The land of Kashmir is often likened to a piece of heaven on earth. Across Asia this piece of land occupies a prominent place and is usually called the “Switzerland of Asia”. Its unmatchable beauty is what earned Kashmir the name, “Paradise on earth”.

A person can easily get engrossed into the poetic scenery of Kashmir, and then vouch for it by saying, “If there is heaven it’s here, it’s here” – to use the words of the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir. People hailing from across the world, who are attracted to nature’s beauty, come here to see the nature’s creation – the pulchritudinous looks that the almighty has granted to this piece of land.

However, despite all of its physical beauty, this paradise on earth has somehow been turned into hell, and the credit for that goes to political disruption. To some extent, it’s true that this piece of land has nature’s blessing, but there is another reality: that man has done his utmost to bestow it with miseries.

An old and long-disputed region surrounded by three nuclear powers has been invaded by these three nations (Indian, Pakistan and China) for their regional profits. Each of them occupies a part of Kashmir and have succeeded in turning their portions into battle grounds. These three nations acknowledge the fact that the native people of Kashmir are not satisfied with what had happened in the past and what is happening in the present due to political turmoil.

The most problematic region remains Indian administered Kashmir (Indian Occupied Kashmir). The history of oppression in this region starts with the Maharaja’s signed accession to India, which he made after completely ignoring the demands of the people. Then, later on, Nehru’s deep connections with Kashmir’s Pandit community, ignoring the reality of its Muslim majority, its physical links with Pakistan; his affection towards Kashmir, his emotional attachment to the Kashmir valley, influenced by Sheikh’s burgeoning friendship, led him to forcefully make Kashmir what they call it an “integral part of India”. This, despite repeated human rights violations, rapes, illegal detentions, disappearances, maiming people, gagging media, so on and so forth.

A series of back-to-back uprisings took place as a sort of civil retaliation which eventually spread into a period of 8 years. The uprisings have had a motive which the people of Kashmir have been voicing for the past many years. Each uprising is rooted in one reason: that “Kashmir wants freedom from Indian occupation”.

The first and very famous civil uprising which was sparked in 2008 was the “Amarnath land transfer controversy”. This was the first attempt in which people categorically demanded “Aazadi from India”. On this occasion, it happened for the first time in the history of Kashmir when people came out on the streets in a show of retaliation. This uprising taught the people of Kashmir a lesson of self-dependency. It was the first time that people profusely claimed Aazadi as their basic right.

The 2008 uprising attracted the young and educated class towards the struggle of Kashmir. This changed the lives of many youths who took pains and later on worked tirelessly for the cause of the freedom of Kashmir.

It was during Omar’s stint as the state’s chief minister, when in district Shopian two girls were raped and murdered allegedly by the security forces which were deployed there. Massive protests took place across the valley which took 120 lives and injured more than 1000 people.

The 2010 uprising also occupies a prominent place in the history of Kashmir. In 2010, the Indian Army claimed to have foiled an infiltration attempt from across the Line of Control, at Machil Sector in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir by killing three armed militants from Pakistan. However, it was subsequently established that the encounter had been staged and that the three alleged militants were in fact civilians of Rafiabad area, who had been lured to the army camp by promising them jobs as “porters” for the Army, and were then shot in cold blood, in order to claim a cash reward. It was first time when the propaganda behind killing civilians was exposed globally. Tagging anybody as a terrorist and later killing them in fake encounters is an activity long being practiced in Kashmir.  Despite being exposed on the 2010 fake encounter, the Indian government still claims that these uprising have deep connections with Pakistan. They (Pakistan) want to destabilise peace processes in Kashmir which is a blatant lie. To curtain their wrong doings in Kashmir the government is diverting the attention of the world community by connecting the uprising with Pakistan.

The incisive and analytical thinking which the young and educated class imbibed, which helped them in developing their medium of protest, the advancements in their protest, the method of yelling their slogans, jeering the oppressor; following in the footsteps of pro-freedom supporters helped these young boys to divert the attention of the world community towards Kashmir, which has been demanding Aazadi since the last 68 years. This is how the world took pains and started enquiring about the mass unknown graves in Kashmir, Kunan Poshpora rape case, illegal disappearances, and mass killings. This became another menace for the oppressor.

Freedom – A voice from the South                                                                              

South Kashmir has always been on the forefront when it comes to the fight for freedom. South is often referred to as a hot bed of mujahedeen groups. A few areas of the south have always endorsed the path of freedom and, more often than not, the families there have sacrificed their kith and kin to the cause of freedom.

