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India-Pakistan: Humanitarian aid for vulnerable people most affected by the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir

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Location of operation: INDIA
Amount of Decision: EUR 2,000,000
Decision reference number: ECHO/IND/BUD/2006/01000

Explanatory Memorandum

1 - Rationale, needs and target population.

1.1. - Rationale :

In the Indian controlled part of Kashmir (101,387 sq. km), Muslims account for the largest of the three ethnic groups, making up a population of some 7 million out of 10.1 million. Since 1989, more than a dozen rebel groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. The conflict is concentrated in the Muslim north of Jammu and Kashmir State, in the Kashmir Valley, but affects also some of the districts in Jammu, notably those along the Line of Control (LoC).

Its international dimension makes Kashmir the most explosive of India's internal conflicts. Two of the three wars between India and Pakistan have been over Kashmir. The conflict in Jammu and Kashmir, given its strategic implications for Asia and even for the world, received international community attention after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 against the United States, the bombing of the Indian Parliament atthe end of 2001, and the bomb blasts in New Delhi in October 2005. In May 2002, about 30 people were killed in a raid against an Indian army camp in Kashmir and India blamed Pakistani-based rebels for the attack. Both countries declared that they were ready for all out war and the conflict reached a peak during the summer of 2002. Indo-Pakistani tensions have decreased since then and the two countries agreed on a ceasefire along the LoC dividing Kashmir in November 2003. Diplomatic ties were restored in May 2004 and both governments have decided that senior officials would meet regularly to discuss the dispute on Kashmir and nuclear security. A restricted monthly bus service between Srinagar in India and Muzaffarabad in Pakistan resumed in April 2005. After the earthquake of 8 October 2005, Pakistan and India opened five temporary foot crossing points across the LoC in the affected areas. Moreover, an alliance of political, social and religious separatist groups, known as the All Parties Hurryat Conference, have engaged in a dialogue with the Government since January 2004. Locally the coalition government set up after the local elections of October 2002(1) promotes a "healing touch policy" aimed at winning the "hearts and minds" of the Kashmiris.

However, despite these positive but fragile political developments, the harsh effects of the conflict on the population living in Jammu and Kashmir receive virtually no coverage while violence remains a daily reality. Although troop numbers have been reduced, the military presence in the state remains substantial.

It is estimated that nearly 40,000 people have died since the conflict began(2). Up to fifteen people die in daily incidents related to the armed conflict. Victims include civilians, political activists, para-military police, armed forces and militants. Most recently, the February 2006 killing of four boys in Kupwara district, allegedly by the security forces, led to a regular pattern of widespread strikes, demonstrations and further violence and killings. The number of casualties due to the violence amounted to 3,022 in 2002, 2,542 in 2003, 1,812 in 2004 and 1,739 in 2005. This decreasing trend is confirmed for the first two months of 2006(3). The infiltration of activists and the attack on the Parliament in December 2001 have also led to the mining of 740 kilometres of land along the LoC until July 2002(4).

Notes:

(1) The turn-out reached 15%.

(2) The South Asia Terrorism Portal (www.satp.org) puts the figure at 39,944 victims between 1988 and 16/02/2006. The Indian army estimates that the number of civilians killed by militants and in cross firing reached 15,611 between 1990 and 24/02/2006 (Source: www.armyinkashmir.org).

(3) Since the beginning of the year, 104 persons have been killed or injured, as of 16/02/2006 (Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal).

(4) The whole border with Pakistan (2,897 km in total) was mined but the army started mine clearance activities in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab states. In October 2004 India reported that "large-scale demining operations... conducted by the Army... are presently nearing completion." Completion of clearance was reported in local media. As villagers resumed use of their fields, there were reports of mines being discovered and of casualties occurring (Source: Landmine Monitor, 2005 report).