Linked with ‘ … Conclusions‘, with Paul Beersmans – Belgium, with BASJAK, with Association for Solidarity with Jammu and Kashmir BASJAK, with JAMMU AND KASHMIR, A SMOULDERING CONFLICT … , and with … again Kashmir.
The Belgian Association for Solidarity with Jammu and Kashmir BASJAK was in Kashmir this January-February 2007. Find their Report of the study tours in Jammu and Kashmir State, January-February 2007, a pdf-text.
Here an excerpt of this 21 pages report. Page 3: … MEETING WITH THE COMMON MAN IN THE STREET IN JAMMU, UDHAMPUR, KATRA, REASI, SAMBA, AND KATHUA:
As usual I spent as much time as possible with the common people in the street in order to learn more about their perception of the situation. I spoke to shopkeepers, taxi drivers, people in the bazaar, waiters, etc. All of them were very eager to speak to me. They are happy that someone takes interest in their fate especially those living in the forgotten corners of J&K State. Here is what I learned:
- the cease-fire along the LoC since November 2003, the reduction of tensions between India and Pakistan, the sustained dialogue between both countries, the opening of more crossing points along the LoC generate giving a lot of hope among the Kashmiris. The Kashmiris are happy with the people to people contact. They really hope the process of negotiations will continue until a peaceful solution is found. So many proposals are floated from so many corners. This makes it difficult to know what the solution will be but this doesn’t seem to be that important: let peace prevail and a solution will emerge automatically;
- APHC is divided between the hard-liners, under Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is defending the right of self-determination and the moderate leaders, under Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who are prepared to accept other solutions. People stressed the fact that none of the APHC factions represent the people of Jammu region;
- the feelings about the performance of the State Government are divided: unemployment is a huge problem. They support the anti-corruption policy of Ghulam Nabi Azad but it is felt that not much progress has been made as yet in this regard;
- the majority of the people wants to return to “pre-militant” situation; in Jammu region many of them want to stay with India (our links are with India). This was again and again repeated while having contacts with the population in the different places I visited;
- as mentioned in previous reports, people are against the human rights violations committed by the security forces, especially custodial killings and fake encounters. They appreciate the action taken by the Government against these violations. It is a sign of seriousness and transparency;
- people again confirmed to be fed up with the gun; they are against the interference of Pakistan; they are against militancy and the interference of the foreign terrorists; they want a negotiated settlement; they do not want fundamentalism or communalism; they want the Pandits to return to their homes; they condemn strongly the killings of innocent people. The militants (or separatists, or dissidents, or extremists, or terrorists, or mujahideen, or fedayeen, or freedom fighters, or misguided youth, or jehadis, or bandits, or mercenaries, or foreign mercenaries, or nationalists, or whatever name is given to those who are using the gun) should stop the use of violence. They cannot impose their will by the gun;
- so many political leaders have been killed by the militants. This indicates that they want to destroy the political leadership and sabotage and disrupt the democratic process;
- the population in the remote rural areas and in the upper reaches along the LoC is suffering the most from this proxy-war instigated from across the border. Since so long they ask the international community to come and help them in finding a way out;
- private industries should come to J&K State. They can create a lot of jobs. As the situation is turning into normal they hope this will be favourable to attract investors.