Op Ed: 182 Days Since the Lockdown in Kashmir

Tehreem Khan | Pakistan Indian-Administered Kashmir has been on lockdown since 5th August 2019, with limited medical supplies, food supplies, internet, mobile service and transportation. On August 5th, India revoked Article 360 of its Constitution, a law which has been in place for a few decades. It safeguarded the rights of the Muslim-majority state, including their right of autonomy and their own constitution, to make laws on all matters but defence, communication and foreign affairs. To make things worse, the area has been heavily militarized, and basic freedoms of Kashmiri people have been denied. In the days after the Kashmir lockdown, hundreds of elected politicians, activists and residents have been put into “House Arrest”. Many men, including minors, have been taken away from their homes and locked up into jails and tortured (See this video for more information: https://youtu.be/1TX9VGsnEzE) A video released by Al Jazeera following the lockdown in August Pervez Ahmed Pala, a 33 year old man diagnosed with thyroid cancer, was picked up by Indian security forces on a midnight raid on August 6. His father is worried about whether his son is even alive or not. Pervez, who has two children aged eight and ten, is completely dependent on life saving medicine. The family was denied any sort of contact with him by the authorities. From September 17 to 21, a group of five Indian women visited Indian administrated Kashmir and put together a report. The Indian women went through 17 villages across Kashmir and learned about the reality on-the-ground in the region. ”Every woman we met had a sorry story to tell. Their boys are being picked up by the Army.” Said Annie Raja from the group. "[They have been] waiting and waiting for their 14, 15, 17, 19-year-old sons. Their last glimpse is embedded in each heart, they dare not give up hope, but they know it will be a long wait before they see the tortured bodies of their corpses." Sexual assault of Kashmiri women by the Indian Army has been carried out since a long time. It was reported that 882 Kashmiri women were raped by Indian forces in 1992 alone. This act has been going unpunished for a very long time and shows no changes in the present. The lockdown is not easy for women as it is not easy for men. It has been reported many times that Indian soldiers kill men before entering civilians’ homes and raping their women. Not only inside Kashmir but also outside Kashmir, women are being objectified. One of the Indian Government’s arguments to abrogate Article 370 was that it would lead to gender equality, emancipating Muslim women. However, many sexiest comments and jokes are made in the Indian assembly regarding these women: Earlier, the BJP's Vikram Saini, a Member of the Legislative Assembly, said: "Muslim party workers should rejoice in the new provisions. They can now marry the white-skinned women of Kashmir.” Women in the region are frightened seeing armed men roaming out of their house with the probability of death lurking with them. Javed, a 20 year old girl came home to celebrate Eid but was instead locked down. She says “The sight of armies petrifies me. I don’t even want my brother and father to go out at all but we have no option. They need to get bread and daily necessities.” Although there have been two UN security council meetings in the last year regarding this issue, there has been no solution offered to prevent the inhumane acts committed by the Indian Government. It has been 182 days since Kashmiris voice have been shut down in addition to many decades of torture they have been through. All of us should not let this carry on. Discrimination against individuals on the basis of nationality, race, color, or religion should not occur. The easiest way to help Kashmiris is to raise awareness, write about it, talk about it and take action. We can all be their voice. We all can tell the world that all of us, at the moment, still have some humanity left in us. Consider yourself in their position, consider your family in this position. Isn’t the world called a global village? Then let's act like one, and step up for the rights of Kashmiris in this time. Works Referenced: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/women-biggest-victims-inhumane-siege-190 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/india-revokes-kashmir-special-status-latest-updates-190806134011673.html820122327902.html Note from the editors: The Kashmir topic has been covered by various news outlets in the past few months. To find out more about the current situation in the region, as well as the history of the conflict, you can consult these sources: Al Jazeera Reporting on Kashmir: https://www.aljazeera.com/Search/?q=Kashmir Washington Post Reporting on Kashmir: https://www.washingtonpost.com/newssearch/?datefilter=All%20Since%202005&query=Kashmir&sort=Relevance New York Times Reporting on Kashmir: https://www.nytimes.com/search?query=Kashmir Time Magazine Reporting on Kashmir: https://time.com/search/?q=Kashmir BBC Reporting on Kashmir: https://www.bbc.co.uk/search?q=Kashmir For an interdisciplinary syllabus outlining the history of the conflict, you can consult this link: https://www.standwithkashmir.org/the-kashmir-syllabus

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© 2019 by Maryam and Nivaal Rehman