IIOJK on International Radar

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Asad Ullah Khan

The continuous struggle for freedom from India’s illegal occupation since 1948 has made the Kashmiri freedom movement one of the oldest freedom movements in the world. The resolve of Kashmiri people to liberate their land from Indian atrocities has made it a pertinent issue in the international community even after decades.

Over the years, many international organisations and prominent personalities dared to talk about the Kashmir issue, but no one could stop the continuous Indian atrocities. India, instead of showing a sagacious approach towards the dispute and moving towards its just settlement, has started crushing the freedom movement of the Kashmiris politically and socially.

At a recent conference on Kashmir, held in Texas, American politician, attorney and member Texas House of Representatives Terry Meza urged the ‘international community and the US to reach out to India to end the deliberate politicizing of the justice system and its discriminatory functioning’ in Indian Illegal Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK). She also stressed on the need to establish a commission of inquiry to conduct comprehensive and independent international investigations on the human rights violations in IIOJK. This implies that there is now a growing and noticeable awareness regarding India’s human rights violations and atrocities in IIOJK.

In its 2022 report, Freedom House which works to promote democracy, ranked Kashmir 27 out of 100 in their Freedom Index. The report also mentioned that Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act of 2019, adopted by the Indian Parliament was without consultation of the Kashmiri people and its fundamental aim was to change the electoral system. It has deprived the residents of IIOJK of their basic social and political rights.

Plus, since the implementation of a new media policy in the Valley, many journalists have been summoned and detained on account of so-called ‘fake news’ and ‘unethical reporting’ which is actually journalistic reporting of Indian oppression. Also, the limited use of Internet in the Valley is the main hurdle in reporting true facts across the globe.

International Crisis Group, a Brussels based organisation, in its watch list of 2022 identified ten countries facing deadly conflicts that need the attention of European Union (EU) and its member states. Addressing the issues on Kashmir, the group clearly mentioned that the crackdown on Kashmiri citizens is an anti-democratic process, being practiced by India, which needs to be dealt on emergency basis.

Moreover, suppression of journalists and ban on foreign reporters and observers in the conflict area is a violation of international norms and laws related to journalism. The report also states that the resentment among the Kashmiri youth is pushing them towards resistance and they see violence as the only way to counter New Delhi’s unilateral moves. This clearly indicates that instability in the region is fuelled by Indian actions in IIOJK. It must be noted that the closure of the press club in IIOJK in 2022, barring journalists and civil society members, and academicians from travelling abroad are also in vogue in IIOJK.

Similarly, in another report released by Amnesty International, an increase in unlawful killings has been observed. It is pertinent to note here that IIOJK accounted for the highest numbers of unlawful and extrajudicial killings in India in the first quarter of 2022. The only reason behind this increase is the lack of transparency and height of lawfare in the Valley using illegal laws such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act. This Act provides additional powers to the occupied forces and ignores international human rights standards in every aspect.

There is no doubt that in 2022, the conflict in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir found its place on the international radar. However, more needs to be done to address the suffering of the innocent Kashmiris. In all the reports mentioned above, it has been stressed that the international community must hold the Government of India accountable for grave human rights violations that have increased the social and political suppression of the Kashmiris.

Also, India should be held accountable for its atrocities in IIOJK and pressurised to cooperate with international organisations particularly with the United Nations to conduct fair investigations of war crimes in the region in order to assess the damage done and to mitigate the risks in future. One can only hope and pray that 2023 brings some solace and justice to ease the sufferings of the brave men, women and children of occupied Jammu and Kashmir.