At the risk of using a word that is synonymous with the trauma-inducing words/phrases like crackdown and search and cordon, the following is a media roundup of select articles and videos from reliable international press organizations reporting from and about Kashmir. This post along with others in this special “Kashmir 2019 Siege” section works exactly like a content aggregator site such as any major search engine that serves search results via URLS that you click on to get to the source content. As a result, in the spirit of bibliographical citation and referencing, this post provides key articles and media from the global press displayed from their original and respective sources. The intent is to highlight the voices of millions of Kashmiris kept under a telecommunications blockade with mobile, landline and internet services disconnected by government order, while the indigenous Kashmiri press is rendered voiceless as newspapers, magazines and other such publications are unable to operate under such restricted conditions (particularly in being contained from emitting around the clock reports on the unfolding events following the abrupt revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A by the government of India). At the present, seven million Kashmiris have been limited to solitary confinement in the face of a world interconnected by 21st century infratech while massive and unprecedented changes enforced on their everyday lives are in full effect in the Himalayan territory notoriously known for being the most heavily militarized zone on the planet. The grotesque contradictions and disparities that abound can perhaps be contextualized through an euphemistic example: imagine that Indian states like Bihar or Uttar Pradesh are put under a telecommunications and media lockdown as an overnight demonetization policy is implemented, while the territories are declared disturbed areas and massive number of troops are mobilized to contain protests.
From an editorial perspective, at the time of writing, we are on Day 23 of a siege imposed on Kashmir and its seven million Kashmiris. On August 5th, after the Indian government decided to revoke Articles 370 and 35A from the Indian constitution without prior democratic consent, dodging the constitutional provisions that Article 370 itself specified, the disputed territory was declared a part of the Indian union as a permanent state under Presidential order. In the process, a military curfew has been imposed now for the last three weeks, one that is relaxed and enforced depending on the instances of protest across the valley), all the while mobile, telephone and internet services remain suspended and TV channels and local newspapers remain out of circulation. People are unable to contact their loved ones within Kashmir and abroad as well, as a genocide alert has been issued by Virginia-based Genocide Watch—“the Coordinator of the Alliance Against Genocide,” which works with a coalition of 75 international organizations set to prevent genocide around the world.
Certain news about the ongoing siege in Kashmir seems to give the impression, to those unfamiliar with the current set of events, that an entire Kashmiri population is quite simply being subject to a media and communication blackout and that such an imposition by the state marks the denial of basic freedoms (i.e. freedom of expression, freedom of press or freedom to simply communicate). However, if it still needs to be said, the present circumstances of imposed silence through a communication blockade, heavy military presence and use of force that are referred to in the media are built on (and a continuation of) preceding state enforced policies and ground-level operations centered on the policing of a society and the heavy militarization of Kashmir’s vast geography, specifically its urban, suburban and rural civilian spaces.
In terms of human cost, such militarized policies and practices (over the last three decades) have been traditionally enforced by the Indian state in terms of killing dissenting and protesting Kashmiri civilians, arrests and detentions of protestors, activists, journalists, and other civilians without warrant, the use of rape as a weapon of war, multiple degrees of torture in detention centers and army camps, abductions and enforced disappearances, extrajudicial and custodial killings, use of pellet guns to blind and injure protestors, use of all sorts of weaponry such as tear gas and pepper gas shells and mines, curfews, destruction of property and ecosystems, apart from shutting down the internet and telephone services district by district or territory-wide depending on the level of protest and dissent during different years where mass protests manifest (due to various reasons). In the background, an armed insurgency has been present in very minimal numbers after the 90s but continued to gain popular support against an Indian army consisting of 500,000 to 700,000 soldiers. As of now, with the incoming reports from international and Indian press, the number of soldiers estimated to keep Kashmir under watch is 950,000 to one million, while media and telecommunications services and press freedoms have been suspended indefinitely.
