Post August 5, Kashmiris fear demographic change: CCG

Post August 5, Kashmiris fear demographic change: CCG

A new report by the CCG says that Kashmiris “seemed to be working within an ideological frame” even as things were far from normal in the Valley.

The New Delhi-based "Concerned Citizens Group" (CCG) led by former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha has said people in Kashmir fear that government of India would settle outsiders in the Valley to effect the "demographic change."

A newreport by the CCG says that Kashmiris "seemed to be working within anideological frame" even as things were far from normal in the Valley.

"Therewas an air of depression when we talked to the locals," the report reads,adding people were concerned over loss of language, statehood to J&K, itsown Constitution and flag and autonomy.

Thereport says that many people believed the events starting from August 5 and the"subsequent ratification" of the government's decisions in Parliamentdemonstrated it was end of politics in Kashmir and a "process of controllingKashmiris by force had begun."

"They (Kashmiris) believethat Indian government wants to marginalise them if not annihilate them. Thisfear is expressed most vividly as fear of demographic change by creating newsettlements for outsiders," reads the report. "There is also fear of NationalRegister of Citizens and how it could be used to legitimise settlers."

Apart from Sinha, the group comprised former ChiefInformation Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah; Air Vice Marshal (R), Kapil Kakand senior journalist Bharat Bhushan.

The group visited Srinagar on November 22 and stayed in thecapital city for four days. The group members were however not allowed totravel to other parts of Kashmir including southern Kashmir.

The report says "three emerging strategies" by government ofIndia were being watched with a lot of apprehension by people of Kashmir –"reconstruction and renovation of temples, setting up of a Medical City, andseparate settlements for Kashmiri Pandits and ex-servicemen."

The report reads that government of India has announced aplan of renovating and reconstructing 50,000 temples in Kashmir. "However,Kashmiri Pandit activists in the Valley point out that there are only 1842temples, springs, caves and shrines that are considered holy in the entireValley and of these only about 1100 are big or small temples," the reportreads. "Who is giving them (the government of India) this number (50,000) wheneven after including Jammu region the number of temples is not more than4,000."

"The second point of thegovernment's strategy, Kashmiris believe, would be the so-called developmentprojects like setting up a Medical City or Medicity with hospitals, medical andnursing colleges, super speciality treatment centres, and residentialaccommodation for doctors, nurses and other paramedics," reads the report."This will necessarily bring outsiders to the Valley, because they will bepackaged as development projects. The third strategy, the locals believe thegovernment may use for demographic change is to create settlement enclaves forKashmiri Pandits and ex-servicemen (Sainik Colonies."

Thereport reads the internet ban has affected students, job seekers,entrepreneurs, businesses and ordinary people of Kashmir alike. "Why wasinternet not blocked when the terrorist attack of 26/11 took place in Mumbai?"

Thereport says there were around 14 lakh students learning online. "Those wishingto appear for NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) or othercompetitive examinations for higher education are unable to do so because ofinternet gag," the report reads.

Thereport says Kashmir economy has plunged into an "abyss". "In one move theentire economy was shattered across sectors ranging from tourism, handicrafts,Information Technology, industry and horticulture," the report says.

"It hurt the economy grievously and that process has notstopped," the report quotes a representative of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce andIndustry. The representative has put total loss to Rs 12,000 crore.

The report said that agricultural sector was one of the worstaffected after August 5. "The first sector to suffer was sheep-breeding. August12 was the festival of Eid and this time because of the blockade imposed on thepopulation, Eid was not celebrated publicly and not even 30 percent of thesheep were sold," he said.

The report says people in Kashmir tend to think thatprotests and civil disobedience will make no difference to government of India."So they are asking: What should be done which would make a difference? Theprevalence of such questions may in fact be preparing the ground for a newphase of militancy," the report said.

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