Kashmir News Weekly Roundup: 9/18-9/24

India opens Cinema Halls in Kashmir.

The imposed Administration in Kashmir, controlled directly by New Delhi, inaugurated multipurpose cinema halls in South Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts on Sunday. 

While the Office of J&K LG has said that these cinema halls offer facilities ranging from movie screening and infotainment to skilling youth, Bollywood has been used as a propaganda tool to vilify Muslims. 

On Kashmir, the recent film Kashmir Files spread misinformation to vilify Kashmiri Muslims further and paint them as radical aggressors instead of victims of Indian occupation. 

Locals in Kashmir feel that these cinema halls are being opened to show fake normalcy while brushing human rights violations by the Indian forces and the issue of denial of political rights under the carpet.  

Crackdown on Religious Institutions and Clerics. 

Under the pretext of ‘instigation of youth,’ the Jammu and Kashmir Police have launched a massive crackdown on religious clerics, arresting famous scholars like Mushtaq Ahmed Veeri, Abdul Rashid Dawood, and Abdul Majeed Dar. In contrast, several others have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) and detained illegally. 

While the Deputy General of J&K Police Vijay Kumar has alleged that these Muslim clerics arrested and booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) were instigating the youth of Kashmir, in the past, the police have used such lies to deny freedom of religion by choking peoples voice and denying the right to religion by shutting down places like the Jamia Masjid. 

In other instances, the Indian Government, to push its Hindutva Agenda, has denied people the right to assembly and cracked down on freedom of religion by disallowing Eid prayers in the EidGah for several years. 

As per a local Imam, the government is also tightly regulating mosques and khutbahs delivered in small community mosques. 

Crackdown on socio-religious organizations. 

Religious organizations responsible for taking care of the conflict orphans in community run schools have been seeing a brutal crackdown by the Indian Government. 

On September 18, the State Investigative Agency (SIA), accompanied by Police, raided the office of Falah-eAam Trust in Sopore area of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

SIA also raided the Falah-e-Aam Trust office in the Nowgam area of Srinagar. The police said the raids were carried out against ‘militancy funding.’ However, in the past, the pretext of using militancy funding has been used to arrest famous resistance leaders and keep them in jails. The same tactic is being deployed to outrightly deny the Kashmiri Muslim population any help from its community. 

The Indian Army has used operation sadhbhawana to lure these conflict orphans into their camps and schools. Organizations like Falah-e-Aam Trust provided an alternative to these families where they would not be brainwashed by the Hindutva regime and could receive support. 

“We now have to rethink our plans for our child. Earlier, the trust used to guide her and members would help us. Now we will take a loan and send her outside Kashmir,” a family member of one of the students studying in these schools told us.

GoI forcing ‘Hindutva Agenda’ in Kashmir: Mehboob Mufti

On Monday, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti said that the Government of India is forcing its ‘Hindutva agenda’ on Kashmir.

Sharing a video that shows seemingly Muslim students singing Hindu hymns inside Government High School Nagam, Kulgam in south Kashmir, Mehbooba said that it exposes the ‘real Hindutva agenda’ of the BJP-ruled Government of India.

Referring to the shared video, the PDP head said that anyone who refuses to follow the GoI’s ‘dictate’ can languish in jail under Public Safety Act and Unlful Activities (Prevention) Act. She added that this is the cost that Kashmiris are paying for what she termed’ Badalta Kashmir.

“Jailing religious scholars, shutting down Jama Masjid & directing school kids here to sing Hindu hymns exposes the real Hindutva agenda of GOI in Kashmir. Refusing these rabid dictates invites PSA & UAPA. It is the cost we are paying for this so-called ‘Badalta J&K,’” reads the Tweet shared by Mehbooba Mufti.

Aerial Surveillance in parts of Srinagar

In a step right off the Israeli playbook, Police in Kashmir have started aerial surveillance in the city of Srinagar. Violating the right to privacy, the police can now look into backyards under the garb of looking for criminals. 

The Jammu and Kashmir Police have said that aerial surveillance has been going on in “suspected localities of Srinagar to look for anti-socials, criminals, militants and Over Ground Workers” with the help of high-resolution cameras. But the main motive, people feel, is to instill fear among the masses. 

“These drones are not visible from the ground, so we don’t know what is up there. We feel that they are always watching. It has started taking a toll on my mental health, where I feel under surveillance, even in my bathroom. I have stopped letting my 3-year-old son go out in the garden,” a local from Srinagar told us. 

While the armed forces have been using drones in Kashmir for the past few years during military operations against militants, they are now being deployed against civilians in the City of Srinagar. It is expected that they will soon be deployed in other towns across Kashmir.