Kashmir Dispatch September 2021

Monthly news roundup from Jammu and Kashmir

Welcome to the World Kashmir Awareness Forum News round-up for the most important stories during this past month. Please take a moment to read and share these stories to continue to build awareness so that others may see the intolerable and inhumane actions that India continues to inflict upon the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

A legend fights for Kashmiri self-determination until his last breath

Syed Ali Geelani passed away on Wednesday, September 1st. He was 91 years old and spent his life fighting for the self-determination of Kashmir until the very end. Geelani passed away at his home in Srinagar, where he had spent the last decade of his life under house arrest.

In a staggering level of disrespect, Indian authorities forcibly snatched his body and buried it in a local graveyard. These were against his last wishes as Geelani had requested to be buried in the Martyr’s Graveyard – Kashmir’s largest cemetery.

In addition to stealing Geelani’s remains, they also instituted a harsh lockdown, including restrictions on Kashmiris’ internet access as well.

U.S-based Kashmiri rights group, Stand with Kashmir, praised Geelani for his life’s work saying, “He never wavered in his principles and relentlessly stood for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. His life was an example of unfettered resolve and passionate resistance. He always spoke truth to power, for which he spent years under detention in Indian prisons.”

You can read more about Geelani’s life and struggle here.

APHC nominates new chairman, honors Geelani

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders paid rich tributes to the veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Gilani and vowed to continue his mission.
The APHC announced new office-bearers of the amalgam to spearhead the Kashmir freedom movement.

Masarrat Aalam Butt has been appointed as the Chairman of APHC, while Shabbir Ahmad Shah and Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar would be vice-chairmen of the amalgam. Moulvi Bashir Ahmad Irfani will continue to work as General Secretary of the APHC.

The announcement to this extent was made by the APHC at an extraordinary meeting held at the Srinagar office of the APHC on September 7th.

The World Kashmir Awareness Forum expressed this whole hearted support for the new leadership of the APHC following the tragic death of the beloved leader Syed Ali Geelani, stating,” We congratulate Massarat Alam as Chairman and also welcome Shabir Ahmad Shah and Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar as newly named Vice Chairmen. In view of their lifelong service and dedication to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and their right for self-determination, the World Kashmir Awareness Forum endorses the new leadership wholeheartedly….”

For more information on the new leadership click here.

India’s new domicile law strengthens the illegal occupation

Article 35A protected Kashmir’s ability to designate permanent residents and it was under this provision of the Indian Constitution that Kashmir could protect its cultural identity. The article also conferred special benefits related to employment, scholarships, as well as purchasing and selling property in the region.

Article 35A also prevented interference from India’s legal machinery, paving the way for autonomy. That ended when India annexed Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019 as 35A was revoked and India’s grand social engineering program began.

These new rules not only enable the disenfranchisement of Kashmir’s native population, but they also grant eligibility of domicile to Indians including migrants, central government employees, Indian armed forces personnel, and their children who meet the eligibility criteria. A Kashmiri in the global diaspora, whose parents do not have an existing certificate of permanent residence, cannot obtain domicile without living in the region for 15 years or being employed by the Indian government for 10 years. Conversely, the child of an Indian citizen may be eligible, even if the child has never lived in Kashmir.

The rules do not merely grant Indians the right of residence in Kashmir. They also have the potential to render stateless Kashmiris who are unable to prove their residency and obtain a domicile certificate.

The implications of this domicile law are truly far-reaching, click here to read more about the law and its impact.

Indian police raid homes of four journalists

India’s war on press freedom continued apace in Srinagar when they raided the homes of four journalists on September 8th, 2021. During the raid, police seized documents and electronic devices including cell phones and laptops, which belonged to the journalists and their spouses.

After the raids, the journalists were taken to the police station where they were interrogated and detained for an entire day. While they were released later that evening, they were informed that they were required to report back on the following day.

The increasing harassment of journalists in Kashmir has only increased since the Indian government revoked the region’s autonomy. Many journalists have been arrested, beaten, harassed, and sometimes investigated under anti-terror laws.

You can read more about this assault on press freedoms by clicking here.

U.N. Human Rights chief criticizes India over UAPA

In her opening statement to the 48th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Michelle Bachelet spoke against India’s flagrant abuses against the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “Indian authorities’ restrictions on public assembly, and frequent temporary communication blackouts, continue in Jammu and Kashmir, while hundreds of people remain in detention for exercising their right to the freedom of expression, and journalists face ever-growing pressure,” the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

“Ongoing use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act throughout India is worrying, with Jammu and Kashmir having among the highest number of cases in the country,” she stated.

India refused to comment on the Human Rights Chief’s comments. Bachelet also highlighted China’s treatment of the Xinjiang Uyghur Muslims and the impacts of migrations as a result of climate change.

You can read the full story here.

Final thoughts

It can be difficult to compile another list of the ongoing human rights abuses that India levels upon us every month. However, we cannot simply be given over to despair, as despair is simply another tool of the oppressors to remain in power. Rather, it is better to honor and remember the perseverance of leaders like Syed Ali Geelani.

Geelani had made self-determination for Jammu and Kashmir his life’s work. As we close this month’s news roundup it is worth highlighting the memories of Dr. Ghulam N Mir, President of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum with Syed Ali Geelani, “I vividly remember Geelani whispering in my ear during a hug in 1965 at a bus stand in Sopore: ‘We badly need the youth.’ I was 18 then. I’m sure thousands of youths heard that same whisper from Syed Ali Geelani. This is the message that I would like to share with my beloved Kashmiri youth everywhere”. And finally, it is worth remembering WKA Secretary General, Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai’s words in his recent speech, “Geelani’s strength, perseverance, and unwavering hope for a brighter future lives on in all of us.”