KATHMANDU, Aug 17: Eminent personalities from various South Asian countries have expressed their deep concerns over the ongoing tension in Jammu and Kashmir.
Issuing a press statement on Friday, 251 personalities including Veena Das, Partha Chatterjee, A.S. Panneerselvan, Ayesha Jalal, Shahidul Alam, Kul Chandra Gautam, Gyanendra Pandey, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, M.V. Ramana, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Zia Mian, Sofia Karim, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Martha Nussbaum, and Sheldon Pollock, said they were deeply concerned by the recent political developments in Jammu and Kashmir.
They stated that they express solidarity with all freedom-loving citizens of this region. "We are deeply concerned by recent political developments in Jammu and Kashmir. We are distraught that the people of this beleaguered land, who have lived with violence and political disempowerment for decades, have now been subjected to further erosion of their rights under the intensified military suppression of the last ten days," read the statement.
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution represented a historical understanding between the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian state, the statement added.
"On 5 August 2019, not only was Article 370 abrogated, but the very statehood of Jammu and Kashmir was abolished, bringing the region under New Delhi’s direct rule. The manner, in which these abrogations were accomplished, through executive order and in the absence of a state legislature, is a betrayal of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, whose elected representatives were never consulted. This is a sharp departure from democratic
governance and the constitutional validity of these decisions have been rightfully challenged," the statement said.
The eminent personalities condemned the curtailment of civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir: the blackout of telecommunications and internet services; the severe restrictions on media and the freedoms of movement, peaceful assembly, and protest; and the violent suppression of demonstrations.
"These are all violations of international human rights obligations, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which India ratified in 1979," the statement observed.
In their statement, the scholars, artists, activists, and others stated that they are alarmed by credible media reports of security forces have opened fire on peaceful protestors and disturbed by the denials issued by the authorities, who have gone on to accuse journalists of fabrication.
The eminent personalities have expressed concern over the Government of India's silencing of voices of dissent, and detention of social activists, lawyers, journalists, and human rights defenders.
"We condemn the Government of India's use of majoritarian populism to perpetuate a climate of fear across the country," read the statement.
The aforementioned actions of the Government of India exhibit a complete lack of respect for constitutionalism, secularism, and democratic values, the statement said.
"This does not bode well for India's people, who have, uniquely in South Asia, benefited from decades of democratic rule. We are apprehensive of India’s future as a democracy and the implications that this degeneration will have on its population of 1.2 billion as well as the rest of the subcontinent," read the statement.
The eminent personalities also urged theGovernment of India to immediately end the inhuman clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir, to restore civil liberties as well as the flow of information, to immediately release all political detainees and prisoners, and to enter into dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
"In the middle of August, when we are meant to celebrate independence from colonialism, we condemn this regression towards the despotic rule. We stand in solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and with people across India and South Asia who aspire to peace, prosperity, and fundamental freedoms," the statement added.