Amid lockdown, rains, snowfall add to miseries of IOK people

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Srinagar, November 16 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the increasing chill after fresh rains and snowfall has added to the miseries of the people of Kashmir Valley who have already been suffering immensely due to strict military siege since 5th of August.

Due to continued lockdown, people have more difficulties to face in the coming days as they have not been able to stock essential commodities for the harsh winter – a centuries-old practice as Srinagar-Jammu Highway, the only surface link of the territory remains closed for months. The situation in Kashmir Valley and Muslim majority areas of Jammu and Ladakh regions was far from the normal for 104th consecutive day, today. There is no let up in the restrictions imposed under Section 144 in the territory amid massive deployment of Indian troops. The ban on internet, text messaging and prepaid mobile connections remains in force. The residents of Valley continue to show their resentment against New Delhi by observing civil disobedience over its anti-Kashmir moves. As part of this movement, the shopkeepers keep their shops closed in most part of the day while students are not attending the educational institutions. The offices are also witnessing a very thin attendance.

The Srinagar-Jammu Highway remained closed for the 3rd day, today, due to snowfall and landslides at various places. An official of traffic police said that around 2,500 vehicles were stranded on the highway.

Human Rights Watch’s Asia Advocacy Director, John Sifton, expressing serious concern over the prevailing grim situation in occupied Kashmir has said that human rights are under threat in Kashmir and in India. John Sifton said this in a written submission to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which conducted a hearing on human rights in Kashmir on Thursday. He said, the Members of Congress should communicate to Indian government officials that their actions in Kashmir are adding to the human rights problems. He said, the Congress Members should insist that political leaders and others arbitrarily detained Kashmiris are released, restrictions on communications are lifted, and independent observers, including diplomats, foreign journalists and rights activists are allowed to travel freely to Kashmir

Speakers at a seminar in London expressed deep concern over the continued siege of eight million Kashmiris and worsening humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir. The seminar was organized by Pakistani High Commission and the speakers included Pakistan’s High Commissioner to UK, Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, Dr Syed Nazir Gilani, Ben Emmerson QC, Anthea McIntyre, Professor Nazir Ahmed Shawl, Ms Uzma Rasool and Mrs Sahmim Shawl.

On the other hand, the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation raided the Bengaluru and New Delhi offices of human rights group Amnesty International India. Reacting to the CBI’s action, the Amnesty International India said that the organization was being targeted for speaking out against human rights violations in the country.

IOK people continue to suffer as lockdown enters 97th day

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Srinagar, November 09 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, people of the Kashmir Valley and Muslim-majority areas of Jammu continue to suffer immensely due to military siege on 97th consecutive day, today.

The occupation authorities intensified restrictions and ordered closure of schools and colleges, today, ahead of the Indian Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ayodhya (Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid) case. The authorities deployed Indian troops and police personnel in strength in every nook and corner of the territory and ordered closure of schools and colleges to prevent demonstrations against the handing over of the Babri Masjid land to Hindus for construction of a temple. The residents are already suffering immensely due to suspension of internet and prepaid mobile services.

On the other hand, Voice of America in a report said that three months after Indian government revoked the special status of occupied Kashmir, cut off internet service and censored media coverage of the situation, isolated reports from the territory indicated that the situation remained tense with a continuing heavy military presence.

The Chairperson of Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS), Professor Hameeda Nayeem, told the VOA in Srinagar that shops open only for a few hours early in the morning because of the atmosphere of fear and intimidation, with people mainly staying indoors. “Drones are flying above our homes, the army is deployed at every corner, and they have already arrested thousands of young men to preempt them from potential agitation,” she said.

October 27 – The blackest day for Kashmiris

By M. Raza Malik

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October 27 is the darkest day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir and the Kashmiris living on both sides of the Line of Control and across the world observe it as Black Day. This year, the day is being observed in the backdrop of India’s illegal and unconstitutional move of scraping special status of occupied Kashmir and annexing it on August 05, 2019. India put the occupied territory under military siege and imposed curfew, restrictions and communication blackout which was continuing even after several weeks when this write-up was written.

It was on October 27 in 1947, when India had sent its troops to Jammu and Kashmir and illegally occupied it in total violation of the Indian Independence Act and Partition Plan and against the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. According to the Partition Plan, the Indian British Colony was to be divided into two sovereign states – Pakistan and India. The Hindu-majority areas were to constitute India while the Muslim-majority areas of Western provinces and east Bengal were to be included in Pakistan. At the end of British suzerainty over Indian sub-continent in 1947, more than 550 Princely States had become independent but with a choice to accede either to Pakistan or India. However, India illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir by military invasion. Being a Muslim-majority state, with 87% Muslim population, Jammu and Kashmir had a natural tendency to accede to Pakistan. However, the evil designs of the Hindu ruler of Kashmir and the leaders of Indian National Congress and Britain led to the creation of the Kashmir dispute, which continues to haunt the peace and stability of the entire South Asia even after the passage of more than seven decades.

India claims that it signed ‘Instrument of Accession’, which was drafted in Delhi and presented to the then ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, on October 26. However, a prominent British historian, Alistair Lamb, challenging the Indian invasion in Kashmir, in his book “The Birth of Tragedy” wrote that the successive events after the partition of the united India strongly suggested that Indian troops had invaded Kashmir prior to the signing of the Instrument of Accession. He argued that this has been the sole reason that the Indian government never made the so-called document public at any international forum. This was corroborated by noted Kashmiri researchers, Abdul Majid Zargar and Basharat Hussain Qazilbash. They have proved that the “Instrument of Accession” was fake and no such genuine document ever existed. Even Indian Archives Department has now declared that the document is lost and the announcement has put question marks on the very existence of the document.

Kashmir in the United Nations

The Indian occupation faced stiff resistance from the people of Kashmir who launched a mass struggle against it. The Kashmiris’ resilience forced India to knock the doors of the UN Security Council on 1st January 1948, seeking help of the World Body to settle the dispute. Successive resolutions passed by the UNSC and accepted by both India and Pakistan nullified the Indian invasion and called for settlement of the Kashmir dispute by referring to the Kashmiri people to ascertain their aspirations through an impartial plebiscite to be conducted in Jammu and Kashmir under the UN’s supervision. However, Indian rulers later backed away from their commitments and declared Jammu and Kashmir an integral part of India. Modi-led communal government moved a step further and illegally merged the territory into Indian union through the August 05 move.

Kashmiris’ revolt against Indian rule

The failure of all the efforts aimed at resolving the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means since 1947 caused severe resentment and anger among the Kashmiris and they intensified their freedom struggle in 1989 to secure their right to self-determination. This movement pushed the Indian authorities to the wall, forcing them to sit around the negotiation table with Pakistan. However, the fact remains that India had always been averse to the negotiations to settle the dispute and present Indian leaders – like their predecessors – have not responded positively to Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan’s repeated offers for dialogue.

Mass uprisings

In 2008, the Kashmiris’ struggle to get rid of Indian bondage took a new turn. They started taking to the streets in large numbers and expressing their anti-India and pro-liberation sentiments in a peaceful manner. This mass uprising continued for three consecutive years. The extrajudicial murder of a young liberation leader, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, on July 08, 2016 by Indian troops triggered another mass uprising in occupied Kashmir. People in large numbers hit the streets in every nook and corner of the occupied territory on daily basis, demanding their right to self-determination. But most of the time during all these mass protests, Indian forces’ personnel used brute force on protesters, killing hundreds of Kashmiris and injuring thousands others.

Indian state terrorism

New Delhi has exhausted all its resources during the past seven decades to intimidate the people of occupied Kashmir into submission but failed in its nefarious designs. Indian troops in the unabated state terrorism since January 1989 till 30th September 2019 martyred 95,454 innocent Kashmiris. Since the killing of Burhan Wani alone, Indian troops have killed 1,037 Kashmiris, tortured 27,739, arrested 12,010 and molested 933. During this period, at least 10,298 people have suffered pellet injuries and 147 of them have lost their eyesight in both eyes while 215 in one eye. However, all these brutalities have failed to suppress the Kashmiris’ resolve for freedom.

India’s 5th August onslaught

Modi government has put the regional as well as global peace at stake by abrogating Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP government took the extreme step via a presidential order that superseded a 1954 proclamation, which had added Article 35-A to the constitution. The announcement regarding the repeal of the Article 370 was made by the Indian Home Minister, Amit Shah, in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament. He also introduced a bill in the Parliament to bifurcate occupied Kashmir. The bill was passed later under which the territory will be divided into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. After repealing the Article 370, India placed the occupied territory under strict lockdown. Millions of Kashmiris were confined to their homes while thousands were arrested. Continued curfew, restrictions and communication blackout led to humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan’s support to Kashmir cause

History stands testimony to the fact that Pakistani leadership and people have always supported the Kashmiris’ just liberation struggle. Prime Minister, Imran Khan, since assuming his office in August 2018 has time and again warned that the Kashmir dispute and India’s recent actions in occupied Kashmir could lead a nuclear war if the world does not work for the settlement of the lingering dispute. Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, has declared at several occasions that Pakistan army and nation will go to any extent in support of the people of occupied Kashmir and would fulfill its commitment towards Kashmir till last bullet, soldier and breath. The fact remains that despite facing the worst Indian military aggression for supporting the Kashmiris during the past several decades, Pakistan never gave up its support to the Kashmiris and continues to advocate resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with their will.

