Kashmir crisis update: Day 106 of Kashmir Siege, November 18, 2019

Kashmir crisis update: Day 106

Passing the hundred day mark of loss of autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the lockdown of Kashmir Valley enters its 106th day. Kashmir is still without all internet services, SMS text and prepaid phone service. Heads of various government offices have received notice to submit an undertaking to the police for use of internet services. Schools, colleges and universities remain nonfunctional. Students are required to appear in Board examinations in spite of no instruction for three and a half months. Public transport still remains largely suspended and businesses remain mostly closed. Life came to stand still in Kashmir due to an early heavy snowfall leaving the populace without electricity for several days in severe cold temperatures.

 In this time religious freedom has been severely curtailed with no prayers at the main grand mosque of Srinagar, Jamia Masjid,  no prayers and gatherings at key religious festivals at Naqshband sahib, Hazratbal, and Chrar Sharief.

Along with the apple industry, this year’s saffron crop has also suffered a setback. Even cows that are a means of livelihood for families have not been spared the wrath of this ongoing conflict.

As per government’s admission, 6500 individuals were arrested after August 5, of whom 1200 remain in detention.

Hospital conditions are deteriorating and patient care has suffered a huge set back because of lack of access to the internet. Reports of increase in various forms of mental illness has been reported. communication blackout and being disconnected from family and friends has worsened the alienation of ordinary citizens, especially women and children.

Through the Jammu and Kashmir reorganization Act, the government of India has repealed 153 State Acts, including some that were far stronger than the Central Acts. Among the 153 are Acts through which the Human Rights Commission, Commission for Persons with Disability, Information Commission, Consumer Commission, Women and Child Rights Commission, Accountability Commission and Electricity Regulatory Commission were constituted. It is reported that close to 4000 cases were pending in these statutory bodies when the J&K Reorganizations Act was passed, putting the appellants’ quest for justice on hold. During the reorganization, there has been complete disregard for the issues of common people whose cases are pending under these various Commissions.

The Supreme Court of India has deferred all hearings on the challenge to the Abrogation of Article 370 until December, 10.

Reports of illegal detentions under the Public Safety Act, a lawless law under which a person can be detained for up to two years without bail, continue. Families of minors who have been detained allege that authorities pick up their children and even ask them to pay for the food to be served to their kids while in detention. Torture of minors in detention has also been reported. The government continues denying that there have been any arrests or detention of minors and has raised objections in a case filed before the Supreme Court. The government claimed that the cases were “based upon a falsehood”. Yet, the analysis of police’s own report submitted via the juvenile justice committee of the J&K high court last month provides evidence of arrest and detention of minors, verifying the claims of petitioners as well as media reports. With the justice system in a limbo, justice for victims remains elusive. Several senior advocates continue to remain under detention under the Public Safety Act. In most cases there is no available paperwork making it hard to fight for the release of detainees. Threats and extortion are used to silence the families of detainees. Given the breakdown in postal services and public transportation, petitioners have no way of knowing when the cases will be heard and when to be present at the court.

While the government of India claims all of Ladakh region is happy with the recent changes, people of Ladakh reject changes in property ownership. They are concerned about ecological and demographic changes and are demanding safeguards to protect the local population.

Journalists in Kashmir continue to work in impossible conditions and reports of abuse of journalists continue to pour in. Reporters without Boarders (RSF) released a series of videos documenting the conditions imposed on reporters. Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said that the stories of journalists were shocking. “Technological obstruction, surveillance, intimidation and arrests – everything is designed to ensure that only the New Delhi-promoted version of events is being heard. The Kashmir Valley’s population has been buried in a news and information black hole for the past 100 days. This situation is a disgrace to Indian democracy.”

On November 14th. , a US Congressional Hearing was held on human rights violations in Kashmir calling for an end to the lockdown and allowing the people of Kashmir to determine their political future. The Commission also stressed that India should allow foreign journalists and human rights workers to investigate the situation on the ground in Kashmir. In response, India’s external affairs minister continues to refuse foreign journalists access suggesting “their presence could incentivize some Kashmiris to show there is agitation in the Valley.”

Academics are beginning to speak out on behalf of their Kashmiri colleagues impacted by the lockdown. On Nov. 12, the ten thousand member strong American Anthropology Association called on the Indian government to remove the communication ban and to “restore free exchange of scholarship and ideas vital to a functioning democracy.”

On October 30th, an eleven member team comprising advocates, trade union and human rights activists, and a psychiatrist, published a report based on their fact finding visit to Kashmir. The key conclusions and recommendations of the report include the following:

  1. Recognise that a dispute exists between peoples of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian government.
  2. Repeal the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978 and the Armed Forces (Jammu &
    Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990.
  3. Withdraw all army and para-military forces from civilian areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
  4. Open a transparent unconditional dialogue with the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir and their representatives so as to address peoples’ aspirations to determine and define their own destinies through democratic means and to find a political solution that respects the democratic will of the people in accordance with human rights and international law.

In the media

India’s continuing arrogance in Kashmir

Inside Kashmir: A mental health crisis

Kashmir’s potential language war in India

An Inside look at Kashmir: Stories of violence and terror

Government imposes conditions on internet access for businesses

Mystic verses: A film about a Kashmiri orphan

Seven important Commissions in Kashmir dissolved

Mothers of the detained kids speak out

India’s External Affairs Minister refuses letting foreign journalists into Kashmir

Tom Lantos US Congressional hearing on HR in Kashmir calls an end to the lockdown

Imprisoned resistance: A fact finding report on Kashmir

Robots to be deployed to help Indian army in Kashmir

Kashmiris prevented from attending prayers at Naqshband sahib shrine

A network of 256 fake websites in 65 countries used by India to sway lawmakers in Europe in favor of Indian interests in Kashmir

Indian Supreme Court defers hearings on Article 370 to December 10, 2019

Arundhati Roy condemns Indian crackdown in Kashmir

Reporters without Borders breaks the silence forced upon journalists in Kashmir

Kashmir’s $1000 a pound saffron crop suffers

Police making detained minors to pay for their food

Kashmir: The key to grand bargain

American Anthropology Association denounces the siege of Kashmir

100 Days of Lockdown

100 Days of Kashmir’s autonomy loss

Glimpses of hundred days of lockdown in pictures

No heat for hospitals

Aleph se Azadi

Heavy snowfall, no power adds to the woes of Kashmiris under lockdown

First time in history no Hazratbal Eid Mild un Nabi celebration

Impact of the conflict on animals

Kashmir’s new administration falters in the first snow fall

Internet shut down affects an important initiative to help seriously ill patients

A wedding under curfew by Malik Sajjad

Ladakhis wary of outsiders

Fate of journalists in Kashmir under lock down

Kashmir Detentions: When the state itself breaks the law

JK Police denied media reports of illegal arrests of minors, its own list id proof to contrary

A 14 year old’s story under detention

Abuse of minors in detention

Kashmiri women struggle under lockdown

Kashmiri students thrashed in Ludhiana

Normalcy in Kashmir seems far away

In Shopian a family alleges illegal detention of minors

In kashmir the justice system is in a limbo

Free journalism made impossible in Kashmir

Ministry of Home Affairs to continue to have final say on AFSPA

Fact finding report suggest army uses loudspeakers to relay torture

Accessing the courts impossible in Kashmir