All posts by Nivedita Menon

Women Of The World Stand With Kashmir

Statement issued on 27 September 2019.
NEW DELHI. NEW YORK
 

On 30 August 2019,the United Nations’ International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Parveena Ahangar, mother of Javaid, a 16 year old who was ‘disappeared’by paramilitary forces in Kashmir in 1990 mourned again.

Every year, the families of APDP (Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons) come together on 30 August. This is our way of reassuring each other that we are not alone in our grief. Yet this year we have been strangled, and there was no coming together because through its siege, India has denied us even the right to mourn.

Kashmir under siege. Kashmir caged. Kashmir imprisoned. Analogies abound for of the Indian Government‘s actions of August 5, 2019 when it unilaterally terminated the semi-autonomous Constitutional status granted to the region as a condition of its accession to India, and bifurcated it into two directly ruled Union Territories. This action was preceded in the previous week by a military blockade, a state of undeclared emergency, and an unprecedented media and communications clampdown. An estimated 4,000 Kashmiris have been arbitrarily detained including politicians, business leaders, lawyers, human rights defenders, chartered accountants, journalists, teachers, and students. Some are being held without charges or trial, under administrative detention laws such as the Public Safety Act, 1978 while the grounds of detention and whereabouts of a large number, including children as young as ten, remain unknown. An unknown number of people have been moved to prisons outside the state of Jammu & Kashmir.The Indian government continues to declare that all is ‘normal’ in the face of credible and mounting evidence of a healthcare and humanitarian crisis, civilian deaths and blindings and other injuries in pellet gun attacks by Indian security forces, torture, molestations, and the severe curtailment of freedom of opinion, expression, and information; assembly and movement; and religious freedoms. Continue reading Women Of The World Stand With Kashmir

Everyday Tips for Surviving Tyranny: Anonymous

Guest Post by ANONYMOUS

Suspected Banksy mural in London in support of environmentalist protest. 

As authoritarian right-wing populist leaders across the world unleash a reign of tyranny and hate, there is a need to think together about everyday strategies of survival. As an individual, it can get a bit overwhelming. Everything could look pointless. Many friends talk about how they find it impossible to write or work in an atmosphere of hate and violence. However, it is important to remember that what might look invincible today may not last for even half a decade. But while it lasts, how does one live under tyranny and what are the ways of building non-violent resistance? Continue reading Everyday Tips for Surviving Tyranny: Anonymous

Kashmir’s information bloackade: The Network of Women in Media, India and The Free Speech Collective

Report from Kashmir by a team from the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) and the Free Speech Collective (FSC) .

A month after the 5 August abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the continuing shutdown of communication in the Kashmir valley has resulted in the throttling of independent media. As journalists continue to face severe restrictions in all the processes of news-gathering, verification and dissemination, the free flow of information has been blocked, leaving in its wake a troubled silence that bodes ill for freedom of expression and media freedom.

In this, the latest and most intense phase in the ongoing conflict on Kashmir, the government of India has pulled out all the stops – political, legislative, militaristic and punitive. It has detained and arrested scores of people, including leaders of mainstream political parties. No other democratic government has attempted a communication blockade of this scale in Kashmir.

In an effort to determine the impact of the severe crackdown on communication on the media in Kashmir, a two-member team from the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) and the Free Speech Collective (FSC) spent five days in the Valley between 30 August and 3 September. The team spoke* to more than 70 journalists, correspondents and editors of newspapers and news-sites in Srinagar and South Kashmir, members of the local administration and citizens.

Key findings : Curbs on the media and its implications

Kashmir, a phone call away? Ramnik Mohan

Guest post by RAMNIK MOHAN

“The number you are calling is currently switched off. Please try again later.” This has been the stock computerized response I have heard on calling a friend in Jammu and Kashmir over the last twenty odd days, and still counting. The chirpy, happily surprised voice I heard across our mobiles when I informed my young friend about my sudden arrival in Srinagar last January is too stark a contrast to register today. ‘Lockdown’ is the new buzzword for Kashmir these days.

