Although the communication blackout has been partially lifted, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir continues to be far from ‘normal’.
While activists in different parts of the country are protesting the scrapping of Article 370, the student community has released a statement appealing civil society to move the court of law, extend support to Kashmiris away from home and peacefully challenge the new ruling.
In a detailed statement backed by over 86 signatories from universities such as Delhi University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Jadavpur University, Punjab University and the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) among others, the authors have highlighted the timeline of events which started with Amarnath visitors being asked to leave the Valley followed by Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement reading down Article 370 on August 5.
The statement also brings to light the human rights violations in the state and condemns Haryana’s chief minister‘s statement who said the decision will now allow people to bring brides from Kashmir. The authors say that his words reflect the “unbridled culture of patriarchy and misogyny.”
The full text of the statement has been reproduced below:
We, the undersigned students, make an appeal to the civil society to stand by the beleaguered people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, soon to be reorganised and reduced to the status of a Union Territory, as decreed by the majoritarian might of the Indian Parliament.
The same was made possible by the presidential order, dated August 5, 2019, revoking the state’s special status, which stood protected under Article 370 of the constitution, and had formed the very basis of its troubled accession to the Dominion of India in 1947.
On August 2, 2019, the Hindu reported that the government had asked Amaranth pilgrims to shorten their stay and urgently leave the state, citing intelligence inputs of “specific terror threats”, while deploying additional military troops. On August 5, 2019, the Telegraph reported that restrictions under Section 144, of the Criminal Procedure Code, were imposed in Srinagar, and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, who have been part of mainstream Indian politics, were put under house arrest.
Subsequently, the residents of Jammu and Kashmir were faced with a complete communications blackout, with landlines, cellular connectivity, and internet services snapped, as their fate was unilaterally decided by politicians in New Delhi, in complete violation of the spirit of democracy and fundamental human rights, which entail popular participation in decision making and the right to self-determination. Following the imposition of restrictions, international news agencies such as the BBC, Reuters, and Al Jazeera have reported on the daily hardships being faced by the people in the valley.
By silencing the voices of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, through the deployment of military force and severance of communication lines, power exposed the fault lines of the world’s largest democracy. This repression is inclusive of a brutal psychological warfare against a people claimed to be an integral part of the Indian body-politic.
Journalists and reporters have faced severe restraints on the production and circulation of reports from Kashmir, due to the curb on mobility and communication, seemingly an attempt to render the sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir unarchived, dismembered from the received memory of humanity. Perhaps, the policy makers are aware of the fact that memory is resistance.
We note with serious concern that the valley of Kashmir has been a site of the most heinous human rights violations over the years, in which non-violent civilian protests have been met with brutal use of military force. The use of tear gas and shotgun pellet, sans discrimination, has claimed many lives and livelihoods, and continues to inflict intimidation on a people who have been on the edge for several decades.
Numerous instances of fake encounter killings, forced disappearances, custodial torture, rape and abuse have been documented in reports like “Everyone Lives in Fear”: Patterns of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir published by the Human Rights Watch (September 2006) and Buried Evidence Unknown, Unmarked, and Mass Graves in Indian-administered Kashmir published by the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (December, 2009).
We are equally pained and appalled to learn about the vicious and inconsiderate remarks on Kashmiri women made by people holding high political offices in the public sphere. On August 10, 2019, the Hindu reported that while addressing a function at Fatehabad, the Chief Minister of Haryana remarked that the political developments have paved the path for people to bring their daughters-in-law from Kashmir. Our education informs us that land and woman, the former as a site of expropriation and demographic alteration, and the latter as a site of non-consensual desire and sexual violence, have historically informed the mentalité of conquest.
While the self-accorded agency of “bringing” daughters-in-law, irrespective of the provenance, reeks of an unbridled culture of patriarchy and misogyny, to tie it with the paradox of an equally undemocratic-in-spirit yet parliamentary-in-procedure abrogation, comes to uncover the muscular authoritarianism of our times that plagues our world, relegating the democratic-egalitarian to a flickering subterranean consciousness, struggling to survive at the interstice of the majoritarian mandate.
We urge the civil society to reflect on the sufferings of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, that comprises of various ethnicities, to move the court of law, and take to the streets non-violently, demanding the restoration of communication and movement in Kashmir with immediate effect. In absence of Kashmiri voices, it is our responsibility as global citizens committed to the idea of democracy, to acknowledge that their voices have been stifled and sufficiently make space for dissent, for which the release of political leaders and activists is imperative.
