HISTORY has witnessed many freedom movements world over. The struggles sooner or later succeeded with varying price tag ranging from a few hundred to some thousands lives. Unfortunately, there is a freedom movement which is on for almost seventy years and is still anticipating its triumph. This movement has legal backing of no less than UN and Security Council’s repeated resolutions. The price paid so far is over 100,000 lives and hundreds of thousands of gang rapes in addition to other human rights violations. This movement is termed as Kashmir freedom movement. Going a little back in history will help the audience to understand the Kashmir predicament. The real design to forcibly gain Kashmir began to unfold on 16 August 1947, with the announcement of the Red Cliff 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. This led to a rebellion by State forces, which stood against the Maharaja and were joined by Pathan tribesmen. When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on 31 December 1947, India made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire ultimately came into effect on January 01, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir. 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, and integral part of the Indian Union. As a natural outcome of Indian injustice, people of IoK organized themselves and launched a war of liberation which India tried to crush through coercion and brutality.
Later, in 1988, India positioned a very large number of Armed Forces to suppress Kashmir struggle on gun point. The wave of violence still continues after the post-Burhan Wani uprising since 2016 and every day Kashmiris are sacrificing their lives for freedom from Indian rule. Kashmir history is full of Days which are commemorated every year on different instances which are an effort to remind unmindful world for their legitimate struggle of self-determination. The decade’s old Kashmir struggle is not a story of single day but it comprises those unknown bloodshed and sacrifices which has paved way for this struggle to exist and deter occupation forces. Martyr’s Day, Kashmir Solidarity Day and many other days throughout the year are an effort not to die down this struggle for independence.
It is pertinent to note that international watchdogs have at many times called for revoking of AFSPA and urged investigations for the human rights violations in J&K by an “independent and impartial” authority. Amnesty International and Human Rights organizations time and again have appealed India to stop atrocities and violence in IoK. Recently, The New York Times also published a report titled “Kashmiris call for investigations of Torture Accusations against India”. In this report by foreign news agency, many Kashmiris have narrated their struggle for independence while going through worst inhumane torture by Indian armed forces. This report is another effort to awake authorities at international forums to take serious notice of brutal acts by India in Kashmir, if at least they cannot implement any of Security Council resolution.
As tension with the Indian authorities in IoK has sharply increased, Kashmiris are calling for an international investigation into accounts of abuse and torture by the security forces. According to another report by Kashmiri activists, thousands of civilians have been summarily arrested and then abused in Occupied Kashmir. Released in May 2019 by rights groups in Srinagar, report profiles 432 victims of torture in detention since 1990.It includes accounts alleging that Indian security forces had hung Kashmiris by their wrists, shocked them, forced them to stare at high-voltage lamps and dunked them in water mixed with chili powder. Most were civilians accused of having information about militants. Detailed report mentioned that 49 of them died during or after being tortured. The New York Times in its report which was published in the first week of July 2019 interviewed more than two dozen Kashmiris, including 15 whose cases are included in the report, shared similar accounts.
The Times reviewed hospital documents and spoke with victims’ relatives to help verify their stories. Though some forms of torture are explicitly illegal in India, the report found that security personnel got away with their actions in every case because of law which gives them impunity or ‘license to kill’ for such acts. Responding in frustration to this report, India has categorically denied allegations of mishandlings in Kashmir. In an interview, Dilbag Singh, the Director General of the Police in the region, said the report was “generalizing things based on data that is fake or fuzzed.”In a written response, Lt Col Mohit Vaishnava, a spokesman for the Indian Army, said that allegations of abuse were “false and fabricated propaganda.”
Last year UN also issued 40 pages report which mentioned how India has done brutal acts in Occupied Kashmir. UN report highlighted a wide range of human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir which are not limited to abuses, detentions, forced kidnappings and killings but any new kind of violence to create fear among masses is adopted. Be it using humans as shield or crushing them under vehicles, Indian forces in Kashmir have failed to quash Kashmiris will for freedom. Moreover, the UN report also criticized the constitutional and legal structures that Indian government has put in place to provide legal protection to its soldiers from the legal system of India. India has given its Army a special leverage in IoK for use of force. A lot has been done and suggested on different platforms for bringing peaceful solution to Kashmir conflict but it’s high time that international governing bodies must take stern action against India for atrocities in the IoK.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.