Momin Iftikhar The struggle for freedom in Kashmir has undergone a radical change during the last few years, changing in character from essentially a reliance on the power of the armed resistance to embracing the tactics of non-violence. For freedom fighters to make this transition is a substantive step which is loaded with tremendous possibilities and is capable of unleashing the might of the pent-up anger and hurt caused by the roughshod treatment of Kashmiris into a potent and irresistible movement. The civil society in Kashmir is getting organised to challenge the abominable way in which the Indian state has treated it and that is no cold comfort for their tormentors. The power of this trend is becoming manifest when the common people are coming together to defy the power of the state to represent themselves. The efficacy of the trend is evident through formation of organisations like the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and by resilience of activists like Parves Imroz, who have begun to draw attention at forums like the European Parliament for the unending pain that the Kashmiri population has to bear with. The September Eleven incident has erased the line separating the freedom fighter from a terrorist and this has provided India with a handle to portray the alienation of Kashmiris with the Indian occupation as a foreign sponsored movement employing terror tactics. This has also enabled India to get away with the grave human rights violations it is perpetrating in Kashmir. One has to also take it into account that in the course of armed resistance spread over two decades the Kashmir landscape has been saturated with jackboot and the bayonet; thoroughly bruising and traumatizing the Kashmiri nation. The evolving non-violent mass resistance movement in Kashmir is in step with the global dynamics and reflects their impact on shaping local ground realities. The Kashmiri armed resistance has been waged by around 1500 freedom fighters, operating in IHK at the peak of insurgency. Yet to neutralise this modest number of freedom fighters the Indians have physically deployed 700,000 troops who occupy every nook and corner of cities and hamlets and crisscross the forests, turning the landscape into a virtual jail. Around 100,000 Kashmiris have lost their lives during 20 years of conflict and 8000-10000 people have simply vanished after arrest by the security forces. The Indian armed forces employ infamous Special Operations Group, an officially patronised band of local collaborators, to perform the dirty job of extra-judicial executions. The culture of fake encounters thrives whereby innocent locals are killed and dumped in nameless graves as Pakistani militants and cross border terrorists to enable their killers to claim gallantry awards and promotions. All these atrocities are being committed under the indemnity provided to the Indian security forces by Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which renders the armed forces unaccountable and unanswerable for their actions before a court of law. The all-pervasive Indian tyranny in Kashmir has unleashed the collective resistance of the people who have begun to understand the power of the non-violent resistance at the grassroots level and beginning to feel its effectiveness in tangible manner. During 2008 a benchmark was reached when the efforts of a APDP, through its own investigations resulted into discovery of 1,000 graves which are believed to contain bodies of the victims of fake encounters, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses which the Indian security forces had killed and then dumped. The findings have been compiled by APDP in a report titled Facts Under Ground and lists the graves of at least 940 people discovered in 18 villages of Uri District. The Indian army claimed that those buried were foreign militants killed during military encounters but the report presents testimonies of locals asserting that buried men were residents belonging to the IHK. The protests and demonstrations launched by APDP attracted global attention to the Indian atrocities in Kashmir. In July 2008, the European Parliament during its plenary session in Strasbourg adopted a protest resolution regarding the existence of mass graves in Kashmir and called upon the Indian government to urgently ens-ure independent and impartial investigations into all sites of the mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir and as an immediate first step to secure the grave sites in order to preserve the evidence. The second major development in the summer of 2008 was the mass and unprecedented uprising by the Kashmiri population in anti-India rallies triggered by the transfer of 100 acres of forestland to Shri Amarnath Yatra Shrine Board for the construction of staging facilities for the pilgrims. Amarnath Yatra, a pilgrimage to a cave holding a stalagmite icicle shaped as a Hindu deity who had been going on for over a century under the stewardship of Kashmiri Muslims duly welcomed and facilitated by the local population. Ignited once, the monolithic resistance that emerged was something that India had never been confronted with in its dealing with the people of Kashmir. The coalition government of Congress and PDP disintegrated in face of the mounting public pressure and the Indian government had to rescind its decision concerning the transfer of Kashmiri land. The Indian government was surprised to find the massive public reaction because a decade ago such an electrifying response was something unheard of. The climax of the agitation came on August 11 when 500,000 people formed a rally and marched towards the LoC to breach it. About 15 people were killed when the police opened fire. Sheikh Abdul Aziz, a moderate leader of APHC, was among those killed on that day. His burial the next day saw even a greater gathering of people defying curfews and shouting anti-India slogans. Another 15 Kashmiris were killed on August 12. In total over 50 people were killed in the Amarnath Yatra land allocation upheaval. As indicated by these developments a new era is dawning in Kashmir. A generation, raised on the diet of Indian atrocities and thoroughly alienated from India has come of age. Catastrophic from Indian perspective, this generation is beginning to understand the power of mass non-violent protest and the moral authority that comes with challenging the writ of tyranny. As explained by Parveena Ahangar, a founding member of the APDP, whose son was picked up during a night raid on August 16, 1990: Actually the fear is basically only damaging when you allow it, when you wallow in it. But once you fight back the fear loses its power. The Kashmiri armed struggle by a small number of freedom fighters has played a major role in keeping alive the hope of throwing away the Indian yoke some day for over two decades. Their struggle has been rewarded in a way that while they were few in number in challenging the might of the Indian state now the entire Kashmir stands awakened. Kashmiris are losing the fear of the Indian bayonet and embracing the power of mass non-violent resistance to assert their will. On the Solidarity Day this year one wishes the young Kashmiri generation, at the forefront of the non-violent mass resistance, god speed in their endeavours. The writer is a freelance columnist.