‘We Don’t Hear Much From Kashmir Now Because People There Can’t Speak Anymore’

For anything that concerned Muslims anywhere in the world, the Kashmiri people always lent their support and voiced solidarity with them. They raised slogans, placards, and marched to drive home the point that anything insulting or harmful directed at Muslims in any region of the world would not be tolerated. They feel the same way; I bet, when it comes to the people from other faiths.

Then, why are there no protests in Kashmir over the recently-passed legislation now called Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which is seen as discriminatory against Muslims who sought refuge in India?

Yes, there was an attempt made by the students of Srinagar’s Islamia College of Science and Commerce on December 17, who wanted to protest against the police action on students of Jamia Millia Islamia, but they were forced to disperse. In fact, the reports that later emerged said that two senior Journalists, one of whom was Azaan Javaid, Special Correspondent for The Print in Srinagar and the other being Anees Zargar who works for NewsClick, were assaulted by J&K Police. Their crime? They, on their way back from the protest site, saw a police officer ‘grab a couple of youth who were walking on the main road.’ Both the youth, according to Azaan, were at some distance from the protest site.

Before answering the question, which you know already, let me share some instances when Kashmir erupted in protests for reasons other than what has to do with the conflict going on there for decades.

In September 2010, at least 15 people were killed, including a policeman, during protests against an alleged incident of desecration of Islam’s holiest book, Koran, in the U.S. In July this year, several youths took to streets in Poonch district’s Mendhar area against mob lynchings of Muslims in certain Indian states. There were protests when Kashmiris, either students or from any other field, following the Pulwama attack in February 2019, were harassed and beaten outside Jammu and Kashmir. And these protests were not only from Kashmiri Muslims but from other communities as well living in Kashmir such as Sikhs and Pandits.

The shutdown of internet and mobile services in Kashmir post the revocation of Article 370 is the longest in the history of any democracy in the world.

Back to answering the question, it is only that people in Kashmir are not as lucky to protest freely as people in other places of the country such as Delhi or Mumbai. If they do, killings or injuries are a given. Something sinister always hovers over the protests in the Valley! Things have been especially bad since August 5 this year, the day when the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its autonomy by removal of Article 370 and divided into two union territories, Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh.

Under heavy security arrangements, people mostly kept indoors, and on certain occasions, were forced to do so. Normal life in Kashmir has been paralyzed. Nothing much was read of protests in Kashmir except Anchar area in Srinagar where roads were dug up to prevent security forces from taking any action.

In a place where life is ‘miserable beyond repair,’ can one expect any solidarity in word or deed? I leave it to you to decide. However, I am sure, despite the absence of internet (longest in a democracy) and prepaid mobile services, which have rendered them incommunicado, Kashmiris still feel the same way they used to before.

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