‘Our identity has been taken away’: Life in Kashmir after a year of crisis | Kashmir

F.Or last year, Fayyaz Telgami’s poetry says nothing but loss: the lost home, the lost language, the lost world. We have lost our existence. It has been taken away from us, “said the 70-year-old Kashmiri poet.” His voice is full of grief.

One year ago, on August 5, 2019, the Government of India, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, repealed Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. For nearly 70 years, this time the disputed, majority Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir has been given semi-autonomous status, with special powers over matters such as jobs and housing. After independence in 1947, Kashmir was given special status in return for joining the Indian Union.

In one fell swoop, everything changed. With a swift presidential order, the Himalayan region was brought under the complete control of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and divided into two central territories, unlike any other Indian state. Its politicians were imprisoned, phone service was suspended, An Internet blackout was imposed and thousands of Indian troops moved into the region to enforce a crackdown, which has not yet been completely reduced. Journalists reporting on the situation in Kashmir are being questioned and arrested under anti-terrorism laws.

“It is not only our land but also our identity that has been looted,” Telgami said. He described the repeal of Article 370 as a “catastrophe” that left the entire region paralyzed. “Our tongues, our pens have been shut,” said Telgami.

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The Modi government justified the repeal of Article 370 on the grounds that economic prosperity would bring economic prosperity to the region, open it up to foreign investment, and eliminate Pakistan-backed militants. Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that the repeal of Article 370 had closed the door to terrorism.

Yet the people of Kashmir have found themselves in the region much more unstable, unstable and economically weak than ever before. The effects of the crackdown, especially the six-month Internet shutdown, caused huge economic losses and unemployment, and the Kashmiri economy suffered an estimated 3 5.3 billion (4 4 billion) – since then. This is only due to the Corona virus lockdown.

The Indian government did little to change stricter housing rules and encourage economic prosperity, before barring unarmed Kashmiris from buying land, property and investing in the region. Non-Kashmiris have been provided accommodation in the state since last August.

A Kashmiri woman asks a police officer if she can cross the road in Srinagar.
A Kashmiri woman asks a police officer if she can cross the road in Srinagar. Photograph: Mukhtar Khan / AP

For Kashmiris, the status of residence for unarmed Kashmiris was proof that Modi’s real aim was to advance the Hindu nationalist agenda of his BJP government, which was to establish India as a Hindu rather than a secular country. Wants, and removes the population of the region. Being a majority Muslim.

Sebten, a 33-year-old from Srinagar, said he felt “crazy” about the real possibility of becoming a “second-class citizen”.

“My worst fear is that Kashmir will lose its identity, we will just join a very big Hindu India,” he said.

The security situation is so precarious that it is endangering the lives of all people living in the region, with civilians killed and homes destroyed.

Instead of calming the region, the heavy security presence and counter-insurgency campaign has led to weekly violent clashes between a new generation of Indian soldiers and militants. Between January 1st and June 20th, there were 229 deaths, including 32 civilians, 54 government troops and 143 militants, while 48 properties were destroyed, according to human rights groups.

“There is not a single house in the district that cannot be searched, not even a village [counter-insurgency] The operation may not have been launched, ”said a resident of Shopian district in south Kashmir.

Despite their small numbers, inexperienced and poorly armed, radical young militants have revived a dead insurgency.

Shakur Farooqi was a teenager when he disappeared without a trace last year. His father, Farooq Ahmed, the owner of a shoe store, showed him the last picture of his youngest son, which he affectionately called “Jagwith “ Or sweetheart

A Kashmiri man shows his ID card to soldiers during a curfew in Srinagar.
A Kashmiri man shows his ID card to soldiers during a curfew in Srinagar. Photograph: Mukhtar Khan / AP

Farooqi was killed in an exchange of fire in June, when he refused to surrender when he was surrounded by Indian forces at a house in Srinagar along with two other militants. Ahmed was called to the scene to try to persuade his son to surrender, but his screams were not answered. “The curtains were drawn on the windows and there was no whispering,” Ahmed said. “It was like a war on the border, there were a lot of police officers.”

Ahmed believes his son was “martyred”. “A father goes through a lot of hardships to raise his children. It is very unfortunate what happens here,” he said.

The repeal of Article 370 has also restored security at the geopolitical level. Many believe that China’s recent actions in the disputed area of ​​Ladakh in the Himalayan border with Kashmir were partly retaliated by India in retaliation for taking full control of Kashmir. India-Pakistan relations, meanwhile, are seldom so wide.

Sitting at his home in Telgami, a village in north Kashmir, Telgami, known for producing poets of many generations, he said he would continue to write poetry that was a sign of frustration in Kashmir, even though he had repeatedly Security forces are threatening to arrest him.

“Poetry is no longer about love,” Telgami said. “It’s about what one feels around. Helplessness, chaos. Dead everywhere.

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