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We, the undersigned, are dismayed over the ongoing crisis in Kashmir. We have watched in horror and shock the repetitive cycle of state aggression leading to violence, deteriorating state of civil liberties, violation of fundamental rights and ever escalating loss of human life and dignity in Kashmir. In the last 115 days, we have lost over 100 lives in Kashmir.More than 15,000 civilians have been injured, out of which 4500 persons have suffered grievous injuries due to pellet-guns, 4664 have been injured by bullets.Over 8000 people have been arrested out of which 434 people have been detained under the Public Safety Act (toll as on October 30, 2016).

The immediate response of the Indian state to the recent uprising in Kashmir was the imposition of curfew, which is continuing till date. A media gag where newspaper offices have been raided, copies confiscated and editors threatened with dire consequences, accompanied it. Journalists reporting the situation have been attacked, intimidated and threatened with violence by those supposedly responsible for protecting them. Most recently the government banned the publication of Kashmir Reader, a daily newspaper published from Srinagar.

Pursuant to this, a complete communication blockade was imposed and Internet services were cut down. Even voices outside Kashmir that spoke of the ongoing failure of state were targeted on social media, their posts deleted and accounts blocked. The means of communication and information flow from and into Kashmir are severely disrupted. Accompanying the communication blockade is an economic blockade in which the supply of food, medicines and other basic necessities are also affected, standing crops being burnt and orchards damaged.

It is unconscionable on the part of the Indian state to exacerbate the situation by choking the lifeline of people in Kashmir. There are reports of vandalism and violence during raids by the police and security forces. As the pillars of a modern democracy are wrecked with the media gag, the abuse of the impunity accorded to the law enforcement agencies is bound to escalate. There have been instances of harassment, abuse and baseless arrests of Kashmiris working and studying, not only in Kashmir but also in different parts of India, for having voiced their political views.

A blockade on the channels of non-violent protest by the arrests of human rights defenders, legal activists and even volunteers supplying aid in hospitals on baseless grounds has aided the creation of spaces for violent protests. The wanton use of force along with the lack of accountability has contributed immensely to the crisis prevailing in Kashmir.

Intense militarization of the valley has left deep scars on the social, economic and psychological well being of every life in Kashmir. Laws such as Public Safety Act (PSA), Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) etc., are draconian and are not conducive to contributing to a solution. Irrespective of what the situation is, whether we agree with what the Kashmiris are demanding or not, there is no law in India which allows the Indian armed forces to use their position to ransack people’s houses, decimate their food grains, crops and livestock.

It is disturbing to witness the Indian media pumping up jingoistic fervor in the minds of people in India. The propagation and glorification of state aggression and war mongering by the government, media and almost every political party has led to a lethal form of pro-state fanaticism. The success of the state machinery in realizing this propaganda also highlights the failure of the Indian civil society.

We therefore call on all readers and human rights organisations to unequivocally condemn the siege of Kashmir.

The situation in India is increasingly becoming claustrophobic, making it difficult to have any political discussion on Kashmir. Voicing any opinion divergent from the popular ‘pro-state’ narrative is now a cause for slapping charges of sedition. In such an environment even a peaceful non-violent discussion to understand the nature of problems that Kashmir faces becomes impossible. Without such understanding any solution proposed would only be a repetition of the cycles seen over the last 70 years, which have not led to any tangible solutions. We urge the government to allow an open discussion so as to facilitate the understanding of the legitimate demands and concerns that the people of Kashmir have been raising over the course of last 70 years.

We believe that national integration at the cost of life and dignity of our own citizens would not amount to integration but colonialism. The political crisis in Kashmir cannot be resolved by being oblivious to the problem at the heart of the conflict, which is the demand for freedom. Any attempt to resolve the issue is bound to fail unless the state accepts the Kashmir conflict as a ‘political issue’ and not merely one pertaining to territory. The government must acknowledge Kashmiris as primary stakeholders in the dispute and consult them rather than considering it as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

Whatever the stand of the Government of India on the demand of Kashmiri people for independence, it is imperative to create an environment of understanding and openness and initiate a purposeful and sincere dialogue with all the stakeholders for an amicable settlement.

We therefore urge the government to:

  1. Immediately lift the curfew and stop violence against civilians in Kashmir.
  1. Open channels for political dialogue in consultation with all stakeholders and explore every possible solution including –complete autonomy or pre-1953 position and even plebiscite.
  1. Stop the crackdown on media and lift the ban on Kashmir Reader.
  1. Immediately drop all charges against activists, human rights defenders and civilians booked under the PSA and release them.
  1. Grant unfettered access to United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to investigate allegations of Human Rights violations.
  1. Work forcefully to demilitarize both sides of the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. Further, to demilitarize all of Kashmir and immediately revoke impunity laws such as the AFSPA, PSA, and DAA etc.
  1. Create credible mechanisms for accountability and justice, (such as an international criminal tribunal), for human rights abuses in Kashmir over the past three decades, including extra-judicial killings, torture, sexual and gendered violence, enforced disappearances and unknown and mass graves.

