Press Release: India emboldened to continue unlawful crackdown amid Covid-19
Kashmir Global Council, an international organization of Kashmiri diaspora dedicated to establishing a free, peaceful, independent, just and a prosperous Kashmir, condemns the continued repression of Kashmiri people 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. We demand an immediate end to these restrictions.
Kashmiris continue to be under siege without access to functional internet which is available in the rest of 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.
- Slow Internet Is Speeding the Spread of the Coronavirus in Kashmir
- In Kashmir, slow internet throttles doctors’ coronavirus response
- Jammu and Kashmir’s college students reeling under limited internet, Covid-19 shutdown
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, Masarat Zahra (Photojournalist), Peezada 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 Geelani has 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,”
- Journalists in Kashmir booked for Orwellian crimes
- Journalist Gowhar Geelani booked for ‘unlawful’ activities on social media
- Kashmiri Author And Journalist Gowhar Geelani, Booked Under UAPA, Moves HC
- FIR Against Another Jammu and Kashmir Journalist, 3rd In 2 Days, For Social Media Post
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.
Kashmir Global Council
Mufti Showkat Farooqi, Esq.