Sunday, October 14, 2018

Letter By Scholar Mannan Wani On Why He Chose To Pick Up Gun...

Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you send him to cemetery. – Malcolm X

Occupation is not easy to understand, it’s a very complex and multifaceted phenomenon. The decade’s long bloody conflict has turned Kashmir into one of the most politically mature nations of the world.

With time we all have somewhat understood the complex functioning, structure and machinery of occupation. India as a colonial state is slowly but steadily failing in justifying its colonial rule to the people of Kashmir.

But, occupation is like a cancer thus, we as a nation and community have to evolve and update ourselves of the new military, mental and diplomatic tactics of India as a colonial state.

You might be wondering why I, one who choose gun over pen, decided to write. There are a few things that I believe made it hard for me to be silent;

1: Collaborators nowadays are obfuscating facts to justify occupation and oppression while playing with emotions of gullible masses, human rights defenders are turning into business monsters and are making conflict a business by featuring the pain of oppressed, activism is guided and directed from Delhi studios.

2: From print media to electronic media, everyone from oppressors to oppressed have chosen to castigate us, our ways and methodology, our ideology and thought process by simply demonizing us.

Thirdly, when people who were forced to give up gun to propagate ‘peaceful ways of resistance ‘try to justify our methods of resistance by their own understanding and logic but actually disown us and our ideology and lastly when a former top cop turned human rights defender who worthlessly tried to crush genuine aspirations of people during his tenure tries to preach humanity and moderateism through half-hearted and illogical arguments.

One has but to respond. Thus, it becomes imperative for a person like me (who neither has resources nor the luxuries like the people I tried to relate above) who has already chosen gun over pen, to reply back in the same language and to present our point of view.

And I believe it’s necessary that some insider also puts his point of view to get the facts straight.

Not going into the long history of the occupation which I believe everyone among us is well aware about its roots, causes and ramifications.

The modern era of resistance started after the mass upsurge of 2008. Since then the methods of resistance have drastically and positively changed.

With the change in methods of resistance the tactics of oppression & suppression also evolved. India has realized it very well that they no longer can justify their illegal occupation or keep the Kashmiri nation silent under the jackboots of slavery.

So, they are willfully trying to change the historical and political realities of Kashmir. Day in and day out, new discourses are being circulated in media through various individuals and agencies.

India is very cleverly trying to confuse the people of Kashmir by manufacturing the narratives suiting to justify their military presence and oppressive measures used to contain the populace of J&K.

Certain individuals are assigned powerful and resourceful positions and then made to befool the people by bringing new discourses (irrelevant) and trying to make the old and actual ones seem out-dated and irrelevant.

One day we see some bureaucrat writing ‘India is the only rational choice Kashmiris have’ and the other day a politician will question ‘why militants feel dignity in death’. I will here try to deconstruct some of such vague arguments and expose the hypocrisy behind them.

‘we are soldiers we don’t fight to die but to win, we don’t feel dignity in death but we do feel dignity in fighting (Indian) occupation, its military might, its oppression, its tyranny, its collaborators and most of all its ego and if/when we die while fighting all this, we do feel dignity in that death.’ By ‘we’, I mean every Kashmiri and by ‘Kashmiri’ I mean every citizen of J&K, who is fighting the occupation in one or other way, not just the men with gun.

A teacher (school, college or university) who teaches students honestly or a doctor who works day in and out to treat his patients humanely or a student protesting the atrocities of occupation honorably or a stone palter who throws stones on occupying forces while facing bullets in return, or a columnist who writes fearlessly or a Journalist who risks his life to report the truths from ground zero or a person who just talks about the occupation or a lawyer who fights legally in a court, or a government employee who is sincere in his duties or for that matter a policeman who performs his real duty of maintaining law and order (not terrorizing, killing, maiming, and torturing natives), we are all soldiers of resistance.

New identities and divisions are being created, to bifurcate the society and to create voids in resistance. Before 2016 mass upsurge was deliberately associated with city and towns and militancy was called the activity of some ‘illiterate strayed village boys’.

Now protests are being associated with the ‘south Kashmir villagers’ who have no sense of economy. Although every now and then people have rejected these narratives by showing their mass support to resistance movement but still we need to be vigilant about how they try to disconnect people from each other using senseless discourses, sometimes on sub regional basis (North Vs South) and sometimes on sectarian and ethnic basis.

