News / Asia

Kashmir Separatists Active in Forgotten Conflict

For Kashmiri Separatists, A Forgotten Conflicti
X
September 27, 2013 3:56 PM
As violence erupts in Indian-controlled Kashmir, separatist leaders say calm will not return to the Himalayan region until Kashmiris are allowed to determine their own fate. VOA New Delhi correspondent Aru Pande talks to moderates and hardliners who say the international community, focused on places like Afghanistan and Syria, has forgotten the decades-long conflict that once dominated headlines.
For Kashmiri Separatists, A Forgotten Conflict
Aru Pande
Cross-border firings, militant attacks, deadly separatist protests - the people of Indian-controlled Kashmir have witnessed nearly every type of violence in recent years.
 
Through it all, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani - who remains under house arrest - says his one goal for Kashmir has not changed.
 
“Forces should withdraw and the United Nations Security Council should take control of Jammu and Kashmir, which was existing before August 14, 1947.  And then, people should be given the right to self-determination,” he said.
 
Skirmishes have erupted along the Line of Control, the de facto border that divides Kashmir between nuclear-armed archrivals India and Pakistan. Geelani says calm will not return until the Himalayan region is demilitarized and Kashmiris determine their own fate through a plebiscite.
 
It’s a demand that many Kashmiris have fought for peacefully, taking to the streets in protest, and violently by taking up weapons as part of an armed insurgency that began in the late 1980’s.
 
Yasin Malik helped launch the militancy, crossing into Pakistan as a young man to receive training and then returning to India to fight the military.
 
Malik renounced violence in 1994 and now heads the pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, advocating for self-rule through peaceful means.  He says the movement shifted in 2008, with many Kashmiris realizing their goal cannot be achieved by picking up stones or weapons.
 
The former militant, who claims to have been arrested more than 200 times and tortured in detention, tells VOA he resorted to violence after finding no space for political activism in Kashmir. But Malik warns a new generation is increasingly feeling the same, citing protesters who have been detained by authorities without cause.
 
“They have been harassed to the extent that now we have heard some educated boys have joined the militants, but it is unfortunate today that the U.S. is silent, the British government is silent, the Indian civil society is silent,” he said.
 
Malik and other separatist leaders say Kashmir is a forgotten conflict in the eyes of the world, with the international community now focused on places like Afghanistan and Syria.
 
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the head of the separatist umbrella organization Hurriyat Conference, says if Kashmir does make headlines nowadays it’s only in relation to how India and Pakistan must resolve their territorial dispute in order to work together towards a more stable Afghanistan.
 
“The Kashmir issue is not to be resolved only because you have a problem in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a separate issue and it demands a solution, but Kashmir is a separate problem. It’s one of the oldest issues on the agenda of the United Nations,” said Farooq.
 
The moderate separatist leader adds that the international community must get involved to resolve the decades-long dispute that has seen little progress.
 
“If India and Pakistan were capable of addressing their problem bilaterally, then there would not have been three wars on Kashmir. We would not be seeing this amount of tension that is mounting day in and day out,” he said. “So, there has to be, whatever term you want to utilize, whether you say, assistance, mediation or  involvement. We believe the time has come where we need third party intervention.”
 
Separatist leaders say above all, the 15 million residents of Indian Kashmir must have a seat at the table and be directly involved in any resolution.
 
Whether they will ever get this wish remains to be seen. The Indian government maintains Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan also claims the region as its own.
 
As for the Kashmiri people, the uncertainty of their status still lingers, leading to the resignation that it will not be resolved anytime soon.

  • Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani at his home in Srinagar. (Aru Pande/VOA)
  • All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chair Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. (Aru Pande/VOA)
  • Streets of old Srinagar. (Aru Pande/VOA)
  • A Kashmiri woman looks out her doorstep in Srinagar. (Aru Pande/VOA)
  • Hazratbal Shrine in old Srinagar. (Aru Pande/VOA)
  • Women walk near Dal Lake. (Aru Pande/VOA)
  • Man herding sheep through Srinagar streets. (Aru Pande/VOA)

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs