NEWS & VIEWS
KASHMIRI American and Pakistani American community had organized a Free Indian Kashmir rally on 30th January 2018. A large number of Kashmiri and Pakistani Americans participated in the rally, which started from Brookfield Plaza, Springfield Virginia after speeches by prominent community leaders. Rallies in three groups, consisting of cabs and private vehicles bearing Free Indian Occupied Kashmir bill board on tops and posters/logos on sides and backs, protested on prominent roads and avenues of Virginia and Washington DC. They held protest demonstration in front of Indian Embassy in Washington DC against India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir. In London also, Kashmiri diaspora held protest demonstrations on India’s Republic Day, and are poised to observe Kashmir Solidarity Day. There is a new factor in the protests, as Sikhs, and people from Nagaland and other minorities that are subjected to oppression have started joining the protest demonstrations and rallies to expose so-called secular India.
Pakistani-origin British MP Lord Nazir Ahmed led the protest demonstration in London on India’s Republic Day; Sikh Khalistanis, residents of Nagaland and Manipur and minorities also joined the protest. Billboard vans with messages such as “India Leave Kashmir: Free Kashmir”, “Khalistan Zindabad” and “70 Years of Indian Brutality” were seen in London during the demonstrations. President of the Council of Khalistan Amrik Singh Sahota, OBE, said the international community – including the Commonwealth – should hold Narendra Modi responsible for his country’s despicable record on human rights. “As a country that formally rejects the right of self-determination (enshrined in international law as Article 1 of the 1966 Covenants on Human Rights), the role of responsible international bodies was to punish, not, reward India,” he said, adding that the conflicts arising from that illegal occupation had led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and untold misery.
Dr. Mukul Hazarika of Assam Watch (UK) said: “India must return the sovereign status of the shackled deserving nations vis-a-vis the Kashmiris, Khalistanis and other nationalities like people of Nagaland.” Kashmiris are indeed the worst sufferers, as Indian army’s atrocities on the people of Kashmir, and their murder, rape and fake encounters have turned Kashmir – a paradise on earth – into a hell that would stretch Dante’s imagination. Anyhow, after staging demonstrations on Indian Republic Day, Kashmiris in Indian occupied Kashmir, Azad Kashmir and Kashmiri diaspora in the US and European countries are gearing up to take out rallies on Kashmir Solidarity Day on 5the February 2018 to tell the world about India’s atrocities on the people of Kashmir and to appeal to the conscience of international community to wean off the apathy and force India to implement UNSC resolutions.
Kashmiris have suffered death and destruction unparalleled in the history, first during Dogra Raj, and then faced murder, rape and killing at the hands of Indian armed forces. Frustrated by the apathy of the international community and non-implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, Kashmiri youth took up the arms in 1989. However, after 9/11 political landscape of the world changed dramatically, adversely impacting the freedom struggles of the people the world over who were dubbed as terrorists. Nevertheless, writers, intellectuals and peace loving people condemned India’s repression on people of Kashmir and also for treating them as second class citizens. Renowned Indian novelist and political activist Arundhati Roy once again made a strong case for Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination before American audience on 12th November 2011. “I think that the people of Kashmir have the right to self- determination,” she said in the course of a discussion on ‘Kashmir’.
Having that said, the big powers should understand the gravity of the situation and help resolve the Kashmir issue as both countries are nuclear states. However, it does not look like if they will do it because 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 those countries were given colors 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 in 1948 and 5th January 1949.
It is because of India’s intransigence that no progress could be made during the scores of dialogues between the two countries including composite dialogue that started in 2004 and stalled after 2008 Mumbai attacks. India claims to be a peaceful country but its leaders’ conduct has been contrary to its vows; however, since Prime Minister Narendra Modi is at the helm, ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and working boundary has become a matter of routine. In a recent report published by ‘Times of India’, the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) have claimed of firing over 9000 rounds of mortar shells across the international border in Jammu. In the first two weeks of January 2018, the Indian forces carried out more than 100 ceasefire violations along the LoC and the working boundary; whereas last year, Indian forces had committed about 1,900 ceasefire violations, according to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.