Ram Madhav, please spare 3 minutes to read and respond

The BJP General Secretary on Sunday reiterated the govt’s policy of eliminating the last dissenter and not to talk to anyone holding a stone in the Valley, a citizens’ report provides the flip side

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Saurav Datta

It was a 10-day visit by a citizens’ group to 10 districts in the Kashmir Valley late last year. But the report by the 25-member group was released last week at the Constitution Club. The report, it was claimed, explained why Kashmiri youth have been hurling stones at the security forces, something which the Government and the security forces seem determined not to address.

The report goes on to make the following points :

  • A large section of people in the Valley see action by security forces as ‘acts of vengeance’ to force people to subjugation and taking away their democratic right to protest peacefully.

  • A regime of indiscriminate arrests and killings, of enforced disappearances, of “mass-blindings” by the use of pellet guns and PAVA (Pellargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide- an organic compound found in chilli pepper) shells had been unleashed.

  • Mosques, sites of peaceful protests and meetings which provide both financial and material support to the community, were targeted, especially during Friday prayers.

  • Security forces would enter mosques with their shoes on , snatch public address systems and vandalise graves.

  • In many villages, prayers at mosques were disallowed and the local media gagged from carrying these reports.

  • In a span of four months between July and November, 31 students were killed including a class VII student who tried to flee out of fear.

  • As many as 24 schools were set on fire by security forces, forcing the community to set up makeshift schools in mosques, open ground and private homes.

  • While these informal schools were functioning during curfew hours, government teachers who opted to teach at these schools were intimidated, arrested and prevented from teaching.

A bitter Khurram Parvez of JKCCS declared at the panel discussion that Indians should stop “thinking and speaking for Kashmiris” and instead worry about themselves, for the illegal military occupation in Kashmir is being replicated in various other parts of India.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising was sharply critical of the way in which draconian laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act have been used. She noted how the AFSPA has been continuously used to overawe and take over the civil administration, in blatant violation of the government’s undertaking not to do so, given to the Supreme Court in 1997.

Documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, whose 2007 documentary Jashn-e-Azadi has been repeatedly censored by the Indian state, said, “We are in a curious situation where the army itself is asking for a political solution in Kashmir”, and hence it is imperative for India to recognise and fulfill the right to self- determination, “else the gangrene set in by India won’t remain confined to the Pir Panjal”.

“Even the percentage of students sitting for the centralized Class X and XII examinations is regularly used by the Indian state to display the degree of ‘normalcy’ in the valley, much like the voter turnout in elections,” the report pointed out.

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