Encouraging developments

The grave situation of occupied Kashmir following India’s August 05 move forced the UN Security Council to convene a special consultative session to discuss the matter. This was for the first time in fifty years that the World Body held an exclusive meeting on Kashmir. The holding of this session rejected India’s claim that Kashmir is its internal matter rather it testified the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally-recognised dispute concerning the right to self-determination of Kashmiris. World leaders and organisations including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, US President Donald Trump, French President Amanuel Macron, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, European Union, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch expressed concerns over the grave human rights situation following India’s inhuman actions in the occupied territory. UN Chief Antonio Guterres and US President Donald Trump have offered mediation to settle the Kashmir dispute. Even Indian people like opposition leaders, Rahul Gandhi, P Chidambaram, Shashi Tharoor, Priyanka Gandhi, Sitaram Yechuri, D Raja, Sharad Yadav and Manoj Jha, journalists, Barkha Datt and Nirupama Subramanian, as well as Nobel laureate, Dr Amartya Sen, criticised the imposition of continued curfew, restrictions and communication blockade in occupied Kashmir.

Conclusion

These are the reasons of the observance of October 27 as Black Day by the Kashmiris all across the globe. The observance is aimed at reminding the world of its obligations towards resolving the Kashmir dispute for the peace and stability in South Asia and the world at large. At the same time, it is intended to send a loud and clear message to New Delhi that the Kashmiris reject its illegal occupation of their homeland and that they will continue their struggle till they achieve their inalienable right to self-determination promised to them by India and the international community. After India’s action to change the disputed status and demographic composition of occupied Kashmir, the observance of October 27 as Black Day has become more important for the Kashmiris to send a loud and clear message to India and the world community that they would never accept India’s subjugation and would not rest till they achieved their cherished goal of freedom from it.

Life remains affected in IOK on 91st day

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Srinagar, November 03 (KMS): Life continues to remain paralyzed in the Kashmir valley and Muslim majority areas of Jammu region on the 91st day of lockdown and communications gag, today.

Internet and pre-paid mobile services remain suspended while public transport is off the roads. Since the abrogation of Article 370, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 15,000 crore. Besides, the lockdown has broken the backbone of IT sector in the Kashmir Valley by rendering as many as 25,000 IT professionals jobless. Around 32 IT companies, which have their units in Srinagar, now bear a deserted look.

Since 31 October, the day when India officially deprived Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, the valley has witnessed several protests. IOK administration has imposed ban on more than 450 people including businessmen, journalists, lawyers and political activists to travel abroad. The list was prepared in the wake of the revocation of special status and downgrading of J&K into two Union Territories on 5th August.

Meanwhile, the Gulf News in an article published in today’s edition said that a lockdown in occupied Kashmir is the order of the day and people have no access to the Internet. The article written by award-winning journalist and author, Swati Chaturvedi, said that the increasingly worried world has started asking the Modi government how locking up citizens is compatible with a democracy. The newspaper points out that the Modi government has no end game for Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir. The article emphasized that the Indian government’s decision to scrap Article 370 has internationlised the Kashmir dispute.

The article while describing the conducted tour of Far Right EU lawmakers to Kashmir as a self-inflicted foreign policy disaster said that the balloon of the EU Members of Parliament’s trip was totally punctured when German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a forthright stand during her trip to India and said that “the Kashmir situation was unsustainable” and added that the “lockdown was not good”.

The Chairman of Kashmir Council Europe Ali Raza Syed, addressing an international Sikh convention in Geneva said, Indian authorities, who committed the massacre of Sikhs 35 years ago, are involved in genocide of the people in the occupied Kashmir.

Millions of people continue to suffer in IOK

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Strict military siege enters 83rd straight day

Srinagar, October 26 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, millions of people living in Kashmir Valley and Muslim majority areas of Jammu region continue to suffer immensely due to strict military siege imposed by India.

