Kashmir Dispatch May 2022

WKA News Round-Up – May 2022

As India’s renewed occupation grinds toward its third year, we see the brutality of their occupation month after month. With every month that passes, we see more people arrested for politically motivated, exaggerated, and trumped-up charges with lengthy prison sentences imposed. Weaponizing the law is a common tactic of authoritarians as it allows them to imprison a minority population more fitfully.

In this month’s newsletter, we will examine and highlight several ongoing cases.

India convicts top Kashmir separatist of terrorism

Yasin Malik, a separatist leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has been sentenced to life in prision after being convicted of charges of “terrorist acts”, illegally raising funds, being a member of a “terrorist organization”, criminal conspiracy, and sedition.

“Terrorism-related charges leveled against me are concocted, fabricated, and politically motivated,” the JKLF cited him as telling the court.

What is important to know is that under Malik, the group has long given up militant activity, abandoning it completely in 1994, choosing instead to focus on achieving peace through activism.

The Indian government arrested Malik in 2019, shortly after its revocation of Kashmir’s special status, and banned the JKLF from operating.

WKA condemns the life imprisonment sentence of one of Kashmir’s most fearless, influential, and revered leaders of the freedom struggle.

You can read more about this story here and read our full statement here.

Jailed Kashmir human rights leader named as one of Time’s top 100

Khurram Parvez, who serves as chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, was named as  Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for 2022. Parvez was arrested on terrorism charges last year.

Khurram gave a voice to families that lost their children to enforced disappearances by the Indian state. Khurram is the story and the storyteller of the insurgency and the betrayal of the people of Kashmir.

You can read more about this story here.

Indian government to terminate Kashmir University academics over suspected militancy links

Up to a dozen teachers at Kashmir University are set to be fired over unproven ties to militant groups. The occupation administration invoked Article 311 of the Indian Constitution to remove other employees of the University which states that, “no person who is a member of a civil service of the Union or an all-India service or a civil service of a State or holds a civil post under the Union or a State shall be dismissed or removed by an authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed.”
What is clear is that there are no active ties to militant groups and that the administration is simply putting forth exaggerated claims to remove employees if viewed as troublesome. The legal shell game revolves around India banning teachers from joining or being members of teachers’ associations and unions.

The JK administration has decided to end the existence of Associations and Unions, which are “illegally” functional in different Universities and Colleges across Jammu and Kashmir.
However, this has proven more difficult for the administration to achieve as various teacher groups seem to adapt and change with the times. It is clear that by labeling the teachers’ groups as militant, they hope to take a harder line against formal and informal unions in the future. They are also pursuing a not so secret goal of firing as many indiginous teachers as it can and replacing them with Indian citizens, preferably Hindus, contributing to their forced demographic change

You can read more about this story here.

High Court rules Kashmiris can no longer call military occupation a military occupation

The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir in a shocking ruling claims that saying that Kashmir is militarily occupied is not covered by existing free speech laws.

This startling ruling will make it far more difficult for those living under the occupation to report on the crimes of the military occupation and further strengthen the Indian government’s hand against Muslims in Kashmir.

The case arose as advocate Muzamil Butt, seeking to quash a First Information Report (FIR) against him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), that was issued against him for Facebook posts criticizing the killings of eight civilians in the Kulgam district.

Butt had expressed outrage through Facebook and other social media platforms – implying that Kashmir is militarily occupied, “which is like cancer and also that people of Kashmir are like slaves of the government.”

Justice Sanjay Dhar, a Kashmiri Pandit ruled, “In my opinion, the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution cannot be stretched to such a limit as to allow a person to question the status of a part of the country or its people. It is one thing to criticize the government for its negligence and express outrage at the violation of human rights of the people, but it is quite another to advocate that the people of a particular part of the country are slaves of the government of India or that they are under the occupation of armed forces of the country,”

You can read more about this shocking case here.

OIC expresses ‘deep concern’ over delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir

The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed deep concern over India’s attempt to redraw the electoral boundaries and alter the demographic structure of the territory and violate the rights of the Kashmiri people.”

Earlier this month, the Indian government issued a new list of redrawn political constituencies for JK, giving greater representation to the Muslim-majority region’s Hindu areas and paving the way for fresh elections.
The Indian government said a delimitation commission had finalized 90 assembly constituencies for JK, excluding Ladakh, with 43 seats for Jammu and 47 for Kashmir. Earlier, Jammu had 37 seats and the Kashmir valley had 46.

This extreme act of gerrymandering is a violation of international law including UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the 4th Geneva Convention.

You can read more about this brazen anti-democratic power grab here.

The Kashmir files: Countering propaganda with facts of the Pandit exodus

We’ve featured an in-depth analysis of Vivek Agnihotri’s film The Kashmir Files because it is a truly dangerous film. Not because it reveals any great truth about the Pandit exodus, but because it is a film designed to inflame tension and spread hate toward Muslims throughout India.

It also has the tacit and overt support of the Indian government.

A film designed to reenforce anti-Muslim stereotypes is going to be long on hyperbole and short on facts.

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, the Secretary-General of the World Kashmir Awareness writes in an excellent four-part series – he examines the history of the exodus, and talks with those who experienced the events firsthand. Dr.Fai also discusses the fallout and how a film such as The Kashmir Files may potentially close any bridge toward reconciliation between Muslims and Pandits.

We will make the entirety of the series available for you to read here.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Final thoughts

The first thing authoritarians do is redefine words. The next thing they do is stop people from expressing the truth.

We’ve long reached past the point where the Indian government will brand anything that opposes them as terrorist activity. Whether it is jailing human rights activists or banning free speech, the message is clear. Oppose us and you’re a terrorist and will be treated as such.

It is clear with the jails in Jammu and Kashmir already brimming with political prisoners, that India intends to make more of them.

We will continue to advocate for all political prisoners in Kashmir and call for their release. We will never stop documenting these flagrant abuses and sharing them with the world. We ask that you continue to share them and speak out against these crimes.