Kashmir News Weekly Roundup: 10/2-10/8

Kashmir: Indian Forces intensify military crackdown, harassment on Amit Shah’s visit

On a three-day visit of Indian Home Minister Amit Shah to Jammu and Kashmir from 3-5 October, the armed forces intensified militarization in the region, barricading all the entry points and blocking all the roads. The people who already lived in the most densely militarized zone in the world were halted to ensure a ‘smooth’ visit for Shah.

Kashmiris see such visits as nothing more than harassment and collective punishment where the movement of the people is restricted in every possible way. People are made to suffer in the name of ‘security arrangement.’ Be it pedestrians or vehicular movement, the armed forces block everything. The action of school buses and emergency services is also barred.

Meanwhile, Amit Shah chaired a high-level meeting in Srinagar with the Army’s top brass and directed them to intensify the military crackdown against the armed resistance in Kashmir.

The meeting was held with top security officials’ including J&K DGP Dilbagh Singh, ADGP Vijay Kumar, GoC 15 Corps, DG BSF, IG BSF, and a team from the Indian Home Ministry. 

Amit Shah also addressed a ‘public rally’ in the Baramulla district of North Kashmir, where a manufactured public presence aimed to show support for the ruling BJP of India in the Kashmir valley. 

Post-August 5, 2019, the GOI is using different tactics to sell ‘Article-370 abrogation’ as a watershed achievement that is ‘hailed and supported by the people of J&K. 

“The local BJP worker was offering two cooking gas cylinders for participating in the rally in our locality,” a local told us, “Most of the people turned down the offer, but there are always a few who chose to be opportunists.”

Meanwhile, in such rallies, people from different districts and far-flung areas are brought in with the fake promise of participation in cultural programs, free government schemes, and employment packages.

While hailing the police and army for their role in military operations, Amit Shah also expressed the commitment of the Indian Government to provide the armed forces with the latest military equipment to crush the resistance at every front.

Shah said that those resisting Indian rule, including OGWs and supporters of resistance, “will be crushed to the core.” 

Armed Forces kill student in South Kashmir, Amit Shah says ‘Taste of Real Democracy.’

While Indian Home Minister Amit Shah was addressing a rally in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district and assuring locals of ‘living freely without any fear and hassles,’ the armed forces killed a nursing student in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

The army personnel, part of a Naka Party, fired at Asif Ahmed of Poterwal village of Shopian. Asif was shifted to a nearby hospital, where he was referred to SMHS Srinagar. However, he succumbed to his injuries at SMHS hospital.

Locals and leaders of a few pro-India parties in the area have demanded a probe into the incident. 

But with the presence of laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that assures impunity to any war crimes committed by the armed forces in the disputed region, there is no justice for the victims.

In the name of Constitutional Reforms, India is strengthening its illegal hold on Kashmir.

Hindutva party BJP of India, after ‘Article-370 Abrogation’, has launched a multi-front offensive to change the demography of J&K and intensified its measures to alter the region’s rich history. The attempt is to wipe out the history of Islam and Muslims in the area and paint it as a Hindu Holy Land with a glorious past. 

Claiming religious sites, changing the syllabus of the books taught, attaching new spiritual practices, and overtaking the control of religious organizations and community-based welfare committees have been a few cards put to the task already.

Claiming that these so-called ‘constitutional reforms’ have ushered a new era of growth and peace in Jammu and Kashmir, Sah-Sarkaryavah of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Dr. Krishna Gopal on Wednesday said that Jammu and Kashmir are witnessing a positive change.

Addressing Swayamsevaks (Hindutva cadres) in Jammu, Dr. Krishna Gopal said that J&K and Ladakh are the lands of writers and thinkers. He said that from the days of Kashyap Rishi and to date, J&K has 5000-6000 years old cherished history. “J&K is now scripting another chapter in its old cherished history after constitutional reforms,” he said. 

The BJP and RSS members have often called the likes of Syed Ali Hamadani, who brought Islam to Kashmir and different arts and crafts, ‘invaders.’

Krishna Gopal addressed the Vijaydashmi function of Jammu Mahanagar at Ved Mandir ground Ambhpalla. 

Sarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosbale, Prant Sanghchalak Dr. Gautam Mangi and Jammu Vibhag Sanghchalak Suresh Chandra were also present. 

Recalling the formation of the RSS, he said that Dr. Hedgewar founded the RSS on the Vijayadashami day in 1925 in Nagpur. It has been working relentlessly since its formation in 1925 to consolidate the Hindu society. 

“Our resolve is eternal that India is a Hindu Rashtra,” he maintained.

Krishna Gopal said that in the history of ten thousand years, India has not looted nor invaded any country. In contrast, the disputed region of J&K continues to be illegal under India’s control, and its resources have been stolen for decades by the so-called ‘largest democracy of the world.’

Loot of resources under the imposed administration of India continues in Kashmir.

The loot under the imposed administration of India continues in J&K as reports have revealed that the authorities have siphoned off funds meant for nutritional purposes in Kashmir. 

The imposed administration has neither constructed over 4,600 units of kitchen-cum-stores for Mid Day Meals (MDM) for children in Kashmir nor has surrendered the funds released for it. 

While India has been harping about overdevelopment in Kashmir, its official admitted that the J&K admin has not even conducted testing of food samples. 

“Only 22 percent of schools have school nutrition gardens. No Social audits have been conducted, health check-up of children has not been carried out, and de-worming tablets have not been provided to the children during 2021-22,” the official said.

Four freedom fighters were killed in two military operations with occupying forces in Shopian.