We also urge individuals and groups to reach out to Kashmiris living in various parts of the world, and offer assistance, both materially and emotionally, standing in solidarity with them. While the oppression suffered by the people of Jammu and Kashmir is singularly unique to their experience, the struggle for justice, equality, and peace, against the might of villainous authoritarianism, has to be a collective struggle, in which we take part as global citizens, fraternising across cartographic borders.
- Somok Roy, University of Delhi
- Garima Sharma, Ambedkar University
- Arnesh Nag, Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA
- Satyam Yadav, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
- Ameen Muhammed PS, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
- MD Zabed Ahmed, Lilong Haoreibi College, Manipur University
- Pratibha, University of Delhi
- Komire Sai Kumar, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
- Aman Sinha, Ambedkar University, Delhi
- Vaibhav, KMC, University of Delhi
- Jyoti Chauhan, KMC, University of Delhi
- Purvai Dwivedi, KMC, University of Delhi
- Jyotirmoy Jishnu, KMC, University of Delhi
- Yash Chaudhary, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi
- Karnati Sravani, Delhi School of Social Work
- Aman Azad, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
- Moksh Kalra, University of Delhi
- Sanjib Kalita, KMC, University of Delhi
- Mayank Charan, University of Delhi
- Abinash Dash Choudhury, Jadavpur University
- Sweta Dash, Ambedkar University
- Sasaki, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi
- Osheen, Ambedkar University
- Pooja, TERI School of Advanced Studies
- Sajid Ahmed, University of Delhi
- Pratyay Bhattacharyya, Jadavpur University
- Madhuvanti, MOP Vaishnav College for Women
- Dhathri, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
- Joshy Nongthobam, University of Delhi
- Vighnesh Tekriwal, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
- Mahashweta Raha, Rabindra Bharati University
- Priyanka Patra, Jadavpur University
- Swarnim Singh Rokey, KMC, University of Delhi
- Aryan Khan, St. Wilfred College Jaipur, Rajasthan University
- Shalom Gauri, Ambedkar University, Delhi
- Kuldeep Patil, Shiv Nadar University, Dadri
- Shweta Prasad, Ashoka University
- Jishnunath PC, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
- Aaqib Israr, University of Delhi
- Giitanjali, Miranda House, University of Delhi
- Qummar Ahmed, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi
- Abhilash Banerjee, Jadavpur University
- Shamik Nandi, Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA
- Aahelee Bandyopadhyay, Douglas College, University of British Columbia
- Sagolsem Santoshkumar Singh, University of Delhi
- Alvira Nasir, Aligarh Muslim University
- Sri Harsha Sai Matta, Ambedkar University, Delhi
- Ishita Mohan, Ambedkar University
- Ameen, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
- Shiwani Agrawal, Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA
- Sidra Qureshi, Ambedkar University
- Dipanjali Singh, University of Delhi
- Suchintan Das, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi
- Arwa Vadnagarwala, St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi
- Ananya Pandey, Ambedkar University
- Khullakpam Sharif, Ambedkar University, Delhi
- Shubhojeet Dey, Ambedkar University, Delhi
- Anahita Nanda, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
- Nabila Khadija Ansari, St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi
- Aaron Ortiz, University of California, Santa Cruz
- Sadaf Gani, St. Stephen’s College
- Amulya Bhatia, Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA
- Ningthoujam Yaikhomba Singh, Ambedkar University, Delhi
- Souradeep Roy, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU
- Eshna Benegal, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore
- Priya Kini, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore
- Bhavya Goel, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
- Sneha Chowdhury, JNU, Delhi
- Himani Tripathy, University of Edinburgh
- Shreya Mukhopadhyay, Sciences Po, Paris
- Angela Abigail Hembrom, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi
- Prashastika, Ambedkar University, Delhi
- Sanjana Banerjee, Jadavpur University
- Anahida Bhardwaj, Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA
- Ambuj Sen Patra, Ambedkar University, Delhi
- Advaiy Chettri, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
- Bhavya Malhotra, Ambedkar University, Delhi
- Paribhasha Yadav, Ambedkar University, Delhi
- Chandrika, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
- Ishan Shah, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology
- Aakriti Suresh, University of Hyderabad
- Manaswini Sen, University of Hyderabad
- Divya Rai, University of Hyderabad
- Unalita Phukan, University of Hyderabad
- Abhilash Rajkhowa, Panjab University, Chandigarh
- Akash Chattopadhyaya, University of Delhi
Featured image credit: Twitter/@MahtabNama