M Nawaz Khan
ON October 27 each year, Kashmir Black Day is observed nationwide in Pakistan and also across globe. This is day when Indian forces unlawfully, forcefully and in blatant violation of international law occupied Kashmiris’ land, which started darkest period in J&K history. State terrorism that India unleashed on unarmed defenceless Kashmiris has adversely affected more than a million Kashmiris. Over 1m Kashmiris stand affected by the Indian security forces in terms of massacres, extra-judicial killings, staged encounters and organized dishonouring of women coupled with arbitrary arrest of tens of thousands with their fate unknown for decades.
The Indian security forces have been given virtual immunity to commit human rights violations in Kashmir in the form of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA). AFSPA permits the armed forces to arrest anyone and enter any property without a warrant. They are authorized to fire upon or otherwise use force against peaceful protesters.
The people in Indian occupied Kashmir have suffered massive human rights abuses and since 1947, so far more than 200,000 Kashmiris have been killed by the Indian forces, more than 10,000 people are missing, around 22,826 Kashmiri women have been widowed, 10,717 Kashmiri women have been gang raped and about 107,591 children have been orphaned. Besides, there are an estimated 1500 half-widow wives whose husbands have disappeared but not yet declared as dead.
Since the commencement of Kashmiris’ freedom struggle in 1989, the IHK has become one of the world’s most densely militarised zones as 1 million Indian security forces have been deployed there to crush the freedom struggle. Since 1989, around 65 per cent Kashmiris have witnessed explosions, 39 per cent witnessed damage to personal property, 85 per cent Kashmiris witnessed cross fire, 64 per cent Kashmiris are suffering from anxiety, 87 per cent Kashmiris have been frisked by security forces, 48 per cent Kashmiris think they are not safe, 99 per cent have witnessed crackdowns, and 75 per cent have undergone torture while in detention.
Moreover, nearly, 12 per cent of Kashmiri women have suffered violation of their modesty (associated with an act of sexual assault that varies from rape to inappropriate touching). Indian security forces use rape as a tool of subjugation through humiliation and retaliation against civilians. Moreover, Indian security forces are responsible for the disappearance of more than 8000 people and 6000 unknown and unmarked mass graves. One out of every six persons has been tortured. There have been almost 200,000 tortured victims since 1990 and in the same period there are 1 million physically tortured survivors, 95 per cent of whom are non-combatants. According to Action Aid’s recent survey, more than 30 per cent of Kashmiri men and women are found to have severe mental health illnesses. The most common health illness suffered by Kashmiris is depression. Conflict related depression in Indian-held Kashmir reveals that the prevalence of depression in Kashmiri population is over 55 per cent. The Srinagar Psychiatry Hospital was visited by more than 100,000 patients last year as compared to 1700 patients in 1989.
Kashmir issue is not only of land, but it is also the issue of illegal occupation of humans and violations of the Kashmiris’ political, ideological and basic rights. The current situation in occupied Kashmir has exposed the brutal face of India to the world as there is no match for India’s brutality and barbarianism. Besides, the situation of human rights has become worse in Kashmir as thousands of youngsters are missing, there exists no cellular or social network, people are unaware about their loved ones and United Nations is unsuccessful not only in having access to the areas but in the implementation of its own resolutions. Resultantly, dozens of Kashmiri people have died in the violence triggered by the killing of Burhan Wani, a young freedom fighter, by the Indian army.
In the current uprising, the Indian-held Kashmir has been under curfew for more than 116 days. Resultantly, during this period more than 155 people have been killed, around 15,500 Kashmiris have been injured and nearly 7500 have been arrested so far. Besides, more than 1500 Kashmiris are under detention in different police stations across the Indian-held Kashmir without any charges and their detention is not officially recorded. Over 450 people have been arrested under PSA, highest number ever in Kashmir Valley.
Furthermore, the Indian security forces have used more than 1.7 million pellets to control street protests. Consequently, more than 400 Kashmiris have been fully blinded by the use of pellet guns and over 1200 have suffered from pellet injuries impairing their eye-sight to various degrees and even causing permanent loss of vision. Besides, the food crisis and deliberate acts to create a shortage of basic necessities, continued detention of Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in precarious and torturous conditions, inhuman and sub-standard condition in which Yasin Malik had been kept without proper medical treatment are issues of immense concern.
More bloodshed can be expected unless the security forces refrain from resorting to use of brutal force. The Indian Government must stop bloodshed of innocent Kashmiris and it should respect UN Charter, fulfil its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian laws and implement UN Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir. The international community should also take notice of the violations of human rights in IOK.
—The writer works at Islamabad Policy Research Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.