THE February 09 is being celebrated asthe martyrdom anniversary ofMuhammad Afzal Guru whom India secretly hanged and buried inside the Tihar jail complex on February 9, 2013. It triggered protests in Kashmir and widespread condemnations from various political and human rights organisations. Afzal Guru was convicted in 2001 Parliament attack case and awarded death sentence. Afzal had always denied plotting the attack at Indian parliament, which left 14 dead, including five militants. In the past four years, during his martyrdom anniversary, a complete shutdown was observed in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and protest demonstrations were held to demand the return of mortal remains of Afzal Guru.
In their statements and meetings, all the leaders of the freedom movement of Kashmir paid glowing tributes to the martyr Muhammad Afzal Guru who sacrificed his live for the Kashmir cause. In fact, the very tragedy of Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their genuine right of self-determination. They organized themselves against the injustices of India and launched a war of liberation which New Delhi tried to crush through various forms of brutalities. Since 1947, in order to maintain its illegal control, India has continued its repressive regime in the Indian-Held Kashmir through various machinations.
However, 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. While, 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 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 respect, 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. Now, more unmarked graves have been found. Notably, 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. Latest reports disclosed that Indian security forces have also used chemical weapons against the Kashmiri civilians in violation of international law and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 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 dispute with Pakistan by neglecting the fact that Kashmir remains a nuclear flashpoint between both the neighbouring countries.
In this context, Egbert Jahn in his book, “Kashmir: Flashpoint for a Nuclear War or Even a Third World War?” has pointed out, “The Kashmir conflict is embedded in the wider conflict over the incomplete creation of nations and states on the Indian subcontinent…Until now, there have been three wars between India and Pakistan over the Jammu and Kashmir…and could unexpectedly again lead to a regional and under certain circumstances…even a major nuclear war or a Third World War.” Meanwhile, like the previous year, Pakistan’s recent effort at the annual session of the United Nations, highlighting the Indian atrocities, Kashmir dispute and demanding its solution has infused a new spirit among the Kashmiri people. Nonetheless, the martyrdom of Muhammad Afzal Guru infused a new spirit into the movement of Jammu Kashmir. His martyrdom anniversary provides an opportunity to ponder over the fact that various countries of the world got independence by sacrificing their precious lives. On this vary day, the best way to pay homage to the hero of Kashmir’s struggle, Muhammad Afzal Guru is that all the Kashmiris must renew their pledge to take the war of liberation to its logical end.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.