CHANDIGARH: Giving a resounding clarion call to India’s wider citizenry that believes in Constitutional values and democratic principles, a widely attended conclave of region’s activists, intellectuals, academicians, religious and political leaders demanded immediate roll back of Modi government’s move on Article 370, restoration of Art 35 A and statehood status to Jammu and Kashmir, and an end to the regime of atrocities on common populace of the Valley.
The gathering expressed complete solidarity with the Kashmiri people and resolved to send a delegation to the Valley to meet all stakeholders and the leadership of the Kashmiri people to express solidarity.
The gathering expressed serious concern about the relentless march of unabashed majoritarianism , led from the front by the Amit Shah-Narendra Modi duo and their brute majority in Parliament that still has the EVM cloud hanging over it. It also made clear its disappointment with the cowardly stances of major political parties in the Opposition on this issue.
"It signifies the failure of the Indian democracy. While the Kashmiris are being denied even the political avenues for protest, the same could also be the fate of other minorities very soon, or of anyone standing up for constitutional liberties,” various speakers said.
Former Punjab Assembly Speaker Bir Devinder Singh said the people in Kashmir are virtually under house arrest even as the state is flinching in even calling it a curfew. "Activists and pictures from the Valley have called the government's bluff, but vast sections of the media, used to baying for blood and calling it nationalism, is claiming normalcy,” he said.
Giani Kewal Singh, the former jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, said the Sikhs have a great historical legacy of fighting against repressive regimes and they will not be found wanting in standing up for their brethren in Kashmir who are today facing the brunt of the Brahamanical state.
Castigating the BJP for its failure to censure some of its responsible leaders, including a chief minister, for openly coveting the land and women of Kashmir, Prof Manjit Singh said the use of outrageous and despicable language against Kashmiri women and threats to Kashmiri students across India betray the real mindset of those who are claiming to have integrated Kashmir by abrogating Art 370.
"On the one hand, India wants to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, but on the other, it is now forced to explain the repression let loose on Kashmiris and the uninterrupted series of lynchings in the same Security Council,” the gathering said.
"India today stands in breach of faith. The Centre has damaged the compact between Kashmir and the rest of India. The state has been broken into two, and reduced to Union Territories. Humiliation is being peddled as integration,” said senior lawyer Amar Singh Chahal.
"Humongous political decisions regarding Kashmir were taken after arresting or detaining hundreds of top leaders and grass- root workers. Even days later, New Delhi is afraid of allowing the Kashmir people to step out of their homes, thus justifying all the violence that non-State actors indulged in the past,” said Jaspal Singh Sidhu, senior journalist who covered the militancy in Punjab for years.
The Centre’s move has weakened the liberal voices across the turf and may lead to radicalisation in the rest of the country, Gurtej Singh, IAS (Retd), said.
Kanwaljit Singh, a CPI (ML) leader, said when politics is reduced to just raw power and the rulers free themselves of any constraints of law, liberty and morality, then democracy becomes a tragic joke. "It is disappointing to see even the Indian legal system abdicating its responsibility to protect the letter or the spirit of the Constitutional liberties,” said Dr Piare Lal Garg, social activist and former Registrar of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences.
A resolution passed by the gathering said any meaningful politics in Kashmir is now only possible if Article 35-A and Article 370 are restored, political prisoners are released and politics replaces jackboots.
"The sick cannot access treatment, the children cannot go to school, the youth cannot hang out together, the elderly cannot venture out, the women cannot go about their daily chores, the infants cannot have enough milk, people cannot buy vegetables, the poor and daily wagers cannot find work, the traders cannot open their shops, the girls cannot ride a bicycle to the next street. One can be shot to death for even making any such attempt, and the government says it is all for the benefit of Kashmir. This state of affairs must end immediately,” said Chanchal Manohar Singh, an India Pakistan peace activist.
PUCL National Organising Secretary, Advocate Arjun Sheoran said the Centre's move on Kashmir must be seen in the larger matrix of a plethora of laws, starting with the controversial National Investigation Agency Act, 2019 that gives New Delhi sweeping powers and intrudes into the domain of the states, thus chipping away at federal principles. The UAPA Amendment Bill, the Biotechnology Bill, the Aadhaar Amendment Bill, the Industrial Employment (Standing orders) Central (Amendment) Rules, 2018, the Code on Wages Bill, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the Triple Talaq Bill, and several other pieces of legislation that either violate the spirit of federalism, or have been passed without due scrutiny of the Parliamentary bodies.
Various speakers expressed deep concern at how the state has now inversed the very principle of jurisprudence – it can declare anyone a terrorist, and the onus to prove that one is not a terrorist will be on the person thus declared as Enemy of the State.
It is time the concerned citizenry took note of the majoritarian streak in Indian polity edging out the progressive, liberal view point and threatening minorities, tribals, dalits, women and the marginalised, speakers said.
Among others who spoke were Rajinder Singh Khalsa of Khalsa Panchayat, Dr Kuldeep Puri of Panjab University, Balwant Singh Khera of Socialist Party and Omkar Singh, samajwadi neta from Lucknow.
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