Sultan M Hali
KASHMIR conflict is more than a century old. In fact, the Pashtun Durrani Empire ruled Kashmir in the 18th century until its 1819 conquest by the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh. The Raja of Jammu Gulab Singh, who was a vassal of the Sikh Empire and an influential noble in the Sikh court, sent expeditions to various border kingdoms and ended up encircling Kashmir by 1840. Following the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–1846), Kashmir was ceded under the Treaty of Lahore to the East India Company, which transferred it to Gulab Singh through the Treaty of Amritsar, in return for the payment of indemnity owed by the Sikh empire. Gulab Singh took the title of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.
From then until the 1947 Partition of India, Kashmir was ruled by the Maharajas of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu. According to the 1941 census, the state’s population was 77 percent Muslim, 20 percent Hindu and 3 percent others (Sikhs and Buddhists). Despite its Muslim majority, the princely rule was an overwhelmingly Hindu state. The Muslim majority of the valley was brutalised by the Hindu Maharaja. In July 1931, Kashmiris arose to seek freedom.
Every year “Kashmir Martyrs’ Day” is commemorated on July 13, in memory of the 21 Kashmiris, who were killed outside Srinagar Central Jail by the troops of the Dogra Maharaja. This heinous incident took place on that fateful day when people had gathered to witness the court proceedings against, Abdul Qadeer, who was charged for instigating Kashmiris to defy Dogra rule.
With the advent of the Partition of India, the Kashmiris hoped to accede to Pakistan and be rid of the brutal Dogra rule. Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan and across the world are observing ‘Accession to Pakistan Day’. The Muslim Conference of occupied Kashmir in a statement issued in Srinagar described the July 19, 1947. Unfortunately, the Indians did not honour it but occupied Kashmir by force on October 27, 1947. Since then, there has been no let up to the suffering of the Muslims in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
The 1965 and 1971 Pak-India wars did not change the plight of the Kashmiris. In 1989, the Muslims of Kashmir raised the slogan of freedom and arose en masse to demand their legitimate rights. Their just movement was crushed by brute force and over 100,000 Kashmiri Muslims have been martyred and thousands of women raped. Using draconian laws like the POTA or AFSPA, Indian forces continue their reign of terror in IOK.
The terrible and heinous massacre of Muslim populace of IOK is continuing since seven decades without any break. The catastrophe is big enough to move any conscious human being. Unfortunately, the callous insensitivity of international community is encouraging India to cross all limits of gross human rights violations. It is not that international community is unaware of atrocities being unleashed on people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), it is rather the vested interest of Western Governments to remain mute just to please India. Recently, a new wave of Indian brutalities has set in with the martyr of an eminent IOK leader Burhan Wani. Burhan Wani was a great voice for freedom of IOK. The planned killing of Burhan Wani triggered protest throughout the valley. To suppress the protestors, devilish Indian Occupational Forces started wreaking havoc on the protestors resulting into martyring of over two dozen innocent and unarmed Kashmiris so far. The bloodshed is still on and God knows how many more Kashmiris will lose their lives at the hands of Indian forces. The recent genocide in IOK has received wide coverage in International as well domestic Indian media.
Instead of accepting the existing reality, India resorts to implicating Pakistan for Kashmiri uprising and warns Pakistan not to meddle in its internal affairs. Indian allegations against Pakistan are a ploy to hoodwink the International Community on Kashmir issue and a blanket to hide state sponsored atrocities on innocent people of IOK. International community must realize the plight of IOK’s people. Kashmir has been under unlawful Indian occupation since October 1947. Kashmir is disputed territory. The people of Jammu and Kashmir have been granted the right of self-determination under the UN Charter, through several UN Security Council resolutions, more specifically under UN (UNCIP) resolution of August 13, 1948, and January 5, 1949.
These alongwith subsequent UN resolutions have affirmed that, the question of accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the political democratic method of free and impartial plebiscite. Unfortunately, stalwart supporters of Human equality and advocates of preservation of human rights have done little to resolve decades’ long IOK dispute. It is sad to admit that death of a few animals aired by international media can bring tears in the eyes of people but no heart moves on genocide of innocent Kashmiris. This smacks of double standards. Leonardo Boff has rightly said, “The eternal destiny of human beings will be measured by how much or how little solidarity we have displayed with the hungry, the thirsty, the naked and the oppressed. In the end we will be judged in terms of love”.
A peaceful, negotiated settlement of Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions should top UN’s agenda. In order to find a swift and legal solution of Kashmir dispute, international community must stand with the people of IOK. India should also realize that no freedom movement has ever been suppressed with force and Kashmir is no exception.
Balochistan is showing solidarity with Kashmiris on July 14. Huge rallies in all parts of Balochistan are being planned to demonstrate unity with Kashmiris against crimes committed by India in IHK. Youth including universities, colleges and schools would be mobilized with civil society. Local leaders will address the rallies to give a clear message of support to the Kashmiris. It is imperative to arouse the conscience of the world to the Indian violence being unleashed and the havoc being wreaked on the hapless people of IOK.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.