Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Kashmir in lockdown a military prison: Indian activists

SRINAGAR: The entire state of Kashmir is currently a prison and under military control, a fact-finding team of Indian activists who visited the region since the imposition of a lockdown said.

In their report “Kashmir Caged” released at the Press Club of India, they said people expressed pain, anger, and a sense of betrayal towards the Indian government during their travel to various parts of Kashmir on Aug. 9-13, after the region’s special status was revoked by India earlier this month.

Among their observations were that India annulling Articles 370 and 35A, dissolving the state of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating it into two union territories, is not supported by anyone the team met, excepting Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson on Kashmiri affairs.

“The decisions taken by the [Narendi] Modi Government are immoral, unconstitutional and illegal,” said Kavita Krishnan of the Communist Party of India, one of the activists who traveled to Kashmir.

“The means being adopted by the Modi Government to hold Kashmiris captive and suppress potential protests are also immoral, unconstitutional, and illegal.”

The report details apparent illegal detentions Indian forces for the sole purpose of creating panic. “In every village we visited, as well as in downtown Srinagar [the region’s biggest city and capital], there were very young schoolboys and teenagers who had been arbitrarily picked up by police or army/paramilitary and held in illegal detention,” it said.

“Hundreds of boys and teens are being picked up from their beds in midnight raids. The only purpose of these raids is to create fear.”

It also documented the disproportionate response by state forces. “Some 10,000 people protested in Soura (Srinagar) on 9 August. The [Indian] forces responded with pellet gun fire, injuring several.”

The team was prevented from visiting Soura by the authorities.

The activists charged the Press Club of India (PCI) with not granting permission to shows videos as part of their presentation on the situation on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir after the scrapping of Article 370.

A lockdown on India’s only Muslim-majority state has been in effect since August 5 after the government revoked the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir and split the state in two.

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