BBC News – Kashmir move spells trouble for other Indian states

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always fashioned himself as an advocate of federalism – someone who believes in giving the country’s states more independence.

Soutik Biswas, India correspondent

New Delhi – India, 18 August 2019. But last week’s revocation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, as the Indian state was known – and the move to split it into two union territories while imposing an unprecedented lockdown there is being seen by many as a major weakening of India’s federal structure.

The new union territories (Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh) will be ruled directly from Delhi. Union territories have far less autonomy from the federal government than states. Sumantra Bose, a professor of international and comparative politics at the London School of Economics, calls them “glorified municipalities of Delhi”.

By revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, ostensibly to put it on the same footing as the rest of India, Mr Modi’s government, in the words of one commentator, has “upset India’s delicate federal balance”.

In many ways, Article 370, as the constitutional article guaranteeing special status is known, was more symbolic, as presidential decrees over the years had already eroded much of the autonomy it guaranteed. What was more important, many say, was the spirit of the status: it signalled that the Indian constitution was malleable enough to make space for people who felt alienated or estranged from the mainstream.

India’s federalism has in fact, been hard-earned and hard-fought.

Unlike more economically advanced and culturally homogeneous countries with a federal system of government like the US and Canada, consensus over power sharing in a culturally and religiously diverse, poorer country like India has not been easy to forge. Thankfully the Indian constitution has provided a clear division of powers between the elected federal government and the state legislatures.

“The constitution strives to strike a delicate balance between the unitary and federal systems,” says Yamini Aiyar, chief executive of Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research.

However, there have always been doubts about what some commentators call the “authenticity of Indian federalism”.

State governors, usually political appointees of the the ruling federal government, have helped clamp direct rule in states where there has been a “failure of constitutional machinery”. (An adverse report by the governor on the affairs of the state can become the basis of president’s rule, or direct rule from Delhi, and authorise the dismissal of a state government.) Such direct rule has been declared in Indian states 88 times between 1951 and 1997.

Many believe the revocation of special status from Indian-administered Kashmir, without consulting the local people and political leaders and implemented when the state was under direct rule, is another taint on India’s federal record.

“The single biggest significance of this move is that we are moving towards a unitary state, and abrogation of democratic principles. This is weakening federalism in India.

People are so busy celebrating the move that they don’t seem to get the big picture,” Navnita Chadha Behera, a former visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution and the author of Demystifying Kashmir, told me.

“What is more worrying is this can happen to any other state. The federal government can dissolve a state government, ride roughshod over the consultative process, split the state and downgrade its status.

Also worrying is the near-complete collapse of resistance to the move with most of the civil society, media and regional parties remaining silent or protesting very feebly.”

Yamini Aiyar believes “federalism, which the framers of India’s constitution saw as necessary to India’s democracy, today has far fewer takers than it did in 1947. This is dangerous for India’s democracy”.

Supporters of the move say that strife-ridden Kashmir is a “special case”, and a consultative process in an insurgency-hit and militarised region next door to India’s nuclear-armed rival, Pakistan, would have led nowhere.

Also Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has for years consistently demanded the revocation of Article 370, calling it an example of “appeasement” in India’s only Muslim-majority state.

However, India has a history of reconciling separatist aspirations. Where else, many say, could an insurgent leader who fought a guerrilla war for independence for a quarter of a century go on to become an elected state chief minister? But this is exactly what happened when the rebel leader Laldenga signed an accord with the Indian government in the north-eastern state of Mizoram in 1986.

Power sharing and inclusivity have only bolstered democracy in India and made the country more resilient.

India’s Supreme Court, in the past, has clearly said that the “fact that under the scheme of constitution greater power is conferred upon the centre vis-a-vis the state does not mean that states are mere appendages of the centre.”

“Within the sphere allotted to them, states are supreme. The centre cannot tamper with their powers,” the court added.

It has also been unequivocal about the status of federalism as a basic constitutional structure.

It will be interesting to see how India’s Supreme Court deals with the legal challenges against the move on Kashmir. “This will be a test case for the top court’s independence,” says Dr Behera. – AAP MLAs take on Subramanian Swamy for his objectionable statement on Kartarpur corridor

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 25 August 2019. Strongly criticizing the Subramanian Swamy’s statement suggesting suspension of Kartarpur corridor’s construction work, the AAP legislators has asked the BJP high command to either ask Swamy to revoke his statement or expel him from the party with immediate effect.

AAP legislators Professor Baljinder Kaur, Rupinder Kaur Ruby, Manjit Singh Bilaspur, Kulwant Singh Pandori and Jai Krishan Singh Rodi have said that Swamy has twitched the hearts of the worldwide Sikh sangat with his objectionable thinking and wording.

They added that the prayers of Sikh community have borne fruits after 70 years, but the politicians like Subramanian Swamy are creating hurdles to stop Kartarpur corridor from getting operational.

They also took on BJP parliamentarian Kiran Kher for comparing Indian PM Narendra Modi with Hindu Lord Sri Krishna. They said that Modi can be very great for Kiran Kher but comparing him to Lord Sri Krishna was totally wrong.

AAP MLAs take on Subramanian Swamy for his objectionable statement on Kartarpur corridor

Ieper Visit – Sint-Pieterskerk – Fortifications

16 August 2019

No traditional church pews !

Evi/Pyar Kaur lights a candle

16 August 2019

No, this is not what it looks like !

The moat

The Lion’s Tower – De Leeuwentoren

Sorry, no entry !

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Dawn – In the land of Waris Shah, Muslims protect Sikh heritage

“This is the land of Waris Shah. It yields nothing but love.”

Saif Tahir & Zahida Rehman Jatt

Jandiala – Panjab – Pakistan, 28 August 2019. Lying with our eyes closed, within the cold walls and shadows of the shrine, we heard his voice for the first time. Sain, as he was called, was singing verses from Heer, the revered Punjabi poem of Waris Shah.

Heer akhdi jogia jhoth bolay, kon ruthray yaar mananda ei
eisa koi na d itha mai dhoondh thaki, jera gaya nu morr liaonda ei
(Heer says, O jogi! You tell lies; whom can unite separated lovers
I have searched in vain but found none, who can bring back the departed)

As he sang in high notes, his voice resonated in the shrine, the dome and its surrounding, as if every soul present was remembering their own Heer. Amid the enchantment, a woman appeared. Making sure no one was watching, she dipped her fingers in an extinguished charagh and placed them in her hair, a mark of submission to Waris Shah to plead for her beloved. The outer wall of the shrine reads:

Waris shah mehboob nu tadon paiye
jadon apna aap ganwaiye
(Waris Shah, the beloved can only be attained
When one loses himself)

Taking the Hiran Minar exit from the Lahore-Islamabad motorway, one notices signboards reading pre-Partition names of villages, Lel Virkan, Noshehra Virkan and Buddha Goraya, that continue to exist after more than 70 years.

Our destination was Jandiala, meaning ‘forest’ in Punjabi. This is the Jandiala Sher Khan where Waris Shah was born and Heer was immortalised, and where now stands the shrine of Waris Shah, as lovers and newly-weds visit from all corners to seek his blessings.

Ours was a visit to explore the heritage sites around Gujranwala and to fulfill our pledge to start the journey by offering gratitude to Waris Shah.

After doing that, we set off to explore the pre-Partition heritage of the area. While visiting various sites, a marble structure emerged from amongst the trees after a sharp road turn. Seemingly unrelated to the adjacent mosque, the white edifice unfolded its enchanting glory as we moved closer.

Encircled by houses, the entrance to the building was hard to find until a man approached us and inquired about our intentions. Discovering our past affiliation with newspapers and keen interest in the site, Rashid agreed to show us around.

“Ye sikhon ki masjid hai” (This is the mosque of Sikhs), he told us. “We clean it and show it to Sikh pilgrims who visit.”

Rashid was born amongst hundreds of families who came from India after Partition and settled in this region. Hardly remembering his ancestral village, to him Ambala was what he had heard it was from his mother.

