Kashmiri Diaspora forum condemns India’s repression in Kashmir

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Altaf Hamid Rao,
MIRPUR (AJK):    Washington-based Kashmir Global Council, an international organization of Kashmiri diaspora dedicated to establishing a free, peaceful, just and a prosperous Kashmir, has strongly condemned the continued repression of Kashmiri people by the Indian occupational forces in occupied Jammu Kashmir through the imposition of draconian restrictions which violate their basic human rights at a time when they are facing an existential threat from Covid-19 pandemic.

In a Joint Statement by all members of the board of directors of the organization including its Chairman Raja Muzaffar demanded immediate withdrawal of the sanctions imposed by the Indian occupational forces in the bleeding vale of Indian occupied Kashmir, says a news release landing from Washington in the media offices Tuesday.

Following is the complete text of the joint statement of the leaders of the Kashmir Global Council including its Supremo Raja Muzaffar, Farooq Siddiqi, Mufti Showkat Farooqi, Professor Humaira Gowher, Syed Altaf Qadri, Dr. Sadat Draboo, Mueen Hakak, Qasim Khokhar, Mujeeb Kazi:-

“We demand an immediate end to these restrictions. Kashmiris continue to be under siege without access to functional internet which is available in the Indian states. The access to 2G services, which India has allowed in Kashmir, is woefully inadequate for delivery of effective health care services to patients in hospitals. Students are unable to access online materials posted by their teachers due to inadequate internet speeds. Health care professionals are unable to collaborate with their counterparts outside Kashmir and share essential documents including those containing guidelines for intensive care management of Covid-19 patients. Businesses in Kashmir have been decimated under the devastating effects of the lockdown especially Kashmir’s famed tourism industry which depends on online bookings and many other small enterprises and startups. The damage to business and industry is estimated to be more than $2.4 billion. Even at a time like this Kashmiris are isolated from the rest of the world.

India’s crackdown in Kashmir extends to all spheres of life. The government is pursuing a policy of information blockade while appearing to allow social media platforms and newspapers to function. Social media posts are regularly watched and anything remotely critical of the government is viciously prosecuted by resorting to many draconian and unconstitutional laws operative in Kashmir. While local newspapers have been allowed to publish, journalists are booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for “antinational activities.” Three prominent journalists, Massarat Zahra (Photojournalist), Peerzada Ashiq, and Gowher Geelani (print journalists) were recently booked by the police. Umar Khalid, Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar are other activists that have also been booked. Gowher Geelani has since challenged the police action against him in the High Court which issued notice to the government. In his petition Geelanihas described the action against him as “vindictive calibrated to wreak vengeance.”

The petition further states, “Any restraint on the freedom of press constitutes violation of the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution. Press is one of the organs through which thoughts and ideas are expressed and discussed. The Freedom of Press is a necessary concomitant of freedom of expression which involves right to receive and impart information”.

We believe that India has felt emboldened to continue to carry on its unlawful crackdown on the rights and freedoms of Kashmiri people because of the silence and inaction of the International community to hold the Indian government accountable for its misdeeds in Kashmir. How long will the free and democratic countries around the world continue to be mute spectators to the unprecedented human tragedy that is unfolding in Kashmir because of unmitigated Indian atrocities? The time to act is now.

We appeal to the International community to speak in one voice in condemning Indian atrocities in Kashmir particularly at a time when it is facing an existential threat from Covid-19 pandemic”.