Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Over 170 Academics from Around the World Demand India Restore High-Speed Internet, Release Kashmiri Political Prisoners


The following letter was sent from the Kashmir Scholars Consultative and Action Network (KSCAN) and Concerned Academics & Professionals from around the world to the World Health Organization, UN Special Rapporteurs, and various international health organizations. You can view the official letter here.



We the undersigned would like to bring to your notice the debilitating communications lockdown that has been in place in Indian-controlled Kashmir for the past seven months. Despite the region reporting multiple positive cases of Covid-19, the Indian government has, criminally, barred residents from accessing reliable, high-speed internet. Only recently, through an administrative diktat, the Indian authorities extended the ban on high-speed internet until 26th of March.


Residents constantly report the unreliability and slowness of low-speed internet (2G) in opening basic web pages, let alone using it for data-heavy purposes like accessing medical and educational resources.


As a reminder, the maximum speed of 2G is about 50 Kbps; that of a 4G network, the current global standard, when the device is moving is 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps when the caller is stationary or walking. That means, even in these times of a global pandemic — where timely access to critical information by the doctors and the public might be a key to survival — India is punishing Kashmiris via an internet 2,000 to 20,000 times slower than the rest of the world. The actions of the Indian government constitute denial of critical and humanitarian assistance and as such are criminal and a breach of the Geneva Conventions. The centrality of a reliable communications channel in tackling this global pandemic cannot be overstated, as was recently expressed by the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteurs.



Eight Million People Can’t Get News About The Coronavirus Because Their Government Is Slowing Down…


Apart from allowing individuals and families to access the latest information on how to keep themselves safe from the Corona virus, high-speed internet allows healthcare professionals to be aware of the latest information regarding managing the impending medical crisis as well as to stay in touch with their colleagues around the globe for advice.


As we are already seeing in countries across Europe and America, reliable internet also allows day-to-day economic and educational functions to operate substantially during any social-distancing measures, which are central to preventing community spread of this highly contagious disease. It is also urgent to bring to your attention the plight of hundreds of Kashmiri political prisoners, who remain detained in unhygienic conditions in various jails in Kashmir and across India, and are therefore at a grave and increased risk of infection. Global health experts have urged the immediate release of prisoners, and we second these calls.


Given that the transnational, well-respected group Genocide Watch has already placed Kashmir on Genocide Alert, the genocidal intent of the Indian state is already established. Some of the public information being distributed by the Indian state wrongly indicates that asymptomatic people who arrive from areas of contagion or who have been in close proximity to people infected with Covid-19 are “safe” and do not require testing. Moreover, many people arriving from high-infection areas were not tested at the Srinagar airport. The first Kashmiri presenting Covid-19 returned from Saudi Arabia on March 16th, and was tested positive only on March 18th. The range of contagion during those two very critical days could have been limited and prevented by strict quarantine, but it was not. Add to this, the uniquely cruel punishment of a deliberately slow internet. The negligence of the Indian State towards Kashmiris’ safety can be explicitly seen as criminal and in fact, genocidal.


Through your good offices, we — the multiple Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri scholars, medical as well as public healthcare professionals and academics living across the globe — urge the Indian government to immediately restore high-speed internet connectivity in the region and, unconditionally, release all Kashmiri political prisoners. As Kashmir heads into this pandemic with a severely underdeveloped public health infrastructure and healthcare system, as result of decades of militarization, it is imperative that the Indian government allow its residents to make use of virtual technologies to their maximum potential in order to alleviate the dreadful impact of this virus. Ensuring the alleviation of the pandemic in Kashmir is urgent for Kashmiris as well as for the region and the world.



Thank you for your time and attention.



For more resources, please read through the following articles: 




