Statement Against State Violence in Kashmir: Ashoka University Students and Alumni

Guest Post by Ashoka University Students and Alumni

Letter condemning the State Violence in Kashmir

To

The Govt of India. and the Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir.

We, the undersigned—current students, alumni of the Young India Fellowship, and faculty of Ashoka University—write to voice our deepest anguish and grave concern at the violent turn of events in Kashmir in the past few days. The violence perpetrated by the Indian State after the extra-judicial execution(1) of 22-year old Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani (2) is highly condemnable. The Indian Army, Kashmir Police and other task forces have reacted violently with bullets, pellets and lathis in the clashes that erupted after Burhan’s funeral. This was immediately followed by many more protests and demonstrations as part of Kashmiri resistance to the military occupation of Kashmir by the Indian State. In the violent repression of the protests which had a huge ground support (evident from the large attendance to Burhan’s funeral) , 55 civilians (3) have been killed and around 3100 people (4) were severely injured by the pellets(5), lathis and bullets, some of whom have lost their eyesight. We, unequivocally, condemn this brutal use of force by the Indian State in dealing with the protests after the killing of Burhan Wani.

Several patients with injuries preferred not to get admitted in the hospital as the Police and CRPF have arrested some patients from the SMHS Hospital Casualty ward(6). The armed forces were seen attacking hospitals and ambulances(7) and stopping people going to funeral processions(8). Consequently, alarming images of police, army and task force brutalities against women, children and youth have surfaced on social media. We condemn the inhuman treatment meted out to the patients and the injured at the hands of the armed forces and the police.

At the same time, partial and prejudiced reportage by the jingoist national media is becoming the basis for racism, regionalism and religious intolerance among many Indians who are not afraid to bully Kashmiris and other minorities. We condemn the grossly irresponsible way in which news channels reported about the ongoing spate of violence playing to the majoritarian nationalist sentiments’ in a rush to increase their TRP’s and we appeal to them to report the ground realities, pain and agony of the Kashmiris.

The region is under a complete blackout with all modes of communication and transport blocked. The Valley has been under curfew for the past 14 days and it is still being enforced at the time of the writing of this letter. Internet and mobile services have been completely cut-off for over nine days now. There are also reports of electricity and water supply cuts in some parts of the state. Newspaper offices of Kashmir Times and Rising Kashmir were attacked by police and its employees arrested and its copies seized. The attack on freedom of the press is a part of the tactics of the repressive mechanism of the Indian state to contain popular mass unrest in the valley. This is not a one off incident as similar methods of intimidating and gagging the press have been employed by the government and its security agencies in the last two and a half decades(9). This is a complete breakdown of law and order machinery as the institutions which are supposed to maintain peace, law and order are responsible for the lack of same. We demand the immediate restoration of communication and transport facilities in the valley and appeal to the Govt. to end the curfew too.

The Indian state is inflicting all these atrocities on the Kashmiris in the name of Indians. We believe that the time has come when we protest the human right abuses and violations being carried out in our name by the Indian State. The following are our two pronged demands to the Indian Government:

DEMILITARISE KASHMIR: Kashmir is the world’s most densely militarized colony with over 700000 military, paramilitary and militarized police. We demand that Army is withdrawn from civilian areas in the Valley and not to use the Army for maintaining regular law and order. We also appeal to the Indian State to confine the job of the army to just the ‘borders’. We also demand that colonial laws like AFSPA and Public Safety Acts should be repealed keeping in view their draconian nature and the history of human right abuses they have been responsible for(10).

CONDUCT A PLEBISCITE: A plebiscite was promised to Kashmiris as early as 1948 by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India in a white paper released by the Govt. of India(11). We demand that this promise of Indian State to the Kashmiris is honoured and a plebiscite should be conducted in the next two years in both the Kashmirs, the Indian Occupied Kashmir and the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. We believe that the self-determination right of the Kashmiris is an inalienable right. We demand the Indian state to retreat from Kashmir, and let the Kashmiris decide their future and sovereignty.

The opinions presented in this letter are privately held by the undersigned and do not represent the views of Ashoka University.

