100 days of siege

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Amna Malik

November 12 marked the completion of 100 days of lockdown and shutdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir following the revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state on August 5. On this day India unilaterally abrogated the limited autonomy of India-administered Kashmir, the key to Kashmir’s 1947 temporary accession treaty with India. That decision was accompanied by a harsh crackdown, with India sending tens of thousands of troops in addition to the 500,000 troops already present there, imposing a sweeping curfew, arresting thousands and cutting virtually all communications. The state-enforced siege on the lives of the people of Kashmir began in the summer. It remains intact as the winter begins. Officially intended for the ‘protection’ of lives but actually designed to instill fear and submission, the siege has choked not just the freedom of expression, communication and association but also the economy. No aspect of daily life remains unaffected. The markers of the siege are visible everywhere a censored press, more bunkers, longer military convoys, soldiers atop military vehicles, standing guard on either side of the road with batons and guns in their hands, bringing civilian traffic to an abrupt halt; coils of wires and road blockades occupying virtually all main roads and crossings. The communications blockade, the voluntary shutdown, protests, growing anger, dispossession, humiliation, and loss, all of this has cumulated into dark clouds of despondency hovering over the valley in the past three months. Uncertainty pervades the air. The passage of time has only added to the gloom. There are no clearer answers, especially about when this abnormal situation will end. Despite all the restrictions and the denial of basic rights to communicate and express views freely online and offline, the will to survive and defy is visible everywhere. India’s move also included bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir – India’s only Muslim-majority state into two “union” territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, to be administered by the federal government. The article granted Indian-administered Kashmir a degree of autonomy and restricted ownership rights to only natives of the disputed territory. It is Kashmir’s education sector that has been the worst hit as schools and colleges remained shut and students lose more than three months of their academic calendar. Business is also affected as shopkeepers observe a self-imposed shutdown to protest India’s move. Bunkers and barricades were erected overnight in schools and colleges as troops occupied educational institutions across the valley. While the government announced their opening, parents said they were apprehensive about sending their children to schools amid the clampdown. There has been an unprecedented use of pellet guns by the Indian forces to curb protests in the Kashmir valley. Pellets fired upon unarmed protesters cause severe injuries and even blindness. Scores of people, including young boys and children, have been injured since August 5. Kashmir’s tourism industry suffered a big jolt after Article 370 was scrapped. It was a season of gloom and despair for Kashmiris but as Kashmir lost its status, they also lost their business as well. During these hundred days India violated the United Nations Security Council resolutions, international conventions, bilateral agreements and a number of times perpetrated severe human rights violations in the Held Kashmir.
Pakistan has always rejected India’s unilateral decisions with regard to Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan rejected revocation of the article 370 by India on August 5, the “bifurcation” of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories by India on October 31, the political map issued by India home ministry on November 2 and renewed the pledge that Pakistan will continue moral, political and diplomatic support of the suppresses Kashmiris till the resolution of the issue according to the UN Security Council resolutions and according to the aspirations of Kashmiris. The illegal and unilateral changes effected by India are in no way an “internal matter” as the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains on the agenda of the Security Council. Furthermore, contrary to the false projection by the Indian authorities, the purpose of these illegal changes in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir is neither development of the region nor welfare of the Kashmiri people. The real motive is to alter the demographic structure of the Muslim majority state in pursuance of the extremist “Hindutva” ideology. The people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir will never accept the illegal and forceful occupation. The illegal unilateral actions taken by India would only further aggravate the human rights situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir threats to destabilize the peace, security and stability of the South Asian region as well as the world. India should stop brutalizing the innocent Kashmiris who are suffering under its illegal occupation for the last seven decades. India should immediately withdraw its military forces from the region, remove draconian laws, restore basic human rights of the people, free all detainees, lift all restrictions on the free movement and communications, allow unimpeded and full access to the UN.
and other international human rights observers, including independent foreign media

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