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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

I am shocked and appalled by the video clip I was sent today where Sagarika Ghosh is seen speaking about the Kashmir disturbance in front of an American audience and is heard calling Burhan Wani a soft target brutally killed by the Indian Army!-Ashali Varma


How can Burhan Wani be called a ‘soft target’-October 23, 2016, 11:54 pm IST Ashali Varma I am shocked and appalled by the video clip I was sent today where Sagarika Ghosh is seen speaking about the Kashmir disturbance in front of an American audience and is heard calling Burhan Wani a soft target brutally killed by the Indian Army! Burhan Wani would have been considered a deadly terrorist even by American standards and would have got the same treatment when found by the US. I know this as I have lived and worked as a journalist in the US for a decade. The facts, which any veteran journalist like Sagarika should know is that Burhan Wani was a commander of the Kashmir-based Ḥizb al-Mujāhidin (HaM). He was involved in killings of elected Panchayat leaders. His Facebook photographs showed him proudly displaying a machine gun and dressed in army-like fatigues along with his friends. He stood with all the accouterments of warfare with his buddies thumbing a nose at the Indian state and a democratically elected government. Like the ISIS he was good with social media and attracted many young Kashmiri’s on Facebook. But the fact remains, he belonged to a deadly organization. According to Wikipedia the Ḥizb al-Mujāhidin, meaning “Party of Holy Warriors” or “Party of  Mujahedeen”, founded by Muhammad Ahsan Dar in September 1989, is a Kashmiri separatist group. It is designated a terrorist organization by  India, the  European Union  and the  United States, active in Jammu and Kashmir  since 1989. The current supreme commander of the group is Sayeed Salahudeen. Recently he is supposed to have said that Indian should be nuked so Pakistan can get Kashmir. I wonder why would anyone call him a soft target? In addition, she says, his killing was a test case for yet another brutality by the Indian Forces. What does she mean by yet another? The Indian Army is not involved in the civilian day to day policing of Kashmir but are on the borders to prevent a hostile neighbour from attacking India and preventing militants crossing over. The “HaM” holds a pro-Pakistan Ideology and was also involved in the ethnic cleansing of 500,000, Kashmiri Pandits during the years that militancy peaked in the valley from 1989 to early 1990s. This is vividly described in a book written by several Kashmiri Pandit families that have been displaced. A Long Dream of Home, The Persecution, Exodus and Exile of Kashmiri Pandits, is a chilling account of how 500,000 Indians were made to leave their home in a period of a few short months. Kashi Nath Pandita writes that first slogans were shouted in all neighbourhoods: “Kashmir has become Pakistan and We want our Kashmir: without Pandits, but with their women. Then the mobs roamed around stone-pelting their homes. Suddenly, their Muslim friends stopped talking to them. At night the loudspeakers blared from mosques asking all Pandits to leave the valley or get killed. Then he describes the blatant threats: Al Safa, the Urdu newspaper of Srinagar, published the first ultimatum issued by a militant organization. The headline read: Pandits should leave Kashmir in 36 hours. One by one, the Pandits shut their shops in Amira Kadal and other places in the city. Then the most dreadful and awful incidents began to take place. Each day a Pandit was shot down by a militant. Lassa Kaul, the Director Doordarshan was gunned down outside his house…Rattan Lal Kaul, Deputy Director of Food and Supplies was also killed in his office…Bhushan Lal Razdhan, my next door neighbour was gunned down in his home because he happened to be the stenographer of the Governor. I came to know that his assailants were hiding in the balcony of the house of a Muslim, just opposite his house and were closely watching his movements. Then the Pandits started to leave.” Lawyers, doctors and people who represented the Pandits were viciously targeted and paid with their lives. To think this happened in India under the nose of the central and state government is shocking. Why did they let this happen? Where was the security? Why wasn’t the media there to highlight it? And why have the Pandits languished for 26 years in displaced peoples’ camps? Where was Sagarika Ghosh — should she not bring up the facts of how terrorist organizations backed by Pakistan drove out 500,000 innocent Kashmiris in 1989 and the early 1990s by scare tactics and there was no Indian Army there to protect them? Why does she not speak of the whole issue as a