NEW DELHI — A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the abrogation of Article 370 decision from the rampart of the Red Fort, more than 400 prominent citizens – activists, professionals, intellectuals – as also civil rights organisations condemned the “attempted” scrapping of special status of Jammu and Kashmir and demanded that no decision about the future of the state is taken without the consent of the peoples.
In a signed joint statement issued to the media on Friday, they called for the immediate lifting of restrictions on civil society and ending the total lockdown of the state.
The concerned citizens and civil society organisations expressed their solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and assured them that they stand by them in their quest for justice and peace
Meanwhile, Kashmir continued to be under lockdown on the 11th day of Modi Government’s decision to do away the state’s special position in the Constitution of India.
Coming down heavily on the Government’s unilateral decision, they pointed out that the people in the state are facing a “repressive onslaught, a lockdown of the spaces of their homes and street and that their lives and liberty are at risk”.
Terming the bifurcation of the J&K and revocation of its special status as “unconstitutional and immoral”, they said, “We, concerned citizens of India and organisations from across movements, condemn the attempted abrogation of Article 370 and the C.O. 272 /2019 and the Jammu and Kashmir Re-Organization Bill 2019.”
In this context, they highlighted the Supreme Court’s 2017 pronouncement that Article 370 is not a temporary provision contrary to the Government’s contention.
“We state that the Jammu and Kashmir Re-Organization Bill 2019 is unconstitutional, immoral, and totally devoid of legality. As recently as 2017, the Supreme Court held that Article 370 is “not a temporary provision”.
They warned that the manner in which the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been split in three union territories spells an imminent danger to all provinces, parts, and territories within the Indian Union.
“It is a direct assault on the federal structure of the Indian Constitution, and violates all the promises and commitments made to the peoples of Jammu & Kashmir. We recognise the people of Jammu & Kashmir as the most important stakeholders of their lives and land.”
They laid down a four-point demand to the Government of India:
- No steps about the future of Jammu & Kashmir are taken without the consent of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
- Immediate scaling down of troops (armed forces and paramilitaries) deployed in Jammu & Kashmir.
- Immediate restoration of communication infrastructure, mobile telephony, and the internet.
- Immediate lifting of restrictions on civil society and political leaders in Jammu & Kashmir and ensuring that no further arrests are made.
Admiral L Ramdas, former chief of Naval Staff, Teesta Setalvad, human rights activist, Syeda Hameed, former member of Planning Commission, Medha Patkar, environmentalist and social activist associated with Narmada Bachao Andolan, Apoorvanand, professor, University of Delhi, Anuradha Bhasin, editor, Kashmir Times, Kavita Krishanan, All India Progressive Women’s Association and Kavita Srivastav, Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties are among others who signed the statement.
The concerned citizens also made an appeal to all sections of society, political parties, trade unions, student organisations, and individuals to stand with Kashmiris, especially young people and students from Jammu and Kashmir who are in workplaces, neighbourhoods and educational institutions everywhere in India.