NEWS & VIEWS
DESPITE use of brutal force and repressive measures, Kashmiris refuse to bow down; they stand tall and are resolved to continue their struggle to achieve their right for self-determination. Anti-India protests and clashes erupted in parts of the disputed Kashmir on Wednesday after a gun-battle between freedom fighters and government forces that killed at least two, a civilian and a counterinsurgency police official. A dozen journalists covering the fighting were beaten by counterinsurgency policemen and some of them were injured. Thousands in Srinagar participated in the joint funeral of the slain rebels and the civilian while chanting slogans such as “Go India, go back” and “Long live Pakistan.” They marched with the bodies to Srinagar’s main martyrs’ graveyard, where bodied of hundreds of Kashmiri freedom fighters and civilians killed during nearly three decades of fighting are buried. Government forces fired tear gas and shotgun pellets to stop the protesters.
Clashes between government troops and residents occurred on Tuesday during the last phase of local council elections that had a low turnout in Muslim-dominated areas of the region. Kashmiri leaders had called for a boycott, viewing the polls as an illegitimate exercise under military occupation. After suffering from decades of repression from Indian forces, Kashmiris youth took up the arms since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the militants, a charge Pakistan denies. Nearly 90,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown. Last week, Indian occupation forces martyred Manan Wani, Ph.D. scholar at Aligarh University after which Kashmiri leaders had given a call for complete strike. The martyrdom of another popular Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani by Indian occupation forces in July 2016 had sparked fierce protests in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) that left more than 100 dead and many injured.
Sheikh Abdul Rasheed, MLA from North Kashmir’s Langate constituency was detained on Sunday for holding a protest march in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar. The protest was in “solidarity” with Kashmiri students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) who were booked on sedition charges alleging that they raised anti-India slogans and tried to hold a prayer meet for for Hizbul Mujahideen commander Manan Wani, who was killed in an encounter in north Kashmir Thursday. Apart from terrorizing the Kashmiri youth in IOK, the Indians are also harassing the Kashmiri students of Aligarh University. Reportedly, due to government’s pressure, few Kashmiri students have been suspended by the University administration. Resultantly, over one thousand Kashmiri students have announced to surrender their degrees if suspension order of their colleagues is not revoked. Kashmiris are prepared to sacrifice everything to liberate themselves from Indian rule and their tyrannical suppression that continues for decades.
In August, the Supreme Court of India heard a petition challenging the validity of Article 35-A of the Constitution. The Union Government appealed for the hearings to be deferred as the local body elections were yet to be conducted. Hence, on August 31, the Supreme Court deferred hearing the matter till the second week of January in 2019. Indian government had gone berserk, as even BJP allies in the state assembly announced to boycott local bodies’ polls. The scale of the popular uprising in Kashmir can be judged from the fact, that on many occasions during the month of July-August 2018, virtually the entire population of Srinagar came out on the streets to stage demonstrations to protest the attempt by the Government of India to scrap the Article 35-A of the Indian constitution, which gives the special rights and privileges to the state subject of Jammu and Kashmir.
The abrogation of this constitutional provision is a conspiracy to change the demographic composition of the state. However, the Supreme Court of India adjourned the hearing of Article 35-A till January 2019. Over the last seventy years, Indian occupation has become increasingly brutal. Indian army has tried its best to subjugate the people of Kashmir with its 700,000 military and paramilitary forces, but to no avail. Anyhow, the brutalities of Indian government should not go unnoticed, and it is the responsibility of the Kashmiri diaspora to raise the voice of voiceless people in the corridors of powers all over the world. There are UNSC resolutions bestowing on the people of Kashmir the right to self-determination whereby they could join India or Pakistan through plebiscite to be held under the aegis of the United Nations.
First prime minister of India Jwaharlal Nehru had promised on the floor of the Assembly that US resolution would be implemented. Anyhow, peace in the region of South Asia remains elusive because of the Kashmir dispute. The Joint Resistance Leadership described the statement of new UN rights chief, Michelle Bachelet as a ray of hope for the people of occupied Kashmir, facing the brunt of human rights violations at the hands of Indian occupation forces. There is something worth appreciating. In response to Indian government’s ban on Pakistani film and also denigrating Pakistani institutions in the movies, Pakistan Film Producers Association demanded a complete ban on the release of Indian films in the country. Saudi Arabia recently allowed cinemas to screen films in the country and Saudi cinema board selected Pakistani film “Parwaaz Hai Junoon” for screening in Saudi cinemas which is indeed a great honour and credit goes to our film industry.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.