Omar Abdullah Does Not Represent Kashmir

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At a time when Indian-occupied Kashmir continues to face the worst kind of repression at the hands of the Indian state with the tacit cooperation of local client politicians, it comes as a surprise that  Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies and Institute for South Asia Studies have invited Mr Omar Abdullah to speak at the campus on 19 April 2018. By doing so, Berkeley is wilfully providing a platform to Mr Omar Abdullah and allowing him to masquerade as the representative of the people of Occupied Kashmir, which he clearly is not.

Mr Omar Abdullah, a dynastic politician (a term the Director of IIS would agree with), is one of the many client politicians that the Indian state has cultivated in Kashmir, who provide a civilian façade to what is for all intents and purposes a military occupation. The details on the event page are telling and paint a rather rosy profile of Mr Abdullah. However, there is more to him than meets the eye. We find it highly relevant to mention that during his tenure as the ‘Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir’, hundreds of Kashmiri civilians lost their lives to police and paramilitary firing. In 2010 civilian uprising against the Indian occupation of Kashmir, which he repressed through use of overwhelming police and paramilitary violence, over 100 young boys were killed, thousands of youth were arrested and tortured in jails, many minors were sodomised. He introduced pellet-shotguns in Kashmir as a “non-lethal” weapon for “crowd control” which have caused mass killings since. His tenure is remembered by the people of Occupied Kashmir for frequent protests, curfews, arbitrary detentions and torture. It was his regime that gave a clean chit to the culprits responsible for the 2009 rape and murder of 17-year-old Asiya and 22-year-old Neelofar. It was his regime which gave monetary rewards to police and paramilitary who brutally quelled the 2010 protests. It is a shame that the academic fraternity at Berkeley will allow such a client politician to air his views about Kashmir which he does not represent and where he serves only to administer the Indian occupation at a municipal level. It will be sheer ignorance of Berkeley and the organisers to think that this will happen without any contestation from those who resist Indian rule over Kashmir.

We recognise and respect Mr Abdullah’s right to exercise his freedom of speech, a right he never extended to the people of Occupied Kashmir when he administered the rule on behalf of the Indian state. It is pertinent to mention here that in his tenure the building of Kashmir University Students Union (KUSU) was razed to ground and political activists were either put behind bars or kept under house detention. He has muzzled the freedom of press in Kashmir on many occasions by either seizing newspapers or by blocking the internet and more often both. The entire event is lopsided as the narrative of resistance against Indian Occupation of Kashmir has not been given its due place and recognition by the organisers.

Therefore, we the undersigned, find it imperative to contest the event and protest against obfuscating the ground reality of Occupied Kashmir. We expect institutions such as Berkeley to do their due diligence in the future and consider the repercussions of allowing client politicians such as Mr Abdullah the privilege of speaking on behalf of the people whom he does not represent, and without extending the same opportunity to those who contest the position of such client politicians. 

References:

Asiya and Neelofer Rape-Murder Case
https://www.countercurrents.org/iwij111209.htm

2010 Report
http://www.cdr-india.org/pdf's/Kashmir's%20unrest%202010,.pdf

Fake Encounters
https://m.hindustantimes.com/india/abdullah-orders-probe-into-alleged-j-k-fake-encounters/story-A3HJAPpDRyLl6fxVjamrMI.html

Afzal Guru's Hanging
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/10/hanging-afzal-guru-india-democracy

Elections in Kashmir
https://m.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2014/0429/How-do-Indian-elections-play-in-Kashmir-Mass-arrests-offer-a-clue

Use of Pellet Guns
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-27917522

Mass Graves in Kashmir
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jul/09/mass-graves-of-kashmir



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