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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 37 New Delhi August 31, 2019

New India’s ‘sanitised’ concentration camps

Saturday 31 August 2019

by Mustafa Khan

The acerbic tweet of PM Narendra Modi from France and the meeting of G-7 is indicative of what he has made of the Kashmir Valley. What man has made of man! “Leaders from Opposition who shared stage with Tukde Tukde gang member Shehla Rashid now headed to Kashmir to make political capital when J&K needs peace and calm above petty politics! Well Rahul Gandhi must take Adhir Ranjan Chowdhry so he can show him ‘concentration camps’ in JK.” From the meeting place of the richer nations of Europe it may be possible that the cluster of shops in Khan market of Delhi and JNU appear “Tukde Tuke gang” and plausibly Kashmir Valley as the Auschwitz concentration camp what with how the Kashmiris have been reduced (since August 5, 2019) to the likes of the emasculated Jews in the racks of the famous Nazi camp!

According to the leading journal of allopathy, Lancet, the Kashmiris had ranked higher than the rest of the Indians in their standard of health till then. However, the treatment of disease by conventional means, that is, with drugs having effects opposite to the symptoms, may be efficacious for some but for the Kashmiris Modi has not been successful in diagnosing the pathological condition of the people in the Valley. Pellet guns and more rigorous curfew and lockdown do not cure but exacerbate the condition of the people in their humble dwellings of the Valley. However the “continued use of excessive force against civilians—for example, the use of pellet-firing shotguns has led to 1253 people being blinded between 2016 and 2018.

Despite decades of instability, developmental indicators suggest that Kashmir is doing well compared with the rest of India. In 2016, life expectancy was 68·3 years for men and 71·8 years for women, which are greater than the respective national averages. However, the protracted exposure to violence has led to a formidable mental health crisis. A Médecins Sans Frontières study in two rural districts affected by conflict stated that nearly half of Kashmiris rarely felt safe and of those who had lost a family member to violence, one in five had witnessed death firsthand. Therefore, it is unsurprising that people in the region have increased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi vows that his decision to revoke autonomy will bring prosperity to Kashmir. But first, the people of Kashmir need healing from the deep wounds of this decades-old conflict, not subjugation to further violence and alienation.”1

The Aaj Tak video covering the arrival of journalists and Opposition leaders, portrays another horrifying picture unfolding. “Why are you pushing me, ...attacked us the moment we arrived at airport, I was attacked by 5,” she shows bruises on her arms in the midst of the cries of pain and outrage from the women and men who were covering the scene at the JK airport.2

The fuller picture is relayed by tweets: “Cooking gas shortage has started to set in. Gas agencies are closed.”

“I am an ordinary Kashmiri. In these times, getting merely arrested is a privilege. A 65-year-old man in Srinagar died because he choked on pepper gas being used by the police. A 17-year-old boy was the first documented victim of the current crisis. What is an arrest compared to it?” “People are saying that Jammu and Kashmir Police has no authority on law and order situation. They have been rendered powerless. Everything is in the hands of paramilitary forces. One SHO was transferred on the complaint of a CRPF man. SHOs carrying batons. Service revolvers can’t be seen on them.”

“You find baby food with difficulty. People have started running out of medicines now. Supplies available so far. You find baby food with difficulty. People have started running out of medicines now.” And what has riled the Army: “Armed forces are entering houses at night, picking up boys, ransacking houses, deliberately spilling rations on the floor, mixing oil with rice, etc.”

And what was not available to the Nazis in the concentration camp is on display, as if the whole Valley has been transformed into a gigantic concentration camp instead of the barracks of Auschwitz. “In Shopian, 4 men were called into the Army camp and ‘interro-gated’ (tortured). A mic was kept close to them so that the entire area could hear them scream, and be terrorised. This created an environment of fear in the entire area.”

It is not just the Kashmir Valley which is seized with fear and panic. Indeed the minorities in the whole country and people from all communities with a modicum of sanity still with them, as well, are terrified because what was done in the aftermath of the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35 in the Valley will be repeated when the uniform civil code is enacted, next to this. No one is safe by the approach of the kala bhoot.

And lo the bhoot really arrived as shown by Republic TV when the crowd mobbed Shehla Rasheed. She cried out that the reporters and protesters were mobbing her one of them consoled her that they were not lynching her. They were. Just in the nick of time she rang up the police.

1. Lancet Editorial, August 17, 2019.

2. ‘Fear and uncertainty around Kashmir’s future’. Aaj Tak and Republic, August 24, 2019.

Mustafa Khan, who resides in Malegaon (Maharashtra), has the following blog: http://commonalty.blogspot.com

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