Kashmir: Flight Over the CFL
Duration: 02:01:58; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 105.330; Saturation: 0.013; Lightness: 0.503; Volume: 0.140; Cuts per Minute: 39.583; Words per Minute: 5.444
This two hour video compilation constructs an account of a significant incident in the contemporary of Kashmir. As found footage, this is in the tradition of a 'campaign video', with footage of a march intercut with speeches, and the whole thing papered together with popular 'movement' songs of the period. And like many other similiar videos, verifying it's authorship will remain daunting given the various kinds of material it uses. (And assembled by Arshi Video Centre, Muzaffarabad: their watermark runs across the whole two hours).
Here is what we know about the event: On Feb 11-12, 1992, several thousand of people attempted to cross the Cease Fire Line (the CFL of the title), from the part of Kashmir held by Pakistan, to the part held by India. Under the banner of the then undivided Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), and the leadership of Amanullah Khan, the march marked a critical juncture in the history of the armed struggle in Kashmir. By February 1992, only two years after the armed militancy had broken out in Kashmir, fissures had begun to appear in the relationship between the pro-independence armed groups and their supporters in Pakistan. This in turn had led to a sharpening of ideological divisions within the movement itself, with serious consequences for the future of the movement, and for the idea of Azadi
, independence. The video is therefore witness to a significant historical moment.
In the first half of the video, the speeches of Amanullah Khan and his associates make clear the seriousness of the rupture in the relationship between the JKLF and Pakistan, represented in the names of Nawaz Sharif (then Prime Minister), Durrani (head of the Inter Services Intelligence), and Sardar Qayoom (the 'Prime Minister' of Azad Kashmir). And it's only Sardar Qayoom who we actually see, very briefly, speaking to a BBC TV correspondent.
The date of the march inherits an older significance too: on Feb 11, 1984, Maqbool Butt, one of the founders of the Kashmir valley based JKLF, was executed in Tihar Jail, New Delhi. Just short of his 46th birthday, his hanging made him not only the preminent Shaheed-e-Kashmir
(martyr of Kashmir) but also Baba-e-Quam
(father of the people). At the start of the Flight Over the CFL
we see literally hundreds of placards with Maqbool Butt's image in Muzaffarabad town... In the last 25 years, Feb 11 has continued as a day of protests in Kashmir. 2009 was no exception: protests wracked downtown Sringar and several other towns.
Through the speeches (made mainly in Muzaffarabad town, and en route) the video suggests that the march was mounted despite stiff opposition from the Pakistani authorities. News reports of the day described Pakistani soldiers setting off landslides, dismantling bridges and erecting barricades to stop the attempt. (In this compilation we don't see much of this, except in what we will call the BBC footage. Only flashes are revealed, and then only if you look very carefully...)
But the Pakistani army were clearly not trying too hard to hide their attempts to stop the march: the extensive aerial footage of Flight Over the CFL
is, after all, shot from a helicopter provided by them... So while the march was clearly not intended to reach its stated goal (crossing the Cease Fire Line), how both sides were hoping–or planning–for it to end will remain a bit of conjecture.
From the few reliable contemporary print sources reporting the event we do know that the Indian Army had said that it would shoot any marcher crossing the cease-fire line. The Pakistani Army said it would use force to stop the march–if necessary. And force was used: before the march was abandoned, quite far from the Line of Control, at least 12 people were shot dead by the Azad Kashmir Police.
This was 1992. It's difficult not to then think of the Ekta Yatra
(Unity March) organised by the Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Murli Manohar Joshi, who had tried just over a year earlier to carry an Indian flag to Srinagar, and raise it on the Ghanta ghar
, the Clock Tower in Lal Chowk, sentimental heart of Srinagar. When militants announced that they would target such an attempt, security forces airlifted Joshi's yatris
–all fifteen of them–to Srinagar for a symbolic 11 minute flag-raising. Despite blanket security, several rockets were fired at the Clock Tower, and Murli Manohar Joshi narrowly escaped with his life.
Interestingly, while the speeches and songs in Flight Over the CFL
are all in Urdu, the information about the rupture with Pakistan is given to us through English language voice over, on footage borrowed from Newstrack
, the Indian video magazine of the period. This use of comment from the mainstream Indian media marks a rare coincidence of interests, since the general tone in these Newstrack
extracts, both of the anchor and in the woman's voice-over, seems to celebrate the appearance of anti-Pakistan sentiment, and the growing 'sense of betrayal' amongst Kashmiris. JKLF cadres interviewed seem to endorse such a reading, which the Newstrack
voice over is quick to underline.