With all this taken into context—apart from a wide variety of previous press reports from indigenous media, decades of scholarly research, years of fieldwork, documentation, human rights work, and other writing—many Kashmiris are re-experiencing the type of fear and panic that has been constant since the Indian state’s massive military incursion into the territory in 1990 (beyond the number of Indian troops that were already present there since October 1947). At that time, three decades ago, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of the Indian constitution was put into effect authorizing a martial law level of impunity authorizing Indian soldiers to establish and maintain control over the territory and its peoples, by any means necessary specified in the act. While acts like AFSPA and DAA (Disturbed Areas Act) are still in full effect empowering the Indian army even further to continue its rule over Kashmir, Articles like 370 and 35A that gave some illusory faith in the democratic process have been repealed to further alienate 7 million Kashmiris into a state of imposed silence, as the instruments that allow the use of draconian force maintain their grip on a besieged population. It is primarily for this reason that the international press and independent Indian press that is not state-endorsing have unanimously defined the present situation in Kashmir as a “siege” or “lockdown” imposed on its peoples by the Indian state. The use of such terminology is adopted within this examination of the foreign press drawing parallels with the independent Indian press in making such an assessment.
Legitimization, Normalization and Habituation Instead of Mediation, Reconciliation and Resolution
From the time that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was put into effect to crush a homegrown militancy in 1990, the Indian state has parked its armed forces numbering in 500,000 to 700,000 troopers. Now, with the abrupt revocation of Articles 370 and 35A by Presidential order announced on August 5th in the Indian Parliament, the ruling party in charge of such policy-making has not convincingly, by any stretch of imagination, taken steps towards peace-making and conflict resolution. With an astounding 950,000 to one million Indian soldiers present in the Himalayan territory and the enforced silence of seven million Kashmiris under random (distributed and centralized) curfews, local shutdowns and protests, and indefinite suspension of telecommunications infrastructure, the Indian government has after thirty years of military presence in the territory of Indian-administered Kashmir sought to legitimize, normalize and habituate the presence of its armed forces. The tension is felt worldwide, cascading into multiple protests in multiple cities across the world.
Added to that, cross-border escalation has led to killings across the Line of Control that divides Indian-administered Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Many Kashmiri, Indian, Pakistani and international experts, scholars, and commentators, including dissenting members of the Indian administration, the United Nations, the US House of Representatives, Human Rights Watch and other such organizations have criticized the Indian government’s abrupt abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A (without democratic consent), coupled with the decision to numerically augment an already heavily militarized zone (all the while seven million Kashmiris are disconnected from the rest of the world). Conversely, considering that the Himalayan territory is a nuclear flash point, between three powerful nation states, there is an alarming reason to maintain a conversation about what is happening in the region.
A series of contradictions define the current climate of obfuscation set forth by the Indian government’s recent policy exacerbation in terms of increased military presence in Kashmir following the abrupt revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A. While two articles of the Indian constitution protecting basic civilian property rights and state-subject inheritance rights are abolished, two acts ratified by the Indian Parliament, namely the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (1990) and the Disturbed Areas Act (1992) continue to empower the militarization of Kashmir and that too under such a severe media and telecommunications blockade at such a critical time. As a result, contradicting reports have been filed by mainstream state-endorsing Indian media in direct opposition with the severity and tense climate observed by on-ground journalists and reporters working for international and independent Indian press organizations. In addition, a wide variety of Kashmir scholars, experts, documentarians, researchers, journalists and writers have provided much needed insight into the ongoing Indian siege on seven million people of Kashmir.
The contradictions manifest in part due to the fact that an entire population has been habituated into accepting militarized rule and police control over the last three decades, such that the ongoing siege on Kashmir can be depicted as “normal” as per usual because Kashmiris are expected to be accustomed to such heavy militarization, between routine and recurrent sightings of armed forces personnel and the structures of militarization (army camps, bunkers, checkposts, detention centers, barbed wired buildings and barricades) that have marked the Kashmiri urban, suburban and rural landscape. It is with all these conditions and circumstances severely constraining an entire population unable to speak for itself or simply communicate individually and collectively within Kashmir and with the outside world that a human dimension must be considered to reflect the impact that massive enforced changes have had thus far.
