New death trap for Kashmiri girls: Don’t be bluffed by Muslim names
By Farzana Shah
Sometimes it becomes difficult to isolate legend from truth in an account. Kashmiri girls are meeting similar fate regularly in their midst and yet they are failed to see who was using them and what kind of legend was being attached to their lives while sending them to journey of death by those very people who once were protectors. This paper is not an attempt to malign any single party involved in Kashmir dispute as culprit but to showcase the victimization of local girls for own gains by the parties involved.
Beautiful Jammau and Kashmir is faced with bleeding life and smiling death.
For Kashmiris it is a game of death where the Big Boss is the man who holds the gun! Kashmiris have been bullied around by men holding gun though it is a different matter of fact that it is with a militant or a more disciplined man wearing a uniform.
And in this game of death women again are the biggest silent victims. As usual in any conflict, whatever nature it may be, two things are definite casualties; one is truth and the other women. In Kashmir both have happened and that too rather brazenly.
Kashmiri girls have been excessively used with fake protocols. It is rather shocking that a human being can stoop to such levels just to make sure he gets a few extra brass/silver on his chest. This is a story of sheer exploitation of the poorer class in the interiors of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
The new strategy Indian army has adopted in occupied Kashmir to track down militants using poor Kashmiri women and girls is proving far more fatal for the innocent women than for the militants.
"The army woos poor Kashmiri girls into becoming informers either for money or trapped on pretext of being in love with them", an Indian officer who got retired few years back told on condition of anonymity.
Mostly the officers from (RR) Rashtriya Rifles, a counter insurgency force created first to tackle Sikh militancy and then in Kashmir, are using fake Muslim names to woo Kashmiri girls to trap the freedom fighters.
Soldiers are pooled in from various regular units such as Punjab regiment, Dogra regiment, Jat regiment to raise a RR battalion. In fact undisciplined men basically rejected by regular units are put into RR.
Indian army few years back decided to instruct its officers to adopt fancy Muslim names not only to woo Kashmiri girls to become informers but also to trap them pretending to be in love them. This was a bid to merge with the people since Muslim names mean that Kashmiris would automatically have a soft corner for them.
While on the other hand adopting fake Muslim names also saved the Indian army personnel in trials relating to fake encounters, rape and murder.
The first officer to use a Muslim name was Major Vinod 34 RR Who adopted the name Sarfaraz.
In the interiors of Jammu and Kashmir such as Budgam, Magam, Bandipora, Sopore, Bommai people are poor and poverty drove these girls towards easy money.
Girls like Shaheena, Shamima from Delina, Shubnum alias toffee from Sopore, Shahista from Bandipora called as chiclet by officers, were all used and exploited, even sexually. All were killed since the militants were caught on and the girls were branded as mukhbirs (informers).
The girls were recruited to track the local militants and they used to provide inputs about their movement. They were paid undoubtedly but then were subjected to exploitation too.
Major Javed Chaudhary actual name Major Rajesh Chaudhary of 21 RR posted at Sopore hooked two sisters Tahirra and Shaheena from Delina 14 kms from Sangrama towards Baramulla. The aim was to get their cousin Tariq who was a local Hizb-ul-Mujahideen member. But unfortunately the two were killed at the hands of their militant cousin.
Tariq was ultimately eliminated by Major Rajesh with the help of Shabnum alias toffee (she was a cousin of the killed sisters) supplying the inputs.
"Major Javed (Rajesh Chaudhary) continued to use toffee (Shabnam) as informer to track down militants. A militant named Mustafa was eliminated with her help. Tofee rang up Javed and told him that Mustafa was in town along with his two men. She was calling from STD. Mustafa was killed in Sopore Batpora Chowk and toffee got a clean pack of Rs40,000. Tofee was a major source of information for Javed. But when Javed was leaving on posting she was handed over to Major Chauhaan. But toffee was not destined to live long. After three months, Javed left, toffee was killed in Sopore fish market shot in the head from behind. Major Chauhan the very next day issued a statement that 21 RR had nothing to do with toffee," Maj (retired) Ranjeet (name changed for safety reasons) of Indian army told this writer.
He added that toffee was killed in July 2007 whereas her cousins Shaheena was killed in November 2006 and Tahirra in September 2006.
One Mariam Begum was abducted by a group of militants from her house in Doda district. The abductee was let off by the terrorists. However her ears, nose and tongue were chopped off. The reason was simple the Indian Army forced Mariam to get her brother surrendered and the brother surrendered with a universal machine gun. Mariam should have been given protection which she was not as the officer who used her was untraceable due to the reason that he was using fake Muslim name.
Adopting Muslim names saves Indian army from accountability: In the recent years the number of missing Kashmiri youth rose to hundreds where as hundreds of them had been killed in fake encounters. In most of the cases the responsible officers are not arrested due to simple reason that the ones who picked these boys are using fake names and when cases are registered against them the real culprits could not be traced.
For example when boys are picked up for interrogation they are taken away by some Major Salman and not the actual name for example Major Amit Kohli!
Kashmiris file the FIR against Major Salman who actually does not exist on ground. Many cases have been lost in the files.
A girl from Tral was raped by some jawans of a BSF company there and the FIR was filed against Major Omar’s company. The Police filed the FIR but there was no one by the name of Major Omar. The jawans were posted overnight. Major Omar was actually major Vijay.
Major Vijay filed a counter FIR alleging that the locals were not cooperating and were using girls to tarnish the image of Army.
What all this asks for: Complex social issues always demand a more carefully prescribed solution which can satisfy every stakeholder in society related to that particular problem. Kashmiri women are biggest stakeholders in this matter since long. Odds for these kinds of problems to be addressed are very much there as much anywhere else in world but in Kashmir it is not a social problem only. The complexity of issue is manifolds as geopolitical, geo-strategic and military vertexes are deeply connected with this issue as well. More precisely this social problem is a byproduct of all the tactics used in Kashmir to have a control by Indian army and what militants responded to those tactics.
Militancy is natural outcome of any prolonged military occupation and oppression as it has proved yet again in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. Catching real culprit in Kashmir becomes more cumbersome when endeavors like "Operation Chankiya" are launched to create fake Kashmiri groups and to create a rift among those who are real ones and it got out of control when some real militant group also contribute in these atrocities while trying to countering these tactics. Poor prey (Girls) never become aware of there true predators.
The unfortunate fact is that incidents like above are repercussion of prolonged Indian occupation of the valley and denial of its solution even after UN security council passed resolution asking for a plebiscite in Kashmir, some half a century ago.
In past three to four years peace process between Pakistan and India was also failed miserably to bring any hope to Kashmiris.
Both Pakistani and Indian officials were trying to play some political cards in these talks on behalf of their respective governments. Kashmiris were never part of these talks.
Victimization of women is not new in world and not new at all in this part of the world but what is unique is victims till their deaths never know what they were heading towards and in who’s hands they were playing.
The real situation on ground is much worrisome than these accounts and it is feared to be continued as long as the Kashmir dispute is not solved peacefully according to the free will of the Kashmiri people.
Solving Kashmir dispute and giving Kashmiris the sense of ownership of their land is the only way to prevent all major political and military disputes in the region which are also resulting in human rights violation and social evils.
Farzana Shah is socio-political, defense analyst based in Peshawar, Pakistan.
- Asian Tribune -