Skip to main content

Indo-Pak conflict, adversely affecting Kashmiri women, being used to "reap" political mileage

Counterview Desk
The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), a leading network of feminist organisations and grassroots activists in Asia Pacific having 236 member-groups from 27 countries in the Asia Pacific, has sharply criticized powerful forces in India and Pakistan getting involved in “unsubstantiated claims and counterclaims that are encouraging hyper-nationalism and religious fundamentalism” following the Pulwama terror attack on February 14.
Holding consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, APWLD regrets in a statement that, following the attack, there have been ‘retaliatory’ attacks on Kashmiri civilians across India, insisting, “Citizens of Kashmir in India have suffered through decades of conflict” and it is time the Government of India stops equating “an entire state with a terrorist outfit as this sets a dangerous precedent.”
Released by Madhura Chakraborty and Neha Gupta, the statement urges both sides to “aim to seek lasting peace solutions involving all parties”, pointing out the conflict particularly adversely affects Kashmiri women.

Text of the statement:

We, feminists from India and Pakistan at the Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD) express our growing concern on the escalation of conflict between India and Pakistan.
We note with mounting dismay that the rhetoric deployed by both Governments is aimed at creating an unstable environment where media and social media is used for proliferation of unsubstantiated claims and counterclaims that are encouraging hyper-nationalism and religious fundamentalism. Many lives have already been lost, including those of soldiers and civilians. 
We urge both governments to stop exploiting the spectacle of war to reap political mileage in the two countries at the expense of people’s lives, peace and justice.
We are particularly concerned about the effects conflict has and has had on the women of South Asia, particularly sexual violence, enforced disappearance of male family members leaving women headed households vulnerable and economically insecure, and growing fundamentalism and curtailed civil and political rights leading to abrogation of women’s human rights.
The ‘retaliatory’ attacks on Kashmiri civilians across India in the aftermath of the suicide bombing of the Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Pulwama can never be acceptable or justified. Citizens of Kashmir in India have suffered through decades of conflict. 
By some estimates there are thousands of mass graves, sexual assaults, enforced disappearances, extra judicial killings, torture, blinding and maiming over the decades, as draconian laws like the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (1990) and Public Safety Act (1978) have been enforced in the valley, granting complete impunity to the armed forces. 
Not a single accused armed forces personnel has been prosecuted in civil courts till date. Reports of religious minorities in Pakistan facing violence on account of these transgressions in India are also increasing in ‘response’. In all situations, women, sexual minorities and children are left without means to safeguard their right to live free of violence or discrimination. 
 We note with particular concern that the issues in the upcoming General Elections in India have been completely usurped by the rhetoric of war and ‘revenge’. We further urge the mass media in both countries to act with dignity, abide by fundamental principles and ethics of journalism and restraint instead of propagating fake and unverified news and fomenting conflict.
We urge the Indian Government not to equate an entire state with a terrorist outfit as this sets a dangerous precedent. Further, we urge the Government of India to move away from it’s narrative of blaming Pakistan for waging a ‘proxy war’ and instead acknowledge the root causes of this conflict: the legitimate demands of Kashmiris and the need for demilitarisation of Indian-held Kashmir. 
The Government’s policy in Kashmir in the last few years, including but not limited to use of pellet guns to blind and kill thousands of youth, have only resulted in exponential increase in young Kashmiri boys joining armed insurgency. We condemn the refusal of the Government of India to excoriate attacks on Kashmiri civilians across India until over a week after the Pulwama terrorist attack. 
Meanwhile we have seen a growing environment of insecurity created for Kashmiris and Muslims across India. The Government of India must refrain from jingoism and take action to condemn with equal force the attacks on civilians based on ethnicity and religion just as much it condemns the terrorist suicide bombing. 
As South Asian feminists, we reiterate that peace,security and democracy of the entire region is linked to the just resolution of the Kashmir issue, through a process which centers the voices and democratic participation of Kashmiris themselves.
We urge the Government of Pakistan to investigate the human rights violations caused due to militarisation in regions like Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Pakistan’s use of militants as proxies to fight its wars and suppress dissent. 
The growing militarism and military surveillance and control of everyday lives of citizens notwithstanding, fundamentalism continue to exist and target religious minorities and women. Further, ex-militants have not been held accountable for their actions and in some instances have been allowed to contest in the electoral processes, while disbanded outfits have been allowed to regroup despite their unchanged extremist ideology. 
Importantly, we urge Pakistan government to also prioritise the concerns of Kashmiris in Pakistan-held Kashmir.
We ask both governments to:
  1. De-escalate the current situation, prevent armed confrontation and ensure that rhetoric of hyper-nationalism and religious fundamentalism is curbed in both countries;
  2. Adhere to international human rights and humanitarian laws and principles, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 
  3. Engage through democratic processes like bilateral peace talks across the Line of Control, especially given their responsibilities as nuclear-armed countries; 
  4. Accept United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 in good faith; 
  5. Accept the offer of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to engage in meaningful mutual engagement to maintain peace and stability in the region. 
As the two largest countries in the subcontinent, both governments must aim to seek lasting peace solutions involving all parties and work together to achieve goals of peace, justice and sustainable development. We condemn any further actions from the both governments that escalates fundamentalism and disaffection among their citizens.

Comments

TRENDING

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Report on "torture" in Kashmir jails: 44% detainees stripped naked, 29% electrocuted

Counterview Desk
A recent report titled “Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir”, published by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), has claimed to build “on the body of human rights documentation on torture” in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) through an examination of 432 case studies. It seeks to focus on "the trends and patterns, targets, perpetrators, contexts and impact of torture" in the state.

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

Amidst Modi celebrations, thousands protest 'massive' submergence in Narmada Valley

By Our Representative
Thousands of women and men gathered on at the Shaheed Stambh in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, to raise their voice against what they called "the destruction of the Narmada Valley", protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat BJP rulers for celebrating the Sardar Sarovar dam being filled up to the full reservoir level (FRL) on September 17, which also happens to be Modi's birthday.
Calling it a black day for the people of the Valley, whose villages and farms got submerged because of highest-ever water level having been achieved in the dam, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which organised the parallel rally across the border with Gujarat, regretted in a statement that Modi's celebration at the dam took place amidst " martyrdom of the Valley".
The demonstration in Badwani was preceded by a vehicles rally, which took rounds of the city streets. They were joined by people from several villages of Dhar district. They gather…

Narmada valley: SC notice to Gujarat, MP, M'rashtra on submergence sans rehabilitation

By Our Representative
Thr Supreme Court has issued notice to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments following a Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)-backed petition seeking the explanation as to whether large areas of Narmada Valley have gone into submergence by filling up the Sardar Sarovar dam up to the full reservoir level (FRL) without rehabilitating the project affected families (PAFs).

Historic Chikhalda, temples, mosques submerged, activists 'rescue' Gandhi idol

By Medha Patkar
The first farmer of Asia was born in Chikhalda, if one is to believe archaeological researchers. A historic village, 50 percent of its population is of Hindus and 50 percent of Muslims, yet it has always remained peaceful. Chikhalda has struggled to save water, land and people along Narmada river.