International Human Rights & Media Conference on Kashmir held in UK Parliament

London, November 16, 2018  : On 15th November 2018:  Hurriyet leader and a journalist  Altaf Ahmad Bhat has appeal international community, peace seekers, justice providers to listen the voices of oppressed people of Indian occupied Kashmir.

Altaf Ahmed Bhat while addressing International Human Rights & Media Conference on Kashmir in UK Parliament said that, ‘all I would like to appreciate and thanks to hosts Mr. Afzal Khan MP Parliament and Fahim Kiani President Tehreek e Kashmir United Kingdom for inviting us and for organizing this very important Conference in UK Parliament.

Text of speech:

Respected Farooq Haider Khan PM AJK, Mr Afzal Khan MP UK parliament, Mr Fahim Kiani President TK UK other Guests,Hosts and Audience Good After Noon 

First of all I would like to appreciate and thanks to hosts  Mr Afzal Khan MP Parliament and Fahim Kiani President Tehreek e Kashmir United Kingdom for inviting us and for Organising this very important Conference in UK Parliament.

As Tariq Naqash introduced me, this is Altaf Ahmed Bhat one of the freedom seeker of kashmir from Srinager and as editor in chief of Daily kashmir post AJK & Daily Capital post ISB, belongs to one of the divided families ok kashmir and also being one the Affecty person by the suppression and illegal occupation forces of India I would like to brief you  how Indian forces have done  Crackdown on media in Indian held Kashmir from 1988.

I have a paper on behalf of journalists of Srinagr which I want to share with you.

Dear audience,For the first time in the history of Kashmir dispute, the United Nations rights body has indicted India twice in a span of few months: first by the former UNHCR chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein in the first-ever report on human rights situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, and the second time by Hussein’s successor Michele Bachelet who slammed India for lack of any “meaningful improvement’” on addressing issues highlighted in the report released by Hussein. India obviously reacted sharply both times, dismissing the report and criticism without any reference to stark facts pointed out in the report. As a sovereign nation that has achieved diplomatic heft during the past few decades, New Delhi could deploy rhetoric to perfunctorily dismiss the world body’s damning report of its dealings in the occupied Kashmir.

Kashmiris are probably the only race that must have knocked at the doors of the United Nations the most ever since its creation. Daily press releases of pro-freedom groups addressed to the UN and the “world community” are a testimony to this fact. Therefore, the UNHCR report was seen as the acknowledgement of the decades of Kashmiri sufferings.

It is important that the UN report should be read in the context of an important development that took place before its publication in June this year. In May, India’s Ministry of External Affairs asked foreign journalists working in India to apply for permission before visiting “restricted and protected areas”. Several reports suggested the measure was taken to make entry of foreign reporters into the occupied Kashmir difficult, as several in depth reports about Kashmir in the foreign media outlets since 2016 had meant diplomatic embarrassment for New Delhi at the international level and renewed focus on Kashmir.

The UN report and several news stories and features have chronicled the grave situation in Kashmir and also highlighted the curbs on the media like detention of journalists and intimidation of media owners. The result of all these developments is a comprehensive overt and (mostly) covert crackdown, currently underway, on the media in Kashmir. Characteristic of this crackdown is the tragic fact that not much about it would make it to the media.

Several Kashmiri journalists of repute, some acknowledged internationally for their work, have been called by the police during the past three-four months. A young journalist was called from New Delhi and questioned for five consecutive days, though he was not detained. Passports of many journalists were withheld during the questioning and in some cases for several days, a veiled threat perhaps that the travel document could be withdrawn or impounded if “you don’t mend your ways”. Apprehending further reprisals, most have chosen to remain silent. A freelance journalist was arrested and interrogated by the National Investigation Agency at New Delhi. He had interviewed woman pro-freedom leader Asiya Andrabi for a local reputed daily newspaper, Greater Kashmir. The newspaper was sent a notice, although dozens of such interviews have appeared in all major outlets in the past. Like freemasons, the crackdown is spoken about in small circles and with caution lest the discussants have to face the inquisition next.

The brazen covert part of the operation ‘silence-the-media’ has been the arrest of Aasif Sultan, another young journalist working as Assistant Editor with Kashmir Narrator, a leading monthly magazine of the Valley. The State was unmoved by huge media outcry in Kashmir and outside and protests by the local media fraternity. Despite appeals, it went ahead and booked him under false, flimsy and unsubstantiated charges. The subtext of Aasif’s arrest during the nocturnal raid on his house in Batmaloo area of Srinagar on 27 August is the coverage of several events and personalities by Kashmir Narrator, a fact borne by questions posed to Aasif by the police during his detention and subsequent physical and mental interrogation.

While the crackdown seems in sync with the reigning ideology, the local pro-India rulers, who are seen as India’s agents in Kashmir, have played a nefarious role in the silencing of the media in Kashmir and taking the curbs to the current pathetic levels. Remember, it was in the PDP-led government that newspapers were banned for three days and FIRs filed against newspaper owners during the 2016 agitation. Mehbooba Mufti’s vitriolic attack on journalists in presence of Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh at a press conference is as sinister as behind-the-screen intimidation of the media. Both are aimed at forcing the media into a state in which the threat serves as a kind of direction to what and how to report and omit.

In such a situation, only solidarities can come to rescue of the media in Kashmir. Solidarities that are formed on the basis of shared concerns.

At the last I would like to appeal to would powers, peace seekers,justice providers please listen the voices of oppressed people of Indian held kashmir and rescue them from the illegal occupation of India and resolve this long pending conflict as per aspiration of people of Jammu and Kashmir

At the end I want to thanks again to all.

Internatioal Human Rights & Media Conference on Kashmir in UK Parliament  was Chaired by Mr Azfal Khan Shadow Minister of the United Kingdom. 

Guest Speakers : Members of the house of Commons  & members of House of Lords , Raja Farooq Haider Khan  PM Azad Jammu and Kashmir ,Fahim Kayani President Tehreek E Kashmir UK, Barrister Iftikhar Gillani Minister AJK, Journalists from Kashmir and Pakistan, Mr. Altaf Ahmed Bhat, Editor in Chief, Daily Kashmir Post, Muzaffarabad, AJK, Mr Tariq Naqash AJK, Mr. Muhammad Aslam Mir Muzzafarabad AJK, Adil Shahzeb, Nayeema ahmed  Mehjoor ,Dr Nazir Ahmed Gillani Zafar Ahmed Qureshi , Professor Shahid Iqbal ,Sahira jarral,aja Sikandar Khan .