But in the main, it's difficult not to read Flight Over the CFL
without remembering the Muzaffarabad Chalo!
(On to Muzaffarabad!) march of August 2008 which marked the culmination of the tumultous protests of the summer of 2008 in the Kashmir valley.
Khichi huee hai, dil pay mere, khooni surkh lakeer...
Tuhi batade, kab tootegi paon ki zanjeer– Ai mere Kashmir!
Drawn across my heart, that murderous red line...
You tell me when will my feet be unshackled–O! my Kashmir!
The tremendous sentiment aroused by imagining the end of that Line of Control, animates much of Flight Over the CFL
, as it did Muzaffarabad Chalo!
last year. As a piece of archival video, accidentally and providentially offered to us for a reading, Flight Over the CFL
is rich resource. It unearths meanings, illuminates it, complicates it, and allows us to return to video the power of witness.
Essay by Sanjay Kak. See related event: https://pad.ma/SK/info
Caption: Kashmir is Calling
Song: Ab sadae narae takbir chal (Now raise the slogan-Allah is Great! And march on)
Hansa Thapliyal, Collector of the image.
This tape, has layers of details that the transcriber uncovers, about a moment in a movement. It is witness, it is propaganda. It speaks of the difficult time it- and the Kashmir movement it witnesses, are located in- when to sort of claim a place on some sort of international stage,( which is necessary for the movement to be a succes) the most stirring speech also contains references to the amount of publicity, the number of phones and international faxes that surround the moment.
As a collector on behalf of Majlis, I would like to add another layer- wondering who the people are who 'made' these tapes- those who shot footage on both sides of the border, those who compiled and edited and circulated such tapes and/or such footage.
Were these new economies also borne of the difficulties of livelihood and safety in conflict, even as they were born of the headiness and sense of participation in the moment? It was a time when in Srinagar at least, a press card was a protection- how might this have translated in other places? Who were the image makers? Had some shifted livelihoods as older modes of image making- shooting lavish weddings, taking personal photographs, started to be replaced, for various reasons, with images of conflict, of various representations, good and bad, of the movement, of the army, and various people from all sides, were commissioning those images.
How to look at the various images, the various forums of circulation, and the image makers from the early nineties in Kashmir?
Cease Fire Line
Line of Control
Caption: Arshi Video Centre, Muzaffarabad Feb 10, 1992
Song: Mere kashmir, mere khwab ki tabir hai tu (My Kashmir, you are the meaning of my dreams)
Caption: JKLF March Towards Crossing of Cease Fire Line (CFL) Feb 11/12, 1992
Rally images, Feb 7, 1992
VO Tr: ...religious fervour into political frustration. Kashmir the only muslim dominated region to join ... India at independence is seething with nationalistic sentiment... This was a rally organized for our benefit by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. They took up arms about three years ago..
Javed Mir, also known as Javed 'Nalka' was a prominent militant of the JKLF. Here he speaks to the BBC (in an off air recording) his identity apparently concealed behind dark glasses. (His nickname came to him from his pre-militancy career as an employee of the Public Health Engineering department. Hence nalka
Javed Mir: The option of independence has to be there. That has to be given under guarantee from the United Nations or any other international forum. Till then the gun struggle will not be over...
Manoj Raghuvanshi: Tension between India and Pakistan yet again, this time over Amanullah Khan's proposed march over the Line of Control. Though Pakistan stepped up its India bashing, it realized that a war against India was not a luxury it could afford. The firing in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir that left 15 dead also proved something to the Kashmiris. That when it came to the crunch they were on their own...
Manoj Raghuvanshi (Newstrack) reporting on anti-Pakistan sentiment in Srinagar.
Tr: No India, No Pakistan, we want only freedom! Hum khudmukhtari chahte hain Kashmir ki
VO Tr: Anti-Pakistani sentiment in Kashmir is not a usual phenomenon. But last months incident made sure that India was not their sole enemy..
VO: Confused reactions to Pakistan. An initial reluctance to criticize it publicly stemmed from an unwillingness to admit an imagined saviours duplicity. Then when a very real sense of betrayal ultimately came pouring out...
