Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday rounded up and detained several women, including former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s sister and daughter, for protesting near the Lal Chowk area in Srinagar.
They were demonstrating against the Centre’s August 5 order to revoke special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, split the state into two Union Territories and repeal Article 35A, which gave the state government powers to define “state subjects” and grant them specific rights.
Among those detained were Farooq Abdullah’s daughter Safiya Abdullah, his sister Suraiya Abdullah, and Hawa Bashir, the wife of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Justice Ahmed Khan. Activist Sushobha Barve and Muslim Jan Fazili, the media coordinator of Kashmir University were also among those detained.
The demonstrators carried posters with “Kashmiri brides are not for sale” and “Don’t deceive Indians” printed on them.
Days after the state’s special status was revoked, Bharatiya Janata Party member and MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Khatauli constituency Vikram Singh Saini had said that Muslim party members should be happy as they “can now marry the white-skinned women of Kashmir”.
A few days after Saini’s remark, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that people were claiming that Kashmiri women can be brought to the state for marriage now that Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked.
On Tuesday, the protestors had initially tried to hold a demonstration at Pratap Park near Lal Chowk, but were denied permission, following which they gathered on the road outside the park. After police officials arrived, they allegedly tore the placards that the demonstrators were carrying. Female constables detained the protestors, who were taken away in police vehicles.
The group demanded the restoration of civil liberties and rights, the demilitarisation of rural and urban areas and the release of detainees. They also issued a six-point statement, titled “Statement by the women of Kashmir” in which they criticised the national media for its “false, oblique, misleading coverage of ground realities in Kashmir”.
“We, the women of Kashmir, disapprove of the unilateral decision taken by the government of India to revoke Article 370, 35A and downgrade and split the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement read. “We feel betrayed, humiliated and violated as people.”