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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Kashmiris are Angered, Seek Pakistan’s Help & Foreign Intervention: Indian Journalist

An Indian journalist reported ground-realities from the valley, underscoring that a “volcano” of anger is ready to erupt in Kashmir once the curfew is lifted. She reported that Kashmiris are hopeful of Pakistan’s support and foreign intervention to resolve the long-standing conflict

The occupied valley of Kashmir has entered the 31st day of an unprecedented curfew, and a communications blackout, while Kashmiri journalists are being detained and harassed in a bid to put an end to the reportage of ground realities in the wake of the rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis.


Nirupama Subramanian, a senior Indian journalist, visited the valley of Kashmir from 20th August until the 25th, and upon her return, she apprised the journalist community of her findings. Nirupama addressed the need to identify the challenges created by the abrogation of Kashmir’s special constitutional status, a decision that is being widely celebrated amongst the Hindu majority of India.

Taking to Twitter in an enlightening thread, Nirupama wrote, “It’s surprising how many people believe India’s Kashmir problem is solved. The reality on the ground is entirely different, & once the fog of celebration clears, the challenges may become apparent.”

“India has no Friends in Kashmir”

Upon investigating the reaction of the Kashmiri people against the prolonged curfew and the abrogation of their special constitutional status, Subramanian revealed that Kashmiris “are angered” and India has no friends left in Kashmir.

The Indian journalist wrote, “For one, India has no friends left in Kashmir. Even those who called themselves “moderates”, those who pushed India’s case in the Valley, are angered so much that they say they have to rethink everything they stood for.”

Sharing her observations from regions of Kashmir that were once supportive of the Indian army, she wrote, “Even in North Kashmir, where the Army had built a solid relationship with people, a youth sitting in the waiting room of the office of a district’s deputy commissioner said: “The India story is over for us”. I found this sentiment voiced again and again, in many places in the Valley.”

Highlighting the sentiments of the people, Nirupama Subramanian reported that people are fearful of the Modi administration’s agenda to alter the demography of the region, the loss of the Kashmiri identity, and their special property rights.

Read more: Kashmir: A moment of Truth for the Idealists and Naysayers

She wrote, “It is not so much about Article 370 as it is about the fear of demographic change, the “loss of identity”, the loss of land rights, the loss of being “special”. The demotion of the state to a union territory has rubbed in the humiliation.”

Subramanian added, “At the time I visited, people were still shocked, stunned  by the turn of events, including the  communication blockade, now in its fifth week, which they described as a “brazen” move to cut them out of the discussion altogether.”

Describing the wave of protests that is likely to engulf the occupied valley once the curfew has been lifted, the Indian journalist said, “Flood” and “volcano” were common metaphors to describe how the anger would burst when communications are restored.”

She added, “There are two broad ways in which people expressed their anti-India response. One was typical of south Kashmir, from where the 2015 militancy began, and also of young people everywhere in the Valley.”

Support for Militancy & Pakistan

The Indian journalist underscored that her interactions across Kashmir, especially in the region of Pulwama, even those who once supported mainstream politicians, reported that India has broken the trust of Kashmiris with its unlawful decision of August 5.

She wrote, “In a Pulwama village, for instance, two students who once thought of themselves as budding political leaders, and networked ceaselessly with mainstream politicians said  India had broken what little trust it enjoyed in Kashmir.”

Narrating her interactions, Subramanian added, “Both said what had happened “will boost militancy”. While one said the only way forward was militancy, the other said he wasn’t an advocate of violence, but what happened had angered him deeply. He said: “I was never for Pakistan. You’ve pushed me into its arms”.

“In another village, people showed their “martyrs’ cemetery” – a recent one where 8 people from the 2016 agitation were buried – & said none would betray their memory.”

Sharing the ordeal of Kashmiris martyred and detained by the Indian troops, the Indian journalist continued, “There was an older one with graves from the 90s. All these people didn’t sacrifice their lives for nothing, they said. Villagers said the Army, much more visible now even by Kashmir stds, was picking up 4-5 boys every night, handing them over to cops, who would release them next day.”

Nirupama Subramanian interacted with youngsters who had been rounded up by the Indian army and subjected to torture. She said, “I met one boy who had just been released. There was a red swelling on his arm where he said he had been beaten. At a few places, the villagers had cut trees and placed them across the roads to prevent security forces from entering.”

She added, “One person alleged family members of those picked up were being asked to remove the trees as a condition of release but I asked around in the village and could not find anyone like that.”

The Indian journalist underscored that pro-Delhi sentiment is wilting away across the occupied valley of Kashmir. Subramanian wrote, “The other kind of response was from people in Srinagar. Even those who considered themselves “pro-India” are angry at their “betrayal by Delhi”.

She continued, “Among those who’d never throw stones/shout Azadi slogans, but who built middle of the road politics, supporting protests as well as held out for  accommodation with Delhi, there was shock that there was no “spontaneous uprising” on the streets in the manner of ’16.”

Underscoring the hopes of Pakistan’s role or a foreign intervention, Nirupama Subramanian reported, “They nurse the hope that Pakistan or “someone else” will “do something”. There is almost a wish for war. As one journalist put it: “The appetite for violence has grown”. There is dejection. US President Donald Trump is a hero.”

Subramanian also observed that “there is dejection that world leaders side with India.”

No Politicians to sell Delhi’s Scheme

The Indian journalist highlighted the anti-India sentiment, stating, “But if the first challenge is that virtually the entire population of the Valley has now turned anti-India, the next is that there are virtually no politicians left in the Valley who can sell Delhi’s scheme to the people.”

Highlighting the anger against Kashmiri politicians who collaborated with New Delhi, Nirupama Subramanian reported, “Anyone who offers themselves as Delhi’s face in Srinagar would have to be high on courage. People said: “Good all these leaders and politicians have been put in jail. They feathered their own nests by selling our fate to Delhi. They had it coming.”

“Hum ko chaar thappad padey, par inko bhi eik-do toh padey hain na. Achchi baat hai (We’ve been thrashed, but it’s good that these politicans have also been slapped up)”

Underscoring the repercussions of arresting mainstream Kashmiri leaders and activists, Subramanian said, “By arresting mainstream leaders, activists, lumping them with separatists, and creating a binary in which “You are with us or against us”, the government too has left virtually no political space for “collaborators”.

She added, “Because it has great resources, the government may eventually find a politician or two, or even create a new lot of leaders in the manner it found candidates to run for the 2018 Panchayat elections, to take the plan forward. But the going for them will hardly be easy.”

The Indian journalist stressed that the assertions of normalcy being restored made by Indian officials and journalists are false. She wrote, “At the moment, Kashmir is anything but normal and all assertions to the contrary, whether by officials or media, are from la-la land. True, no violent uprising, but life, even the post-2016 one that people had got used to, is paralyzed.”

She added, “There is no curfew in any part of Kashmir. There are restrictions under Sec 144 but these are loosely enforced. Except Fridays, no restrictions on mobility except for movements of large groups of people and gatherings.”

Outlining the state of curfew across the valley, Subramanian wrote, “On the highways, there were plenty of private cars on the roads. But no public transport. Markets were shut. People said it was because of a “civil curfew”, a bandh, self-imposed because there was no call for it, as the leaders who normally do that are all detained.”

Concluding her insightful thread, Nirupama Subramanian said, “The government will eventually tire out the people, but if there ever was a plan to win them over, it has become much more difficult now, if not impossible, than it was before August 5.”