Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI – “Anger and anguish have been simmering across the Kashmir Valley and it can explode any time; people are strictly following civil curfew imposed by militants; 30 to 40000 people have been arrested, eerie silence is prevailing; communication locked down has been continued since the unilateral abrogating article 370 and 35A from the Constitution on August 5.”
These are the findings of a delegation of the Welfare Party which visited the trouble-torn state recently.
Speaking to the media at the Press Club of India on Saturday, Dr. SQR Ilyas, president, Welfare Party of India, said the delegation of his party comprising national general secretaries Ms Sheema Mohsin and Subramani Arumugam visited Kashmir on September 12-13, 2019 to assess the ground realities there. The delegation visited Srinagar and Baramulla and spoke to people across the board including journalists, lawyers, academicians, businessmen, house boat owners, street vendors, taxi drivers, farmers and students.
Briefing about the visit, Dr Ilyas said the people are gnashing their teeth the way the entire process of abrogating Articles 370 and 35A has been carried out without involving any stakeholders in it. They called it “undemocratic, unconstitutional and illegal” and dared the Central Government to take similar decisions on other states without seeking the opinion of the people, he said.
By unilaterally revoking Article 370, which was already watered down by successive governments at the Centre, the government has played a very dangerous game and what happens in the long run cannot be imagined, he warned.
They are demonstrating their anger by keeping all business establishments closed except for one hour every morning and evening to enable people to buy essential commodities, he said.
“After scrapping the special status, the line between separatists and pro-India political parties has been blurred as the people of Kashmir exhibited complete unity and stating in one voice that Article 370 was a link between India and Kashmir which has now been broken.
With their politicians and leaders arrested or detained the people of the Valley are confused and uncertain about their future, they said that they felt betrayed and their democratic rights, right to freedom of expression, information and communication had been grossly violated.
They have expressed their unhappiness for being denied their right to communicate with their people within and outside the Valley.
The people of the Valley felt that the media has not been properly engaged resulting in biased or one-sided news about Kashmir where the sentiments of the people of the Valley were ignored.
The people of the Valley were of the view that the situation differed in intensity, some little tense and some very tense, in different places within the Valley. The picture being portrayed by the government of normalcy is false and misguiding.
Schools and colleges have been shut down since August 5. Teachers said they are ready to teach but with no public transport the students are unable to attend classes and they feared that the students may lose an academic year as the annual exams are scheduled in the month of November and their syllabus is incomplete.
Dr Ilyas pointed out that September and October are the harvest months in the Valley as the apples and pears are ready to be plucked and packed. But the entire industry of harvesting estimated to be of about Rs 8000 crore has come to a standstill with no labour and transport in place and little business transactions.
The people felt that many people from the Valley are arrested or detained and the number was approximately 30,000- 40,000 which include political leaders, social activists, academicians, lawyers, leaders of civil society movement etc, the delegation told.
Ms Sheema Mohsin said the people do not trust the government referring to the governor meeting apple-growers. Despite the invitation, not a single apple-grower went to meet the governor as his staff was asked to don the mantle of apple-planters, she revealed and added that whatever Indian TV channels are showing is largely fake.
Speaking on the occasion, another member of the delegation, Subramani Arumugam emphasised that the people of Kashmir are not carried away by the statements of Pakistan. You cannot attribute their anger to the instigation of Pakistan, he averred.
In response to a question, Dr Ilyas said the situation is very volatile and entire civil leadership has been either detained or arrested and went into the hands of militants.
In reply to another question, he said the issue cannot be resolved by using force and that initiating dialogue is the only way forward.
Charter of demands
On the occasion, the Welfare Party delegation released an eight-point charter of demands.
1. Sincere dialogue with the people of Kashmir should take place and ensuring that the curfew is withdrawn and normalcy restored.
2. All communication lines, internet and mobile, should be restored with immediate effect.
3. All the people arrested from the Valley should be released immediately.
4. The faith and trust of the indigenous people of Kashmir should be restored with their history, identity, ethnicity and culture preserved and their citizenry upheld.
5. The human rights violations taking place in the Valley should be immediately stopped.
6. Peoples and leaders from rest of India should refrain from giving provocative and irresponsible statements about Kashmir and the Kashmiris.
7. People must be assured that their ethnicity, culture and demography will not be altered. This assurance should be given in legal terms.
8. The government should initiate dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir to win the trust of the people and ensure that the civil curfew will be withdrawn and normalcy restored.