New Delhi: On Wednesday, Kashmiris settled in Europe and United Kingdom organised conferences and took to the streets to express dissent against, and condemn, the August 5, 2019 move of the Modi Government that stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status guaranteed under Article 370 and 35 A.
The demonstrators blamed India of “illegally annexing and occupying Jammu & Kashmir, and carried ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ flags to mark retaliation, the Tribune reported.
The demonstrations were organised by the Tehreek-e-Kashmir (Tek) Europe and UK and saw the participation of hundreds of overseas Lashmiris and Pakistanis.
Rallies and conferences were conducted in Oslo, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Scotland, Brescia, Italy, Lisbon, Portugal, Barcelona, Spain, Berlin, Germany, Hamburg, Germany, Zurich, Switzerland and more than eight cities of UK.
On August 05, last year, the union home minister Amit Shah announced in the Rajya Sabha that the BJP government had effectively nullified Article 370 of the Indian constitution.
Shah tabled two bills in the upper house. By tabling the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, the government proposed partitioning the state into two separate union territories; the first time a state was denounced in to a UT in India’s independent history.
Shah also tabled the Jammu and Kashmir (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2019 that indirectly necessitated abrogating the special status that had been guaranteed to the state.
On the same day by tabling a presidential order, all provisions of the Indian constitution were extended to the state laying the constitution of Kashmir redundant.
Modi Government’s August 05, 2019 move was followed by a crack-down on any opposition or dissent.
All the major political leaders, including three former chief ministers, were detained under the Draconian PSA and section 144 was imposed across the region.
In addition to that, the region saw a complete clampdown of all cellular networks and Internet for the next sixth months. In January, the Supreme Court declared internet access as part of the fundamental rights to freedom of speech, soon after which slow speed Internet was extended to the valley.
This Wednesday marked one year anniversary of nullification of the semi-autonomous status.
On the anniversary the President of Tek Europe Muhammad Ghalib told the press that Kashmiris are not fighting for the restoration of Article 370 and 35-A but rather that their struggle is to get the UN resolutions (that guarantee referendum to the region) implemented.
Ghalib urged the United Kingdom to come forward and play its role for a permanent settlement of Kashmir as per the wishes of Kashmiris.
President TeK UK Fahim Kayani addressed the rally claiming that the “Kashmiris’ liberation struggle began in 1931 and is yet to achieve the goal of complete freedom from illegal Indian rule.”
Kayani added, “for the last one year Kashmiris have suffered a lot and there is no sign of development. India abrogated Article 370 and 35-A to impose lock down aimed to break their economy.”
Article 370 and 35-A empowered the state legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide and extended special rights and privileges to those permanent residents including land rights.
The revocation of the constitutional guarantees rekindled fears among locals of a demographic change at the hands of the Indian government.
In May, the home ministry issued a new set of rules in the UT called the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (procedure) Rules 2020. As per the order, individuals who have resided in J&K for 15 years or have studied for seven years or appeared in examination for class 10 or 12 are eligible for the grant of a domicile certificate.
On June 2, the administration announced a new media policy aimed at creating a “sustained narrative on functioning of the government in media”. The 53 page document places significant Orwelian curbs on media outlets in the valley with the government reserving all monopoly to declare what it feels is “fake”, “national” and “anti-national”.
Similarly, on July 24, the J&K administration withdrew a 1971 circular that made it mandatory for the Indian army, the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force to obtain a “no objection certificate” to acquire land in the region.
The administrative developments since May have only further aggravated the locals’ fears with respect to the Government of India’s intent of manufacturing a demographic change in the region.
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