The event was organised by the People's Union for Civil Liberties on International Human Rights Day. (Express Photo)
For Kashmiri rapper and actor Muazzam Bhat (26), who has been living in Mumbai for the past two months, discussions around the current situation in Kashmir is the only way forward. As he ends his rap with a dollop of optimism, he says, hopelessness is the last thing we need right now.
Bhat along with a motley group of Kashmiri artists and students from the city took part in a public meeting on the abrogation of Article 370 and the resulting human rights violation in the erstwhile state on Tuesday. The event was organised by the People's Union for Civil Liberties on International Human Rights Day.
Bhat said that he had “unwillingly moved to Mumbai” as he could not upload any content online due to an Internet “blockade”, making it difficult for him to earn a livelihood.
In Mumbai, the 26-year-old youth has been playing small roles — mostly picked to portray an Afghani national — and has written four rap songs. “I miss my home and feel a compulsion to be heard. It is as if I feel responsible to speak on behalf of my people,” he says
Quoting Rabindranath Tagore's 'Into that Heaven of Freedom, Mohammed Yunus, a poet from Kashmir, said “Today, it feels like there is no heaven, no country, and no freedom... There has been a severe loss to the economy, as per newspaper reports. There has been a loss to livelihood to those employed by companies dependent on Internet services, while Kashmiri handicrafts that usually see high orders in July and August have suffered losses. Students aspiring to take competitive exams have also lost a year due to the lack of Internet,” he said
The public meeting also saw a presentation of three reports by three groups who visited J&K in September and October, including lawyers, mental health practitioners, journalists and activists. While one of the reports quoted a high number of residents suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders, another quoted that there were over 600 habeas corpus petitions pending before the High Court.
“We visited district courts, J&K High Court, and Juvenile Justice Boards. There is a heavy military presence in courts as well...,” lawyer Lara Jesani, part of one of the groups which visited Kashmir, said.