Kashmir: Civil Society Calls for An End to the Continuing Repression and Violence

End Repression in Kashmir: A Call from the civil society

We, the undersigned, are dismayed over the ongoing crisis in Kashmir. We have watched in horror and shock the repetitive cycle of state aggression leading to violence, deteriorating state of civil liberties, violation of fundamental rights and ever escalating loss of human life and dignity in Kashmir. In the last 115 days, we have lost over 100 lives in Kashmir. More than 15,000 civilians have been injured, out of which 4500 persons have suffered grievous injuries due to pellet-guns, 4664 have been injured by bullets. Over 8000 people have been arrested out of which 434 people have been detained under the Public Safety Act (toll as on October 30, 2016).

The immediate response of the Indian state to the recent uprising in Kashmir was the imposition of curfew, which is continuing till date. A media gag where newspaper offices have been raided, copies confiscated and editors threatened with dire consequences, accompanied it. Journalists reporting the situation have been attacked, intimidated and threatened with violence by those supposedly responsible for protecting them. Most recently the government banned the publication of Kashmir Reader, a daily newspaper published from Srinagar.

Pursuant to this, a complete communication blockade was imposed and Internet services were cut down. Even voices outside Kashmir that spoke of the ongoing failure of state were targeted on social media, their posts deleted and accounts blocked. The means of communication and information flow from and into Kashmir are severely disrupted. Accompanying the communication blockade is an economic blockade in which the supply of food, medicines and other basic necessities are also affected, standing crops being burnt and orchards damaged.

It is unconscionable on the part of the Indian state to exacerbate the situation by choking the lifeline of people in Kashmir. There are reports of vandalism and violence during raids by the police and security forces. As the pillars of a modern democracy are wrecked with the media gag, the abuse of the impunity accorded to the law enforcement agencies is bound to escalate. There have been instances of harassment, abuse and baseless arrests of Kashmiris working and studying, not only in Kashmir but also in different parts of India, for having voiced their political views.

A blockade on the channels of non-violent protest by the arrests of human rights defenders, legal activists and even volunteers supplying aid in hospitals on baseless grounds has aided the creation of spaces for violent protests. The wanton use of force along with the lack of accountability has contributed immensely to the crisis prevailing in Kashmir.

Intense militarization of the valley has left deep scars on the social, economic and psychological well being of every life in Kashmir. Laws such as Public Safety Act (PSA), Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) etc., are draconian and are not conducive to contributing to a solution. Irrespective of what the situation is, whether we agree with what the Kashmiris are demanding or not, there is no law in India which allows the Indian armed forces to use their position to ransack people’s houses, decimate their food grains, crops and livestock.

It is disturbing to witness the Indian media pumping up jingoistic fervor in the minds of people in India. The propagation and glorification of state aggression and war mongering by the government, media and almost every political party has led to a lethal form of pro-state fanaticism. The success of the state machinery in realizing this propaganda also highlights the failure of the Indian civil society.

We therefore call on all readers and human rights organisations to unequivocally condemn the siege of Kashmir.

The situation in India is increasingly becoming claustrophobic, making it difficult to have any political discussion on Kashmir. Voicing any opinion divergent from the popular ‘pro-state’ narrative is now a cause for slapping charges of sedition. In such an environment even a peaceful non-violent discussion to understand the nature of problems that Kashmir faces becomes impossible. Without such understanding any solution proposed would only be a repetition of the cycles seen over the last 70 years, which have not led to any tangible solutions. We urge the government to allow an open discussion so as to facilitate the understanding of the legitimate demands and concerns that the people of Kashmir have been raising over the course of last 70 years.

We believe that national integration at the cost of life and dignity of our own citizens would not amount to integration but colonialism. The political crisis in Kashmir cannot be resolved by being oblivious to the problem at the heart of the conflict, which is the demand for freedom. Any attempt to resolve the issue is bound to fail unless the state accepts the Kashmir conflict as a ‘political issue’ and not merely one pertaining to territory. The government must acknowledge Kashmiris as primary stakeholders in the dispute and consult them rather than considering it as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

Whatever the stand of the Government of India on the demand of Kashmiri people for independence, it is imperative to create an environment of understanding and openness and initiate a purposeful and sincere dialogue with all the stakeholders for an amicable settlement.

We therefore urge the government to:

1. Immediately lift the curfew and stop violence against civilians in Kashmir.

2. Open channels for political dialogue in consultation with all stakeholders and explore every possible solution including – complete autonomy or pre-1953 position and even plebiscite.

3. Stop the crackdown on media and lift the ban on Kashmir Reader.

4. Immediately drop all charges against activists, human rights defenders and civilians booked under the PSA and release them.

