Article: Terrible time in Kashmir!

Humayun Aziz Sandeela

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, India has exploited the circumstances to accelerate the pace of its colonization project in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) thus increasing the miseries of the people of the occupied territory manifold. On the pretext of COVID lockdown imposed in the territory, India continues to carry out its repressive police in the occupied territory killing, maiming innocent civilians, and above all denying proper medical care to the people of the occupied territory at the time of pandemic.

The occupation authorities on April 29 imposed a curfew in 11 districts in the name of controlling the surge in COVID-19 cases. The curfew was later extended to all districts till May 31.

Be it geographical, demographical, identical, religious, traditional, educational, economical or administrative areas one and all aspects of Kashmir’s distinct identity are being eroded in an imperialistic and systematic manner using different coercive measures like threat, bribe, intimidation arrests, dismissals and so on.  Shunning the norms of humanity, India not only stopped supply of COVID-19 vaccine to the occupied territory but it also diverted the allocated medical stocks to other Indian cities. The criminal attitude of the Indian government in blocking vaccine supplies came at a time when the Valley witnessed the highest spike in COVID deaths and positive cases ever since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020. The “evolving” virus strengthened by the day, and Modi-led Baharatya Janata Party government’s ignorance of its nature gave the virus ample space to grow and spread in the occupied territory where vaccination is scarce and medicines unavailable.

As reported by the Indian Express, Indian Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also admitted the fact the “permanent” solution to fight the virus was vaccination, and the reason behind India’s poor COVID performance was because New Delhi had “no vaccination strategy”. Although Mr Gandhi was able to portray the reality in main cities and rural areas of India the thing he forgot to mention was the occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir which is facing step-motherly treatment from the Hindutva regime during the pandemic.

On one hand crippling the occupied territory through strict restrictions and denial of medical assistance, there seems to be no end to violent cordon and search operations (CASOs) when IIOJK was facing a humanitarian crisis because of COVID wave. The Indian atrocities had left 281 Kashmiris dead from March 2020 when the first COVID case was detected in the territory till May 2021. Vowing to continue with its repressive measures, Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh in a media interaction in Kulgam district on May 28, forewarned of more cordon and search operations (CASOs) in the territory that he claimed have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apart from facing persistent health hazards, Kashmiris have been facing a double whammy of unemployment and rising food prices that have crippled them economically. Since August 2019, the incomes of people associated with the informal sector, consisting of low wage workers have dwindled sharply due to a major job loss wave. Nothing was done to support them in time of need which is also the worst form of repression and pain inflicted upon the COVID-hit populace of the occupied territory. At a time when the occupied territory is grappling with pandemic, the unrestricted inflow of non-Kashmiri labourers on one hand is a major reason for the spread of coronavirus and on the other a cause of concern for the locals who are unable to find work.

The devastation caused by the lockdown on the Kashmir economy, and on human lives, is stupendous and massive. Considering the fact that accurate data is usually unavailable in occupied Kashmir, we can safely believe that conditions are much worse than as reported.

One shudders to think what hell most common Kashmiris are going through. Many are on the verge of starvation with their families. We are mostly in the dark about all this, as the media in India is busier in reporting politics, lives of film stars and cricketers, it does not ordinarily condescend to report such sordid facts and details and that too about the occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

It is a terrible time in occupied Kashmir!

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