Kashmiri women, children living in armed cage, Pakistan tells UN

Updated October 10, 2019

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In this file photo, a security personnel stands guard to block a road near closed shops while strict restrictions are imposed during a lockdown in Srinagar in occupied Kashmir. — AFP
In this file photo, a security personnel stands guard to block a road near closed shops while strict restrictions are imposed during a lockdown in Srinagar in occupied Kashmir. — AFP

UNITED NATIONS: For Kashmiri people life under India’s brutal occupation is to “live in an armed cage in the silence of a graveyard,” according to Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

Speaking in the UN General Assembly’s third committee on Tuesday, Ambassador Lodhi pointed out that since Aug 5, when India annexed occupied Jammu and Kashmir, “a large number of children have been picked up in night-time raids. Harrowing stories abound of widespread torture and arbitrary arrests; of how thousands, including children have been taken away from their homes, without any trace.”

She focused on the “grim reality” facing children in Indian occupied Kashmir, under a repressive lockdown for over two months now, and called on the world community and Unicef, the UN’s children agency, to come to their aid.

The Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural matters, held a debate this week on the advancement of women and Ms Lodhi took advantage of the theme to urge UN diplomats also to have a closer look at women and children living under foreign occupation.

She also referred to a recent New York Times report – “Racing against death with both hands tied” – which showed how “the sick pay the price as India shuts down communication in Kashmir.”

The story detailed how more than 60 days of curfew and communication blackout had turned Kashmir into “a living hell of anger and fear.”

NYT correspondents were among the first to get inside views of life under Indian lockdown and “found a population that felt besieged, confused, frightened and furious by the seismic events of this week,” the newspaper reported.

Ambassador Lodhi said that while this description applied to most of the population, this was “especially true for women” living in occupied Kashmir where the continuing lockdown has exacerbated their pain and suffering.

The Indian occupation forces, the Pakistani envoy said, had snatched children from their mothers in the dead and darkness of the night. “They are then held incommunicado, and some children never return,” she added.

Ambassador Lodhi referred to a picture depicting the pain of a Kashmiri mother who could not save her son’s life because of the tight restrictions imposed on the occupied territory. The caption under the picture, published on NYT’s frontpage, said she could not call an ambulance either because of the lockdown.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2019