Four local fighters, among them three affiliated with JeM and one fighter affiliated with LeT, were killed in twin military operations carried out by occupying Indian forces in Drach and Moolu areas in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Wednesday.

After receiving intel, joint police, Army, and CRPF launched search operations in Drach and Moolu, entering civilian regions. The freedom fighters retaliated and engaged the occupying forces.  

The fighters killed in Drach were identified as Zubair Maqbool of Doompora Keegan, Jamsheed Magray of Rajpora Pulwama, and Hanan Bin Yaqoob of Kareemabad Pulwama. 

One fighter identified as Arif Rashid Wani of Shirmal Shopian, affiliated with LeT, was killed in Moolu Shopian in a separate military operation.

Villagers living under Army Control along LoC were denied access to Medical Care.

Residents living under army control along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir have complained about a lack of access to healthcare. 

Residents from Gurez, Titwal, Uri, and Karnah areas alleged that in the absence of the staff in the hospitals in their respective regions, they are forced to visit private clinics or hospitals far away from their villages. 

“Travelling through these highly militarized regions is never easy,” a resident told us. “The frisking in the name of security is total humiliation and harassment.” 

Other than costing time, the emergencies often cost the life of the people who live at the mercy of the armed forces. 

They accused the Indian Government of adopting brutal policies and said that residents had submitted several complaints to no avail.

At Gurez Valley, due to staff shortages, patients are compelled to visit army facilities and other hospitals, including Bandipora and Srinagar hospitals, for treatment.  

On the other hand, the armed forces in these areas have the privilege of all the necessary arrangements, including control of roads, water channels, and healthcare facilities. In these fragile regions, the local population is left on their own to live under total army control and face the harshness of severe winters.

“There is a lack of a gynecologist in our region, and with the result, women of the area face severe hardships and are forced to either visit army facilities or Bandipora for treatment,” Abdul Jabar, a local, told us.

Residents of Teethwal in Karnah alleged that they suffer due to the staff crunch at Primary Health Centre (PHC) Teetwal.

“Due to lack of support staff and equipment, doctors are not in a position to treat patients and are referring them to hospitals in Srinagar,” said Muneer Ahmad, a local.

Under Indian occupation, children’s nutritional status worsening in Kashmir 

Under Indian occupation, children’s health in Jammu and Kashmir has declined in the last four years. A survey has revealed that continuing high levels of undernutrition are “a major problem” in the region.

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) released by the Indian Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that the 27 percent of children who are stunted has not changed in the four years between NFHS-4 and NFHS-5.

“The percentage of underweight children increased from 12 percent to 19 percent, and in the same period, wasting increased slightly from 17 percent to 21 percent,” reveals the survey.

“Among women aged 15-49, the proportion of overweight or obese is 29 percent, which is the same as NFHS-4,” the NFHS-5 reveals, adding that more men are overweight or obese (32%) than thin (4%) similar to the pattern observed in the last survey.

“Five percent of women in Jammu and Kashmir are too thin. Over three-fifths of women and men are at a healthy weight for their height,” the Survey reveals.

It also reveals that undernutrition is widespread in the younger age groups (especially ages 15-19), rural areas, and women of scheduled tribes.

Indian occupying forces deploy 4×4 Armoured Vehicles in Kashmir

To enhance the military operation capabilities in Kashmir, the Indian Army has inducted 4×4 armored terrain vehicles in the armory.

The first consignment of specialized armored vehicles was formally received by General Officer-Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) Northern Command, Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi, from officials of India’s Bharat Forge Limited in Command headquarters Udhampur.

As per reports, Bharat Forge Limited signed a deal with global aerospace-tech firm Paramount Group last year to manufacture these armored vehicles in India for the Indian armed forces. Subsequently, the Indian Ministry of Defense placed an order worth Rs 177.95 crore for the supply of Kalyani M4 vehicles.

The Kalyani M4 is a multi-role platform vehicle that aims to aid the armed forces in quick mobility in rough terrain. It offers best-in-class ballistic and blast protection levels – up to 50kg TNT side blast or IED/roadside bombs due to its innovative design, built on a flat-floor monocoque hull.

The vehicles can carry a maximum payload of 2.3 tonnes and up to 8 people. The Kalyani M4 weighs around 16,000 kilograms with all the armor. The M4 can reach a top speed of 140 km/h and has a range of 800 km. It had undergone extensive trials in Ladakh.

Death of natural habitats, climate change, and land grabbing cause Saffron Fields to shrink.

Pampore, a saffron town, is witnessing an uptick in construction in saffron fields, causing a decline in saffron production and shrinking land for the prized spice. The land mafia operating in the region with political patronage and army backing is running amok. 

According to the locals, land under saffron is shrinking because of residential and commercial complexes backed by the imposed authorities of the Indian Government coming up in saffron fields. 

For this reason, many growers have switched to other crops calling such measures part of the offensive launched by the Government of India to crush the economy of the disputed region.

With excessive militarization, tourism, and political Hindutva pilgrimages to ecologically sensitive zones, causing an imbalance in water tables and climate change, the region’s local population is facing the brunt. The rain pattern has also changed in the area. 

Locals said that the much-hyped National Saffron Mission had not yielded results as the authorities could not make water pumps functional to irrigate the fields in dry seasons.

In a statement, Chairman Saffron Growers Association Kashmir Abdul Majeed Wani said that the mission could not achieve its target as the irrigation system remained incomplete. This, according to him, prompted many to switch to other crops.

Wani said that since 2014 most of the growers had lost interest in Saffron, and the last three years have seen a decline in production.

According to official data, in Kashmir, saffron production has decreased from 16.45 metric tonnes to 0.02 metric tonnes in the last five years.