In response to the abrogation of Article 35A and Article 370, the nation saw countrywide protests being organised by various organisations.

Student leaders, political figures, and dissenting students took to the streets of Mandi House  to make their way to Jantar Mantar to protest the abrogation of Article 35A and Article 370 which granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The protest was supported by organisations including Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), and All India Forward Bloc (AIFB).

The move has left people confused and shocked. People have been vocal about their dissent through social media. The varied reactions, some celebratory and some condemning it have made Delhi the hotbed of protests and celebration rallies this week.

“There’s a new way of misogyny in the air after the abrogation. There are memes and posts about men wanting to marry a Kashmiri woman. Does this mean they intend to kill all our boys? There has been excitement over the prospect of buying land. So, it was never about the people, was it? Only the land,” said a Kashmiri woman.”I’ve been here for 10 years. I went to university here, I got my first job here. I’ve never come out for a protest ever before but the latest news forced me out of my house. I need to be seen, I need to be heard.” added another Kashmiri woman on the conditions of anonymity.Amidst placards, posters, and media personnel running around to take interviews, a few protestors drew graffiti and wrote slogans on the road as leaders from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Lenininst) spoke about the issue.

Shortly, a counter protest by unknown people began outside the barricades. They unfurled the national flag and waved it high while shouting slogans demanding ‘azaadi’ (freedom) from ‘anti-nationals’. Their display of hyper nationalism found itself in slogans praising the nation as the police and CRPF forces formed a tight, protective circle around them. The counter protesters also chanted aggressive slogans like “desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaron saalon ko” (shoot all the traitors of the nation).

As the valley spends its third day without any communication channels, reports and rumours of protests, stone pelting, and death in the rehion leave the Kashmiri students in Delhi distressed.Students are yet to hear from their families back home. Reports of curfew and increased military presence has only added to their fears and worries.

The abrogation has left Ladakh as a Union Territory without its own legislature. Students from Ladakh spoke against the decision. Mohammad Ali, a student from Jawaharlal Nehru University said,“The MP proudly smiles and boasts his hapoiness on TV, he say the people of Ladakh are happy, but let me tell you that they aren’t. There have been protests because we don’t welcome this move. Bifurcating the state only puts us in a more vulnerable position. Ladakh’s ecology is in danger due to climate change and rising tourism. The abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A will only damage the ecology further as outsiders will try to set up their companies. Tell me, how do you take such a major decision without asking the people? Is this what Indian democracy stands for?”

Many students chose to cover their faces at the protest or chose to not show up at all. Fear of being recognised and reported grips the Kashmiri diaspora in Delhi. “As a Kashmiri woman, my fears have only increased this year. First it was Pulwama, and now this.” The suddenness of the abrogation has left students torn between the legalities and the emotions it provokes. “It’s unconstitutional and undemocratic, that’s all I can say,” said a university student. “They’ll have to lift the curfew someday, and when they will, there will be bloodshed. I am terrified of that happening.”

Feature Image Credits: Noihrit Gogoi for DU Beat


Jaishree Kumar

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