From Pulwama Attack To Longest Ever Internet Blackout: How Was 2019 For Kashmir?
Kashmir’s history since time immemorial has been painted dark with wars, conflict, guns, deaths and a very little celebration. The year of 2019 for Kashmir has been of a shutdown and a lockdown – that has recorded as history longest ever Internet blackout; something that still continues today.
The Logical Indian rewinds the year that was for Kashmir, bringing the most important highlights that shook its past and will shape its future.
Pulwama: Over 41 Martyred & Many Injured In Deadliest Attack In Kashmir, In 20 Years
On February 14, at least 41 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were martyred in a suicide attack in the southern part of Kashmir. The worst attack in two decades of Kashmir conflict happened when a suicide bomber’s Scorpio SUV laden with explosives rammed into a CRPF bus killing many. The Jaish-e-Mohammad has claimed responsibility for the attack and has identified a Kashmir based local rebel as their bomber. Meanwhile, reports claim that the attack was preceded by an intelligence failure.
Kashmiri Students, Vendors Attacked In Several Parts Of India
As a reaction to the Pulwama attack, several Kashmiri students, vendors and people were assaulted and their shops were vandalised. To help curb the violence against them, many people came forward offering temporary shelter and refuge to the community.
Consequently, with the Lok Sabha elections nearing, the Bharatiya Janata Party launched its manifesto on April 8 which featured the eradication of Article 370.
Pandit Vendor Comes Home
A 74-year-old Kashmiri Pandit returned to his home in Srinagar after 29 years of longing. Roshan Lal Mawa, a dry fruit businessman, left Srinagar in 1990 after he was shot four times in his shop at a time when the valley was witnessing a significant rise in violence against Kashmiri Pandits
Report On Torture: JKCCS, Amnesty International
Kashmir-based human rights body Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), along with Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) compiled a chillingly detailed report of 431 victims of torture at the hands of the Indian armed forces. It even evoked a stern response from Nilz Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture. Melzer noted the human rights violations reported were ‘very grave’.
Amnesty International India had also called for a press conference on June 12, 2019, to discuss its new report, ‘Tyranny of a Lawless Law’ based on the exploitation of Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act Public, 1978. The report gave a summary of 210 case studies where none of the subjects was proven guilty but detained and ‘tortured’.
Most Wanted: Zakir Musa Shot Dead In Tral
Indian forces shot dead the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind chief Zakir Musa on May 22 in an encounter in Kashmir’s Tral region. At 6 am on May 24, Musa’s body was retrieved.
Kashmiri Saves Tourists, Drowns Himself
Rouf Ahmad Dar, a 32-year-old tour guide died while rescuing five tourists when their boat capsized in the Lidder river in Pahalgam area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district. The tourists were out on a rafting trip around 7 pm. Sources said that although white water rafting is not allowed after sunset, Dar, a diploma in rafting, was insisted by the tourists to take them out. As strong winds upturned the boat and the tourists fell into the river’s raging waters, Dar managed to rescue the tourists but lost his life.
Article 370 Is Scrapped
The Centre on August 5, scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and introduced the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill in Parliament. The government decided to bifurcate the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which will be without a legislature.
Army Moves in, Communication Blocked Entirely
Around 28,000 additional troops were rushed to Kashmir Valley week after 10,000 were deployed, just before the abrogation of Article 370. Mobile internet services, landline connectivity, mobile network, was entirely blocked since the eve of August 5. There was a curfew announced on the ground, in the erstwhile state, while mainstream media reported that only Section 144 was imposed.
Hospital Turns Graveyard
The restrictions imposed in J&K made it extremely difficult for Kashmir residents to access healthcare. Even a petition was moved before the Supreme Court seeking the restoration of Internet services at hospitals and other medical establishments across Jammu and Kashmir to help save the lives of thousands of patients in the state.
Brutalisation By Forces
Security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir were accused of violently beating civilians in several villages, after the region was stripped of its autonomy. The Indian army, however, denied these allegations. The BBC’s Sameer Hashmi met several villagers who say they were beaten with sticks and cables and given electric shocks.
IAS Officer Resigns
Kannan Gopinathan, former IAS officer, cited the restriction in expressing his views on Kashmir and the abrogation of Article 370 as the reasons as he resigned from his position. Gopinathan was serving as the Secretary of the Power Department in the Union Territories of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. He came in the spotlight after he was spotted carrying sacks of relief materials on his back and distributing them at relief camps during floods in Kerala last year.
With prolonged restrictions over the modes of communication in J&K, journalism came to standstill. The fourth pillar of democracy has crippled and collapsed in the Valley. Journalists across India have raised concerns over the restricted reporting. Also, in an exclusive interview with The Logical Indian, journalist, Anuradha Bhasin said, “They are killing our pages.”
