New Delhi, October 14, 2019 (PPI-OT): Two recently released reports on the prevailing situation in occupied Kashmir say that the Kashmiris are resisting the Indian occupation through satyagraha or non-violent civil disobedience with an ultimate goal of Azadi (freedom) from India.
According to Kashmir Media Service, one of the two reports authored by Indian Supreme Court’s lawyer, Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan and a Professor of sociology at the Delhi School of Economic, Nandini Sundar, categorically mentions that ‘Not a single person in the Kashmir Valley is happy with the Modi government’s decision to scrap Kashmir’s special status.’ Advocate Nitya and Professor Nandini prepared the report after their visit to occupied Kashmir from October 5 to 9.
The report said that the Kashmiris are resisting New Delhi “through satyagraha or non-violent civil disobedience” and added that since the entire leadership is in jail, “this satyagraha is being carried out by the people themselves.” “There is some societal coercion, but by and large, this is entirely voluntary. This is not happening on the direction of militants, contrary to the advertisements now being run by government.”
Advocate Nitya and Professor Nandini remarked that “almost every single person wanted azadi”. The lawyer and the sociologist said there was a complete shutdown in the Valley, and added that it was not because of militants. On Friday, the government had issued full-page advertisements in local newspapers, urging residents to return to normal life without fear.
The two compared the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir to the one after the death of renowned youth commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani in 2016. “The major differences are that first, now there is no leadership and people are acting on their own, second, the resistance is across the Valley [earlier it was mostly South Kashmir], and third, even those who were earlier with the Indian government are now completely alienated.”
Nitya Ramakrishnan and Nandini Sundar criticised the Indian media’s reporting from Kashmir, and said it was “heavily censored, with Orwellian claims that everything is normal and people are happy”. The Indian “television media is simply a disgrace since they are collaborating with the government in the pretence that everything is normal,” they added.
They remarked that in over two months, there had not been a single editorial in Kashmir on Article 370. “Everyone feels that they are being pushed back to the stone ages without phones and internet.”
The report said the Narendra Modi’s decisions would result in a “long term Palestine-like occupation, with heavy costs” not just to people of the state but also for the Indian economy. The political leadership in the state is “completely discredited”, it added.
“Repeatedly we heard that if the government can jail even their favoured stooge, [NCP president] Farooq Abdullah, then what is a common person to expect?”
The report also mentioned the impact of the government’s decision on the state’s economy, apple trade, religious restrictions, educational losses and about arrest of children and minors.
“The number of arrests and preventive detention cases has increased since August 5,” said the report. “People with old FIRs against them are being picked up and kept in the police stations…. Families are scared that if they protest or speak to the press, the detenues will be charged with PSA.”
Meanwhile, another report titled ‘Kashmir Civil Disobedience’ – A Citizens Report’, authored by Anirudh Kala[psychiatrist], Brinelle D’Souza [academic], Revati Laul [journalist] and Shabnam Hashmi [social activist] while giving the reason for writing the report says, “The Indian government has spun the story that their clampdown on civil liberties in Kashmir with an increased military presence, summary arrests of … leaders and the communication blockade has made the unfolding of this new reality peaceful. But we found exactly the opposite. Kashmir is on edge – humiliated, angry, disturbed and `disrobed,’ as a journalist who spoke to us described it.”
“Most people we met told us they were keeping their shops and offices closed not under any call by militants or separatists or political leaders but as an act of resistance against the Indian state. This is the big picture we have come away with and it is significant for a number of reasons.” Kashmiris have chosen to respond back, through a largely non-violent protest, it added.
“People in Kashmir are no longer interested in an interaction with the Indian state. That space is now dead. From those who have been hardliners to separatists demanding a union with Pakistan or azadi to those siding with India – they have all reacted to the current political situation as a big, abominable trauma. The collective shock, fear of reprisal has however turned them into silent protestors. They say this may well be the lull before the storm or the making of molten mass that is bound to erupt; but regardless of what comes next, these 60 days need to be recorded as a phenomenon in its own right.”
The report put forth following recommendations to the Indian government:
1. Immediate restoration of Articles 370 and 35A and statehood
2. Restore landlines, mobile, internet, broadband services with immediate effect
3. Release all political leaders, social activists, youth, and children, withdraw all cases
4. Withdraw army and paramilitary forces
5. Remove restrictions on movement of people
6. Immediate steps to restore people’s faith in democracy
7. Government of India must work with all stakeholders to bring about peace and normalcy in the state and ensure that decisions regarding the political future of J and K are made through a process of dialogue and consultation and after ascertaining the will of the people
8. Restore tourism and all other livelihood activities
9. Provide mental health services in every district with immediate effect as mandated as mandated under the Mental Health Care Act, 2017
10. Digitize records – land records, hospital records, jail records
11. Postpone block level elections until all political prisoners are released
12. Put in place confidence building and safety measures so that children and young people can go back to school and colleges without fear. Make every effort to mitigate the psychosocial consequences of the conflict on children.
13. Provide compensation to families of those who died because they weren’t able to access timely medical support due to the communication blockade and security clampdown
14. Undertake an assessment of the economic losses faced by orchardists, businesses, and traders due to communication and transport blockade and provide appropriate compensation and relief
15. To look into allegations of excesses by the army and paramilitary forces and undertake time-bound inquiries
16. Lift restrictions on movement of journalists so that there can be genuine on ground reporting. Refrain from monitoring, surveillance and intimidation of journalists.
17. Give an urgent patient hearing to the representations and restore the constitutional safeguards
Recommendations for Human Rights Organizations national / International
1. Send teams to J and K to assess the ground situation
2. Undertake an independent assessment of those killed and injured and deaths due to negligence and not being able to access medical services
3. Undertake an independent assessment of the mental health impact of the current crisis on various groups/constituencies especially those who are most vulnerable
For more information, contact:
Kashmir Media Service
Phone: +92-51-4435548, +92-51-4435549