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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid