Indian use of chemical weapons in Kashmir

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Sultan M Hali

INDIA’S persistent use of chemical weapons to annihilate the Muslim inhabitants of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) is assuming alarming proportions. In July 2017, Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson Nafees Zakaria had accused Indian security forces of using deadly chemical weapons to kill Kashmiris and destroy their properties in IOK. The accusation was based on the discovery of charred bodies of Kashmiri youth, extensively burnt and beyond visual recognition, found in the debris of five houses destroyed by Indian forces at Bahmnoo and Kakapora in Pulwama. This level of combustion can only be achieved through the use of chemical weapons. There are reports of similar heinous attacks committed by the Indian Army at different locations.
Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had rubbished Pakistan’s accusation; instead it level charges against Pakistan, claiming that jihadist outfits like Hizb-ul Mujahedeen and Jaish-i-Muhammad are being provided chemical weapons. Some Indian TV Channels were prompted to spin webs of conspiracy theories that twenty Pakistan Army officers have received training from China in the use of chemical and biological weapons and are being deployed along the Line of Control (LoC) to wreak havoc in IOK. To add a macabre twist to the plot, it was maliciously advocated that the jihadists plan to launch a spate of chemical and biological weapons (CBWs) attacks in IOK, which will culminate in a major assault at New Delhi on India’s national day: 26 January 2018. Saner elements in Indian media did not give credence to the implausible plot and the story apparently died down.
On the UN designated International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2017, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan claimed that Indian security forces are using “chemical weapons” against civilians in IOK. He stated that the demographics in IHK are being manipulated with an ulterior motive to harm Kashmiris’ freedom struggle. Narendra Modi, ever since he came into power in 2014, is executing an odious plan to exterminate the Muslims in IOK and replace them with Hindus so that Indian claim on Kashmir gains credence. This is not the first time that Indian Security Forces have been accused of using chemical and biological weapons in IOK. According to the International Herald Tribune, in 1999, Pakistan had approached the UN regarding the serious violation of international Laws. India had not only denied the charge vehemently, but in response to a note verbale of the UN Secretary General on the subject of chemical weapons, India declared that it did not possess chemical weapons.
It is pertinent to mention here that the use of chemical incendiaries against civilians is contrary to international law. Both Pakistan and India are signatories to the Chemical Weapon Convention (CWC), which came into force in 1997 and has been signed by 192 states. CWC comprehensively prohibits the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons. Any chemical used for warfare is considered a chemical weapon by the convention, which prohibits the use of chemical weapons not only in international armed conflicts but also domestic armed conflicts in all circumstances. The use of chemical weapons in a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population is a crime against humanity. If done with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, it is genocide which itself is an international crime.
As a responsible state, Pakistan actively subscribes to treaties banning CBWs. Islamabad has been committed to ensure that it does not develop, stockpile or use these weapons, nor has it ever been found in violation of its obligations. Currently there are two countries, Israel and India that are consistently using oppression, force and brutal methods to suppress just movements for freedom. In this age of information technology and media transparency, gross violations of comprehensive international treaties banning CBWs are well documented and propagated by human rights organisations. Unfortunately, both India and Israel are partners in the crimes against humanity; one is tormenting the Kashmiris while the other persistently tortures Palestinians. Their modus operandi is similar and perhaps they exchange notes as well as technology to brutalize humankind. The Israelis introduced the use of pellet guns to fire at the protesting Palestinian youth. The pellet gun does not kill the target instantly but when aimed at the face, permanently blinds him or her. Indians have been using the same weapon in IOK since July 8, 2016, the assassination of popular youth leader Burhan Wani. The vicious slaying of Wani propelled thousands of Kashmiri youth to come out into the streets in IOK in protest. Over 200 Kashmiri youth have been martyred while nearly 3,500 have been permanently blinded with the use of pellet guns in the last 18 months.
Likewise, Israeli use of CBWs against Palestinians in recent times is well documented. The 71-page report ‘Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza’ by Human Rights Watch, discloses that Israeli security forces frequently use white phosphorus in 155mm artillery shells to fire airbursts in and near populated areas. Each airburst shell spreads 116 burning white phosphorus wedges in a radius extending up to 125m from the blast point. White phosphorus ignites and burns on contact with oxygen, and continues burning at up to 816 degrees Celsius until nothing is left or the oxygen supply is cut. When white phosphorus comes into contact with skin it creates intense and persistent burns. It is time Indian intransigence is exposed internationally.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.

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