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Senior Kashmir RTI activist, known liberal, threatened; top journo warns, state susceptible to anger from within

By Our Representative
In a development which might further push the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) situation towards the brink, liberal sections of the state, torn apart because of unprecedented violence, have begun to feel threatened. The most recent example cited in this context is of a person considered as the state’s first Right to Information (RTI) activist being “harassed and threatened.”
Bringing this to light, chairman, J&K Right to Information (RTI) Movement Shaikh Ghulam Rasool has said that advocate Irfan Hafiz Lone, legal advisor of his organization, has received threats “from numerous communal people in one day.” Lone is known to be critical of Kashmiri separatists, and is said to hold Gandhian views.
According to Dr Rasool, “The inclusive anti-Kashmir wave has spread so large that every person of Kashmir is threatened one way or the other with in state or outside state. In similar vein, three days ago on April, 19, 2017 around 3:00 pm two persons approached Lone outside district Court Baramulla and threatened him not to raise the human rights violation issue in TV debates.”
While replied that he was “impartial in condemning the violations, be it from any side”, says Dr Rasool, “On the same day he was done debating at Times Now around 8.52 pm, he receives a call from the phone number (+91) 9819743514 abusing him and all Kashmiris predominantly for raising human rights violations in public domain.”
On the same day Lone informed telephonically at Kothi Bagh Police station Srinagar about the threatening call, and on next morning on April 20, he filed FIR in writing with Police station Kothi Bagh as well as in SHO Baramulla. “Three days have passed since then while no action has been taken against the perpetrator”, complains Dr Rasool.
Last year, Lone shot into prominent for a reply to his RTI plea, which said that the Archives of India’s records suggest, the founder of National Conference, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, was not the signatory of ‘Instrument of Accession’ of Kashmir.
Threat to Lone comes amidst one of India’s best-known journalists, Shekhar Gupta, observing in his blog that while earlier – soon after Independence and in 1965 – India “nearly lost” due to military intervention from Pakistan, and was saved by the India’s strong retaliation, the situation has reached as a point that today that thought there is “almost no military threat, we have worked ourselves up into seeing our own people as a ‘military’ threat.”
Shekhar Gupta
According to Gupta, arguably, “Kashmir is territorially secure”, yet the fact is, “We are fast losing it emotionally and psychologically”, wondering, “Do we care?”
Pointing out that 1965 “was the last time India could conceivably have lost Kashmir militarily”, Gupta says, at that time, “even in our folklore, Kashmiris were seen as broadly nationalist and trustworthy – the 1965 infiltrators were spurned by local people.”
However, how, 52 years later, he underlines, “for months, Kashmiris have come out in thousands, shedding their fear of lathis, bullets and pellets. As weeks pass, they will also likely shed their hesitation of ‘sacrificing’ fellow Kashmiris if used as human shields.”
“Only 7 per cent voted in a recent Srinagar by-election. You don’t need more evidence that while your grip on the land is firm, you are losing its people”, he says.

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