“This place is similar to the mosques we left behind in our villages. It gave us shelter and is very important to us,” he said as he opened the main door.

The facade had prominent inscriptions written in Hindi that we failed to decipher. It is when we Googled it that we came to know that this beautiful structure was actually a gurdwara known as Kharasahab or Gurdwara Mattu Bhaike.

It was an important pre-Partition gurdwara established by local affluent Sikhs after 1940 in honour of Guru Hargobind Singh, the sixth Guru, who while passing by this place showed annoyance to tobacco and asked his followers to avoid it.

This instruction later transcended into a weighty hukam (ruling) of Sikhism, “jagat jootth tambaakoo bikhiaa da tiaag karnaa” (Discard worldly ways, falsehoods and poisonous tobacco).

The samadhi

It was during the reign of Ranjit Singh that Sikhs became influential and consolidated prominent places of worship all over Punjab. Mattu Bhaike, Nowshehra Virkan and the adjacent areas were inhabited by Sikhs who migrated after Partition, leaving their buildings at the mercy of migrants and locals who, in many cases, destroyed the structures and replaced them with residential quarters.

The exterior of the gurdwara was striking, with marble, stone and glass works and beautiful wooden engravings on the doors. It had a samadhi (tomb) whose stucco work and paintings had warped with time. It used to have an idol as well, Rashid told us.

Despite being muddy from the outside, the interior of the building was in decent condition. It consisted of a big, tiled hall on the ground floor that had been used for different religious rituals. The surrounding wooden windows were clogged with dust as if they hadn’t been touched since its occupants left.

There were four entrance doors to the ground floor. On the extreme right were stairs going up. At the top was a small room and a dome with magnificent paintwork. The view of lush green fields from there was heavenly.

It looked like the site was regularly taken care of since nothing had been destroyed or looted. I was informed that it belongs to the Mattu clan who still lives here.

Searching for answers, we went to the Mattu Bhaike village. Not many were interested in talking about Sikhs and their gurdwara. But finally, Ijaz agreed to answer some questions.

Ijaz, in his late 40s, lived next to the gurdwara. “We have been living here for centuries,” he said, while showing us some old documents, including his lineage. “Our ancestors were Sikhs. Later, my great grandparents converted to Islam.” Yet, his cousins remained Sikh.

“Everyone was living peacefully when Partition happened. We decided to stay, but riots erupted in the neighbouring villages and so the Mattu family decided to shift their Sikh cousins and family across the border, while their homes and flocks were put in our custody until they returned.

“However, no one returned. People who witnessed Partition recall the night of the departure like it happened yesterday. The sadness still engulfs every living soul here,” Ijaz recounted as he looked towards the gurdwara.

“My grandfather used to show me the house keys given to him by his friend Inderjeet wrapped in his mother’s shawl, whom they both called bayjee. He was so protective of it that he did not let us so much as touch the house during his lifetime,” he told us.

We asked him about the destruction of Sikh and Hindu heritage sites after Partition and the Babri Mosque incident. Ijaz replied: “The gurdwara has the graves of our forefathers. Some people tried to destroy it in 1992, but the whole village came out to protect it.”

He added, “Mattus are Sikhs and Muslims. We have family across the border who are desperate to see their ancestral village. The pilgrims visited in 1960s for the first time and the entire village welcomed them with food. My grandfather said that Sikhs are his uncles and nephews; our hearts and houses are always open for them. They might be Indians but this is their land.”

“He also used to say to all of us, ‘this is the land of Waris Shah. It yields nothing but love’”, Ijaz said with a smile.

For people in the subcontinent, Partition epitomises loss not just of territory, but also of identity. However, there are places like Mattu Bhaike where people refused to let go of their identity and affection towards each other.

Last month, as a goodwill motion, Pakistan handed over the Gurdwara Kharasahab to the Sikh community. With steps like these, including the opening of Kartarpur Corridor, people might finally be able to meet their Heer they have been longing for.

Saif Tahir is a researcher by profession and a photographer by passion. He is former faculty and trainer at Bahria University and Pakistan Navy War College.

Zahida Rehman Jatt is an anthropologist and social science researcher. She is lecturer at the department of anthropology and archaeology at the University of Sindh in Jamshoro.

To also see the beautiful pictures :

Dawn – FM Qureshi apprises Belgian counterpart on situation in occupied Kashmir

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday held a telephonic conversation with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders to brief him on the current situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Naveed Siddiqui

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 28 August 2019. The foreign minister highlighted the “illegal and unilateral steps taken by the Indian government to change the disputed status of occupied Kashmir and its demographic structure”, a press release from the foreign office said.

Qureshi further said that the steps taken by India were a contravention of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir and other international laws.

He emphasised the fact that India has progressively reneged on its commitments to the Security Council, other countries, Pakistan and the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

He also highlighted the severe hardships faced by the people of occupied Kashmir in the face of unprecedented lockdown of the entire population.

The foreign minister apprised his Belgian counterpart on the worsening situation of basic human rights, safety and security of the people in the occupied Kashmir, which has been under curfew since August 5.

Foreign Minister Reynders expressed his concern on the human rights situation in occupied Kashmir. He stated that further escalation would have severe impact on the peace and security in the region. He reaffirmed his readiness to remain engaged in the matter.

The Asian Age – Ram Rahim parole plea rejected again

In her petition, Kaur submitted that her husband had earned the necessary good conduct remission reports for the parole as required under law.

Tanveer Thakur

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 28 August 2019. The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday refused to grant relief to Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh after his wife, Harjeet Kaur, filed a petition seeking his release on parole to look after his ailing mother.

In her petition, Kaur submitted that her husband had earned the necessary good conduct remission reports for the parole as required under law. Kaur submitted that Ram Rahim had been sentenced to imprisonment for two terms of 10 years by a Panchkula special judge. He has also been sentenced to undergo life imprisonment in a murder case.

She added that his mother, Naseeb Kaur, 85, was suffering from a heart ailment and needed to undergo an angiography. The petition said the mother was “old and weak” and had expressed “desire that her only son” Gurmeet Ram Rahim be present to attend to her. The Bench was of the opinion that Ram Rahim could himself file the plea.

The plea came two years after Ram Rahim was sentenced to two 10-year terms in a rape case. His wife had sought a three-week parole for him to tend to his ailing mother on the grounds that the convict had earned “good conduct remission reports”.

Earlier, jail authorities in Rohtak, where he is undergoing sentence, refused to grant him the parole to meet his ailing mother.

The decision not to grant the parole was taken by jail superintendent Sunil Sangwan on August 9 after Justice Kuldip Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the state to take a decision on the representation of Ram Rahim Singh’s wife.

Ieper Visit – Fortifications – Sint-Pieterskerk

16 August 2019

See the picture of the pillbox on yesterday’s pictorial

Bellepoort – Tempelpoort

Beautifully restored city walls and moat

After lunch at Frituur Chipz (Rijselstraat)
we visited the Sint-Pieterskerk
16 August 2019

Like most buildings in Ieper this was a heap of rubble in 1918

Note the Man in Blue in the ‘mirror’ image

Those blessed with good eyesight or a magnifying glass
can read this

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Tribune – Ministers’ visit to Pakistan put on hold

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 26 August 2019. The proposed seven-day visit of a 10-member delegation, including three state Cabinet Ministers, to Pakistan to oversee the progress of work of Kartarpur corridor has been put off for the time being.

Official sources said the political clearance by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for the proposed visit of the delegation between August 24 and August 30 had been withdrawn. The reasons for putting on hold the clearance could not be ascertained.

As per the procedure, the ministers had to apply for visa after getting the political clearance. Sandeep Kumar, Deputy Secretary, MEA, in a communication to the state government, asked for a fresh request for political clearance as per the revised dates.

Ministers Sukhjinder Randhawa, OP Soni and Charanjit Channi along with some MLAs were scheduled to visit Pakistan.