There is a very strong campaign going on in media (both social media and electronic media) against the resistance of Kashmir.

Those who fight occupation are called fanatics, fundamentalists and their favorite word, terrorists. The people behind these campaigns are well aware of the facts but it’s their job to befool people. The Indian NCERT text book for 12th class political science students defines terrorist as, “one who targets civilians indiscriminately to get their demands fulfilled” .

By this definition one can clearly understand who qualifies to be a terrorist since our course of action is known to one and all. Unlike India we don’t kill civilians (Kashmiris or Indian) and non combatants (not part of occupation).

Those calling us terrorists should either change their textbooks or their rhetoric. The people of India are being taught that Kashmiri militants are brainwashed young boys who join militancy for 72 virgins and they believe dying like this is a short cut for jannah.

There is no denying that Islam is our motivation and way of life and Islam indeed promises Jannah for fighting against every kind of oppression in whatever means one can.

But, as I mentioned above we are soldiers we join the war not to die and live in Jannah nah but to fight the enemy and defeat him.

No mujahid can ever claim Jannah even if he sacrifices everything, Jannah is the domain of Allah and that will be decided on the Day of Judgment not just on the fact that you died in a war, but entry in Jannah has a million criteria.

Also, we do not claim that Islam exclusively belongs to us only but it is true also those oppressors have a long history of manipulating people in the name of religion. They will always choose a specific part of Islam, misinterpret it and try to legitimize their occupation.

It’s often being argued that we are fighting a lost war. Apologists of occupation flaunt the military might of India, its missile technology, and its huge army; comparisons are being made between 200 young boys with AK47 and the one million army men with latest weaponry.

The latest military history of world, weather its US in Vietnam, USSR in Afghanistan or NATO in Afghanistan, teaches us that huge armies and latest weapons do not win the wars.

If the 200 boys with rusty AK47 have no comparison with Indian army, why does India need a million troopers and a budget of billions to fight these militants? Why does the brave army of India use tanks and even gunship helicopters to fight a couple of untrained young boys who are already surrounded by thousands of their men? Why do these occupational forces hundreds in number have to blow up the houses in order to kill the single man with gun? The answer to every such question is that India is already losing the war in Kashmir.

There was a time when the fight was between an armed militant and a thousand Indian troopers but now Indian army has to get through thousands of unarmed freedom fighters before getting the gunman.

The people who come to rescue the militants at encounter sites, unarmed, without caring about their lives give us an idea about the aspirations and emotions of the people. India might befool their own citizens or world community by calling militants as brainwashed Islamic terrorists but how can India justify that a whole nation fighting them is brainwashed.

India is in utter frustration and this is very visible every night on its news channels. Govt. of India hides its failures by running hate and venomous campaigns against us on media.

One can easily guess the level of their frustration; the teachers of colleges and universities in Kashmir are spied by govt. agencies , students are kept under surveillance, local media is gagged, laws are passed in which govt. employees are asked to refrain from criticizing the govt. policies. How would an apologist who believes that J&K is a part of democratic India describe it?

It’s often been discussed that we should try to find the solution of Kashmir issue by peaceful means within democratic framework of India.

Undoubtedly India is world’s largest democracy on papers and procedure but on practical grounds India does not qualify for a democracy.

How can you expect a nation to listen to you whose (so called) democratically elected prime minister has been a chief architect of communal riots, where elections are fought on communal lines, where rapists and criminals are lawmakers, where media is controlled by the ruling regime, where every voice of descent and every critique is silenced either by death or by other means, where every critique of govt. is declared anti national and the elections are won by populism and tricks, where government agencies are used to quell opposition and where minorities are facing existential threat, where every dissenting voice is threatened to be sent to Pakistan, where a Muslim is lynched in broad daylight for keeping beef in his fridge, where every skull cap donning man & burka clad women is a suspected terrorist, where students are sent to jail for protesting against government policies and where academicians and journalists are killed just because they speak or write against the government.

Hence, for Indian politicians the number of deaths in Kashmir is just a vote gaining policy in India. The corpse of a Kashmiri is sold in election market to satisfy the collective conscience of a nation.

