San Francisco: Activism over Human Rights-wallahs on Kashmir
by Sandhya Jain on 18 Oct 2011 34 Comments
Coinciding with advocate Prashant Bhushan’s explosive espousal of plebiscite-cum-azadi for Kashmir Muslims (the only section agitating for azadi being Sunni Muslim leaders of the valley, and their paid foot soldiers), comes news of a campaign to whip up support among Human Rights groups in the United States for re-instatement of suspended Professors Richard Shapiro and Angana Chatterji, also activists on Kashmir. 
Although the event never made news at the time, it transpires that both Prof. Angana Chatterji and her husband and fellow activist Richard Shapiro, were suspended on July 19, 2011, by the Academic Vice President (AVP) at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), San Francisco, where they serve as full time academics at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. The charges have not been disclosed.

The duo was last in the news in November 2010 when Indian immigration authorities denied Richard Shapiro entry in New Delhi and sent him back to the US. He was accompanying Angana Chatterji to Kashmir; she was allowed to proceed. Chatterji is an Indian citizen and permanent resident in the US; she is co-convener of an NGO called the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir (IPTK).

The deportation order is believed to have emanated from an article written by Shapiro in Greater Kashmir, titled, “Governing Kashmir: Critical Reflections on the Historical Present” (Sept 28, 2010).


In the impugned article, Shapiro wrote, “What is the logic of the Indian state to which Kashmiris are subjected?”


Viciously disregarding the truth the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to citizens in the Indian Constitution do not extend to Jammu and Kashmir because the State Constitution and Assembly have refused to extend them to state citizens, Shapiro declaims:

“The people of Kashmir must be denied the rights guaranteed to citizens of India because every Kashmiri is considered a real or potential threat to India... Law and order demands the denial of democratic rights to the people of Kashmir. Freedom of assembly and movement, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of press, freedom of religion are the basic rights that make India a legitimate state, and it is precisely these rights that must be denied all Kashmiris because when Kashmiris exercise these rights it is considered evidence of the anti-national sentiment of Kashmiris.”


There is not even a trace of recognition that the miniscule Kashmiri Pandit community was denied the very right to life and liberty, much less freedom of religion, when it was genocided and ethnic-cleansed out of the valley a little over two decades ago.

Undaunted by his crude lies, Shapiro thunders, 

“If Kashmiris want to prove their loyalty they must sacrifice their human rights and civil liberties for the protection of 'Greater India'. The Kashmiri cannot be loyal in the same way that a citizen of India is expected to be loyal, which includes the lawful right to organize to express dissent, to demand accountability on the part of government, to protest injustice and oppression in the streets, in the press, in institutions and organizations created to enable a vibrant civil society empowered to articulate its needs and concerns.”

Shapiro hectors on laboriously, without regard to fact or legal position. Thus, he proclaims, “To focus on the unfortunate expression of anger and frustration through stone pelting by young men as evidence of a law and order problem and the violence of protestors is quite simply an affront to critical intelligence.” When young officers are critically wounded or passersby die in stone pelting, is it to be taken as an expression of peace and amity in the valley?

But Shapiro is not bothered by trifles like Truth. He plods on,

“Responsibility for violence rests firmly on the shoulders of the Indian state, evidenced in the unprecedented militarization of daily life in Kashmir, the long history of brutality with impunity, the systemic exploitation of the people and resources of Kashmir, surveillance, humiliation, the suppression of civil liberties and the innumerable atrocities against a civilian population understood to be 'integral' to India.”

Excuse me, the people of India feel Kashmir is the biggest drain on the exchequer and would like to know the extent to which the State contributes to the national kitty, as opposed to the doles it routinely receives. It is more than likely that a number of states are underdeveloped in proportion to the extent that Kashmir is pampered. A dose of fiscal discipline would give manufactured discontent a reality bite.

And in a manner startlingly similar to the private and later public fulminations of Sheikh Abdullah, Shapiro accuses the Indian State of ‘communalism’ and “systematic oppression of the approximately 140 million Muslims in India whose mistreatment does not disappear through incantations of Bollywood stars or recent Presidents of nation.”

His solution is on the familiar lines already touted by the National Conference, the People’s Democratic Party, and now (allegedly) the Home Ministry appointed interlocutors – remove the military and paramilitary forces from Kashmir; draw back and reduce troops to police the borders.

Finally, very much like Team Anna crusader with a personal agenda, Prashant Bhushan, by  “allowing civil society to express itself without fear of reprisal toward determination of its own future... The obstacle to law and order in Kashmir is the same as the obstacle to justice, freedom, and cultural survival. That obstacle is Indian rule. The first step in removing this obstacle is immediate demilitarization of Kashmiri society” (emphasis ours).

It is for such great activists in academic garb – one an American, another an Indian citizen with permanent residency in the US and an American husband – that righteous indignation is being whipped up in US Human Rights circles. Their respective “work” in Kashmir is cited as reason to agitate on their behalf – though it seems likely that the suspension by the institution has nothing to do with India or their work to delink Kashmir from India.

In fact, the current line of the Obama Administration, on pretext of securing a favourable settlement in Afghanistan, is to separate Kashmir from India. It is a continuation of the old Mountbatten agenda, whereby the British sought to secure a military operating base for future action against China. As inheritor of the British imperial mantle, Washington has revived the independent Kashmir file. It is part of the dogma surrounding the Clash of Civilisations Part 2.


Angana Chatterji is among the Indian intellectuals (sic) who embraced the seminar circuit of the notorious ISI-funded Kashmiri Islamist Ghulam Nabi Fai, who was recently arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Interlocutors Dileep Padgaonkar and Radha Kumar were also guests at anti-India seminars abroad. 

The author is Editor,

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