Pankaj Mishra writes: In July 1995, an Islamic fundamentalist group called Al Faran kidnapped six foreign tourists, including two Americans, in Kashmir. For a few weeks, the world’s attention was fixed on the Himalayan valley as the allegedly Pakistan-backed militants negotiated with Indian security officials and foreign diplomats.
Eventually, one of the Americans escaped. Another hostage, a Norwegian, was beheaded. The other four were never found.
The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began, a staggeringly well-researched new book by two respected journalists, Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, concludes that the hostages were killed by local mercenaries funded and controlled by Indian army and intelligence.
The authors argue that the drawn-out negotiation, during which Indian intelligence allegedly knew the hostages’ whereabouts, was a charade, part of India’s larger effort to portray Pakistan as a sponsor of Islamist terror, thereby delegitimizing the Kashmiri struggle for freedom.
Certainly, India today no longer needs to highlight the role of the Pakistani army and intelligence in sponsoring extremist groups. It has also succeeded in shifting international attention away from the appalling facts of its counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir — tens of thousands killed, and innumerable many tortured, mutilated and orphaned. The tallying in 2009 of 2,700 unmarked graves containing the remains of people (often buried in groups) killed by security forces barely provoked any comment in the international media, let alone expressions of concern by Western leaders. [Continue reading…]