UN Human Rights Day & Kashmir Lockdown
By Sajjad Shaukat
Each year, Human Rights Day is observed all over the world, especially by the oppressed nations on December 10, as on this very day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It reflected the conviction that human dignity is at the heart of our societies and that respect for human rights is essential to the prevention of conflict and the promotion of human development.
Sadly, the international community has often fallen short of its commitment to human rights. Several crises have shaken humanity in the last 70 years. Conflicts, inequality, violence, discrimination and exclusion continuously wreak havoc on individuals and societies throughout the world. Too often human rights are ignored when addressing these crises.
December 10 is also celebrated in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) where protests, demonstrations, seminars and conferences marked the international Human Rights Day, as gross human rights violations have continued unabated by the Indian security forces.
This time, this very day has come at time when more than 120 days have been passed. But, Indian forces have continued lockdown and curfew in the IOK. More restrictions have been imposed in wake of shortage of foods and even medicines for the patients. In order to hide human rights violations, communication services have been cut off from the world and foreign journalists are not allowed to enter that region.
Indian forces have broken all previous records of gross human rights abuses since August 5, 2019 when Indian extremist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ended special status of the Jummu and Kashmir by abolishing articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution to turn Muslim majority into minority in the Indian Controlled Kashmir. While, Indian fanatic rulers are also escalating tensions with Pakistan to divert attention from the drastic situation of the Indian Held Kashmir, and have continued shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir by violating the ceasefire agreement in relation to the Line of Control (LoC). Besides, implementing the August 5 announcement, Indian central government issued a notorious map on October 31, this year. In accordance with it, Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Since 1947, in order to maintain its illegal control, India has continued its repressive regime in the IOK through various machinations. Especially, since 1989, Indian army and paramilitary forces have been committing gross human rights abuses such as crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, extrajudicial killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounters.
New Delhi which already had 500,000 troops in the Indian Held Kashmir sent almost 300000 extra troops. Despite, India’s excessive deployment of troops in the Kashmir region and arrest of the Kashmiri leaders, use of chemical weapons—the pellet guns and phosphorus bombs Kashmiris have accelerated the war of liberation, being waged for their right of self-determination, which was also recgonised by the United Nations resolutions. However, use of chemical weapons by the Indian forces against the Kashmiri civilians is violation of international law and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It is notable that an Indian journalist Sagarika Ghose in her piece in “Times of India” admitted that India has become a “de facto Hindu country” and “the boiling situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir is a sign of triumph for Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Two-Nation theory”—also admitted that “Today Kashmir is a cantonment, patrolled by lakhs of security forces.”
Another Indian journalist Santosh Bhartiya in an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Modi has published on ‘Rising Kashmir’ has claimed that although “the land of Kashmir is with us, the people of Kashmir are not with us.” New York Times editorial “Cruelty and Cowardice in Kashmir” also has the same shade commenting on an incident on the current situation in the valley. Former chief of RAW, Dulat felt that “the ongoing unarmed uprising has worsened under the current government due to alienation and the anger of youth; young Kashmiri minds have gone out of control…There is a sense of hopelessness. They aren’t afraid to die. Villagers, students and even girls are coming out on the streets. This has never happened in the past.”
In his address at the UN General Assembly, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on September 27, this year: “Modi’s entire election campaign revolved around an anti-Pakistan narrative…Illegally, they [India] revoked Article 370 which gave Kashmir the special status…they put eight million people under curfew…what RSS is. Modi is a life member [of RSS]…It is an organisation inspired by Hitler and Mussolini. They believe in racial purity and superiority. They believe they are an Aryan race…They believe in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims…[Nearly] 100,000 Kashmiris have died in the past 30 years because they were denied their right of self-determination. Eleven thousand women were raped….The world hasn’t done anything…After the curfew is lifted…What is going to happen will be a blood bath. The people will come out in the streets…The soldiers will then shoot them. They have already used pellet guns…What about the 1.3bn Muslims watching this who know this is only happening because they are Muslims?….What would the Jews of Europe think if 8,000 Jews were stuck…Among the 1.3bn (Muslims) someone will pick up arms…Muslims will become radicals because of this, not because of Islam….You are forcing people into radicalization…Two nuclear countries will come face to face. If a conventional war starts between the two countries…When a nuclear country fights till the end it has consequences far beyond the borders”.
While, by manipulating the false flag terror attacks at a military base in Uri and Baramulla, the BJP-led Indian Prime Minister Modi has intensified war-hysteria against Pakistan, while in this regard; pressure has been mounting on the Modi government both domestically and internationally to resolve the dispute of Kashmir with Pakistan.
Notably, during the partition of the Sub-continent, the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) which comprised Muslim majority decided to join Pakistan according to the British-led formula. But, Dogra Raja, Sir Hari Singh, a Hindu who was ruling over the J&K, in connivance with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord Mountbatten joined India.
The design to forcibly wrest Kashmir began to unfold on August 16, 1947, with the announcement of the Radcliffe Boundary Award. It gave the Gurdaspur District—a majority Muslim area to India to provide a land route to the Indian armed forces to move into Kashmir. There was a rebellion in the state forces, which revolted against the Maharaja and were joined by Pathan tribesmen. Lord Mountbatten ordered armed forces to land in Srinagar.
When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on December 31, 1947, India made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire ultimately came into effect on January 01, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine whether they wish to join Pakistan or India. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding plebiscite. Instead, in March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India-an integral part of the Indian union.
In fact, Indian forces have employed various draconian laws like the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act in killing the Kashmiri people, and for the arbitrarily arrest of any individual for an indefinite period.
Rights groups, especially, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces”.
In this respect, European Union has also passed a resolution about human rights abuses committed by Indian forces in the Indian held Kashmir.
It is of particular attention that in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of the Indian-held Kashmir. Then researchers and other groups reported finding thousands of mass graves without markers. In this connection, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves. Foreign sources and human rights organisations have revealed that unnamed graves include those innocent persons, killed by the Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake encounters including those who were tortured to death by the Indian secret agency RAW. In the recent past, more unmarked graves have been discovered.
It is worth-mentioning that report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released on June 14, 2018-“Situation in Kashmir” is pointed out Indian atrocities in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). It said: “From July 2016, the High Commissioner for Human Rights has on numerous occasions requested the Governments of India and Pakistan that his Office be given unconditional access to Kashmir to assess the human rights situation. India rejected this request; while Pakistan offered access…The refusal to allow unhindered access to United Nations team into Indian-Administered-Kashmir gave rise to an idea of “Remote Monitoring”. The report was then compiled by doing “remote monitoring” on the situation of Human Rights in Kashmir. The report by the independent authority is an eye-opener for many.
The focus of the report is on the situation of human rights in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018. During this period ‘OHCHR’ received reports of allegations of widespread and serious human rights violations by Indian security forces that led to numerous civilian casualties.
Indian authorities are not willing to talk with Kashmiri people on political grounds. New Delhi reached to a conclusion that only bullet is the right way of dealing with Kashmiris, demanding their right of self-determination. Surprisingly, Indian successive governments are trying to ignore the dynamics of the freedom movement of Kashmiris for the sake of their alien rule.
But, New Delhi is still showing its intransigence in order to resolve Kashmir issue with Pakistan by neglecting the fact that Kashmir remains a nuclear flashpoint between both the neighbouring countries.
Although 10th of December is observed throughout the world as the Human Rights Day, yet, the case of Indian Held Kashmir is of special attention, where Indian security forces have left no stone unturned by violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations