LONDON: Prominent writers and academics as well as journalists, artists, students, doctors and concerned citizens from the UK and abroad have issued a joint statement condemning Indian “barbarity” in Kashmir.
The letter, signed by dozens of well-known public figures and academics, expresses solidarity with the people of Indian held Kashmir who are “under attack from the Indian occupational forces”. The letter has been generated following the horrific events of the last few weeks which have seen over 60 Kashmiri civilians being killed by the Indian forces and Kashmiri youth protesting against Indian occupation.
According to the organisers, over 900 signatures have been collected in less than 48 hours. Those who have signed the letter include from all nationalities, countries and religions.
Several Kashmiri origin academics feature in the list of signatories, including many from the UK and USA. The signatories include Professor Noam Chomsky, MIT, USA; Professor Barbara Harris-White, Emeritus, Oxford University, UK; Professor Bobby Banerjee, Cass Business School, UK; Professor Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University, UK; Professor S Sayyid, University of Leeds, UK; Professor Raza Mir, William Paterson University, USA; Basharat Peer, Writer, Kashmir; Dr Gholam Khiabany, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK; Dr Meena Dhanda, University of Wolverhampton, UK; Dr Ravinder Kaur, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Amrit Wilson, South Asia Solidarity Group, UK; Mudasir Ahmad Yatoo, Doctoral Research, Imperial College London, UK; Fatimah Kanth, SOAS, London, UK; and dozens of others.
The signatories say they are “deeply concerned about the armed violence perpetrated by the Indian state through its 700,000 strong army on civilians in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir” since the 8th of July 2016. “More than 50 people have been killed on the pretext of crowd control since then. More than a 100 eye surgeries have been performed. We don’t know yet how many will be partially or totally blinded by the use of pellet guns. Pellet guns shoot over 500 small lead balls and thus severely injure multiple protesters at once. Children as young as a 3-year-old have been injured inside their houses, alongside more than 3,500 civilians—many of them in critical condition.”
The letter says that the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Kashmir currently is not a one off. “It has been an integral part of how India continues to rule over Kashmir. Such events have repeatedly occurred throughout the past three decades, with India continuing to look away from the writing on the wall. The current protests, and those in the three bloody summers of 2008-10, only reflect the resilience of the Kashmiri people and their demand for right to self-determination, which not only is guaranteed by UNSC resolutions but was also promised by the Indian Parliament in 1948.”
The letter condemns India in strongest terms for its actions. “We condemn the systematic violence used by Indian armed forces in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, and we demand an immediate end to this state terrorism against civilians. We, furthermore, demand that Indian government communicate with Kashmiris, rather than considering it a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. We also call on world leaders and human rights organisations to unequivocally condemn the siege of Kashmir and the ensuing war crimes and human rights violations by India’s security forces.