News & Views
KASHMIRIS on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and across the world will be observing India’s Republic Day as a black day on January 26, 2017 to remind the world that India’s continued denial of Kashmiris’ right to self-determination is contrary to its claim of being a democratic republic. Kashmiri leaders try to convey to the world that India has denied the people of Jammu and Kashmir their inalienable right to self-determination. On the call of All Parties Hurriyet Conference, a complete strike will be observed in Indian Held Kashmir, and anti-India demonstrations and rallies will be staged in the world capitals. Hundreds of youth had been arrested by Indian police from across Valley ahead of India’s Republic Day celebrations. A large number of Indian troops and police personnel have been deployed in Srinagar and other towns.
On January 26, 1950, the Constitution of India was formally adopted by the Parliament, and India declared itself as a Republic, and celebrated annually as Republic Day. In a protest program issued by Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yasin Malik have called for observing a ‘black day’ on Republic Day. After the unrest broke out in the Valley following the martyrdom of Hizbul Mujahideen activist and leader Burhan Wani in July last year, Kashmiri leaders had protested and complete strike in the Valley continued for months. For the last one month, the strike is being observed and protest demonstrations are held on Friday and Saturday every week. Kashmiri leaders have called for a shutdown on Thursday ie Indian Republic Day. They have also called for joint protest on Monday after the afternoon prayer.
Indian hatred and animosity against the Kashmiri Muslims is deep-seated and its reflections can clearly be seen through Indian repressive tactics including torture, extra-judicial killings, rape and fake encounters by Indian Security Forces in IOK that continue unabated. The aim is to deter Kashmiris from demanding their right of self-determination. The repression, oppression and atrocities committed by Indian forces have turned Kashmir into a hell that would stretch Dante’s imagination reflected in his famous poem Divine Comedy. However, these acts could not break the will of Kashmiris. The heroic struggle waged by the people of Kashmir is unparalleled in the history; they are committed to continue their struggle till their objective is achieved. It has to be said that no solution can be found without participation and consensus of the people of Kashmir Despite brutalities of the Indian police and military, Kashmiris refuse to bend.
They had faced repression even before the partition when the British had sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh, a former governor of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh for 7.5 million rupees. Once again at the time of partition when people of Kashmir had dreamt of freedom, the plan of annexing Kashmir was contrived and implemented by Lord Mountbatten and Nehru, and Raja Hari Singh was coerced into signing the controversial document, as he was hesitant to go against the wishes of Kashmiris. Since then Kashmiris are suffering; and no other nation has perhaps gone through such a long ordeal in history, and their unending nightmare continues. Human Rights Watch and other groups every year issue reports of Indian forces’ brutalities. International human rights groups have in the past called for a probe into whether the unmarked graves held bodies of civilians who disappeared when Indian security forces tried to crush the freedom movement.
There is no denying that state violence or counter violence never helps solve the problem, but the big powers should understand the gravity of the situation and help resolve the Kashmir issue. However, it does not look like if they will do it, as only when public protest fits into the geopolitical designs of the US and the West that they declare it a popular movement and honour it with the award of a colour label. The orange revolution of Ukraine, the rose revolution of Georgia, the cidar revolution of Lebanon and much earlier velvet revolution of Czechoslovakia would pale before the Kashmiris’ movement for their freedom, yet they were given colours by the colour-blind big powers. It has to be mentioned that in none of the above cases there was a UN mandate, whereas Kashmiris have been given their inalienable right of self-determination by the UN on January 5, 1949.
It has to be mentioned that almost all South Asian countries have had problems with India not only because of its hegemonic designs towards its neighbors but also because it was involved in destabilizing them. India had often been criticized duel-faced policy in Sri Lanka, as India had been supplying arms to Sri Lankan government to crush LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), and also providing arms to Tamil Tigers. Nepal is also wary of India’s continuance interference in its internal affairs, and has sparked crisis by supporting minorities in Nepal. As regards situation in Dhaka, India had been using Awami League leader Hasina Wajid to spew venom against Pakistan. Anyhow, like Pakistan and Nepal, Bangla Desh has had also dispute with India over river waters, because India chose to use river waters as a lever to force other countries to acquiesce to India.
Since Modi has assumed the office of prime minister of India, there have been violations by Indian military on the LoC and working boundary, and Pakistan had to respond per force. In these circumstances, how could SAARC become a viable regional organization? Since 1985, the seven nations of South Asia (with the inclusion of Afghanistan the number is 8) have been part of this association, which proved a non-starter. Despite preferential trade among members, it accounts for less than 6 per cent of total trade. So far as trade between India and Pakistan is concerned, Kashmir dispute has stymied progress, as Pakistan has always suspected that India would use commerce as a way to undermine Pakistan’s fidelity to Kashmir. Pakistan, therefore, wants India to resolve core issue before Most Favourite Nation status could be accorded to it.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.