Soldiers take pride in raping women and shooting innocents, and Indian masses are indoctrinated with the narratives by jingoist media to such an extent that they actually support all this.

This is not restricted to Kashmir only, the situation in north East Indian states, naxal areas and tribal regions in mainland India is no good than this. Rapes, killings, torture and human rights violation by Indian army is very common there too.

Democracy in Kashmir has always been used to fortify military occupation by taking refuge in black laws like AFSPA, DA & PSA, while using local collaborators. And the irony is that these local pro occupational politicians since the times of Sheikh Abdullah have always been used as a cannon fodder to serve the interests of India and it’s occupation, these henchmen are later on thrown after use just like tissue papers, if and ever they demanded or spoke for the rights of people.

The recent dumping of Pro Indian JKPDP by It’s ally BJP without even informing the so called Chief Minister is a case in point. That is a small but a significant display of democracy inKashmir.

On the political front, the current govt like its predecessors is acting arrogantly and completely ignoring regional opposition voices just to saffronise every inch of India. This is intensifying the already present separatist and pro freedom sentiments in the Indian mainland and occupied Kashmir respectively.

These aren’t some fanciful or rhetorical claims; we have recently seen the calls for ‘Dravidastan’ and the revival of ‘khalistan movement’.

The historically deep caste based fault line of India is also widening. With all these things going on, India is meant to explode and the resistance movement of Kashmir is going to forerunner of this process.

The current regime in India is on a mission to distort and change the whole historical base of their country and while trying to do so they are taking up Kashmir issue albeit with their own biased fascistic political ideology.

But Kashmir issue has entirely different bases and historical context. It’s often seen that on the one side people of Kashmir are being offered things to forget the historical and political reality of Kashmir and on the other they are threatened by showcasing military might of India.

Terrorizing local population by daily CASOs, nocturnal arrests of youth, jailing every pro freedom Voice, restricting every unarmed ‘peaceful’ protest by showering teargas and pellets on protesters is just a small display of actual ‘idea of India’ and it’s democracy . ‘Peace’ in Kashmir is established only by caging the whole population in their homes by enforcing curfews and ‘peaceful means of resistance ‘have always been welcome but with bullets, pellets and tear gases.

Every nation wants development, education and other things but not at the cost of their dignity and freedom. The people who are trying to sell sports and education against the history of Kashmir are living in fool’s world.

World history is a witness to the fact that nations have been defeated in wars but they can never be made to forget their history. Even if all the armed resistance ends in Kashmir and there is no freedom movement at all, peoples one or other day will start new movement and demand their right to freedom.

Movements and ideologies based on historical facts and justice are neither owned nor represented by specific persons of whatsoever stature. A person, no matter how big a leader he/she is just a part of a movement, not the movement itself.

If a leader decides to change his political stance and compromises on any basis, does that mean the movement is corrupt? Sheikh Abdullah was the most popular and tallest leader Kashmir ever had, but what makes his grave the ‘most guarded grave’ of the sub continent.

Those who are trying to show us the corruption and illegitimacy of the movement by highlighting the individuals should ponder over this. A leader is only acceptable and legitimate for people until he/she stands by the real politico historical narrative of Kashmir issue. Govt. can evolve their policies of oppression but they cannot go back in time and change the history. Therefore it would be better for the apologists of occupation to view us as humans who wish to live with dignity. But, they should always bear in mind that there is no dignity in living under occupation. We as a oppressed human beings are duty bound to fight against every kind of injustice, tyranny and oppression in our capacities and what could be the biggest injustice, tyranny or oppression else than living under occupation? The resistance offered by our people have frustrated the occupiers to such a level that they can’t even tolerate the people who don’t even subscribe to dominant narrative of local population and to set it an example they even jail or kill‘ human rights defenders’ and ‘ambassadors of peace’ who otherwise never speak against occupation.

By bringing in religious discourse to castigate us and our motives is never going to ease the problems. Let us be clear about the fact that we believe that the religion we follow is a system of life rather than a set of rituals and prayers. Thus it is natural to derive one’s thought, principle or ideology from the same system.

Second, it is not necessary for everyone to pick up the gun against oppression or occupation but it is necessary obligation for everyone to rise against oppression, curse occupation and rise against every falsehood in whatever way one can do.

And thirdly, Islam and Slavery can never go hand in hand and Islam can never tolerate oppression on any human being. Fourthly, when occupation is ugly, resistance can neither be beautiful nor can its means dictated or taught by oppressor.

Resistance is resistance; it can neither be peaceful nor violent. In fact, violence is not that we have picked up gun to fight occupation but violence is the presence of more than 12 lakh Indian armed men in Kashmir, violence is the presence of fortified army garrisons, bunkers and pickets, and occupation in itself is a biggest violence.

Therefore apologists of occupation should learn and understand the difference between ‘violence’ and ‘self defense’.

And lastly as a Muslims who believe that Islam is a complete system for mankind encompassing social, economic and political system, we too wish to be governed by the same, but it has never been implemented forcefully in whatsoever conditions.

Our mission is to liberate our land from foreign illegal occupation and thus to create an environment of peace and justice wherein every thought and ideology would be discussed and debated and people will be given their right to chose whatever they like.

And history has been witness to the fact, that where ever people live in real freedom and Islam was given a chance to rule, people have always not only welcome it but also seen the era of justice and peace in those time. And as Great revolutionary Malcolm X puts it; there is nothing in our book, The Quran that teaches us to suffer peacefully. Our religion teaches us to be intelligent.

*Mannan Wani was killed on 11 October 2018. He was a former PhD scholar from Aligarh Muslim University, who is currently member of Hizbul Mujahideen – an armed outfit active in Jammu and Kashmir. This article was mailed by Hizbul Mujhadeen to news agency Current News Service based in Srinagar.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

It's Time We Listened To The Plight Of Assam's 'Foreigners'...

India's north-eastern Assam state was thrown into turmoil on July 30, after approximately four million people living there were not included in a draft list of citizens published by authorities.
The Registrar General of India (RGI), which published the draft list called the National Register of Citizens (NRC), said out of the 32.9 million people living in the border state, only 28.9 million managed to submit the necessary documents proving their citizenship.
Some human rights activists deemed the list the "biggest exercise for disenfranchisement in human history" while others said those not included into the list are in legal limbo and may eventually be left stateless.  
Now the fate of millions - most of them among the most vulnerable in India - is uncertain. 
But why did Indian authorities feel the need to compose such a list? Who is being targeted? And most importantly, what's next?

A colonial legacy

The NRC is being composed as part of a decades old campaign to identify undocumented immigrants in the state. The roots of this issue, however, goes even further back to colonial times, when tracts of forest land in Assam were designated to be cleared in an attempt to expand food production and establish tea plantations.
These projects attracted a steady flow of land-hungry and industrious migrants from neighbouring East Bengal, which at that time was part of the same vast country. These migrants helped convert forest land into paddy fields and eventually settled in the state.
But the influx of Bengali migrants into Assam did not stop with the completion of these projects. In 1947, when British India was partitioned into two independent dominions amid a cataclysm of religious violence, Assam remained a part of India while large tracts of Bengal, that have a majority Muslim population, became East Pakistan. In 1971, the people of Bengal found themselves in an even more brutal liberation struggle, this time against Pakistan. At the end of this bloody liberation war, which claimed millions of lives, Bangladesh was born. Throughout these struggles immigration from East Bengal into Assam continued steadily.

