Many SCHS students are concerned about the political unrest of Kashmir

You+can+help+Kashmir+by+donating+to+organizations+such+as%3A+Unite+4+Humanity%2C+Helping+Hand%2C+Crisis+Aid%2C+Orphans+in+Need%2C+and+One+Nation.

Alecia Leshan

You can help Kashmir by donating to organizations such as: Unite 4 Humanity, Helping Hand, Crisis Aid, Orphans in Need, and One Nation.

By Khadeejah Khan, Santa Clara High School

Located in the Himalayas and between mountain ranges and riverbanks, many consider Kashmir to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Now, it is the most militarized zone in the world.

Kashmir is currently a territory administered by both India and Pakistan, which has been in political unrest for years. 

On Aug. 5, 2019, the Indian government revoked Article 370, stripping Kashmiris of their fundamental rights, local leaders and state government and legislation. Kashmir lost its statehood, which led to the state becoming a territory as the federal government began to control it.

Several Muslim students at SCHS feel strongly about the Kashmir conflict, as they believe it adds to the rise of Islamophobia globally. 

“What has been happening with Kashmir has been happening for years,” Muslim Student Association Co-Vice President freshman Maleeha Lateef said. “They are being tortured, have strict curfew and have limited communication.”

Immediately after the removal of Article 370, several protests broke out against the military occupation and what many felt were human rights violations. Protestors demanded peace, yet many were arrested, injured, detained and some were even killed by military troops. According to Human Rights Watch, about 4,000 people were arrested, including local leaders and peaceful protestors. 

These issues can be concerning, especially when little change is happening. Lateef believes that it directly impacts the Muslim students at SCHS and their mental health.

“It really affects our mental and physical health,” Lateef said. “How can we live normally knowing that our people are being horribly treated?”

Because of a seven-month internet blackout, media coverage of the incidents was sparse, and people could not contact family members outside or inside of Kashmir.

“People were so thankful to receive a one-minute call from their family just to hear that they were okay,” Amal Nusrat, a Kashmiri woman, said. “It was like a luxury, but that was their reality.”

According to MSA Co-Vice President, sophomore Adreema Ahsan, the Kashmir conflict is an example of how Islamophobia has become a widespread issue. Countries such as France, the United States and India have implemented government policies suppressing Muslims. Ahsan believes that because Kashmiris and Muslims have been negatively represented in the media, Islamophobia is extremely harmful for Muslims worldwide.

“It is disappointing that because of the actions by a few Muslims, we are all represented and treated in a negative way,” Ahsan said. “No matter what religion, race or country you’re from, we must treat each other with kindness – all religions, all races and all demographics.”

Kashmir has had a lack of media coverage especially because Kashmiri journalists have been under constant threat, many of whom have been detained and arrested, according to Amnesty International. Lateef urges more people to talk about the prevalent issues.

“Adults, teachers, classmates and mainstream media don’t talk about these issues,” Lateef said. “Is this a secret that only me and my family knows?”

According to Nusrat, the human rights violations in Kashmir are concerning and are a piece of a greater problem. She believes Kashmiris have been fighting for their rights for years, and what has been happening cannot be ignored because silence worsens the issue.

“Kashmir is not just another tragedy that’s happening to Muslims,” Nusrat said. “It is a full human rights crisis that has been going on for too long.”

This story was originally published on The Roar on December 3, 2020.