 

List of Endorsements

Individuals

  1. Ajmal Khan, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
  2. Akanksha, activist
  3. Alpana Jain
  4. Amar Jesani, Independent Public health and Bioethics Consultant
  5. Amla Pisharody
  6. Amlendu Upadhyay, senior journalist
  7. Ammu Abraham, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  8. Amrita Howlader, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  9. Anand Mazgaonkar,
  10. Anand Patwardhan, filmmaker
  11. Anand Teltumbde, General Secretary, CPDR (Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights)
  12. Anil Sinha
  13. Antony Samy, activist, Jagrut Kamgar Manch
  14. Anuradha Banerji, research scholar
  15. Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times
  16. Aquila Khan, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  17. Archee Roy, student
  18. Aritra Bhattacharya, Journalist, The Statesman
  19. Arundhati Dhuru, National Alliance of People’s Movements
  20. Arun Ferreira, member, CPDR
  21. Arya Raje, Lawyer
  22. Murlidhar Reddy, Senior Journalist
  23. Baljeet Kaur, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
  24. Bernard D’Mello
  25. Binayaka Sen, activist (PUCL)
  26. Binu Matthew, Editor, www.countercurrents.org
  27. Chayanika Shah, member, LABIA and FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  28. Chinu Srinivasan, SAHAJ/LOCOST
  29. Cubbykabi Sherman, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  30. Cynthia Stephen, Founder, DAWNS(Dalit Women’s Network for Solidarity)
  31. Debalina, activist
  32. Deepa Venkatachalam, Social Scientist
  33. Deepti Gopinath, Indian Airports Employees’ Union
  34. Devika Shetty, Disability Rights Advocacy
  35. Dibyesh Anand, Professor, University of Westminster, UK
  36. Divya Kalanthingal, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
  37. Divya Trivedi, journalist
  38. Fatima N, Member, Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum
  39. Freny Manecksha, independent journalist
  40. Gautam Bhan, activist and author
  41. Geeta Seshu, independent journalist
  42. Gouri Patwardhan, filmmaker
  43. Harsh Mander, activist, writer
  44. Hartman de Souza, Writer
  45. Hasina Khan, member, Bebaak Collective and FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  46. Hussain Indorewala, Teacher
  47. Illina Sen, author and activist
  48. Irfaan Engineer, CSSS(Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
  49. Jairus Banaji, Professor and Historian
  50. Javed Anand, Co-editor, Communalism Combat
  51. Jayashree Velankar, NAMHHR (National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights)
  52. Jenny Sulfath, student, TISS
  53. Jhelum Roy, researcher
  54. Jyoti Punwani, independent journalist
  55. Kalpana Mehta, Activist
  56. Kalyani Menon, feminist researcher and writer
  57. Kamal KM, filmmaker, teacher
  58. Kavita Krishnan, Secretary AIPWA (All India Progressive Women’s Association)
  59. Kavita Pai
  60. Khateeja Talha, member, Space Theatre Ensemble
  61. Kokila Mitra, research scholar
  62. Koyel Ghosh, school teacher
  63. Koyel Majumder, student
  64. Kranti LC, Lawyer
  65. Kritika Aggarwal, GLC, Mumbai
  66. Kulajit Maisanam, Radical Study Circle, TISS, Mumbai
  67. Lalita Ramdas, peace, human rights and anti-nuclear activist and Founder, Greenpeace, India
  68. Lara Jesani, Lawyer
  69. Lina Mathias
  70. Madhavi Kuckreja, women’s’ rights activist and founder, Vanangana
  71. Madhurima Ghosh, student
  72. Mahtab Alam, Activist, Journalist
  73. Malini Parthasarthy, former Editor, the Hindu
  74. Malobika, activist
  75. Manisha Sethi, Activist, Professor – Jamia Millia Islamia
  76. Manoj Jha, teacher, activist
  77. Mary Antony, activist, Jagrut Kamgar Manch
  78. Medha Patkar, activist, Narmada Bachao Andolan
  79. Meena Gopal, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  80. Meena Kandasamy, Poet, Writer, Activist
  81. Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
  82. Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate
  83. Milind Champanekar, activist, CPDR
  84. Mirza Saaib Beg, Lawyer
  85. M J Pandey, Journalist
  86. Monica Sakhrani, Lawyer
  87. Mukta Srivastava, activist (NAPM)
  88. Murali Karnam, Faculty, School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance, TISS
  89. Vasudevan, Convenor, Trade Union Solidarity Committee, Mumbai
  90. Nandini Manjrekar, Professor, TISS
  91. Niranjan Takle, Principal Correspondent, the Week
