HISTORY has witnessed many freedom movements world over. The struggles sooner or later succeeded with varying price tag ranging from few hundred to some thousands lives. Unfortunately, there is a freedom movement which is on for the more than seven decades and is still anticipating its triumph. This movement has legal backing of no less than UN and Security Council’s repeated resolutions. The price paid so far is over 100,000 lives and hundreds of thousands of gang rapes in addition to other human rights violations. The movement is termed as Kashmir freedom Movement. Though this struggle movement with the changing geo political dynamics and rise of militancy in South Asian region, western and biased media groups have started calling it a separatist movement which is absolutely wrong and needs to be countered. Kashmiris are fighting for their freedom and right of self-determination which UN itself has authorized them. This freedom struggle with every passing day is getting stronger but unfortunately Kashmiris have paid huge price for this struggle for independence and still many Kashmiris are targeted by Indian occupational forces to be deterred. But salute to their resilience that despite tyranny of many years Kashmir’s love for Pakistan and to be part of Pakistan is never over shadowed.
Now UN itself has highlighted that India must stop oppression and use of force in IOK. According to recent UN report, there is an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses and deliver justice for all people in Kashmir, who for seven decades have suffered a conflict that has claimed or ruined numerous lives. The UN in their report have mentioned that the political dimensions of the dispute between India and Pakistan have long been centre-stage, but this is not a conflict frozen in time. It is a conflict that has robbed millions of their basic human rights, and continues to this day to inflict untold suffering, that’s why any resolution of the political situation in Kashmir must entail a commitment to end the cycles of violence and ensure accountability for past and current violations and abuses by all parties, and provide redress for victims.
Though many at times UN has given reminder to India to stop human rights violations in Kashmir and abide by international law but India because of its inherent animosity with Kashmiris never listens or obey any rule. UN has stressed India that it is essential the Indian authorities take immediate and effective steps to avoid a repetition of the numerous examples of excessive use of force by security forces in Kashmir. Indian security forces in recent past have used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries, particularly in post Burhan Wani security situation and new uprising in Kashmir. The bloody tragedy of poor Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their legitimate and UN approved right of self-determination. As a natural outcome of Indian injustice, people of IOK organized themselves and launched a war of liberation which India tried to crush through coercion and brutalities. Later, in 1988, Indian positioned a very large number of Armed Forces to suppress Kashmir struggle on gun point. India has given its army a special leverage in IOK for use of force.
The huge Indian occupational forces under the cover of Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) and other black laws frequently engage in religious cleansing of Muslims. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act, security forces personnel have the powers to shoot suspected persons, to arrest without warrant, and to detain people without time limits. The law forbids prosecution of soldiers without approval from the central government, which is rarely granted, giving them effective immunity for serious human rights abuses. AFSPA gives security forces virtual immunity against prosecution for any human rights violation. In the nearly 28 years that the law has been in force in Jammu and Kashmir and there has not been a single prosecution of armed forces personnel granted by the central government. Earlier, the international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, many at times has called for revoking of AFSPA and urged investigations into the human rights violations in J&K by an “independent and impartial” authority.
One of the most dangerous weapons which Indian forces have used is pellet firing shotgun, which they started using on innocent Kashmiris after martyrdom of Burhan Wani in 2016. According to official figures, 17 people were killed by shotgun pellets between July 2016 and August 2017, and 6,221 people were injured by the metal pellets between 2016 and March 2017. Civil society organizations believe that many of them have been partially or completely blinded but Indian security forces find pellet guns firing an easy way out to control protestors. There is also almost total impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances, with little movement towards credibly investigating complaints, including into alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region. Kashmiris are hopeful that one day their freedom struggle will be fruitful as they are not militants or terrorists but they are struggling for their just and right demand of freedom. Whatever world call them, they have one mission ahead and that is acceptance of their right of self-determination according to their own choice like others. Pakistan has always and time and again raised its voice for Kashmiris on different platforms and will continue to do so. The need of hour is to coerce India for dialogue and prior to that all such reports, peace talks or diplomatic measures are useless if India does not stop its human rights violations in IOK.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.