India’s move on Jammu & Kashmir has not achieved any stated goals’

ISLAMABAD, Aug 02 (APP):A group of concerned citizens in India led by former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha has said the region continues to be in a “social, economic, political and communication lockdown” for a year, but none of the stated goals by India regarding the revocation of special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir(IIOJK) has been achieved.

In a statement, the Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) said Kashmiris have “lost any faith they had in the Indian political leadership and the judiciary” and they seem to believe that the Indian government wants to “marginalise” them.

The group demanded the immediate release of Kashmiri leader Mehbooba Mufti and all Kashmiris who were taken into preventive detention under Public Safety Act (PSA), restoration of 4G communication, lifting of curbs on all peaceful political activity and starting a multi-level dialogue process with all those affected by the August 5 decision.

“In early hours of that day (August 5, 2019), a complete lockdown imposed and mainstream political leaders, businessmen, lawyers and thousands of others were arrested. A year later, J&K continues to be in a social, economic, political and communication lockdown. None of the stated goals of the government – of bringing Kashmir closer to India, bringing development to the state – have been achieved,” the CCG said.

Besides Sinha, the statement was signed by former Chief Information Commissioner of India and ex-Chairman of National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah, Air Vice-Marshall (Retd) Kapil Kak, veteran journalist Bharat Bhushan and peace activist Sushobha Barve.

The group accused the Centre of internationalizing the Kashmir issue to the detriment of India. They said the government was criticized for human rights violations and stoking Islamophobia while security experts point out that the changes in the status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir(IIOJK) also prompted Chinese incursions in Laddakh.

While the Centre’s actions had led to “shock, trauma and humiliation amongst the local citizens” and their “simmering anger at their helplessness still persists”, they said, it is “significant” that the Kashmiris through their “display of mature behaviour prevented public violence and chose mass civil disobedience instead to show unhappiness”.

“The Kashmiris seem to believe that the Indian government wants to marginalize them. This fear is expressed most vividly in the fear of demographic change by creating new settlements for outsiders. That the Union government has used the pandemic-induced lockdown to implement domicile laws for the UT has not helped allay these fears. The media which could have promoted debate on this issue is being harassed and hounded,” the CCG said.

It noted that the internet ban in Kashmir continues with only 2G connectivity being provided now and this has affected students, job seekers, entrepreneurs, businesses and ordinary citizens alike and created havoc in banking, trade, business and healthcare.

The statement said Kashmir’s economy was also plunged into an abyss with the sudden and mass exodus in early August of tourists and the non-Kashmiri labour force.