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).

kashmir letter

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.

Endorsed by:

Individuals

1. Aabha Muralidharan, Student
2. Ajmal Khan, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
3. Ajayan Adat
4. Akanksha, activist
5. Akhila Vasan
6. Alpana Jain
7. Amar Jesani, Independent Public health and Bioethics Consultant
8. Amla Pisharody
9. Amlendu Upadhyay, senior journalist
10. Ammu Abraham, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
11. Amrita Howlader, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
12. Anand Mazgaonkar,
13. Anand Patwardhan, filmmaker
14. Anand Teltumbde, General Secretary, CPDR (Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights)
15. Anannya Bhattacharjee, Garment and Allied Workers Union
16. Angana Chatterji, Feminist Scholar
17. Anjali, student
18. Anjali Singh, student
19. Anil Sinha
20. Anindita Mukherjee, Lawyer
21. Antony Samy, activist, Jagrut Kamgar Manch
22. Anuradha Banerji, research scholar
23. Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times
24. Anuradha Kapoor
25. Aquila Khan, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
26. Archee Roy, student
27. Aritra Bhattacharya, Journalist, The Statesman
28. Arundhati Dhuru, National Alliance of People's Movements
29. Arun Ferreira, member, CPDR
30. Arya Raje, Lawyer
31. Aswathy Senan, Delhi University
32. Ayesha Kidwai, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
33. B. Murlidhar Reddy, Senior Journalist
34. Baljeet Kaur, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
35. Bernard D'Mello
36. Dr. Binayaka Sen, activist (PUCL)
37. Binu Matthew, Editor, www.countercurrents.org
38. Chayanika Shah, member, LABIA and FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
39. Brinelle D'souza, Academician
40. Chetan Priyadarshi, Lawyer
41. Chhaya Datar
42. Chinu Srinivasan, SAHAJ/LOCOST
43. Cubbykabi Sherman, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
44. Cynthia Stephen, Founder, DAWNS(Dalit Women's Network for Solidarity)
45. Debalina, activist
46. Deepa Venkatachalam, Social Scientist
47. Deepti Gopinath, Indian Airports Employees' Union
48. Devika Shetty, Disability Rights Advocacy
49. Dibyesh Anand, Professor, University of Westminster, UK
50. Divya Kalanthingal, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
51. Divya Trivedi, journalist
52. Dolphy A. D'souza, Convenor, Police Reforms Watch
53. Fatima N, Member, Tamil Nadu Women's Forum
54. Freny Manecksha, independent journalist
55. Gautam Bhan, activist and author
56. Geeta Seshu, independent journalist
57. Gouranaga Mohapatra, Jan Swasthaya Abhiyan, Odisha
58. Gouri Patwardhan, filmmaker
59. Harsh Mander, activist, writer
60. Hartman de Souza, Writer
61. Hasina Khan, member, Bebaak Collective and FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
62. Heer Ganjawala, filmmaker
63. Heidi Pereira, student, Ambedkar University
64. Hussain Indorewala, Teacher
65. Prof. Illina Sen, author and activist
66. Irfaan Engineer, CSSS(Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
67. Jagdish John Menezes, Lawyer
68. Jairus Banaji, Professor and Historian
69. Jashodhara Dasgupta, Sahayog, India
70. Javed Anand, Co-editor, Communalism Combat
71. Jayashree Velankar, NAMHHR (National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights)
72. Jenny Sulfath, student, TISS
73. Jhelum Roy, researcher
74. Jinda Sandbhor, researcher
75. Juhi Bansal, Lawyer
76. Jyoti Punwani, independent journalist
77. Kalpana Mehta, Activist
78. Kalyani Menon, feminist researcher and writer
79. Kamal KM, filmmaker, teacher
80. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, feminist and human rights activist
81. Karuna D W, researcher, Chennai
82. Kavita Krishnan, Secretary AIPWA (All India Progressive Women's Association)
83. Kavita Pai
84. Khateeja Talha, member, Space Theatre Ensemble
85. Kochurani Abraham, Kerala
86. Kokila Mitra, research scholar
87. Koyel Ghosh, school teacher
88. Koyel Majumder, student
89. Kranti LC, Lawyer
90. Kritika Aggarwal, GLC, Mumbai
91. Kulajit Maisanam, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
92. Labanyendu Das, Lawyer
93. Lalita Ramdas, peace, human rights and anti-nuclear activist and Founder, Greenpeace, India
94. Lara Jesani, Lawyer
95. Lina Mathias
96. Madhavi Kuckreja, women's' rights activist and founder, Vanangana
97. Madhurima Ghosh, student
98. Mahtab Alam, Activist, Journalist
99. Malini Parthasarthy, former Editor, the Hindu
100. Malobika, activist
101. Manisha Sethi, Activist, Professor - Jamia Millia Islamia
102. Manoj Jha, teacher, activist
103. Mary Antony, activist, Jagrut Kamgar Manch
104. Mary E John, CWDS
105. Medha Patkar, activist, Narmada Bachao Andolan
106. Meena Gopal, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
107. Meena Kandasamy, Poet, Writer, Activist
108. Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
109. Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate
110. Milind Champanekar, activist, CPDR
111. Mirza Saaib Beg, Lawyer
112. M J Pandey, Journalist
113. Monica Sakhrani, Lawyer
114. Monisha Behal
115. Mubashira Zaidi, Institute of Social Studies Trust, New Delhi
116. Mukta Srivastava, activist (NAPM)
