J&K witnessing 'civil disobedience' movement: activists

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What one is witnessing in Kashmir is a "civil disobedience" movement by people as an "act of resistance" by common man "without any call" by militants or separatists or political leaders after the scrapping of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, a fact-finding team which visited the state said on Saturday.

Releasing the report 'Kashmir Civil Disobedience - A Citizens' Report', the four-member team said they found the exact opposite of the portrayal of the situation in Kashmir by the government and a section of media during their stay in Kashmir for six days and two days in Jammu.

The fact-finding team — writer-psychiatrist Anirudh Kala, public health professional Brienelle D'Souza, journalist-writer Revati Laul, and activist Shabnam Hashmi -- questioned the government's narrative that it has unfolded the "new reality" peacefully through increased military presence, arrests of leaders and communication blockade.

Quoting a journalist whom the activists interacted, the report said, "Kashmir is on edge -- humiliated, angry, disturbed and disrobed."

"The fact that there has been no violence has to do with the resilience of the people. It is an active and collective choice being exercised each day, to observe a civil disobedience. In feeling rejected and betrayed by the Indian state, Kashmiris have chosen to respond back, through a largely non-violent protest," the report said.

It said most people told them that they were keeping their shops and offices closed "not under any call by militants or separatists or political leaders but as an act of resistance".

The activists said the "collective shock, fear of reprisal has however turned them into silent protesters" and the people feel this may well be the lull before the storm or the making of molten mass that is bound to erupt.

The report said there heard a number of stories of torture and arrests but despite this fear, people "defied the odds" and chose to keep their shops closed. It said they only picked up two or three instances where people spoke about finding notices pasted, "possibly by militants, on a masjid wall", warning against opening shops.

The report said the team was also told about security personnel insisting them to open their shops but they defied it. "That is the choice most Kashmiris have made. To go against the diktat to open shop. And remain in this mode of civil disobedience for as long as they can," it said. 

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