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

Note: If you wish to sign this statement, please leave your name and occupation in the comments below. 

14 COMMENTS

  1. 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 ?

  2. Suggested Errata:

    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].”

    Reason:

    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.

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