  92. Norma Alvares, Senior Advocate and environmental activist
  93. Omar Rashid, journalist
  94. Pamela Philipose, journalist, writer and editor
  95. Paramita Banerjee, Activist and Development professional
  96. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta
  97. Paromita Chakravarty
  98. Poushali Basak, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  99. Pranita Kulkarni, Journalist
  100. Preenita Banerjee, Lawyer
  101. Preeti Mehra
  102. Srivatsan, Social Scientist
  103. Rahul Singh
  104. Rajashree Gandhi
  105. Raj Merchant, member, LABIA
  106. Admiral Ramdas
  107. Ramesh Awasthi, PUCL, Maharashtra
  108. Ram Puniyani, activist, writer, teacher
  109. Ranjit Biswas, Psychiatrist and Research-activist
  110. Ravi Duggal, independent health researcher and activist
  111. Ritika Ramasuri
  112. Ritu Dewan, Author, Professor, Director – CSSS (Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
  113. Rohini Hensman, Independent Scholar, Writer and Activist
  114. Rohit Prajapati, trade union and environmental activist
  115. Rukmini Sen, academician
  116. Sabina Basha
  117. Sagari Ramdas, veterinary scientist
  118. Sakina Bohora, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  119. Sampa Dasgupta, Development Professional
  120. Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party (India)
  121. Sandhya Gokhale, member, FAOW(Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  122. Sanjay Ranade, Professor, University of Mumbai
  123. Sanober Keshwaar , lecturer and activist
  124. Sarojini N, Health Researcher
  125. Saswati Ghosh, Sociologist, women’s rights activist
  126. Satarupa Santra, academician
  127. Satyam Shrivastava, (SRUTI)
  128. Seema Azad, journalist, activist
  129. Setu
  130. Shabana Khan, activist, CPDR
  131. Shabnam Hashmi, Activist, ANHAD
  132. Shals Mahajan, writer
  133. Sheetal, student, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  134. Shefali Saini, TISS, Mumbai
  135. Shinzani Jain
  136. Shoma Sen, Joint Secretary (CPDR)
  137. Shraddha Chatterjee, research scholar
  138. Shreosi Ray, researcher
  139. Shruti Chakravarty, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  140. Siddharth Chakravarty, Oceans Policy and Law
  141. Simpreet Singh
  142. Smita Gandhi, Academician
  143. Srabasti Majumder, research scholar
  144. Sreejith Murali, Ambedkarite Students Association-TISS
  145. Sujata Gothoskar, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  146. Sukanya Shantha, independent Journalist
  147. Sumita, Activist and Development Professional
  148. Surabhi Sharma, filmmaker
  149. Suresh Sawant, activist
  150. Susan Abraham, Executive Committee member, CPDR
  151. Sushmita Verma, member, CPDR and Bastar Solidarity Network
  152. Swapna Banerjee-Guha
  153. Swatija Paranjpe, member FAOW (Forum Against Oppression of Women)
  154. Tarun Bhartiya, filmmaker and writer
  155. Teesta Setalvad, Journalist, activist
  156. Tejas Harad, Economic and Political Weekly
  157. Trina Mukhopadhyay, research scholar
  158. Ulka Mahajan, Activist
  159. Uma Chakravarty, Historian
  160. Usha Iyer, Assistant Professor, Stanford University
  161. Vani Subramaniam, member, Saheli
  162. Varda Dixit
  163. Vasanth Kannabiran, Activist and Writer
  164. Veena Gowda, Lawyer
  165. Vibhuti Patel, Academician and Activist
  166. Vidya Subramaniam, Senior Journalist
  167. Vinitha Ramchandani, author
  168. Vrijendra, Lecturer and Human Rights Activist
  169. Vrinda Grover, Lawyer and Activist
  170. Wilfred D’Costa , INSAAF
  171. Yashasvi Mishra
  172. Zakia Soman, BMMA(Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan)

Organisations

  1. Aaghaaz Magazine
  2. All India Secular Forum
  3. Amrita Wilson on behalf of South Asia Solidarity Group
  4. Bastar Solidarity Network
  5. Centre for Development Research and Action
  6. Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai
  7. Fem Positive
  8. Forum Against Oppression of Women
  9. LABIA — A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
  10. Radical Study Circle- TISS
  11. Rihai Manch, Lucknow
  12. Saheli, Delhi
  13. Tamilnadu Women’s Forum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Atrocities on civilian population have been continuing for too long. There is no let up in repression and the government is unable to start political dialogue with the people or human rights organisations. If the situation continues, Kashmir may face more crisis. Hence, a peaceful dialogue is essential.