Release Mehbooba Mufti, others, Concerned Citizens Group urges Centre  08/02/2020 07:57:50 

The Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) has asked the Centre to immediately release Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti and others who were detained after the dilution of Article 370 on August 5 last year.

In a statement, the group sought restoration of 4G communication in Jammu and Kashmir, lifting of the curbs on peaceful political activity, a multi-level dialogue with all those affected by the August 5 decision, and compensation to Kashmiri farmers and businessmen for their economic losses which were the direct result of unilateral action by the government.

The signatories include former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha, former Minorities Commission chief Wajahat Habibullah, Air Vice-Marshall (Retired) Kapil Kak, journalist Bharat Bhushan and activist Sushobha Barve.

Bank loan deferment

The CCG suggested that the same bank loan deferment and facilities be extended to J&K businesses as in the rest of the country. Do not push through laws in the absence of a legislature, restore land rights of the local inhabitants to prevent demographic change. Stop the intimidation of media personnel. Restore constitutional position of J&K as it was when an elected government was in power in June 2018, it said.

None of the stated goals of the government  of bringing Kashmir closer to India, ending militancy, bringing development to J&K  has been achieved. Instead the Kashmiris have lost any faith they had in the Indian political leadership and the judiciary, said the group.

The Supreme Court has still not found time to take up the petitions challenging the legal and constitutional validity of the J&K Reorganisation Act.

The Centres action internationalised the Kashmir issue to the detriment of India and the government was criticised for human rights violations and stoking Islamophobia. Security experts point out that the changes in the status of J&K also prompted Chinese incursions in Ladakh, it added.

The group has visited Kashmir twice since August 5, 2019, and met people from all sections of society. We found that the Centres actions had led to shock, trauma and humiliation among the local citizens. Their simmering anger at their helplessness still persists. However, it is significant that the Kashmiris through their display of mature behaviour prevented public violence and chose mass civil disobedience instead to show unhappiness, the CCG said.

The signatories said the Kashmiris seemed to believe that the Centre wanted to bring about a demographic change by creating new settlements for outsiders.

That the Union government has used the pandemic-induced lockdown to implement domicile laws for the UT has not helped allay these fears. The media which could have promoted a debate on this issue is being harassed and hounded, they said.

The internet restrictions had affected students, job seekers, entrepreneurs, businesses and ordinary citizens alike and created havoc in banking, trade, business and healthcare.

Harvesting and transport of fruits to wholesale markets last year were also impacted by militant threats, unavailability of outside labour and the killing of truck drivers and their assistants, as well as non-Kashmiri orchard labour.

Additionally, a freak snow storm last year uprooted thousands of apple trees, making the horticultural losses even more severe, said the group

Militancy in Kashmir had not gone down, with many disaffected youth continuing to join its ranks despite security forces having killed 136 militants this year, it said.

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