Connect with us

Kashmir

Panic in Kashmir as cases filed against social media users

Correction: 18/02/2020: A previous version of the story said that authorities restored low-speed 2G internet on January 25. That was incorrect; the move was announced on January 14.Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have filed police cases against social media users under “anti-terror” laws for defying social media ban using proxy servers. The move…

Panic in Kashmir as cases filed against social media users

Correction: 18/02/2020: A previous version of the story said that authorities restored low-speed 2G internet on January 25. That was incorrect; the move was announced on January 14.Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have filed police cases against social media users under “anti-terror” laws for defying social media ban using proxy servers.
The move has triggered panic among the people of Kashmir, which has been under a security and communication lockdown since August 5, when the Muslim-majority region was stripped of its limited autonomy.
More:

‘Deeply concerned’: UN chief offers mediation on Kashmir dispute

My struggle for an education in Indian-administered Kashmir

Kashmir: India tells Turkey don’t ‘interfere in internal affairs’

Several first information reports (FIRs or police complaints) have been filed against unnamed users under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). A person booked under the UAPA can be jailed for months without bail.
The police said the action came against those who misused social media sites for propagating “secessionist ideology and promoting unlawful activities”.
“Taking a serious note of misuse of social media, there have been continuous reports of misuse of social media sites by the miscreants to propagate the secessionist ideology and to promote unlawful activities,” read a statement issued by the region’s police, which directly comes under India’s interior affairs ministry.
Authorities restored low-speed 2G internet on January 14 – six months after the internet was cut off from the region – but the ban on social media continued. Kashmiris have been using virtual private networks (VPNs) to access blacklisted sites, particularly social media.
Many users had started posting updates on Twitter and Facebook, but the open FIRs have now created a panic among many of them.
“I did not use the social media to post any political update but I am really panicked and have now deleted the VPN and deactivated my social media accounts. It means they can now arrest anyone now,” said 25-year-old university student Sehba Mir.
Some users also alleged that their phones are being checked by the security forces at the checkpoints to delete the proxy servers from their phones.
“I was stopped outside a tertiary care hospital in Srinagar two days ago. The soldiers checked my phone and deleted VPN from it,” a management student in his early twenties, who did not want to be named, told Al Jazeera.
An official of a private telecom company told Al Jazeera that the operators have been asked by the authorities to install the firewalls and block the blacklisted sites and VPNs.
“It has become difficult to control it completely,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Kashmir, which is the longest pending dispute between India and Pakistan, has been on an edge for the past six months after India revoked Article 370 that gave the region special status.
Under the government crackdown, strict communication and military curbs were imposed in the region to prevent protests. While the restrictions have gradually been eased, there continues to be a blanket ban on the use of social media sites.
A senior police official told Al Jazeera that they are “examining various accounts and screenshot after which action will be initiated”.”Anyone found using social media and posting any anti-national material can be called for questioning,” the official said, adding that “the action is aimed to find the characters spreading the rumours and take action against them through proper legal procedure”.
‘Fearful and panicky’
The FIRs have been registered under the UAPA and Section 66-A (b) of the Indian Information Technology (IT) Act – misleading people with electronic communication – but the experts have termed it illegal saying the section was struck down by India’s top court in March 2015 as it violated free speech.
Geeta Seesu, a Mumbai-based co-founder of FreeSpeech Collective, an advocacy group that works for promoting free speech in India, termed the FIR as a “sweeping generalisation to intimidate and criminalise everyone”.
“Applying UAPA is an attempt to make people – none of whom are named and identified – fearful and panicky,” Seesu said.
The Internet Freedom Foundation, an organisation based in India that advocates for digital rights and net neutrality, has also criticised the filing of the FIRs.
Srinivas Kodali, an independent researcher based in Hyderabad who studies data and internet in India, termed the move as “unconstitutional”.
“This is a clear violation of digital rights of people. Today it is being implemented in Kashmir and tomorrow it can become a general practice in India,” he told Al Jazeera.
Continue Reading…

discusses

UN discusses Kashmir for third time since India ended autonomy |NationalTribune.com

The UN Security Council discussed disputed Kashmir at Pakistan’s request on Wednesday for the third time since India’s Hindu nationalist government decided to end the Muslim-majority region’s semi-autonomy a year ago. The United Nations’s most powerful body did not take any action or issue a statement after the virtual meeting held behind closed doors. Nonetheless,…

UN discusses Kashmir for third time since India ended autonomy |NationalTribune.com

The UN Security Council discussed disputed Kashmir at Pakistan’s request on Wednesday for the third time since India’s Hindu nationalist government decided to end the Muslim-majority region’s semi-autonomy a year ago.
The United Nations’s most powerful body did not take any action or issue a statement after the virtual meeting held behind closed doors.
Nonetheless, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said afterwards holding the meeting signified “that Jammu and Kashmir is an international dispute firmly on the agenda of the Security Council and has nullified, yet another time, the Indian self-serving claim that it is an ‘internal matter’.”
China is seriously concerned about the current situation in Kashmir and the relevant military actions.
China’s mission to the UN

On August 5, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Indian-administered Kashmir’s statehood, scrapped its separate constitution and removed inherited protections on land and jobs.

