India’s freaking fantasy of annexation | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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India’s freaking fantasy of annexation

INDIA’S Kashmir policy, a glaring reflection on human rights atrocities, illegal occupation and annexation must be drawing a global attention.

Currently, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in a statement, has fancied to have Gilgit-Baltistan as part of India to complete the mission the Modi government unilaterally began, annexing occupied Kashmir in August 2019.

The said statement is a failed fig leaf attempt to hide India’s illegal annexation of Kashmir. The Hindutva-orchestrated mindset of Rajnath Siingh clearly unveils that the Modi Government has no regard for the global rule of law.

Responding to the Indian minister’s remarks, the Pakistan Foreign Office, in a statement, said that the minister, in his remarks, “distorted the well-established historical facts about the Jammu & Kashmir dispute”.

This article exclusively argues that India’s annexation of the occupied Kashmir holds no legal and moral validity.

Day by day, Indian aggression in Kashmir is systematically increasing. India’s illegal annexation (5 August 2019) is in brazen violation of international law.

Unjustifiably, the Indian Parliament passed the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Bill which abolished the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir and divided the region into two ‘Union territories’ of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir.

Once again, constitutional safeguards were sidestepped. Whereas, Article 3 of the Indian Constitution requires bills changing the name or area of any State to be referred to the Legislature of that State for its view thereon. By ignoring this process, the Modi government clearly violated India’s Constitution.

Moreover, while revoking Articles 370 and 35-A, India has intrinsically abandoned the notion of Jammu & Kashmir as a special territory deserving autonomy.

In 1952, India entered into an agreement, known as the Delhi Agreement with the J&K state wherein it reaffirmed “that sovereignty in all matters other than those specified in the Instrument of Accession continues to reside in the State.”

The Agreement also recognizes the State’s authority to define the rights and privileges for its permanent residents.

Arguably, ‘’the State of India is an Occupying Power in Jammu & Kashmir and through its actions of August 5, 2019, has attempted to unlawfully annex this territory without any recourse to the will of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

Based on an analysis of the applicable law, this memorandum sets out in broad strokes, the main legal implications of India’s occupation and unlawful annexation’’.

Needless to say, the Hindutva agenda per se has dominated the public space in India, thereby taking an insidious and all-encompassing policy form— vindicated by the Modi Government‘s move on 5 August 2019 — which transformed India’s only Muslim-majority state into a non-autonomous status.

By all means, the Indian revocation of Article 370 accompanied by its unjust annexation of the Vale has been an excruciating experience for the Kashmiri people, fighting for independence or more autonomy within the Indian Union.

Factually, Kashmir’s accession to India — still remains the most controversial and contentious issue of the history of the subcontinent.

While India’s first premier, Jawaharlal Nehru, had committed to Kashmir’s future being decided by the wishes of its people, India has never held the plebiscite mandated by the United Nations’ Security Council (UNSC) in 1948. True, Kashmir remains an unfinished agenda of partition of the subcontinent.

The truth proclaims that legally, the revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A does not alter the very basis of the sovereign and independent status of the J&K protected under the autonomy cover— systematically endorsed by the Accession Instrument, the Delhi Agreement, and the Indian State Constitution.

Needless to say, internationally, the 1948 UN Security Council Resolutions and the 1972 Simla Agreement respectively recognize the territorial dispute between India and Pakistan as an international dispute that cannot be unilaterally resolved, but must be settled through a fair and impartial plebiscite or through some other bilateral agreement.

By annexing the Occupied Kashmiri land into the Indian Union Territory, which has no international recognition, India has implanted a devilish Hindutva agenda by hijacking the liberal forces of India’s domestic law, as well as that of international law.

According to the Foreign Policy Journal, ’’the Indian government deployed a slew of suppressive measures to deter Kashmiris from expressing their will publicly.

It deployed masses of troops, intimidated tens of journalists and carried out large-scale arrests of Kashmiri politicians, secessionists and anyone with enough clout to mobilize popular discontent into a sustained agitation.

While mainstream politicians were subsequently released, thousands of Kashmiris are still believed to be languishing in prisons inside Kashmir and across the country’.

In March 2022, the UN Human Rights Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in a report — accused the Modi government of tacitly allowing incitement to violence against Muslims — that documents state-driven and tolerated hatred, discrimination and violence against minorities in India.

Today, the world is condemning any annexation move, which is evidenced by the fact that currently the Australian Government has reversed its previous stance on Jerusalem. Canberra holds that its embassy will remain in Tel Aviv.

It is time to establish an independent inquiry commission on the Indian occupation of Kashmir— in parallel to the UN’s recently formed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Palestinian Occupied Territories (POT), including East Jerusalem — in order to honour the writ of international law.

Notably, recent statements by the UN Secretary-General and ‘’numerous member states have clearly indicated that any attempt at unilateral annexation of a State’s territory by another State is a violation of international law and is null and void’’.

Merely by changing its domestic law, no State can alter the status of a disputed territory under international law.

In this backdrop, India’s Reorganization Act 2019, endorsing a unilateral annexation of Occupied Indian Kashmir is absolutely a gross violation of international law as well as the UN’s Charter.

The Modi Government has to be accountable before the international community for its acts of malfeasance in the India-occupied Kashmir (IoK).

Therefore, the ongoing apartheid-backed coercive Indian policies in occupied Kashmir as well as India’s Defence Minister’s recent remarks must draw the attention of the international community towards India’s hegemonic and expansionist designs, marring the inevitable notion of a peaceful settlement of Kashmir dispute between the two nuclear powers of the region.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law. He deals with the strategic and nuclear issues.

 

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