The Silently Bleeding Valley, Kashmir!

Amidst immense diplomatic pressure clouded over India due to successful internationalization of Kashmir issue by Pakistan, India restored few thousand post-paid cellphone connections on Monday afternoon in the Occupied Kashmir ((more than two months after it downgraded the region’s decades long semi-autonomy (in line with the Agreement of Accession, 1947) and imposed a security and communications lockdown)), only to suspend them again on the pretext of a truck driver killed in a what appears to be a mugging incident in Shopian district of Occupied Kashmir. In addition, the ban on more than two million prepaid mobile connections and internet services still upholds. 

Thousands of people arrested in the Occupied Kashmir, are also still in lockups without trial, and the Indian authorities have moved them to jails far from home mostly to Uttar Pradesh. At least 300 including the political leadership and former Governor of Kashmir, have been arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) as well, which allows for detentions of up to two years without trial. According to an estimate around 13,000 young boys have also been kidnapped by security forces from their homes daily during dark hours of the night in last 70 days. 

“Shops closed, hotels closed, schools, colleges, institutes and universities closed, streets deserted was the first visual impact as we drove out from the airport,” said a report, “To us, it seemed a punitive mahaul [environment] that blocked free breathing here in Kashmir” the report by Anadolu agency quoted. 

Lately, at a rally in the western Indian state of Maharashtra on Oct 13, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it would take four months for Jammu and Kashmir state to return to normal, hence signalling the lockdown, communication blackout and illegal disappearances will continue. 

On Oct 11, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has criticised the international media’s supposed lack of coverage of the ongoing clampdown in Kashmir. Khan said that while the “international media continues to give headline coverage to Hong kong protests”, it was ignoring the humanitarian situation in the Kashmir Valley. 

On the other hand, international media has repeatedly complained about the restrictive Modi regime in India of not allowing media persons and Human Rights organizations access to the valley, to analyse actual situation on ground. A delegation of Members of Parliament of Indian National Congress led by Rahul Gandhi was also returned from airport lounge immediately after landing in Srinagar. Visiting US Senators were also not allowed entry in the Occupied Kashmir and the restriction was highly criticised by US Government, where US Senator Van Hollen said, “If the Indian government has nothing to hide, they should not worry about people visiting Kashmir and witnessing the situation with their own eyes,” he said. “I think this is a moment where transparency is important.”

In addition, US Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren said on Saturday that the rights of the Kashmiri people must be respected. “The US-India partnership has always been rooted in our shared democratic values. I’m concerned about recent events in Kashmir, including a continued communications blackout and other restrictions. The rights of the people of Kashmir must be respected,” Warren tweeted.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said last week that he was watching the situation in Kashmir and would support Pakistan in issues related to its core interests, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. UN and OIC and several other countries have also supported Pakistan’s stance on Occupied Kashmir in this case and have repeatedly condemned the Indian move and urged India to restore the situation in Kashmir to normalcy. 

In the last five years, India has seen rising levels of hate crimes, often religiously-motivated attacks perpetrated by Hindus against Muslims. Modi has been criticized for being slow to condemn these crimes, and BJP leaders drew on anti-Muslim themes during the spring 2019 nationwide election.

In a recent expression of rising Hindu nationalism, in early August, the Indian government announced that it is revoking Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution, which granted a considerable measure of autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, the only majority-Muslim state in the country. Then later on, India moved to deny citizenship to millions of Indians, mostly Muslims, in North Eastern state of Assam under a highly controversial and condemned (by UN) National Register of Citizens (NRC), turning them into state less persons. 

Indian nationalism is rising, and it is a dark one under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is a staunch advocate for Hindu nationalism and seek to promote India as a Hindu country. This contrasts with the more pluralistic and secular ideals held by the founders of India. 

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