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India One year later, Jammu and Kashmir kept under bell by New Delhi

19:37  05 august  2020
19:37  05 august  2020 Source:   liberation.fr

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A Srinagar, au Cachemire sous contrôle indien, mercredi. © Dar Yasin In Srinagar, in Kashmir under Indian control, Wednesday. Twelve months after India's abrogation of the region's autonomy statute, thousands of opponents remain in prison and the population is still under restrictions.

The scene only lasts a few seconds. It is July 30, 2019, and Saifuddin Soz, one of the leaders of the Kashmir Congress Party and former federal minister, pokes his head over the wall of his home in Srinagar, the regional capital. With a haggard air, he launched to the few journalists on the other side: "I am not allowed to leave my house, I cannot visit my daughter, I am a prisoner ..." no time to finish his sentence when a guard appears and grabs him violently, with the help of a soldier. Then cries: “Leave me alone, don't touch me!” Exclaims the 82-year-old politician.

India: in Ayodhya, Narendra Modi lays the first stone of the temple of Ram

 India: in Ayodhya, Narendra Modi lays the first stone of the temple of Ram © SANKET WANKHADE / AFP The Prime Minister has just laid the first stone of the construction of the temple of Ram, in the city of Ayodhya, in the north of the country, in the most contested place in modern Indian history. Religion and politics are united in India today. The prime minister has just laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Ram temple in the northern city of Ayodhya.

This scene illustrates the repression of the opposition that has been going on for a year in India's only predominantly Muslim region. On August 5, 2019, the federal government announces the unilateral abrogation and by presidential decree of the autonomy of the region of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), without warning or consulting local elected officials or residents, putting an end to a constitutional status that had lasted for half a century. This results in the dissolution of the J&K State, replaced by a Union Territory, administered by New Delhi through a governor he appoints, and supported by an elected assembly with limited powers.

Thousands of arrests

To prevent any violent reaction in this region shaken for thirty years by an armed separatist rebellion, New Delhi imposed extremely severe restrictions overnight: all telephone lines were cut for twenty days, mobile communications for two and a half months and thousands of activists and political leaders belonging to all the opposition parties, are arrested in a "preventive" way - 8,000 formally, according to our sources. Their opposition, presumed or confirmed, to the revocation of this status could indeed, according to New Delhi, constitute a public disorder.

Infographie : carte du Cachemire indien Computer graphics: map of Indian Kashmir

One year later, this exceptional status continues in this valley of Kashmir. "More than 1,000 people are still officially detained," said Khurram Parvez, coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Society Coalition (JKCCS). Among these people is Mehbooba Mufti, the head of the outgoing government, who until June 2018 led the coalition with the Hindu nationalist party BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party, in power in New Delhi). She is arrested under the "Public Security" law, which allows administrative detention without judicial approval for up to two years of people who "may act against state security."

Paralyzed democracy

In addition to these official arrests, there are dozens of other unregistered ones, such as that of former federal minister Saifuddin Soz, whose only fault would be to disagree with the repeal of the autonomy of its region. "The government no longer stops those who oppose India [the separatists, note] but those who oppose the BJP and its ideological project. It violates their right to have an opinion, and therefore it is illegal, ”says Khurram Parvez. This crackdown decapitated all the local political elite who favored dialogue with New Delhi, preventing the election of a new representative assembly. “Normally, a resident can turn to their MP when they feel they are suffering an injustice,” said Ajai Sahni, director of the Institute for conflict management in New Delhi. Now that democratic process no longer exists. There are only two options left for the Kashmiris: shut up or take up arms. ”

The government claims to have abrogated the autonomy of Kashmir to rule out corrupt political dynasties and bring people "the peace and development experienced in the rest of India". According to the army, clashes with militants have declined for six months - following a trend observed previously - but residents, themselves, still suffer from the restrictions: the slowness of the internet, recently restored to 3G only, prevents young people to study normally and businesses to prosper, for example. "If it was for our good, why didn't they ask our advice? If it was for development, why have to suppress all opposition? enraged Mariyeh Mushtaq, a young researcher from Srinagar. The government is just trying to subdue the people of Kashmir by force. "

India: in Ayodhya, Narendra Modi lays the first stone of the temple of Ram .
© SANKET WANKHADE / AFP The Prime Minister has just laid the first stone of the construction of the temple of Ram, in the city of Ayodhya, in the north of the country, in the most contested place in modern Indian history. Religion and politics are united in India today. The prime minister has just laid the foundation stone for the construction of the Ram temple in the northern city of Ayodhya.

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