Kashmiris remain caged under brutal lockdown by Indian military using strict curfew conditions, razor wire roadblocks and total ban on communication with suspension of internet, landline and mobile phone services since 5 August amid Eid-ul-Adha festival last Monday 12 August and Independence Day celebrations yesterday on 15 August.
Widespread protests were held in support of Kashmiris during the past week in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra and other parts of the world while human rights organisations including a group of Indian activists on a five day visit have called on the Indian government to immediately end the prison like conditions in the Kashmir Valley.
Protests against the abrogation of special status of Jammu & Kashmir, arrest of more than 600 of Kashmiri leaders and activists and total lockdown of Kashmir Valley, were held on Friday 9 August in Sydney, Saturday 10 August in Melbourne, and Wednesday 14 August in Canberra in front of the Australian Parliament and Indian embassy.
The group of activists, economists and writers presented their observations of the situation in Kashmir in New Delhi on Wednesday 14 August after returning from a five-day trip to the Kashmir Valley.
One of the group, Kavita Krishnan said the situation is “absolutely not normal”, contrary to reports by several Indian news broadcasters.
“There is a sense of imprisonment. There is a sense of being in prison. And people are not being allowed to speak and the situation is extremely grim over there,” she said.
Kavita further added, “We were able to go to villages as well as small towns also. So the situation there is absolutely not normal. If some people of the media are saying all is well … the only thing we could think of saying was all is hell is a better description.”
Another activist Maimoona Moolah called on the Indian government to “stop this occupation” of Kashmir.
“The occupation of Kashmir will not work. Get rid of this occupation. Put an end to the way press and people have been gagged there. And return democracy to the region. Return Article 370 and 35(A),” she said.
“The whole place was desolate, quiet, silenced, caged. People looked helpless. People looked humiliated. And people also looked angry.”
Another member of the visiting delegation, Jean Dreze, a Belgian-born Indian economist pointed out the deception of the Modi government trying to hide the moves against Kashmiris in the guise of helping them with economic prosperity.
“I have been to Kashmir four times since 2000 and every time, I am struck by the prosperity of the people. Especially the rural population. Especially in comparison with the catastrophic poverty and hunger of states like Bihar and Jharkhand and UP [Uttar Pradesh] that I am familiar with,” he said.
The delegation compiled several videos of their trip showing deserted streets dotted with road blocks without people of people even on the day of Eid-ul-Adha.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is expected to discuss the Kashmir issue on Friday 16 August.