, not only are they on a minimal supply of sustenance, but also the bitter cold at this altitude does not allow resting for lengthy periods. This is to say one must constantly be on the move in order to preserve at least a minimal amount of body warmth at these levels.

Enemy camps and bunkers are strewn across the entire area with parts where the Mujahideen cannot even walk across, such as manmade tracks or the soft sand to be found on the riverbanks. This is for fear of leaving distinctive ‘stud’ marked indentations in the malleable ground with ones footprints.

Pont in case, stud tipped, ankle boot training shoes are worn by the fighters when crossing in or out of the Occupied state. The rest of the rime inside, they are usually fitted with flimsy plimsolls, the likes of which area commonly warn by primary school children in the west; unfortunately their resources do not reach much better then his in the Occupied Territories.

Most of the time the Mujahideen cannot simply go in a vertical or horizontal line, even if the landscape permits, rather they are forced to go around mountains, peak after peak. Unfortunately, these stretch to their very highest on the borders. Darting in and out and evading enemy camps I fact more then doubles the journey.

In fact in many ways it can be said that the return trips are even more perilous hen the ones to venture in. this is so because the weaponry which they emphatically struggled to bring inside initially will, rather then accompany them on reverting, be buried in a cache, stashed away in some safe haven as a back up for those staying inside. Hence, it is this that renders each man returning to be equipped with either a pistol or a grenade and dagger. The guides will probably be the bearers of one or two rifles (AK-47) with minimal ammunition all round.

It is a route not only littered with natural hardships such as the long sweeping sheets of ice, frozen and lying dormant mostly all year round, but also the manmade ones such as the anti personnel mines and trip wires.

It follows that even the most experienced of men can, if willed by their Lord, fall prey to a natural order, one that of course we cannot deem to be a disaster. Footing can all so easily be lost, mines can be stepped upon as of a surety they have in the past. Hazardous injuries of many sorts, including the fracturing of bones can easily happen; the list is long with the torments that can and do affect the zealot. It is the most soul searching experience one may envisage”

“And if you are killed or die in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better then all that they amass (of worldly wealth etc)” (Soorah 3: 157)

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