Muhammad Raza Malik
INDIA has resorted to the worst kind of state terrorism in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 to suppress the Kashmiris’ just struggle for securing their right to self-determination and perpetuate its illegal occupation over the territory. It has invoked black laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Public Safety Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, giving unbridled powers to its occupational authority, military, paramilitary and police personnel to intimidate the Kashmiris into submission. Indian forces’ personnel, enjoying impunity under draconian laws, are committing grave human rights violations – in fact war crimes – in IIOJK. Killings, extrajudicial executions, fake encounters, arrests, torture, use of brute force on peaceful protesters including pellets, destruction of property and molestation of women by Indian troops and police personnel are order of the day. The killing spree, which started with the Jammu massacre in 1947, still continues unabated. Even Genocide Watch, an international organisation that keeps an eye on the international disputes, has issued a genocide alert for IIOJK.
Besides the killing of over four hundred thousand innocent Kashmiris since 1947, more than eight thousand people have been subjected to custodial disappearance. The discovery of thousands of unnamed mass graves across IIOJK has raised apprehensions about the safety of those disappeared in the custody of Indian forces. Since the Narendra Modi-led fascist Indian government illegally and unilaterally repealed the special status of IIOJK and placed it under military siege on 5th August 2019, Indian troops have intensified cordon and search operations across the occupied territory. The troops kill, harass and torture innocent people during these operations. They also use chemical substance to destroy residential houses and char the bodies of the killed people beyond recognition. The Indian forces then label the victims as foreign militants to justify their crime as well as to defame the Kashmiris’ just freedom struggle.
At the same time, Indian government has introduced new domicile and land ownership laws, paving the way for the Indian citizens and other non-Kashmiris to own land and get permanently settled in IIOJK. In gross violation of the UN resolutions and the international law, Modi government has reportedly granted domicile status to thousands of non-Kashmiri Hindus. Apprehensions are ripe that more than 800,000 Indian soldiers and over 600,000 migrant labourers present in the territory might also be granted the domicile status in the coming days. The basic objective behind these moves is to convert IIOJK’s Muslim majority into a minority by settling Indian Hindus in large numbers. This indeed can affect the results in India’s favour if New Delhi is compelled to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir at any point of time in the future. It is also aimed at damaging the essence of the UN resolutions under which Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory and its fate will be decided by the Kashmiri people through the exercise of their right to self-determination. The aim is also to finish the distinct character of IIOJK. Of late, the Modi regime is witch-hunting media outlets and human rights organisations for highlighting its atrocities on Indian Muslims and the people of IIOJK. It is using police and probe body, National Investigation Agency, to suppress the voice of dissent. Reprisals from the Modi government over findings on arbitrary detentions and the use of excessive force and torture by Indian troops in IIOJK and questions over investigations in incidents like Delhi riots have forced the Amnesty International to halt its operations in India. The Indian authorities have sealed the offices of Kashmir Times and Kashmir News Service in Srinagar to victimise the media organisations for covering the ground situation of IIOJK in an objective manner.
Amid the ongoing strict military siege, the Modi regime continues with the ban on high speed 4G internet and prepaid mobile call services even during the times of coronavirus pandemic when the local people need them the most to keep themselves updated about the situation caused by the pandemic and the health guidelines and advisories being issued by the health experts. Thousands of the Kashmiris arrested before and after August 05 illegal move still remain behind the bars with the high risk of contracting the COVID-19. The international human rights organisations including UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued several reports depicting the Indian brutalities on the people of IIOJK. Even the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued two reports – one in June 2018 and the other in July 2019 – calling for impartial investigations into the human rights violations by Indian forces’ personnel in the occupied territory. The world community, particularly the UN, must take cognisance of India’s brutal actions in IIOJK. It must hold India accountable for its illegal actions in the occupied territory and take practical steps for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations to save them from the Indian state terrorism.
—The writer is a senior journalist, based in Islamabad.