Kashmir under lockdown


Reema Shaukat
India occupied Kashmir has become a region where days are black and nights are red. It has not happened in a day or month but the brutal occupation of land by Indian armed forces have turned this for beautiful area into the valley of deaths. Kashmir is a long-standing dispute between Pakistan and India, which originated when the people of Jammu and Kashmir were denied the right of self-determination in 1947. When India and Pakistan became independent in August 1947, it was generally assumed that Kashmir, as an adjoining state with a predominantly Muslim population, would accede to Pakistan. Its ruler, the Maharaja, however, on October 27, 1947, acceded to India through an improper and illegal instrument of accession and on the same day, India winched its forces to Srinagar and occupied the Valley. 
History reveals that conferring to the Partition Plan, the princely states were given the choice to accede either to Pakistan or India on the basis of their geography and demography, but New Delhi illegally occupied three States: Hyderabad, Junagarh and Jammu and Kashmir. Hyderabad and Junagarh were Hindu-majority States but their rulers were Muslims. Being a Muslim-majority state, with 87% Muslim population, Kashmir had a natural tendency to accede to Pakistan. But, tactlessly, the Hindu ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, destroyed the future of Kashmiri people by announcing its accession to India under a controversial document titled the Instrument of Accession. Even neutral spectators contradict the existence of such a document. In a bid to punishing the Kashmiris for their desire to join Pakistan and with the intent to change the demographic structure and turn the results in favour of India in any plebiscite in the future, Indian troops, the Dogra forces and Hindu fanatics massacred over three hundred thousand Kashmiri Muslims within a period of two months in the Jammu Division. It is a historical fact that if the partition had been done on the principles of justice, then India had no land route to enter into Jammu and Kashmir. But the so-called Boundary Commission headed by Radcliffe, which demarcated the partition line, secretly gave Gurdaspur, a Muslim majority area to India thus providing it land access to the desired area.
The people of Kashmir rejected illegal Indian occupation since day one. India,’ however, took the matter to the UN Security Council on 1 January, 1948, to settle the Kashmir dispute. Consecutive resolutions passed by the Security Council invalidated the Indian invasion in Occupied Kashmir. Through the resolutions passed on 13 August, 1948 and 5 January, 1949, the UN approved a ceasefire, demarcation of the ceasefire line, demilitarisation of the State and a free and impartial plebiscite to be conducted under the supervision of the world body. However, the demilitarisation of IoK and the demand for a plebiscite still remains unfulfilled. Today, the geopolitical positioning of Kashmir has made it a nuclear flashpoint in South Asia.
After 5th of August 2019 when India revoked the Articles 370 and 35A which give special status to Kashmir in Indian Constitution, a new debate has originated. As revoking of these Articles makes easy for India to do demographic changes in occupied territory. India before making changes in its Constitution deployed more than 40,000 armed troops in IoK. Already India has deployed armed troops in territory over the years and according to some statistics Indian forces deployed in Kashmir cross the figure of 1 million which are armed with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). With this recent move people in Kashmir spent Eid ul Adha under complete lock down and they were not allowed to offer Eid prayers nor do the sacrificing of animals. This time Eid ul Adha and Independence Day celebrations fall nearby but it was decided that on 15th of August throughout Pakistan and Kashmir, it will be observed as Black Day. Rallies, peaceful protests and events will be held from corner to corner to draw world’s attention to this conflict.
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 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 communications channels, India has enforced a complete closure on the millions of inhabitants of the Valley since August 5. Indian authorities have severely crippled all communications, jamming mobile and internet services, and seized offices of local newspapers and detained staff members. 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. 
While Amnesty International, stressed New Delhi to ease restrictions imposed in Kashmir, it warned that a “complete clampdown on civil liberties is only likely to increase tension, alienate the people and increase the risk of further human rights violations”. Pakistan has requested UN Security Council to call an emergency meeting of its members and stop India for making brutal decisions for Kashmir. The massive suppression by India is clearly designed to silence the people of Jammu and Kashmir through sheer brutality bordering on genocide and ethnic cleansing. Presently, every Kashmiri, particularly the youth, is adamant for their Kashmir to be part of Pakistan despite huge losses. Pakistan has always and will continue to support the Kashmir freedom movement and raise voices for the rights of Kashmiris.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.

Previous articleRemaking of Pakistan?
Next articleCeasing the right to education