21, Jan 2020 | Achintya Ganguly
Economist Jean Drèze said this while speaking at a session on “370 and Kashmir Situation” that was a part of a seminar organised by the Jharkhand Nagrik Prayas at the Social Development Centre in the state capital on Monday.
“When I went there (Kashmir) immediately after abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, I found the people there had both anger and fear in them,” he said.
Drèze had visited Kashmir as a member of a delegation that had gone to the Valley to express their solidarity with Kashmiris within a week after abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.
There was anger because the local people felt they were betrayed, Drèze said.
He cited many quotes of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who had said the will of the Kashmiri people would prevail.
“They (Kashmiris) were also afraid as they were confined to their homes with no access to communication and the forces were deployed everywhere in the surroundings,” he added.
“Kashmir ko jail bana diya (they turned Kashmir into a jail) and humein bandh kar 370 hata diya (they imprisoned us and removed Article 370)” were the reactions that the delegation heard from the people who spoke to them, Drèze said.
The Kashmiris felt deprived by the actions of successive governments that culminated in the end of statehood, he said.
“Gaps were created that were never bridged,” he said.
Kashmir, the economist said, was better in certain aspects than many other states of the country as life indices were much better there prior to abrogation of Article 370.
“The situation in Kashmir is disturbing,” said human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, who also spoke on the topic.
“Deployment of forces for a very long period coupled with AFSPA started alienating people and certain forces took advantage of the situation for brainwashing the local people,” she said.
She said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was a “complex” one in which both the Muslims and the Kashmiri Pandits — who had to flee the Valley en masse in 1989-90 in the face of atrocities inflicted upon them by a state marching towards militancy — felt deprived.
“Kashmir that earlier adored Sufism now faces too much of Islamisation that is really disturbing,” she added.
The original report may be read here.