Sultan M Hali
INDIA illegally occupied Kashmir in October 1947; Pakistan managed to liberate one third of it but the rest continues to be under Indian subjugation known as Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Despite the fact that the UN Security Council enforced a ceasefire and passed resolutions to the effect that under a UN sponsored plebiscite, the people of Kashmir will decide whether they want to accede to Pakistan or India, the latter has not let it happen. Continued oppression and tyranny forced the Kashmiris to rise for their freedom in 1989 but their just struggle was suppressed by brute force. Resultantly over 1, 00,000 innocent Kashmiris were butchered, their women raped and thousands of youth incarcerated. Since then sporadic outbursts have erupted, taking a huge toll of human lives but eventually get suppressed.
Since July 8, 2016, when popular youth leader Burhan Wani was brutally murdered, another mass uprising has commenced. To protest the assassination of Burhan Wani, IOK is in flames. To quell the revolution, this time India is using pellet guns. Resultantly, over 200 people have been martyred and 22,000 injured due to ruthless repression conducted by the Indian armed forces. Over 3,500 youngsters have been permanently blinded by the incessant firing of pellet guns. Reportedly, Indian army has also started using chemical weapons & Smell shelling weaponry against innocent protesters in IOK.
For the last six months, life in IOK has remained mostly paralyzed due to continual curfews. Besides the prolonged curfew, media blackout has also been imposed cutting off the communication channels of IOK. Squeezed by the brutal oppression at the hands of Indian Armed forces, the IOK youth have lost patience and through “mob resistance”, they are creating problems for occupied forces. “Wanism” has become leading spirit of their third Intifada in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Indian forces are also using stage managed incidents to kill Kashmiri youth and gag their voice for their just demand for independence. An alarming increase in such staged dramas has been witnessed these days as Indian media extends coverage to any activity to blame Kashmiri freedom activists and blackball Pakistan.
Another sinister campaign is in the offing; apart from the oppressive activities, the New Delhi government in collaboration with State coalition government led by Mehbooba Mufti is engaged in making demographic changes on lines of Israeli model of building residential ghettos (Sainakbastiyan) or industrial zones to settle Hindu Pundits and other communities. In this regard land was procured in Sri Nagar and Anant Nag to build two towns each in these areas. Reportedly, over sixty thousands families are to be settled in these towns.
Off late, in another heinous plot to permanently annex IOK, New Delhi is contemplating to abrogate Article 35A of the Indian constitution unilaterally without undergoing the formality of obtaining concurrence from the IOK government or legislature. Article 35A is part of the executive order issued by the president of India and is an integral part of the Indian Constitution (Applicable to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954. The Indian president issued this Order on 14 May 1954 under Article 370 of the constitution of India to legitimize the Indian occupation of IOK. The article prohibits a non-J&K resident from buying property in the State and ensures job reservation for J&K residents.
There have been legal objections to this sinister move. Jahangir Iqbal Ghanie, Jammu and Kashmir’s Advocate General, told a newspaper that three petitions have challenged the article in the Indian Supreme Court, but in the two other petitions, no notice was issued to the state government. A bench headed by Justice J S Khehar will hear the petitions challenging Article 35A in October 2017. Earlier the top court had favoured hearing of the matter by a five-judge constitution bench to determine if Article 35A is ultra vires of the Constitution or if there is any procedural lapse. The court had said that a three-judge bench will hear the matter and refer it to a five-judge bench if necessary.
The issue has also triggered an unlikely camaraderie. Perhaps for the first time in decades, political parties cutting across the political spectrum in the Valley are on the same page: They all want to preserve Article 35A. Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik asked the Kashmir bar associations, Kashmiri Diaspora all over the world to hold peaceful protest demonstration against “conspiracies” to scrap the state subject law as the issue is a “matter of life and death” for people of J&K. Reportedly, IOK Chief Minister and opposition parties have also objected to any tinkering with the article.
There is also a sinister campaign to target APHC leadership by implicating them in financial scams and link it to terror funding by Pakistan. It is a clear ploy to create a wedge between APHC old guards and youth of Kashmir. The unresolved status of Kashmir issue is a somber reminder to the world that Kashmiri people are deprived of their fundamental rights at the hands of so-called biggest democracy of the world. When Pakistan tried to raise its voice at the UN General Assembly session this month, Indian diplomats and media tried to denigrate the just struggle by casting aspersions against Pakistan and accusing it of sponsoring terrorism. The rights of the Kashmiris cannot be denied to them and world should take cognizance of odious Indian designs against humanity in IOK.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.
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Sultan M Hali