Kashmir ‘grim’ after scrapping of Article 370, says team after visit

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 14, 2019 Published on August 14, 2019

Kavita Krishnan, a social activist, addressing a news conference in New Delhi after returning from Kashmir   -  ANUSHREE FADNAVIS

A delegation of political and civil society activists, which visited the Kashmir Valley after the abrogation of Article 370, said the situation on the ground is grim.

Talking to reporters here on Wednesday, the team members said there was ‘immense anger’ among the people against the Narendra Modi Government for not taking their views before scrapping Article 370.

A former member of the National Advisory Council and economist Jean Drèze, CPI(M) leader Maimoona Mollah, CPI(ML)’s Kavita Krishnan and Gandhian activist Vimal Bhai visited even some villages of Kashmir to assess the situation. They said they were the first team to go outside Srinagar. “No one was in support of the decision,” they said.

Krishnan said Kashmiri women and girls kept telling them that they don't need people like Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to teach them feminism. “Everyone was telling us that Article 370 was a bridge between Kashmir and India and the Centre has severed it,” they said.

‘Tourism sector hit’

Vimal Bhai said the valley looks like an open jail now. He said people are not allowed to go out of their houses. “(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is breaking the economy. Tourism sector is hit. All politicians, including those in villages, are under custody,” he said and added that the military is picking up youngsters so that they don’t participate even in peaceful protests.

Mollah said the whole place was desolate, quiet and silenced. “People were looking humiliated and angry. They said they will not keep silent. They were angry that they were not consulted,” she said and added that they could not meet CPI(M) leader Mohd Yousuf Tarigami, who is under house arrest.

Drèze said there are many misconceptions about Kashmir. “I am struck by the prosperity in villages compared to States like Bihar and Jharkhand. The situation is completely different from the official narrative. The purpose of the military presence is to control the local population and prevent even peaceful protests. Not to check terrorism,” he said.

The delegation spent five days in Kashmir. “Everywhere, we were cordially received, even by people who were very angry about the situation or sceptical of our purpose. Even as people expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India, they extended warmth and unstinting hospitality to us. We are deeply moved by this,” they said and added that except one BJP spokesperson on Kashmir Affairs, they did not meet a single person who supported the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370.

“To control this anger, the government has imposed curfew-like conditions in Kashmir. Except for some ATMs, chemists’ shops and police stations, most establishments are closed for now,” they said.

Rahul’s tweet

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet addressed to J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik that he is ready to visit the State without any conditions. “I saw your feeble reply to my tweet. I accept your invitation to visit Jammu & Kashmir and meet the people, with no conditions attached. When can I come?” he said.

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Published on August 14, 2019
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