End repression in Kashmir: A call from civil society

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 integrity 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. Aditya Nigam, CSDS
  3. Ajmal Khan, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
  4. Ajayan Adat
  5. Akanksha, activist
  6. Akhila Vasan
  7. Alpana Jain
  8. Amar Jesani, Independent Public health and Bioethics Consultant
  9. Amla Pisharody
  10. Amlendu Upadhyay, senior journalist
  11. Ammu Abraham, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  12. Amrita Howlader, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  13. Anand Mazgaonkar,
  14. Anand Patwardhan, filmmaker
  15. Anand Teltumbde, General Secretary, CPDR (Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights)
  16. Anannya Bhattacharjee, Garment and Allied Workers Union
  17. Angana Chatterji, Feminist Scholar
  18. Anjali, student
  19. Anjali Singh, student
  20. Anil Sinha
  21. Anindita Mukherjee, Lawyer
  22. Antony Samy, activist, Jagrut Kamgar Manch
  23. Anuradha Banerji, research scholar
  24. Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times
  25. Anuradha Kapoor
  26. Aquila Khan, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  27. Archee Roy, student
  28. Aritra Bhattacharya, Journalist, The Statesman
  29. Arundhati Dhuru, National Alliance of People’s Movements
  30. Arun Ferreira, member, CPDR
  31. Arya Raje, Lawyer
  32. Aswathy Senan, Delhi University
  33. Ayesha Kidwai, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  34. Murlidhar Reddy, Senior Journalist
  35. Baljeet Kaur, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
  36. Bernard D’Mello
  37. Binayaka Sen, activist (PUCL)
  38. Binu Matthew, Editor, http://www.countercurrents.org
  39. Chayanika Shah, member, LABIA and FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  40. Brinelle D’souza, Academician
  41. Chetan Priyadarshi, Lawyer
  42. Chhaya Datar
  43. Chinu Srinivasan, SAHAJ/LOCOST
  44. Cubbykabi Sherman, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  45. Cynthia Stephen, Founder, DAWNS(Dalit Women’s Network for Solidarity)
  46. Debalina, activist
  47. Deepa Venkatachalam, Social Scientist
  48. Deepti Gopinath, Indian Airports Employees’ Union
  49. Devika Shetty, Disability Rights Advocacy
  50. Dibyesh Anand, Professor, University of Westminster, UK
  51. Divya Kalanthingal, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
  52. Divya Trivedi, journalist
  53. Dolphy A. D’souza, Convenor, Police Reforms Watch
  54. Fatima N, Member, Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum
  55. Freny Manecksha, independent journalist
  56. Gautam Bhan, activist and author
  57. Geeta Seshu, independent journalist
  58. Gouranaga Mohapatra, Jan Swasthaya Abhiyan, Odisha
  59. Gouri Patwardhan, filmmaker
  60. Harsh Mander, activist, writer
  61. Hartman de Souza, Writer
  62. Hasina Khan, member, Bebaak Collective and FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  63. Heer Ganjawala, filmmaker
  64. Heidi Pereira, student, Ambedkar University
  65. Hussain Indorewala, Teacher
  66. Illina Sen, author and activist
  67. Irfaan Engineer, CSSS(Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
  68. Jagdish John Menezes, Lawyer
  69. Jairus Banaji, Professor and Historian
  70. Jashodhara Dasgupta, Sahayog, India
  71. Javed Anand, Co-editor, Communalism Combat
  72. Jayashree Velankar, NAMHHR (National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights)
  73. Jenny Sulfath, student, TISS
  74. Jhelum Roy, researcher
  75. Jinda Sandbhor, researcher
  76. Juhi Bansal, Lawyer
  77. Jyoti Punwani, independent journalist
  78. Kalpana Mehta, Activist
  79. Kalyani Menon, feminist researcher and writer
  80. Kamal KM, filmmaker, teacher