  1. References:
    (1) Supreme Court Verdict on Police Encounters – procedure to be followed in investigating police encounters (2014)
    http://supremecourtofindia.nic.in/outtoday/ar12551999.pdf
  2. (2) Why I think Burhan Wani’s encounter was extra-judicial killing by Kavitha Krishnan
    http://www.dailyo.in/voices/burhan-wani-jammu-and-kashmir-hizbul-mujahideen-extra-judicial-execution-tral-kafila-militancy/story/1/11692.html
  3. (3) List of 55 civilians killed in 2016 unrest – Kashmir Age
    http://www.kashmirage.com/kashmir/230713411-list-of-55-civilians-killed-in-2016-unrest
  4. (4) Kashmir unrest number of injured is 3100; 1500 of them security personnel – The Economic Times
    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/kashmir-unrest-number-of-injured-is-3100-1500-of-them-security-personnel/articleshow/53214753.cms
  5. (5) What are pellet guns and why are they lethal – The Hindu
    “In the latest crackdown, the use of ‘non-lethal’ pellet guns have resulted in extensive injuries to many, including a child as young as 12”
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/what-are-pellet-guns-and-why-are-they-lethal/article8880015.ece
  6. (6) http://www.jkccs.net/kashmir-under-state-of-emergency/
    “Besides the protesters, the CRPF and Police at various places have assaulted the patients and attendants inside the hospitals and ambulances. So far we have reports that Indian armed forces raided the Islamabad District Hospital, PHC Lalpora and SMHS hospital.” – JKCCS press release
  7. http://raiot.in/indian-security-forces-attack-attacking-the-ambulances-and-the-hospital-kashmir-under-a-state-of-emergency/
  8. (7) Jammu and Kashmir: Attacks on hospitals and medics must be prosecuted
    https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/jammu-and-kashmir-attacks-hospitals-and-medics-must-be-prosecuted
  9. 50 ambulances attacked in Kashmir, activists blame security forces
    http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/50-ambulances-attacked-in-kashmir-activists-blame-security-forces/story-bCmMFbQZl4x6bzzl4jXTwO.html
  10. (8) Clashing with forces, mourners make their way to funeral – Indian Express
    “Firdous Alam, 24, said he had left for Tral from Kokernag, 70 km away, the moment Wani’s death was confirmed. He took a lift to Awantipora, where a heavy contingent of police and the Army was blocking people from moving to Tral.”
    “At one point, from atop a hillock where there is an Army camp, there was stone-pelting at some vehicles entering Tral.”
    http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/clashing-with-forces-mourners-make-their-way-to-funeral-2904368/
  11. (9)  http://www.kashmirtimes.in/newsdet.aspx?q=1219
  12. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/news/once-again-media-gagged-in-kashmir/82215.html
  13. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36822486
    “Authorities had forced us to suspend publication during the protests against Indian rule in 2008 and 2010 as well. When Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist convicted over the 2001 Indian parliament attack was hanged in 2013, copies of newspapers were seized from the press and the stands. I remember my newspaper ceased publication for four days. During the 2010 agitation, we were forced to stop publishing for 10 days.”
  14. (10) “DENIED”: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir – Amnesty International
    https://www.amnesty.org.in/images/uploads/articles/Kashmir_Report_Web_version_(1).pdf
  15. (11) http://www.jammu-kashmir.com/documents/jkunresolution.html
    PART III : “The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people and to that end, upon acceptance of the truce agreement, both Governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured.”
  16. Other References:
    (12) Lesson From Kashmir: The Art of Policing Lies in Tiring Out a Mob and Not Firing Upon It – The Wire
    “Within five days of the shooting of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, 36 young Kashmiris had died and 1500 or so injured in the ensuing protests. Today, the death toll stands at 45”
    http://thewire.in/53156/art-policing-lies-tiring-mob-not-firing-upon/
  17. (13) Burhan Wani Incident shows that homegrown militancy is back after a prolonged hiatus – Economic Times
    “In the past seven days in Kashmir, with curfew imposed […] till now 39 people have died and 3100 have been injured”
    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/burhan-wani-incident-shows-that-homegrown-militancy-is-back-after-a-prolonged-hiatus/articleshow/53242360.cms
  18. (14) Kashmir clashes over militant Burhan Wani leave 30 dead (11th July) – BBC
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36761527
  19. (15) Curfew on in Kashmir for 13th day – The Hindu
    Forty-five people, including 43 civilians and two local policemen, were killed in the clashes in the Valley
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/curfew-separatists-shutdown-enters-13th-day-in-kashmir/article8879461.ece?utm_source=InternalRef&utm_medium=relatedNews&utm_campaign=RelatedNews
  20. (16) Pellet Guns in Kashmir: The Lethal Use of “Non-Lethal” Weapons – The Wire
    “Since July 9, 2016, in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani, large scale protests and funeral gatherings have been taking place across the Kashmir Valley. The apparently indiscriminate use of allegedly “non-lethal” weapons like pellet guns to control crowds has resulted in 43 civilians having lost their lives so far. Hundreds have been blinded and a few thousand injured”
    http://thewire.in/53038/kashmir-lethal-pellet-guna/
  21. (17) Statement on Kashmir from concerned individuals – Kafila
    https://kafila.org/2016/07/14/statement-on-kashmir-from-concerned-individuals/

