Editor’s note: As the number of deaths and injuries continue to rise in Kashmir, several students, academics, and individuals- most of them from Delhi University- have issued a statement on the recent developments there. Noting the state’s response to the past and present agitations, the statement appeals to “the democratic sections of India” to stand in solidarity with Kashmir and to respect their democratic aspirations. It also asks them to demand an end to the violence, punishment for the guilty, and initiation of a political process to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir dispute. There have been continuous protests in Kashmir since the killing of Hizb-ul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8, resulting in the death of close to 70 people.
Read the statement here:
The current escalation of violence in Kashmir started on July 8, 2016 after the killing of Hizb ul Mujahideen’s Burhan Wani by the armed forces of the Indian State. As per reports from the local media, Burhan’s funeral was attended by an estimated 4 lakh people, apart from the numerous other assemblies of mourning held in-absentia across the valley.
The essential character of resistance to the Indian state in Kashmir today is not primarily in the form of a guerrilla war between the armed forces and the militants. Since 2008 mass rebellions have broken out against the Indian state, including stone pelting by youth. In the years 2008, 2009, and 2010, the Indian government has responded to the mass movement through the use of brutal violence leading to the killing of over two hundred civilians, and injuring thousands, many of whom have been blinded for life through the use of pellet guns by the Indian armed forces. We have also witnessed how the Indian state has responded to these agitations by imposing continuous curfews, curbing the local press, snapping all forms of communication and by incarcerating the pro-freedom leadership, thus denying the people all avenues to express and demand the fulfillment of their aspirations peacefully. In 2016 the State continues to respond much the same way.
As we write this, 69 civilians have been killed, including Amir Nazeer, who studied at the University of Delhi. Thousands have been injured and yet again scores have lost their eyesight forever due to the firing of pellet guns. The government has yet again as always, blamed Pakistan for instigating the protests, thus completely refusing to acknowledge the ground reality in Kashmir.
The State’s militaristic response is not just grossly disproportionate and violative of basic human rights, but designed to perpetuate violence and state terror. There must be a political process that aims to find a lasting solution to the dispute, and such a process must begin by acknowledging the aspirations of the people in Kashmir, who are claiming the right to self-determination or Aazadi. There can be no dialogue based on purposeful non-recognition of what the other party wants.
We appeal to the democratic sections of India to respect the democratic aspirations of the people of Kashmir and to stand in solidarity with them. We appeal to them to demand the cessation of the present cycle of violence and to punish the guilty. Most importantly we appeal to them to raise their voice demanding of the State that it begins a political process aimed at finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir dispute.