India’s rights violations in Kashmir exposed by global media
When the Indian government revoked Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019, many believed that Indian PM Modi had ‘surprised’ many, especially Pakistan, by annexing the disputed territory with India. However, it is the first time, probably in decades, that Kashmir has become a topic of global media debate, with prominent Western leaders calling upon both India and Pakistan to engage in a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar has also tried bringing attention to Indian atrocities in Kashmir through her twitter handle. In her latest tweet, she wrote:
“I am excited to see so many members joining us in calling attention to what is happening in Kashmir. Please continue to call your member and ask them to speak up. We expect openness from India, which is the largest democracy in the world”.
On the other hand, Democrat Andy Levin wrote, “Modi’s actions speak to a broader, global concern: the increased acceptance of anti-Muslim bigotry & the dangers posed by ethnonationalists like Modi, Bolsonaro, Netanyahu & Trump”.
Moreover, since August 5, various commentaries, editorials and news reports in the international media have exposed the explosive situation in Kashmir and criticized how the Indian forces are dealing with the local Kashmiris.
The BBC, along with other prominent news networks, has also highlighted the misery of Kashmiri people who are facing dire situation since August 5 lockdown of the valley.
In its recent story, the BBC reported:
“”They kicked us, beat us with sticks, gave us electric shocks” Villagers in Kashmir told our reporters security forces are torturing them.
A firsthand account, by Sasha Bhat, published by the Al Jazeera News, in this regard, notes:
We saw a group of civilians shouting slogans, beating their chests and screaming at the military on the main road. There were burning tyres which were being picked up by the army and thrown into Dal Lake. Metal bins blocked the road. I was seeing my cousin after two years and, instead of catching up on life, we were driving across Srinagar in silence. The only conversation was at checkpoints when the military asked for IDs. We spent the days at home, entertained by the stray cats and our own animals. In the distance, we could hear shouting, loud bangs and blasts. Loud sounds would make us all go silent. Helicopters circled low above us regularly.
Dr Zahid Ahmed, research fellow and South Asian affairs expert on peace and security at the Alfred Deakin Institute Melbourne, while talking to Australia’s SBS news, says:
The removal of articles 370 and 35A will not help the Kashmiris in any way. When you think of the Kashmiris living in J&K, I don’t think this decision is going to have any positive impact on the situation there and we can visibly see some signs of that already happening. Removal of Kashmir’s special status was always a promise of BJP to its voters. One aspect which is quite prevalent in India is the rise of Hindu nationalism which was clear in the previous Indian elections and in recent 2019 elections which were won by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Sadly, this has resulted in continued attacks on religious minorities including Muslims and Hindus.
One of the initial reports from BBC News, coming out of Kashmir, post-lockdown noted:
The paramilitary police try to hustle us (media and protestors) away but a man wants to be heard. “You lock us up during the day. You lock us up at night,” he shouts angrily, wagging his finger. The policeman says there’s a curfew in place and that they must go inside immediately. But the diminutive old man stands his ground and challenges him again. At that point, I (the BBC reporter) am ordered to leave. But before I can, a young man, carrying his toddler son in his arms, tells me he is ready to pick up a gun to fight India. “This is my only son. He’s too small now, but I will prepare him to pick up a gun too,” he says. He’s so angry that he doesn’t even care that he’s saying all this within earshot of the policeman standing near us.
Another commentary recently published by Foreign Policy in Focus highlights similar woes, especially a young woman in labour, in Kashmir:
The long and dismal record of Indian human rights abuses in Kashmir had, until now, been routinely ignored by the outside world. But now, the narrative has changed. Media outlets across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America either report from the ground or pick up news as it appears in independent Indian outlets. They show images of desolate streets ringed with gleaming new concertina barbed wire and bristling with checkpoints, children injured and blinded by Indian troops firing pellet guns and even using catapults, and doctors and patients trying to reach hospitals turned away by soldiers at checkpoints. An independent Indian news outlet interviewed a young woman who was forced by Indian soldiers, in behavior worthy of Tolkien’s orcs, to walk 6 kilometers while in labor, to reach a hospital where she could deliver her baby. There seems to be no limit to the cruelty with which Indian troops treat Kashmiri civilians.
Another story by CNN news reported on the local fears and anger post-lockdown:
Activists who have recently visited the region say its residents are now angry both at what has happened with the scrapping of Article 370, and the way it was done. “The manner in which it was done means that the Indian government is not willing to make any kind of concession. It will just have its way no matter what and they are prepared to enforce it. That is a big defeat,” said Jean Dreze, an economist who visited the region with a group of activists. Fears of what may be happening in the valley, behind the latest blackout, have steadily increased with apprehension over the future.
Another report by Turkish outlet TRT noted:
In an act of defiance against New Delhi’s controversial decision to strip the Muslim-majority region of its nominal autonomy, Kashmir’s “Gaza” neighbourhood (Soura) on the outskirts of Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar has sealed itself off from security forces. Since India scrapped Article 370, Soura’s residents have erected ramshackle barricades of tin sheets, wooden logs, oil tanks and concrete pillars, and dug trenches to keep soldiers at bay amid daily protests against India.
These limited excerpts suggest that this might finally be the begging of global media highlighting Indian atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir. With such a unanimous criticism of the Indian government and its actions in the disputed territory, many have started asking whether revoking Kashmir’s special status was a wise decision in the first place?