IOK as a military cantonment


Dr Muhammad Khan
Sagarika Ghose, an Indian journalist, has written a very realistic article, published in ‘The Times of India’ on April 23, 2017. The article entitled, “Jinnah’s two-nation Theory Triumphs in Kashmir” has really exposed the so-called Indian claim of secularism and Indian state attitude towards Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK). Sagarika Ghose remained associated with ‘The Times of India’ for a long time and has now moved to Outlook Magazine and The Indian Express. While criticising the Indian policies on Kashmir, Sagarika says, “Kashmir is ours, but Kashmiris are jihadis, thunder internet nationalists signalling that they prefer the real estate over the inhabitants.” Indeed, for India and its security forces, Kashmir is nothing more than a real state issue. India just wants Kashmir and its resources, thus mistreated Kashmiris and so far over 100,000 innocent Kashmiris have been killed since the start of renewed struggle in 1990.
While describing the current situation in IOK, Ms. Sagarika writes, “Today Kashmir is a cantonment, patrolled by lakhs of security forces; its residents policed 24×7.” In fact, Kashmir has been a cantonment of Indian Army ever since October 27, 1947, when Indian forces landed on its soil. However, this Indian military cantonment turned into a prisoner’s camp, following the 1990, once Kashmiri started their peaceful struggle for their right of self-determination. Seeing the mass movement of Kashmiri masses, India deployed 700,000 troops in IOK, the largest troop’s concentration in a populated area in the human history. This made the IOK as a prisoner’s camp where Kashmiris are hostages. Despite being a political struggle with UN mandate, India used all sort of force against the Kashmiri masses.
The Youth Movement of Kashmiri is turning point in the 70 years of Kashmiris struggle for their right of self-determination. This Youth Movement started after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani, on July 8, 2016. Thereafter, India adopted yet another brutal strategy to target the Kashmiri masses. “Many of its youth blinded by pellet guns, stone-palters poised in bloody conflict with India’s army.” Besides killing of over 500 innocent people, more than 20269 have injured in last fifteen months. 8232 Kashmiris have been injured by pellets, over 100 lost total eye sight, 306 lost one eye sight and another 972 are at the verge of losing eye-sight. Apart, 1839 people have lost their vision damaged partially. Besides 10828 rapes since 1990, another 732 Kashmiri women have been molested by Indian forces since July 2016 in IOK. Following the strategy of General Bipin Rawat, today Indian Army has been asked to kill any Kashmiri, who even question Indian authority over IOK, chant pro-Pakistan slogan or hoist Pakistani flag at his residence.
Kashmiris in IOK are passing through a worst time of their history. With impunity of all sorts through state specific laws like AFSPA and PSA, Indian security forces can arrest, interrogate and detain for three months any Kashmir without assigning reasons. Over these perpetual atrocities and alienation, the people of IOK have totally rejected the Indian rule over their state and demand their freedom from New Delhi. A confluence of Indian Government, RAW and Indian military is hell bent not to give Kashmiris their basic right, the right of self-determination. Such an atrocious situation has even compelled the people like Yashwant Sinha, the former finance and external affairs minister of BJP to alarm New Delhi that, Kashmiris are not with India and indeed, India lost Kashmiris. In order to kow the insight of Kashmir in IOK, Yashwant Sinha travelled to IOK many a time. He finally reached to the conclusion that, “India has lost people of the valley emotionally.” On October 2, 2017, he said, “I am looking at the alienation of the masses of people in Jammu and Kashmir. That is something which bothers me the most… We have lost the people emotionally… You just have to visit the valley to realise that they have lost faith in us.”
Indeed, the findings of Yashwant Sinha, a hard liner member of BJP should be an eye opener for the New Delhi. The reality is that, Kashmiris have never accepted the rule or Indian constitution. They just want their right of self-determination. Sagarika Ghose is right that, after having stayed under the cantonment of Indian Army in IOK, they had no other option but to look for their basic demand; to be part of Pakistan, a land of their dreams through UN mandated right of self-determination.
Ms Sagarika has pointed out towards the same reality in her above quoted article, once she said, “India’s secular project has failed in Kashmir and Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s Two-Nation Theory (of Hindus and Muslims being two nations who simply cannot live together) looks triumphant. How much India loves Kashmiris is already viral once a Kashmiri youth was strapped to an army jeep, ordered by an ASC major, later awarded COAS Commendation Card. It was a shame for the Indian secularism and its democracy. The only issue is that, international community has to open its eyes with being prejudices.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.

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