Religious rights of Kashmiris also being trampled, says report

Indian authorities sealed two Islamic seminaries where over 100 poor students were enrolled.

The Indian authorities in occupied Kashmir besides other human rights violations are also involved in blatantly trampling on the religious rights of the people of Kashmir, said a think-tank in its report.

According to its report, the Indian authorities sealed two Islamic seminaries in Kashmir last month.

The Indian authorities sealed two Islamic seminaries, Madrasa Taleemul Quran and Madrasa Asraful Aloom. The seminaries had over 100 students enrolled, most of whom came from poor families and received free education, food, and accommodations. Officials pretextually invoked violations of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) (a foreign-funding regulation) to shut down the seminaries.

The leadership of the seminaries have consistently denied authorities’ allegations and even fought the closure in court, winning a court judgment. These closures also impact Kashmiri Muslims’ right to access education, which has been adversely affected in recent years through various measures including the forcible closure of hundreds of schools, new “domicile” rules which deny locals their rights to access educational opportunities in IAK and communications shutdowns which interfere with students’ ability to study, research, access educational opportunities and take exams, among other things.

The Indian authorities have widely used the FCRA to pretextually persecute civil society and non-governmental bodies disfavored by the state, both in IAK and India.

Kashmiri Shi’a Muslims were permitted to commemorate Muharram for the first time in 34 years. This year, the Jammu & Kashmir administration permitted Shi’a Muslims to publicly commemorate Muharram freely for the first time since 1989. While Indian authorities celebrated this as demonstrating “normalcy” in IAK, it in fact shows the widespread nature of the repression targeting Muslims in IAK, whose religious rituals are subject to the whims and agendas of Indian political authorities, without recourse or redress.

Another example of this persecution is the administration’s prohibition of Muslim’s performance of Eid prayers in Srinagar’s Eidgah, the traditional and designated communal place for Eid prayers in Srinagar, since 2016.

Taking over property and destruction of property

The Jammu & Kashmir administration continued to dispossess indigenous communities in IAK. The administration continued to dispossess and evict indigenous communities from forest dwellings in IAK, practices which even violate Indian laws illegally imposed on Jammu & Kashmir.

Since 2019, some policies promoting the expropriation of land from and dispossession of Muslims in IAK have specifically targeted vulnerable communities, including forest-dwelling, nomadic and semi- nomadic groups.

Lack of access to justice and impunity

Indian Supreme Court refused to allow Yasin Malik to participate in his own defense. A new bill has been proposed for India’s parliament that would further legalize the dispossession of forest-dwelling communities in IAK, including by exempting many government activities from requiring otherwise applicable environmental approvals, including strategic projects within 100 kilometers of the LOC, defense-related projects and public utility projects.

On July 21, 2023, Mohammed Yasin Malik, a leading pro-self-determination political activist and longstanding advocate for non-violent resistance IAK currently serving a life sentence for “secessionism” and “terrorism” in a maximum-security Delhi prison, was escorted by armed security personnel to India’s Supreme Court to defend himself in an ongoing prosecution.

The justices treated Malik’s legal right to defend himself as a grave security breach, highlighting the lack of access to justice for Kashmiri defendants in Indian courts. Malik has been held in solitary confinement since 2017. He was denied a fair trial when he was convicted of “secessionism” and “terrorism” and sentenced Malik to life imprisonment in May 2022. The NIA recently renewed its efforts to have Malik judicially executed.

Indian judiciary continued to promote preventative detention of Kashmiris without legal oversight. Indian courts and other institutions have long refused to provide access to justice to Kashmiri victims, instead legalizing impunity for atrocity crimes and grave human rights violations in IAK. Nonetheless, thousands of Kashmiri families have fought for justice through Indian courts, only to be systematically refused.

The SHRC, which was terminated by the Indian government in 2019, offered thousands of Kashmiri victims an opportunity to at least be heard. After years of fighting through the SHRC’s processes in the face of official failures to investigate, refusals to cooperate, suppression of information, and intimidation of and reprisals against victims, all of the cases before the SHRC died with that institution in 2019.


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