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:
- Immediately lift the curfew and stop violence against civilians in Kashmir.
- 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.
- Stop the crackdown on media and lift the ban on Kashmir Reader.
- Immediately drop all charges against activists, human rights defenders and civilians booked under the PSA and release them.
- Grant unfettered access to United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to investigate allegations of Human Rights violations.
- 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.
- 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
- Aabha Muralidharan, Student
- Ajmal Khan, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
- Akanksha, activist
- Alpana Jain
- Amar Jesani, Independent Public health and Bioethics Consultant
- Amlendu Upadhyay, senior journalist
- Ammu Abraham, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Amrita Howlader, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Anand Mazgaonkar,
- Anand Patwardhan, filmmaker
- Anand Teltumbde, General Secretary, CPDR (Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights)
- Anil Sinha
- Anoop Kumar, Nalanda Academy, Wardha
- Antony Samy, activist, Jagrut Kamgar Manch
- Anuradha Banerji, research scholar
- Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times
- Aquila Khan, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Archee Roy, student
- Aritra Bhattacharya, Journalist, The Statesman
- Arundhati Dhuru, National Alliance of People’s Movements
- Arun Ferreira, member, CPDR
- Arya Raje, Lawyer
- B. Murlidhar Reddy, Senior Journalist
- Baljeet Kaur, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
- Bernard D’Mello
- Dr. Binayaka Sen, activist (PUCL)
- Binu Matthew, Editor, www.countercurrents.org
- Chayanika Shah, member, LABIA and FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Chinu Srinivasan, SAHAJ/LOCOST
- Cubbykabi Sherman, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Cynthia Stephen, Founder, DAWNS(Dalit Women’s Network for Solidarity)
- Debalina, activist
- Deepa Venkatachalam, Social Scientist
- Deepti Gopinath, Indian Airports Employees’ Union
- Devika Shetty, Disability Rights Advocacy
- Dibyesh Anand, Professor, University of Westminster, UK
- Divya Kalanthingal, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
- Divya Trivedi, journalist
- Fatima N, Member, Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum
- Freny Manecksha, independent journalist
- Gautam Bhan, activist and author
- Geeta Seshu, independent journalist
- Gouri Patwardhan, filmmaker
- Harsh Mander, activist, writer
- Hartman de Souza, Writer
- Hasina Khan, member, Bebaak Collective and FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Hussain Indorewala, Teacher
- Prof. Illina Sen, author and activist
- Irfaan Engineer, CSSS(Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
- Jairus Banaji, Professor and Historian
- Javed Anand, Co-editor, Communalism Combat
- Jayashree Velankar, NAMHHR (National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights)
- Jenny Sulfath, student, TISS
- Jhelum Roy, researcher
- Jyoti Punwani, independent journalist
- Kalpana Mehta, Activist
- Kalyani Menon, feminist researcher and writer
- Kamal KM, filmmaker, teacher
- Kavita Pai
- Khateeja Talha, member, Space Theatre Ensemble
- Kokila Mitra, research scholar
- Koyel Ghosh, school teacher
- Koyel Majumder, student
- Kranti LC, Lawyer
- Kritika Aggarwal, GLC, Mumbai
- Kulajit Maisanam, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
- Lalita Ramdas, peace, human rights and anti-nuclear activist and Founder, Greenpeace, India
- Lara Jesani, Lawyer
- Lina Mathias
- Madhavi Kuckreja, women’s’ rights activist and founder, Vanangana
- Madhurima Ghosh, student
- Mahtab Alam, Activist, Journalist
- Malini Parthasarthy, former Editor, the Hindu
- Malobika, activist
- Manisha Sethi, Activist, Professor – Jamia Millia Islamia
- Manoj Jha, teacher, activist
- Mary Antony, activist, Jagrut Kamgar Manch
- Meena Gopal, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Meena Kandasamy, Poet, Writer, Activist
- Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
- Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate
- Milind Champanekar, activist, CPDR
- Mirza Saaib Beg, Lawyer
- M J Pandey, Journalist
- Monica Sakhrani, Lawyer
- Mukta Srivastava, activist (NAPM)
- Murali Karnam, Faculty, School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance, TISS
- N.Vasudevan, Convenor, Trade Union Solidarity Committee, Mumbai
- Nandini Manjrekar, Professor, TISS
- Niranjan Takle, Principal Correspondent, the Week
- Norma Alvares, Senior Advocate and environmental activist
- Omar Rashid, journalist
- Pamela Philipose, journalist, writer and editor
- Paramita Banerjee, Activist and Development professional
- Paranjoy Guha Thakurta
- Dr. Paromita Chakravarty
- Poushali Basak, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Pranita Kulkarni, Journalist
- Preenita Banerjee, Lawyer
- Preeti Mehra
- R.Srivatsan, Social Scientist
- Dr. Rahul Singh
- Rajashree Gandhi
- Raj Merchant, member, LABIA
- Admiral Ramdas
- Ramesh Awasthi, PUCL, Maharashtra
- Ram Puniyani, activist, writer, teacher
- Dr. Ranjit Biswas, Psychiatrist and Research-activist
- Ravi Duggal, independent health researcher and activist
- Rhea Bose, Student
- Ritika Ramasuri
- Ritu Dewan, Author, Professor, Director – CSSS (Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
- Rohini Hensman, Independent Scholar, Writer and Activist
- Rohit Prajapati, trade union and environmental activist
- Rukmini Sen, academician
- Sabina Basha
- Sagari Ramdas, veterinary scientist
- Sakina Bohora, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Sampa Dasgupta, Development Professional
- Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party (India)
- Sandhya Gokhale, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Sanjay Ranade, Professor, University of Mumbai
- Sanober Keshwaar , lecturer and activist
