The coronavirus pandemic does not impact all communities equally—it hits particularly hard in regions which are already suffering from lack of infrastructure, security and oppressive rule. Thus, it is not surprising that in India, which now has the third-highest rate of infections after the US and Brazil, the pandemic is even deadlier in the areas which the Indian state has kept oppressed and persecuted, including Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOK).

While the rapid rise of the pandemic in India overall is worrying, reports coming out of IIOK are especially alarming, considering that the Indian state has treated the region without any regard to its people. The occupied valley has reported more than 20,000 cases, of which nearly 5,500 people remain currently infected. The prisons of the area are the worst hit, with recent reports that one in five prisoners at the largest jail in IIOK has tested positive for the virus.

The Indian state’s approach towards IIOK appears to be a continuation of its policy—one of utter repression and a brutal siege. Yet siege and taking away a people’s mobility will not help in a pandemic without providing proper medical infrastructure and facilities. Currently, Srinagar’s Government Medical College has only 350 beds reserved for COVID-19 patients, this in a city where more than 1,300 new cases have been reported over the last week. It is also worth noting that the Indian state has a policy of clamping down on any dissent or freedom of speech of the residents of IIOK, by imprisoning or detaining politicians or activists who speak up for restoring human rights in Kashmir.

The Indian Prime Minister has shown the disregard with which he views Kashmiri lives with. Part of Indian policies towards IIOK has its roots in the displacement of the Muslim population of IIOK. With the way it is going, IIOK will be facing a massive death toll, and unless there is some international outcry, the Indian state will brush it under the rug.