The unrest brewing in Kashmir has attracted international attention from various agencies, officials and countries, one of which is China. The country’s leadership, in a somewhat rare policy decision, has urged the government of Pakistan to ensure a proper and peaceful settlement of the issue on an urgent basis. This took place after Human Rights Watch expressed its concern over the usage of force by Indian police against the Kashmiris living in Indian held Kashmir.
Barbaric violence recently ensued in Kashmir, taking the lives of 51 people and injuring hundreds, amongst who are 70 people who have been permanently blinded as a result of being struck in the face by pellets from Indian police forces. This killing of Kashmiris has taken place after the assassination of Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen leader.
The Chinese government has expressed its deep concern pertaining to the aforementioned casualties and death, reported Lu Kang, who is the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson. He also emphasized that China’s stance regarding the issue of Kashmir has been ‘consistent’ and that the Chinese government has always hoped and still wishes that all concerned parties should immediately solve the issue, which has been left over from history, amicably and peacefully. He also added that the relevant authorities in China have taken notes of reports coming out of the violence that is taking place in Kashmir and the threat being posed to newspaper owners and editors. These comments took many by surprise because it is not common for Beijing to release statements on the issues surrounding Jammu and Kashmir. In the previous years, China has usually stated that issues pertaining to Kashmir were matters strictly between Pakistan and India, and should be handled by them via consultation and dialogue. It is the first time that China has officially stated its views on the Kashmir issue and that it is taking notes of all reports regarding casualties that are coming forth.
He was referring to the raids taking place in Kashmir on newspaper offices, where they have seized tens of thousands copies of local newspapers on Saturday, 23rd July. The police has also detained a plethora of printing press workers on false charges. As a result, a multitude of journalists and editors conducted a protest march on Saturday, 23rd July in Srinagar, where they changed slogans and held placards saying “We Want Freedom Of Speech’ and ‘Stop Censorship’.
Reports from the Indian media state that concerned authorities in Indian Occupied Kashmir have removed a three-day ban upon the printing of newspapers. However, newspaper owners and editors have expressed concern about the Kashmir government still not ensuring smooth media operations in the current circumstances. This move to bring the printing of newspapers to a standstill was done without seeking the approval of Mehbooba Mufti, who is the state’s top elected official.
This ban has also been criticized by top international newspaper The Washington Post, which published the following statement in a report: “Unwilling to take any chances, Indian authorities appear to be persisting with their clampdown to avoid aggravating tensions in view of Pakistan’s call for a “black day” on Wednesday to protest India’s handling of dissent in Kashmir.”