Nearly 50 dead as Indian forces open fire on Protesters in Kashmir

Peaceful Assembly

In recent weeks, Kashmir has seen one of the worst uprisings since 2010. Violent clashes between police and protesters in Jammu were sparked by the death of a prominent Kashmiri terrorist at the hands of Indian security forces. Counter protests from 8th July lead to the burning of police stations and military bases, leading to further clashes with security forces. The worst violence took place in Pulwama and left nearly 50 civilians dead and 2000 injured after the authorities used tear gas and fired live ammunition into the crowds. Tensions between Indian forces and separatists have been at boiling point for several months. On 20th June, 8 soldiers were killed and 22 injured in an attack by suspected separatists. This incident has fueled further instability in the volatile region. A curfew intended to prevent further uprisings has only prompted more protests in Srinagar. After the curfew was recently lifted, the uprising shows some signs of calming.

In response to shocking acts of vigilantism committed against the marginalised Dalit community for allegedly skinning a cow, protests erupted in the state of Gujarat and Maharashtra, demanding justice for the victims. Thousands of protesters took to the streets throughout July in towns and cities across the provinces, causing roads and railways to be blocked. As the protests continue to grow and spread to new areas, demonstrations have become increasingly violent, with buses torched in some cases. On 19th July, a policemen was killed in clashes with an angry mob of protesters in Saurashtra.

Association

A recent legal change requiring that civil society organisations (CSOs) comply with anti-corruption legislation, sent shock waves through the sector. This latest move by the government places greater scrutiny on CSOs, by obliging them to comply with the  Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013, originally designed to stamp out corruption amongst politicians and government officers. This means CSOs with assets of over ten million Rupees ($150,000) and those receiving annual foreign donations of more than one hundred thousand Rupees ($15,000) are classified as ‘public servants’. As a consequence, their executives and board members must file a declaration of assets and liabilities. CSOs have had very little time to adjust to the new regulations, having been notified of the change on 24th June and given a deadline for compliance of 31st July. Such tight deadlines have prompted mass resignations from CSO boards. A fight-back by Indian civil society is underway, as representatives from civil society and parliamentarians meet Cabinet Ministers to discuss the change. While CSO representatives have stressed that they are not opposed to increasing transparency within the sector, they have asked government to extend the 31st July deadline, claiming many organisations may not be aware of the requirement to comply. CSOs also questioned the need for foreign donations to CSOs to be included in a definition of public money, when investment to for-profit companies is not. In a small victory for civil society, the legal battle has forced the authorities to exempt spouses and dependents from the deadline for filing returns.