Meanwhile as per reports, Pakistan has completed 90 per cent work on the corridor from the zero line to Gurdwara Sahib and plans to inaugurate it on the 550 birth celebrations of Guru Nanak in November this year.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

The Union government in its attempts to hurt Pakistan, is playing with feelings of the Sikhs
Man in Blue

OFMI – International Wing of RSS Penetrates Government Offices Across America

USA affiliate of Indian paramilitary hosts events with police, fire departments, and elected officials

USA – 26 August 2019. Since 09 August, the international wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has hosted events in at least 17 government offices throughout the US, including those of two congressmen and nine law enforcement departments, in a coordinated campaign which a US-based human rights group warns is “an attempt to legitimize a fascist paramilitary responsible for pogroms against minorities in India.”

“Under the guise of celebrating Raksha Bandhan, a traditional Hindu ceremony, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh infiltrated multiple government offices, including many police departments,” says Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India.

“Leaving aside the question of whether or not these government agencies should officially participate in a religious ceremony, they should absolutely have nothing to do with the HSS, which is the international wing of the RSS. This is an attempt by the HSS to legitimize a fascist paramilitary responsible for pogroms against minorities in India.”

Participating government agencies include nine law enforcement departments in eight states, four fire departments in four states, and four elected officials in four states. US Congressional Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL) and Scott Peters (D-CA) are among the participants.

In Texas, Fort Bend County Commissioner Andy Meyers faced outcry on Facebook after sharing pictures of his participation. He subsequently revised his post to note that he was approached by a charter school requesting that he meet with local students, implying that he was not informed that the event would be hosted by the HSS. He has since deleted the post entirely.

“The HSS is the international wing of the RSS, a violent and supremacist paramilitary in India whose founders praised Nazi racial policy and modeled themselves along the same lines as the Hitler Youth,” wrote Haziq Jeelani on the Facebook of New Jersey’s Woodbridge Township Mayor John McCormac.

“They display pictures of these founders at most of their gatherings. They are a fascist organization not a religious group. They are trying to normalize themselves and lend credibility to themselves by such photo ops. Please refrain from associating with them.”

“Hi, actual person with ties to Coppell here,” wrote Sai Chimata on the Facebook of Texas’s Coppell Police Department. “Why the hell did y’all take these people seriously? Next time, do your research!

The HSS is a foreign offshoot of the RSS, a militant Hindu nationalist organization in India, a literal paramilitary that’s been involved in some of India’s worst riots and pogroms. HSS-USA is essentially engaged in whitewashing Hindu nationalism abroad and promoting it among the diaspora.”

On the Facebook of Illinois’s Naperville Police Department, Khalid Azam wrote, “What a disgrace!” Azam, a founding member of Indian American Muslim Council, continued, “This is a fascist organization (fascist is not being used as a slur here), HSS and its parent org, RSS, was founded by Moonje and others who visited Mussolini and Hitler and sought advice on how a similar organization and movement rooted in Fascism can be created in India.

These founders have statements on the record defending fascism and Hitler’s treatment of Jews.”

“Seems RSS Hindutva Fascists, who are killing innocent Christians and other minorities, wanting an all Hindu state, are preparing groundwork in the US,” wrote Ranjit Singh on the Facebook of California’s San Ramon Police Department. “It seems they have vested very heavily into pulling this off in all police stations in the US. Wow, watch out!”

“Clearly, the Howard County Police Department is not aware that the HSS is the international wing of the RSS,” wrote Miriam Joseph on the Facebook of the Maryland law enforcement agency. “They are extremist Hindu supremacists who regularly lynch and kill Christians and Muslims in India. It was one of their members who shot and killed Mahatma Gandhi.”

In the 21st century, the RSS is most notorious for staging two major pogroms against Indian minorities.

In 2008, around 100 Christians were massacred in the Indian state of Odisha. Their churches and homes were burned and tens of thousands were made refugees. Odishan Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who was in office during the pogrom, reported, “Members of RSS were involved in the violence.”

In 2002, around 2000 Muslims were massacred in the Indian state of Gujarat. Reporting on the violence, Human Rights Watch stated, “The groups most directly responsible for violence against Muslims in Gujarat include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal, the ruling BJP, and the umbrella organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS), all of whom collectively form the Sangh Parivar (or ‘family’ of Hindu nationalist groups).

These organizations, although different in many respects, have all promoted the argument that because Hindus constitute the majority of Indians, India should be a Hindu state.”

HRW’s report was entitled “We Have No Orders To Save You,” which is what several witnesses reported the police told them when they appealed for rescue from their attackers. Graffiti discovered on torched Muslim institutions declared, “The police are with us.”
After the violence ended, many testified that police refused to file charges on behalf of the victims or record the names of the accused.

Award-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy explains that, in the years before the pogrom in Gujarat, “the police, the administration, and the political cadres at every level” were “systematically penetrated.” Roy states, “The RSS runs a shadow government that functions through tens of thousands of shakhas (branches) and other ideologically affiliated organizations with different names, some of them astonishingly violent, spread across the country. The RSS today has white supremacists and racists from the United States and Europe circling around it.”

“We appreciate the open welcome government agencies in America provide to people of all religions, races, and backgrounds,” comments OFMI’s Valmuci. “Yet the RSS is, by its very nature, opposed to diversity and multiculturalism. The presence of the RSS’s international wing in American police departments frightens minorities of Indian origin and inculcates a feeling of deep insecurity.

We want these government agencies to apologize for hosting the HSS, to issue statements distancing themselves, and to disavow all future events with this international wing of a supremacist paramilitary.”

The full list of government offices which participated includes: Coppell Police Department, Carmel Police Department, Dunwoody Police Department, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department, Howard County Police Department, Naperville Police Department, San Ramon Police Department, Tredyffrin Township Police Department, and West Des Moines Police Department; Arlington Heights Fire Department, Harrisburg Fire Department, Louisville Fire Department, and Phoenix Fire Department; Fort Bend County Commissioner Andy Meyers, Woodbridge Township Mayor John McCormac, and US Congressmen Bill Foster and Scott Peters.

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.

Visit for more information.

The Hindu – ‘Withdraw media curbs in Kashmir’

Journalists slam Press Council for failing to protect press freedom in the country

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 27 August 2019. Slamming the Press Council of India for failing to protect press freedom in the country, journalist unions have called for withdrawal of the curbs placed on the media in Kashmir. Their protests come in the context of the PCI’s affidavit filed in the Supreme Court justifying the government’s actions, citing overriding concerns of national security.

“The Press Council of India had been constituted to uphold the neutrality and independence of journalism in India. However, under the prevailing circumstances its role has also come under shadow by acting as an organ of the government,” said a statement issued jointly by the Press Association, Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps, and the Editor’s Guild.

Public meeting

All four organisations have called for a public meeting in the capital on Tuesday to demand that the government “immediately restore conditions in Jammu and Kashmir to facilitate gathering and relay of news by all media personnel; the restrictions on Internet and telecommunications should be removed, and the journalists be permitted safe and independent travel to report on the ground situation in the State.”

They noted that reporters have been arrested and roughed up by security personnel, and accused the government of preventing the media from reporting on the real ground situation in the Valley.

Protest in Chennai

Journalists in Chennai will also hold a protest meeting at the Madras Reporters’ Guild on Tuesday, to be addressed by N. Ram, chairman of The Hindu Publishing Group and president of the Alliance for Media Freedom, as well as prominent citizens including Carnatic singer T.M. Krishna and V. Geetha of the Tamil Nadu Women’s Coordination Committee.

Other organisations joining the protest include the Chennai Solidarity Group, Centre of Media Persons for Change, Tamil Nadu Union of Journalists and the Network of Women in Media.

“Rather than pushing for access to all parts of Kashmir and protection and safety of media persons, the Council has made itself subservient to the ruling dispensation. This does not bode well for India,” they said in a joint statement.