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Resistance and Repression in Kashmir

Sunday 25 August 2019, by siawi3


Tear Gas and Pellets in Kashmir


At least 152 people have suffered injuries from tear gas and pellets in Kashmir since the Indian army and paramilitary forces this month launched a sweeping crackdown, data from the region’s two main hospitals shows.

Authorities have deployed additional paramilitary police, banned public gatherings and cut cellular and internet links to prevent large scale protests after withdrawing the revolt-torn territory’s special status on August 5.

Still, people, especially youth, have come out in the lanes of Srinagar, on occasions such as Friday prayers or Eid this month, throwing stones, prompting retaliatory action by security forces.

The government, which has not yet provided any figures of the injured in the sporadic protests, has said there have been no deaths in this month’s demonstrations in a region where more than 50,000 have died since an armed revolt broke out in 1989.

Separatists seek secession

Authorities in Srinagar tightened security ahead of Friday prayers after separatists called for a protest march to a local United Nations office, with streets bristling with paramilitary personnel and some blocked by checkpoints.

Posters appeared overnight this week in Srinagar, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to protest against India’s revocation of Jammu and Kashmir state’s special autonomy.

The call by separatists seeking Kashmir’s secession from India was the first since that decision on August 5.

Entry into the city’s old quarter, which has long been a centre for protests, was severely curtailed, as policemen blocked street after street with concertina wire.

What does the UN say?

Five human rights experts of the United Nations on Thursday called for India to lift the communication clampdown in Kashmir, describing the measures as a “collective punishment†for the entire population of the region.

“The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence,†said the statement released on Thursday.

They said that the shutdown of all internet and communication networks “without justification from the government, are inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality†.

The experts expressed apprehension that the whereabouts of detainees have remained unknown and flagged the possibility of rising “enforced disappearances†in Kashmir.

They also noted the use of disproportionate force against protesters, including that of live ammunition. “India has the responsibility to use the minimum force necessary when policing protests,†they said.

What do Kashmiris say?

In his open letter to PM Narendra Modi, Salman Soz, a Kashmiri and national Congress spokesperson points out flaws in the logic that the PM used in his speech to justify the actions against Article 370. He addresses three points in the PM’s speech, asking:

1. Did Article 370 impede development?

2. Has terrorism increased because of Article 370?

3. Has Article 370 led to corruption?

He goes on to explain why the answer to all three is a resounding no.

He says, “You may be wondering why I did not write to you sooner. Unfortunately, I was in Kashmir at that time and when you are under house arrest (thousands remain under some form of detention), with no ability to communicate with the outside world, it is rather difficult to write to your Prime Minister or anyone else.

…Since 1988, official data indicates that more than 44,000 people have been killed in a conflict that seems never-ending. But, Sir, if Article 370 is to blame for terrorism in J&K, why was terrorism largely absent between 1950s until the late 1980s?

Separatists and militants don’t care about Article 370 or the Indian constitution. Those of us who care about Article 370 are not terrorists and yet your government incarcerated our leadership as if we were enemies of the state.

It is also true that violence has increased since you took office and, in 2018, more soldiers were killed in J&K than in any year since 2008. Does that mean your government is responsible for the increase in terrorist violence in J&K?

Should we then ask for your government’s dismissal? Is it possible that the “culprit†is not really Article 370?â€

What do Ladakhis say?

Kabir Agarwal interviews former Kargil MLA Asgar Ali Karbalai, who speaks firmly against the bifurcation of the erstwhile state, and points out that this is a communally motivated decision as well.

“But the intention is this. It is clear from the kind of statements that the Ladakh MP (BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal) has made. In his Lok Sabha speech, he said that Kargil is only a small bazaar and a small lane.

The MP said 70% of the people of Kargil supported the demand for a UT. The areas he named are all Buddhist areas. He is drawing a clear line between Buddhists and Muslims. He did not represent the position of the Muslim majority population of Ladakh. Officially, there may not have been a division on religious lines. But it is clear that it is their intention.

