Lockdown in Kashmir valley continues on 33rd day
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) has strongly condemned the continued curfew and communication blackout imposed by India in occupied Kashmir.
A press release issued by the OIC office in Jeddah said that the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission called upon India to immediately lift the curfew and communication blockade and restore fundamental freedoms and civil liberties in the occupied territory.
“Despite this iron curtain blockade, there are credible media reports confirming that over 5,000, mostly young Kashmiris, have been illegally detained by the security forces, entire political leadership is incarcerated without any legal recourse, and journalists and human rights activists are being prosecuted on false charges,” the IPHRC said.
It also urged the Indian government to grant access to the UN and OIC fact-finding missions to visit the occupied Kashmir valley to independently and objectively ascertain the human rights situation on the ground.
Kashmir life remains crippled
Normal life remains crippled in the Kashmir valley and five districts of Jammu region as the authorities have further tightened curfew and other restrictions in Srinagar to prevent protests against the killing of an 11th grade student Asrar Ahmed Khan.
The student was injured in the pellet firing by Indian troops on demonstrations in Soura area of Srinagar a few days back and succumbed at a hospital in Srinagar, on Wesdnesday.
The unprecedented curfew continues to render markets closed and public transport off the road since August 5 when Indian government repealed the special status of occupied Kashmir. Around 50,000 public transport vehicles are grounded while train service is suspended for over a month now.
The Kashmir valley has no contact with the outside world for the past one month due to the continued blockade and suspension of internet, mobile and landline phones and closure of TV channels.
Kashmiri people are facing acute shortage of food, medicines and other commodities. Doctors have warned that hospitals are running short of medicines, surgical equipment and people are faced with host of problems including patients not being able to travel for routine check-up and staff struggling to turn up for duty due to communications blockade..
On the other hand, over 11,000 political leaders and workers including Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai continue to remain under house arrest or in jails.
A Kashmiri rights activist, Gowhar Gilani, was stopped by the Indian authorities at the Delhi airport and barred from flying abroad. He was intended to visit Germany to participate in an event, but was sent back from Indira Gandhi International airport by the Immigration authorities with the only apparent reason that he might expose before the world the horrific situation prevailing in occupied Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Hurriyat activists in their messages issued through posters and handbills in occupied Kashmir said that India can kill them but cannot kill their ideology and they will definitely defeat New Delhi one day. The activists said that India had made them hardened and they were standing in front of their nation with the blessings of Allah Almighty to protect it from the Indian onslaught.
Journalists being ‘coerced’ in Kashmir
The Kashmir Press Club (KPC) on Tuesday expressed serious concern over the “unprecedented communication blockade” in the Valley and criticised the authorities for allegedly asking some senior journalists to vacate their government accommodation.
The KPC also described the action as “harassment aimed at coercing journalists to toe a particular line”, reports Kashmir Times from Srinagar.
Denouncing the curbs imposed on media and journalists in Kashmir, the press club’s executive committee said in a meeting that due to “unprecedented communication blockade” affecting mobile telephony, Internet and telephone landlines, journalists have been “crippled, overwhelmingly disabling them from reporting the ground situation”.
“Since the communication blockade was imposed over the region on August 5, the club took up the issue with government authorities on several occasions, urging them to restore mobile phones, Internet and telephone landlines to journalists and media outlets, including newspapers, and also the club itself,” it said.
“But all these efforts have proved to be futile as these services have not been restored to journalists till date,” the KPC said in a statement.
It said currently, hundreds of journalists – both local and visiting and media workers – are forced to wait in queues for their turn to file assignments at the makeshift media facilitation centre here.
“The centre is equipped with only five computers and a low speed Internet connection,” the statement said.
Despite repeated reminders by the press club, the directorate of information and public relations has not made any attempt to enhance services including open access to WiFi for journalists at the centre until the internet and telephone facilities are restored in the Valley, the KPC claimed.
“The Kashmir Press Club demands that the government restore internet and telephone facility to journalists and media outlets,” the statement read.
“The executive committee meeting also expressed serious concern over the harassment of Kashmiri journalists and pressure tactics adopted by the government.
“It is noted with concern that at least three senior journalists… were asked by the government to vacate the government accommodations as soon as possible, which is nothing but harassment aimed at coercing journalists to toe a particular line,” it said.
A PIL has been filed before the Supreme Court against the restrictions imposed on the media in Kashmir by Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of Kashmir Times.
Dhaka rally demands case against Modi in int’l criminal court
Meanwhile, a protest rally was held and human chain was formed in front of National Press Club, Dhaka, on Wednesday, to condemn the Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir and Gujarat in India.
The protesters said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was responsible for the killings in Kashmir and Gujarat as well as in border areas of Bangladesh.
Protesters gathered in front of the National Press Club around 11am on Wednesday, when law enforcement officials asked them to leave the spot.
Shahbagh police station Sub-Inspector Mohammad Jahangir said, “Anyone wanting to hold a protest program needs to have formal permission from Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).”
However, the protesters claimed that their rally was barred as it was against the present Indian government. “Authorities are unwilling to let us form a human chain as our demands are against the Indian government,” Nagorik Parishad Convener, Mohammad Shamsuddin, told media.
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only person responsible for the unrest and killings in Kashmir and Gujarat in India. Bangladeshis are also being killed near the borders under his government,” he added.
He also demanded that Modi be brought before the International Criminal Court.