Indian state repression in Kashmir: Time to Break the Deafening Silence!


Campaign Against Fascist Attack on Universities (CAFAU) invites you for a Press Conference and Public Meeting –

– Gautam Navlakha, People’s Union for Democratic Rights
– Sanjay Kak, Independent filmmaker
– Rajinder Sachar, Retd Chief Justice, Delhi High Court
– Manisha Sethi, Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association
– Anil Chamadia, Noted Journalist
– Ish Mishra, Janhastakshep
– Sukumar Muralidharan , Noted Journalist

Indian state repression in Kashmir: Time to Break the Deafening Silence!

We are witnessing yet another summer of bloodshed and repression in Kashmir since the past two weeks. Nearly 50 people have been killed, and more than 2000 injured, many of them maimed and blinded for life by the deadly pellet guns used by the security forces. Widespread anger and grief among people in the valley after the killing of Burhan Wani, a young and popular militant, on the 8th of July led to almost 3 lakh people taking part in the funeral procession. Since then, the security forces have once again swooped down on the people in the valley and there has been news of deaths every day. Curfew has been imposed leading to the shortage of food and essential supplies. The world’s largest democracy has additionally cut off mobile and internet connections, and after raiding offices of Kashmiri press, a ban has been imposed on publication of newspapers for three days, so that any authentic news coming out from the valley exposing the falsehoods of mainstream media, can be crushed.

In Kashmir every citizen becomes a protestor by default. Their very existence is an act of protest, and they do not even need to be on the streets for the security forces to attack them. This time we have seen through images the savagery inflicted on the Kashmiris from the use of pellet guns, along with bullets, on unarmed civilians, which disperse hundreds of pieces of metal into the face and body of the person. This so-called non-lethal weapon, which is usually used to hunt animals, is maiming and blinding the people in hundreds. The doctors report that the injuries are in almost every case above the chest which is against all international conventions. Among those who have lost their eyes include young girls who were inside their houses when they were fired upon, old parents who were out enquiring about their children, and people taking the injured to the hospital. Ambulances carrying patients have been attacked and delayed, leading to the death of more young people, including a Delhi University student who had gone home to celebrate Eid. The forces have also fired tear-gas inside hospitals, terrorizing the injured and their families. If these are not war-crimes, then what are? The world watches on in criminal silence.

Unlike what the Indian government and the local political leaders would like us to believe, there is never any “normalcy” in the valley. There are only repressive and more repressive times. Between phases of extreme crackdown and repression, such as this, is the daily life which is marred by encounter killings, routine civilian killings, restrictions on mobility and connectivity, identification checks, frisking, detentions, humiliation, suffocation. Recall that just in April this year, a minor girl from Handwara had accused security personnel of molestation. Subsequently, 5 young protestors were killed, while the girl and her family faced detention, humiliation and still await justice. And, let us not forget the women of Kunan Poshpora who are still awaiting justice after 25 years. We recall with horror also the summers of 2008-2010, which each saw the killings of hundreds of young people in Kashmir. Years of repression and bullets were resisted with stones, and these stones were answered with more bullets. Rejecting the manufactured lies of normalcy, we want to ask this state machinery – why are lakhs of people losing all sense of fear and concern for their life, and continuing to come out in defiance?

The government has responded by sending in more troops to already most militarized region of the world. It has responded with more bullets and pellets. The AFSPA is another tool for maintaining this militarized occupation. Inspite of the recent Supreme Court criticism of the indefinite use of the AFSPA, the state has not learnt a lesson.

This phase of protest is neither sudden, nor just about the killing of a young militant. It is about decades of political betrayal and manipulation, inhuman repression and trauma, of anger and desperation. Any appeals to peace and restraint, from even otherwise well meaning Indians, should be addressed not to Kashmiris, but instead to the state and administration. The habit of equating state machinery’s brutalities with the Kashmiri people’s resistance, which many quarters of Indian left and civil society are continuously doing, is dangerous, unprincipled and ahistorical. The present unleashing of state brutality should shake us out of our long slumber and make us stand strongly with the political right and democratic aspirations of the people of Kashmir to decide their future. Recognizing this right cannot be taken as an affront on “nationalism”. Rather we need to question this nationalism and concept of nation where we are holding on to a land only by the force of the military and bullets.
A real solution lies only in fully recognizing this political right of the people of Kashmir, supporting their struggle whole-heartedly and speaking out against inhuman state atrocities.

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