Gowhar Geelani explains the '3M and 4D plan' of New Delhi on Kashmir
As a Kashmiri I feel safe in Kerala, here one can breathe, talk and discuss, says Srinagar-based journalist, political commentator and author Gowhar Geelani. It was on 31 August last year that he was stopped at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi where he was to fly to Bonn, Germany. Gowhar was to attend a journalist training programme but was barred from leaving the country.
A Chevening Fellow and former editor at Deutsche Welle, Gowhar writes for the international media on the situations, life and human rights violations in Kashmir. His book, Kashmir: Rage and Reason released last year mirrors the long tortured history of the people of Kashmir. Excerpts from an interview he gave to mathrubhumi.com
How is life in Kashmir now?
Kashmir is today an open jail where you have hundreds and thousands of armed men guarding the streets and there's an information black hole. Journalists are the targets, especially the local journalists. The Internet is yet to be fully restored and access to social media sites has been thwarted with firewalls. The main aim is to contain the situation in Kashmir and to bar people from talking about their situation. Basically there is stifling of the dissent and controlling of the narrative both on social media as well as on the mainstream media.
New Delhi has choked Kashmiris in every way. About 1.5 lakh people mainly youth working in tourism and lT sectors have lost their jobs because of the ban on internet. According to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, in the first four months, economic losses were around 18000 crores (around $2 billion).
New Delhi had a policy of controlling the 3Ms and 4Ds on kashmir. The 3 Ms I would say, control the Media, Control the Mosque and control the Maulvi. The four Ds are of the four D's of the Doval's Doctrine: First Deny there is a dispute in Kashmir , second Defeat the perceived enemy (unfortunately the Kashmiris), third Destroy your enemy (Kashmir) and fourth Defend the perceived territory (Kashmir). There's a ban on students union in the universities. Education and Healthcare are the two sectors badly affected. Schools were closed down for months and now they are on winter vacation, thus bringing a big gap. There was one group on WhatsApp called "Save Hearts Kashmir '', a sort of telemedicine, in which people used to interact with doctors in clearing doubts. These groups had saved many lives. But all these have come to a stand still with internet ban.
The Kashmiris were on a path of civil disobedience without going for work or without sending their children to school or without opening their shops. But now they are with a different mindset, right now their perception is to live and to survive which they feel is also a form of resistance.
How is the media being treated?
The local media who were once strong in the content is being silenced. First their advertisements have been curtailed, bringing them to a tight situation. And this was happening over a period of time way before 5 August. After that they started banning institutions, first they banned Jamaat E Islami, then they banned Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. Now tthey have also banned the autonomy of the Jammu Kashmir Bank,. This was a big blow on the locals which they considered as a direct attack on their economy.
Recently the Supreme Court has intervened in the issue of internet ban. What is the situation in the valley after it?
After 177 days of ban they have restored mobile internet with 2G speed. Around 300 websites are identified or whitelisted and they are providing the so called favourable content. But you can image, with 2 G speed what you can do and downlaod.
What about the leaders Omar Abdullah, Farooque Abdulla and Mehbooba Mufti ? How are they seen by local Kashmiris?
Actually there's no love remaining for these leaders among the local people. They are viewed as collaborators who are responsible for their miseries and sufferings.
On the other side there's the issue of Pandits. What is the attitude of Kashmiri locals towards them?
Of Course the Kashmiri Pandits had to leave their homes, and that was a sad departure. But today some sections of them have become part of BJP's state narratives. They are using them. If BJP genuinely feel for them, in these last six years, why didn't they bring them back? They could have done that. The idea of independent Kashmir was propagated by Ram Chand Kak, articulated by Prem Nath Bazaz, Nitasha Kaul, Suvir Kaul, Mona Bhan. There are no Kashmiri Muslims or Sikhs or Christians who are opposed to their homecoming. All of them want them to come and settle in their homeland. The official record says that 209 Pandits have been killed in the last 30 years. And, on the other side hundreds and thousands of Kashmiri Muslims have been killed by the State, including the 18-month old Iba and 16-year old Insha etc. who were hit by the pellets.
Are Kashmiris a politically aware group?
Kashmiri population is very political. The whole family sits at dinner together and debates politics. Women especially are very much aware of the situations. There is a notion that only Kashmiri boys take part in protests which is false. Women are active in politics and protests from the 90's and they do come to the forefront and infact, the first human chain in Kashmir was hosted by women. There's also a lot of literature coming from women in the form of poems and stories. Zamrooda Habib, Natasha Kaul etc. are some of them. The Kashmir population gives prominence to education and they are avid readers too.
Content Highlights: Gowhar Geelani, Kashmir issue, internet ban