  1. Dean Accardi, Assistant Professor of History, Connecticut College, USA
  2. Binish Ahmed, Ph.D. Candidate, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
  3. Omer Aijazi, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto, Canada
  4. Dibyesh Anand, Professor of International Relations, University of Westminster, UK
  5. Mirza Saaib Beg, Lawyer, London, UK
  6. Mona Bhan, Associate Professor of Anthropology and the Ford Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies, Syracuse University, USA
  7. Emma Brännlund, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), UK
  8. Farhan Mujahid Chak, Associate Professor, Qatar University, Qatar
  9. Angana Chatterji, University of California, Berkeley
  10. Huma Dar, Adjunct Professor, California College of Arts, USA
  11. Haley Duschinski, Associate Professor, Ohio University, USA
  12. Iffat Fatima, Filmmaker, India
  13. Mohammed Tahir Ganie, Assistant Professor, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, Ireland
  14. Javaid Hayat Khan, Ph. D. Independent Researcher and Analyst, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  15. Serena Hussain, Associate Professor, Coventry University, UK
  16. Khushdeep Kaur, Ph.D. Candidate, Temple University, USA
  17. Nitasha Kaul, Associate Professor, University of Westminster, UK
  18. Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh, Lawyer and Legal Researcher, India
  19. Mohamad Junaid, Assistant Professor, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, USA
  20. Hafsa Kanjwal, Assistant Professor of History, Lafayette College, USA
  21. Mir Fatimah Kanth, Ph.D. Student, University of California, San Diego, USA
  22. Ain Ul Khair, Central European University
  23. Suvir Kaul, A.M. Rosenthal Professor, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  24. Zunaira Komal, Ph.D. Candidate, University of California, Davis, USA
  25. Fozia Nazir Lone, Associate Professor of International Law, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  26. Laura Lucia Notaro, Consultant, Sustainable Development, Milan, Italy
  27. Inshah Malik, Assistant Professor, Kardan University, Kabul, Afghanistan
  28. Deepti Misri, Associate Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
  29. Preetika Nanda, Research Scholar, India
  30. Raja Qaiser Ahmad, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
  31. Immad Nazir, Research Scholar, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany
  32. Goldie Osuri, Associate Professor, University of Warwick, UK
  33. Idrisa Pandit, Independent Scholar, Waterloo, Canada
  34. Samina Raja, Professor, University of Buffalo, USA
  35. Torrun Arnsten Sajjad, Department of Community Medicine and Global Health, University of Oslo, Norway
  36. Mehroosh Tak., Lecturer, Royal Veterinary College, London, UK
  37. Nishita Trisal, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
  38. Saiba Varma, Assistant Professor, University of California, San Diego, USA
  39. Haris Zargar, Ph.D. Candidate, International Institute of Social Sciences, The Hague, Netherlands
  40. Ather Zia, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Colorado, USA
  41. Mirza Waheed, Novelist, London
  42. Dr Priyamvada Gopal, Cambridge University
  43. Khawaja Khalid Rauf, IT Admin. Hamburg, Germany
  44. Aamir Rashid Najar, IT consultant, Hamburg, Germany
  45. Tavseef Mairaj, PhD candidate, Hamburg University of Technology, Germany
  46. Mudasir Wazir, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  47. Umar Lateef Misgar, University of Westminster, London
  48. Ikram Ullah, University of Marburg, Germany
  49. Ramya Maddali, Académie d’Orléans-Tours, Orléans, France
  50. Aashna Jamal, Economist, Timor-Leste
  51. Hashim Syed, Visual Anthropologist, University of Münster, Germany
  52. Zara Bakshi, Researcher, Ashoka University
  53. Annapurna Menon, University of Westminster, London
  54. Suhail Yousuf, PhD, Heidelberg University Medical Center and German Cancer Research Center, Germany
  55. Pooja Krishnakumar, PhD candidate, SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom
  56. Saima Rashid, Post-Grad student, Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, Istanbul, Turkey
  57. Tara Vidisha Ghose, SOAS University of London, United Kingdom
  58. Tara Bhat, SOAS University of London, London, United Kingdom
  59. Maya Bhardwaj, SOAS — University of London, UK
  60. Gehna Kapoor
  61. Saquib Farooq, University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
  62. Dr. Haneen Bég, Kumudini Womens Medical College and Hospital, Bangladesh
  63. Aruna Chaudhuri, London, United Kingdom
  64. Waseem Malik, Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, JNU, India.
  65. Rabia Latif Khan, PhD candidate, SOAS, University of London
  66. Syed Burhan Gilani, MBBS student, Bolan Medical College, Quetta
  67. Ummi Ammarah, Joint PhD student between KU Leuven, Belgium and University of Turin, Italy.
  68. Arshita Nandan
  69. Tanvi Surana, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
  70. Huma Raiel Assad, Junior Research Fellow, Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore
  71. Sarah Lina Ewald, PhD candidate, University of Tübingen, Germany
  72. Abhishek Mukhopadhyay, France
  73. Burooj Ghani, PhD Candidate, University of Göttingen, Germany
  74. Iffat Rashid, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  75. Faisal Wani, PhD candidate, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.
  76. Alia Andleeb, University of East Anglia, UK
  77. Shams Rehman, JKTV Live



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