(Released in Srinagar on 13 August 2019)
WE unequivocally condemn the decision of the Modi Government to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A, dissolve the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcate it into two Union Territories. We especially condemn the fact that this was done while holding the people and political leadership of Jammu & Kashmir captive and silenced.
We decided to visit Jammu and Kashmir at this time in solidarity with its people. Our visit began on 9th August and ends on 13th August. We found the Kashmir Valley silenced and desolated by curfew, and bristling with Indian military and paramilitary presence.
Even as people expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India freely, they extended warmth and unstinting hospitality to us. We are deeply moved by this.
The claims of 'normalcy' being peddled by sections of the Indian media are utterly false. Even on the day of Eid, there was curfew and enhanced military/paramilitary deployment all over the Kashmir Valley. As a result, there was widespread fear rather than festivities.
In India, Left parties, National Alliance of People's Movements, trade unions, student organizations, women's organizations, civil society organizations, and many other citizens have been out in the streets protesting in solidarity with the Kashmiri people. The first protests took place in Delhi and elsewhere within hours of the Government's proclamation of its decision, on 5 August itself. On 7 August, protests took place all over India, in every major Indian city as well as dozens of small towns.
The whole of Jammu and Kashmir is, at the moment, a prison, under military control. We state that, as Indian citizens, we vehemently oppose the Government of India's treatment of Jammu and Kashmir and its people. We assert that any decision about the status or future of Jammu and Kashmir that is taken against the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, is immoral, as well as unconstitutional and illegal.
We will release a detailed report of our visit at a Press Conference in Delhi.
We demand the immediate restoration of Articles 370 and 35A
We assert that no decision about the status or future of J&K should be taken without the will of its people
We demand that communications - including landline telephones, mobile phones and internet be restored with immediate effect.
We demand that the gags on the freedom of speech, expression and protest be lifted from J&K with immediate effect. The people of J&K are anguished - and they must be allowed to express their protest through media, social media, public gatherings and other peaceful means.
We demand that the gags on journalists in J&K be lifted immediately
Jean Drèze, economist
Kavita Krishnan, All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA)
Maimoona Mollah, All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA)
Vimal, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM)