UN doublespeak on Kashmir
by Sandhya Jain on 12 Oct 2010 13 Comments

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon reflected the growing Anglo-American itch to interfere in Kashmir with his recent comments about the need to end the unrest in the Valley; hints about expansion of the Security Council; and pious hope that India and Pakistan would furnish an ‘official request’ for a UN role in Kashmir. He did admit was India was a victim of international terrorism, but declined to identify its source.


Mr Ban ki-Moon’s denial that UN planned interference in Kashmir followed strong private (possibly also official) protests over the UN Information Centre’s ill-conceived decision to host an India Ragdo (crush India) type of seminar in its official premises on Sept. 29, 2010.


Touted as a dialogue, Sisters for Peace: Voices from Kashmir, the seminar was organised by the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA), the National Foundation for India, and the UN Information Centre. The invitees were rabid secessionist women from Srinagar Valley; the panelists were proudly anti-Hindu leftist-liberals in whose ranks minority speakers and panelists could disguise their politico-religious agendas.


The zero representation provided to other stakeholders, viz., nationalist Indian Hindus, ousted Kashmiri Pandits, Jammu Hindus, Sikhs from Kashmir and Jammu, Buddhists from Ladakh, Shia and tribal Muslims from all parts of the State, made the seminar possibly the most blatant instance of a Dialogue Minus the Nation. It was brazenly for and about Sunni Muslims of the Valley. So startlingly upfront was its political intent to promote the Geelani faction of Hurriyat that New Delhi must demand an official enquiry and transfer of UN officials who approved the decision to host it and cleared the list of invitees and panelists. I noted the presence of one Anna Stanhammar, who maintained discreet silence and left before the arrival of the Union Home Secretary, who was invited to accept the seminar recommendations.


The seminar’s slant was obvious from the extreme impatience towards the few dissident voices. Mr Sajjad of Kargil, Ladakh, protested that ‘only the valley wants Azadi... We are suffering, tourist buses are being attacked and sent back, but we do not want Azadi... The (Chidambaram) peace delegation never came to us.’ He was rudely asked to “shut up.”


A Pandit refugee said the mass exodus of four lakh Hindus in 1990 was to erase the Indian identity and pluralism of Kashmir. It was followed by further massacres such as 1997 Sangrampura, then Nandimarg, then Chittisingpora, and now Sikhs have got an ultimatum. When he said a nurse called Sarla Bhatt, who keeping tabs on the militants, was cut into two pieces, he was simply silenced. Thereafter, Dr Meenakshi Gopinath (a candidate for Delhi University Vice Chancellor, from which post the agenda can be promoted more vigorously), advised speakers to ‘stop the litany of injustices and break out of victimhood.’ This sage counsel was exclusive to Hindus; all Kashmiri Muslim women were given the liberty to defame the security forces and demand secession from India.


Following this homily, Ms Anjum Zamarud Habib of the Geelani Hurriyat faction made an intensely political speech, calling India a ‘slave nation’ and demanding that Kashmir be seen as an issue of self-determination and not law and order. ‘Boys with stones in their hand can never be defeated. I tell you, they can never be defeated.’ Her thundering declamation astonished even the organisers who asked her to wind up, at which she retorted, ‘I will not speak at all if you stop me.’ They were cowed down and never stopped a single Muslim speaker thereafter. She continued, ‘young boys are carrying coffins on their shoulders daily, women are dishonoured, men are alive to take revenge – that is the reality.’ Attempts by a retired general and a CRPF officer to correct this mischief were treated with polite disdain.


Another woman said they had a right to protest against India. ‘Hamara buniyadi haq hai azadi.’ She was allowed to show a film clip of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and what purported to be army violence (actually patrolling) in the streets. Then she chanted slogans for secession from India, to which Mrs Nancy Kaul, convener, Daughters of Vitasta, took strong objection.


At this disruption, Dr Sayeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, with Minister of State rank, came rushing across the hall with Dr Mohini Giri, former chairperson, National Women’s Commission and daughter-in-law of late President V.V. Giri. Walking past the shouting secessionist, both ladies made straight for Mrs Kaul and made her sit down, even as the agent provocateur continued her anti-India diatribe.


When the commotion settled, this writer raised a point of order: ‘this was supposed to be a non-political seminar, yet provocative political speeches preaching secession have been made in the presence of a serving Member of the Planning Commission, and a former chairperson, National Women’s Commission; can you two ladies please clarify your position on the same?’ At this, Dr Hameed clam up, while Dr Giri pleaded, ‘she has the right to speak, my daughter, let us listen to all.’ A rabid woman journalist piped up, ‘we cannot isolate Zamruda; they all speak like this in Srinagar and the streets of Kashmir.’


Emboldened, Quratulain, teacher in a government college in Srinagar, asserted that Kashmir was a 60-year-old problem, especially in the last two decades and again the last four months. Since the death of a youth in June this year, she said, ‘no MLA can face the mob and go to his constituency. India cannot keep J&K without force. Youth is with Geelani; education and development are rejected by J&K…’


Since this anti-national seminar got its weight from women with government posts, the Centre needs to examine the sedition laws and take appropriate action.


Finalizing recommendations to submit to the Union Home Secretary (whom UN officials failed to alert regarding the content of the proceedings), Dr Sayeda Hameed endorsed Mrs Jyotsna Chatterjee’s suggestion of peace committees on the pattern of East Timor! Surely she knows UN partitioned Indonesia in violation of its Charter, which states it will not promote secessionist tendencies in any member state?


Former MP Subhasini Ali said interlocutors being appointed by the Home Ministry must include fifty percent women. It is our considered opinion that none of those present at the seminar are eligible for a mission to rescue the nation.


The author is Editor, www.vijayvaani.com

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