Srinagar: Prominent writers, academics and professionals from various countries have issued a joint letter to express solidarity with Kashmiris following the "horrifying events over the past nearly four weeks."
According to the organizers, over 900 signatures have been collected in less than 48 hours.
In their letter of solidarity with Kashmiris, the signatories, which included Prof Noam Chomsky, among others, said that they are deeply concerned about the armed violence perpetrated by the Indian state through its 700,000 strong army on civilians in Jammu and Kashmir since the 8th of July 2016.
"More than 50 people have been killed on the pretext of crowd control since then. More than a 100 eye surgeries have been performed. We don't know yet how many will be partially or totally blinded by the use of “non-lethal pellet guns.” Pellet guns shoot over 500 small lead balls, and thus severely injure multiple protesters at once. Children as young as a 3-year-old have been injured inside their houses, alongside more than 3500 civilians—many of them in critical condition," the letter read.
The letter further said that the killing of unarmed Kashmiri protesters comes after Indian government forces fired live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas against mourners, in wake of the killing of popular 21-year-old rebel commander Burhan Wani.
"Rather than expressing remorse over the loss of life in Kashmir, India only vowed to take tougher action against Kashmir’s protestors. The ruthless killings has led to spontaneous protests across the state against the continued brutalities of the Indian armed forces which has impunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Instead of reaching out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and opening communication channels, India has enforced a complete lockdown on the millions of inhabitants of the Valley since 8th July," the letter said.
"The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Kashmir currently is not a one off. It has been an integral part of how India continues to rule over Kashmir. Such events have repeatedly occurred throughout the past three decades, with India continuing to look away from the writing on the wall. The current protests, and those in the three bloody summers of 2008-10, only reflect the resilience of the Kashmiri people and their demand for right to self-determination, which not only is guaranteed by UNSC resolutions, but was also promised by the Indian Parliament in 1948," it said.
"We condemn the systematic violence used by Indian armed forces in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, and we demand an immediate end to this state terrorism against civilians. We furthermore, demand that Indian government communicate with Kashmiris, rather than considering it a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan," the letter said.
"We also call on world leaders and human rights organisations to unequivocally condemn the siege of Kashmir and the ensuing war crimes and human rights violations by India’s security forces," it added.
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