The freedom movement in Indian Held Kashmir has received fresh impetus with its women taking up the cause of freedom. The situation in Kashmir has greatly deteriorated since the death of a 17-year-old student, who succumbed to his injuries after being hit by a teargas shell. Protest rallies have been baton charged, teargassed and brutally fired upon, with more than 50 lives being lost. However, just as the freedom struggle seemed to be stagnating, the women emerged on the streets, beating on their utensils, throwing stones at the Indian forces and chanting slogans for freedom. Over the years, Kashmiri women have played an important role in the struggle for freedom. Names like Asiya Andrabi, who led protest rallies comprising Kashmiri women, have filled volumes. However, the image of Kashmiri women in the liberation struggle has been mostly of wives, mothers, sisters or daughters mourning over the dead body of a relative, who embraced shahadat as a result of the atrocities of the Indian army. The new face of the Kashmiri women is unparalleled. Hundreds of women and girls, many in shalwar kameez, have since been regularly out on the streets chanting we want freedom and blood for blood Indeed, their message is loud and clear. Although the Indian army has not refrained from targeting the unarmed women, dealing with female protesters is a fraught challenge for the police and paramilitary troops. Many women who do not directly take part in rallies carry drinking water to the protesters and also direct youths down escape routes as they flee from baton charges, teargas and gunfire. Exasperated by the deteriorating situation in Kashmir, Indias Interior Minister P. Chidambaram has alleged that Pakistan may have instigated these protests. This is the first time New Delhi has linked Pakistan to the recent spate of violence in the Kashmir Valley that began on June 11. Earlier, India had said Pakistan-based militants were inciting trouble in the region. Pakistan appears to have altered its strategy in influencing events in Jammu and Kashmir, Chidambaram told the Indian Parliament during a debate on the protests. India, however, remains confident that it can foil Pakistans evil designs if it is able to win the hearts and minds of the people. Mr Chidambaram, or for that matter all Indian leaders, should know that the only way to win the hearts and minds of the Kashmiris is to accede to the UN Resolutions and grant them the right to self-determination; let them choose their own fate; whether to join Pakistan or India. History is replete with examples that a group of people cannot be forced to continue its existence in bondage and subjugation. Sooner or later the just struggle for freedom has to reach a conclusion. Blaming Pakistan for its woes and hiding the facts of its state terrorism, violence and atrocities against unarmed and hapless Kashmiris is not going to bear fruit. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moons recent statement on Kashmir was encouraging. His spokesperson Farhan Haq stated: In relation to the recent developments in Indian-administered Kashmir, the Secretary General is concerned over the prevailing security situation there....The Secretary General welcomes the recent resumption of Foreign Minister level talks between India and Pakistan. He encourages both sides to rekindle the spirit of composite dialogue...and to make renewed efforts to address outstanding issues, including on Jammu and Kashmir... The statement was well received in Pakistan, but not so in India. The Indian media attacked the UN Secretary Generals spokesperson tooth and nail, highlighting his Pakistani origin. Surprisingly, succumbing to Indian pressure, the UN Secretary General disowned his remarks, even though his spokesman had officially issued them. India should now realise that every Kashmiri woman who has lost a near and dear one to Indian tyranny has finally emerged from the shadows. It is high time the Indian government took cognisance of the writing on the wall and gave Kashmiris their just and legal rights, before the cauldron spills over. Turning its armys guns on unarmed women, will not only irk international opinion, but also cause them to lose support back home in India, especially among human rights activists like Arundhati Roy and many others. The writer is a political and defence analyst.