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Indian protesters stand up for Jammu and Kashmir

Jesuit priest says the curfew-like situation in the northern state is a violation of human rights

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Indian protesters stand up for Jammu and Kashmir

People show placards at a protest in New Delhi on Oct. 29 to show solidarity with Jammu and Kashmir people. (Photo supplied)

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A Catholic priest, activists and politicians who protested in Indian capital New Delhi to show their solidarity with Jammu and Kashmir people say the curfew-like situation in the state is a human rights violation.

The priest joined some 300 people from civil society, political parties, activists and students at the protest in Jantar Mantar on Oct. 29.

Jammu and Kashmir's special self-governing status was revoked on Aug. 5.

“The Indian churches should openly support the people of Jammu and Kashmir because the situation is completely a violation of the human rights which we enjoy in our country,” Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash, a human rights activist, told ucanews.

“People are suffering there for the last 86 days. People don’t have access to basic things like health care, education, food and other facilities. Sad that very few people turned up to show solidarity with our fellow brethren.

“Pope Francis has asked Christians around the world to stand for justice and respect and interact with other faiths.”

Since the state lost its special status, there has been a spike in violence targeting civilians. Eight civilians have been killed by terrorists in attacks using grenades, petrol bombs and guns.

Article 370 of the Indian constitution allowed the state's residents to live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property and fundamental rights. Citizens from other states could not purchase land or property in Jammu and Kashmir.

President Ram Nath Kovind issued a constitutional order on Aug. 5 making all the provisions of the constitution applicable to Jammu and Kashmir.

In addition, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act was passed by parliament, dividing the state into the territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir on Oct. 31.

The New Delhi protest was held on the same day that a European Union (EU) delegation visited Kashmir to assess the situation in the only Muslim-majority state in northern India.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, a Congress party leader, told the protest that he did not have any objection to the EU delegation visiting the state. “What I object to is that the members of parliament of this country are not being allowed to go to Jammu and Kashmir.”

The delegation met national security adviser Ajit Doval and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on their two-day visit.

Sources in the European Union mission in New Delhi told media that the MEPs were not an official delegation of the EU and were travelling in their private capacity.

These briefings and visits are a part of the Modi government’s outreach to the international community to give a sense of what’s happening in Kashmir and how Pakistan is backing terrorist groups, sources said.

Social activist Shabnam Hashmi, who organized the protest, said the abrogation of Article 370 was a mindless exercise carried out by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.

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