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Military and COVID-19 lockdown in Kashmir resulting in human rights violations


BY: Qudsia Saeed



Amid COVID-19, Kashmiris have to suffer from the deplorable consequences of a deadly pandemic, as well as an everlasting military lockdown that has implicated in a traumatizing array of human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir—the volatile border dividing India and Pakistan that has become the world’s most disputed and militarized region.


The conflict in Kashmir dates back to independence from the British in 1947, and the partition that resulted afterward, and it is critical to understand this history in order to measure the severity of this ongoing conflict. This partition would create two new nations—a Hindu majority India and a Muslim majority Pakistan, and Kashmir, a Muslim majority region, remained neutral under Hindu rule. This attempt at impartiality failed amid the chaos that ensued following the partition, in which India claimed that Kashmir belonged to them as Pakistan disputed this, resulting in inconclusive wars and the deaths of over 100,000 civilians.


Over a year ago, on August 5th, 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status by abrogating Article 370 and forcing a military lockdown across the region to further his Hindu-nationalist agenda. Under this security and communications lockdown, the internet was blocked, politicians were placed on house arrest, and schools were shut down.


Historically, and more prominently over the last year, Kashmiris have been raped, tortured, and killed. The region has been subject to unlawful detentions, burning of homes, stealing of homes, intensified militarization, and extensive censorship. The forced lockdown has confined over 8 million people to their homes with limited access to the world beyond them. To alter the narrative of their oppression, India has enforced numerous laws since the lockdown and prevented foreign journalists from entering the region to report on the silent genocide.


Because of the trauma they witness or express regularly, 1.8 million Kashmiri adults show symptoms of mental distress, anxiety, and uncertainty. Tear gas, pellets, and bullets are fired at innocent civilians, and the Indian army has occupied the region at an alarming rate, detaining and arresting Kashmiris, criminalizing the victim, and celebrating the annexation and the atrocities they have committed over a year.


The global pandemic has further exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, as Kashmir has seen a record-high number of cases in recent months, however, the shortage of medical supplies and lack of adequate healthcare makes them nearly impossible to treat. Since August 2019, the number of inmates per prison has increased tremendously, and people are imprisoned merely for expressing their anti-Indian sentiments, thus making overcrowded prisons that hold up to twice their capacity of inmates, the hotbed for the virus.


The world remains silent as Kashmir bleeds on.



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