Kashmiris Don’t Need Tunnels, They Need Justice

UDHAMPUR:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, while inaugurating the Chenani-Nashri tunnel which is likely to reduce the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by at least two hours; Modi has appealed to the stone-pelting youths of Jammu and Kashmir to shun violence and join the mainstream of development.

PM Modi said, “Some misguided youngsters are pelting stones but see here, youth of Kashmir are using the same stones to build infrastructure.”

“Youth of Kashmir have a choice to make from two paths tourism and terrorism,” PM Modi said addressing a rally at Udhampur after inaugurating Asia’s longest tunnel.

However, it is startling to notice that the Indian government blissfully ignores the thousands of missing persons cases lodged since 1993 in Kashmir, the scores of half-widows and half mothers, meanwhile Indian government is making efforts to build tunnels as a means of appeasement. The ushering question here is, who will use this tunnel?, whom will the tunnel benefit?, whose life will the tunnel make easy?. The tourists who come once a year? or the army personnel who blind the youth heartlessly?

Human Rights abuses in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir state are an ongoing issue. These abuses range not only from mass killings, enforced disappearances, torture, fake encounters, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. The Indian Army, central reserve police force, border security personnel and various separatist militant groups have been accused and held accountable for committing severe human rights abuses against Kashmiri civilians. Crimes by militants are not comparable with the larger scale of abuse by Indian state forces. Some rights groups say close to 100,000 people have died since 1989 but revised figures from Indian sources state the number of civilians killed due to the Kashmiri insurgency has been estimated to range from 16,725 to 47,000 civilians while 3,642 civilians were killed by security forces .Statement by Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society is that 70,000 plus killings, 8000 plus forced disappearances, mass torture and sexual violence, majority committed by Indian armed forces, has had zero prosecution in civilian courts.

Tunnels will not by any means compensate for the endless loss of lives. In my opinion, Kashmiris definitely need justice more than they need the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel.