Kashmir News Weekly Roundup: 2/12-2/19


Indian army engaging community leaders to run propaganda to glamorize occupational forces

Officers of the Indian army stationed in occupied Kashmir have been calling, summoning, and, in some cases visiting community leaders of various committees, such as mosque committees, bait-ul-mals, and welfare committees and others, to ask them to organize public celebrations honoring ‘the valor and sacrifices’ made by the Indian army in occupied Kashmir. A Srinagar resident overseeing a mosque and welfare committee stated that the army had encircled his house in the wee hours of the morning. He  hurried outside to see what was happening. To his astonishment, the army commander offered him a kind greeting and inquired about having tea at his home. The officer then asked him to immediately organize a community event to highlight the army’s role in the rehabilitation of drug addicts and deradicalization of the misled youth. The army officer said, “I expect to hear from you soon,” as he walked out of the room. These army visits are always unwanted and unsolicited. 


Businesses forced to open shops on shutdown call by Hurriyat

On Wednesday, a large number of store owners from Srinagar’s Lal Chowk were contacted by Indian military and police forces about their participation in the voluntary  closure of their businesses on the call of the popular Kashmiri Hurriyat conference in protest against Indian State’s “Demolition and Eviction” program. The clothing business owner in the heart of Srinagar stated, “I was compelled to open my shop in the evening after being summoned by the police at Kothi Bagh police station.” 

The police and Indian army called many business owners in the morning to instruct them to open their stores or risk punishment. A merchant who originally disregarded the call claimed, “I received the first call from an SHO ordering me to open the business or face the repercussions.”

The shopkeeper expressed that the second call arrived about midday and, to his astonishment, it was an Indian Major from the army. “The warning instantly sent me to my store,” he said.

News Updates:

India’s demolition drive continues in Kashmir

The installed administration in occupied Kashmir has threatened to take action against what it refers to as “illegal buildings” along the banks of water bodies throughout the disputed area as part of the continuing “demolition and expulsion operation” undertaken by the Indian government. 

Residents in the Baramulla district of north Kashmir have been instructed to remove what occupation forces call “illegal encroachments” over the banks of the Jhelum River and other bodies of water within the next seven days, failing which harsh action would be taken against the encroachers. The Ganderbal district’s Irrigation and Flood Control division has warned locals that stern action will be taken if “illegal encroachments” are not removed from river banks and other water bodies within seven days. Similarly, on Sunday, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) warned residents to take down constructions above the Doodh Ganga Nalla, most of which have been approved by the SMC and the relevant government agencies.

Forty-five shops were sealed during the ‘demolition drive’ in Ramban

During the continuing demolition drive in Banihal and Ramban district on Sunday, at least 45 stores were sealed off, and two destroyed. Before the drive began, two sarpanches (local semi-official decision makers) were placed in state custody. There were 22 pharmacies, nine clinical laboratories, and five optical stores among the businesses shut down. 

Locals and store owners staged a sit-in protest. The protestors, led by Sarpanch Ilyas Wani and Qaiser Hamid Sheikh, were attacked by the police and later detained. On Sunday morning more members of the military forces were stationed across the town. The stores that had been informed were shut, while two were destroyed.

Mass arrests of innocent civilians, including minors, continue in Kashmir

In the Pulwama area of South Kashmir, police detained two civilians on Monday under the fictitious pretext that they were “militant allies.” The two civilians apprehended have been named Showkat Ahmed Digoo, son of Abdul Wahab Digoo, resident of Naina, and his cousin whose identity has been withheld (minor), a resident of Sethar.

Hundreds of Kashmiris are imprisoned inhumanely in jails throughout India on fabricated charges. Most have been imprisoned in these facilities for over five years without being tried.

In south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, police arrested three civilians under the fake label of ‘militant associates’ of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, a well known Kashmir resistance group. The arrested civilians are Mohd Abass Wagay(son of Mohd Ramzan Wagay in Wuyan Imamssahab), Gowhar Shafi Mir, (son of Mohd Shafi Mir in DK Pora Shopian), and Nisar Rehman Sheikh (son of Abdul Rahman Sheikh in DK Pora).

Indian court dismisses petition challenging India’s gerrymandering operation in Kashmir

The court case contesting the creation of the illegal Assembly and Parliamentary seats by the Indian Union Territory in Jammu & Kashmir was rejected by the Supreme Court of India on Monday. According to sources, the case contesting the legality of the UT notices for the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary divisions in J&K was dismissed by a split bench of the Supreme Court. 

The Government of India established a three-member panel way back on March 6th, 2020, with Justice Ranjana Desai as its chair. Other members were, the Chief Election Commissioner and the State Election Commissioner from J&K. 

On May 5th, 2022, the Commission published its final order, which gave Jammu and Kashmir one more seat each. Moreover, nine seats were set up for the scheduled tribes: three in Kashmir and six in the Jammu area. Its aim was to increase the number of Hindus in the Jammu province to affect the electoral outcome in elections whenever time comes.

The process to trace 5,000 notified missing properties started; Waqf board

In the midst of the ongoing “demolition and eviction” campaign initiated by the Indian government, Darakshan Andrabi, chairperson of the Waqf Board, stated on Thursday that at least 5,000 notified properties are currently missing. She added that the search for these possessions has begun, and “illegal occupants” have been told to pay rent or leave the properties within 15 days. 

Andrabi said that although the belongings of 5,000 notified Waqf properties are missing, their revenue records are available. Interestingly, the  Board chose Darakhshan Andrabi, who belongs to the anti-Miuslim far-right Hindutva BJP, chose her as the chairperson in March 2022. For the Kashmiri Muslims the action simply amounted to sending a message that India was attempting to undermine occupied Kashmir’s religious institutions.

India making it hard for Kashmiris to pay electricity bills

Notwithstanding the public’s discontent with the increase in monthly power bills, the Power Development Department (PDD) officials announced on Thursday that the costs would rise further when LT cables are installed, and smart meters are introduced. 

Significantly, hydroelectric power plants are used to produce electricity in Kashmir, but Kashmir’s demands are not satisfied because this power is sent to areas of North India, particularly New Delhi. Moreover, the Indian government levies a high fee on Kashmiri users, which is about to increase further. 

Despite being the center of hydroelectric power generation as a source of  renewable energy, such severe measures are being implemented at the expense of those who are the owners of these resources. As the transmission lines transport energy from Kashmir to areas of north India, Kashmir remains without electricity for most of the winter—one more theft by colonizers from the natives.