STRUGGLE OF KASHMIR WILL NOT END EVEN TODAY!

Soaking the memories in a warm cup of Kahwah Tea, while indulging in the varied landscapes of Kashmir. Take in the crisp misty air, while gorging on warm Kashmiri pulao and home-made Rista. Feel the heart synchronize with the gushing waters that travel from the glaciers above. Dust the snow off the shoulders after a long trek up a hill and watch the sun-kissed, snow-capped mountains. This is the beautiful valley of Kashmir!

A valley between the Great Himalayan range and the Pir Panjal mountain range, Kashmir is a place of beautiful simplicity and pristine natural beauty. But this unfortunate valley is struggling since 1947 for its independence and the struggle will not end even today.

On August 5, India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government issued a surprise executive verdict stripping away the autonomy that the state of Jammu and Kashmir was granted in exchange for joining the Indian union after independence in 1947.

Since the decree, Indian authorities also imposed an unparalleled lockdown in the region, cutting off all communication lines, restricting movement and putting prominent Kashmiri politicians under house arrest.

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Millions of people in Indian-administered Kashmir are living under curfew after the central government cancelled an article of the constitution guaranteeing the state semi-autonomy. Thousands of troops have been sent to the Muslim-majority region to enforce government control, while telephone lines and internet connections have been blocked. Hundreds of people, from Kashmiri rights activists to professors and business leaders, have been detained by Indian authorities.

The new act downgraded Jammu and Kashmir from a state to a union territory, while also separating the Ladakh region as another union territory. The sweeping changes in Kashmir come three months after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a general election in which they pledged to revoke Kashmir’s special status. But while prime minister Narendra Modi says the changes will herald a “new era” of growth in Kashmir, residents are angry that they have no voice as their rights are removed. Pakistan is also incensed at the move and has downgraded diplomatic and trade ties with India.

Muslims in Indian-administered Kashmir spent the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha in a security lockdown, unable to call their friends and relatives as an unprecedented communications block remained in place for an eighth day.

In Srinagar, Kashmir’s main city, Indian troops reportedly allowed some residents to walk to local mosques alone or in pairs, but areas of the city were almost entirely deserted on what is usually one of the biggest celebrations of the year. Blocks on landlines, mobile phones, the internet and cable TV, continued.

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Authorities said the restrictions were in place to avoid unrest. Last week 10,000 people reportedly took to the streets of Srinagar to protest against Delhi’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status. Government forces reportedly opened fire and used teargas. The Indian ministry of home affairs denied that any protests of more than 20 people took place – though TV footage appeared to show very large crowds chanting: “Go back, go, India, go.”

 

God knows when will the situation in Kashmir improves and the people will breathe without any fear. Pakistan will always be by their side and support them in their stance. Remember the beautiful people of Kashmir in your prayers!

Huma Nawab

 

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