5. Grant unfettered access to United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to investigate allegations of Human Rights violations.

6. Work forcefully to demilitarize both sides of the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. Further, to demilitarize all of Kashmir and immediately revoke impunity laws such as the AFSPA, PSA, and DAA etc.

7. Create credible mechanisms for accountability and justice, (such as an international criminal tribunal), for human rights abuses in Kashmir over the past three decades, including extra-judicial killings, torture, sexual and gendered violence, enforced disappearances and unknown and mass graves.

List of Endorsements

Individuals

1. Ajmal Khan, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
2. Akanksha, activist
3. Alpana Jain
4. Amar Jesani, Independent Public health and Bioethics Consultant
5. Amlendu Upadhyay, senior journalist
6. Ammu Abraham, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
7. Amrita Howlader, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
8. Anand Mazgaonkar,
9. Anand Patwardhan, filmmaker
10. Anand Teltumbde, General Secretary, CPDR (Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights)
11. Anil Sinha
12. Anoop Kumar, Nalanda Academy, Wardha
13. Antony Samy, activist, Jagrut Kamgar Manch
14. Anuradha Banerji, research scholar
15. Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times
16. Aquila Khan, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
17. Archee Roy, student
18. Aritra Bhattacharya, Journalist, The Statesman
19. Arundhati Dhuru, National Alliance of People’s Movements
20. Arun Ferreira, member, CPDR
21. Arya Raje, Lawyer
22. B. Murlidhar Reddy, Senior Journalist
23. Baljeet Kaur, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
24. Bernard D’Mello
25. Dr. Binayaka Sen, activist (PUCL)
26. Binu Matthew, Editor, www.countercurrents.org
27. Chayanika Shah, member, LABIA and FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
28. Chinu Srinivasan, SAHAJ/LOCOST
29. Cubbykabi Sherman, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
30. Cynthia Stephen, Founder, DAWNS(Dalit Women’s Network for Solidarity)
31. Debalina, activist
32. Deepa Venkatachalam, Social Scientist
33. Deepti Gopinath, Indian Airports Employees’ Union
34. Devika Shetty, Disability Rights Advocacy
35. Dibyesh Anand, Professor, University of Westminster, UK
36. Divya Kalanthingal, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
37. Divya Trivedi, journalist
38. Fatima N, Member, Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum
39. Freny Manecksha, independent journalist
40. Gautam Bhan, activist and author
41. Geeta Seshu, independent journalist
42. Gouri Patwardhan, filmmaker
43. Harsh Mander, activist, writer
44. Hartman de Souza, Writer
45. Hasina Khan, member, Bebaak Collective and FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
46. Hussain Indorewala, Teacher
47. Prof. Illina Sen, author and activist
48. Irfaan Engineer, CSSS(Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
49. Jairus Banaji, Professor and Historian
50. Javed Anand, Co-editor, Communalism Combat
51. Jayashree Velankar, NAMHHR (National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights)
52. Jenny Sulfath, student, TISS
53. Jhelum Roy, researcher
54. Jyoti Punwani, independent journalist
55. Kalpana Mehta, Activist
56. Kalyani Menon, feminist researcher and writer
57. Kamal KM, filmmaker, teacher
58. Kavita Pai
59. Khateeja Talha, member, Space Theatre Ensemble
60. Kokila Mitra, research scholar
61. Koyel Ghosh, school teacher
62. Koyel Majumder, student
63. Kranti LC, Lawyer
64. Kritika Aggarwal, GLC, Mumbai
65. Kulajit Maisanam, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
66. Lalita Ramdas, peace, human rights and anti-nuclear activist and Founder, Greenpeace, India
67. Lara Jesani, Lawyer
68. Lina Mathias
69. Madhavi Kuckreja, women’s’ rights activist and founder, Vanangana
70. Madhurima Ghosh, student
71. Mahtab Alam, Activist, Journalist
72. Malini Parthasarthy, former Editor, the Hindu
73. Malobika, activist
74. Manisha Sethi, Activist, Professor – Jamia Millia Islamia
75. Manoj Jha, teacher, activist
76. Mary Antony, activist, Jagrut Kamgar Manch
77. Meena Gopal, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
78. Meena Kandasamy, Poet, Writer, Activist
79. Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
80. Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate
81. Milind Champanekar, activist, CPDR
82. Mirza Saaib Beg, Lawyer
83. M J Pandey, Journalist
84. Monica Sakhrani, Lawyer
85. Mukta Srivastava, activist (NAPM)
86. Murali Karnam, Faculty, School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance, TISS
