Skip to main content

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.
We were met with an eerie silence as we went past locked classrooms to the staff-room that had ten teachers. The teachers of this school -- and several teachers of other schools and colleges we met -- told us that no classes have been held since August 5. When we tried taking a photograph of a locked classroom, the teachers panicked. They came running and would not let us leave until we deleted the photograph from our mobile phone.
We realised that the 98% attendance that the Home Minister Amit Shah was claiming is that of teachers and not students. We are also told by Amit Shah that examinations have been conducted in schools. Reality is, that question papers, for all except the Board examinations, were taken by teachers to homes of students and answer sheets brought back to schools. Many parents now have to spend up to Rs 5,000 per month on private tuitions at home.
Imran, an apple tradesman of Kulgam district recounted the horror faced by his friend around November 23. The friend, a taxi driver, was returning to Srinagar from Banihal after sunset. He was first made to wait in his taxi for over 4 hours outside the city limits because an army convoy had to pass. The army at the check post asked him to turn on the lights inside his car but the light wasn’t working.
This mechanical glitch in his car became the reason for him being brutally beaten up by the army. He returned home with blood spurting out from his nose and forehead. Feroze, a baker from Ramban in the Jammu region, was threatened with arrest for asking the local authorities to reconstruct a broken bridge. With much exasperation he said “I was not raising any so-called anti-national slogans. I was merely asking them to build a bridge.”
These are just a handful of testimonies from our recently attempted ‘Restore Democracy March’ from Jammu to Srinagar. The marchers weren’t allowed to interact freely with the press or with the local community in many places. The police stopped the march at Ramban, midway between Jammu and Srinagar.
Indeed, a police vehicle followed us and ensured that we crossed the Ramban district border on the way back to Jammu. Nevertheless, six among us continued our journey to Kashmir the following day from Jammu around the 4 months completion of the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A. The clampdown on Kashmir, the poster child of subversion in India, still continues.
Youth, who continue to be detained in Kashmir, are released on a condition that some community members sign a bond that the person being released will not speak against the abrogation of Article 370. “Effectively, for every detainee, 10-15 others are being held as virtual hostages”, said Khurram Parvez of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies. “Kashmir has been a laboratory for military adventurism for the sake of winning elections. Has India been able to win the heart of even a single Kashmiri with the barrel of a gun?” he lamented.
Another senior Kashmiri man said with a mix of pain and agony, ‘Unofficially more than 40,000 innocent civilians are languishing in jails without trial for no fault of theirs. After being subjected to such harsh injustice, how does the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government expect them to support India? Majority in Kashmir have now turned against India after 5th August. Even I am deeply hurt by the decision as it is akin to snatching away my identity.’
This sentiment was not limited to Kashmir alone. Anand, a Kashmiri Pandit, in Udhampur employed with a telecom company said “Article 370 for the residents of J&K was like the peacock feather on Lord Krishna’s head. Now we have been reduced to being slaves of Delhi.”
As per news reports, there are less than 300 “militants” in Kashmir. To counter them there are 8 lakh military and 1.5 lakh local police. This roughly translates to one security person for every 10 civilians and close to 2,700 security persons for every “militant”!
Reportedly close to 500 security persons have committed suicides owing to the tortuous psychological conditions. While a few army men we spoke with expressed their work as “duty where right and wrong don’t matter”, some were annoyed at the manner in which they were brought to J&K prior to 5 August on the pretext that they would be on election duty and could leave soon after. But they’ve been ordered to stay till the situation becomes 'normal.' This, in itself, contradicts the government’s claim of situation in J&K being normal.
Government employees, all within a day, were coerced to sign an agreement making a choice to serve either of the two Union Territories -- J&K or Ladakh, implicitly endorsing the government's decision. People, reportedly, have to sign a similar agreement saying that they abide by the government’s decision of abrogating Article 370 even to get a broadband connection at home in Kashmir.
A Kashmiri Pandit said: Article 370 was like peacock feather on Lord Krishna’s head for  J&K residents. We've been reduced to slaves of Delhi
The local cable channels are barred from showing local news about Kashmir. Some college students in Jammu region expressed much anguish about the disruption of internet facilities. They aren’t able to apply to other places to study and some of them had to go to Punjab just to download their admit cards.
About 3.5 to 5 lakh migrant labourers were sent back to India before August 5. “It may not be a surprise that after some time Kashmiris may be blamed for this just like they are blamed for driving out the Kashmiri Pandits, even though they were evacuated then, initially only for several months, on the pretext of some planned action against militants, both of which have now prolonged.” said Khurram Parvez.
We saw vacant houses near Pulwama belonging to Kashmiri Pandits, keeping open the option for them to return. Additionally, we also saw a colony established for Hindu government employees here. “We Kashmiris are proud of our culture, Kashmiriyat, which is inclusive and syncretic” said Ghulam Mizrab of the Communist Party of India.
J&K is enveloped in a ministry of fear. The overarching impression everywhere was one of anguish, uncertainty, loss of rights, and financial loss. Mir, an elderly gentleman, speaking eloquently about the history of J&K, referred to the abrogation as the biggest betrayal so far. With much anger he remarked “I have lived all my life here. Everybody knows me and yet some outsider in uniform from Madras, Bombay or Delhi comes and asks for my identity?” Everybody in Kashmir was scared of being recorded on video or audio, lest they be arrested under Public Safety Act.
On our way back from Srinagar to Jammu, we were stuck in traffic for nearly 5 hours in Qazigund. Amidst heavy army patrol, vehicles were made to stand in a single file so that if required army convoy can pass. A jeep tried to overtake and occupy an empty spot behind a standing lorry. This angered an army man who broke the window and shattered the glass panel of the jeep. A taxi driver standing there asked, “Does this also happen in the rest of India?”
Given the recent State sanctioned violence and police brutality in Uttar Pradesh against protestors of the patently discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act, the answer to the rhetorical question of the taxi driver has changed dramatically in a month. For a purportedly democratic country, it is a matter of shame and condemnation that Kashmir continues to be haunted while some other parts of the country are rapidly degenerating into a quasi Kashmir situation.
---
*Teaches at Azim Premji University, Bangaluru, **socio-political activist

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

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.

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

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

A Marxian trend that queries undemocratic customs and traditions of capitalism

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  A very well-meaning comrade called me a pluriversal Marxist with a wild smile full of English irony, while chairing my book release function in the Marx Memorial Library, London. I dedicate this piece to her… There is no other philosopher who is more abused and misunderstood like Marx. There is no other philosophy like Marxism which is more demonised on a regular basis. The mindless vilification campaign against Marx and Marxism continues without any form of reason. The propaganda and portrayal of Marxism as a devilish doctrine signify its importance as a philosophy of human emancipation from the very forces who demonise it. Marxism is a philosophy of praxis which helps us to understand the centrality of creative power of labour in producing socially meaningful value. It helps us to analyse the laws governing production, distribution, consumption, exchange, market, profit, pricing and private property in the development of class-based society. As a humanist p