Thursday, 29 May 2008

Another grenade missed target?

Another grenade missed target?
Dr Shabir Choudhry

Bombs and guns are part of every independence struggle. One cannot imagine a community or a group of people fighting against foreign rule and there are no bomb blasts and no thundering noise of guns and screams of suffering people.

What is important in war of liberation is that human suffering is minimal and especially suffering of the civilian people is lowest possible; and that they are not deliberate targets of those who have gun at their command.

Here we are not interested whether those with guns are in army uniform, uniform of some militia group, or they are individuals who have been given guns to fight. To me important thing is whether they value human life or they are trigger happy individuals who are more interested in statistics and news in the paper about their actions.

This news in the media serve different purpose for different people with gun; and they all try to get their version of the event clearly in order to get appropriate rewards from their superiors. Of course this reward could be in many shapes and forms – it could be in form of a bag full of dollars or promotion in the ranks.

A genuine freedom fighter would try his level best to preserve life and ensure that civilians DONOT get killed or suffer as a result of their action. He will also ensure that as a result of his action ordinary citizens are not caught up in what is known as ‘cross firing’, or face wrath of state apparatus as a direct consequences of their action.

Similarly civilised and professional soldier should not kill innocent citizens, and take revenge by killing and intimidating ordinary citizens just because they have suffered an embarrassing attack at the hands of those who are fighting for independence. It is justified and appropriate that combatants target each other, and not target ordinary citizens.

But that is not what is happening in Kashmir. It is unfortunate to note that there have been numerous actions where ordinary citizens have suffered; and it appears that either those actions were foolishly planned with no concern about the welfare of citizens or unarmed civilians were the targets of these bomb blasts.

I want to give some examples to support my point of view.
ANI report of Sunday October 26, 9:10 PM reads like this: ‘At least fifteen people were injured as a massive explosion rocked a crowded market place in the remote Brighbara village in south Kashmir on Sunday.The injured have been admitted to a local hospital. At least four are critical. Eyewitnesses said unidentified gunmen hurled a grenade in the busy area at around 11.00 am (local time), causing panic.
‘Eyewitnesses said they were not sure whether the grenade attack was targeted against the army or civilians. "At around 10.30 a.m there was a grenade attack, there was big blast. We don't know if they (militants) were targeting the army or the civilians. At least 15 people have been injured," Fayaz Ahmed, an eyewitness, said. "There was a grenade attack; I don't know how it happened. We just looked around and there were injured people lying all around," said Mohammad Shahnawaz, another eyewitness. (ANI)’

Reuters news agency, in its news flash on 28th October stated: Kashmir grenade wounds at least 35

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Suspected separatist militants have thrown a grenade inside Indian Kashmir's main telegraph office, wounding at least 35 people, a police officer says. Rebels fighting Indian rule in Kashmir have several times in the past attacked the heavily guarded telegraph office in the heart of Srinagar, the summer capital of the state.

A Reuters photographer said the grenade exploded inside the premises of the telegraph office on Tuesday, but there was no damage to the main building.
The attack came after a Pakistan-based rebel group threatened to intensify militant activities in India's only Muslim-majority state during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the region's main newspaper reported.

The English-language daily Greater Kashmir cited Abu Huziafa, a spokesman for the Lashkar-e-Taiba guerrilla group, as warning of an escalation by the militants.
"People should keep themselves away from security installations as they could become unintended targets of such attacks," Huziafa was quoted as saying.
Ramadan began in Kashmir on Tuesday.
The banned Lashkar-e-Taiba also dismissed an offer by the Indian government to hold talks with Kashmir's main separatist alliance.

3. Another news item stated: 1 killed and 22 injured in twin grenade blasts
Srinagar, Oct 26: One person was killed and twenty two injured in two separate grenade explosions in Jammu and Kashmir Sunday.
Fourteen people, including 12 civilians, were killed when militants attacked an Army vehicle in south Kashmir's Bejibehara town around 1025 hours. A paramilitary trooper and a policeman were also injured in the attack.
A police spokesman said the militants hurled a grenade at an army vehicle when it was passing through the town. The grenade missed the intended target and exploded on the road injuring 14 persons including 12 civilians.

According to another news item, ‘One person was killed and eight injured in a grenade explosion at Kishtwar, Sunday. The militants lobbed a grenade towards a security forces vehicle. The grenade missed the target and exploded at a bus shelter where commuters were alighting from a bus, police said’

These are news items of last week of October 2003, and many more incidents could be cited where bomb have ‘missed their target’ and fell in a crowded place injuring and killing innocent ordinary Kashmiris. I don’t think any sane person can justify acts like these as they are not Jihad and they are not part of any genuine freedom struggle. In a genuine freedom struggle you fight for rights of people and protect them and not kill, injure, intimidate and harass them in order to assert your ‘authority or to achieve political and financial rewards.

If army men are behind these acts, as suggested by pro Pakistan cicles, then they must be condemned; but if militants are doing this, as the reports suggest, then they should also be condemned and exposed because by committing these acts they are only helping the ‘enemy’, and ‘terrorising’ their own people.

Right of self determination is very basic human right, and we must all endeavour to get this, but there are other rights which are also very important. While discussing right of self determination, a distinguished Kashmiri human rights activist and Chairman of IKA, Dr Nazir Gilani said: ‘Right to live supersedes all other rights’, and like any other people on earth the people of Kashmir also have right to live with dignity and without fear of threat or intimidation.

IKA is a pro people and pro peace platform which believes that resolution of Kashmir could not be achieved by use of force, or by intimidating people and throwing bombs which generally miss their targets. All the parties to the dispute must analyse their hitherto policies and their actions and see if they are helping the cause of peace and saving lives.

And those who have commercialised the Kashmiri polity must also realise that human cost of their enterprise is becoming too much for the people of Kashmir. It is okay for those who are either benefiting from this struggle or having luxurious life away from the ‘battlefront’ to say that in the struggle people get killed. Perhaps they will think differently when a bomb misses its target and lands in their garden.

Writer is a Spokesman of International Kashmir Alliance, and writer of many books and booklets on Kashmir.

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