journalist should? The situation today, is foreboding and for once, the government has brought up Pakistan’s human rights abuses and killings in Baluchistan and Gilgit. The world already knows that Pakistan exports terror but now India has enough clout to tell the world what Pakistan does within its own borders. Taslima Nasreen, the Bangladeshi writer said as much in a recent interview with TOI said about Indians: “I’ve noticed that liberals and leftists are generally very critical of Hindu fanaticism – but not of Islamic fanaticism. Islamic fanatics are against human rights, women’s rights, free speech and democracy. Islamic fanatics are against everything Indian liberals stand for but liberals strangely sympathize with them. They have a distorted the concept of secularism.” This, in a nutshell, is why Kashmir is the mess it is today because even the liberal media reports the issues in a biased way. Giving Pakistan a handle to justify its terrorism. It is easy to forget about the victims of 26/11 for journalists who were not gunned down by Kasab and his companions. They were not present either when Maoist killed 70  jawans. Nor have they ever spent months on the Siachen glacier protecting our country. Nor are they in any way related to the policemen and CRPF  jawans  who died fighting terrorists in Parliament attack. For that matter, these journalists are not even involved with protecting our borders where militants kill soldiers on a daily basis. So as an Army brat, I wonder how they can dare to comment on the Indian army. I just wonder how they would feel if death stalked them daily in the forests between Pakistan and India?I wonder if they have heard of the Patriot Act in the US. Are they living in some cuckoo land even after 9/11 and 26/11? Do they not know that if you say anything like what they have said about Burhan Wani, about the 9/11 terrorists, they would be put away without much fuss—and no newspaper or TV channel would dare to say one thing in their favour much less say and write on how innocent the young men were. Terrorists are not soft targets! They may look young and innocent to you but when you face their bullets, I can assure you, you will feel differently. I wonder if they have heard of the Patriot Act in the US. Are they living in some cuckoo land even after 9/11 and 26/11? Do they not know that if you say anything like what they have said about Burhan Wani, about the 9/11 terrorists, they would be put away without much fuss—and no newspaper or TV channel would dare to say one thing in their favour much less say and write on how innocent the young men were. Terrorists are not soft targets! They may look young and innocent to you but when you face their bullets, I can assure you, you will feel differently. In addition, some journalists fight for the rights of students who hold a rally to say: -‘Tum kitne Afzal maroge, ghar-ghar se Afzal niklenge’ -‘Pakistan zindabad’ -‘Kashmir maange azaadi, ladkar lenge azaadi’ -‘Kashmir ki azaadi tak, jung rahegi-jung rahegi’ -‘Bharat ki barbaadi tak, jung rahegi-jung rahegi’ -‘Afzak ki hatya nahi sahenge’ I find the lines above very scary and extremely worrying for our security. It takes very little to turn one person into a terrorist. It does not even need brainwashing but just a belief that the state is wrong and should suffer the consequences. Go through Kasab’s interrogation, he did it for money! He did not even hate India. He did not study in a Tony university rallying up people against India. He was just a very poor kid who got recruited by the LeT and once he got in he realized he could not get out. He knew too much. Thus, whichever way you see, it Burhan Wani belonged to a terrorist group that wanted Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan and was helped by the Pakistani ISI. The drama, with the help of Pakistan, playing out in the streets of the valley is dangerous and not political by any means. It is as dangerous as the bombings and terror attacks in Turkey, Paris, Nice and Brussels and good journalists will realize this and not try to excite foreign attention by calling Burhan Wani a soft target and the Indian Forces brutal. But then some journalists want their fifteen minutes of fame and will say anything to get it! Author-Ashali Varma Freelance journalist Ashali Varma has authored the biography of her father late Lt. Gen. PS Bhagat — ‘The Victoria Cross: A Love Story’. She was executive producer with the International Commentary Service Inc, New York in 1990. She was the executive publisher of The Earth Times, New York (1992- 98). She has also worked as the editor of Choices Magazine, United Nations Development Programme. She writes on various issues including human rights, population and sustainable development.

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