  81. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, feminist and human rights activist
  82. Karuna D W, researcher, Chennai
  83. Kavita Krishnan, Secretary AIPWA (All India Progressive Women’s Association)
  84. Kavita Pai
  85. Khateeja Talha, member, Space Theatre Ensemble
  86. Kochurani Abraham, Kerala
  87. Kokila Mitra, research scholar
  88. Koyel Ghosh, school teacher
  89. Koyel Majumder, student
  90. Kranti LC, Lawyer
  91. Kritika Aggarwal, GLC, Mumbai
  92. Kulajit Maisanam, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
  93. Labanyendu Das, Lawyer
  94. Lalita Ramdas, peace, human rights and anti-nuclear activist and Founder, Greenpeace, India
  95. Lara Jesani, Lawyer
  96. Lina Mathias
  97. Madhavi Kuckreja, women’s’ rights activist and founder, Vanangana
  98. Madhurima Ghosh, student
  99. Mahtab Alam, Activist, Journalist
  100. Malini Parthasarthy, former Editor, the Hindu
  101. Malobika, activist
  102. Manisha Sethi, Activist, Professor – Jamia Millia Islamia
  103. Manoj Jha, teacher, activist
  104. Mary Antony, activist, Jagrut Kamgar Manch
  105. Mary E John, CWDS
  106. Medha Patkar, activist, Narmada Bachao Andolan
  107. Meena Gopal, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  108. Meena Kandasamy, Poet, Writer, Activist
  109. Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
  110. Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate
  111. Milind Champanekar, activist, CPDR
  112. Mirza Saaib Beg, Lawyer
  113. M J Pandey, Journalist
  114. Monica Sakhrani, Lawyer
  115. Monisha Behal
  116. Mubashira Zaidi, Institute of Social Studies Trust, New Delhi
  117. Mukta Srivastava, activist (NAPM)
  118. Murali Karnam, Faculty, School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance, TISS
  119. Vasudevan, Convenor, Trade Union Solidarity Committee, Mumbai
  120. Nandini Manjrekar, Professor, TISS
  121. Nimisha
  122. Niranjan Takle, Principal Correspondent, the Week
  123. Nisha Biswas, Kolkata
  124. Nitish Nawsagaray, Dalit Rights activist
  125. Nivedita Menon, JNU
  126. Norma Alvares, Senior Advocate and environmental activist
  127. Omar Rashid, journalist
  128. Pallavi Gupta
  129. Pamela Philipose, journalist, writer and editor
  130. Paramita Banerjee, Activist and Development professional
  131. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta
  132. Paromita Chakravarty
  133. Poushali Basak, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  134. Pranita Kulkarni, Journalist
  135. Preenita Banerjee, Lawyer
  136. Preeti Mehra
  137. Purnima Rao, writer
  138. Srivatsan, Social Scientist
  139. Rachana Johri
  140. Rahul Singh
  141. Rajashree Gandhi
  142. Raj Merchant, member, LABIA
  143. Admiral Ramdas
  144. Ramesh Awasthi, PUCL, Maharashtra
  145. Ram Puniyani, activist, writer, teacher
  146. Ranjani Srinivasan, student
  147. Ranjit Biswas, Psychiatrist and Research-activist
  148. Ratnapriya, student
  149. Ravi Duggal, independent health researcher and activist
  150. Ravi Kadam
  151. Rhea Bose
  152. Richa Minocha, member secretary, Jan Abhiyan Sanstha, Shimla
  153. Ritika Ramasuri
  154. Ritu Dewan, Author, Professor, Director – CSSS (Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
  155. Rohini Hensman, Independent Scholar, Writer and Activist
  156. Rohit Prajapati, trade union and environmental activist
  157. Rukmini Sen, academician
  158. Sabina Basha
  159. Sagari Ramdas, veterinary scientist
  160. Sakina Bohora, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  161. Samir Dass, Jan Swasthaya Abhiyan, Jharkhand
  162. Sampa Dasgupta, Development Professional
  163. Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party (India)
  164. Sandhya Gokhale, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  165. Sanjay Ranade, Professor, University of Mumbai
  166. Sanober Keshwaar , lecturer and activist
