Is Kashmir becoming normal by Indian standards?
The Indian government believes that by its standards the held Kashmir is becoming normal. G. Kishan Reddy, the Indian minister of state for home affairs, recently claimed in Indian parliament that Kashmiris were increasingly participating in ordinary life, children had returned to school, security was under control and communications had largely been restored.
The Indian home ministry claimed that numbers on arrests for stone-throwing this year in held Valley had declined but despite the overwhelming security and thousands of preventive arrests, stone-throwing incidents are actually on the rise since August 5 2019. So are the grenade-throwing incidents in held Srinagar.
The Indian government claimed all Kashmiri schoolchildren were in schools for their board exams but it has been reported in the local media that attendance is as low as three per cent in schools of the occupied Valley.
The Indian government claimed that only 608 people are detained in the held Valley, which is a big lie. Thousands have been detained in the held Valley alone while many thousands have been taken to jails outside the Valley.
The Indian government has come up with the figure of 3.4 million tourists visiting the Valley in the last six months. It does not explain how many visited after the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, the losses tourist industry has suffered since August 5 and specific number of visitors since the lifting of a travel advisory in October.
The Indian government talks about the fictitious figure of 38 crore rupees spent on buying apples from the held Valley in the last three months but does not talk about that at least six apple truck drivers have been murdered at the hands of agitated population and many more injured. Apple pickers and other loaders from Indian provinces have fled the Valley.
Even Indian media admits internet services across all platforms continue to remain suspended in held Valley since August 5 except for a few government offices and business establishments. After more than three months of complete blackout in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government has restored internet connections of only 100 subscribers. These subscribers include mostly companies, firms or offices associated with IT-related jobs. There have been reports that local militants are now using net-enabled satellite phones like modern smartphones, but they connect directly to satellites instead of using mobile towers for internet access. The others tens of millions continue to suffer.
The brute force being exacted on the people of Kashmir, forcible disappearance of 10,000 civilians, widespread rape, torture, and extrajudicial killings continue. The world watches as pushbacks to India’s liberal democratic order by the ruling right-wing, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party continue to grow and minorities are sidelined.
Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has admitted that “ideological and strong preset views of the Western media” made his task harder when he met American policymakers to explain India’s full integration of Jammu and Kashmir. The reality remains that people of held Valley have been under occupation for the past 72 years but this time India has formalized its occupation and all those privileges that New Delhi had given to Kashmiris under their own constitution, which were legally must from the viewpoint of international law, have been taken away.
Meanwhile, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah insists that the situation in the held Valley is fully normal. You heard it right. Fully normal by Indian standards!