Over 250 activists condemn abrogation of Article 370, accuse Modi govt of using “majoritarian populism”

The full statement categorically accused the government of using its “majoritarian populism” to curb human rights and instill a wave of dystopia and fear around all minds of the country

UN calls for Kashmir human right inquiry
UN calls for Kashmir human right inquiry

NH Web Desk

On 15 August, over 250 academicians, artists and activists signed a statement, condemning the “inhumane” restrictions in Kashmir. They also opposed the way in which Section 370 was scrapping and called it undemocratic. These 250 signatories are predominantly from South Asia, but also from around the world. The full statement categorically accused the government of using its “majoritarian populism” to curb human rights and instil a wave of dystopia and fear across the country. The actions of the government show a complete lack of respect for constitutionalism, secularism, and democratic values, it added. The statement demands and urges the government to lift the communications blockade in Kashmir immediately and talk to the direct stakeholders of this decision, i.e., the Kashmiris.

Professors Partha Chatterjee, Sheldon Pollock, journalists AS Panneerselvan, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, historian Ayesha Jalal, photojournalist Shahidul Alam, diplomat Kul Chandra Gautam, writer Chandra Talpade Mohanty, physicists MV Ramana, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Zia Mian, and philosopher Martha Nussbaum are some of the signatories.

You can read the full statement here:

“The undersigned citizens of and friends of South Asia, who stand in solidarity with all freedom-loving citizens of this region, release this statement on Jammu and Kashmir.

We are deeply concerned by recent political developments in Jammu and Kashmir. We are distraught that the people of this beleaguered land, who have lived with violence and political disempowerment for decades, have now been subjected to a further erosion of their rights under the intensified military suppression of the last ten days.

Article 370 of the Indian Constitution represented a historical understanding between the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian state. On 5 August 2019, not only was Article 370 abrogated, but the very statehood of Jammu and Kashmir was abolished, bringing the region under New Delhi’s direct rule. The manner in which these abrogations were accomplished, through executive order and in the absence of a state legislature, is a betrayal of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, whose elected representatives were never consulted. This is a sharp departure from democratic governance, and the constitutional validity of these decisions has been rightfully challenged.

We condemn the curtailment of civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir: the blackout of telecommunications and internet services; the severe restrictions on media and on the freedoms of movement, peaceful assembly, and protest; and the violent suppression of demonstrations. These are all violations of international human rights obligations, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which India ratified in 1979.

We are alarmed by credible media reports of security forces having opened fire on peaceful protestors and disturbed by the denials issued by the authorities, who have gone on to accuse journalists of fabrication. We are gravely concerned by the Government of India’s silencing of voices of dissent, and detention of social activists, lawyers, journalists, and human rights defenders. We condemn the Government of India’s use of majoritarian populism to perpetuate a climate of fear across the country.

These actions of the Government of India exhibit a complete lack of respect for constitutionalism, secularism, and democratic values. This does not bode well for India’s people, who have, uniquely in South Asia, benefited from decades of democratic rule. We are apprehensive of India’s future as a democracy and the implications that this degeneration will have on its population of 1.2 billion as well as on the rest of the subcontinent.

We urge the Government of India to immediately end the inhuman clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir, to restore civil liberties as well as the flow of information, to immediately release all political detainees and prisoners, and to enter into dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

In the middle of August, when we are meant to celebrate independence from colonialism, we condemn this regression towards despotic rule. We stand in solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and with people across India and South Asia who aspire to peace, prosperity, and fundamental freedoms.

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