  167. Saranga Ugalmugle, Lawyer
  168. Sarojini N, Health Researcher
  169. Saswati Ghosh, Sociologist, women’s rights activist
  170. Satarupa Santra, academician
  171. Satnam Singh, Convener, Jan Swasthaya Abhiyan, Haryana
  172. Satyam Shrivastava, (SRUTI)
  173. Satyen Bordoloi
  174. Seema Azad, journalist, activist
  175. Setu
  176. Shabana Khan, activist, CPDR
  177. Shabnam Hashmi, Activist, ANHAD
  178. Shakeel, Convener, Jan Swasthaya Abhiyan, Bihar
  179. Shals Mahajan, writer
  180. Sheetal, student, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  181. Shefali Saini, TISS, Mumbai
  182. Shinzani Jain
  183. Shoma Sen, Joint Secretary (CPDR)
  184. Shraddha Chatterjee, research scholar
  185. Shreosi Ray, researcher
  186. Shruti Chakravarty, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  187. Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Raqs Media Collective
  188. Shujaat Bhukari, senior journalist and editor, Rising Kashmir
  189. Siddharth Chakravarty, Oceans Policy and Law
  190. Simpreet Singh
  191. Smita Gandhi, Academician
  192. Srabasti Majumder, research scholar
  193. Sreejith Murali, Ambedkarite Students Association-TISS
  194. Suchitra Thapar, independent researcher
  195. Sujata Gothoskar, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  196. Sukanya Shantha, independent Journalist
  197. Sukla Sen, Peace Activist
  198. Sumita, Activist and Development Professional
  199. Surabhi Sharma, filmmaker
  200. Suresh Sawant, activist
  201. Susan Abraham, Executive Committee member, CPDR
  202. Sushmita Verma, member, CPDR and Bastar Solidarity Network
  203. Swapna Banerjee-Guha
  204. Swarnima Bhattacharya, Women’s Feature Service
  205. Swati Singh, Lawyer
  206. Swathi Seshadri, Bangalore
  207. Swatija Paranjpe, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  208. Tanieem, student
  209. Tarun Bhartiya, filmmaker and writer
  210. Teesta Setalvad, Journalist, activist
  211. Tejas Harad, Economic and Political Weekly
  212. Trina Mukhopadhyay, research scholar
  213. Ujwalla Mhatre, Head of School, Vanita Vishram High School
  214. Ulka Mahajan, Activist
  215. Uma Chakravarty, Historian
  216. Uma V Chandru
  217. Usha Iyer, Assistant Professor, Stanford University
  218. Vani Subramaniam, member, Saheli
  219. Varda Dixit
  220. Varun Agarwal, Lawyer
  221. Vasanth Kannabiran, Activist and Writer
  222. Veena Gowda, Lawyer
  223. Vibhuti Patel, Academician and Activist
  224. Vidya Subramaniam, Senior Journalist
  225. Vikas Urs
  226. Vinitha Ramchandani, author
  227. Virginia Saldanha, activist
  228. Vrijendra, Lecturer and Human Rights Activist
  229. Vrinda Grover, Lawyer and Activist
  230. Wilfred D’Costa , INSAAF
  231. Yashasvi Mishra
  232. 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. Feminism in India
  8. Fem Positive
  9. Forum Against Oppression of Women
  10. LABIA — A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
  11. Radical Study Circle- TISS
  12. Rihai Manch, Lucknow
  13. Sabrang India
  14. Saheli, Delhi
  15. Tamilnadu Women’s Forum

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “End repression in Kashmir: A call from civil society

  1. Dinesh Shah

    The government must become true guardian of the citizens. The entire machinery is acting as if Kashmiris are from an enemy country and the state is a battle field.
    A discerning administration would not have acted so ruthlessly.
    It is time good consul prevails and our own people are not alienated forever. I think still there is hope.

  2. Hartman de Souza

    232 individuals with something other than false nationalism behind them, 15 well-know and respected organizations have signed this. What does this government have to say?

    The Nation Wants to Know…

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