‘‘Teenage boys taken away & tortured for 45 days’’, says fact-finding report on Kashmir

The five Indian female leaders went on the fact-finding mission and presented their findings in a report.

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On Tuesday, a report was released by the leaders of women’s organizations, who visited Indian-occupied Kashmir earlier this month, specifying the on-ground conditions in Muslim-majority part and demanded the restoration of communication lines. Restoration of Article 370 and 35A was also demanded.

The five female leaders include Pragatisheel Mahila Samiti’s Poonam Kaushik, Pankhuri Zaheer from the National Federation of Indian Women’s (NFIW), Dr. Syeda Hameed of the Muslim Women’s Forum, Kawaljeet Kaur and Annie Raja. The group visited Kashmir from 17 September to 21st September 2019.

While talking at Delhi Press Club, the women shared everything they observed from media to the worried citizens after visiting the region, which has been under lockdown for the past 51 days.

“When we reached there, it was like walking into a cloud of depression,” – Dr. Syeda Hameed and Annie Raja said, terming their findings an eyewitness account.

“By many verified accounts, we are talking about almost 13,000 young people having disappeared in the past 51 days,” – they continued, keeping in account they visited Srinagar, and villages in Pulwama, Shopian and Bandipora district.

‘Indian Army ‘pounces on young boys’

The family of Asrar Ahmad, a 16-year-old boy who was killed during protests in the Illahi Bagh area of Srinagar. Ahmad succumbed to his injuries in hospital a month after being injured during protests. According to the family, Ahmad was hit by pellet guns fired by police, a claim vehemently rejected by the government. Credit: Umer Asif/IPS

 

The report tells the picture of the grief of many people the women talked to, they observed that the Indian Army ‘pounces on young boys; it seems they hate their very sight’. When fathers go to rescue their kids, they are made to pay money between 20,000 to 60,000.

“So palpable is their hatred for Kashmiri youth that when there is the dreaded knock on the door of a home, an old man is sent to open it. ‘We hope and pray they will spare a buzurg [elderly]. But their slaps land on all faces,” – it said, quoting a local.

Lights are turned off around 8 PM, after Maghreb prayers. Anyone who violates the curfew is punished by the army, the troops take away any men in the house, regardless of age.
Another local said that barking of dogs indicated an imminent visit by the army. A man said that he was not even able to switch the phone on for light, so he can take his little girl to the toilet.

No ambulances, no public transport:

There is no public transport and a lack of ambulances. There have been numerous cases of overdue deliveries or women giving birth to premature babies due to fear and stress.

“It feels like the government is strangling us and then sadistically asking us to speak at the same time,” – a local girl told the women.
The females further said that young women complained they were being harassed by the army, including removal of their niqab

“All those claiming that the situation is slowly returning to normalcy are making false claims based on distorted facts,” – they wrote.

As per their demand, women have asked for the withdrawal of Indian Army and paramilitary forces, canceling of all cases and FIRs, the release of those who have been taken away, an inquiry to be led over the violence and compensate families who have lost loved ones.

Restoration of all communication line, including mobile networks and internet, was demanded. Further on, it was requested to implement Article 370 and 35A again. Any future decision of Kashmir must be taken after dialogue with Kashmiris, army troops must be removed and an inquiry committee should be started to observe any excesses committed by the army.

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