87. N.Vasudevan, Convenor, Trade Union Solidarity Committee, Mumbai
88. Nandini Manjrekar, Professor, TISS
89. Niranjan Takle, Principal Correspondent, the Week
90. Norma Alvares, Senior Advocate and environmental activist
91. Omar Rashid, journalist
92. Pamela Philipose, journalist, writer and editor
93. Paramita Banerjee, Activist and Development professional
94. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta
95. Dr. Paromita Chakravarty
96. Poushali Basak, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
97. Pranita Kulkarni, Journalist
98. Preenita Banerjee, Lawyer
99. Preeti Mehra
100. R.Srivatsan, Social Scientist
101. Dr. Rahul Singh
102. Rajashree Gandhi
103. Raj Merchant, member, LABIA
104. Admiral Ramdas
105. Ramesh Awasthi, PUCL, Maharashtra
106. Ram Puniyani, activist, writer, teacher
107. Dr. Ranjit Biswas, Psychiatrist and Research-activist
108. Ravi Duggal, independent health researcher and activist
109. Ritika Ramasuri
110. Ritu Dewan, Author, Professor, Director – CSSS (Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
111. Rohini Hensman, Independent Scholar, Writer and Activist
112. Rohit Prajapati, trade union and environmental activist
113. Rukmini Sen, academician
114. Sabina Basha
115. Sagari Ramdas, veterinary scientist
116. Sakina Bohora, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
117. Sampa Dasgupta, Development Professional
118. Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party (India)
119. Sandhya Gokhale, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
120. Sanjay Ranade, Professor, University of Mumbai
121. Sanober Keshwaar , lecturer and activist
122. Sarojini N, Health Researcher
123. Saswati Ghosh, Sociologist, women’s rights activist
124. Satarupa Santra, academician
125. Satyam Shrivastava, (SRUTI)
126. Seema Azad, journalist, activist
127. Setu
128. Shabana Khan, activist, CPDR
129. Shabnam Hashmi, Activist, ANHAD
130. Shals Mahajan, writer
131. Sheetal, student, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
132. Shefali Saini, TISS, Mumbai
133. Shinzani Jain
134. Prof. Shoma Sen, Joint Secretary (CPDR)
135. Shraddha Chatterjee, research scholar
136. Shreosi Ray, researcher
137. Shruti Chakravarty, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
138. Siddharth Chakravarty, Oceans Policy and Law
139. Simpreet Singh
140. Smita Gandhi, Academician
141. Srabasti Majumder, research scholar
142. Sreejith Murali, Ambedkarite Students Association-TISS
143. Sujata Gothoskar, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
144. Sukanya Shantha, independent Journalist
145. Sumita, Activist and Development Professional
146. Surabhi Sharma, filmmaker
147. Suresh Sawant, activist
148. Susan Abraham, Executive Committee member, CPDR
149. Sushmita Verma, member, CPDR and Bastar Solidarity Network
150. Prof. Swapna Banerjee-Guha
151. Swatija Paranjpe, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
152. Tarun Bhartiya, Editor, Raiot
153. Teesta Setalvad, Journalist, activist
154. Tejas Harad, Economic and Political Weekly
155. Trina Mukhopadhyay, research scholar
156. Ulka Mahajan, Activist
157. Uma Chakravarty, Historian
158. Usha Iyer, Assistant Professor, Stanford University
159. Vani Subramaniam, member, Saheli
160. Varda Dixit
161. Vasanth Kannabiran, Activist and Writer
162. Veena Gowda, Lawyer
163. Vibhuti Patel, Academician and Activist
164. Vidya Subramaniam, Senior Journalist
165. Vinitha Ramchandani, author
166. Vrijendra, Lecturer and Human Rights Activist
167. Vrinda Grover, Lawyer and Activist
168. Wilfred D’Costa , INSAAF
169. Yashasvi Mishra
170. Zakia Soman, BMMA(Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan)

Organisations
1. Aaghaaz Magazine
2. All India Secular Forum
3. Amrita Wilson on behalf of South Asia Solidarity Group
4. Bastar Solidarity Network
5. Centre for Development Research and Action
6. Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai
7. Fem Positive
8. Forum Against Oppression of Women
9. LABIA — A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
10. Radical Study Circle- TISS
11. Rihai Manch, Lucknow
12. Saheli, Delhi
13. Tamilnadu Women’s Forum

Cynthia, gouri, bastar solidarity, tamilnadu women’s forum, fem positive,

One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU

    Even as the unrest has crossed hundred days, there has been no let up in state repression and state terrorism. The curfew and brutalities of army is continuing unabated causing lot of suffering to Kashmiri people. The government should realise that the economy of Kashmir is being destroyed due to its policies which have been criticized even by international activists and media for the past three months.

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