Kashmir Solidarity: Day: Indian Lockdown Internationalized the Issue
Since 1990, the 5th of February is being observed by the Kashmiris on both side of the Line of Control (LoC) and all over the world, including their Pakistani brethren as the Kashmir Solidarity Day to pay homage to Kahsmiri martyrs and to show solidarity with the freedom fighters who are demanding their legitimate right of self-determination, as recognized by the UN resolutions.
This time, this very day is coming at time when almost six months have been passed. But, Indian forces have continued lockdown and curfew in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (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 (Especially Internet) 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 LoC. Besides, implementing the August 5 announcement, Indian central government issued a notorious map on October 31, 2019. In accordance with it, Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
However, 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. Indian forces invaded Srinagar on October 27, 1947 and forcibly occupied Jammu and Kashmir in utter violation of the partition plan and against the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
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 which ultimately came into effect on January 01, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir. The Security Council adopted resolution 47 (1948) of April 21, 1948, which promised a plebiscite under UN auspices 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.
The very tragedy of Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their genuine right of self-determination. They organised themselves against the injustices of India and launched a war of liberation which New Delhi tried to suppress through various forms of state terrorism.
Passing through various phases, the struggle of Kashmiris which has become an interaction between the Indian state terrorism led by the Indian security forces and war of liberation by the freedom fighters keeps on going unabated.
It is notable that since 1947, in order to maintain its illegal control, India has continued its repressive regime in the Occupied Kashmir through various machinations. In this regard, as already mentioned that India forcibly occupied Kashmir in gross violation of the “Partition Plan of the Indian Subcontinent, but, through the so-called-Instrument of Accession of October 27, 1947 which is illegal, and remains controversial, New Delhi justifies its hold on the Kashmir.
Nevertheless, various forms of state terrorism have been part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army and paramilitary forces against Muslim Kashmiris, especially since 1989. It has been manifested in brutal tactics like crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounter.
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. Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also 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 its report on July 2, 2015, the Amnesty International has highlighted extrajudicial killings of the innocent persons at the hands of Indian security forces in the Indian Held Kashmir. The report points out, “Tens of thousands of security forces are deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir…the Armed Forces Special Powers Act allows troops to shoot to kill suspected militants or arrest them without a warrant…not a single member of the armed forces has been tried in a civilian court for violating human rights in Kashmir…this lack of accountability has in turn facilitated other serious abuses…India has martyred one 100,000 people. More than 8,000 disappeared (while) in the custody of army and state police.”
In this respect, European Union has 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 context, 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” 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.
Notably, in the World Report 2020, Human Rights Watch said on January 14, this year, “The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Indian government’s actions over the past year  have caused enormous suffering and rights violations…its unilateral revocation of Kashmir’s special constitutional status and the use of draconian laws to silence criticism…The Indian government has tried to shut down Kashmir, hiding the full extent of the harm caused there,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.”
Especially, in his address at the UN General Assembly, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on September 27, 2019: “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”.
In his third meeting with the US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of World Economic Forum in Davos on January 21, 2020, Prime Minister Khan has once again expressed his desire for mediation by the US on the Kashmir issue between Pakistan and India by remarking: “Pakistan-India conflict is a very big issue for us in Pakistan and we expect the US to play its part in de-escalating the tensions, because no other country can.” In response, President Trump once again stated: “We’re talking about Kashmir…if we can help, we certainly will be helping. We’ve been watching that and following it very, very closely.”
Meanwhile, Indian extremist Prime Minister Modi’s government led by the extremist party BJP is propagating that there is a strong likelihood of a major terrorist attack from Pakistan in India. In fact, such a fake drama India, itself, will arrange to implicate Pakistan in order to divert the attention from the perennial military clampdown in the IOK. India’s preplanned drama to involve Islamabad has been exposed even by Indian media on January 12, this year. But, despite it, Indian fundamental rulers can implement their scheme of false flag operation, as Pakistan’s civil and military leaders have repeatedly warned the international community about it. In this connection, Kashmir remains a nuclear flashpoint.
Nonetheless, it is owing to the efforts of Islamabad that rights groups, leaders of the foreign countries, the UN and external media have been continuously pointing out the plight of the Kashmiris, particularly in the aftermath of the military clampdown in the IOK. The parliaments of some Western countries have also passed resolutions in this regard. EU parliament has also prepared a draft of the resolution which is likely to be passed in March, this year.
We can conclude that the 5th of February is being celebrated as the Kashmir Solidarity Day to pay homage to Kahsmiri martyrs and to display solidarity with the freedom fighters who are demanding their legitimate right of self-determination, as recognized by the UN resolutions. Unlike the past, this time, Pakistan is, especially, observing this day through various programmes, a seminar in Islamabad etc., while country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has requested the people to demonstrate their support through protest-marches and public processions for the cause of Kashmir, as now, Indian lockdown has internationalized the Kashmir issue.
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