20 Must-Read Pieces on Six Months of Kashmir Lockdown — Curated by Majid Maqbool
February 7, 2020
Majid Maqbool curates a list of 20 must-read pieces on six months of the Kashmir lockdown. Readers and members of the Kashmiri press are welcome to send us their own suggested readings using the form at the end of this curated list.

Majid Maqbool curates a list of 20 must-read pieces on six months of the Kashmir lockdown. All media and quotations embedded directly from their original sources. Readers and members of the Kashmiri press are welcome to send us their own suggested readings using the form at the end of this curated list.

Introduction

Following the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on August 5 last year, the subsequent communications shutdown and internet blockade made it impossible to report freely from the ground. There was no internet, no phone connectivity, and access to the ground was limited and restricted as numerous barricades cropped up and restrictions were enforced. Freedom of expression was put under siege. Local newspapers were unable to report from the ground with relative freedom as they had done previously. Editorials and columns in the local papers were either missing or mute about the prevailing situation in Kashmir. 

And yet, with limited means, despite a stifling atmosphere and crippling communications and internet shutdown – the longest imposed by any country in the world – Kashmir’s journalists and writers reported and wrote about the ground realities. It wasn’t easy amid state surveillance and even summons by the authorities on reportage that went against their liking.

There was valuable and timely reportage from international press and news agencies that reflected the ground situation for the international audience. These ground reports and opinions pieces, a selection of which I’ve curated below, provide an independent insight into the situation in Kashmir in the past six months since the revocation of the autonomous status of the region on August 5 last year.

20 Must-Read Pieces on Six Months of Kashmir Lockdown — Curated by Majid Maqbool

  1. Abrogation of J&K’s special status is being seen through one prism: The fear of demographic change
    By Muzamil Jaleel

A recent tweet by a Kashmiri activist based in Europe, who is a harsh critic of Pakistan on J&K and intervenes in the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to rebut any unfavourable report against India, sums up the situation. “Spoke to a friend in Srinagar after a two week hiatus and asked about the situation. His reply: There are only two Kashmiris left. One who feels betrayed & humiliated. The other, who tells the first one: ‘We told you so’. That was all we spoke. Both not knowing what else to say.”

2. India must stop weaponizing the pain of Kashmiri Pandits
By Nishita Trisal

“We can begin by actively seeking out one another’s truths and stories; resisting statist manipulations of our suffering; reading deeply and widely into Kashmir’s complex history; calling out bigotry and hate in our families; denouncing Indian atrocities in Kashmir; and imagining a Kashmiri political community that accommodates and celebrates difference without simply being reduced to competing identity claims.”

3. The Crisis In Kashmir Has Started A Conversation I Don’t Know How To Have
By Scaachi Koul

“India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir for my lifetime and my parents’ lifetimes. I’m not arrogant enough to think that it’ll get solved in 2020. What I’d actually like is for the unafflicted in this conflict, people like myself, young first- and second-generation kids, to recognize the legacy of trauma that we’re encouraging. I’m not asking for an answer or a definitive explanation. All I really want, to close out this terrible, year, is for my family to acknowledge a hard, complex, and unfair fact: We may have been the hunted, sure, but now we’re the hunters. We know better, but we’re not doing better.”

4. Kashmir and the Fire This Time
By Niya Shahdad

“Only upon leaving Kashmir the following day did I realize that there had also been no record of what, precisely, had happened there. The newspaper was a document of silence.”

5. The Toll of Life Under Lock Down
By Mirza Waheed

The crunch of the military wheel, the callous thud of jackboots, and the impudent knock on the door continue to ring somewhere inside your head.

But this season’s siege is more crushing than ever, possibly the worst since that first one nearly 30 years ago, a stratagem designed carefully to humiliate an entire people. The parents are older, frailer, having picked up a few ailments over the last quarter-century, some to do with age and some with the daily stress of living a conflict-torn life.

6. Kashmiris allege night terror by Indian troops in crackdown
By Aijaz Hussain

“They hit our backs and legs for three hours. They gave us electric shocks,” Ahmed said, lifting his shirt to show his burned and bruised back. “As we cried and pleaded (with) them to let us go, they became more relentless and ruthless in their beating. They forced us to eat dust and drink water from a drain.”

7. ‘Don’t beat us, just shoot us’: Kashmiris allege violent army crackdown
By Sameer Hashmi

“They beat every part of my body. They kicked us, beat us with sticks, gave us electric shocks, beat us with cables. They hit us on the back of the legs. When we fainted they gave us electric shocks to bring us back. When they hit us with sticks and we screamed, they sealed our mouth with mud.”

8. India’s torture methods: new claims emerge from disputed Kashmir
By Hilal Mir and Muhammad Raafi

“He drew a red-hot iron rod close to my penis but stopped short of touching it. I cried a lot. His colleague told him ‘don’t do it. He has been married recently. After all she is our sister too’. They pulled skin near my private parts with a plier. It still hurts when I urinate. Once my entire body was bruised they rubbed salt into the wounds. These mountains are witness to my ordeal. They have heard my cries,” he said.

9. In Kashmir, a Race Against Death, With No Way to Call a Doctor
By Sameer Yasir and Jeffrey Gettleman

“At least a dozen patients have died because they could not call an ambulance or could not reach the hospital on time, the majority of them with heart-related disease,’’ said Sadaat, a doctor in a Kashmir hospital who did not want to be identified by his full name out of fear or reprisals.

10. Crisis in Kashmir: Bond of silence that buys freedom
By Muzaffar Raina

Scores of people including politicians and academics are believed to have been freed after they signed the bond, while several like former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti have reportedly refused to sign it.

11. Kashmir: Murder of insaniyat
By A.G. Noorani

“Kashmir’s leadership is now on trial as never before. It must go beyond the Gupkar Declaration. A small committee comprising Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Shah Faesal should prepare a Manifesto of the United Movement of Kashmir and take to the streets, after renouncing all forms of violence, and assert their right to freedom of speech and freedom to move in peaceful procession. It must put forth a constructive agenda of action.”

12. New Delhi’s Demographic Designs in Kashmir
By Idris Bhat

Similarly, the Indian state’s current move, justified in the name of development, could change Kashmir’s ethnic mix. Doing so has been a long-standing demand of the militant Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is widely seen as the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

13. In Pictures: Night raids, arrests amid Kashmir lockdown
By Saiba Varma and Sanna Irshad Mattoo

Families recount raids in their houses at night to arrest young Kashmiris and the vigils they’re holding to avoid them.
“The photos here show the effects of the forced disappearances of young men on their families and how the communities in Kashmir are responding to – and resisting – the crackdown.”

14. Modi’s War: Dispatches from a seething Kashmir
By Praveen Donthi

I asked Varma if, according to her, the lack of large-scale protests in the Valley had to do with increased military presence. “There’s so much pressure on Kashmiris to always display their humanity,” she said. The state, she added, “has already labelled them as terrorists, as criminals, as inhumane and as violent, and is looking for any sign of that violence or that criminality, to then come down really hard on that. I think Kashmiris recognise that: that they’re being tested at every moment.”

15. Will we consider our own, the Kashmiri children traumatised by years of systemic violence?
By Amit Sen

Repetitive, violent trauma in endemic war zones can be deeply damaging for the community, especially children and adolescents, who could be scarred for life, and pass on their fear and anger to generations that follow.

16. This is how women are suffering under India’s Kashmir crackdown
By Quratulain Rehbar and Masrat Zahra

Shahid’s PSA dossier shows that he was detained on charges of being affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist organisation, after he completed his 12th class examination. But the irony in his case was that he hadn’t even attended his 12th class board examination yet.

“When I came to know that our son was shifted outside Kashmir, darkness fell before my eyes. Everything seemed blurred,” said Bano

17. Kashmir’s mental health crisis goes untreated as clampdown continues
By Nusrat Sidiq

But almost all mental health services are concentrated in Srinagar’s hospitals, meaning they’re often inaccessible to patients in rural areas – a problem worsened by ramped-up security and checkpoints during the initial months of the lockdown.

“When these patients come back to us after a long gap, we mostly find that the condition of these patients has worsened, making it more difficult to treat them,” said Dr. Saleem Yousuf, a psychiatrist at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh, the region’s main hospital.

20 Must-Read Pieces on Six Months of Kashmir Lockdown — Curated by Majid Maqbool

18. Both Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits will have to find empathy, generosity to overcome their political differences
By Suvir Kaul

“ Will they face threats to their well-being and lives? They almost certainly will, as do their Muslim and Sikh and Pandit neighbours today, for Kashmir is a conflict zone and will remain so for a while to come. But it is our right to live in Kashmir, and such a right can only be claimed through individual effort, not the devious sponsorship of state agencies.”

19. What about the Kashmiri Pandits? – Thirty Years Later, Make the Question Count
Anmol Tikoo

“It can’t be the return of a terrified minority group. That’s where they were before 1989, and that history could still repeat itself. It can’t be the return to ghettos (or for the rich, gated communities) next to army barracks, like we have now.

It also can’t be a return to an apartheid Kashmir, where the Valley is divided into Muslim and Pandit enclaves, as some in the Kashmiri Pandit community have suggested. If we create another border in a divided state, another wall between these Kashmirs, will anyone be safe?”

20. Manufacturing Normalcy: How the Indian media covered Kashmir
By Atul Dev

“These stories and videos were significant as they showed a Kashmir that was completely different from the one shown in the Indian national media. Ever since Shah’s announcement, the Indian government had been at great pains to show that there was no major discontent about its decision in the state. The national media repeated constantly that all was “normal” in Kashmir. The narrative of normalcy played out on primetime television and the front pages of newspapers, and was repeated endlessly on Twitter by journalists who boasted about flying over Kashmir in government helicopters.”

Article Submission Form

Readers and members of the Kashmiri press are welcome to send us their own suggested readings using the form below. For each piece include the title, the name of the author(s), a short quote or byline representative of the piece as a whole and the URL to the piece.

Publication subject to editorial discretion and approval. Check our For Submissions page for information on submission guidelines.

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About the Contributor

<a href="https://www.inversejournal.com/author/majid-maqbool/" target="_self">Majid Maqbool</a>

Majid Maqbool

Majid Maqbool is a writer, editor and journalist based in Kashmir. His work has appeared in The Wire, Huffington Post, Kindle Magazine, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera America, Warscapes, Caravan Magazine, Griffith Review, NYT India Ink, Warscapes Magazine, TRT World, New Internationalist and several Indian, Pakistani and international publications. In 2013, Majid received a United Nations Population Fund-supported award for his "investigative reporting on the status of women in the conflict region of Jammu and Kashmir."
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