Kashmir agony continues


Reema Shaukat

INDIA with its continuous changing stances on occupied Kashmir is trying to take situation in
its favour through any possible act. Since it abrogated Articles 370 and 35-A on 5 August 2019 which gave Kashmir a special status, the valley is under siege. Now this curfew and lockdown has taken over more than three months and life in Jammu & Kashmir valley is at halt with worst humanitarian situation where food, medicines and other basic necessities of life have become rare commodity. India took another bold step to divide Jammu & Kashmir into two new federally administered territories. In this new arrangement by India, Jammu and Kashmir is one territory and Ladakh, which borders China is separate. According to this initiative, the two new union territories are now ruled directly from the capital Delhi. This new step is also considered controversial like the abolishment of special status of Jammu & Kashmir whereas R.K Mathur and Girish Chandra Murmu were sworn in as Lieutenant Governors of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir respectively. Indian PM Modi on this step by Indian government claimed that “Now the real participation of co-operative federalism will be seen. New highways, new railway lines, new schools, new hospitals will take the development of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to new heights”. India through this step is trying to portray to world that both such territories which were deprived states in the past will have bright and prosperous future whereas, reality is far different from this as Union territories have far less autonomy from the federal government than states do.
Indian government has announced that workers from the previous state government will continue to retain their jobs in the new territories whereas it is important to highlight that 98% of the state’s population will be in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, comprising two regions the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, which has about eight million people, and the Hindu-majority Jammu, which has about six million. The third region, the newly created union territory of Ladakh, is a high-altitude desert inhabited by 300,000 people, with almost equal number of Muslims and Buddhists. Such speckled paces are just Indian frustrations and confusions over Kashmir dispute, where it finds no face saving on lifting up of curfew and Modi trying o show rest of world how concerned he is about the stability of Kashmir. India while deciding upon Kashmir fate through revoking special status on 5 August, it sent thousands of additional troops to the region, imposed a crippling curfew, shut down telecommunications and internet and arrested political leaders. Recently, some members from European Parliament of different states were allowed to visit but India again cunningly just showed them that everything is normal in Kashmir and people are living freely. Whereas the parliamentarians later criticised India and said they were not even allowed to talk to any local on the name of so-called security and this definitely raises question on Indian intentions. India since the lockdown has not allowed any international media to report inhumane crisis in Kashmir and international journalists say that they are being pressurised by Indian government not to report any kind of torture and mass arrests by Indian soldiers in the Kashmir Valley. Even the voices within India are now questioning on Kashmir situation.
Rahul Gandhi of the Congress Party in his tweet said, “MPs from Europe are welcome to go on a guided tour of Jammu & Kashmir while Indian MPs are banned & denied entry. There is something very wrong with that, “Brinda Karat from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) criticized the government for the trip saying that Prime Minister Modi wanted to show “everything is normal in Kashmir”. She tweeted, “BJP is trying to paint a picture to the world that everything is normal in Kashmir and they hope these kind of delegations will send that message. There is nothing normal about Kashmir”. It is important to highlight that despite tense environment, Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control and world over observed the Jammu Martyrs’ Day on 6th of November, to reaffirm the resolve to continue the martyrs’ mission till the realization of their inalienable right to self-determination. Hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris were massacred by the forces of Maharaja Hari Singh, Indian army and Hindu extremists in different parts of Jammu region while they were migrating to Pakistan during the first week of November in 1947. Therefore first week of November is considered as the bleakest chapter of Kashmir struggle and brutality which happened during this time period but gave new impetus to Muslims of Kashmir to struggle for their independence which continues till today. Pakistan is using all diplomatic channels to expose Indian designs for Kashmir. But what most important right now is that international community should pressurize India to stop human rights violations in the IoK. It’s not the first time that Kashmir is under lockdown where instead of reaching out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and opening communication channels, India has enforced a complete closure on the millions of inhabitants of the Valley since 5 August. Many hospitals and ambulances have reportedly been damaged by security personnel and there is no basic health facility available for any suffering from ailments. The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Kashmir currently is not a one-off. It has been an integral part of how India continues to rule over Kashmir. Such events have repeatedly occurred throughout the past three decades, with India continuing to look away from the writing on the wall. The United Nations must pursue its resolutions passed on Kashmir and apart from raising concerns time and again, a strict action against India is required for its illegal occupation.
— The writer works for Pak Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.

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