As The Post’s Niha Masih reported from Srinagar, streets are no longer crowded with civilians but awash with India’s armed soldiers, and “instead of traffic jams at intersections, there are spools of concertina wire. People remain inside their homes with no telephone, Internet or cable TV service. No one has seen or heard from local political leaders, hundreds of whom are in detention. Of the more than 200 newspapers in the region, only five are publishing physical copies. Their websites are stuck at Aug. 5.”
Members of student, faculty and alumni of the prestigious Harvard University have written a letter to the Government of India, asking it to reconsider the detention of Shah Faesal on Wednesday in Srinagar.
Shah Faesal was sent back from Delhi airport on Tuesday to Srinagar and he was later detained under the Public Safety Act.
Kashmiris have not yet forgotten that in August – November, 1947, RSS colluded with the Hindu Maharajah of Kashmir to perpetrate the horrific genocide and exodus of Jammu, whereby hundreds of thousands of Muslims were massacred and an estimated half a million forcibly displaced. This reduced the region’s Muslim majority to a minority. This time, RSS is working through BJP, its political wing, to complete its original mission of ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Muslims. The genocide is being substituted by settler colonialism, but the objectives remain the same.
More than four million people in India, mostly Muslims, are at risk of being declared foreign migrants as the government pushes a hard-line Hindu nationalist agenda that has challenged the country’s pluralist traditions and aims to redefine what it means to be Indian.
Having listened to the debates on Kashmir in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister’s address to the nation, and having watched subsequent developments in Kashmir, we as citizens of India inspired by the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi feel compelled to state that the government has pushed the country into a blind alley. The gun that was used to silence Kashmir is now being used as a telescope through which to see Kashmir. This is shameful, unfortunate and ominous for India.
A whole state has vanished from the map in broad daylight. The Indian Union had 28 states, now it has 27. This is not a magic show, where a magician shows us, we know, something unreal and illusory. Here we are witnessing something cruel, ugly, undemocratic and seemingly irreversible. It reveals the poverty of our democratic politics.
According to a government official, at least 500 local leaders and activists have been arrested or detained across Kashmir since the beginning of last week.
Faesal is not the first Kashmiri politician to be detained in Srinagar over the past week. Since the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by nullifying Article 370 and divided the state into two Union Territories, two former chief ministers – Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti – have been arrested and a third, Farooq Abdullah, is said to be under house arrest.
The order to arrest Mufti, the leader of People’s Democratic Party, also held in a Srinagar guest house, said her activities were likely to cause a “breach of peace”.