EVERY year, the martyrdom anniversary of Muhammad Afzal Guru is being observed on the 9th of 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 drew widespread condemnation 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 five years, during his martyrdom anniversary, a complete shutdown was observed in the Indian occupied Kashmir and protest demonstrations were held to demand the return of mortal remains of Afzal Guru. Every year, call for the strike is being given by pro-freedom leaders and organizations to mark the anniversary of Afzal. Indian authorities arrest Kashmiri leaders, along with several other Hurriyet activists and lodge them in different police stations and jails.
In their statements and meetings, all the leaders of the Freedom Movement of Kashmir pay glowing tributes to the martyred Muhammad Afzal Guru who sacrificed his live for the Kashmir cause. However, this time, this very day has come at a time when the people of Kashmir have accelerated their legitimate struggle in the aftermath of the martyrdom of the young Kashmir leader Burhan Wani by the Indian security forces in the Indian-occupied Valley in the wake of continued sieges, prolonged curfews, arrests and detentions of the Kashmiri leaders. Since 08 July 2016, Indian forces have martyred more than 1500 innocent people who have been protesting against the martyrdom of Burhan Wani. The very tragedy of Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their genuine right of self-determination which was recognized by the UN resolutions.
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. 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. In its report on July 2, 2015, the Amnesty International highlighted extrajudicial killing of the innocent persons at the hands of Indian security forces in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. In this respect, the European Union has passed a resolution about human rights abuses committed by Indian forces in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. It is of particular attention that in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of the IoK. 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. In the recent past, more unmarked graves have been discovered.
It is mentionable 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. Addressing the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 29, 2018, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “The neighbouring country [India] rejected the Pakistani offer of resuming peace talks on ‘flimsy grounds…We are ready to talk to India on all issues but with respect…Kashmir issue is the biggest obstacle to regional peace…the Indian forces subjecting Kashmiris to atrocities for seven decades. And pointing out June 14  UN report which calls for the establishment of a ‘commission of inquiry’ to investigate the grave human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed the hope on 18 January this year that Pakistan and India would be able to engage in a “meaningful dialogue” to resolve their disputes. The report also emphasised that the dialogue includes the people of Kashmir to resolve their problem. Guterres said that he has been offering his good offices in relation to the dialogue between the two countries that until now had no condition of success.
Failed in suppressing the Kashmir’s struggle, Indian central government imposed President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir which started from 20 December 2018. The main purpose is to accelerate atrocities on the Kashmiris who are demanding their genuine right of self-determination. Nonetheless, 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 the two neighbouring countries. While, by manipulating the false flag terror attacks at a military base in Uri and Baramulla, the BJP-led Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has intensified war-hysteria against Pakistan. Indian forces have continued violation of LoC by shelling in Pakistani side of (Azad) Kashmir and Pakistan’s Army has been compelled to give a matching response.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.