The Crisis in Kashmir
On 9 February, after ten years on death row, Mohammed Afzal Guru was judicially assassinated in Delhi. The BJP warmly supported and publicly celebrated the event. A veteran Kashmiri activist and a medical student (born in 1969), he had been picked up and accused of being part of a terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. The evidence was totally circumstantial, the confession obtained under torture and a threat to kill his family. All this is well known. Had the Chinese regime behaved in this fashion towards a Tibetan, the media and political response in the West would have dominated the news. Kashmir remains invisible to the world. In India all the mainstream parties welcomed the hanging. The media was supportive of the government. In Kashmir a general strike shut down the province and the police opened fire on demonstrators. The exact casualties have yet to be revealed. A handful of courageous activists, journalists and writers kept up the pressure. One of them, Sanjay Kak, has written a powerful essay on the human rights crisis in Kashmir. It makes grim reading and will no doubt be ignored by governments (like the British) whose main concern is to sell weaponry to India. The most recent development on this front is Downing Street’s agreement that aid money can be spent on buying arms, presumably from the UK.