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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs