Ten days since Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government shut down all mobile services and the internet in Jammu & Kashmir, making it harder to understand how Kashmiris feel about the state losing its special constitutional status, and effectively choking any dissent, backlash and protests against its demotion to a Union Territory.
Two competing narratives have emerged amidst the communication blackout.
The Modi government, and large sections of the Indian media, claim that Kashmir is calm and Kashmiris are thrilled at the changes.
Meanwhile, reports in other sections of the Indian media and the foreign press, paint a disturbing picture of a people besieged by heavily armed troopers.
Telling is the fact that after days of refuting reports of a large protest in the Soura area of Srinagar, the Modi government has admitted there was one.
HuffPost India spoke with women’s rights activist Kavita Krishnan, who has returned from a five-day fact finding mission from Kashmir, along with economist Jean Dreze, Maimoona Mollah from the All India Democratic Women’s Association, the women’s wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and Vimal Bhai, a social activist.
From August 9-13, Krishnan, who is secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, and a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), traveled to Srinagar, Sopore, Bandipora, Anantnag, Shopian and Pampore.
Describing the situation as grim, Krishnan said, “Frankly, it looked like occupied Iraq or occupied Palestine.”
Frankly, it looked like occupied Iraq or occupied Palestine.
What did you see?
The situation is absolutely grim. Kashmir is under military siege. There are paramilitary forces on every street, outside homes, outside localities. The situation is really quite alarming. There is no scope for anyone to speak, no scope for peaceful protests.
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