Factors behind Asifa’s rape in IOK

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Dr Muhammad Khan

THE brutal rape of Asifa, the eight years old Kashmiri girl has raised many questions over the Indian rule in the Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) and its future intentions about the people of this occupied state. Since the rapist were all officials of India or people associated with them and they were protected by officials too, therefore one can clearly reach over the conclusion that, Asifa’s rape was part of a well-planned strategy of Indian Government. The dynamics of this Indian strategy is to change the demography of the state by converting the Muslim majority into minority. Prior to partition of India in 1947, in Jammu province of the larger state of Jammu and Kashmir, Muslims constituted 62% of total population.
Today, Muslims population in the Jammu province is 32% the maximum, which means that, there have been major demographic changes made by India in Jammu province from 1947 till to-date. Today, the Muslim population in Kathua District, where Asifa was gang-raped and murdered later is just 3.68% of total population of district. The total population of Kathua district of the Jammu province is 191,988. The Hindu population is 87% in this district. As part of overall Indian plan to bring major demographic changes in the IOK, the Hindu officials of RSS and BJP are pressurizing the Muslim population to vacate the area so that, Hindu population from elsewhere could be rehabilitated there. The current level of low Muslim population in Jammu province is part of the same Indian strategy. In a gradual process, India has been pressurizing the Muslims to flee the area which Hindu used to occupy through a phased process.
Those Muslims who refused to vacate their ancestral places in Jammu province, they were either killed or their women folk were put through rapes. Asifa’s rape is not an isolated event, indeed it is part of the bigger strategy which India is following continually in IOK. Asifa’s parents and many families of the nomad Muslims refused to accept the Indian Army demands to vacate their native areas, thus, they were punished in the form of Asifa’s gang-rape and murder thereafter. In last 70 years, India forces out millions of Kashmiris out of IOK, mostly from Jammu Province.
However, despite mass Muslim forced migration, Hindu majority was only in three districts; Jammu, Udhampur and Kathua. Muslim were in majority in remaining three; Poonch, Doda and Rajouri. Lately, India curved out additional four districts; Riasi, Ramban, Samba and Kishtwar all were designed to have Hindu majority. Then Hindu were given economic packages and infrastructure for development. But Muslims were forcibly kept backward, so that they leave under compulsions. Overall, India (BJP) is trying to prove that, Jammu is a Hindu majority province and its people have a different identity with inclination towards India
The Ladakh region is controlled directly by the New Delhi and masses are persuade to ask for their separate identity; the Buddhist or regional identity- away from Kashmiriyat. Modi made sky-high promises for the economic and developmental packages for Leh and Kargil-Dras people, The dominant Buddhists identity vs Kargil-Dras and creating rift between people of Valley and Kargil on various pretext is the agenda of India, which in the implementation process. In the Valley, two dominant groups working for making demographic changes. The Panun Kashmir and the Bantustans. Panun Kashmir, Organization of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits-forced out of the Valley under the Governor Jagmohan in 1990s.
Inded, Jagmohan and Indian Army created an alarm for the Pandits with two objectives. One, to isolate and brutalise Kashmiri Muslims, asking for their right of self-determination and Two, securing Hindu Pandits from any backlash. The Broad Objectives of Panun Kashmir are; to have a separate state or union territory; where they feel more secure and their culture is protected, since they strongly believe in the unity and territorial integrity of India. They demand establishment of a Homeland for the Kashmiri Hindus; in the Valley of Kashmir comprising the regions of the Valley to the East and North of river Jhelum.
Besides above, the PDP-BJP Coalition Government in IOK has planned Sainik colonies and transit camps for Pandits. Sainik colonies for retired soldiers and officers of Indian Army and BSF and Transit Camps for returning Pandits. Indeed, as per Muslims of Kashmir, there is no threat to the Kashmiri Pandits if they return to their native places. They can peacefully live with Muslim. But, Indian Government is working on an agenda of demographic changes in IOK and for that, it is taking all measures to suppress Muslims population for forcing them out and upon refusal, their women folks are raped and gang-raped. In this regard, UN Security Council has passed a resolution (1820 of June 19, 2008, demanding an immediate and complete halt to acts of sexual violence against civilians in conflict zones.
The resolution was unanimously adopting by all members. Indeed, “the sexual violence profoundly affects not only the health and safety of women, but the economic and social stability of their nations”. Pakistan and the people of Kashmir strongly feel that, this issue of rapes and genocide must be taken to International Court of Criminal (ICC) and India should be declared as Rapist country. The UN and International community must intervene forcing India to stop genocide, rape and human rights violations of Kashmiris in IOK.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.

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