Apples Rot Away
Apple trade, one of the main fuels for Kashmir’s economy with revenue of around Rs 1, 200 crore a year was hit severely.
Every year, traders pick their apples and pack them for the markets in other parts of the country. However, due to the clampdown that still continues, finding a buyer as well as transporting these apples became a major issue. Sopore, which is one of the biggest fruit mandis in north Kashmir, has been shut since the clampdown.
Education: Biggest Casualty
Education being a fundamental right in India, remains suspended in the Valley. The abrogation of Article 370 was done promising the country that Jammu and Kashmir will see a better tomorrow. However, days since the unexpected revocation, the region’s children can’t envisage the silver lining to this lockdown as they haven’t been given enough clarity on what the impact the reorganisation of the state and the invalidation of the article will have on their academic and professional ambitions.
Detained Politicos Asked To Fill Out Forms
Kashmir’s political detainees, including three former chief ministers and incumbent Members of Parliament, were being forced to sign a bond as a condition of their release, that barred them from speaking or commenting on the “recent events” in the state. “Recent events” likely signifies anything related to Article 370 or the decision to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories along with scraping its status as a state.
Human Rights & Information Commission Wound Up
The Centre has pulled the shutters down for the seven government commissions including the one that regulates human rights in the Valley. These seven government entities encompass institutions that deal with human rights violation, the Right to Information, the Rights of the Disabled, and allegations against public functionaries.
The Centre issued an official order on October 23, Wednesday, with no justification as to why the decision of dissolution has been taken. The official order read, “Consequent upon the repeal of the acts related to these commissions by the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the sanction is hereby accorded to the winding up of these commissions, with effect from October 31, 2019.”
J&K Police Admit To Minor Detention
The J&K Police admitted to have detained 144 children since the 5th of August, 142 of whom have been released, a 52-page-report submitted to the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Srinagar High Court had said.
The Juvenile Justice Committee under Chairperson Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey compiled a 52-page-report consisting statements from Director General of Police of Srinagar, Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir and Mission Director of Jammu and Kashmir Child Protection Society, which identified the specifications of minors arrested, detained, sent to juvenile homes and released.
In the report, the J&K police have admitted to have detained many 9 to 11-year-olds.
Hindi To Be Made Official Language
A day before Jammu and Kashmir officially became a union territory, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) national secretary, Tarun Chugh said that now Hindi will be the first and official language of the state. “The best thing is that now Urdu will no longer be the first and official language of the state. Hindi will be the first and official language of the state,” Chugh said on October 30. While the majority in Jammu region uses Hindi to read, write and converse; the language remains highly unpopular in the area of Kashmir where the standard writing system from textbooks to official documents remains to be in Urdu.
Kashmir Denied Its Faith
Since the 5th of August, in an effort to muzzle every voice of dissent, the Kashmiri people’s association with prayer, mystic poetry and the faithful congregation was also reined back by the government.
Indian Counsel General Asks For Israel Model In Kashmir
In a viral video shared by filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, India’s counsel general in New York vouched for Israeli model to be implemented in Indian administered Kashmir to counter opposing forces. Counsel general Sandeep Chakravorty made the controversial remarks in an hour-long video in which he was interacting to Kashmiri Pandit diaspora in the US. “I don’t know why we don’t follow it(Israel model). It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” he said, adding that the current Indian leadership is “determined” to do so.
WhatsApp Accounts Of Kashmiris Deleted
When the Valley entered its 123rd day of Internet shutdown and communications blockade, social media accounts of several Kashmiris were deleted. “To maintain security and limit data retention, WhatsApp accounts generally expire after 120 days of inactivity. When that happens, those accounts automatically exit their WhatsApp groups,” a company spokesperson had informed the media.
87% Drop In Kashmir’s Tourism
Kashmir recorded 87 per cent decline in domestic tourist footfall to a mere over 32,000 from 24.9 lakh between August and November in 2019.In the case of foreign tourist arrivals, the footfall dropped by 82 per cent.
Kashmiri Businesses Lose Rs 17,800 Crore
The Kashmir economy suffered a loss to the tune of Rs 17,878 crore in four months of restrictions and shut-down in the valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two union territories, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) reported on Tuesday, December 17.
Illegal Constructions: Loss Of Green Cover Post Abrogation
According to a Jammu Kashmir News Service (JKNS) report, the green belt areas particularly around tourist spots – Dalgate, Nishat, Gupkar, Shalimar and others, have been significantly shrunken especially after the revocation of Article 370.
The sources in the JKNS report revealed that influential people are taking undue advantage of the sporadic shutdown and communication blockade in Kashmir. They are hiring labourers to materialise illegal projects in the wee hours and trying to finish them before a system is placed to monitor such activities.