We the People Remember — 365 Days of Violation of Constitutional Commitment to Our Sisters and Brothers in J&K

August 5, 2020 marks a year since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, and the loss of its statehood. In effect, it is the first anniversary of the violation of our Constitutional commitment to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 

How is this anniversary being marked officially? According to news reports, through an imposition of curfew in the Valley. This is a sad and ironic commentary on the promises of rapid and widespread ‘development’ made by the Centre last year. Instead, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have never suffered as deeply, nor felt as alienated from the Indian government, as they do today.

Unparalleled stringent security measures have been imposed, leading to untold hardships for people whom we have always maintained are an ‘integral part of India’.  Equally, the loss of identity has meant an almost total disintegration and alienation of the hearts and minds of the majority of the people. Internet suspension, media censorship, no jobs, no tourism, no schooling and no access to even online learning, since even so-called easing of restrictions has permitted only limited 2G access: these are only a few examples of what people have to live with every single day. They also have to live with deep anxiety and depression; or anger and resentment.

A journalist who has long covered the region reports that this is, perhaps, the first time in living memory when all Kashmiris have turned away from New Delhi. Some serving members of the security forces, as also veterans, have often expressed their belief that there can be no military solution to the Kashmir question. A recent article entitled ‘Wounds Need to Heal’, by a former head of the CRPF, has reiterated this very strongly; and he calls for a restoration of its statehood, followed by elections. There is also exhaustion and fatigue among the security forces.

As for ‘We the people of India’: there have been many reports from fact-finding groups, covering the period before August 5th 2019, as well as the 12 months since. Virtually every report underlines the urgent need to restore statehood, release all political prisoners, resume basic economic activities and internet and communications, redress human rights violations and restart schooling, among the necessary steps to build confidence. Dialogue as a precondition to rebuild the fractured democratic polity is a unanimous recommendation.

Committed as we the undersigned are to the values of the Indian Constitution, we urge the Prime Minister and his team to immediately restore statehood and basic freedoms in Jammu and Kashmir, so as to create the best possible conditions for peaceful dialogue. This is the only way to reach out to the suffering people of Jammu and Kashmir; honour the promises made to them; and uphold the Constitution of India and all the Democratic freedoms enshrined therein. 

In solidarity,

1 Abha Bhaiya, Feminist activist 40 KP Sasi, Filmmaker
2 Abhijit Sengupta, IAS [Retd] 41 Lalita Ramdas, Educator, Activist
3 Admiral L Ramdas [Retd] 42 MA Baby, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member
4 Air Marshal Kapil Kak [Retd] 43 Madhu Bhaduri, IFS [Retd]
5 Air Marshal Vir Narain [Retd] 44 Maimoona Mollah, AIDWA
6 Amitabha Pande, IAS [Retd] 45 Maj Gen Sudhir Vombatkere [Retd]
7 Ardhendu Sen, IAS [Retd] 46 Maj Priyadarshi Chowdhury, SC [Retd]
8 Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan 47 Manishi Jani, Writer
9 Ashish Kothari, Kalpvriksh 48 Meena Gupta, IAS [Retd]
10 Ashok Kumar Sharma, IFoS [Retd] 49 MG Devasahayam, IAS [Retd]
11 Ashok Kumar Sharma, IFS [Retd] 50 Mridula Garg, Hindi author
12 Atamjit Singh, Playwright 51 Niloufer Bhagwat [Advocate]
13 Badri Raina, Author and columnist 52 Natasha Bhadwar, Author and filmmaker
14 Brijesh Kumar, IAS [Retd] 53 Navrekha Sharma, IFS [Retd]
15 Captain S Prabhala IN [Retd] 54 Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
16 Chadrakant Patil, Poet and writer 55 NK Raghupathy, IAS [Retd]
17 Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan, IAS [Retd] 56 PR Dasgupta, IAS [Retd]
18 Civic Chandran, Editor with Patabhedam 57 R Poornalingam, IAS [Retd]
19 Col Pavan Nair [Retd] 58 Rahul Khullar, IAS [Retd]
20 Deb Mukharji, IFS [Retd] 59 Raju Sharma, IAS [Retd]
21 Ganesh Devy, Writer, Academic 60 Ramachandra Guha, Writer and scholar
22 Geeta Kapur, Art writer 61 S Raghunandana, Kannada poet, playwright and stage director
23 Geetanjali Shree, Writer 62 Sagari R Ramdas, Food Sovereignty Alliance, India
24 Gita Jayaraj, Writer and researcher 63 Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD
25 Githa Hariharan, Writer 64 SP Ambrose, IAS [Retd]
26 Gopalan Balagopal, IAS [Retd] 65 Subodh Lal, IPoS [Resigned]
27 Gyan Prakash, Academic 66 Sudhir Chandra, Writer
28 Hindal Tyabji, IAS [Retd] 67 Sujatha K Rao, IAS [Retd]
29 HS Gujral, IFoS [Retd] 68 Sundar Burra, IAS [Retd]
30 J Devika, Feminist researcher 69 Suresh K Goel, IFS [Retd]
31 Jayati Ghosh, Academic 70 Sushil Dubey, IFS [Retd]
32 John Dayal, Writer, Activist 71 Vibha Puri Das, IAS [Retd]
33 Julio Ribeiro, IPS [Retd] 72 Vijaya Latha Reddy, IFS [Retd]
34 Justice AP Shah [Retd] 73 Vijaya Venkatraman, Academic
35 Jyothi Ananthasubbarao, Activist and writer 74 Vinod C Khanna, IFS [Retd]
36 K Ashok Rao, Public sector activist 75 Vivan Sundaram, Artist
37 K Satchidanandan, Poet 76 VP Raja, IAS [Retd]
38 Keshav Desiraju, IAS [Retd] 77 Yousuf Saeed, Filmmaker
39 KP Fabian, Ambassador 78 Zoya Hasan, Academic