News

DATE=7/7/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43817 TITLE=KASHMIR TENSIONS (CQ) BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=SRINIGAR CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: IN RECENT DAYS THERE HAS BEEN A FLURRY OF DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITY AIMED AT ENDING THE FIGHTING IN KASHMIR. INDIAN AUTHORITIES SAY DIPLOMACY IS A VALUABLE TOOL, BUT THEY WILL KEEP FIGHTING UNTIL THE MOUNTAIN BATTLE ZONES IN KASHMIR ARE CLEARED OF WHAT THEY SAY IS A MIX OF PAKISTANI SOLDIERS AND ISLAMIC MILITANTS. SOUTH OF THOSE MOUNTAIN BATTLE ZONES IN THE KASHMIR VALLEY THE FIGHTING HAS DESTROYED THE HOPES OF THOSE WHO THOUGHT THIS MIGHT BE A YEAR OF PEACE FOR KASHMIR AFTER TEN LONG YEARS OF BITTER STRUGGLE. VOA'S JIM TEEPLE REPORTS KASHMIR REMAINS A LAND DIVIDED. TEXT: BASHIR RAMAT SAYS HE WILL NEVER FORGET THE DAY IN MAY, 1990 WHEN HE WENT TO OPEN HIS SHOP ON A BUSY STREET IN SRINIGAR, THE SUMMER CAPITAL OF INDIA'S JAMMU AND KASHMIR STATE. MR. RAMAT SAYS HE SAW A LARGE GROUP OF INDIAN POLICE TAKE UP POSITIONS DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM HIS SHOP AT SRINIGAR'S ISLAMIA COLLEGE. AT THE OTHER END OF THE STREET A HUGE CROWD HAD GATHERED IN A FUNERAL PROCESSION FOR MAULVI FAROOQ, THE MIRWAIZ, OR HEREDITARY MUSLIM RELIGOUS LEADER OF KASHMIR, WHO HAD BEEN ASSASINATED JUST DAYS BEFORE BY UNKNOWN ASSAILANTS. AS THE CROWD APPROACHED ISLAMIA COLLEGE BASHIR RAMAT SAYS HE QUICKLY CLOSED HIS SHOP. THEN, HE SAYS THE FIRING STARTED. // URDU ACT/TRANSLATION // .. .HE SAYS THE MARCH WAS GOING PEACEFULLY AND THEY OPENED FIRE IN AN UNPROVOKED MANNER. // END ACT // BASHIR RAMAT STILL KEEPS SEVERAL SMASHED WATCHES AND SOME MONEY IN A BLOODY HANKERCHIEF WHICH HE SAYS HE FOUND ON THE STREET AFTERWARD. 67-PEOPLE WERE KILLED IN FRONT OF BASHIR RAMAT'S SHOP -- SOME OF THE FIRST CASULTIES IN A DECADE-LONG BATTLE FOR CONTROL OF KASHMIR. // OPT // FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS BEFORE THE KILLINGS AT ISLAMIA COLLEGE, VIOLENCE HAD BEEN INCREASING IN INDIA'S STATE OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR, WITH DEMONSTRATIONS, RIOTS AND KILLINGS. BY 1990 HOWEVER YOUNG KASHMIRI'S WERE NO LONGER THROWING ROCKS AT INDIAN POLICE AND SOLDIERS -- THEY WERE AMBUSHING THEM WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS AND ATTACKING BARRACKS WITH BOMBS AND ROCKET-PROPELLED GRENADES. THE FIGHT FOR KASHMIR HAD BEGUN -- PITTING YOUNG KASHMIRI'S KNOWN AS MILITANTS AGAINST INDIAN SECURITY FORCES. THE MILITANTS SAY THEY ARE FIGHTING FOR "AZAD KASHMIR", OR FREE KASHMIR. JUST DAYS AFTER THE INCIDENT AT ISMAIA COLLEGE, NEW DELHI APPOINTED GIRISH SEXANE AS A NEW GOVERNOR IN SRINIGAR. // END OPT // GIRISH SEXANE SERVED THREE YEARS AS GOVERNOR OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR IN THE 1990'S AND WAS REAPPOINTED TO HIS OLD POST LAST YEAR. THE COST OF REBELLION IN KASHMIR HE SAYS HAS BEEN HIGH WITH HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF KASHMIRI'S DISPLACED AND MORE THAN 20-THOUSAND KILLED. MR. SEXANE DISPUTES THOSE WHO SAY THE NUMBER OF THOSE KILLED IN KASHMIR IS MUCH HIGHER. HE ADMITS INDIAN SECURITY FORCES HAVE COMMITTED ABUSES AGAINST CIVILIANS IN THE DECADE-LONG INSURGENCY, BUT HE SAYS EVERY EFFORT IS MADE TO SPARE KASHMIRI'S NOT INVOLVED IN THE REBELLION. // SEXANE ACT // THERE IS A SIGNIFICANT HUMAN RIGHTS PROBLEM THAT WE FACE. IN THE PREVAILING SITUATION THAT WE HAVE IT IS QUITE A JOB ENSURING THAT THE RESPONSE WILL ALWAYS BE MEASURED AND TARGETED. YOU HAVE TO SEE THAT EVERY EFFORT IS THERE TO MINIMIZE COLLATERAL DAMAGE. // END ACT // THIS YEAR, FOLLOWING A THAW IN RELATIONS BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN, IT SEEMED PEACE IN KASHMIR MIGHT BE POSSIBLE. MORE THAN 100-THOUSAND INDIAN TOURISTS VISITED KASHMIR BETWEEN MARCH AND MAY. BUT THEN AN INDIAN ARMY PATROL STUMBLED INTO AN AMBUSH HIGH IN THE MOUNTAINS ABOVE SRINIGAR, AND THE WORST FIGHTING BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN IN 28-YEARS HAD BEGUN. ONCE AGAIN KASHMIR WAS AT THE CENTER OF THAT FIGHTING. // REST OPT // ABDUL AHAD VAKIL, THE SPEAKER OF KASHMIR'S LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY SAYS THE PAST TEN YEARS OF STRIFE IN KASHMIR HAVE TAKEN THEIR TOLL. // VAKIL ACT // THE BIGGEST LOSS WE HAVE SUFFERED FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS IS THAT OUR BASIC AMENITIES OF LIFE, EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE -- WHATEVER INFRASTRUCTURE WE HAD BUILT IN THE PAST 100 YEARS -- THAT WAS DESTROYED. // END ACT // SINCE FIGHTING BEGAN IN THE MOUNTAINS HIGH ABOVE SRINIGAR MUCH MORE HAS BEEN DESTROYED. THOUSANDS OF KASHMIRI'S ON BOTH SIDES OF THE LINE OF CONTROL -- WHICH DIVIDES KASHMIR BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN -- HAVE FLED THEIR HOMES LEAVING BEHIND RUINS OF VILLAGES DESTROYED BY INCESSANT ARTILLERY SHELLING. FAR TO THE SOUTH, HUNDREDS MORE HAVE BEEN DISPLACED BY FIGHTING BETWEEN MILITANTS AND INDIAN SECURITY FORCES IN THE KASHMIR VALLEY. KASHMIRI'S SAY THOSE WHO LIVE THERE ARE CAUGHT IN A NEVER-ENDING CYCLE OF WAR AND VIOLENCE. (SIGNED) NEB/JLT/PLM 07-Jul-99 8:51 AM EDT (1251 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .