Several students and alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have written to the Narendra Modi-led government against the “brutalisation” of Kashmir and Kashmiris. They have demanded immediate restoration of communication and mobile services in the valley, release of “political prisoners”, among others.
The statement reads, “ The eight million people of the Kashmir valley have been under lockdown for more than two months now. Mobile phones and internet services have been shut down, and hardly any news is allowed to escape from the valley.
The mainstream Indian media has been repeating the statements handed out by the Indian government, and the information blackout is almost total. The international media, on the other hand, has covered protests as well as recorded violence over the last two months. Reports of mass arrests, tortures and encounters have also filtered through.”
The letter which is being circulated by Sharjeel Imam, an IITian, claims that it has been signed by over 170 students and alumni.
It further talks about arrests of politicians, Kashmiris being brought to prisons in the state of Uttar Pradesh and other states, universities and schools being non-functional. The letter focusses on the problems being faced in the healthcare segment.
“The health system and hospitals have been suffering from a shortage of medicines as well as unavailability of the internet and the condition of pregnant women has been particularly critical. The unavailability of sanitary napkins has also created problems,” reads the statement.
Also, it talks about “violent attacks” on Kashmiri students across different campuses which is hampering their freedom of speech. It also criticises the government’s move to impose shutdown of internet and mobile services.
“The fact that the government has to snap internet and mobile services for a whole population in order to maintain ‘normalcy’ is an ominous sign for our society. Such a move is simply unacceptable in a democracy where the power lies with the people,” reads the statement.
Restrictions were first imposed across Kashmir on 5 August when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
The restrictions were lifted in phases from many parts of the Valley as the situation improved over time.
However, the authorities have been imposing restrictions in vulnerable areas of the Valley every Friday, apprehending that vested interests might exploit the large gatherings at big mosques and shrines to fuel protests, PTI reported.
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