The UNSC held its first closed consultations on Kashmir since 1971 following India’s surprise action in August 2019 to change the Himalayan region’s status [File: Carlo Allegri/Reuters]

But the government said the change was necessary to develop the disputed region and integrate it with the rest of India, but it infuriated many Kashmiris as well as neighbouring Pakistan.
Qureshi said in remarks circulated by Pakistan’s UN mission the international community “should exercise its moral, legal and political authority to call out India to reverse the tide of impunity and stop genocide of the Kashmiri people.”
‘Unilateral actions’
He urged India to reverse its unilateral actions, stop human rights and ceasefire violations, remove restrictions on communications, movement and peaceful assembly and immediately release Kashmir’s leaders.
The Pakistani minister expressed gratitude to the 15 UNSC members, especially China, for their support in organising the meeting in the face of India’s “desperate attempts to prevent this discussion”. When it went ahead, Qureshi said India tried “to minimise the importance and significance of the meeting”.
“China is seriously concerned about the current situation in Kashmir and the relevant military actions. We oppose unilateral actions that will complicate the situation,” China’s mission to the UN in New York said in a statement.

More than half a million Indian troops are deployed in Kashmir, making it one of the most militarised zones of the world [Tauseef Mustafa/AFP]

India’s new UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti tweeted after the meeting: “Another attempt by Pakistan fails!”
“In today’s meeting of UN Security Council which was closed, informal, not recorded and without any outcome, almost all countries underlined that J&K (Jammu and Kashmir) was bilateral issue & did not deserve time and attention of Council,” he wrote.
Modi’s move last year was accompanied by a total communication blackout and mass detentions. Some rights groups have been critical of the government’s handling of Kashmir, particularly continuing internet curbs.
“This has been compounded by a censored media, continuing detention of political leaders, arbitrary restrictions due to the pandemic with little to no redressal,” Amnesty International said in a statement on Wednesday.
Kashmir issue
Kashmir became an issue at the end of British colonial rule in 1947 when the Indian subcontinent was divided into predominantly Hindu India and mainly Muslim Pakistan and its future was left unresolved.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over control of Kashmir, which had been a Muslim-majority kingdom governed by a Hindu ruler.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged India to reverse its unilateral actions, stop human rights and ceasefire violations, remove restrictions on communications, movement and peaceful assembly and immediately release Kashmir’s leaders [Farooq Naeem/AFP]

The first war ended in 1948 with a UN-brokered ceasefire that left Kashmir divided, with the promise of a UN-sponsored referendum on its “final disposition” that has never been held.
The UN sent military observers to supervise the ceasefire in January 1949 and, following renewed hostilities in 1971, the UN mission has remained in the area to observe and report to the secretary-general – not to the Security Council as other peacekeeping missions do.
The UNSC held its first closed consultations on Kashmir since 1971 following India’s surprise action in August 2019 to change the Himalayan region’s status.
‘Self-determination’
Speaking on the first anniversary of the revocation of Kashmir’s special status, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan demanded Kashmiris’ right to self-determination be implemented.
Another attempt by Pakistan fails!
TS Tirumurti, India’s UN Ambassador

He reiterated the Pakistani government’s support for the long-standing dispute to be settled via a UN-mandated plebiscite.
“Today, [Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi is exposed in the world,” said Khan. “And the biggest thing to come from that is that the world is now looking at Kashmir.”
On Wednesday, heavy troops were deployed and curbs on public movement were put in place as Indian authorities kept a tight lid on potential protests in Kashmir. More than half a million Indian troops are already deployed in the region to quell armed rebellion that erupted in 1989.
Local politicians were not permitted outside their homes, likely to prevent them from calling street demonstrations or even from holding meetings, in the strictest lockdown seen in months.
“One year later the authorities are still too afraid to allow us to meet, much less carry out any normal political activity,” former Chief Minister of Indian-administered Kashmir Omar Abdullah said on Twitter. “This fear speaks volumes about the true situation on the ground in Kashmir.”
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training rebels fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. Pakistan denies the charge and says it offers only diplomatic and moral support to the rebels.
Continue Reading…

