Skip to main content

Oppressor can't bring freedom to Kashmiri women: Modi told ahead of UN address

Counterview Desk
A statement, simultaneously issued from Delhi and New York, by 211 women from India and 185 from around the world, and endorsed by 87 women’s groups, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2019, has taken strong exception to what it calls “particularly pernicious” argument of the Government of India that the clampdown on Kashmir will the state’s women in the long run. 
The statement says, “Not only does this bolster the colonial tropes of a backward Muslim majority region whose women are in need of rescue by the civilisationally ‘superior’ people of India, it is based on outright falsehoods, misinformation, misrepresentations and false equivalences, that are being deliberately amplified, including by high state functionaries, despite being repeatedly debunked by experts and lawyers.”
It underlines, “The government’s concern for the women of Kashmir might have rung truer if members of the ruling party were not witnessed publicly gloating over their new found sexual access to Kashmiri women, now that Indian men can finally get ‘Kashmiri brides’, as though Kashmiri women are spoils of war.”

Text:

On 30 August 2019 30,the United Nations’ International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Parveena Ahangar, mother of Javaid, a 16 year old who was ‘disappeared’ by paramilitary forces in Kashmir in 1990 mourned again: “Every year, the families of APDP (Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons) come together on 30 August. This is our way of reassuring each other that we are not alone in our grief. Yet this year we have been strangled, and there was no coming together because through its siege, India has denied us even the right to mourn.”
Kashmir under siege. Kashmir caged. Kashmir imprisoned. Analogies abound for of the Indian Government‘s actions of August 5, 2019 when it unilaterally terminated the semi-autonomous Constitutional status granted to the region as a condition of its accession to India, and bifurcated it into two directly ruled Union Territories.
This action was preceded in the previous week by a military blockade, a state of undeclared emergency, and an unprecedented media and communications clampdown. An estimated 4,000 Kashmiris have been arbitrarily detained including politicians, business leaders, lawyers, human rights defenders, chartered accountants, journalists, teachers, and students.
Some are being held without charges or trial, under administrative detention laws such as the Public Safety Act, 1978 while the grounds of detention and whereabouts of a large number, including children as young as ten, remain unknown. An unknown number of people have been moved to prisons outside the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
The Indian government continues to declare that all is ‘normal’ in the face of credible and mounting evidence of a healthcare and humanitarian crisis, civilian deaths and blindings and other injuries in pellet gun attacks by Indian security forces, torture, molestations, and the severe curtailment of freedom of opinion, expression, and information; assembly and movement; and religious freedoms.
As the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addresses the UN General Assembly on 27 September and reasserts this claim of ‘normalcy’, we, the women of the world urge the global community to remember that 8 million Kashmiris will still be held hostage by close to 1 million Indian security personnel. Still stripped of their constitutional rights, fundamental freedoms and liberties. The promise of plebiscite given to them at the time of their accession to India, broken. Their right to self-determination, throttled. Their control over their lands, shattered.
Like colonised peoples anywhere, the future of the Kashmiri people is deeply uncertain. Their imprisonment is strengthened by the silence of world leaders, international civil society, the near complete gag on the media, as well as Indians who have celebrated the constitutionalised annexation of Kashmir, and believed the narrative that this is being done for their own good.
One particularly pernicious strand of this discourse has been that the move will benefit women, dalits and sexual minorities by granting them constitutional rights so far denied to them. Not only does this bolster the colonial tropes of a backward Muslim majority region whose women are in need of rescue by the civilisationally ‘superior’ people of India, it is based on outright falsehoods, misinformation, misrepresentations and false equivalences, that are being deliberately amplified, including by high state functionaries, despite being repeatedly debunked by experts and lawyers. The government’s concern for the women of Kashmir might have rung truer if members of the ruling party were not witnessed publicly gloating over their new found sexual access to Kashmiri women, now that Indian men can finally get “Kashmiri brides” as though Kashmiri women are spoils of war.
The Indian government claims Kashmir needs ‘development’, but its social development indices, including gender indicators such as maternal mortality, age of marriage, child sex ratio and female literacy are better than the Indian average. Land reforms enabled by Article 35A have reduced social and caste inequities and landlessness, and brought relative prosperity.
Like the women of Kashmir, we have also, all too often, been told that the violence and control we face in the home, family, community and nation is an ‘internal matter’
While acknowledging that militarisation and militarised sexual impunity exacerbates both public and private patriarchy, we need to listen to Kashmiri women, when they say, as they did to a recent Fact Finding delegation from India: “We are capable of fighting our own battles. We don’t want our oppressors to claim to liberate us!”.
The women of Kashmir should know. As successive governments in Delhi have systematically violated all democratic norms in Kashmir, it is the women of Kashmir who have been at the forefront of the struggles for justice, truth and accountability for widespread human rights violations particularly sexual violence and enforced disappearances. They have stepped out in protest, been jailed, sexually assaulted, and still risen to make sure they are heard.
As feminists, women’s rights activists, peace, democratic and civil rights’ activists, lawyers, academics, students, journalists, scientists, artists, writers, etc., we raise our voice today in salute and solidarity with the women of Kashmir. About 500 individual women and women’s organisations from about 30 countries across the globe – ranging from South Asian nations to the U.S, Iran to Indonesia, Afghanistan to Argentina, Europe to Mexico, Israel, Palestine, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa – stand with them in this, their darkest moment.
  • We condemn the actions of the Indian government and their dealing with a political problem as a territorial one.
  • We call for an end to the culture of fear and terror, violence and assault that has been cultivated in the state for far too long. 
  • We speak out against the continued detention of countless people of the state and demand their immediate release. 
  • We seek an immediate end to the Internet shutdown, lift on all restrictions on movement and communications, and a restoration of real ‘normalcy’. 
  • We call for restrictions be lifted in order to allow the independent media in Kashmir to carry out its duty of reporting facts and informing the public, without fear or favour. 
  • We urge the Indian government to step back from its current aggressions and stop the militarisation that has failed to solve the problem since independence. 
  • We seek a reinstatement of consultative processes with the people of Jammu and Kashmir on any action that concerns them, their lives and their community. 
  • We call for an end to the smokescreens of Kashmir being an ‘internal matter’ etc., to avoid meaningful dialogue. For that is the only way to evolve a long lasting peaceful solution to Kashmir. 
Because like the women of Kashmir, we have also, all too often, been told that the violence and control we face in the home, family, community and nation is an ‘internal matter’, not to be exposed to the world. But we all have lived and learnt the reality, that it is only in breaking our silence that we break the shackles of our oppressions. And in that fight, we #StandWithKashmir, #StandWithTheWomenOfKashmir!
For as Rev Dr Martin Luther King famously said: “No one is free until we are all free.”
---
Click HERE for the list of signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Govt of India 'compromising' on mandate to regulate gene technologies, protect nature