- Sarojini N, Health Researcher
- Saswati Ghosh, Sociologist, women’s rights activist
- Satarupa Santra, academician
- Satyam Shrivastava, (SRUTI)
- Seema Azad, journalist, activist
- Shabana Khan, activist, CPDR
- Shabnam Hashmi, Activist, ANHAD
- Shals Mahajan, writer
- Sheetal, student, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
- Shefali Saini, TISS, Mumbai
- Shinzani Jain
- Prof. Shoma Sen, Joint Secretary (CPDR)
- Shraddha Chatterjee, research scholar
- Shreosi Ray, researcher
- Shruti Chakravarty, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Siddharth Chakravarty, Oceans Policy and Law
- Simpreet Singh
- Smita Gandhi, Academician
- Srabasti Majumder, research scholar
- Sreejith Murali, Ambedkarite Students Association-TISS
- Sujata Gothoskar, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Sukanya Shantha, independent Journalist
- Sumita, Activist and Development Professional
- Surabhi Sharma, filmmaker
- Suresh Sawant, activist
- Susan Abraham, Executive Committee member, CPDR
- Sushmita Verma, member, CPDR and Bastar Solidarity Network
- Prof. Swapna Banerjee-Guha
- Swatija Paranjpe, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
- Tarun Bhartiya, Editor, Raiot
- Teesta Setalvad, Journalist, activist
- Tejas Harad, Economic and Political Weekly
- Trina Mukhopadhyay, research scholar
- Ulka Mahajan, Activist
- Uma Chakravarty, Historian
- Usha Iyer, Assistant Professor, Stanford University
- Vani Subramaniam, member, Saheli
- Varda Dixit
- Vasanth Kannabiran, Activist and Writer
- Veena Gowda, Lawyer
- Vibhuti Patel, Academician and Activist
- Vidya Subramaniam, Senior Journalist
- Vinitha Ramchandani, author
- Vrijendra, Lecturer and Human Rights Activist
- Vrinda Grover, Lawyer and Activist
- Wilfred D’Costa , INSAAF
- Yashasvi Mishra
- Zakia Soman, BMMA(Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan)
- Aaghaaz Magazine
- All India Secular Forum
- Amrita Wilson on behalf of South Asia Solidarity Group
- Bastar Solidarity Network
- Centre for Development Research and Action
- Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai
- Fem Positive
- Feminism In India
- Forum Against Oppression of Women
- LABIA — A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
- Radical Study Circle- TISS
- Rihai Manch, Lucknow
- Saheli, Delhi
- Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum
Note: If you wish to sign this statement, please leave your name and occupation in the comments below.
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Swarnima Bhattacharya, Women’s Feature Service.
Sign me up please.
Questions for those who want Kashmir freedom – (1) Why did kashmiris allow Pakistan intruders (2) On what basis can a citizen of a country ask for a separate nation ? who can you ask this from ? thats the very basis of violation – cant they see this simple fact ? (3) How can this be a Politicial issue, it has traces of Religion, for the very fact that Kashmiri pandit population is bordering on zero today (4) From where do the common kashmiri get the arms from ? Kashmir has been a part of India and should remain – what kind of cost are you talking about ? Stop playing the victim card, enough is enough
Yes, you are right this is a religious issue. Just like 2 lakh muslims were massacred in Jammu by Sikh & Hindu forces.
Thing is, you have zero knowledge of anything and your mind is overloaded by a farce sense of Nationalism, and that you are brainwashed.
What happened to the Pandits was unfortunate. But by blaming Muslims for it, and killing them is like justifying one wrong with another. According to your logic should the muslims blame Hindus for what happened in 1947 and what has been happening since then?
It is easy to comment on a situation as delicate as this from the comfort of your home. Sip your cup of coffee and mind your own business if you can’t even sympathize with people losing their lives.
The questions you are asking shows the level of understanding you have about the issue – Nil, nada. Just a colonial desire of hanging on to a place. Ironic!
If you cannot interpret it right then just do not mention it. There is no blame to muslims here, its to separatist who want a kashmir of their own and have allowed Terrorist neighbors to intrude.
Thanks for acknowledging my nationalism ( though I dont need a certificate from any ). On that basis, the kashmiris who are asking for a separate state are anti-national ? Ha ha you proved that all by yourself.
Am not saying for Pandits now Muslims. Definitely the situation is sad, and whether muslim or hindu, all kashmiris need to stand together with Indian army, help them nab intruders, nullify separatist heinous plans.
Do you know, all this while, those schools are not affected where separatists kin study , what does this mean ?
Anjali Singh – Student
Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, writer-activist,Kashmir
Architect, Graduate Student
1) “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.”
“We believe that [any] national integration at the [ongoing] cost of life and dignity of [those whom we claim as] our own citizens would not amount to integration but [that a systematic analysis of the extent of the repression & genocidal violence of the Indian state enacted in Kashmir since 1947 offers ample evidence of a de facto] 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.”
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.”
“Open channels for political dialogue in consultation with all stakeholders and explore every possible solution [especially] including plebiscite [— as specifically demanded by the Kashmiris, who put their lives on line every day for Azadi, *and* as stated also in the UN Resolutions].”
Stand for the truth, state the full truth. Demand what’s actually ethically correct, even if it seems “implausible” at first. This is the *least* that’s required of rights-bearing citizens of the country that runs the densest military Occupation in the world.
Kritika chopra, student
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