Umair Pervez Khan:
The post, “Hello world! How is the Lockdown? Kashmir”, overwhelmed different social media platforms right after various countries of the world started to announce the lockdown as a precautionary measure to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. It was a reminder from the oppressed valley of Kashmir, now being ready to enter in 9th month of the lockdown, after India’s unilateral move of abrogating the special status of the occupied Kashmir on August 5, 2019. Subsequently, on October 30 it practically split the state of occupied Kashmir in two union territories. i.e. Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, taking them under direct control of central government in Delhi. The move was being widely criticized by different states of the world and even United Nations, but India gave a deaf ear to all the hue and cry, rather it imposed a strict curfew with all information black out, in occupied Kashmir.
The businesses were shutdown and according to the local source, states economy suffered a loss of $2.3 billion in these eight months. The fruit industry along with rice and tourism industry faced severe crises and literally the citizens of the state remained in an open prison with even no medical facility. The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), along with the pro-Indian leadership was taken into custody. The old veteran leader Syed Ali Gillani, Yaseen Malik, Shabbir Dar, Mussarat Alam Bhat, Asia Andrabi, Mian Abdul Qayyum with thousands of young supporters were jailed and are still in the custody. In a recent move, the pro Indian leadership has been released to stage another bluff in the valley of Kashmir but is being disrupted by the Corona outbreak for the mean while.
Anyhow, the valley of Kashmir has a long history of witnessing such restrictions, curfews and lockdowns specially in last three decades. Indian states have used different draconian laws, like Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and others to suppress the voices of Kashmiris. Kashmiris have been resisting the Indian occupation for last 72 years and their resistance has transformed in many ways. The youth of the Kashmir has now become the new face of the resistance movement and is using social media platforms along with other techniques to unveil the real face of Indian state in the world. India being afraid of this, has imposed restrictions on the oppressed territory: that is witnessing information black out with no access to the internet, mobiles and even print media. 2G was partially resumed after 6 months and still the valley is compelled to use 2G.
The post that tried to shake the conscious of humanity and questioned the world, how do you feel after being locked down even with the luxury of internet and no food shortage? How do you feel to taste a bit of the long real curfews faced by Kashmiris? It tried to make the world imagine the scary picture of Kashmir, which saw series of long curfews in 2008, 2010, 2016-17 (after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani and Sabzar Butt) and in the year 2019-20, with no access to internet, no medical facility, limited food and no socio-economic activity along with their youth being killed in fake encounters and shelling on the funeral processions, the “Real curfew” which is now prolonged in the aftermath of the Corona outbreak. The Corona has offered a chance to the world to realize that Kashmiris are not the children of the lesser god and they also have the right to exercise their right to self-determination along with other basic human rights. This is the time for it to realize the sufferings of 70 million people living in an open prison in occupied Kashmir. The international organizations, specially UN must play its part to end the miseries of the people living under the oppression of India.
The cries of the mother of Kashmir might now be better understood by the mothers of the whole world when they are afraid of the uncertain deaths of their children by an invisible virus. Maybe, it could be the point of the mindfulness of the world, to understand what it means of the mass graves that have been identified over the period in Kashmir. Maybe, the world could comprehend what it means to have complete shutdown, students not able to go to schools and universities instead PhD scholars like Dr. Raafi Butt, Dr.Mannan Wani and Dr. Sabzar Sofi losing their lives all of a sudden by the hands of Indian occupational forces. Maybe the world could realize the pain of the half widows, waiting for their husbands to return to home now for several years. Maybe the world could know what it feels not being able to go to the worship places. Maybe, the world could grasp the pain of the father not able to earn the bread for his children, because of the inhumane curfew.
Nevertheless, it is the time for the world to fight against the common threat to humanity i.e. Corona. I am sure the combine effort of the humanity will defeat this temporary pandemic, but I doubt if the world could realize its duty towards permanent pandemic faced by the humanity, i.e. injustice. It must be debated and realized by the so-called superpowers of the world that, “Injustice anywhere is the threat to justice everywhere”. If the world would fail comprehending its duty, it will have to face more severe pandemics than this virus as it is the law of the nature that a place with injustice cannot prevail for long time.
Anyhow, the campaign started by the Kashmiris in the form of a short but meaningful phrase should be taken seriously and the government of India must be compelled to release the JRL along with all the political prisoners being jailed on false accusations, as their lives are at stake due to this pandemic. The countries throughout the world are granting bails to the political and general prisoners in the aftermath of this virus and as the secretary general of UN, Antonio Guterres has called for “global ceasefire”, India should abide and release the political prisoners as first gesture of international cooperation viz a viz Kashmir.
Finally, the humanity is facing the severe global health crises of its time. Only global cooperation can help us to fight this pandemic so the guidelines by World Health Organization and self-curfew must be imposed to slowdown the spread of this virus and eventually defeating it.
*Umair Pervez Khan is an International Relations PhD scholar in Selcuk University, Konya, Turkey. He can be reached at [email protected]