On 5 August 2019, the Modi regime unilaterally stripped Kashmir of its statehood and constitutionally-guaranteed autonomy, abolishing its state-level elected offices and annexing it as a “Union Territory” under direct control of the central government.

The Indian BJP government enforced these changes at gunpoint, deploying tens of thousands of additional personnel to what is already the most militarised region in the world. These actions were in violation of international law and United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, adopted on 21 April 1948.

The regime imposed a total communications blackout and a curfew that limited access to health care and cost lives. This draconian curfew denied immunization to infants and young children.

India itself is going through a catastrophic situation right now with just under 380,000 COVID-19 infections officially reported, and general consensus holding that the actual numbers are 5 to 10 fold of that number (1.9 to 3.8 million cases daily).

The devastating images from parts of India that went viral across social media channels are heartbreaking, be it sites of cremation/burial grounds or people queuing outside hospitals or local charities where relatives are begging for their loved ones to be able to breathe.

Also at the hands of the Modi BJP government is the devastating situation in Kashmir, where the medical system has been stifled of the opportunity to develop due to the ongoing occupation. For the last two years, the Kashmir valley has essentially been completely shut down.

The revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, followed by the global pandemic, saw the already sub-par medical system be stretched to its limits. Currently, there are only an estimated 600 ventilators for population over 12 million people.

In the last few weeks there has been 700% increase of infection, and there is only 1 doctor for every 1700 people which is almost double the WHO norm. This sorely contrasts the one army officer for every eight civilians living under occupation.

With a limited number of hospital beds, ambulances, staff, and laboratory services dedicated to testing, medical supplies and essential medications, the already fragile healthcare system has already collapsed. There is thus a serious concern about a potential humanitarian crisis that may be caused by any surge of COVID-19 cases in Jammu & Kashmir, due to limited infrastructure and necessary healthcare systems

As part of an international propaganda offensive, the Indian Modi regime has organised mass tourist gatherings and promoted the visit to Kashmir of 100,000s of Indian tourists, many of whom may be COVID-19 positive.

Reports indicate that a large percentage of COVID-19 cases in Kashmir can be directly attributed to this reckless attitude of the Indian regime, hellbent on portraying a false sense of normalcy to the international media in order to avoid international condemnation of its brutal military occupation.

Just on 30 April, Kashmir reported its highest spike of nearly 3,500 fresh COVID-19 cases and many medical facilities in Kashmir have already declared a shortage of vaccinations in the midst of other medical supplies running out, including medication, oxygen cylinders and ventilators.

COVID-19 has already had a devastating impact upon the already broken economy of Kashmir. A region where hardly anyone lived below the poverty line prior to 1990s, poverty has crept upon a significant section of the population, with the worsening of the political and socio economic conditions.

The pandemic has been the proverbial final nail in the coffin for many, with numerous business folding and daily wage workers being left to fend for themselves without any sustainable means of generating income for their families. Food and routine medical aid is needed desperately in a significant section of the community.

Whilst the ANZ Kashmiri diaspora have done whatever is possible to pool resources to make food and necessary medical supplies available to Kashmir, this is nowhere near enough in the face of what is required.

Local Charities in Australia seem to dismiss all approaches by the Kashmiri diaspora for help for Kashmir. We can only assume that Kashmir is put in the too hard basket in light of the calculated restriction by the Indian Government on the transfer of funds to non FCRA accredited NGOs. And there aren’t many FCRA accredited organisation operating in Kashmir.

Whilst it is hard, this is no reason to abandon a people. There are avenues available to get the needed food and medical supplies such as oxygen concentrators/PPE/other medical equipment to the region.

The Kashmiri diaspora is able and willing to help deliver the much required medical and food aid through well established and reliable channels, with a track record of successful implementation of aid delivery.

We can help source food and medical supplies on your behalf for delivery into Kashmir and coordination with public/private medical centres and NGOs for distribution at the grass roots level.

Any help that can be provided, no matter how big or small, will be appreciated.

To extend your helping hand please contact Anjum Rafiqi on 0403022786.