City of Cambridge expresses concern over Kashmir

Prime Minister Narendra Modi while visiting Jammu and Kashmir in April 2017. Also seen is the-then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Last week, Modi’s government revoked special privileges enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir. Photo credit: PIB
Prime Minister Narendra Modi while visiting Jammu and Kashmir in April 2017. Also seen is the-then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. On August 5, 2019, Modi’s government revoked special privileges enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir. Photo credit: PIB

The Cambridge City Council expresses “severe concern for the developments in Kashmir” and declares its “solidarity with the Kashmiri people.”

Concerns about India’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir continue to pour in from the US capital and other parts of the country.

Joining the list of US lawmakers and civil rights activists, a Massachusetts city has criticized India’s security crackdown in Jammu and Kashmir.

The City of Cambridge, home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, expressed its “severe concern for the developments in Kashmir” and declared its “solidarity with the Kashmiri people.”

The resolution, unanimously approved by the nine-member city council on Monday, was introduced by council members Sumbul Siddiqui, Quinton Zondervan and Dennis J. Carlone.

The council requested to forward copies of the resolution to the offices of Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, and Reps. Kathrine Clark and Ayanna Pressley, “encouraging them to call for the Indian government’s immediate and complete cessation of the communications blackout in Kashmir, and demand that all human rights violations in Kashmir be thoroughly and properly investigated on behalf of the entire City Council.”

Warren, a presidential aspirant, had expressed concerns about in a weekend twee. She tweeted: “The US-India partnership has always been rooted in our shared democratic values. I’m concerned about recent events in Kashmir, including a continued communications blackout and other restrictions. The rights of the people of Kashmir must be respected.”

Warren is the third Democratic Party presidential candidate to criticize India over Kashmir. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Kamala Harris, an Indian American, had earlier joined the chorus of critics of the Indian actions.

India bifurcated the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two federally administered Union Territories on August 5, after abrogating a key article of its constitution that had guaranteed certain privileges.

The move, especially the security crackdown and the blackout of cell phone and internet services, were denounced by more than a dozen US lawmakers and civil rights activists.

Here is the text of the resolution:

 

City of Cambridge

O-9
IN CITY CONCIL
October 7, 2019

COUNCILLOR Siddiqui
COUNCILLOR Zondervan
COUNCILLOR Carlone

WHEREAS:
On August 5, 2019, the Government of India suspended Article 370 of its constitution, thereby revoking the long-protected, semi-autonomous status of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir without consultation of Kashmir political or civil society leaders; and

WHEREAS:
This anti-democratic action was preceded by a surge of roughly 35,000 Indian forces to the already heavily militarized region of Jammu & Kashmir and the imposition of a total communications blackout across the region, including cellular networks and internet connectivity; and

WHEREAS:
Kashmiris remain cut off from each other and the outside world while their families across the globe, including Kashmiri-Americans in Cambridge, and unable to contact them and ensure their safety and well-being; and

WHEREAS:
While the ongoing blackout has severely curtailed the ability of international press to investigate on the ground, the few reports that have merged have been uniformly disturbing, including: mass detentions of thousands of citizens, elected officials, doctors, and lawyers; use of torture and lethal force against civilians, dwindling supplies of life-saving medical treatments and inability of patients to access hospitals, and curtailing of religious freedoms; and

WHEREAS:
Children have borne the brunt of these actions, with reports of families unable to secure baby food and formula for infants, students prevented from attending school, and Kashmiris as young as 12 facing serious injuries from Indian forces and indefinite detentions without any charges; and

WHEREAS:
Activists across the United States and globe have been mobilizing in solidarity with the people of Kashmir, and on the weekend of September 21-22 a series of peaceful protests were held to make Day 50 of the communication blackout in Kashmir; and

WHEREAS:
These standouts, coordinated by the coalition “Global Standout for Peace in South Asia,” took place in Boston, MA, Seattle, WA, the San Francisco Bay area, and Houston, TX, as well as in Kolkata, India, Gothenburg, Sweden, Islamabad, Pakistan, and Kathmandu, Nepal; and

WHEREAS:
A number of locally-based organizations have similarly declared solidarity with the movement for peace in Kashmir, including Massachusetts Peace Action, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, MIT Students Against War, Coalition for Democratic India, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia and Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine; as well as Stand with Kashmir, a national organization; now therefore be it.

RESOLVED:
That the Cambridge City Council go on record stating its severe concern for the developments in Kashmir and declaring its solidarity with the Kashmiri people, specifically Cambridge’s Kashmiri community, that they may soon again be in contact with their families, friends and loved ones; and be it further.

RESOLVED:
That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward suitable engrossed copies of this resolution to the Offices of Massachusetts’ Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and Representatives Kathrine Clark and Ayanna Pressley, encouraging them to call for the Indian government’s immediate and complete cessation of the communications blackout in Kashmir, and demand that all human rights violations in Kashmir be thoroughly and properly investigated on behalf of the entire City Council.

 

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