Kashmiris Keeping Alive Their Struggle for Independence
By Ishaal Zehra
Indian occupied Kashmir has remained tensed for long now. The powerful surge of retaliation against Indian brutalities which began two years back has intensified this year. Death of Kashmiri civilians at the hands of Indian Military has become a routine in guise of counter-militancy operations in the valley. These counter-insurgency operations have destabilized Indian held Kashmir since the late 1980s leaving hundreds of thousands dead. According to analysts, at least 500,000 Indian soldiers are believed to be mobilized in Kashmir on the pretext of countering militancy.
The latest spark came at the end of March in Shopian, a village 60km south of provincial capital Srinagar, when protests broke out against the army’s operation. Three young civilians were killed and a dozen injured as the army fired directly at the people, aiming above the waist. This was later confirmed by the evident head injuries.
The Indian forces are in a habit of using the stage managed incidents to kill Kashmiri youth and gag their voice. In April 2010, three civilians described as Pakistani militants were gunned down in what is often labelled as “fake encounter”, or extrajudicial killings. Four years later, a court martial convicted five army officers of staging those killings. However, last year, the Indian armed forces tribunal suspended the life sentence of the accused. Former chief minister and opposition leader Omar Abdullah rightly claim that there is this sense of impunity within the Indian armed forces while citing the notorious case of army excesses eight years back.
The United Nations also remain silent over this bloodbath and brutality by Indian forces in Kashmir. Despite its presence in the region since 1948, as an observer mission on both sides of the border, it is still unable to perform its duties. Kashmir’s unresolved status gives reminder to the world that Kashmiri people are still deprived of their fundamental human rights. The country promised to be their care-taker has become their nightmare instead.
Today, the masses in IOK is led by the youth and are full of vigor adamant to transform their dream of freedom into a reality. The matter to understand is why many civilians in Kashmir – India’s only Muslim-majority state – support rebels who have been fighting for decades for independence or for a merger with Pakistan?
Yashwant Sinha, Former Indian minister for external affairs, and the ex-chief justice of Delhi High Court, Justice AP Shah, along with some other eminent sane voices have condemned the recent escalation of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. Sinha and the others expressed concern over youth joining militant ranks, while issuing the statement saying, “the recent escalation in violence in Kashmir has led to the avoidable loss of civilian lives as well as that of security forces personnel. What is worse is that the violence shows no signs of abating. In fact, it is being stoked further by unrestrained public statements by various actors and the talk of revenge”.
“It is not the question of Kashmir which is at stake, it is the stability of the region,” observed one Western diplomat. The threat of nuclear war and the reluctance of the global community to quarrel with rising giant India and its billion-plus consumers are to blame for the silence, he explained.
Kashmir is a living humanitarian crisis of gigantic proportions and matter of life and death for 12 million humans whose only fault is that they want their right for self-determination which was actually promised to them by the UN. It is the longest lingering resolution on UN agenda that has entered in its 7th decade still hoping for its fulfilment.
India must understand that it has both militarily and politically, failed to control Kashmir. It has certainly not won any hearts and minds among Kashmiris. In fact high handedness and brutalities of her forces in the occupied valley has literally alienated the population from the Indian state.
Kashmiris want an end to Indian occupation. At this time in the history, “Wanism” has become the spirit of third Intifada in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and his spirit will lives on as a beacon of light for Kashmiri youth. We, the people of Pakistan strongly support Kashmiri people fight for their right to self-determination. And we believe that such cowardly actions of the occupying Indian forces only serve to fortify the resolve of the Kashmiri people.