VO: You feel they have let you down?
VO: The march came as a great boost to the sagging fortunes of the JKLF. Azadi grips the popular imagination once again, this time at the expense of pro-Pakistan groups. The developments led to increasing tension between the two. Several militants were killed in inter-group shoot outs in late February. Nevertheless the JKLF benefited most of all.
Muzaffarabad Feb 10, 1992
Slogans at Rally: UNO! Wake up!
Women give speeches in support of the Mujahid, and their need to go across
Anonymous poet recites rousing poem
Speeches over visuals of women listening to speeches
Tuneless song sung by local singers, with piano accordian
Speeches by various people-incl woman in full hijab
Tr: Just because we live in Azad Kashmir does that mean we are free?
Amanullah Khan arrives amidst much slogans and clapping
Young girl provokes the crowd: they are not men but women if they don't go for the fight.
Azam Inquilabi, was first arrested in 1965, at the age of 18: he has since spent a total of 7 years in jail, both Indian and Pakistani. He joined the pro-independence Mahaz-e-azadi in 1983, and was the first Chief of the United Jehad Council at Muzaffarabad in 1990-91
Aap ki awaz par labaik kaha...
Aap ne Azad kashmir ke tasht-o-jabal ko hila ke rakh diya.
Aap ne faisla kiya ki haan, hum iss manhoos jang-bandhi line ko roundh dalein gey.
Iss niyat kay saath, number ek, ki hum makbooza Kashmir mein mehvi jiddh-o-jehad, mussalmanon ke saath, amlan yakjaathi jatai, aur apne lahu ke saath.
Doosri baat, ki hum iss jang-bandhi line ko nahi mantein. Iss ko roundh dalengay, iss ko khatam karein gey, aur doh hissoun ko milayein gey. Yani azad kashmir aur makbooza kashmir ko.
Aur iss baat, iss ki afadhiyath ko paamaal karein gey.
Aur un ka faisla bilkul durust hai ki khalis kalashkinov key ball pe iss tehreek ko paai-takmeel tak nahi pohonchaya jaa sakta hai.
Iss ke liye zabardast awami tehreek ki zaroorrat hai, aur jiss ka agaaz aap ne apne shokh-o-shahadath sey kiya hai.
Allah taala aap ke in masayib ko kabool farmayein aur aap ko in masail, iss koshish mein bar-zabdh farmayein.
In koshishshoun ka, aap key iss amal ka, aap ke iss jidho-jehad ka, makbooza kashmir par kya asar hoga? Kya asaraath muratab hogein?
Mein yakeen dilata houn un ko, jo wahan jo maayusi chayee hui thi, ab wo maayusi iss amal sey, iss kashmokash sey, iss jidho-jehad sey, iss shokh-o-shahadat sey, aur zokh-o-amal sey—wo mayusi door ho jaigi!
Aap dekhein gey ab wahan Hindustan thaher nahi saktha.
Ab yeh saal-ba-saal ka kaam nahi, mai samajhta houn ab yeh mahinon ka bhi kaam nahi. Agar yeh josh, yeh hosh, baki raha, agar yeh shokh-o-shahadat baki raha, agar wakayee aap iss niyaat sey uthein hai, toh mein samajhta hun koi bhi taakat kashmiriyon ko aar-paar muttahid honey sey rok nahi sakthi hai.
Maazi mai .... dekhta hai. Toh meri dostana raggein ... yeh jo bhadak uthti hain, toh mai ussko sakth alfaaz mey, uss shaks aur logon ko tokta hun, aur yakinan mere dost, meri zaban samajh lee, aur aap aaj dekh rahaein hain ki inhone poore Azaad Kashmir mein ek hulchal machaa di. Ek tehreek bar paa ki. Mai in key saath houn. Woh din door nahi jab inshaallah yeh doh khitein bajuz hojaeingi.
Aur hum azaadi ki manzil sey humkinar ho jayen gey.
Apni alfaz say ekthifa kartha houn, aur duaa karta houn, ki ab kashmir jald azaad ho jai... Fei Amanullah!
