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30 Aug 2008

Hundreds of intellectuals, students, media persons and activists sat on a Dharna today at Jantar Mantar by Janhastakshep, PUCL and PUDR protesting against the crackdowns on non-violent protests by the people in Jammu & Kashmir.

Nearly three month long agitation and counter agitation in Jammu and Kashmir has brought home the extremely serious situation in J&K. In two days on August 11 and 12 Indian security forces shot dead thirty two people in Kashmir valley. Unrelenting indefinite curfew ahs been imposed in the whole of the valley since the 24th of this month and at least eight people have been killed by the security forces during this period. Already reeling under economic blockade the imposition of curfew is making it worse with even hospitals not being allowed to function fully and attacks on ambulances and injured people. Food is in short supply, water and electricity disrupted and no one is allowed to move about even with curfew passes. There are restrictions placed on media. Even the media persons have been brutally thrashed by security forces.

The Kashmir Valley has seen massive outpouring of people against the blockade, for their democratic rights, aspirations and freedom. The people of the state groan under black laws like AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act, while unarmed people are fired upon even as they gather to only attend the funeral of their leader killed in firing by armed forces.

In Jammu by Hindu communal forces, chiefly led by Hindutva brigade of RSS-BJP and Congress, are conducting what is essentially an anti-Kashmir agitation. There is a sort of competition between these two leading parties of Indian ruling classes in harnessing majority Hindu chauvinism. Their top leaders in Jammu are participating in blockade while the Congress led UPA has gone into a denial mode on the fact of blockade despite extensive proof of the same. The state failed to lift the economic blockade and protect victims of mob violence for more than a month. Reports suggest that drivers and passengers of Kashmiri origin had been dragged out and beaten on the highway, guarded ostensibly by the Indian army.

The economic blockade had severely affected the life in the valley over a month and a half. Thus the right to life of people in the valley was imperiled by it. The message being conveyed was that Indian State is unmindful of even the physical well-being of the people in Kashmir. The procession towards Muzaffarabad on August 11 was a consequence of this blockade imposed on the valley by the Jammu agitators. And paradoxically it is in line with the Government of India’s own promise of opening the LOC for trade. While Central Govt. said it was not opposed to the opening, its armed forced killed 6 persons including a top leader of Hurriyat Conference.

It is instructive that the valley based Anti Land Transfer Committee leaders went and reassured yatris of their being honoured guests, organized langars for the yatris and they were provided free boarding in hotels and house boats. It is also worth remembering that during this entire agitation, the yatra carried on and yatris did not encounter threats of the kind faced by Kashmiris in Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur, the hindu majority districts.

Many intellectuals, activists, human rights activists expressed their concern at the gross violation of human rights of the people of Kashmir and brutal repression unleashed by state on the people of Kashmir. We demand that :

Free movement of people and goods on the Srinagar Jammu Highway be ensured and road to Mazaffarabad be opened for trade forthwith.
Mr. Gulam Nabi Azad, Mufti Mohd. and ex-Governor Sinha should be tried for fanning communal passions and generating the present controversy by transferring land against the law of the state.
Curfew should be lifted and repression on people of Kashmir and media persons must be stopped. Register cases against those responsible for attacks on injured people, ambulances and hospitals. All Black Laws like AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act should be repealed and armed forces should be withdrawn.
We also demand from the Govt. to open dialogue with real representatives of the people of Jammu & Kashmir and solve the problem by respecting the democratic aspiration of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.