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India expanding its surveillance and control over Kashmiri lives through “census”

Since the beginning of this year, the Jammu and Kashmir Police and security forces have been demanding the residents of Kashmir to fill up census forms seeking their personal details without any explanation or reasoning. 

A Kashmiri who has received this form told us that the police demanded that he fill the form at earliest and return it to the nearest police station. The form seeks details properties owned, vehicles owned, possible connections with Kashmiri self-determination movement, foreign visits, and one’s political beliefs. The Kashmiri informed us that he was told by the security official that the form is meant for “security” needs. 

Last year, a similar “census” form was distributed in Srinagar by the police, with many Kashmiris asserting that the forms were fulfilling the purpose of their “political profiling” and “surveillance”. In 2022, the then chief of Kashmir Police, Vijay Kumar, had stated that the police were attempting to profile “80% of Kashmiris”. It is as if the police seek to tell Kashmiris that they are being constantly “watched”. The police also make use of a Global Positioning System gadget to keep a track of the pro-freedom activists who are released on bail by courts, drawing criticism from the human rights activists.

According to a report, the Indian occupational forces have been undertaking similar drives for decades in rural areas of Kashmir where houses are “alphanumerically marked by the soldiers of the local unit of Rashtriya Rifles, the Army’s so-called counter-terrorism force, and the house owners are warned against erasing these markings.” The Rashtriya Rifles were recently involved in the custodial torture of many Kashmiri civilians, including the death of three of these torture victims. 

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