SIGNATORIES

1) Rahul Maganti, Alumni
2) Utkarsh Arora, Student
3) Sushmita Sihwag, Student
4) Megha Devraj, Student
5) Arjun Krishnan, Student
6) Itika, Alumni
7) Suhasini, Student
8) Manu Sharma, Alumni
9) Palak Gupta, Alumni
10) Neera Majumdar, Student
11) Arushi Gupta, Student
12) Jiya Dewan, Student
13) Suneet Singh Puri, Student
14) Jaesica Chandan, Alumni
15) Drashti Shah, Alumni
16) Sabah Kochhar, Student
17) Adil Mushtaq Shah, Employee
18) Nidhiya V Raj, Alumni
19) Chaitanyashareef Kulkarni, Student
20) Antony Arul Valan, Alumni
21) Pranay Patil, Alumni
22) Nikhil Sood, Student
23) Rahul Sreekumar, Alumni
24) Karthik Shankar, Student
25) Zahida War, Student
26) Gurleen Kaur, Alumni
27) Rajashree R, Student
28) Rajesh C S, Alumni
29) Sanyam Bhatia, Student
30) Aadya Sinha, Student
31) Dhruvatara, Student
32) Himanshu Shekhar, Student
33) Mohit Gulati, Alumni
34) Shantanu Gharpure, Alumni
35) Aditi Jain, Alumni
36) Anurit Kanti, Alumni
37) Ratul Chowdhury, Alumni
38) Ashmeen Bains, Student
39) Nipun Arora, Alumni
40) Surjodeb Basu, Alumni
41) Karthik Bhaskara, Alumni
42) Divya Narayanan, Student
43) Purvai Aranya, Student
44) Harinath Rao Nagulavancha, Alumni
45) Anita, Alumni
46) Ira, Alumni
47) Gautham Narayanan, Alumni
48) Reetika Kalita, Alumni
49) Radhika S, Alumni
50) Simran Nandrajog, Student
51) Ayush Nath, Student
52) Mansi Jain, Student
53) Jery Althaf, Alumni
54) Kanika, Alumni
55) Kanika Verma, Student
56) Saurav Goswami, Employee
57) Mahima Kohli, Alumni
58) Nayani Kushal Goyal, Student
59) Ojas, Alumni
60) Ajai, Alumni
61) Arpit Jain, Alumni
62) Sanat Sogani, Student
63) Sakshi Mehta, Alumni
64) Nivedita A, Alumni
65) Lobzang Wangtak, Student
66) Harika Undrakunda, Alumni
67) Anusha P, Alumni
68) Saritha Challuri, Alumni
69) Gurasheesh Singh, Student
70) Gutta Rohith,Alumni
71) Arpita Kodaveri, Alumni
72) Hevin Chopra, Student
73) Swetha Soundararajan, Alumni
74) Danish Ahmad Mir, Alumni
75) Vamsi Mutyala, Alumni
76) Himank Sharma, Alumni
77) Ayush Agarwal, Student
78) Prateek Pillai, Student
79) Malik Abdul Basit, Alumni
80) Kunal Joshi , Alumni
81) Simran, Student
82) Kavya Thatavarthi, Alumni
83) Ravali, Student
84) Kaustubh Khare, Alumni
85) Sumedha Bhattacharya, Student
86) Aashna Malhotra , Alumni
87) Rajendran, Faculty
88) Dimple, Alumni

