August 9, 2023
In recent weeks, a number of journalists and activists, as well as others, have had their passports suspended. A passport officer stated that he has been directed to cancel about a dozen passports in total. While the exact number remains unknown, media reports have said that between 70 to 200 people may have had their passports suspended this time around. This would be the largest passport suspension since this witch hunt began a few years ago.
Just in the last two weeks, at least 10 people have received emails from passport authorities, informing them that their passports have been suspended. Due to these suspensions, several Kashmiri journalists are already living in exile. Kashmiri students studying outside of india are also anxious and struggling to decide whether they can go back to their homes and see their families and potentially risk passport suspension or live in exile abroad.
“It means an end to my studies and arrest and torture if I return back this time,” said a Kashmiri student who is studying abroad and received a notification of his passport being suspended by the indian government (Middle East Eye, Azad Essa).
The State Investigation Agency has also been actively conducting raids for what it maintains to be the “misuse of social media for unlawful and secessionist activities”. On June 20, 2023, the SIA conducted ‘pre-dawn’ raids across six locations in Kupwara, Islamabad, Pulwama and Srinagar. These raids are an extreme violation of privacy and dignity as the agencies take people’s personal property (including documents, laptops, and phones) and threaten them with further action.
As August 15, the indian “independence day” draws closer, government employees in Kashmir have been asked to post selfies with the indian flag on their social media. This order comes while a strict gag on the “online activities of government employees” in Kashmir remains in force.
As the settler colonialism project of the indian state in Kashmir continues to take form at a rapid pace, there seems to be a fresh wave of attacks on Kashmiri civil society. Escalation of these attacks right before celebrating the 76th year of being independent further exposes the bogus claims of indian ‘democracy’ and its colonial agendas in Kashmir. Since the world’s longest communication blockade was enforced on Kashmir in 2019, things have been going downhill very rapidly. The indian state has moved to supress any voice of political dissent, be it human rights activists, the media, academia, or social media users.
Please share this article to raise awareness about india’s settler colonial aspirations in Kashmir. If strategies like these are allowed to go on unabated, a demographic change in Kashmir according to india’s aspirations will not be too far away.
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