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Kashmir in lockdown a military prison, children detained, activists report

15th Aug 2019
Kashmir in lockdown a military prison, children detained, activists report

By Shuriah Niazi


NEW DELHI (AA): 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 Wednesday. “Hundreds of boys and teens are being picked up from their beds in midnight raids,” says report.

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the Indian government during their travel to various parts of Kashmir on Aug. 9-13, after the region’s special status was revoked by India earlier this month.

The team members said they were denied the use of the projector of Press Club of India, where they released a report on Wednesday after touring Kashmir from August 9 to 13. At the Press Club, the team was unable to show a short film on their journey in Kashmir, which was later uploaded on YouTube.

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.”

“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.

“We were able to go to villages as well as small towns also. So the situation there is absolutely not normal. If some people of the media are saying all is well … the only thing we could think of saying was all is hell is a better description,” said Krishnan.

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.”

Activist Maimoona Moolah said: “The occupation of Kashmir will not work. Get rid of this occupation. Put an end to the way press and people have been gagged there. And return democracy to the region. Return Article 370 and 35(A).”

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

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.

The report was written by Jean Dreze, economist; Maimoona Mollah, president of the CPM-backed Janwadi Mahila Samiti —Delhi; Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the CPIML-Liberation-backed All India Progressive Women’s Association; and Vimal, an anti-dam activist.

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

The Himalayan region is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.

According to several human rights groups, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo: : Indian security personnel patrol on a street during a curfew in Srinagar, Kashmir, India on August 07, 2019.  Photographer: Faisal Khan/AA}

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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