After all, a conversation must be maintained continuously about seven million people already confined to the Himalayan mountains being further confined to the military rule of an estimated 950,000 to 1,000,000 Indian soldiers. At the 23rd day of siege, international commentators have been observing that an entire population has been cordoned off away from the international gaze, with news of nightly raids and arrests, killings, use of pellets to maim and blind protestors, slowly emerging. Nonetheless, the news of violence that is coming to light under such a media and telecom blackout is nothing new to Kashmiris, so much so that the Indian government and state-endorsing media reiterates the same as usual, that the situation is under control and “normalcy” has been maintained. For this reason, and from this editorial perspective, alternative media sources are required to bring to attention the current condition of seven million Kashmiris under lockdown and press, media and telecommunications blockade.
All the views presented here are based on media coverage from international sources in consultation with extensive scholarly work on Kashmir and its peoples by a diverse group of scholars, experts, researchers from Kashmir, India, Pakistan, the UK, North America, Oceania and other parts of the world. A separate article will be produced to present the much-needed media roundup of independent Indian press in their ongoing coverage. For expert and widely acknowledged and acclaimed academic, journalistic and human rights sources and references that provide the necessary context for the current situation, we have included an essential resource: #TheKashmirSyllabus – A List of Sources for Teaching and Learning about Kashmir. The Kashmir Syllabus reflects extensive writing and research from a group of Kashmir scholars and experts along with published and referenced work by media practitioners and multidisciplinary creatives who have been dedicated to their respective fields for years and decades in various domains of knowledge and expertise, all coming from diverse Kashmiri and international backgrounds.
In the larger geopolitical context, the current situation does indeed require attention, reflection and dialogue, since Kashmir is located at the northern margins of the Asian Subcontinent, converging with Central Asia. All this within a zone that is marked by three major nuclear nation states with uncertain and tentative borders and unsettled scores that severely affect the lives of millions of indigenous people struggling to lead everyday lives under severely stringent conditions. Taking the aforementioned into consideration, as a journal dedicated to the arts and humanities, and scholarly writing and contemporary culture, one feels compelled to comment that within each human being an inner voice resonates such that in deep stages of crisis, it motivates us all to carry forward in our respective and relative struggles, at individual and collective levels. Such a voice when manifest through language made expressive in spoken, written and visual terms, can bring about storytellers, poets, narrators, orators, commentators, critics and artists who inherit, shape and mark the domain of contemporary culture in an effort to maintain, retain, develop, transmit and further knowledge. Kashmir is a place where all such figures abound in one way or another all across the social stratosphere because every Kashmiri has something to say and their own way of articulating themselves through their own voice. As of now, on the 23rd day of the Indian siege on Kashmir, seven million such voices stand silent since the historically most decisive event was abruptly announced to shape the future of their lives while an unresolved, disputed and irreconcilable past of violence and war maintains its tradition in geolocalized and geolocatable terms under military rule. As the situation progresses, we will be sharing more news items in this format. Meanwhile, below is a selection of articles, media and video emerging from international press coverage on the ongoing siege on Kashmir.
Source: Washington Post
Kashmir Rally in Vancouver!
"Vancouver Kashmiris march to raise awareness of conflicts with India" - CBC News Thank you Vancouver! #standwithkashmir Link to news article - https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/kashmir-independence-india-pakistan-vancouver-rally-1.5248397
The BBC meets some protesters who were injured allegedly at the hands of Kashmir's security forces.
At least 150 people injured by tear gas, pellets in Kashmir crackdown
More than 150 people in Kashmir have been treated for tear gas and pellet gun injuries since Indian security forces launched a sweeping crackdown in early August.Posted by TRT World on Friday, August 23, 2019
BREAKING: Latest on 'cross-border gunfire exchange' in Kashmir
BREAKING: Pakistan's army says at least three Pakistani and five Indian soldiers have been killed after a cross-border exchange of gunfire in the disputed region of Kashmir. In response to Pakistani army's statement, report says Indian army denies five Indian soldiers were killed. Developing story: https://aje.io/2h3t4Posted by Al Jazeera English on Thursday, August 15, 2019
As tensions in Kashmir continue to rise, Canadians with loved ones in the region grow increasingly worried about their family members' safety -- and are now calling for the Canadian government to break its silence. STORY: https://globalnews.ca/news/5759229/canada-kashmir-lockdown-india/Posted by Kamil Karamali on Wednesday, August 14, 2019