117. Murali Karnam, Faculty, School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance, TISS
118. N.Vasudevan, Convenor, Trade Union Solidarity Committee, Mumbai
119. Nandini Manjrekar, Professor, TISS
120. Nimisha
121. Niranjan Takle, Principal Correspondent, the Week
122. Nisha Biswas, Kolkata
123. Nitish Nawsagaray, Dalit Rights activist
124. Norma Alvares, Senior Advocate and environmental activist
125. Omar Rashid, journalist
126. Pallavi Gupta
127. Pamela Philipose, journalist, writer and editor
128. Paramita Banerjee, Activist and Development professional
129. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta
130. Dr. Paromita Chakravarty
131. Poushali Basak, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
132. Pranita Kulkarni, Journalist
133. Preenita Banerjee, Lawyer
134. Preeti Mehra
135. Purnima Rao, writer
136. R.Srivatsan, Social Scientist
137. Rachana Johri
138. Dr. Rahul Singh
139. Rajashree Gandhi
140. Raj Merchant, member, LABIA
141. Admiral Ramdas
142. Ramesh Awasthi, PUCL, Maharashtra
143. Ram Puniyani, activist, writer, teacher
144. Ranjani Srinivasan, student
145. Dr. Ranjit Biswas, Psychiatrist and Research-activist
146. Ratnapriya, student
147. Ravi Duggal, independent health researcher and activist
148. Ravi Kadam
149. Rhea Bose
150. Richa Minocha, member secretary, Jan Abhiyan Sanstha, Shimla
151. Ritika Ramasuri
152. Ritu Dewan, Author, Professor, Director - CSSS (Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
153. Rohini Hensman, Independent Scholar, Writer and Activist
154. Rohit Prajapati, trade union and environmental activist
155. Rukmini Sen, academician
156. Sabina Basha
157. Sagari Ramdas, veterinary scientist
158. Sakina Bohora, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
159. Samir Dass, Jan Swasthaya Abhiyan, Jharkhand
160. Sampa Dasgupta, Development Professional
161. Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party (India)
162. Sandhya Gokhale, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
163. Sanjay Ranade, Professor, University of Mumbai
164. Sanober Keshwaar , lecturer and activist
165. Saranga Ugalmugle, Lawyer
166. Sarojini N, Health Researcher
167. Saswati Ghosh, Sociologist, women's rights activist
168. Satarupa Santra, academician
169. Satnam Singh, Convener, Jan Swasthaya Abhiyan, Haryana
170. Satyam Shrivastava, (SRUTI)
171. Satyen Bordoloi
172. Seema Azad, journalist, activist
173. Setu
174. Shabana Khan, activist, CPDR
175. Shabnam Hashmi, Activist, ANHAD
176. Dr. Shakeel, Convener, Jan Swasthaya Abhiyan, Bihar
177. Shals Mahajan, writer
178. Sheetal, student, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
179. Shefali Saini, TISS, Mumbai
180. Shinzani Jain
181. Prof. Shoma Sen, Joint Secretary (CPDR)
182. Shraddha Chatterjee, research scholar
183. Shreosi Ray, researcher
184. Shruti Chakravarty, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
185. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Raqs Media Collective
186. Shujaat Bhukari, senior journalist and editor, Rising Kashmir
187. Siddharth Chakravarty, Oceans Policy and Law
188. Simpreet Singh
189. Smita Gandhi, Academician
190. Srabasti Majumder, research scholar
191. Sreejith Murali, Ambedkarite Students Association-TISS
192. Suchitra Thapar, independent researcher
193. Sujata Gothoskar, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
194. Sukanya Shantha, independent Journalist
195. Sukla Sen, Peace Activist
196. Sumita, Activist and Development Professional
197. Surabhi Sharma, filmmaker
198. Suresh Sawant, activist
199. Susan Abraham, Executive Committee member, CPDR
200. Sushmita Verma, member, CPDR and Bastar Solidarity Network
201. Prof. Swapna Banerjee-Guha
202. Swarnima Bhattacharya, Women's Feature Service
203. Swati Singh, Lawyer
204. Swathi Seshadri, Bangalore
205. Swatija Paranjpe, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
206. Tanieem, student
207. Tarun Bhartiya, filmmaker and writer
208. Teesta Setalvad, Journalist, activist
209. Tejas Harad, Economic and Political Weekly
210. Trina Mukhopadhyay, research scholar
211. Ujwalla Mhatre, Head of School, Vanita Vishram High School
212. Ulka Mahajan, Activist
213. Uma Chakravarty, Historian
214. Uma V Chandru
215. Usha Iyer, Assistant Professor, Stanford University
216. Vani Subramaniam, member, Saheli
217. Varda Dixit
218. Varun Agarwal, Lawyer
219. Vasanth Kannabiran, Activist and Writer
220. Veena Gowda, Lawyer
221. Vibhuti Patel, Academician and Activist
222. Vidya Subramaniam, Senior Journalist
223. Vikas Urs
224. Vinitha Ramchandani, author
225. Virginia Saldanha, activist
226. Vrijendra, Lecturer and Human Rights Activist
227. Vrinda Grover, Lawyer and Activist
228. Wilfred D'Costa , INSAAF
229. Yashasvi Mishra
230. 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. Feminism in India
8. Fem Positive
9. Forum Against Oppression of Women
10. LABIA -- A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
11. Radical Study Circle- TISS
12. Rihai Manch, Lucknow
13. Sabrang India
14. Saheli, Delhi
15. Tamilnadu Women's Forum
16. Round Table India, Dalit Bahujan portal

~~~

 

[via Shinzani Jain]

Picture courtesy: the internet.

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