India’s brutal clampdown on over 12 million people in Jammu and Kashmir as the world looks on

30th Aug 2019
India’s brutal clampdown on over 12 million people in Jammu and Kashmir as the world looks on

Protesters in Srinagar, Kashmir, flee from attacks by Indian forces on August 9
(Photo: Faisal Khan/Anadolu Agency)

Sajeda Haider

When the Mughal Emperor Jehangir visited Kashmir in the 17th century he famously said, If there is a heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here”. The current Indian Government led by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has turned the picturesque state in the Himalayan mountains into a living hell for its inhabitants.

12.5 million Kashmiris have been brutally imprisoned in their own country, Jammu and Kashmir, by India. Over 4,000 people have been detained, communications – mobile phones, landline phones etc. – have been cut off, curfew imposed across the country, families cannot meet or communicate with each other, shops are closed creating a shortage of food and medicines, people cannot visit hospitals for treatment.

India’s hard-right Hindu nationalist Government has illegally stripped its only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, of its autonomy and split it into two Union Territories which will now be directly ruled by the central government. Scrapping Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which guaranteed a notional autonomy to the state which had only agreed to join India at the time of independence in 1947 on this promise. The revocation of the Article had been a long-held dream of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). On the night of August 5, 2019, the Modi Government made it a reality.

The announcement made suddenly in the dead of the night at a session of Parliament in Delhi was accompanied by a complete lockdown of the State. Hundreds of prominent Kashmiri leaders, including those who were pro-India, including 400 political leaders, have been detained, they were initially put under house arrest and later shifted to makeshift jails. 30,000 additional troops were sent to one of the most militarized regions in the world which already had nearly 600,000 soldiers patrolling it, to prevent any apparent fight back from the locals.

Under the guise of an ‘imminent terror attack,’ all non-Kashmiris were evacuated a few days before the proclamation. Hours before the announcement all internet, mobile phone networks and landline connections were severed in the State, creating an unprecedented communication blackout and cutting off Kashmir from the rest of the world. An unofficial curfew, which prevents millions of Kashmiris from coming out of their homes, is still in place more than two weeks after the midnight raid on their civil liberties.

Even as the few voices urging the international community to help, hundreds of boys as young as 13 are picked up by security forces on the orders of the Delhi Government to prevent “unrest.”

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 on August 14. “Hundreds of boys and teens are being picked up from their beds in midnight raids,” says their report, “Kashmir Caged” released at the Press Club of India.

Kavita Krishnan of the Communist Party of India, one of the activists who travelled to Kashmir, said what was happening in J&K was “immoral, unconstitutional, and illegal.”

“There is a sense of imprisonment. There is a sense of being in prison. And people are not being allowed to speak and the situation is extremely grim over there,” she said.

“In every village we visited, as well as in downtown Srinagar, there were very young schoolboys and teenagers who had been arbitrarily picked up by police or army/paramilitary and held in illegal detention,” the report 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 (in Srinagar) on 9 August. The [Indian] forces responded with pellet gunfire, injuring several.”

“The whole place was desolate, quiet, silenced, caged. People looked helpless. People looked humiliated. And people also looked angry,” activist Maimoona Moolah said.

Professor Mohammad Raina, 80, from Srinagar, now living in London, said he has not been able to contact his family since the clampdown. His 15-year-old granddaughter had gone for a holiday to Kashmir to visit their family. “I don’t know if she is OK. I am not sure if they have access to food and medicine,” Raina told The Muslim News. “We are upset and concerned about what is happening in Kashmir. I am very angry with­­­ our UK Government. Why are they silent and indifferent to the human rights abuses in Kashmir?” he asked.

Khurshid Nahami an IT Business Analyst, told The Muslim News that he is “afraid there will be ethnic cleansing in Kashmir and demographic changes” by Indian Government as they will be encouraging a large number of Indians to move there.

“Kashmir is a volcano waiting to erupt. People are so angry. They are fuming at the way they were stripped of their rights, and to add insult to injury they have tied them up like they are animals,” said Iltija Mufti, daughter of the state’s last Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti. Mehbooba, along with Omar Abdullah, also former Chief Minister of J&K, were among the first to be arrested and taken to jail just before the dramatic declaration on August 5.

Iltija, who fears for her mother’s life, has been told by Indian authorities to “keep quiet or be ready to suffer the consequences.” She is currently under house arrest, but having spoken to The Guardian, she can expect action against her any day. “Not only have they massacred our state and cleaved it into two parts, but they have also stripped us of our dignity,” said Iltija asking the UN Security Council to take action.

But so far the international community has been very slow in either condemning India’s actions or going to the aid of Kashmiris. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has neither criticised nor condemned the draconian clampdown of the Kashmiri people. “India and Pakistan should find lasting political resolution on Kashmir taking into account wishes of Kashmiri people,” Johnson’s spokesman said.

Prayers were not allowed at major mosques during Eid Al Adha in Srinagar, capital of J&K. A large number of Imams were locked up to prevent them from leading prayers.

Many Muslims refused to celebrate Eid as they did not want to celebrate when all their rights were taken away by the Indian Government. They could neither visit their family members nor communicate with them due to curfew and shutting down of all communications.

“On Eid day the clampdown was worse than before,” reporter for France 24 said from Delhi. She had just returned from Srinagar. “In the morning of Eid, no movement of people were allowed in the city,” she said.

With the draconian communications block in place, the Indian Government has been able to push through with its embedded media, the propaganda that Kashmiris are “happy” with their new lowered status. Neither the BBC nor a group of Indian activists who travelled through the valley found this sentiment. The BBC reported a protest by at least 10,000 people on the streets of Srinagar on August 9, the first Friday after the proclamation, but the Indian Government denied that any such protests took place. They gave the number as some “20 people gathered after Friday prayers.” The Indian forces responded to the protests with pellet gunfire injuring dozens as reported by the BBC, again denied by the Indian Government.

Leaders of Opposition parties in India like Rahul Gandhi, former President of the Congress party, have been prevented from going to Kashmir, and any known Kashmiri political leader who tries to leave the valley is arrested at Srinagar airport. The Opposition has called the Modi Government’s actions “immoral, unconstitutional and illegal”, and the actions have been challenged in the courts.

Gandhi gave an emergency press conference on August 9, when he said news emanating from Jammu and Kashmir is that “things are going very wrong and reports of violence and people dying in Jammu and Kashmir are being reported.”

This is not the first time that the BJP has unleashed mass suffering on Muslims in its pursuit of Hindutva – an India that is largely or exclusively for Hindus, who make up 85 per cent of the 1.25 billion population. In 2002, when Modi was Chief Minister of the western state of Gujarat, a pogrom against Muslims left around 3,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, many of whom continue to live in refugee camps. Since Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, Muslims across the country have been living in a state of fear with public lynchings, illegal killings, rapes, beatings, imprisonments and abuse on social media becoming the norm of his ‘New India.’

The BJP’s hatred of Muslim comes directly from its parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS chief in the 1940s M S Golwalkar idolised Hitler and argued in his book “Bunch of Thoughts” that Muslims were India’s Jews and that Hindus needed to imbibe a “race spirit” similar to that of the Nazis. He propagated that the fate of Indian Muslims should be the same as that of the Jews in Hitler’s Germany.

With Modi having won an even bigger mandate in the general election in May this year, it was expected that he would turn his attention to India’s only Muslim-majority state sooner rather than later. There is every expectation that now with Kashmir stripped of its special status and the removal of a ban preventing non-Kashmiris buying land in the state, Modi will encourage his Hindu majoritarian supporters to expand into Kashmir and change the demographics of the state completely – a tactic that has worked very successfully for the Israelis, who are ironically, Modi’s great friends.

Additional report by Abdul Adil

 

One Response to “India’s brutal clampdown on over 12 million people in Jammu and Kashmir as the world looks on”

Azim mominSeptember 1, 2019

Thanx for giving us detail about kasmir . My allah help them & keep them in his amman !

Reply

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