In Kashmir, There Are No Takers for Integration: Report

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The crackdown triggered fear and people are afraid to speak despite growing resentment. —  photo by Mohammad Abu Bakar

The report, based on interviews with nearly 75 people from different professional backgrounds in Kashmir, shows that people refute the integrationist promises made by Indian government post-370.

Zafar Aafaq | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — A new report on Kashmir lockdown released by two prominent civil society activists in India Nitya Rama Krishnan (advocate) and Nandni Sundar (sociologist) has found that there is a drastic rise in pro-Pakistan sentiment in Kashmir following the abrogation of special status by the Indian government on August 5.

The report that was compiled after the duo visited valley between October 5 to 9 observes, “The constituency for Pakistan has increased drastically.” It adds that people regard Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani as their main leader.

Since early August Kashmir is reeling under lockdown and digital siege when the government of India revoked special status and bifurcated the state into two union territories. Authorities imposed restrictions, communication blockade and conducted a widespread crackdown arresting thousands of Kashmiris including activist, politicians, civil society members and even children. The crackdown triggered fear and people are afraid to speak despite growing resentment.

The report depicts the ways by which Kashmiris are resisting and protesting against the government. People have resorted to “Satyagrah or non-violent civil disobedience” by keeping their markets shut during day time.

According to the report, one Inayat Ahmad of Soura was arrested and sent to central jail under the controversial Public Safety Act, for speaking to an international news channel-Al Jazeera.

On Monday, October 14, authorities lifted partial restrictions on cellular services allowing Kashmiris to make first calls in over seventy days. The move brought some level of relief to the people.

The report, based on the interviews with nearly 75 people from different professional backgrounds in Kashmir, shows that people refute the integrationist promises made by Indian government post-370.

“Almost every single person wanted azadi, though what they mean by this varies between full independence… to full merger with Pakistan,” says the report.

The report depicts the ways by which Kashmiris are resisting and protesting against the government. People have resorted to “Satyagrah or non-violent civil disobedience” by keeping their markets shut during day time. The report says that the decision is mostly voluntary with a few instances of coercion. For example, it cites that in Anchar Soura, a locality which has become a hub of resentment, a vegetable seller’s shack was burnt down because he defied the day time shutdown.

The report gives details of cases of torture of young men at the hands of army. It says that in Parigam village of Pulwama, army tortured six residents of Parigam village in the night on August 6 who have been unable to move for the last two months, let alone work

The visiting activists find that the curfew and shutdown has caused huge economic losses but many are willing to bear the brunt if it can yield azadi.

Weddings have become austere and there are also instances of mass weddings by an NGO called Aash as a consequence of economic losses due to lockdown.

Despite lifting of restrictions to some extent, the uncertainty still looms large and people are feeling unsafe to venture out, says the report.

Apart from economic losses, education is the other area that is worst hit. While schools are open, children are not going to school, the report says, due to fear of violence. The report quotes a girl, who was scared to go to school, saying, “police uncle goli maarenge (police man will shoot me)”.

According to the report while government has announced dates for annual exams, students who have not been able to prepare wonder what they will do in exams.

The report also mentions cases of torture of young men at the hands of army. It says that in Parigam village of Pulwama, army tortured six resident in the night on August 6. “They have been unable to move for the last two months, let alone work.”

The report concludes with the account of custodial death of Riyaz Ahmad, a labourer from Qalamabad village of Kupwara district. The people in Qalamabad took out a rally against Riyaz’s killing but police teargassed them forcing the family to bury the dead body in haste.

 

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