A crowd of Kashmiris, Indians, Pakistanis, Bengalis, Arabs, Africans and whites congregated in a protest in Detroit, MI for the current siege on Kashmir in August. Dozens of signs in support were held up as cars passing by honked in solidarity.
Kashmir is a socio-ethnic region spread across Jammu and Kashmir controlled by India, Gilbit-Baltistan in Pakistan, and Aksai Chin with China. The territory has been under dispute between the three countries since the India-Pakistan Partition in 1947, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Several United Nations resolutions have attempted to mitigate the issue and bring peace, but the conflict has ensued.
Nearly 7,000 miles east of the protests stands the situation of the Kashmiri people. Blocked out from the rest of world, they are currently under siege by order of Pradrenda Modi’s Indian government. According to InternetShutDowns.in, a website that tracks internet access across the world, internet and telecommunications have been cut off, rendering Kashmir isolated from greater society and the world.
“My brothers and sisters are there, and I have no idea what’s happening with them. Are they able to get food? Are they able to get medication? I have no idea,” Tariq, a man identifying as Kashmiri, with family residing in Kashmir said.
According to Al Jazeera, this was caused by the revocation of Article 370 of India’s constitution, which gave autonomy to the state including the right to make decisions on all issues except defense, communications and foreign affairs.
“There was some sort of autonomy where you could practice free religion in Kashmir, that has been taken away. Now they [Indian Government] are trying to change the demographics of the state. They have made it a union territory without any rights,” a protester emphasized.
According to this protester, many people in the area with cancer and other severe illnesses have not been able to get treatment and thus deaths have occurred, according to a Kashmiri physician with family in the area.
“This is a complete abuse of human basic human rights; cancer patients have not been getting the treatments, dialysis patients are dying without treatment. There was a pregnant woman [who] couldn’t deliver and her baby died while walking [eight kilometers] to the hospital,” he added.
A curfew and freedom to practice Islam has also been imposed upon the Kashmiris. “The area is in complete curfew. And they are not they have not been able to pray the Friday prayers. They have not celebrated Eid, which is the most important festival for us,” a protestor who claimed to have direct ties to the state said.
The Kashmiris have been in limbo for decades. The nationless state has been struggling to solve this problem. Since they do not have a formal government, it has been difficult for the situation to be diplomatically resolved. The United Nations have attempted to intervene, with different resolutions that have been violated by India according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
A solution to this complex problem seems out of sight, but all protestors agreed on one thing: that it lies in the hands of the Kashmiri people.
“The solution to this problem is asking Kashmiris. If the Kashmiris say we want to be with India, so be it. If they want to say we want to be independent, or if they want to go to hell, so be it. But you must ask Kashmiris. you cannot make decisions in New Delhi, Islamabad or New York. It must be Kashmiris. They have to make the decision – like any free people,” a protestor told us.