… “The entire Buddhist population in Kargil district lives happily without any threat. But, now the BJP and RSS are attempting to forge a divide. This was clear with the MP’s speech,†KARBALAI SAID. “He distorted and mispresented facts because he has to please his masters. In his speech, he only named the Buddhist majority regions of Kargil. Rest of us don’t exist? Is he not our MP?

People have become voiceless, and their MP is celebrating



Doctors Turn Home into Hospital as Restrictions Continue in Kashmir

Written by Zubair Sofi

Published on: August 22, 2019

Due to the severe restrictions in the valley, many patients and doctors aren’t able to reach the clinics and hospitals. As a result, several doctors have started attending to the patients at their home

Even though restrictions imposed in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 have been relaxed, the streets of continue to be occupied by the government forces who have established barricades and checkpoints after every 300 to 500 metres. These checkpoints are not only affecting normal people but are pushing patients to the wall.

Being confined to their homes for the past 14 days in the valley, many patients and doctors aren’t able to reach the clinics and hospitals. As a result, several doctors have started attending to the patients at their home.

One such case is of Dr Sajad (name changed). He is the only doctor within a radius 4 kms, and has been receiving patients at his home. Initially, the flow of patients was low, but as the news has spread, people have been turning up in large numbers.

Sajad believes that people should not be restricted from reaching the hospitals in case of a medical emergency. Right now, because of the curfew, people have no means of reaching the hospitals even in case of an emergency.

On the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha on August 12, which most people of Kashmir celebrated under an extreme lockdown, Dr. Sajad received many cases of food poisoning at his home. There were many whose condition were so bad that he had to install a drip and have them stay at his own home to monitor them.

“I came across many people who didn’t have money, so I decided to do their treatment without any charges. They are my own people. I have kept the doors open for the people so that they know that they can knock at my door in the middle of the night,†he said.

The day when people across the world were celebrating Eid, Sajad received a few pellet victims, some of them had pellets in their eyelids and on their back, fired at by the government forces. “There were kids as young as 9 years old. I tried my best to help them out. I would treat that sort of emergency,†Sajad said.

Most pellet victims who receive minor injuries try to avoid going to the hospital and instead get them treated or removed locally which he believes is not a very good idea. “People go to local sources because the government is on the lookout for these people in the hospitals and if found, they could be detained. Due to this fear of detention, they avoid going to the hospitals,†he says.

Previously in 2016, there have been cases where pellets victims were stopped by the government forces on their way to the hospitals and were beaten up and detained.

Dr. Sajad says that it is dangerous to remove pellets at local medical shops that aren’t well equipped to do the job, it can lead to serious infections.

“There are many people who lost their eye sight by refusing to go to the hospitals due to the fear of detention. Their eye sight could have been saved if they would have received treatment on time,†he said. But there are no other options left for these people.

Apart from pellet victims, other patients have started showing up at Sajad’s home too. Due to the intensified restrictions on August 15, more and more people approached him as all the main entrances were blocked by the government forces.

One of the patients had Herpes Zoster. Herpes zoster is a viral infection that occurs with reactivation of varicella-zoster virus. It is usually a painful but self-limited dermatomal rash, which requires treatment by antiviral medications within 72 hours of symptom onset.

“It is a very painful condition. The atient’s companions were crying as they were helpless and were unable to get any medical assistance,†recalls Sajad.

Despite having a staff of six people at a government Primary Health Centre, where Sajad is posted, only he and one of his male colleagues have able to reach there since August 5.

After working at the health centre for almost 8 hours, Sajad remains on duty even after coming home. On an average, he attends to about 75 patients at his home everyday and provides free treatment to them.

While talking about the situation of the hospital, he said, “Right now our hospitals aren’t fully prepared to face any sort of emergencies, there is no proper backup of medicines and other important supplies.â€

“We try our best to help people including acute cases or people with different sorts of injuries. But when things are more complicated, we refer them to the main hospital. But now, even in the referral case , they face a lot of problems because ambulances are also being stopped,†he said.