The 2016 uprising also has deep roots within south Kashmir. The 2016 uprising sparked from the small hamlet of Islamabad, South Kashmir, where Burhan, a local militant who became popular on social media, was killed by security forces on the 8th of July. It needs to be noted that the current uprising has a major contribution from south. Due to a restriction imposed by deployment forces, it was impossible to break cordon and reach those places which had been mentioned on the Hurriyat calendar. People of the south devised a new method to mock security persons, and adapted a new calendar made by local pro-freedom leaders. They break local cordons, confront security forces and jeer them when people make local “Chalos” successful. People on foot, bikes, cars and buses come out and make local “calls” successful in marking their protest against the killing which is taking place in parts of Kashmir. Not only this, but the South has also sacrificed more than 45 youths so far while hundreds have been injured. More than 200 young boys lost their eyesight to the pellet guns which the Indian army used on people across Kashmir. From small hamlets to towns, people are yelling just one slogan aloud: “Hum kya chahtay? Aazadi!” “What do we want? Freedom!”. “Aye jabiron aye zalimo – Kashmir hamara chor do” “Tyrants and tormentors, leave our Kashmir”.

Following is a photo representation of how people in south Kashmir are on the forefront, leading the Aazadi marches, leaving their comfortable lives aside and are indulging in freedom initiatives.

 

Photo By: - Muneeb-ul-Islam

A bike and car rally was conducted in Kanalwan area of south Kashmir. The security forces later on went berserk as they failed to foil this pro-freedom rally but damaged the houses and private property. They couldn’t stop the people, who continued marching on as it was a challenge of egos. More than three thousand bikes and two thousand cars took part in the bike and car rally. The protestors were welcomed at many areas in the Mattan area of South Kashmir. Women and girls were singing hymns, praising the efforts of local boys who were taking part in peaceful rallies, leaving aside their comfortable life. Some were spraying water, while some were accommodating with food, some with juices. The environment painted the picture that freedom is not far away but coming closer each and every day. The rally was later on summoned in one martyr chowk where people prayed for those who achieved martyrdom and who are inside hospitals, injured during these days. Later on people went back to their houses with anti-India sloganeering and Po-Pakistani paeans.

Photo By:- Muneeb-ul-Islam 

During the bike and car rally, young boys have taped a piece of paper on the back of their shirts which says, “We want freedom”. People on foot, bikes, cars and buses made the local “call” successful which was set by pro-freedom leaders of South Kashmir.

 

Photo By:- Muneeb-ul-Islam 

Pro-freedom leadership, including Dukhtran-e-Milat, had given a call for women to assemble in the nearest chowks to mark their protest against India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir. A picture from the South in which women were assembled with pro-Pakistani flags, hailing the efforts of freedom fighters, challenging India’s illegal occupation. The women chanted anti-India slogans and pro-freedom slogans.

 

Photo By:- Muneeb-ul-Islam

People taking part in a pro-freedom rally, assembled as per Hurriyat program at Aang, Islamabad in South Kashmir. People raised their hands and swore on the Quran that they will never take part in the elections which are being conducted under gun barrels. Later on, after the rally, the security troopers foiled the Aazadi march, showered bullets and pellets on protestors who were engaged in a pro-freedom rally. More than 4 dozen people were injured; two among them sustained severe injuries to their eyes.

 

Photo By:- Muneeb-ul-Islam 

A pro-freedom rally was conducted at Jablipora, a small hamlet in South Kashmir. The people in the rally highlighted high handedness by security forces and the use of lethal weapons on innocent protestors. The people called for an end to the blood bath and demanded Aazadi from Indian occupation. A banner in shown, which clearly depicts what Kashmiri people want. People in Jablipora offered absentia funeral prayers for those who have achieved martyrdom during the 2016 uprising.

 

Photo By:-Muneeb-ul-islam 

A local pro-freedom leader, Mir Hafizullah, in Verinag, South Kashmir leading a peaceful rally calling people to join peaceful marches and help the poor by donating 1/3 of their salary. He specially requested people to shun connections with political parties. Mir requested the people of the south to maintain austerity during freedom rallies. “It’s time to encourage others to join Aazadi marches and help needy people at this time”. He further requested people to follow joint leadership program in order to achieve that goal.

Photo By:- Muneeb-ul-Islam

 

Photo By:- Muneeb-ul-Islam

A boat rally was organised from Khanabal to Bijbehara. The forces had blocked the roads in order to foil freedom rallies. To defy security barracks, people adopted a new way to mark their protest and to make the local call successful.

Photo By:- Muneeb-ul-Islam

Local boys who had joined the mujahideen ranks, delivering a speech in Kulgam, South Kashmir. The local militants warned people who are on the police’s pay roll. They also requested people to follow the Hurriyat calendar. The local militants requested people to make the 2016 uprising a successful one.