Counterview Desk  In a letter sent to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and other related ministries and departments, the Coalition for a GM-Free India has raised "serious concern" over the guidelines notified for Genome Edited Organisms, in which major exemptions from regulations have been offered to certain categories of Genome Edited Organisms/Plants and products. A letter signed by Sridhar Radhakrishnan and Kapil Shah, co-convenors of the NGO network, addressed to Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Bhupender Yadav, said, the Office Memorandum, dated May 17, 2022 of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology about Safety Assessment Guidelines, which follows the Office Memorandum dated March 30, 2022 of the MoEFCC, said, the move "essentially amounts to entry of risky GMOs through the backdoor. Text : Coalition for a  GM-Free India is a national volunteer-driven platform of hundre

Dalit scholar's comment on Lord Shiva 'harming' Muslims, 'damaging' secular cause

Shahid Siddiqui, Bobby Naqvi By Our Representative   Bobby Naqvi, who is with the "Gulf News", and is a well-known name among Muslim intellectuals, strongly objecting to the social media post of Prof Ratan Lal, has said that "a big reason for majoritarian hatred against Muslims is irresponsible remarks by people like Prof Ratan Lal of Delhi University." In a Facebook comment , which has attracted paise, among others, from journaliat-politician Shahid Siddiqui, Naqvi said, "Their commentary on Hinduism and icons of Hinduism (while angering religious and liberal Hindus alike) also triggers a massive backlash against Muslims. When the likes of Prof Lal criticize Hinduism on social media, Hindus bring Islam and Islamic practices and ask 'what about this' or 'what about that'." Naqvi insists, "Muslims (without their fault) and Islam get caught in this crossfire between the so called Hindu liberal class and the religious Hindus. And the ult