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Citizens and Peoples’ Representatives Speak on Kashmir - Report of a public meeting in New Delhi on 29 October 2019

30 October 2019

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Citizens and Peoples’ Representatives Speak

(29th October 2019, Jantar Mantar, New Delhi)

Amidst the noise of the manufactured European MPs delegation visiting Kashmir valley on the invite of an irrelevant NGO, on the 86th day of the abrogation of Article 370 & 35A and lockdown of Kashmir, members of the concerned civil society and people’s representatives from mainstream political parties of Jammu & Kashmir and India organised and took part in an eventful protest public meeting near the Indian Parliament House, New Delhi.

Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress), Kannan Gopinath (former IAS), Maimoonah Mollah (AIDWA), Annie Raja (NFIW), Deepankar Bhattacharya (CPIML), Dr Bhalchandra Kango and Ghulam Mazrib (CPI), Muzaffar Khan- Former Judge (NC), Naval Kishore (RJD), Nilotpal Basu (CPM), Hanan Mullah (Kisan Sabha), Danish Ali (BSP), Firdos Tak (PDP, Jammu), Dr. Hussain and Rahul Atree (JKPM), Fr. Cedric Prakash, Shabnam Hashmi (ANHAD), Dr. Syeda Hameed (PIPFPD), and many others came together in solidarity with peoples of Jammu & Kashmir who are facing a repressive onslaught and with rights and liberty at stake. They registered the protest through poetry, songs of resistance at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.

The following demands were put up:

1. No steps about the future of Jammu & Kashmir should be taken without the consent of the peoples of Jammu & Kashmir. This implies the following:

• Restoration of the pre-August 5, 2019 situation with regard to Article 370 and 35A and implementation of the commitments India has made to the people of J&K and the United Nations
• The reversal of the bifurcation of the territory, as well as a reversal of its downgrading to the status of a ‘Union Territory’.

2. Immediate scaling back of the troops (armed forces and paramilitaries) deployed in Jammu & Kashmir. Specifically, a call for the withdrawal of CRPF, BSF, ITBP and Indian Army troops deployed in all civilian areas. Also dismantling of interrogation centres, which are known to be torture cells, and immediate end to the practice of detaining people for any length of time in military and paramilitary camps.

3. To end intimidation and harassment of children and their parents, by police, paramilitary and military personnel. Also a demand of immediate end to the practice of forcing children to report to police stations, and security barracks. The public meeting demanded immediate end to the detentions and punishment be handed out to armed forces personnel, police and paramilitary personnel who were detaining children

4. End to the illegal practice of torture (physical as well as psychological) being committed under the cover of ‘interrogation’ by the armed forces as well as an end to the usage of pellet guns and tear gas, and the destruction of property by all armed forces personnel.

5. Immediate restoration of communication infrastructure, all forms of mobile telephony (not just the token restoration of Post Paid connections) and the internet. The meeting demanded an end to censorship and restriction on the freedom of the press. It gave a call for an end to the harassment and intimidation of journalists, doctors, lawyers and human rights activists.

6. Immediate lifting of restrictions on civil society, and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees, and demand that no further arrests be made. Further demand for a repeal of draconian legislations like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act.

7. Appealed to the Supreme Court of India to cease delaying the application of its judicial power to intervene, especially in Habeas Corpus and Preventive Detention Matters.

8. An appeal was made to the Supreme Court of India to deal with a sense of urgency and seriousness with the several petitions that address the constitutional crisis occasioned by the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.

Further the meeting appealed to all sections of society, political parties, trade unions, student organizations and individuals to stand with Kashmiris, especially young people and students from Jammu & Kashmir who are in workplaces, neighbourhoods and educational institutions everywhere in India.

The members expressed their solidarity with the peoples of Jammu & Kashmir, and assured them that they stand by them in the quest for justice, freedom and peace.
Finally, they concluded with how Kashmir must not be made an excuse for another sub-continental war. There were voices for an immediate end to war-mongering and the initiation of dialogue involving India, Pakistan and the peoples of Jammu & Kashmir with a view to the establishment of a lasting peace in South Asia.