Fiery orator turns the full heat on the Pak Govt
(Slogans, seen also are the black berets with star that many in the JKLF wore, a homage to revolutionary movements elsewhere in the world)
Fiery slogans from bearded man who lists the pantheon of freedom fighters
Raja Muzaffar, Sr Vice President, JKLF
Singers with patriotic song, ends with passionate slogans
Amanullah Khan says this may be my last speech because we are now faced with a huge wall with the security forces of Pakistan
Amanullah Khan talks about planning this march, the achievements, especially in drawing world attention, Talks about his phone and fax bill of 75,000, the 92 faxes sent out on one night
Amanullah Khan says the west thinks it's a huge crime to fire on unarmed people, so if India fires on our people, the whole world will know. Because all the international press is here too... Reuters, BBC everyone
Pak is taking the noose we have looped around India's neck and putting it around it's own neck.
Nothing would make me happier than to die by an Indian bullet. But if I should die by a Pakistani bullet it would be a matter of deep regret. We should be saying Pakistan Murdabad, but we are not...
When Javed Mir came the ISI took him into custody for two days to force him to toe their line.
Lets show Nawaz Sharif and Durrani how many people are with Amanullah Khan
Describes the efforts made to block the march. Blames Durrani for misinforming Nawaz Sharif about the reality. Why do they and Saradar Qayoom do this? Because they are jealous of the JKLF's popularity
The price for this misinformation will be paid by the people of Pakistan, and of Kashmir
No one should carry arms, and if they do they will be disarmed by our volunteers...
Ends with lots of slogans where the names of the eminences are taken once again
Text: JKLF March Towards Crossing of Cease Fire Line (CFL) Feb 11/12, 1992
Amanullah Khan is carried into the crowd, huge crowd, lots of placards of Maqbool Butt's picture as the crowd begins the march
Song: Maidan tumhare haath rahe, Allah ki rehmat saath rahe (May you triumph in the field, Allah be merciful to you) song is cut with the march starting off.
Aerial shots from a Pak chopper: Flight over the CFL
Song: khichi hui hai dil pe mere, khooni surkh lakeer, tuhi baata de, kab tootegi paon ki zanjeer, ai mere Kashmir
Drawn across my heart, that murderous red line... You tell me when will my feet be unshackled-O! my Kashmir!
Cease Fire Line
Line of Control
Song: Ab gaeraten khud jaag uthi hain
cut over shots of the march making its way thru small towns, bridges
Text: Muzaffarabad Feb 11, 1992
George Alagiah, BBC does a piece to camera
Tr: The Pakistani authorities fear that any attempt to cross the line could provoke another conflict.
Chopper lands with Sardar Qayoom. Brief muttered comments with BBC.
Cheerful marching song:
Song: Dushmanon tumne, uss kaum ko lalkara hai
Aaka hain jinke jabeenon mein, koran hai jinke seenon mein, allah ka jinko sahara hai
Aerial shots of the procession making its way thru the mountain roads
Song: Kariyon manz jigaras jay, cham no may mashaeni...
(I place you in the core of my heart, I can't afford to forget you...) Mehmood Gami, 19thC
mere watan teri jannat mein aayen gey ek din - over aerial shots of the procession
Tracking shot as chopper circles around procession
Song: mere watan teri jannat mein aayen gey ek din
over aerial shots
People try and repair the road damage, with excellent slogans about who will rule over us: India? Pakistan? America? Russia? No!! We will
Jabtak iss nagri mein charon aur andhera hai...apni jang rahe gi
George Alagiah, BBC records piece to camera:
George Alagiah, BBC records piece to camera:
... but it's a small victory. This was to have been a turning point in the campaign for kashmiri independence. The relative ease with which the Pak authorities have been able to frustrate the Liberation Fronts attempt, is a mark of how fragile its hopes really are"
Text: Gaddi Dupatta Feb 11, 1992
Amanullah Khan thanks all the supporters. Draws attention to all the Press people who are here, and even BBC London who are in the helicopter, monitoring everything
Says we have broken the barriers of Nawaz Sharif, and of Narsimha Rao
We dont want a clash with the Pak Army or the Azad Kashmir Police, but if we have to, we will
Even our women are following...
Brief Interview with women who talk about sacrificing their lives, women marchers
Chinari, Feb 12, 1992
Huge crowd surrounds Amanullah, carry him through, onto top of bus:
AK thanks people of Chinari for their hospitality
AK: Once the Palestinians used to say: Ya Allah, save us from our own, our enemies we can handle. Today we Kashmiris are in the same place. Our own are stopping us.