The Hindustan Times – Disconnected from families, Kashmiri students in Punjab a worried lot

Even though Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has directed the officials concerned to ensure security of Kashmiri residents in the state, students are still worried as all means of communication has been snapped in the Valley.

Jalandhar/Ludhiana – Panjab – India, 06 August 2018. Kashmiri students studying in Punjab’s educational institutes are a worried lot as they have been unable to contact their families in the Valley, after authorities imposed Section 144 across Srinagar, snapped internet connections and shutdown mobile services there.

On Monday, the Centre scrapped Article 370 that gave special status of Jammu and Kashmir and took steps to change how the region will be governed.

As Punjab is most favoured destination to pursue higher education by Kashmiri students, hundreds of students from the Valley take admissions every year in various educational institutes in the state.

Even though chief minister Amarinder Singh has directed the officials concerned to ensure security of Kashmiri residents in the state, students are still under constant fear as all means of communication has been snapped in the valley.

Hilal Ahmad, a student pursing M.Sc at a private university in Jalandhar, said, “We are very disturbed and cannot concentrate on studies in this atmosphere. We are unable to contact our family members. We are worried about them.”

Like Hilal, many other students shared the same concern. Many students want to go back home but with the restrictions in place, they do not know how to reunite with their families.

“We are far away from home. We have no knowledge about our families’ well-being. We feel helpless,” said a Kashmiri student of a private university in Mohali, adding that no one seems interested in helping them out.

Hundreds of students have given applications to dean student welfare (DSW) for going home, but no one has responded.

‘Abrogation of article 370 undemocratic’

Meanwhile, students studying in Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) in Ludhiana have dubbed abrogation of Article 370 undemocratic and unconstitutional.

“The residents of the state should have some representation. There should have been a referendum in Kashmir on the issue. We have not been asked whether we want scrapping of Article 370 or not.

It is undemocratic and unconstitutional move on part of the government that boasts of being the largest democracy of the world,” said a group of students in PAU.

The students, who were seen glued to television sets and surfing their mobile phones to catch the latest updates on Kashmir, were anxious lot as they cannot contact their family members.

“I am trying to reach out to my father but the call is not going through. All of us are facing similar predicament,” said a PAU student on condition of anonymity.

Students also expressed anguish over creation of Jammu and Kashmir as Union Territory with legislative assembly. “It would be a rubber stamp of the Centre. We do not see any good coming out of the new system,” said the students.

Basit Yousuf, an M.Sc student at a private university in Jalandhar, said “We cannot even a make a call to our families asking them for money as curfew has been imposed all over Kashmir. We don’t have money and we are stuck here. It’s disturbing.”

Helpline numbers not working

“Many helpline numbers were shared on social media, so that people can reach out to police in case of emergency. But those numbers are not working,” said a Kashmiri student Gurmeet Singh.

Meanwhile, Jalandhar senior superintendent of police (rural) Navjot Singh Mahal said, “We are ensuring security to everyone. There is no need to panic.”

Punjab second home

Students, however, were all praise for the hospitable environment in the university and in the state. “We have never faced any problem in the city. People here are very welcoming. Even in the aftermath of Pulwama attack when several incidents of assault on students from Valley were reported in other states, no such incident was reported from the university or anywhere else in the state.

Instead, fellow students came to our rescue and offered all kind of help after they learnt that Kashmiri students were under attack,” said the students in PAU hostel.

Dr K C Singh, coordinator youth affairs, GADVASU, said that students were attending their classes as per routine. – Statement by the World Sikh Organization on India’s revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy

Sikh24 Editors

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 06 August 2019. The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply concerned by the Government of India’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

Article 370 gave the State of Jammu & Kashmir the right to its own constitution and decision-making processes for all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs. Article 370 dates back to 1949 when Kashmir agreed to become part of the Indian Union on the condition that it would retain a degree of autonomy.

The revocation of Article 370 came unannounced and accompanied by a bill to divide and reorganize the State of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories. The freshly divided State of Jammu & Kashmir would relinquish major powers to the Central Government but would retain a state legislature while the newly carved out State of Ladakh would be under direct central governance.

The shocking measures adopted today, came after the deployment of 35,000 extra troops into Kashmir in recent days- an area that is already one of the most militarized regions in the world. Authorities have also suspended internet services creating a blackout of the entire region.

Many Kashmiri political leaders have been arrested and taken into custody. Late Sunday in Kashmir, Indian forces laid steel barricades and razor wire on roads and intersections and issued a security order banning public meetings, rallies and movement and the closure of schools.

WSO President Mukhbir Singh said today:

“The Indian Government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and the division and reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir is shocking and unprecedented. Kashmir joined the Indian Union based on the terms set out in Article 370 and to withdraw those protections without due process or consultations with the people of Kashmir flies in the face of democratic values and norms.

The Indian government has acted in an authoritarian manner by stripping Jammu & Kashmir of its constitutionally mandated autonomy and relegating it to an occupied territory. The rule of law and basic democratic values have not been respected.

We fear for the people of Kashmir as their political leadership is under mass arrest and their civil rights have been suspended. The international community must not silently observe as human rights are trampled in Kashmir.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, the irrespective of race, religion , gender, ethnicity, social and economic status.

Gentbrugge Braemstraat – De Naeyerdreef – Schooldreef & Korenmarkt

Gentbrugge Braemstraat
24 July 2019

Yesterday’s picture: a  big mess on th table
Today’s picture: the cupboard neat and tidy
Evi’s work !

De Naeyerdreef
26 July 2019

Our nice path changed into a boring concrete one
Why ? What a waste of money

What happened to green policies !

Schooldreef & Korenmarkt
27 July 2019

Gentbrugge – Schooldreef
‘Gentse Feesten’

Trams that usually only run on Tram 1 and Tram 4
between UZ and Muide now on Tram 2

Korenmarkt – Gentse Feesten
Tram 4 to Muide

Korenmarkt – Gentse Feesten
Tram 1 to Flanders Expo

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Awaaz Network – South Asia Solidarity Group

Emergency London Vigil for Kashmir

London – UK, 06 August 2019. Several hundred people took part in an Emergency Vigil for Kashmir at the Indian High Commission London on Monday 5 August, called by the South Asia Solidarity Group, in condemnation of the massive escalation of militarization, cutting off all communications from Kashmir, detention of political leaders and the subsequent secretive, conspiratorial, and illegal abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir by the Modi Government.

Pledging to stand with the Kashmiri people, and defend their right to determine their future, speakers from various organisations, including students’ groups, trade unions and civil society organisations and Kashmiri groups questioned the legality of abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A.

They also stated that they would raise the issue with various international bodies and continue to keep international attention on Kashmir and the Modi government’s gross human rights violations.

Below is the speech made at the vigil by Nirmala Rajasingam of South Asia Solidarity Group:

We are here to express our solidarity and our support to the people of Kashmir who are today. They are under lockdown, facing a huge military presence with 35,000 troops beyond the half a million already present in the Kashmir Valley, the world’s most militarised zone.

The notorious and brutal CRPF are running police stations. All non-Kashmiris, students, pilgrims, tourists and others have left the state.

Mainstream politicians have been arrested and are in detention, there are curfews and no sale of petrol, complete shutdown of all internet and communications with the world outside.

Kashmiris have already born many decades of a brunt of a brutal occupation. Today they are facing an Israeli-style occupation – similar to Gaza. It is Israeli style because by the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35 means that non-Kashmiri settlers will be able to take over the land.

As Khurram Parvez of the Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) says:’Indian government thinks demographic changes will solve the conflict in Kashmir. This change apparently will be brought through parliament but on the ground in Kashmir only by gun point. They have silenced all political groups, gagged media and scared civil society.

The government is well prepared to deal with protest and forces have been ordered to not negotiate with the protesters, just shoot. It is clear that there will be violence, but I hope and pray people remain peaceful and that we in Kashmir don’t lose anything more than these constitutional guarantees’.

Kashmir has been bifurcated into Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. At the moment Jammu and Kashmir does not even have the rights of other states in India, it is merely a Union Territory, let alone the Special Status it had under Article 370.

This was achieved by deceit, by denying that the Constitution would be changed even a week before it happened. The President was asked confidentially to sign the document beforehand.

The Left parties and people’s movements in India are on the streets protesting today. Sadly however, Hindutva has penetrated many mainstream opposition parties, who supported the Modi government’s actions.

Modi always considers the diaspora to be his own backyard, but things are not that simple. We represent many others and we are here to show that many of us here in the UK are deeply opposed to the fascism of the Indian state under the BJP. We stand with the people of Kashmir.

When there is colonialism – there will be resistance. We believe that one day Kashmir will be free as an independent country – not occupied by India or Pakistan.

Dawn – Pakistan says it will exercise all possible options to counter illegal steps taken by India in-IoK

Naveed Siddiqui

Islamabad – Islamabad Capital Territory, 05 August 2019. Pakistan on Monday said that it would “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by India regarding Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK).

The comments came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government introduced plans to weaken the special rights of residents in occupied Kashmir, amid heavy deployment of security forces and suspension of phone and internet services in the valley.

In a press release, the Foreign Office (FO) strongly condemned and rejected the move by the Indian government, stressing that IoK was internationally recognised as a disputed territory.

“No unilateral step by the Government of India can change this disputed status, as enshrined in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions,” read the statement. “The decision will never be acceptable to the people of IoK and Pakistan.”

“As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps,” the statement read while reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to the Kashmiri cause.

Indian envoy summoned

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood summoned the Indian high commissioner to the FO and handed him a strong demarche on the Indian government’s actions regarding IoK.

“The foreign secretary conveyed Pakistan’s unequivocal rejection of these illegal actions as they are in breach of international law and several UN Security Council resolutions,” a second FO statement said, adding that he also underscored Pakistan’s condemnation of the actions aimed at “further consolidating the illegal occupation” of IoK.

Mahmood also condemned other measures taken by Indian authorities to suppress the Kashmiri people, including the imposition of a curfew, deployment of tens of thousands of additional troops, house arrest of Kashmiri leaders and suspension of communication services.

The secretary “called upon India to halt and reverse its unlawful and destabilising actions, ensure full compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, and refrain from any further action that could entail serious implications”, according to the FO handout.

He reiterated that Pakistan will continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support to the indigenous Kashmiri people’s struggle for the realisation of their right to self-determination.

A meeting of the Parliamentary Committee of Kashmir was also held at Parliament House today.

The meeting, chaired by committee chairman Syed Fakhar Imam, discussed the situation in IoK and the use of cluster bombs on civilians by Indian forces.

A dangerous game being played

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while speaking to DawnNewsTV, said that if the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of India felt that their policies were effective, they would not have imposed governor’s rule or conducted politics through presidential orders.

“If they have turned IoK and Ladhak into union territories, it is evident that they have lost hope […] Kashmiris that used to support them earlier are also in jail or under house arrest.

“Today, India has once again revived and internationalised the Kashmir issue. This will not solve the problem, rather it will escalate it,” he warned.

“They will never be able to repress the issue.

“Time will show what a dangerous game has been played.”

Qureshi said that the entire international community needed to condemn the Indian move.

Joint session of parliament

Opposition leaders on Monday called for a joint session of parliament to be scheduled in light of the developments.

In a post shared on Twitter, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said: “Atrocities in IoK unabated. Extremist Indian government’s intentions clear. President must immediately summon joint session of parliament in wake of Indian aggression in IoK.”

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the Indian government’s “attempt to revoke Article 370” as he called for a joint session of parliament. He said that after reviewing the situation, a comprehensive strategy should be formulated.

The PM-N president added that Pakistan should also immediately call for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

“This is a matter of Pakistan’s national interest, all of Pakistan is united. The time has come for Pakistan’s political and military leadership to take collective decisions, Pakistan is united for the Kashmiri cause,” he said.

At a press conference in Lahore, he said “butcher” Modi had carried out the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujrat state in 2002, and so it was “childish” to expect him to resolve the Kashmir conflict after being elected.

“Today is a test case for the international community,” he said, adding that Pakistan expected the world to support the Kashmiris to have their special status restored.

The opposition leader said the situation was also a test for US President Donald Trump to prove that his offer for mediation in Kashmir was not on account of some “personal agenda” but that he was serious about it.

“Otherwise we will be forced to believe that this was President Trump’s gimmick to pull American troops out of Afghanistan,” he said.