'Kashmiri Brides Not For Sale', Women Groups In Srinagar Protest Against Abrogation of Article 370
SRINAGAR, OCTOBER 15 - Getting over the fear factor, a group of women civil society members, including former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s sister, on Tuesday tried to stage a silent sit-in against the abrogation of Article 370 and “downgrading” of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
Women cops and paramilitaries, however, immediately swooped on the protestors and bundled them in their vehicles to prevent them from staging a sit-in against the abrogation of special status.
Wearing black arm bands and carrying banners, a group of women assembled in Partap Park and tried to stage a peaceful sit in. However, a large posse of women police and paramilitary forces immediately pounced on the group and bundled the protestors in their vehicles before driving them to the police station.
Those detained including former chief minister Omar Abdullah’s sister Safia Khan, National Conference president and sitting Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah’s sister Surya Mattoo, former J&K high court chief justice Bashir Ahmad Khan’s wife Professor Hawa Khan and others.
Omar’s sister Safia was carrying a banner reading “Kashmiri brides not for sale”, apparently implying to the statement made by some BJP leaders of Haryana and UP after the abrogation of Article 370. Women protestors were also demanding the release of detainees and restoration of civil liberties. The group was also critical of the national media for “false and misleading coverage of ground realities in Kashmir.
The group members were not allowed to talk to media, but they managed to distribute the statement to the waiting media persons. “We the women of Kashmir disapprove the unilateral decision taken by the Government of India to revoke Article 370 and 35 A and downgrade and split the state of Jammu and Kashmir. We feel betrayed, humiliated and violated as people”, read the statement.
Demanding the restoration of civil liberties and fundamental rights of citizens, the group called for demilitarization of rural and urban areas. “We demand immediate release of detainees. We express our outrage against the national media for their false and misleading coverage of ground realties in Kashmir”, read the statement.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah told a television channel that less than 1000 are detained of whom 800 are stone-pelters. Those detained include three former chief ministers –Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. Besides, several former ministers and MLAs are also detained.
The protest by women group comes at a time when Kashmir is simmering post abrogation of Article 370 on August 5. Every morning markets open for three hours to allow people to buy essentials. During the day markets remains shut and public transport off the roads. Only private vehicles are seen plying in the safe areas. Unlike 2010 and 2016, no organization or leader is apparently guiding the agitation.
Communication clampdown preceded the abrogation of Article 370 and division of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on August 5. On Monday postpaid mobiles were restored in the valley. However, within hours, SMS service on the mobiles was withdrawn. No reason has been given by government for withdrawing the SMS service. Internet services continue to remain shut for the last 72 days.