British media reverts to forgotten Kashmir
LONDON: Two respected British media outlets on Tuesday turned attention towards the forgotten conflict of occupied Kashmir and the issue of mass graves in the valley, beset by separatist violence.
The Guardian published an article “The mass graves of Kashmir” by award winning investigative journalist Cathy Scott-Clark highlighting the issue of enforced disappearances, torture and killings of Kashmiris at the hands of Indian security forces and a Channel 4 documentary – Kashmir’s Torture Trail – highlighted the same issue in its late night documentary billed as “Now from Kashmir, more dark secrets are emerging.”
Channel 4 said it had decided to air the programme because the issue of Kashmir, one of the world’s oldest running but neglected disputes, is in danger of being overshadowed by Syria and the euro-zone debt crisis.
Kashmiris have battled Indian army for almost a quarter of century now, an estimated 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict but the western world, notably the USA and Britain, remains completely mum about this conflict and has never shown the pang that it gets almost on daily basis over the Palestine-Israel conflict and in the case of oil-rich countries such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Kashmir is the world’s most heavily -militarized zone on this earth where more than half a million Indian army has failed to quell anti-India separatist movement. Indian alleges that the violence that started in late 80s has Pakistan’s backing.
The Guardian and Channel 4 focused on the unmarked graves of thousands of Kashmiri civilians, first discovered in 2008 by local human rights activists and acknowledged in a report by the official Indian State Human Rights Commission report lat year.
The Guardian narrated how “one of the most beautiful and dangerous frontlines in the world” has seen steady rise in the number of civilians disappearing by the Indian security forces who suspect Kashmiris as Pakistani-trained agents.
It focused on how Pervez Imroz, a noted Kashmiri human rights lawyer, has brought to the public knowledge the scandal of more than 8,000 mass graves by filing thousands of habeas corpus actions (which literally translates as “produce the bodies”) on behalf of families who claimed their relatives had vanished while in the custody of the Indian security forces. The court actions achieved little as Indian army said the disappeared had vanished over to Pakistan through Azad Kashmir and were, therefore, untraceable but the lawyer created a paper trail which gives a near perfect estimate that over 8,000 Kashmiri non-combatants had vanished from army custody. “The military grip has been suffocating and making someone vanish sows far more fear than spilling their blood,” he told the paper.
Speaking to The News, Brian Woods, executive Producer at Channel, said: “For more than two decades the Kashmiri people have been trapped between the enmity of two warring nations that have both used the divided state to distract from their own domestic failings. Within this dirty war systemic and institutionalised torture is just one of the great untold stories.”