Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Many students and professionals from Jammu and Kashmir who participated in the Left parties’ protest against the unilateral revocation of Article 370 on Tuesday spoke of their anxieties over the complete clampdown in their state as they have been rendered incommunicado with near and dear ones for last one week.
They expressed their deep “anguish and displeasure” over the scrapping of the special status of their state. Students from Ladakh also participated in the protest demonstration and vehemently rebutted Ladakh BJP MP’s speech in Parliament.
Speaking to Caravan Daily, Fatima, a postgraduate student, said, “We have been restless since the government of India stripped our state of its special status in an “undemocratic” manner.”
Fatima, who hails from Kargil in Ladakh, informed that people are neither happy nor celebrating the degrading and dividing of the state by the BJP-led Central government as being projected in a section of the media. She was particularly harsh on the BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal who was all praise for the government for making Ladakh a Union territory (UT).
Speaking in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Namgyal had claimed that people are celebrating in Ladakh.
Fatima said what the MP said in Parliament were “utter lies”. “If the people are happy with the decision, why then there was complete shutdown in Kargil on the day he was speaking,” she asked.
She asserted that Muslims, who are in majority in the Ladakh region, have expressed their complete solidarity with people of Kashmir. Another student, Batool from Kargil also shared her views saying if the government claims that people are happy, why they have been subjected to the worst form of the clampdown.”
Both the girl students said they can communicate their families and relatives in Kargil but not in Srinagar as there was a complete clampdown on communication which is enough to call the government’s bluff.
Before bringing the Bill for the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A, the Government banned all public meetings and placed the Kashmiri leadership under house arrest while closing educational institutions. The Internet and telephone services are snapped.
Barricades were erected on all entry and exit points in Srinagar and other cities. More than 45,000 additional Indian paramilitary troops were airlifted this week to Kashmir. Nobody knows what is happening there.
A senior Kashmiri journalist, who works for an English daily, told Caravan Daily that he has just come to New Delhi from Srinagar. Everyone he met in Srinagar was in shock and there was a strange numbness in the Valley.
According to him, it is worst than in 1846. Giving a detailed account of the situation in the Valley, he said, “Srinagar is a city of soldiers and spools of concertina wire. Yesterday, it took me three hours to reach the office (Residency Road) from Parraypora. Phones – both mobiles and landlines – have been disconnected. The Internet is off. There is no money in ATMs. A very strict curfew has been imposed across Kashmir. I could only move around with a lot of difficulty in uptown Srinagar.”
He said he did hear there have been protests in old town Baramulla and heard about the killing of two protestors but there was no way to confirm this.
He revealed that even journalists’ movements have been restricted and Kashmir has been turned invisible even inside Kashmir.
“The forces on checkpoints have specific instructions to disallow journalists to cross the barrier. I saw a TV crew from Delhi inside a hotel outside Rajbagh Police station; they were saying Kashmir is calm.”
Another professional, Tabinda, said, “It is not an attack on Kashmir but on the Indian Constitution. We have been sleepless since the Government clamped down on the Valley as we cannot contact our relatives.”
Another lady, Meena, was very “furious” on the Indian government. She said, “I never came here ( Jantar Mantar) since the insurgency broke out in my state,” she told Caravan Daily and added, “this Government, instead of winning the hearts of the people of Kashmir, stripped them of their special status, and it did not even bother to consult any stakeholders.
She further said, “I always consider myself as an Indian citizen and will remain as the same but the BJP-led Government played a fraud on us for its narrow political ends.”
There were many burqa-clad women at the protest venue. One, Zuma Malik, spoke to Caravan Daily. She said she came to express her solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and that the Government can do the same with other states like UP or Bihar.
The Kashmiri women present there also condemned the social media campaign that “now Indian men can be able to marry fair-complexioned Kashmiri girls. A BJP MLA from UP even went on to air such views through the media.”
They said this reflect on their “gutter mentality” and cavalier attitude towards women