On June 19, 2018, BJP pulled out of the coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti in the Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir following which Governor’s Rule has been imposed in the State. It is indeed an ominous development as direct rule from Delhi means the abandonment of the policy of reconciliation and continuing with ruthless use of force to quell the freedom movement of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. It is perhaps pertinent to point out that the BJP has long favoured a tough approach to quell the freedom movement in the IoK and Modi during the 2014 election had vowed to end it by all means. It looks a well calculated move in view of general election in India in 2019. It would suit Modi to adopt the muscular approach in the run up to the election and one can expect more blood-shed and violation of human rights in the IoK.
Modi perhaps is unmindful of the fact that strategies stemming for political expediencies cannot subdue freedom movements that have a broad-based support among the masses. The use of force would further fuel the fire of freedom movement. The approach might win some seats for BJP but it would inflict unfathomable damage on the efforts to bring peace in the occupied territory and the region which ultimately could also prove detrimental to the Indian interests.
The freedom movement in the Indian-occupied Kashmir has become irrepressible and the issue can only be resolved through a process of dialogue between the parties to the dispute as rightly pointed out by the Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat. According to the India media the General in an exclusive interview with The Economic Times said he supported dialogue to solve the ongoing problems in Kashmir. He reportedly said “Talks must happen. We kill them and more of them join. Infiltration can be controlled, but this cycle of recruitment of local youth can go on and one. So let us give peace a chance and see” The statement by the Indian Army Chief corroborates the credentials of the freedom movement as an indigenous phenomenon contrary to the Indian stance and underlines the need for a negotiated settlement which ultimately will have to be resorted to.
The Chief Minister of IoK who resigned after the withdrawal of BJP from the coalition in a press conference lashed out at BJP saying it took us several months to form a mutual agenda with BJP and maintained that the Kashmir issue could only be resolved through talks which she insisted should he held with Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. She said that the agreed agenda was to boost reconciliation through alliance but BJP has betrayed that. The BJP move has also come under severe criticism by leaders of Indian political parties including Rahul Gandhi who said “The opportunistic BJP-PDP alliance set fire to Jammu and Kashmir killing many innocent people including our brave soldiers. Incompetence, arrogance and hatred always fails”
A report on the Indian atrocities in IOK released by UN last Thursday accused India of having used excessive force to kill and wound civilians since 2016 and called for an international inquiry into the accusations of violation of human rights. According to the report Indian security forces unlawfully killed many people besides causing injuries to a very high number of people. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for maximum restraint and denounced the lack of prosecution of Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir due to 1990 law giving them virtual immunity. He also called for inquiry by the Human Rights Council saying the alleged sites of mass grave in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu should be investigated. India as usual has rejected the report as being selective compilation of largely unverified information and being fallacious, tendentious and motivated. More than a hundred thousand people have been killed since the freedom movement began in 1989 and more than 130 people have died in escalating violence in IoK this year.
Perhaps it would be pertinent to mention that since the commencement of the freedom movement in IoK, human rights organizations within India and Amnesty International have been documenting the human rights violations by the Indian security forces. According to these reports the Indian security forces in Kashmir have killed over ninety five thousand Kashmiris between January 1989 and now, raped 11,042 women and killed more than seven thousand persons while in custody. The Amnesty International (AI) in its reports has been regularly pointing out blatant human rights violation in IoK. The AI reports hurled scathing criticism at the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, particularly section of the legislation which grants immunity to members of the security forces from prosecution for human rights violations.
It is indeed very regrettable that in spite of irrefutable testimony of Indian atrocities in the IoK and her continuous refusal to engage in a dialogue with the parties to the dispute including Pakistan and the people of Kashmir who have been promised plebiscite through UN resolutions, the international community particularly the US and its allies that cry hoarse from every convenient roof-top to announce their credentials as a supporters of the cause of liberty and human rights, remain oblivious to the sufferings of the people of Kashmir. The non-resolution of the Kashmir conundrum and Indian intransigence to abide by her international commitments is an affront to the conscience of the world community. It also sheds negative light on the UN credentials as a peace making body.
Showing indifference to what is happening in Kashmir is not going to end the matter. It is a freedom movement and the right of the people of Kashmir to self-determination that is at stake and it cannot be subdued through use of force as also testified by the history of freedom movements around the world. The prolongation of the conflict is neither in the interest of peace, security and economic progress of the region nor in the benefit of the two nuclear neighbours and the world at large. The resolution of this festering dispute can create a win-win situation for all. Sooner this reality sinks in the minds of the Indian leaders and her supporter the better.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.