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Situation Of Human Rights In Kashmir Post Article 370: Interview with Khurram Parvez

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We at Kashmir Unheard, recently spoke to Khurram Parvez, a prominent human rights activist from Kashmir about the overall situation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted special status to the territory.

Highlights from this Interview:

The government used its military might post 5 August, 2019, after the abrogation of Article 370, to enforce silence in J&K. They arrested hundreds of people, businessmen, lawyers, activist and politicians, internet and phone connections were banned. The number of encounters has increased, and people allege that disproportionate force is being used.

Three young men were also recently killed in a fake encounter, which appears to be done for rewards by the forces.

The government has criminalised politics over the past years; the police summon people who voice something on social media.

Every opinion other than the opinion of the government is being criminalised, that is not how the democracies work.

Highlights from the Annual Human Rights Review 2019, published by JKCCS

Killings: At least 366 killings in different incidents of violence took place across J&K in 2019. The year witnessed extrajudicial executions of at least 80 civilians in J&K, besides the killings of 159 militants and 129 armed forces.

Among 80 civilians killed in 2019, 12 were women. The year also saw targeted violence against non-local workers post the abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August, during which unidentified gunmen killed at least 14 non-local workers and several others were injured. Out of the 80 civilians killed, 19 were killed by the armed forces, 17 were killed in cross LOC shelling between Indian and Pakistani armed forces.

Encounters: A total of 87 encounters took place in Jammu and Kashmir leading to the killings of 150 militants and 29 personnel from Indian armed forces and J&K Police.

The abrogation of Article 370 has also lead to the winding up of various Commissions including the Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission (SIC) and the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and Consumer Commission. This again has led to the closure of the information and justice sought by people which in turn lead to the continual denial of justice to the people.

In 2019, five political activists and one relative of an elected Sarpanch were killed in various incidents of targeted violence in J&K.

Highlights from the Bi-Annual HR Review: 1 January to 30 June 2020

In the first half of 2020, 229 killings took place. Government forces conducted 107 search operations. Internet was shut down 55 times, while 48 properties were destroyed.

Children and women continued to be victims of violence in J&K as three children and two women were killed in the first half of 2020. From 1 January to 30 June, at least 107 Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs) and Cordon and Destroy Operations (CADOs) were conducted in J&K which resulted in the killing of 143 militants.

At least 57 encounters took place between Indian armed forces and the militants following CASOs in the first 6 months of 2020. During CASOs and encounters, vandalism and destruction of civilian properties were reported.

The report further states that about 200 jail inmates contracted coronavirus.

When you deprive people of using the internet, you are also depriving people of income generation capacity.

Demographic changes started in 1947. About 500,000 people were forced to migrate to Pakistan. The return of these people is an internationally recognised right; their properties are now mostly illegally occupied by people.

People in Ladakh and Jammu are also equally opposing these demographic changes.

Media has been under threat since the 90s. It was brazen then, now the government has tried to sophisticate its means of pressurising and controlling media and has again become brazen.

The people who want to resist are subject to torture and even killings.

On 28 October and 29 October, the National Investigation Agency conducted searches at several locations in Jammu and Kashmir in connection with a case related to the funding of “secessionist and separatist activities”. Among those subjected to the raids was Khurram Parvez. This interview was recorded before the NIA raid.

The interview first appeared in Kashmir Unheard.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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