//NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir

NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir

NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir

19 Oct 2019

Goa

NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir


On August 5th and 6th, 2019, a presidential decree was issued which effectively revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution that guaranteed special rights to Jammu and Kashmir. The attempted abrogation of Article 370 has taken away the right of the people of the valley, to its own separate constitution and autonomy to make laws on all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs. Further the unilateral introduction of the Jammu and Kashmir Re-Organization Act 2019 has even taken away it’s status of a state and turned it into a Union Territory. 


NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir

These changes with regards to the fate of almost 14 million people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir were made in a deceitful and contrived manner. There was a meticulous build-up of military and paramilitary presence in Kashmir as thousands of additional troops were brought in prior to the move and the state further imposed a crippling curfew, shut down telecommunications and Internet, and arrested political leaders- many of whom have been formerly elected representatives of the state, including former Chief Ministers of the State of J &K.


NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir

The history of the Kashmir dispute from 1947 largely has been a constant battle between Kashmiri’s and Indians; however it has been a dispute to which Pakistan and China also have been a party.  The decision of the Indian government has further convoluted an already tense situation across the border. We now face the harsh reality of two nuclearised adversaries making dangerous threats against each other. Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still alive from nearly 75 years ago. The very thought of an armed confrontation between India and Pakistan is chilling. Irresponsible threats from both sides have soured the prospect for dialogue.


NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir

Deeply concerned by the aberration of human rights and many reports of indiscriminate actions by the authorities, several groups visited Kashmir on fact-finding delegations. Some were turned back with no valid reason while others were let in but with huge restrictions on their movements and capacity to record testimonies of the facts about the situation.


NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir

Deeply concerned by the aberration of human rights and many reports of indiscriminate actions by the authorities, several groups visited Kashmir on fact-finding delegations. Some were turned back with no valid reason while others were let in but with huge restrictions on their movements and capacity to record testimonies of the facts about the situation.


NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir

The NCHRO, Goa Unit has read with anxiety reports that trickle in.  It is for this reason that we invited a lawyer and human rights defender, Saranga Ugalmugle, to address a group of concerned citizens on 19th October 2019. Our intention was to know more about facts-on-the-ground and the historicity of the issues. We also wanted to play our part as responsible in being part of the solution in a conflict that has ridden our country for over 70 years by now. We realized that even though distance separates us from Kashmir, we needed to be part of a national discourse that seeks peace with justice in Kashmir. Ultimately it is the Indian state, elected by Indian people, which is taking these decisions on the fate of Kashmiri’s under the garb of our validation for the same. As concerned citizens, we find it necessary to reject such decisions and atrocities committed by our elected representatives.   


NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir

The collective aspirations of the people of the valley, the ongoing committed resistance of the people and the resulting structured state violence on them needs to be understood in the context of its history. The internal situation in Kashmir today according to those who have visited recently is cause for alarm. The internet in the valley has not been functioning since midnight on 4th of August, 2019. The telecommunications services are effectively off, though landlines and postpaid mobile services in certain areas have been very recently restored. The roads are barricaded with barbed wires in many areas, thereby restricting the regular movement of people. The schools were shut in the beginning. Though the schools have now been opened by the state, the parents have not been sending their kids to schools, both- as a matter of protest as well as due to their fear of the safety of their children.


NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir

The presence of massive amount of military and paramilitary forces has been a reality in the Kashmir valley for a few decades now, post 5th of August it has only increased. There are numerous instances of alleged illegal detentions of minors as well as adults, cases of alleged torture by the armed forces and various incidents of vandalism and destruction of homes and properties of families allegedly by the J&K Police and the armed forces. The courts, though functioning, are being boycotted in many instances by the lawyers. Few of the prominent lawyers practicing in the Srinagar High Court have also been detained under frivolous charges. As much as it is difficult to accept the reality of what the Indian state is doing in the valley it is our responsibility as citizens who subscribe to democratic values of our state, to question our state.


There is no immediate approach to peace that is possible. Peace can best emerge from incremental steps based on confidence building measures. Our own commitment to the situation is to advocate for a number of measures that we urge the government of India to take to ease the situation. These include:


NCHRO Goa calls out for democracy, peace and justice in Kashmir
  1. Immediate restoration of Articles 370 and 35A and its statehood
  2. Restore landlines, mobile, internet, broadband services with immediate effect
  3. Release all political leaders, social activists, youth, and children, withdraw all cases that have no legal substance and are merely vindictive. 
  4. We must view Kashmir as a political question that requires a comprehensive dialogue and that needs a tripartite agreement that would include Kashmiri leaders.
  5. We must preempt terror through comprehensive talks as suggested above applying out-of-the-box solutions thus delegitimizing militant groups and non-state actors based in Pakistan.
  6. We must allow for exchanges between people on issues of trade, medicine, cultural, educational, and sports must be actively pursued so as to create the grounds for forging a sense of being from countries with a common heritage and, hence, a common destiny. 
  7. Citizens who have been affected by the conflict through political measures must be steered towards the traditionally peaceful composite culture called Kashmiriyat, signifying the centuries-old indigenous secularism of Kashmir that demanded religious and social harmony and needs to be restored to the valley. 
  8. It is important to recognize that Muslims in the valley want the Pandits integrated, not in segregated townships. Perhaps, this will require an incremental approach. 
  9. Must repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Public Safety Act in its current form. 
  10. We must restore tourism and all other livelihood activities and ensure that the gains of such activities bring gains to the people. 
  11. Facilitate greater dialogue and engagement among human rights and civil liberties groups in J& K and with civil society. 
  12. Most importantly political rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir must be protected and the will of the people must be paramount in making any decisions on.
The Goan NewsPaper – 20-October-2019

http://epaper.thegoan.net/c/44862453