Continue Reading

firing

Kashmir Muslims fear demographic shift as thousands get residency |NationalTribune.com

Up to 25,000 people have been granted domicile certificates in Indian-administered Kashmir since May 18, raising fears of the beginning of demographic changes in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region. The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the local…

Kashmir Muslims fear demographic shift as thousands get residency |NationalTribune.com

Up to 25,000 people have been granted domicile certificates in Indian-administered Kashmir since May 18, raising fears of the beginning of demographic changes in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.
The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the local population.
Last year on August 5, when India revoked the semi-autonomous status of the region, it also scrapped the local special citizenship law, guaranteed under Article 35 (A) of the Indian constitution. The move has drawn parallel with the occupied West Bank.
On Friday, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said, “India should take all necessary steps to restore the rights of all the people of Kashmir.”
“Restrictions on dissent, such as peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the internet weakens democracy,” says a policy paper posted on his website.
‘Kashmir becoming another Palestine’
“The decision to provide non-Kashmiri residents with a domicile certificate is certainly the beginning of the end. This is the beginning of Kashmir becoming another Palestine,” Badar-Ul-Islam Sheikh, a 29-year-old resident of the main city of Srinagar, told Al Jazeera.
“It is sad. It is horrible. I fear that time will come that we will not even feel safe in our homes,” he said. “We have been silenced.”
According to a census conducted by India in 2011, out of 12.5 million total population, Muslims comprise 68.31 percent and Hindus 28.43 percent in Kashmir.
Article 35 (A) had barred outsiders, including Indian nationals from other states, from settling and claiming government jobs to maintain the demographic balance in the region, which has seen decades of armed rebellion against the Indian rule.
On Friday, a picture of the domicile certificate issued to Navin Kumar Choudhary, a bureaucrat originally from the Indian state of Bihar, went viral on social media.
In April this year, amid the coronavirus lockdown, the government notified domicile laws making an unspecified number of outsiders eligible for residency and jobs.
According to the new law, any person who has lived in the region for 15 years, or has studied in the region for seven years and passed his class 10 or class 12 examination is eligible for domicile certificate.
Also, children of Indian government employees who have served in the state for 10 years are eligible to settle and claim local residency rights. The law applies even if the children have never lived in Kashmir.
Out of 66, top bureaucrats serving in the region, 38 are outsiders belonging to other Indian states. Many other outsiders serve in various central government institutions like banks, post offices telecommunication facilities, security institutions, and universities.
‘Disastrous’ for the region
Khurram Parvez, a human rights activist based in Srinagar, said the move was “disastrous’ for the whole region.
“It appears government is in some kind of hurry. Within weeks so many people applied,” he told Al Jazeera.
Kashmiri politicians across the divide have said the revocation of special citizenship rights was aimed at reversing the Muslim majority character of the region, which is now directly ruled from New Delhi.
The local legislature, which was directly elected by the people, was suspended in the wake of the scrapping of Article 370 last year.
“All our misgivings about the new domicile rules in J&K are coming to the fore,” tweeted Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, which was earlier a state and now a federally administered region.
Omar was jailed following the removal of the region’s autonomy in August last year along with most prominent Kashmiri leaders who opposed the stripping of the region’s special status by the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was released almost eight months later, in March.
“We in @JKNC_ [Jammu and Kasmir National Conference] opposed the changes because we could see the nefarious design behind the changes. The people of J&K on both sides of the Pir Panjal mountains will be the sufferers of these domicile rules,” he tweeted on Friday.
But the Indian government says the move to change the status of Kashmir was done to integrate the Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country in order to bring development.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity, a government official said, since May 18, when the rules were notified, 33,000 people had applied for the domicile certificates. Out of them, 25,000 people have been granted residency rights, he said.
Most certificates issued in Jammu region
As many as 32,000 applications were filed in 10 districts of the Hindu majority Jammu region in the south. The highest number of 8,500 certificates has been issued in the Doda district, which has a delicate demographic balance, with Muslims comprising 53.81 percent and Hindus 45.76 percent.
Up to 6,213 domicile certificates have been issued in Rajouri district, which has 62.71 percent Muslim population. Authorities have distributed 6,123 residency certificates in Poonch, a border district comprising 90.44 percent Muslim population.
In the Kashmir region, which is about 96.4 percent Muslim population, 435 certificates have been issued so far, out of the total 720 applications.
As of now, it is not clear how many outsiders, like Choudhary, have been issued domicile certificates. The 25,000 new citizens also include Hindu refugees, who had settled in the region at the time of partition of the sub-continent in 1947. They had migrated from territories, now part of Pakistan. But due to Kashmir’s residency laws and special status they were not granted local residency rights.
Parvez, the human rights activist, said the local government, which takes orders from New Delhi, has threatened to penalise officials Rs 50,000 ($660) if a domicile certificate is not issued within stipulated 14 days, adding that it would be difficult to verify the claims of applicants within such a short period.
“If you compare it with northeastern state of Assam, [where the ruling Bharatiya Janata party] BJP [government] wants every application to be scrutinised by officers,” Parvez told Al Jazeera, referring to the state where nearly two million people were left out of a 2019 citizenship list.
“[In Assam] people also had the right to object to anyone’s application. But here neither officers nor anyone else has a right to object to domicile right,” he said.
“The government has already warned those who oppose will have to go to the jail.” Parvez said people were not in support of the law but cannot oppose “under the pressure of gun and state violence”.
“It will only complicate conflict and make things ugly,” he said.
Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir, called Aksai Chin, is also held by China.
Currently, India and China are engaged in a deadly border standoff since the beginning of May. On June 15, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in border fights, creating the worst tensions between Beijing and New Delhi in nearly 50 years.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars – in 1947, 1965, and 1971. Two of them have been over Kashmir.
Kashmiri rebel groups have been fighting for independence or unification with neighbouring Pakistan. They enjoy broad-based popularity in the Kashmir valley.
According to several human rights organisations, thousands of people have been killed since 1989, when India sent tens of thousands of troops to the region to quell the armed rebellion.
Continue Reading…

