On 27th October 2016 several organisations in Delhi came together in protest at Jantar Mantar demanding restoration of civil liberties and democratic rights in Kashmir. People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) affirms its solidarity with the people of Kashmir who have been battling a state of siege for over 100 days. In 111 days, since July 8th, the aged, the infants, the children, the youth, women, the men—have been attacked, killed, maimed, arrested and detained by the security forces and police. 100 persons are dead; nearly 17000 injured; over 1100 have severe eye injuries; 400 blinded; and, nearly 5000 arrested or detained under the Public Safety Act, PSA. Normal life has been severely affected as schools and colleges have closed-down and business establishments have been hard hit. On the other side, however, people have followed their own ‘calendar’ of defiance.
Instead of reaching out to the people of Kashmir, the government of India has carried on with guns, curfew, pellet guns, night raids, mass arrests, and used ‘surgical strike’ to whip up war hysteria and hatred for Pakistan and Pakistanis. Because of this and a jingoistic media the government has succeeded in hiding the brutal suppression it has let loose let loose in Kashmir. The attempts to carry out the other side of the story have been severely proscribed through local media blackout and moves like banning of the local newspaper, ‘Kashmir Reader’. Other mediums of communication including telephone and internet services have been on tenterhooks.
The signs of the bloodied times however, tell us that the people of Kashmir are prepared to struggle for their freedom, lonely or otherwise. For us here in Delhi, it is a time of choice: are we prepared to share our solidarity with the people of Kashmir against the brutality of our government, or do we wish to back the government on its war mongering plans and use of lethal force to crush the popular movement?
WE stand strongly resolved on the democratic charter of civil liberties which every citizen of this country has a fundamental share in. There is no choice as our conviction in democracy imposes upon us a duty: not to remain silent. There is no choice as our belief in democracy reminds us that political freedoms are indivisible and necessary for all and the people of Kashmir cannot be denied the right to protest, speak, demand action from the government for unleashing a state of brutality and impunity upon it, as well as assert their right to self-determination. We demand an immediate end to the curfewed nights of Kashmir and we stand resolved to build a movement of solidarity for Kashmir as we have learnt to stand up for people.
Therefore, a protest was observed on 27th October in the city as a mark of solidarity, to tell people of Kashmir that we stand with them and support their demand for self-determination, because it is a just, fair and legitimate demand, especially when everything else has failed. PUDR is convinced that bonds formed through solidarity and struggle are the strongest of all bonds and they require no military to impose.
Moushumi Basu and Deepika Tandon
28th October, 2016