US magazine refutes Indian media’s claims about IOK situation » Kashmir Media Service

Islamabad, December 04 (KMS): While Indian government and media was claiming that everything was normal in occupied Kashmir, the US weekly magazine, the New Yorker, brought to fore the real facts about the ground situation of the territory.

The New Yorker’s reporters, Dexter Filkins and Rana Ayyub, visited Srinagar in disguise days after Narendra Modi-led Indian government revoked the special status of occupied Kashmir on August 5, this year, and placed the territory under military siege and communications blockade.

“Even from a moving car, it was clear that the reality in Kashmir veered starkly from the picture in the mainstream Indian press. Soldiers stood on every street corner. Machine-gun nests guarded intersections, and shops were shuttered on each block. Apart from the military presence, the streets were lifeless. At Khanqah-e-Muala, the city’s magnificent eighteenth-century mosque, Friday prayers were banned. Schools were closed. Cell-phone and Internet service was cut off,” they said in a report.

Dexter Filkins and Rana Ayyub said that they saw that around thirty injured persons with bullet injuries were brought to a hospital in Srinagar. They said that personnel of Indian agencies were moving around in the hospital premises.

The reporters also visited Pulwama where people had to face the wrath of Indian troops following an attack on Indian Army convey in which over 40 Indian soldiers were killed. Shabbir Ahmed, the proprietor of a local bakery, told them that an armored vehicle rumbled up to his home just past midnight one night. A dozen soldiers from the Rashtriya Rifles rushed out and began smashing his windows. When Ahmed and his two sons came outside, he said, the soldiers hauled the young men into the street and began beating them. “I was screaming for help, but nobody came out,” Ahmed said. “Everyone was too afraid.”

One of Ahmed’s sons, Muzaffar, said that the soldiers had been enraged by young people who threw rocks at their patrols. He said that he and his brother, Ali, were taken to a local base, where the soldiers shackled them to chairs and beat them with bamboo rods. “They kept asking me, ‘Do you know any stone throwers?’ and I kept saying I don’t know any, but they kept beating me,” he told the reporters.

Muzaffar said that when he fainted, a soldier attached electrodes to his legs and stomach and jolted him with an electrical current. Muzaffar rolled up his pants to reveal patches of burned skin on the back of his leg. It went on like that for some time, he said: he would pass out, and when he regained consciousness the beating started again. “My body was going into spasms,” he told the reporters, and began to cry.

After Muzaffar and Ali were released, their father took them to the local hospital. “They have broken my bones,” Muzaffar said. “I can no longer prostrate myself before God.”

The Kashmiris we met felt trapped, their voices stifled, the New Yorker reporters said.

They said that many Kashmiris refuse to accept Indian occupation and some recall the promise, made by the United Nations in 1948, that a plebiscite would determine the future of Jammu and Kashmir. “Kashmir was assigned special status – enshrined in Article 370. For the most part, those powers have never been realized,” they said.

“As Ayyub and I drove around Kashmir, it seemed unclear how the Indian government intended to proceed. Economic activity had ground to a halt. Schools were closed. Kashmiris were cut off from the outside world and from one another,” wrote Dexter Filkins, who wrote the report.

“We are overwhelmed by cases of depression,” a physician in Srinagar told us.

Many Kashmiris warned that an explosion was likely the moment the security measures were lifted.

“Modi is doing what he did in Gujarat twenty years ago, when he ran a tractor over the Muslims there,” a woman named Dushdaya told us.

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