Calls for 'detention, disenfranchisement and deportation' of all foreigners

Over the years, Bengali migrants made significant contributions to the economy and culture of Assam, with their toil and sweat as well as their lyrical music and poetry. However, their mounting numbers stirred anxieties among the indigenous Assamese people about the preservation of their distinct culture and ownership of land. As a result, between 1979 to 1985, an "anti-foreigner" agitation targeting the Bengali immigrants erupted in the state.
The agitation - known as the Assam Movement - was mostly led by student groups, who were demanding immediate "detention, disenfranchisement and deportation" of all foreigners. The agitation reached its bloody climax on February 18, 1983, when more than 2000 Bengali Muslim men, women and children were massacred in villages across Assam's central Nellie district. This was one of the most gruesome atrocities committed in the history of modern India, known widely as the Nellie Massacre. To this day, not a single person has been tried, let alone punished, for these killings.
Two years later, in August 1985, representatives of the government of India and the Assam Movement signed the Assam Accord in New Delhi, bringing an end to this most violent chapter in the state's history. The accord also paved the way for the leaders of the agitation to form a political party and form a government in the state of Assam soon after.
The Assam accord contained a commitment by the government to systematically identify, disfranchise and deport those persons who entered Assam from Bangladesh after 1971, the year of its tempestuous liberation. After the signing of the accord, successive governments continued the process of identifying "foreigners" but the numbers were always limited to thousands.
In 2005, the Supreme Court of India hastened the controversial process of identification of foreigners in the state by officially shifting the burden to prove the legality of a citizenship claim from the state to the individual. It also set strict timelines for the completion of the NRC.
This was the start of a problematic and painful era for the Bengali community in Assam.

The rise of majoritarian discourse and anti-Muslim sentiments

Last week's NRC draft that excluded nearly four million Assam residents did not come as a shock to people who have been observing the political climate in India, and in Assam, closely for the last four years. 
Since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took control of the central government and the government of Assam, the anti-foreigner discourse in the state became more prominent and eventually evolved into an anti-Muslim one.
Even at the height of the agitation, the leaders of the Assam Movement had refrained from making a clear distinction between Hindu and Muslim Bengali immigrants. The BJP, however, has made it amply clear that it is opposed to only Muslim Bengali immigrants, and would welcome Hindu Bengalis into Assam. It even proposed a law that would fundamentally alter India's citizenship laws and allow Hindus from any neighbouring country - including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh - to acquire Indian citizenship. The draft law also proposed to extend this privilege to persons of other religions that were founded in India - Buddhist, Jain, Sikh - and even Christianity. It is unambiguous that the only unwelcome religious identity in BJP controlled India, and Assam, is of the Muslims.
Prior to becoming India's prime minister in 2014, Narendra Modi used his campaign speeches to demonstrate his commitment to kicking Muslim Bengalis out of Assam. He even alleged that the threatened Assamese rhinoceros were being killed to make way for the Bangladeshis. Other BJP leaders, including party President Amit Shah, have long been using the emotive and pejorative term "infiltrator" to describe undocumented Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, dubbing them a threat to India's security. In contrast, the very same leaders describe Hindu immigrants as legitimate refugees escaping persecution in countries where they are minorities.
In other words, the majoritarian and anti-Muslim discourse the BJP used to get elected and consolidate its power contributed to the decades-old "anti-foreigner" sentiments in Assam and paved the way for the creation of the NRC draft that devastated millions.

An impossible route to legal citizenship

To be included in the NRC, Assam residents are required to produce official documents such as land ownership records, birth certificates, high school records or voter lists that would demonstrate that they - or one of their blood ancestors - had been a citizen of India on or before 1971.
On the face of it, this may seem like a reasonable and fair request. However, it is impossible for many Assam residents to meet this demand. In a country which has a long history of widespread illiteracy, poorly maintained land records and corrupt local administrations, obtaining these documents is not easy. Furthermore, many families do not register their children's births or send them to school.
As the Chief Minister of the neighbouring state of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, pointed out, in a country in which the majority of people don't even know the date of their parents' birth, how can people be expected to produce these documents? Banerjee said even she would not be able to obtain documents that categorically prove that she or her parents were Indian citizens in 1971.
This process is even more skewed against women. Women from the Bengali community in Assam typically don't have birth certificates (like many men), and rarely stay in school long enough to get an official certificate. They are typically married off before they are 18 years old, and therefore their names don't appear alongside their fathers' on the voting lists. They may obtain voter lists in which their names appear next to their husbands', but that is not accepted as proof of their citizenship.

What next?

Faced with criticism from the opposition, Indian government recently announced that it will give those excluded from the NRC extra time to file their documents. While it is highly unlikely that these people will miraculously find the necessary documents, even if they did, government does not seem to be serious about giving them a second chance. The time that the government has set aside for extra document submission is less than one month. As there are approximately four million people left out of the register, the government can hypothetically receive over 100,000 applications a day during this period. Moreover, according to the schedule, the government has set aside three months to process all the new documentation and publish the final register. This means that it plans to process tens of thousands of claims every single day until the end of this year!
The government is also silent about what will happen to the Assam residents who would eventually fail to establish their citizenship. So far, authorities only said that those excluded from the final NRC would have the opportunity to present their case before the Foreigners Tribunal.
There are 100 Foreigners Tribunals in Assam and two-thirds of these courts were established by the BJP government. These tribunals are run not by independent judicial officers but by lawyers appointed on short contracts by the state government. Moreover, most of these lawyers belong to indigenous Assamese communities. As a result, it seems highly unlikely that these tribunals will do much to help those who are excluded from the NCR.
The Assam government has established six detention centres over the past nine years for people deemed to be foreigners. As a representative of India's statutory National Human Rights' Commission, I was one of the few non-officials who was allowed to enter these detention centres earlier this year. What I witnessed there was in comprehensive defiance of international law, India's constitutional guarantees and elementary humanism.
International law lays down that people of contested citizenship should not be placed in prisons, families should not be separated, and their detention should not be indefinite. All these norms are being flouted in Assam. Women are housed in one jail, their husbands in another, and children older than six years are left outside the prison.
When the Trump administration started separating children from their undocumented migrant parents at the US-Mexico border, he immediately -and rightfully- faced global outrage. In Assam, this has been the routine fate of held immigrants for the last nine years, and there is no outrage within India or outside about their desperate plight. They are not given a single day's parole, are not allowed to speak with or meet their families in other detention centres, have no work or recreation all day, and have no legal aid to appeal against their indefinite detention.
And the July 30 NRC draft proved that millions more may find themselves in the same hellish situation in the coming days. 
The protracted process to deem who are "foreigners" in Assam, although conducted under the watchful eye of India's Supreme Court, could lead to more suffering and polarisation. If compassion is not placed at the centre of all efforts, the final NRC may set the stage for another round of blood-letting, akin to the one we witnessed in the 1980s and yet another harvest of electoral victories built ultimately on the further suffering of these impoverished communities.
Harsh Mander

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Resist, My People, Resist Them...

Resist, my people, resist them.
In Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds and breathed my sorrows
And carried the soul in my palm
For an Arab Palestine.
I will not succumb to the “peaceful solution,”
Never lower my flags
Until I evict them from my land.
I cast them aside for a coming time.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the settler’s robbery
And follow the caravan of martyrs.
Shred the disgraceful constitution
Which imposed degradation and humiliation
And deterred us from restoring justice.
They burned blameless children;
As for Hadil, they sniped her in public,
Killed her in broad daylight.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the colonialist’s onslaught.
Pay no mind to his agents among us
Who chain us with the peaceful illusion.
Do not fear doubtful tongues;
The truth in your heart is stronger,
As long as you resist in a land
That has lived through raids and victory.
So Ali called from his grave:
Resist, my rebellious people.
Write me as prose on the agarwood;
My remains have you as a response.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour was convicted for posting her poem on social media. (

Saturday, July 7, 2018


They did not recognize me in the shadows
That suck away my color in this Passport
And to them my wound was an exhibit
For a tourist Who loves to collect photographs
They did not recognize me,
Ah... Don't leave 
The palm of my hand without the sun
Because the trees recognize me
Don't leave me pale like the moon! 

All the birds that followed my palm
To the door of the distant airport
All the wheatfields
All the prisons
All the white tombstones
All the barbed Boundaries
All the waving handkerchiefs
All the eyes
were with me,
But they dropped them from my passport

Stripped of my name and identity? 
On soil I nourished with my own hands? 
Today Job cried out
Filling the sky:
Don't make and example of me again! 
Oh, gentlemen, Prophets,
Don't ask the trees for their names
Don't ask the valleys who their mother is
>From my forehead bursts the sward of light
And from my hand springs the water of the river
All the hearts of the people are my identity
So take away my passport! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ramadan Kareem !

Kashmiri Muslim women pray as a girl looks on inside the Jamia Masjid, or Grand Mosque, on the first Friday of Ramadan in Srinagar, India, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008. Muslims all over the world are observing the holy month of Ramadan, abstaining from consuming food and drinks from dawn to dusk. AP / Dar Yasin