Normal life remains badly hit on the 83rd straight day, today, in the Kashmir Valley and parts of Jammu due to restrictions and gag on internet and cellular services barring partial restoration of postpaid connections and landline phones.

Despite the occupation authorities’ efforts to restore normalcy in occupied Kashmir, people continue to observe shutdown as a silent protest against India’s recent actions in the territory. Shops and business establishments remain closed most of the time except for few hours in the morning and evening. Although private vehicles are plying on the roads, but due to the absence of public transport, people particularly patients and doctors are facing difficulties in reaching the hospitals and moving from one place to another.

On the other hand, Newsweek, an American weekly news magazine, reported that Twitter has been accused of bowing to Indian censorship and suppressing freedom of speech in Kashmir after nearly one million tweets were removed.

Almost 100 accounts were also made inaccessible to locals in the last two years, spurring claims that Twitter is contradicting the very values it purports to uphold.

The findings were revealed in a study by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), showing that Twitter agreed to block more accounts in the region than in every other country combined.

Five killed in Kashmir’s deadliest day since losing special status

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Some observers say Delhi’s promises falling flat and unrest likely to increase

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An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard on a street in Srinagar. Shops are open only during the early mornings

Five people were killed in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, thought to be the deadliest day in the region since it was stripped of its autonomy this summer.

Two non-Kashmiris – an apple trader from Punjab and a migrant labourer – were killed in separate attacks by suspected militants in Shopian and Pulwama, south Kashmir. A second apple trader was in a critical condition.

Earlier on Wednesday security forces killed three alleged rebels near Bijbehara town, 28 miles south of the main city of Srinagar.

Kashmir has been under a security lockdown since 5 August when the Indian government scrapped its special status. Mobile phone services were restored for some users on Monday after a 72-day blackout but internet services remain suspended.

Indian officials argued that removing Kashmir’s special status, which granted it its own constitution and rules protecting land ownership, would bring greater development and rid the state of terrorism.

Some policy experts say the high death toll on Wednesday undermines such pledges. “The government’s claims are really falling flat,” said Khalid Shah, an associate fellow at the Observer Research Foundation. “My sense is that the violence is only going to increase, it’s not going to decrease, and to what extent, where it leaves Kashmir, is very difficult to say.”

An insurgency has waxed and waned on the Indian-administered side for three decades, and tens of thousands of people have been killed. Critics say Delhi’s actions have undermined the political mainstream and created fertile ground for militant groups.

Kashmir’s most prominent political and business leaders as well as the president of bar association are all in detention. Officials said such detentions were to prevent unrest, but others warned of a dangerous power vacuum.

Last weekend a spokesman for al-Qaida in Indian Subcontinent described Indian-administered Kashmir as “the worst prison” and called for attacks against the Indian government and army.

In Anchar, a neighbourhood of Srinagar where residents have fought back against security forces, graffiti on the wall reads “Welcome Taliban”.

In an attempt to win over Kashmiris, the Indian government placed a front-page advert in one of the region’s most popular newspapers, Greater Kashmir, urging people to resume normal life. “Closed shops, no public transport? Who benefits? Are we going to succumb to militants? Think!”, the advert said.

In Srinagar, government offices are operating but shops are open only during early morning hours and children are not attending schools. Residents told the Guardian that the refusal to open businesses was an act of defiance. Some reported that residents were complying with a shutdown because they were afraid of being targeted by militants.

Arshad, who lives in south Kashmir, where sympathies for militants are widespread, said he would welcome “any external support” that came for Kashmir’s separatist struggle.

“We cannot fight this war on our own, we need external support whosoever it be,” he said. “So far Pakistan has pleaded our case and supported us, but even if South Sudan or China offer us help I will be the first to raise their flag here,” he said.

Arshad, who has a postgraduate degree and who agreed to be identified by his first name only, said Delhi had restricted all scope for all political activities in the region, which would push militants to the centre stage.

“I think militants will now have a dual role of carrying out the armed struggle as well as taking over the role of political leadership and I feel they are already doing that,” he said.

Kashmir under lockdown: Anger over ‘unacceptable burdens’

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Protesters chant pro-Pakistan slogans and demand an end to what they describe as Indian occupation of their territory.

On Friday, there were protests on the Indian side of the line of control that divides the disputed Kashmir region.

People say restrictions are placing unacceptable burdens on their lives. And many are concerned about what India is planning next.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Vall explains.

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