Address the feeling of defeat and anger among Kashmiris by opening up democratic spaces for people, the Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) said on April 15, 2021 after its eighth visit to the valley.
After a short visit to the region between March 30 and April 2, members Yashwant Sinha, Sushobha Barve, Wajahat Habibullah and others reported on the state of Kashmir in their eighth Kashmir report. In it, the GCC noted that the Kashmiris have no space to voice their dissent or criticism of government policies or police action on any platform.
“Journalism has been virtually criminalized. No demonstration of civil society is allowed, nor gatherings of political parties. The police do not hesitate to summon journalists and ordinary citizens and even lock them up under the Public Security Act, ”the report said.
An intellectual speaking to members of the GCC said that the population who felt no ill will towards India is “non-existent” nowadays. People said they were suspicious of news from Delhi. Members said they had never heard so many people express their hatred towards Delhi and the Indian state so openly as during the last visit.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic and the repeal of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, the former state is in a double lockout. Locals believe the pandemic that did not cause specific problems in Kashmir will eventually go away. Businesses are slowly recovering with the recovery of the tourism industry, although small businesses are still struggling to stay afloat.
However, the Kashmiris still question the decision of the Modi government to change relations between India and Jammu and Kashmir.
“Since August 2019, there have been changes in the administrative structure of Bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir. One seeks to dismantle the old political parties and the formation of new ones is facilitated by Delhi. It is not known whether Kashmir will resist the changes imposed on it or accept them with resignation. Local political leaders are either silent or forced to shut up out of fear of the Indian state, ”the report said.
Additionally, locals have expressed an overwhelming sense of despondency that no meaningful voice in India can speak on their behalf or put up resistance to what has happened to them. They also told CCG members that they felt helpless in the face of the strength of those who brought about these changes in Jammu and Kashmir. Citizens have also been reluctant to talk about other major protests in the country, such as the farmers’ unrest or the Citizenship Amendment Law protests, as they believe their problems will drown in the larger ones that encompass India.
“We don’t have rulers, just as India lacks rulers who have a thoughtful critique of RSS and BJP and who can lead the people against their designs,” summed up an intellectual’s dilemma Kashmiri public.
A business leader from the region also told CCG that the Kashmiris are carefully monitoring tensions and communal conflagrations in mainland India, such as treating Muslims to understand their own plight. Ox-related lynching, cow politics and the so-called “ Love Jihad ” laws, police violence on the campuses of Jamia Millia Islamia and the Muslim University of Aligarh, demonstrations of the law amending the citizenship and the gratuitous use of the NSA against protesters has made Kashmiris cautious about Indian democracy.
To allay some of these concerns, the CCG recommended that civil society organizations be allowed to hold meetings, seminars and discussions giving people a platform to vent their emotions and relieve the psychological pressure on them. He also suggested that the Indian government not impose artificial political processes on the Kashmiris who are deprived of any democratic muscle. The CCG said national opposition political parties should be able to travel to Kashmir, move freely and meet with local political leaders and civil society actors.
The local political collective Popular Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has already expressed difficulties in organizing a full-fledged Secretariat and a multi-level structure, both necessary to strengthen its fundamental objectives. At the district level, the GCC observed that people were moved by PAGD’s determination to protect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
In the District Development Council (DDC) elections, people supported the collective. However, a meeting with DDC President Mohammed Afzal Parray at the Chowalgam Rest Home in Kulgam on April 1 revealed that security personnel had prevented elected councilors from meeting the public. They were all locked in a local hotel and repeatedly humiliated by officials for facilities such as transportation and security, which they were assured to be provided by the Police Control Room (PCR) . Meanwhile, the public, including councilors, were expected to pay the full cost of the power connection, despite the supply being uncertain and irregular.
“The members of the DDC could offer nothing to young people, except the prospect of prison. Many were arrested, many of whom have not been found as the advisers were not helped to find their whereabouts. Not everyone felt safe, ”Parray said.
In response, the CCG demanded that DDC members be allowed to visit their constituencies and that the district bureaucracy be held accountable to the DDC. In addition, the offices of the Boundary Commission should be moved to Jammu and Kashmir from Delhi so that people can easily access the place.
In addition, the CGC observed that the government must pay special attention to the physical security and economic well-being of the minorities of Kashmir, in particular the Kashmir pundits, Sikhs and non-migrant Shiites who live in peace in the region. valley for centuries. The Kashmiri Pandits have pointed out that although they have been continuously ignored by the government’s plans, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) repeatedly uses their plight as an electoral argument.
Other lingering issues such as the ceasefire along the COL, friction between non-Kashmiri security agents and local communities, and drug addiction worsen the situation in the valley. Support for activism grows as security forces continue to blow up houses where militants are believed to be sheltering, even during harsh winters.
CCG members said the Indian government should restore the previous policy of restraint and prevention of “collateral damage” in counterinsurgency operations by the security forces. However, despite these suggestions of ‘hurtful balm’, members observed that Kashmiri youth hated India, having witnessed violent street protests over the past decade and brutal actions by police and government officials. security forces.
“When they see no option, they are ready to take the gun. Even if they do not have access to weapons for the moment, the inhabitants stress, they have militancy in mind, ”the report indicates.
Members also noted that many young people viewed the Indian flag atop government buildings as a sign of provocation as parents preferred to send their child abroad rather than to other parts of India.
“To establish peace and restore the identity and honor of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the central government should restore its statehood and start a dialogue for a new distribution of powers between the Center and the state , bearing in mind the history of the region’s accession to India, ”the report concludes.
The full report can be viewed here:
Courtesy: Sabrang India