Govt can’t cage us, say ‘outraged’ Kashmiris outside state

Paramilitary personnel stand guard during restrictions, in Jammu. Photo: PTI

The Narendra Modi government has scrapped the special status under Article 370 of the Constitution which has been one of BJP’s pet issues repeated in their manifestos. Though it has been hailed as a bold decision, some are calling it a mockery of democracy.

Before the Parliament revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, there was a complete shut down in the state. For Kashmiris outside, all the news that trickled in triggered outrage and confusion.

“The Modi government cannot cage Kashmiris in their own homeland. There is a blackout in Kashmir,” said Zakir Ayub, a Kashmiri student based in Delhi.

‘August 5th will be etched in black ink’

“Whatever has happened hasn’t sunk in yet. I don’t know where this will lead to. Though this was a brave move, the way they have scrapped Article 370 is not acceptable,” said Veer Munshi, a well-known Kashmiri artist.

“Nobody was consulted. They’ve hit the nail in the coffin. They are cutting off all cords with Kashmir. August 5th was indeed an historic day which will be written in black ink,” said Inshah Mir, a Kashmiri lawyer based in Delhi.

“They think we (Kashmiris) don’t know history and we are dumb. Whatever is happening makes India an autocratic country, but not a democratic country,” she said referring to the communication clampdown.

Suzaine, an IT professional based in Bangalore, echoed Inshah. She said everything in J&K was blocked and she was unable to contact her family for the last three days. “If the move was for the people, the people in the state should have known about it. They don’t know what is happening.”

Recalling the mood on the night of the blackout, Zakir said he received calls and texts from his family and friends, “who gave an impression that I could never see them again”.

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‘Trust breached, bond with other states broken’

Tahiba, another Kashmiri working professional in Bangalore, said, “We all feel miserable. I think the trust of Kashmiris has been breached completely.”

Munazir Zahoor, an MTech student in Delhi, says he has always shared a bond with friends from different states and cities, but today they are filled with hatred.

He believes this is the Modi government’s bid to divert attention of the people from other important issues like unemployment, slump in the economy, etc. “Hum ko bali ka bakra kyun bana rahein hain? (Why are we (Kashmiris) being made scapegoats?)” he asked.

‘What Azaadi means’

Demanding ‘Azaadi’ (freedom), Inshah said for her, it meant a place “where one knows he/she will be given justice, where one can walk freely without the fear of being raped, where one has no fear of being gunned down any second, where one doesn’t have to always prove their identity”.

Veer Munshi, however, differs with her. He said he is fine with Kashmir being an integral part of India and called ‘azaadi’ a “façade”. “I am not in favour of freedom for Kashmir. I want it to be a part of India,” he added.

He feels governments need to solve issues like deprivation, infrastructure and most importantly, the “sense of alienation” among the people.

Citing the current situation, Zakir said, “We want what we were promised. The UN resolution is already there, Kashmiris should have a right to choose what they want.”

Diljan, another Kashmiri working professional in Mumbai, said that Sheikh Abdullah (former J&K Chief Minister) “did not choose this India”. “I just want the promise made to them to be fulfilled, ie autonomy.”

Talking about violation of the UNSC resolution, Rizwan, a PhD scholar from Delhi University, said, “The revoking of Article 370 will change the demographic profile of the state. Once that is done, the long-standing plebiscite demand of the people will become irrelevant.”

He also said that although Kashmiris wanted to enter mainstream politics, the scrapping of the special status would deter them from doing so.

Many others hoped that the Centre would bring in infrastructural development to Jammu and Kashmir.

Also read: Migrant workers in Kashmir looking for ways to return home