Continue Reading

clashes

Kashmir clashes continue for third day over killing of top rebel

Anti-India protests and clashes have continued for a third day on Friday in Indian-administered Kashmir following the killing of a top rebel leader by government forces. The Hizbul Mujahideen group’s commander Riyaz Naikoo and three other rebels were killed in a gunfight with Indian troops on Wednesday in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district, leading to massive…

Kashmir clashes continue for third day over killing of top rebel

Anti-India protests and clashes have continued for a third day on Friday in Indian-administered Kashmir following the killing of a top rebel leader by government forces.
The Hizbul Mujahideen group’s commander Riyaz Naikoo and three other rebels were killed in a gunfight with Indian troops on Wednesday in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district, leading to massive clashes in several places.
Naikoo, 35, was the chief of operations of Hizbul Mujahideen, the disputed region’s largest rebel group, which has spearheaded an armed rebellion against the Indian rule.
More:

Indian troops kill top Kashmir rebel commander Riyaz Naikoo

AP’s Kashmir photographers win Pulitzer for lockdown coverage

Starmer changes Corbyn’s Kashmir stand as he woos British Indians

The clashes continued on Friday as anti-India protesters threw stones at the government forces, who fired shotgun pellets and tear gas to quell the spiralling protests.
At least one man has been killed and 50 others injured in the three days of clashes, residents and medics said. Most of the injured were treated locally.
Medic: People hit with pellets in eyes
However, at least a dozen people with bullet and pellet injuries were taken to a hospital in Srinagar, the region’s main city, for treatment, a doctor said on condition of anonymity because medics have been barred from briefing the news media.
She said most of the injured had been hit by pellet guns in one or both eyes.
Residents said government forces swooped into Naikoo’s native village on Thursday and accused them of vandalising a tent that villagers had set up for mourning his death, triggering large protests and clashes.
Authorities did not hand over the bodies of the slain rebels to their families under a new government policy designed to thwart large-scale funerals that have become a rallying point for anti-India protests.
Instead, police buried the bodies in a mountainous graveyard about 100km (62 miles) from the village. 
Authorities have shut down mobile phone and internet services since Wednesday, a common Indian tactic in the region when such protests erupt.
They also imposed a near-total information blackout and refused to brief media about the situation. 
Hindu-majority India imposed similar measures in 2019 when it revoked the predominantly Muslim region’s semi-autonomous status and statehood and imposed direct federal rule.
At that time, it launched a months-long total communication blackout and an unprecedented military crackdown in the strife-torn region.

Release of Kashmiri prisoners urged amid virus outbreak

Indian security officials and some members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party called Naikoo’s death a major victory against the rebels.
He was Hizbul Mujahideen’s top commander for almost eight years and shot into prominence during a 2016 public uprising following the killing of the group’s charismatic leader, Burhan Wani.
After Wani’s death, Naikoo helped give new life to the rebellion in Indian-administered Kashmir, with security officials saying he was the most wanted Kashmiri rebel.
India has stepped up its counterinsurgency operations across the region in recent months during the coronavirus lockdown.
The rebels have also continued their attacks on the government forces and alleged informants. 
India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the region in its entirety.
Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
Most Kashmiris deeply resent Indian rule and support the rebels’ call for the territory to be united, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
Continue Reading…

Continue Reading

Trending