On day 60 of the siege, normal life remains disrupted in the Kashmir Valley. While the Indian home Minister claims that there are no restrictions in Kashmir, the ground reality is starkly different. Main markets and business establishments sometimes open only for a couple of hours in the mornings. Schools, colleges, and universities remain closed. Indian paramilitary forces occupy educational institutions in the Valley. Public transport remains off the streets and mobile and internet services remain suspended. Land lines work only in some areas, calling the land lines from outside the Valley remains very difficult. Cut off from hospitals, residents treat serious pellet injuries in homes. For the injured youth, going to a hospital can lead to arrest. Illegal detention of children and youth in large numbers and allegations of abuse and torture continue.
On October 1st. the Supreme Court of India conducted hearings on various cases related to Jammu and Kashmir without showing any urgency in addressing them. The Court appears to be ignoring the wholesale suspension of civil rights in Kashmir.
The three types of cases in front of the court include cases about the abrogation of Article 370 and reorganization of J&K, cases challenging the restrictions imposed in J&K following the moves of August 5, and habeas corpus petitions filed challenging the detention of various people.
The Court decided that the cases related to abrogation and reorganization will be heard on Nov. 14th, two weeks after the changes take effect. This effectively signals that the court is not interested in deciding the constitutionality of the issue of abrogation of Article 370, or the reorganization of the state. The restriction cases will be heard on Oct 16th only if the Govt. of India decides to respond to these cases by then. So far the Govt. has shown no interest or urgency in responding. And, the detention cases may be heard mid-October. The Supreme Court keeps giving the Govt. of India extended time to respond to some simple questions about why they have levelled restrictions, and the Govt. continues delaying their response. Lawyers are saying that the Indian authorities are flouting the basic legal procedures for preventive detention and are detaining people “under grounds that are vague to the point of absurdity.”
In J&K the High Court is dysfunctional, operating at half its strength, hence further impeding the process of justice as there are 250 writs of habeas Corpus before the Court.
While there are widespread reports of illegal detention of children, the Govt. continues to deny such reports in their official response.
International concern over the siege of Kashmir is mounting. In the US, a statement, addressed to Prime Minister Modi, was issued jointly by Congressmen Gilbert R Cisneros, Jr, Judy Chu, Pramila Jayapal, Carolyn Maloney, Gerald Connolly, Ilhan Omar, Barbara Lee, Al Green, Zoe Lofgren, Andy Levin, Mike Levin, James P McGovern, Jan Schakowsky, and Katie Porter. “On behalf of thousands of families across the country who have been unable to contact family in Jammu and Kashmir, we are urging Prime Minister Modi to lift the communications blackout and address the ongoing humanitarian concerns,” the lawmakers said in the joint statement.
UK opposition passed Kashmir resolution, and called for international intervention.
At the United Nations General Assembly meeting, the Prime Ministers of Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia raised the issue of Kashmir. The Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir of the Organization of Islamic Countries issued a statement denouncing the Indian action of abrogating Article 370 in Kashmir as “inconsistent with international law, applicable UN Security Council resolutions and India’s own solemn commitments to implement UNSC resolutions.” The statement expressed grave concern over the human rights situation and stated that, “India’s actions aim to change the identity and demographic composition of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir and to transform it from a Muslim-majority state into Hindu-majority territory.”
Alice Wells, the top State Department official for South Asia commented on the Kashmir situation and said, “We hope to see rapid action — the lifting of the restrictions and the release of those who have been detained”. She also acknowledged that while PM Modi had rejected outside intervention, President Trump “was willing to mediate if asked by both parties.” On October 22, Ms. Wells is due to testify at a US Congressional subcommittee hearing on human rights situation with focus on Kashmir.
Worldwide protests have continued. The largest gathering of protesters was in New York City during the United Nations General Assembly session on September 27th.
Hundreds of US scholars issued a call for democracy, freedom, dignity, self-determination and justice in Jammu and Kashmir. Artists, filmmakers, and creative workers from around the world issued a Kashmir solidarity statement. Seven hundred and eighty one Indian scientists and academics also issued two statements urging the Modi Govt. to end Kashmir’s communication blockade.