Citizens’ Protest in Delhi Against Killings of Kashmiris by the Indian State

Several hundred people from all walks of life (Civil Rights Activists, Labour Activists,  Peace Activists, Feminists, Queer Activists, Advocates, Students, Workers, Artists, Writers, Academics, Filmmakers,Independent Left Activists, and unaffiliated individuals across generations, from Jammu & Kashmir, from Delhi, and from other parts of India) gathered this afternoon (July 13, 2016) for a silent protest march and meeting at Jantar Mantar, to protest against the last three days of brutal assault by police, paramilitaries and armed forces in the Kashmir valley that have left 35 dead, several blinded (especially due to the indiscrimnate use of pellet guns) and scores of people critically injured over the last three days.

The protestors at Jantar Mantar wore black bands, and carried signs condemning the state’s violence. The protestors carried signs with the names of each of the thirty six individuals who have been identified as having died over the last three days. Each sign identified a deceased person by name, the town or village they were from, and asserted that they “will not be forgotten“. In this way, this corner of India’s capital bore witness to each person, man, woman or child killed by the Indian state since troops began firing into protests that began to mourn the extra-judicial assassination of Burhan Wani three days ago.

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These citizens of Delhi, without qualification or hesitation, marched to say that they were with the people of Kashmir in this hour of their trials and grief. There was a brief attempt made by a motley group of right wing ‘nationalists’ to heckle and abuse the protestors, while shouting slogans in favour of the Indian Army’s conduct in Jammu & Kashmir. However, the handful of noisy, counter-protesting ‘Patriots’ who had assembled to gloat over the killings in Kashmir were outnumbered by the silent protestors. Their powerful silent resolve to stand their ground and refusal to be provoked by the hate filled and abusive sloganeering of the counter-protestors ensured that after a brief and noisy interregnum the apologists of state violence found it advisable to melt away into the humid afternoon heat of Jantar Mantar. The silent protest against the killings in Kashmir continued, unabated.

[ Here is an excellent video report made by Akhil Kumar of The Wire, in which he talks to several people who came to the protest. ]

At the conclusion of the silent protests, some of those who had come in solidarity with the people of Kashmir made brief statements. We are presenting abbreviated highlights from three of these statements – by Shabnam Hashmi, Kavita Krishnan and Shehla Rashid.

Shabnam Hashmi, an activist committed to peace between communities, spoke of the urgent need to put an end to the climate of impunity that makes the state become a murderer in Kashmir. She pointed out the contrast between the way in which violent, armed mobs have been dealt with in Haryana and Gujarat recently and the way in which troops open fire into unarmed protestors in Kashmir.

Kavita Krishnan, politburo member of CPI (ML-Liberation) and secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association, spoke about the need to do away with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the urgent necessity to initiate dialogue without preconditions with all sections of society in Jammu and Kashmir. She stressed the need for all Indian citizens to come out and say that the Indian state cannot continue to butcher the people of Kashmir in their name.

Shehla Rashid, an activist of the All India Students’ Association and Vice-President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union,  who is from Kashmir, spoke about how the violence of the Indian State, it’s ongoing humiliation of the population, gives rise to a whole generation of young people that is completely alienated. She strongly condemned the way in which the mainstream media demonizes young Kashmiris whose every protest, even if peaceful or unarmed, is seen as support for ‘terrorism’ while choosing to ignore the hate-speech of those who take on the mantle of ‘nationalism’ and keep screaming ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

She also said that no Indian soldier should have to die in Kashmir, and that this can be ensured by a comprehensive de-militarization of Jammu and Kashmir, which can be achieved only when all the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir can feel that really are the shapers of their destiny in a peaceful, just and democratic manner.

This meeting in Delhi sent out a strong signal to the suffering people of Kashmir that not every Indian citizen is brainwashed by the tired narrative of the state and the relentless propaganda about Kashmir by sections of the mainstream Indian media.

More protests are being planned in different cities, starting with one in Kolkata tomorrow. We at Kafila urge our readers and contributors to send in reports, photo-narratives,first person accounts of protests that they may be involved in as participants or organizers, whether in Kashmir, or in any Indian city, town, campus, settlement or workplace. Let’s work together to compel an end to the violence in Kashmir and to ensure that it does not carry on.

Not in our name!

In solidarity with the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

[ The Wire Video Report on the Delhi-Jantar Mantar Protest on the Kashmir Killings (see Wire Youtube Channel) is carried (with thanks) courtesy of The Wire and Akhil Kumar. ]

For More Kafila Posts on the Crisis in Kashmir as it Unfolded in the Last Few Days – See – 

Terms of Endearment – Kashmir and the Possessive Cartography of the Indian Nation State by Jhuma Sen

Citizens’ Statement on Kashmir

Kashmir – Cry My Beloved Country by Gautam Navlakha

The Killings in Kashmir by Kavita Krishnan

Kashmir Burns Again by Shuddhabrata Sengupta

Kashmir Under a State of Emergency by Jammu & Kashmir Coalition for Civil Society (JKCCS)

18 thoughts on “Citizens’ Protest in Delhi Against Killings of Kashmiris by the Indian State

  1. ved

    Killings of innocent is condemnable. Kashmirs public should not threaten armed forces because they’re doing their duty only. They also should ensure that no anti social element should use them as shield. Within democratic norms they’re fully entitled for agitation and non coperation.