9 thoughts on “Statement Against State Violence in Kashmir: Ashoka University Students and Alumni

  1. Radhika

    Amazing, bold, courageous & refreshingly clearly thought & articulated statement from
    Ashoka university students & alumni!😊👍
    Hope other universities can follow suit!

  2. K SHESHU BABU

    Curfew on the pretext of law and order situation is causing lot if difficulties to the common people. Wage- earners are unable to earn their daily wage and are finding difficulty in purchasing essential food items. This problem must be addressed. Government should lift curfew immediately.

  3. Sanjay Ahirwal

    I am so happy that our students are thinking about events happening around them, and are articulating beautifully, not only about what they feel strongly about, but are also suggesting ways ahead. Bravo !

  4. Tahir Qazi

    My eyes teared up as I read what you, the young leaders of India, have written here. I have always believed in the humanity that is kicking and alive within the conscience of India. It is only a matter of time that leaders like you help the masses bring that humanity out and see the pain and suffering being inflicted on Kashmiris. It is only a matter of time that the Indian politicians will look into their hearts and truthfully prepare their nation for a plebiscite in Kashmir.

  5. The post mentioned above does not represent the views of Ashoka University as an institution. The headline and the sub-headline highlight that “Ashoka University students and alumni” are authors of the post and suggest that it is officially endorsed by Ashoka University. The letter published above is the collective personal view of its signatories (36 students, 49 alumni, 2 employees and 1 faculty member) and not of Ashoka University as an institution, nor does Ashoka support the views contained in the letter. We believe the blog post and its headline and sub-headline are misleading and damaging. Ashoka University does not endorse these views and these are independent views of a few individuals.

    Ashoka University is a liberal institution that believes in and affirms every individual’s the right to free speech and freedom of expression. However, we should point out that the University’s name cannot be used without prior authorisation by Ashoka University, which has not been granted in this case.

    Sachin Sharma,
    Registrar,
    Ashoka University

  6. I am a student at Ashoka and I stand by the letter in its spirit, which I believe is to see reduction of violence in the valley.

    I do not stand by the arguments largely because I have differing read of the situation. And also because the opinion of a group of 90 people out of over 600 doesn’t count as an endorsement from Ashoka University. It is disappointing that the signatories have put the name of Ashoka University in the mail when they do not, in fact represent any kind of majority of Ashoka’s students or the alumni body.

    Army is an instrument wielded by its political masters. Our politicians (in Delhi and Srinagar both) have chosen the path of violence and not the path of resolving issues. This is the same Kashmir that stood by India in 1965 when Pakistan was sure that Kashmiris want to leave India. See what kind of lines have our politicians have managed to draw between Kashmir and the rest of India?

    If Kashmir is India’s. Kashmiris are too, there is no existence of one without the other. Integrating Kashmir without integrating Kashmiris is simply absurd. And using army to rule an area has failed miserably repeatedly, Modern day examples of US in Afghanistan and Iraq, israel and Palestine all say the same thing. Even the British couldn’t rule us ising force. At least learn from them!! Stop using Army, and find another way.

    If army has to be used, put politics too in the picture. We solved Khalistan and NE issues, didn’t we?

    Also, People are dying on both sides just because politicians can’t seem to find a way to resolve the issue. And the media is not helping either.

  7. Pingback: Ashoka University Students Issue Clarification On Kashmir Petition

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