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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 10 New Delhi February 23, 2019

For How Long would Kashmiris Suffer?

Sunday 24 February 2019

by Aijaz Ahmad Turrey

On Thursday, February 14, 2019, a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) convoy, moving from Jammu to Srinagar, was for the first time attacked by a suicide bomber with an explosive-laden vehicle near Avantipora, Pulwama, Kashmir. The attack resulted in the death of 40 CRPF personnel. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed. The attack has been condemned by every individual and community living in the country. But in the aftermath the consequences seem to be worsening the already disturbed situation as a particular community, Kashmiri, is being targeted in every corner of the country, especially the north.

At least 15-20 female students from the Valley locked themselves in one of the hostel rooms in Dehradun after a mob surrounded the hostel. This incident happened a day after 12 students from Kashmir were thrashed in Dehradun by members of Right-wing groups including the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). The fearful mob with sticks and stones are calling them traitors and asking for apologies. The girls are much scared as slogans like ‘Hindustan ke gaddaron ko goli maro (Shoot the traitors of the country)’ are being continuously raised.

Thursday’s militant attack in Pulwama has triggered violence in the Jammu region, with mobs torching vehicles and attacking the Kashmiri Muslims staying there. According to the police, at least 12 persons were injured in the violence. The protestors damaged nearly 80 vehicles, torching eight of them. The Darbar move (non-secretariat) employees federation on Saturday threatened to return to Kashmir if the government didn’t take measures to ensure their safety in Jammu. State President of the association, Owais Wani, said that their families were not safe in Jammu as the quarters, provided by the Estates Department, were facing attacks by miscreants in Jammu. Over 5000 Kashmiris, including women and children, have taken refuge at the Makah Masjid Iqbal Market at Bhatandi. Some locals from Jammu, assisted by the police, visited different hotels and rented accommodations to move the Kashmiris to safer place.

With sentiments running high against terrorist attacks in Kashmir, over 100 Kashmiri students living in rented accommodations in Haryana’s Mullana village have been forced to leave after the district panchayat asked the villagers to evict them. The village sarpanch issued an ultimatum to PG (paying guest) owners to oust the Kashmiri students from accommodations within 24 hours. With tension mounting in the village, the Haryana Police are keeping a close watch and have assured the Kashmiri students about their safety. Though the authorities have asked the students to return to their respective PG accommodations, the students have chosen to remain inside the campus for around four days.

Videos are also coming from Bihar showing Kashmiris facing a communal backlash. A group of Hindu Right-wing activists flinging out the stocks of garment sellers while threatening them to leave the State within 24 hours or be prepared to face the consequences can be clearly seen in the video. When a woman, apparently a local, objects to the behaviour of the mob, she is told that 45 CRPF men have been killed in Kashmir and Kashmiris will have to face the consequences.

Kashmiris are under the scanner in every part of the country. Why are they being asked to vacate as soon as possible? Why are anti-national slogans like “Desh Kay Ghaddaro Ko, Goli Maro Salon Ko” being raised against them? What is their crime? These questions should be raised as such acts are badly affecting national integrity. This communal and ethnicity-based violence is dividing the people. They are also the citizens of the country, they also have feelings and should be treated well like they do with 10 lakh in-migrants from different parts of the country.

The J&K High Court Bar Association, Srinagar on Saturday appealed to the international community including the United Nations, Amnesty International, Asia Watch, other human rights organisations of the world and members of Indian civil society to come to the rescue of the people of Kashmir from the brutalities being inflicted on them by the “ruthless communal and fanatic forces of Jammu and other places of India”. The Traders Association, Lal Chowk, Srinagar called for Kashmir Bandh on Sunday against the ‘attack’ on Kashmiris outside the Valley. Din Mohammad, President of the Association, said that the shutdown call has been given jointly by the KTMF (Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation) and KCCI (Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries) jointly. The Centre on Saturday asked all States to ensure the safety and security of the students and people from Jammu and Kashmir living in their areas in the wake of threats to them in some parts of the country.

The author is a Ph.D student, Centre for Studies in Economics and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar.

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