EVERY year, the martyrdom of Muhammad Afzal Guru is being observed on the 09 February to pay homage to him, as India secretly hanged him and buried inside the Tihar jail complex on 09 February 2013. His martyrdom resulted into 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, which left 14 dead, including five militants. In the past seven years, during his martyrdom anniversary, a complete shutdown had been observed in the disputed territory of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and protest demonstrations were held to demand the return of mortal remains of Afzal Guru. Every year, call for the strike is given by pro-freedom leaders and organizations to mark the anniversary of Muhammad Afzal Guru. In their statements and meetings, all the leaders pay glowing tributes to the martyred Afzal Guru who sacrificed his life for the Kashmir cause.
This time, this very day has come at a time when more than 18 months have passed since the scraping of Articles 370 and 35-A. Indian forces have continued lockdown and curfew in the IIOJK. The Indian regime which has deployed more than 900,000 military troops in the IIOJK has become ruthless and imposed more restrictions on the Kashmiris by ignoring shortage of foods and medicines even for the coronavirus-affected people. In order to hide human rights violations, communication services have been cut off from the world Press and foreign journalists are not allowed to enter that region. The leader of the extremist ruling party BJP, the fanatic Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government unilaterally annexed the IIOJK to turn Muslim majority into minority, when on August 5, 2019, Indian Parliament revoked articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the IIOJK. The act split the IIOJK into two territories to be ruled directly by the Centre. India also amended a law, allowing Indian citizens to buy land in the IIOJK, while issued domicile certificates to more than 500000 non-Kashmiris.
In fact, the very tragedy of the Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their genuine right of self-determination which was recognized by the UN resolutions. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding plebiscite in accordance with the UN Security Council’s resolution of April 21, 1948. Instead, in March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir an integral part of the Indian union. 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, rapes, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounters. Notably, various world leaders, particularly those of the Western leaders, their media and human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International etc. and UNO have repeatedly condemned Indian illegal measures and human rights violations. But, Modi’s regime continues these illegitimate moves. While, Indian fanatic rulers are also escalating tension with Pakistan to divert attention from the drastic situation of the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK) and its other internal issues—have continued shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir by violating the ceasefire agreement in relation to the Line of Control (LoC) by neglecting the danger of nuclear war. As regards Indian state terrorism, its military and paramilitary troopers have been employing various brutal tactics to suppress the Kashmiris’ war of liberation.
Despite ban on journalists’ entrance in the IoK, some reports and images are appearing in the world and the social media, which show extrajudicial killings of the innocent people by the ruthless Indian forces. In this respect, dreadful practice of the Indian state terrorism could be judged from the martyrdom of a 65 years old person Bashir Ahmed Khan on July 1, last year in front of his grandson by Indian troops in Sopore, Srinagar. Local Kashmiris and family of the martyred stated that the unarmed “Khan was dragged out of his car and shot dead by paramilitary troopers”. His three-year-old toddler grandson, who was travelling with him, was later pictured sitting on his chest. Reacting to the incident, Amnesty India said, “It is a breach of the best interests of the child principle as required to be the basis of any action by authorities under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a state party.” The UN said that “whosoever responsible for the killing in Sopore, has to be made to account for it.” Nevertheless, this merciless event displays that New Delhi does not have any qualms about murdering any Kashmiri civilian. During special operations, house-to-house search, India military and paramilitary troopers have martyred and injured tens of thousands of Kashmiris, including women and children. These cruelties have compelled the Kashmiri youngsters to pick arms and to target the Indian forces, sacrificing their lives for the right of self-determination. Therefore, intermittent gun-battles between the freedom fighters and Indian military continue in various regions of the IoK. Nonetheless, since 09 February 2013, Indian forces have martyred more than 2000 innocent persons who have been protesting against Muhammad Afzal Guru’s martyrdom which has given a greater thrust to Kashmiris’ war of liberation which keeps on going.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.