Ali Ashraf Khan
FOR the last two weeks since the killing of young militant leader Burhan Wani brutal Indian police and army action is mounting in Indian-held Kashmir to quell Kashmiri protests against Indian occupation and for implementation of UNSC resolutions to hold free and fair plebiscite to ascertain the will of the people of Kashmir as agreed in the British partition plan of sub-continent in 1947. The ruthless use of force against the people who are protesting against Modi government decision to change the special status of Kashmir given in the Indian constitution to merge Kashmir as part of India has so far cost the lives of round 50 civilians while many more cases of atrocities are also circulating on social media, including some stunning acts of barbarianism.
According to reports in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, about 1800 civilians including youth have been badly injured by the use of pellet guns procured from Israel. BBC reports that pellet guns – a form of shotgun – were first used by the police as a non-lethal weapon to quell protests in Indian-administered Kashmir in 2010 and that those weapons are usually used for hunting animals. A pellet gun cartridge can contain up to 500 such pellets. When the cartridge explodes, the pellets disperse in all directions.
They are supposed to be less lethal than bullets but can cause serious injuries, especially if they hit the eye or nerves system. And they do hit the eyes of Kashmiri civilians fired at above the waist and into the faces of people. They cause horrible wounds especially in the eyes and many of the injured Kashmiris have lost their eye sight or are in danger of doing so because eye doctors are helpless in face of the terrible injuries. The media report cases of youngsters that have been hit not during protests but on their way back home from the mosque and while peeping out of the window of their homes.
The ruthless suppression of Kashmiri resistance to Indian occupation can hardly be expected to result in its collapse. Indian held Kashmir is up in arms again and the suffering of the population is a sign that India is not ready to find a negotiated solution to the conflict rather Modi government wants to repeat its Gujrat carnage in Kashmir to consolidate its power in Indian union where BJP has failed miserably to deliver shining India. While during recent years and decades Kashmiri resistance was rather calling for independence of the Kashmiris this time it seems pro-Pakistani voices are strong among protesters. Pakistan has tried to support Kashmiri protests with diplomatic initiatives in the capitals of Europe and the UN but so far without much success. BJP under Narendra Modi working on capitalists agenda has not only destroyed the foundations laid by Congress party but has created sharp divide among secular forces that are confused why BJP is pushing Sikhs, Dalits and Muslim minorities against the wall, which can be counterproductive for the union.
It is noteworthy that not only Muslim Kashmiris support the freedom fighters but non-Muslims including Hindu Kashmiris also stand by the freedom fighters of Kashmir and condemn India’s blatant human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. The demonstration of this solidarity with the freedom fighters was evidenced last Sunday in Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Azad Jammu and Kashmir where, while addressing a rally, All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat Chairman Pandit Lal, publicly condemned serious violations of human rights by Indian troops in the Held Valley. Though Indian atrocities are reported duly in western media no action is likely to come from there; Europe is busy licking its wounds that Islamist attacks have caused to them and in the situation when the European project is about to collapse due to financial conditionality on weak economies in the European community, while Germany and France are busy in consolidating themselves and the US is trying to build its own Empire.
Hence humanity and civil liberties have been compromised internationally. This has been the case during the last seventy years since the start of the Kashmir conflict in 1947, when British were forced to leave India. They left India but left unresolved agitating issues that within two years war on water between India and Pakistan side-lined the partition plan to be implemented in letter and in spirit that was tailored in favour of India. The painful experience of the Kashmiris has proven that India is adamant and Kashmiris and Pakistan are not strong enough to bring about a solution. That is why there is a need for international help to put pressure on India in order to end the suffering of the Kashmiri people.
—The writer is a senior columnist based in Karachi.