Index

DATE=8/16/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=KASHMIR FRUSTRATION NUMBER=5-46859 BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=SRINIGAR INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Tensions are at the breaking point in Indian- administered Kashmir. Over the past few days, the violence-wracked state has seen killing on an almost unprecedented scale. Ever since a cease-fire between the largest militant-separatist group in Kashmir and Indian security forces collapsed one week ago, there have been daily incidents of bombings and shootings, leaving Kashmir's residents shaken and numb. V-O-A's Jim Teeple reports that, as the violence is rising, so, too, are recriminations about who is to blame for the collapse of the cease-fire. TEXT: // ACTUALITY OF HORSE CARRIAGES ON DIRT ROAD..EST & FADE UNDER TEXT // The village of Soibug, in Indian-administered Kashmir, is a picture of peaceful tranquility. Horse-drawn wagons make their way down its quiet lanes in front of the Shah family compound. The Shah family is a leading family in the area -- well known for producing farmers and teachers. However, the best-known member of the Shah family is nowhere near Soibug. Mohammed Yousef Shah -- popularly known as Syed Salahudin -- is the leader of Hizbul Mujahadeen, the largest separatist militant group operating in Kashmir. Syed Salahudin now makes his home in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Just a few weeks ago, Syed Salahudin surprised everyone in his hometown and just about everybody else in India when he declared a unilateral cease-fire in the Mujahadeen campaign against India. Although India's army in Kashmir soon matched the cease-fire, peace proved elusive. Other militant groups opposed to the cease-fire killed more than 100 people in a spasm of violence that left even war-weary Kashmiri's shaken. Then -- just as his lieutenants sat down for their first meeting with Indian negotiators on how to make the cease-fire permanent -- Syed Salahudin abruptly warned fighting would resume unless India agreed to accept Pakistan at the negotiating table -- something New Delhi has long refused to consider. Within days, the cease-fire was called off and, since then, the Hizbul Mujahadeen have claimed responsibility for bombings and shootings that have left scores of people dead. In Soibug, people are upset the cease-fire did not hold. Syed Salahudin's nephew, Syed Sabir Ahmed, says the people of Soibug enjoyed their two weeks of living under the cease-fire. // SYED SABIR AHMED ACTUALITY // It was totally excellent - for me as a personal thing, for our family and for our village. // END ACTUALITY // Although many Indian officials blame Pakistan for the collapse of the cease-fire, they also blame local separatist political leaders who lead a series of factions grouped together under The All-Parties Hurriyat Conference. Indian officials say some Hurriyat leaders -- who feared being left out of direct talks between the Hizbul Mujahadeen and the Indian government -- worked to sabotage the cease-fire. Surprisingly, even Hizbul Mujahadeen leaders in Pakistan make similar charges. In recent days Hizbul Mujahadeen commanders have called on the Hurriyat Conference leaders to tell the people of Kashmir what they stand for. Abdul Ghani Lone heads one of the seven groups that make up the Hurriyat Conference. Mr. Lone denies sabotaging the cease-fire; but admits he and his colleagues felt left out of the process when the cease-fire was announced. // LONE ACTUALITY // Now the Indian leadership, before the declaration of the cease-fire, was trying to establish contact with us, the Hurriyat leadership, for starting a dialogue, and to a large extent they had established that contact. If India were honest and sincere about resolving the dispute they would should have taken the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference into confidence that Hizbul Mujahadeen was approaching with this cease-fire proposal. But they did everything behind the back of the A-P-H-C. // END ACTUALITY // // OPT // Jammu and Kashmir is India's only Muslim- majority state. Both India and Pakistan claim the territory in its entirety. Two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought have been over Kashmir. // END OPT // World leaders describe Kashmir as "one of the most dangerous places on earth," because of its potential as a flash-point for nuclear conflict in South Asia. However, they fail to point out Kashmir is also one of the most dangerous places on earth for ordinary people to live. Nearly 150 people -- most of them private citizens -- have been killed in Kashmir over the past several weeks as militants battle security forces across one of the most beautiful and bloody landscapes on earth. An estimated 30 thousand people have died in Kashmir since the separatist insurgency began a decade ago. Farooq Abudullah -- the state's chief minister, who is a member of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's government and a staunch supporter of Indian rule in Kashmir -- says everyday life in Kashmir has become intolerable. // REST OPTIONAL // // ABDULLAH ACTUALITY // Basically, it is the people of the state who are suffering. They are ones who are dying. They are the ones who are facing upheavals every day. Our business is gone. Our educational structure is gone. Our complete ethos is gone. What are we gaining except death and destruction? There is not a day when we are not in the news, so we feel the end should come. // END ACTUALITY // But Farooq Abullah says he does not expect to see an end to violence anytime soon. With the collapse of the recent cease-fire and an upsurge in violence, those in Kashmir who support India and those who are separatists do agree on one thing: Many more people will die in the coming days and weeks, as all sides in the conflict contemplate their next move. (Signed) neb/jlt/wd 16-Aug-2000 06:29 AM LOC (16-Aug-2000 1029 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .