Original image courtesy : Vikar Syed

August 5, 2020 marks a year since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, and the loss of its statehood. In effect, it is the first anniversary of the violation of our Constitutional commitment to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

How is this anniversary being marked officially? According to news reports, through an imposition of curfew in the Valley. This is a sad and ironic commentary on the promises of rapid and widespread ‘development’ made by the Centre last year. Instead, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have never suffered as deeply, nor felt as alienated from the Indian government, as they do today.

Unparalleled stringent security measures have been imposed, leading to untold hardships for people whom we have always maintained are an ‘integral part of India’.  Equally, the loss of identity has meant an almost total disintegration and alienation of the hearts and minds of the majority of the people. Internet suspension, media censorship, no jobs, no tourism, no schooling and no access to even online learning, since even so-called easing of restrictions has permitted only limited 2G access: these are only a few examples of what people have to live with every single day. They also have to live with deep anxiety and depression; or anger and resentment.

A journalist who has long covered the region reports that this is, perhaps, the first time in living memory when all Kashmiris have turned away from New Delhi. Some serving members of the security forces, as also veterans, have often expressed their belief that there can be no military solution to the Kashmir question. A recent article entitled ‘Wounds Need to Heal’, by a former head of the CRPF, has reiterated this very strongly; and he calls for a restoration of its statehood, followed by elections. There is also exhaustion and fatigue among the security forces.

As for ‘We the people of India’: there have been many reports from fact-finding groups, covering the period before August 5th 2019, as well as the 12 months since. Virtually every report underlines the urgent need to restore statehood, release all political prisoners, resume basic economic activities and internet and communications, redress human rights violations and restart schooling, among the necessary steps to build confidence. Dialogue as a precondition to rebuild the fractured democratic polity is a unanimous recommendation.

Committed as we the undersigned are to the values of the Indian Constitution, we urge the Prime Minister and his team to immediately restore statehood and basic freedoms in Jammu and Kashmir, so as to create the best possible conditions for peaceful dialogue. This is the only way to reach out to the suffering people of Jammu and Kashmir; honour the promises made to them; and uphold the Constitution of India and all the Democratic freedoms enshrined therein.

In solidarity,

1Abha Bhaiya, Feminist activist40KP Sasi, Filmmaker
2Abhijit Sengupta, IAS [Retd]41Lalita Ramdas, Educator, Activist
3Admiral L Ramdas [Retd]42MA Baby, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member
4Air Marshal Kapil Kak [Retd]43Madhu Bhaduri, IFS [Retd]
5Air Marshal Vir Narain [Retd]44Maimoona Mollah, AIDWA
6Amitabha Pande, IAS [Retd]45Maj Gen Sudhir Vombatkere [Retd]
7Ardhendu Sen, IAS [Retd]46Maj Priyadarshi Chowdhury, SC [Retd]
8Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan47Manishi Jani, Writer
9Ashish Kothari, Kalpvriksh48Meena Gupta, IAS [Retd]
10Ashok Kumar Sharma, IFoS [Retd]49MG Devasahayam, IAS [Retd]
11Ashok Kumar Sharma, IFS [Retd]50Mridula Garg, Hindi author
12Atamjit Singh, Playwright51Niloufer Bhagwat [Advocate]
13Badri Raina, Author and columnist52Natasha Bhadwar, Author and filmmaker
14Brijesh Kumar, IAS [Retd]53Navrekha Sharma, IFS [Retd]
15Captain S Prabhala IN [Retd]54Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
16Chadrakant Patil, Poet and writer55NK Raghupathy, IAS [Retd]
17Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan, IAS [Retd]56PR Dasgupta, IAS [Retd]
18Civic Chandran, Editor with Patabhedam57R Poornalingam, IAS [Retd]
19Col Pavan Nair [Retd]58Rahul Khullar, IAS [Retd]
20Deb Mukharji, IFS [Retd]59Raju Sharma, IAS [Retd]
21Ganesh Devy, Writer, Academic60Ramachandra Guha, Writer and scholar
22Geeta Kapur, Art writer61S Raghunandana, Kannada poet, playwright and stage director
23Geetanjali Shree, Writer62Sagari R Ramdas, Food Sovereignty Alliance, India
24Gita Jayaraj, Writer and researcher63Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD
25Githa Hariharan, Writer64SP Ambrose, IAS [Retd]
26Gopalan Balagopal, IAS [Retd]65Subodh Lal, IPoS [Resigned]
27Gyan Prakash, Academic66Sudhir Chandra, Writer
28Hindal Tyabji, IAS [Retd]67Sujatha K Rao, IAS [Retd]
29HS Gujral, IFoS [Retd]68Sundar Burra, IAS [Retd]
30J Devika, Feminist researcher69Suresh K Goel, IFS [Retd]
31Jayati Ghosh, Academic70Sushil Dubey, IFS [Retd]
32John Dayal, Writer, Activist71Vibha Puri Das, IAS [Retd]
33Julio Ribeiro, IPS [Retd]72Vijaya Latha Reddy, IFS [Retd]
34Justice AP Shah [Retd]73Vijaya Venkatraman, Academic
35Jyothi Ananthasubbarao, Activist and writer74Vinod C Khanna, IFS [Retd]
36K Ashok Rao, Public sector activist75Vivan Sundaram, Artist
37K Satchidanandan, Poet76VP Raja, IAS [Retd]
38Keshav Desiraju, IAS [Retd]77Yousuf Saeed, Filmmaker
39KP Fabian, Ambassador78Zoya Hasan, Academic

Originally published in Indian Cultural Forum



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