All links of communication with the rest of the country having been snapped in one fell swoop, it doesn’t quite require much of an effort for any sensitive human being to imagine how life must be for all the folk out there. Nor should it take much of an imagination for such a human being to think of the plight of Kashmiris in the rest of the country dying to hear the voices of near and dear ones separated thus.

Continue reading Kashmir, a phone call away? Ramnik Mohan

Queerness as disease – a continuing narrative in 21st century India: Kaushal Bodwal

Guest post by KAUSHAL BODWAL

In August 2018, it came to my knowledge that a few of my pictures wearing sarees were circulating in my extended family’s WhatsApp group. Phone calls from home regarding my “obscene” behaviour were followed by a shift in the entire conversation towards my having some illness that needed to be cured. At some point my mother called me to tell that one of my aunts knew a doctor who can heal me. My first thought was that she was joking; unfortunately, she was only too serious. Once I registered the gravity of the situation, I panicked. Even though I was staying in a closed campus, I was not sure of my family’s potential to do what they claimed they wanted to.

The issue was with both my gender expression and my sexuality. I was a male assigned at birth walking in a saree and they thought that it was because of my interest in men. One of my aunts assured my mother that my love for sarees will end once my homosexuality is cured. The next time I went home, I was anxious and terrified. I knew I had to speak to them and explain what was going on. There were going to be a lot of questions. It’s not as I had ready-made answers for them, especially since the understanding of gender and sexuality that I had was not easy to articulate in my native language of Haryanvi. Through whatever words I could, I came out to my parents. My mom cried and my father stood numb. But mostly, confused. Despite their anger and other emotional expressions, the overall emphasis was on going to a doctor to get me fixed. After all, I was sick. Continue reading Queerness as disease – a continuing narrative in 21st century India: Kaushal Bodwal

The RSS coup d’etat in India, and a collage of solidarity actions for Kashmir

Protest in Philadephia on abrogation of Article 370

Since the 5th of August, the now abolished state of Kashmir has been under de facto military rule, as shown both by news reports of the numbers of troops stationed there currently, as well as by a fact-finding report released after a visit to Kashmir by Jean Dreze, Kavita  Krishnan, Maimoona Mollah and Vimal Bhai, which begins:

When we arrived in Srinagar on 9 August, we found the city silenced and desolated by curfew, and bristling with Indian military and paramilitary presence. The curfew was total, as it had been since 5th August.

The intention of this post was initially only to put together a quick collage of some news items and statements of solidarity and protests across India and the world, on the abolition of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, bringing the two newly formed Union Territories directly under the rule of the Hindutva formation currently in power at the centre.

However, this move can only be understood in the context of the fact that since May 23, 2019, India is barely any longer even the formal democracy it claimed to be.  Effectively, a coup d’etat was carried out on that date by the RSS (now under the complete control of Modi-Shah), through the extremely dubious “sweeping victory” of the BJP.  We begin therefore with a section on RSS and The Lie as Political Strategy.

The second section is the compilation and in the third, some reflections on democracy in India today. Continue reading The RSS coup d’etat in India, and a collage of solidarity actions for Kashmir

Mujh se integration karogi? Sanghvaad and its war on women

Determined, defiant – not the Kashmiri women of Sanghi fantasies

Protest in Srinagar against the abrogation of Article 370 on August 11, 2019, despite the clampdown by the Indian government. Image courtesy The Wall Street Journal.

When trolls on social media started circulating photographs of young Kashmiri girls, gloating, “now we can marry them”, it was only the overt manifestation by Sanghis of the real spirit behind abrogating Article 370. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi held forth at length on development, rights to education, rights for women and for Dalits, all of which the people of J&K were deprived of because of Article 370, the truth of course, is that J&K stands in the top 10 to 15 states on  different indicators ranging from life expectancy, people served per government doctor, poverty rate and infant mortality rate, to human development index.

Or as Haseeb Drabu puts it:

The level of economic empowerment is evident from the fact that more than 25% of the household earnings in J&K are from own cultivation. In “prosperous” Punjab, it is only 18%, in “vibrant” Gujarat, it is less than 16% and in “terrific” Tamil Nadu, it is only 3%. And yet, J&K is being portrayed as a “sick” state.

Continue reading Mujh se integration karogi? Sanghvaad and its war on women