    1. shikha

      Remove the blinkers on your eyes . I know its difficult for you to accept this, but every organization contains all kinds of people – good, bad, corrupt, honest etc – and so does the INDIAN ARMY . But we have given the army so much power over ordinary civilians in Kashmir , especially with draconian laws like AFSPA that we need to ensure EVEN MORE that they not misuse their power . The more the power they have , the more they need to be held responsible and accountable. And it is true that the Indian army has raped, killed and held numerous fake encounters in Kashmir . Begin with this http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/kunan-poshpora-a-forgotten-mass-rape-case-of-2-kashmir-villages/story-1rmD1TqawPnMMB11LQzgyJ.html and try and read up on many other cases . There is a history of rapes, murders , violence, disappearances, fake encounters and so on carried out by some people in the army whether you want to believe it or not. So if you are sincere in your concern for kashmiri citizens, stop asking them to cooperate with the army. First ask your own government to bring justice to the people who have suffered these atrocities if you want to really build bridges. Secondly, realize political not military solutions are needed – look at the young and the old out on the streets – if you don’t hear their voice now, they are as good as gone. We have to end this cycle of violence and remove the army from Kashmir – to stop killings on all sides including those of our own foot soldiers who are mere pawns in a game of dirty politics played by different sides in the valley. Do you know that Indian soldiers commit the maximum number of suicides in Kashmir ? Do you know why? Because they cannot face the ugly reality of what they have to do day while forcing unarmed civilians and ordinary citizens and their conscience hurts . For gods sake – for everyone possible here – the kashmiris , the foot soldiers and even for our own sakes and our conscience ,w e have to bring justice to kashmiris and begin a genuine dialogue with them .

    2. Unarmed people with just a stone in their hands don’t deserve to be shot at.No other state in india has witnessed pellet gun use against protestor. Every effort is being made to malign the ongoing struggle in kashmir by giving it a terrorism tag…After killing 35 youth and injuring 1300 you are asking the troops to exercise restraint…shameful…

    1. I think you can rest assured that one of the few things that would unite the very many diverse Kafila commentators who don’t agree on many things is their contempt and hatred for the Saudi regime. The charge you are making is laughable. Kafila gets no funding from anywhere.

      1. Sharmishtha

        I really don’t understand the halfwitted rightwing vitriol against leftwingers who go for these sort of demonstrations. As a policy hawk, I say let them air their views and grievances. Some are genuine, some are utterly ignorant, but it’s far better to have everything out in the open than festering underneath. So, yeah, let’s not treat everyone with differing opinions as blood vendetta enemies – just as mildly misguided relatives who need to be indulged. Unless they break the law. In which case throw the book at them (see I told you I was a policy hawk).

  2. Firoz Khan

    Those who say Kafila gets funding are levelling, I think baseless charges without giving any evidences. They are trained far right wingers.
    As for Kashmir this govt wants only land and not the people. The govt is treating all Kashmiris as Terrorists. Indian govt is forgetting that the world is watching.

  3. Thomas

    Yes Majority of Muslims in Kashmir do not want to be part of India. We cannot force them to be Indians. During Partition millions of people moved, either because they didn’t have choice or out of their own will believing it will be better on other side.
    If people like advani, MMS Dev Anand, Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif family etc could leave their ancestral lands, then why not Kashmiris?

    Residents of Kashmir who do not want to be part of India should be encouraged to move to Pakistan.

  4. Shaun IND

    All this is happening because a militant( sorry Mujahid) was killed ,why are people coming out on roads,throwing stones, few JKP constables thrown into river with their jeep ,not to forget some 15 CRPF soldiers killed while returning to base in their bus on 26 June last month……Collateral damage will happen!!!
    Also all this is happening to join Pakistan,who out with a begging bowl…..People talk about Azadi and Free kashmir and kashmiriyat but thats all eye wash….all roads lead to pakistan,but looking at the state of affairs in pakistan ,I pity these kashmiri’s….

    By the way kashmir will miss the billions which are being pumped into kashmir for sustenance by Indian govt…can pakistan or even kashmir afford that.

    1. MJ

      What a laugh! does the indian government really have billions to be pumped into my state? Anyways, there is only one flyover in kashmir, only 2 medical colleges, some 3 engineering colleges, no good roads, a handful of hospitals, underdeveloped business sector, i am wondering where all your billions go. your so called billions do no good to us. instead, they are used on your “mahaan” army who have more charges of rape in kashmir than any acts of valour. whatever you give us (i wonder if u do any) you do that not for free. we pay TAXES! above all, you exploit our resources, everyone knows that much of your electricity in north india comes from our hydro projects. your country gets a lot of tourists in the name of having a place that has been called the heaven on earth. i see no point in fighting with you. facts are clear. kashmiris were promised a plebiscite which we await till date. and just to clear the air, we arent pro pakistan. we want a free kashmir. bottomline, kashmir was never an integral part of india.

  5. Vinay Kamath

    Seeing the gusto with which the internet savvy right wing community has been celebrating Wani’s death one would think that this was just what was needed to make India a superpower notwithstanding agrarian distress and almost daily reports of farmers suicides to say the least.
    The Indian army has effectively learnt using pellet guns from the Zionists for crushing the spirit of the populace whom they govern. What next are they going to implement in the name of national unity remains to be seen ? Will it be flechette ordinance so liberally used by the Zionists over the Gazans or artillery shells with “bharat mata ki jai” pasted on them’

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