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Military lockdown and Pandemic: A new threat to occupied Kashmir

Kashmir Valley is one of the 40 territorial conflict zones in the world.

At the start of 2020, when the world was struggling with the idea of a complete lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kashmiris already had gotten used to it. They were fearful and confined in their homes in a lockdown enforced upon them, long before the Coronavirus spread in India. 

A lockdown that started on August 5, 2019, in occupied Kashmir has been far worse than the lockdown due to Coronavirus worldwide. The cause of this inhumane act by the Indian government roots back to the time of partition and now the Covid-19 pandemic makes it worse. Even the severe humanitarian crises such as the Covid-19 could not compel the Indian government to end its brutality and violence.

Background of the Military Lockdown 

Kashmiris had the autonomic status until recently when the Indian government intruded. They had the right to own properties and obtain government jobs. The Indian government had barely any power to be able to form laws here until August of 2019.

When Kashmir lost its status, India deployed troops to cope with the locals who were reacting furiously for depriving them of their region’s autonomy. This was followed by a curfew that was held for seven months. During that time, there were many skirmishes between the troops and locals opposing the move by India. All forms of communication services were disconnected, including the internet and phone lines. 

A few undaunted local reporters were able to convey the events to the world. This raised international awareness about the illegal moves of the Indian army for severely violating human rights. Many reporters have been jailed to break the lockdown to cover the events.

From January, almost 107 raids were executed on Kashmiris territories and neighborhoods in ‘cordon and search operation. Using explosives and other means of destruction have led to many civilians becoming homeless.

Finally, in March 2020, organizations working for human rights like Internet Freedom Foundation and Amnesty International made India’s efforts to restore Internet connection services partially in Kashmir.

The Indian government is opening tourist sites and inviting more of their natives to reside in Kashmir, making the locals lose their majority bit by bit. 

There is only one apparent reason behind this step. It will become easier for them to take full possession of this State in the near future.

Lockdown over Lockdown – Kashmir in Covid-19 Pandemic

Being only recently reconnected to the world due to human rights organizations’ efforts, the Covid-19 pandemic made the government impose a lockdown over a lockdown. 

Now the citizens of Indian occupied Kashmir are facing a strict lockdown because of the Coronavirus. Only people with passes of permission are allowed to go outdoors, that too at the risk of being taken into custody by the troops. 

It is reported that even Doctors are harassed to go to work, especially in these critical times when there is already a shortage of medical staff in that region. 

There has been a constant disconnection of the already poor internet connection provided by India in Kashmir. There have been reports that only 2G internet services are available which barely exist in the world anymore. There have been network disconnections 55 times by Indian authorities, after March of 2020. 

This has led to obstructions in controlling Covid-19 in Kashmir. This also causes a delay for doctors to access emerging treatments for the Coronavirus and its guidelines.

People who already had less access to need-based resources are now struggling to get basic necessities like water and food. Kashmiris are used to stockpiling essentials during the harsh winters, but that too seems impossible this year. Coronavirus is a far more dangerous threat for the people because of their vulnerability. Medicines and other resources are also scarce.

With doctors not notified about the Virus treatments and guidelines on time, the hope of controlling the situation in Kashmir is reducing every day. So far, the Virus has taken more than 140 lives in Kashmir as of June 30.

This shows that the Indian army has been a more significant threat to Kashmiris than the Virus itself for the past six months. The Indian army in Kashmir has not hesitated while taking the lives of more than 220 civilians in a short time. 

Indian attempts to take possession of Kashmir did not slow down even after being hit by a global pandemic.

An organization for supporting natives of Kashmir called STAND WITH KASHMIR blamed India for depriving Kashmir of human rights and democratic rights. They are letting the Virus destroy the remains of the already weakened lives of the people. 

If India continues its agenda, it could be a severe threat to the people of Kashmir. They have been fighting for their independence since 1947. They have seen that there is no way of people to decide for the future of their land. They are being deprived of fundamental human rights, let alone a right to vote for their land.

Where Do The People of Kashmir Stand in the Tale of Lockdowns?

In the tale of two lockdowns, Kashmiris are fighting two separate battles, each being tougher than the other. If Kashmir is kept under lockdown, the strategy of India to completely wipe out the Muslim majority seems to be successful in the near future, 

While social distancing was already a part of their daily routine, Kashmir people are being treated inhumanely even during the global health crises 2020. The guns and bomb blasts would surely kill the innocent Kashmiris if the deadly pandemic does not. 

It is high time that the international community should pressurize India to lift the military lockdown. Kashmiris should be provided basic medical and health facilities in the pandemic, like India’s rest. It is their fundamental right, and no one should be able to deprive them of that.

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