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September 5, 2019

Kashmir remains under siege one month after Indian annexation

By Abdus-Sattar Ghazali

Indian-administered Kashmir has completed a full month under the siege of brutal Indian forces where the unrelenting communications blackout and curfew have brought the normal life to a standstill with markets shut and public transport off the roads since August 5 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the special status of the disputed territory.

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Kashmir
Kashmir
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Indian-administered Kashmir has completed a full month under the siege of brutal Indian forces where the unrelenting communications blackout and curfew have brought the normal life to a standstill with markets shut and public transport off the roads since August 5 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the special status of the disputed territory.

According to Kashmir Media Service, the occupied valley remains cut off from the rest of the world since Aug 5, the day India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir's special status, due to the continued blockade and suspension of internet, mobile and landline phones and closure of TV channels.

Independent media reports suggest that the worst type of humanitarian crisis is looming large on the horizon of the occupied territory as people are facing acute shortage of food, medicines and other necessities. Hospitals have run out of medicine stock, while staff finds it difficult to turn up for duty due to curfew and strict restrictions.

Since August 5, over 11,000 political leaders and workers have been placed under house arrest or in jails, according to media reports. A good number of young boys as old as 12 years of age have been picked up by the Indian forces during night raids and shifted to unknown locations. The family members of the abducted youth are unaware of the fate and whereabouts of their dear ones.

Human Rights Watch

The Indian government's lengthy shutdown of the internet and telephones in Jammu and Kashmir inflicts disproportionate harm on the population and should be immediately lifted, Human Rights Watch said on August 28. The disruption to services since August 5, 2019, has exacerbated an information blackout, stopped families from communicating, prevented people from accessing medical services, and disrupted the local economy.

International human rights law prohibits broad, indiscriminate, and indefinite restrictions on fundamental freedoms, including the right to free expression and to provide and receive information, Human Rights Watch said.

"The Indian government's indefinite shutdown of phones and the internet in Kashmir is causing disproportionate harm and should be lifted immediately," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The restrictions are provoking anger, causing economic harm, and fueling rumors that are making a bad human rights situation even worse."

In Srinagar, the summer capital, Kashmiris told Human Rights Watch that they were angry and worried about the impact of the security restrictions on daily life. "In effect, the government has placed all of us in prison," a businessman said. "We cannot move freely. We cannot speak freely. Isn't that prison?" One woman said she had heard her mother, who lives in another town, was unwell, but could not call her or meet her: "If you cannot call your family, meet your mother, how is that normal?"

'Kashmir turned into giant prison camp': Arundhati Roy

On the Indian Independence Day (August 15), the New York Times has published an award-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy's scathing rebuke of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s lockdown of Kashmir.

As India celebrates her 73rd year of independence from British rule, she stated, "" it looks very much as though our government has gone rogue" by turning "Kashmir into a giant prison camp. Seven million Kashmiris were barricaded in their homes, internet connections were cut and their phones went dead."

What India has done in Kashmir over the last 30 years is unforgivable. An estimated 70,000 people, civilians, militants and security forces have been killed in the conflict.

Amid vulgar celebrations misogyny on the internet and the statement of the chief minister of the state of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, that Indians can bring girls from Kashmir "the loudest sound, however, is the deathly silence from Kashmir's patrolled, barricaded streets and its approximately seven million caged, humiliated people, stitched down by razor wire, spied on by drones, living under a complete communications blackout," she wrote.

Roy continued by saying that today Kashmir is one of the most or perhaps the most densely militarized zone in the world. More than a half-million soldiers have been deployed to counter what the army itself admits is now just a handful of "terrorists."

"If there were any doubt earlier it should be abundantly clear by now that their real enemy is the Kashmiri people. What India has done in Kashmir over the last 30 years is unforgivable. An estimated 70,000 people, civilians, militants and security forces have been killed in the conflict. Thousands have been "disappeared," and tens of thousands have passed through torture chambers that dot the valley like a network of small-scale Abu Ghraibs," her op-ed read.

The article further stated that Narendra Modi's hard-line approach in his first term exacerbated the violence in Kashmir a suicide bomber killed 40 Indian security personnel. "Now two months into Narendra Modi's second term," she said, "his government has played its most dangerous card of all. It has tossed a lit match into a powder keg. If that were not bad enough, the cheap, deceitful way in which it did it is disgraceful. In the last week of July, 45,000 extra troops were rushed into Kashmir on various pretexts."

"When it [lockdown] ends, as it must, the violence that will spiral out of Kashmir will inevitably spill into India. It will be used to further inflame the hostility against Indian Muslims who are already being demonized, ghettoized, pushed down the economic ladder, and, with terrifying regularity, lynched," she continued.

While alerting of dangers that can come from many directions, she said, the most powerful organization in India is the far-right Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the R.S.S., with more than 600,000 members including Narendra Modi and many of his ministers, has a trained "volunteer" militia, inspired by Mussolini's Black Shirts. With each passing day, she said, the R.S.S. tightens its grip on every institution of the Indian state, adding, in truth, it has reached a point when it more or less is the state.

"If Kashmir is occupied by security forces, India is occupied by the mob," she stated.



Submitters Bio:
Author and journalist.
Author of
Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality;
Islam in the Post-Cold War Era;
Islam & Modernism;
Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America.
Currently working as free lance journalist.
Executive Editor of American Muslim Perspective: www.amperspective.com

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