Al Jazeera held a panel on Kashmir moderated by Folly Bah Thibault. Included on the panel was Vivek Katju (on the left in this photo), a retired Indian Foreign Service officer who once served as one of India’s chief negotiators with Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir. He was debating Kavita Krishnan (on the right), who is secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association.
Krishnan pointed out that 400 Kashmiris, including an unspecified number of children, have been blinded & permanently disabled by pellet guns. In a state of nationalist agitation, Katju asked why Kashmiri parents “allowed & pushed” their children into protests & “asked them to pick up stones” against Indian troops. Thibault intervened to ask Krishnan why Kashmiri political leadership did not prevail on parents to stop their children from participating in protests.
Krishnan wasn’t given much chance to answer but she did point out that many of the small children were injured by pellet munitions whilst in their homes & in their mother’s laps because of the aggressive character of Indian troops. She also pointed out that the old guard leadership is not in charge of Intifada. It is a youth rebellion & pre-teen kids will inevitably be drawn into struggle when an entire country is under occupation.
Israel has long justified the high injury & fatality rates among children by claiming Palestinians use their children as human shields when in fact Israel targets children. That is almost certainly the case in Kashmir & the documentation of human rights crimes, including where, how, & how many children were injured in this current siege will likely testify to that.
Even if there were throngs of small schoolchildren pelting stones, that does not legitimize Indian troops using pellet guns or any other kind of munitions against them or against adult protesters because pellet munitions & live ammo against unarmed protesters are human rights crimes. The problem is not politicized kids nor reckless parents, but the barbaric character of military occupation.
The other issue of who is leading Kashmiri youth is of the greatest importance for the future of self-determination. If youth feel the old guard has failed them, they will forge a new leadership with a new strategy that brokers no discounts on justice & accepts no compromises on self-determination just as Palestinian youth are doing. That crisis is the age-old crisis of social transformation everywhere.
(Photo is Vivek Katju on left & Kavita Krishnan on right from screenshot of Al Jazeera video)