Lawfare: Indian tool to prolong illegal rule in IIOJK | By Syed Mashkoor Naqvi


Lawfare: Indian tool to prolong illegal rule in IIOJK

FOLLOWING hardline Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) electoral victory in the 2019 general election, giving fascist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi second term at the helm of affairs in New Delhi, Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir has become the target of dangerous lawfare.

Lawfare is a term related to misuse of legal systems, institutions and principles against an enemy, such as by damaging or delegitimizing them, wasting their time and money or winning a public relations victory.

It is a tactic used by repressive regimes to label and discourage civil society or individuals from claiming their legal rights via national or international legal systems.

This is especially common in situations when individuals and civil society use non-violent methods to highlight or oppose discrimination, corruption, lack of democracy, limiting freedom of speech, violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.

In the opinion of Professor David Kennedy of the Harvard Law School lawfare “can often accomplish what might once have been done with bombs and missiles.…”

Lawfare, or the use of legal systems and devices for military and diplomatic advantage, has become a critical component of the fascist Indian regime in Jammu and Kashmir and against Pakistan.

Seeking a second term by appeasing the hardline right wing Hindu voters, the BJP had promised in its manifesto before 2019 elections to remove the special status of Kashmir and what it called “integrate it within India” to bring it on par with the rest of the Indian states.

On Aug 5, 2019 Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution which had granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir had been unilaterally and illegally abolished by the Narendra Modi regime, with no regard for India’s own commitments and umpteen UN resolutions declaring the region a disputed territory.

It is worth a mention that Article 370 was considered by legal experts as the basis of Jammu and Kashmir’s so-called accession to the Indian Union at a time when the princely states had been given the choice by the outgoing British rulers to join either India or Pakistan after partition of the sub-continent in 1947.

The article, which came into effect in 1949 allowed the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir jurisdiction to make its own laws in all matters with the exception of defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications.

Article 35-A, also referred to as the Permanent Residents Law, was introduced through a presidential order in 1954 to continue the old provisions of the territory regulations under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

Under the article the local legislature in Indian-administered Kashmir was permitted to define permanent residents of the region.

It had forbidden outsiders from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs or winning educational scholarships in the state.

Hard-line Indian ruling Janata led by “ the Butcher of Gujarat” had been hell-bent to change the status of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and it adopted lawfare tactics to permanently annex the state against the aspirations of the over 120 million Kashmiri people who during past over seven decades had offered unprecedented sacrifices for getting rid of Indian slavery.

After the repeal of Articles 370 and 35-A the Indian government enacted Jammu & Kashmir Reorganizing Act, 2019.

The new act as part of the lawfare separated Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir and made it a union territory and Kargil was joined to Leh.

Kashmir and Jammu were joined together as a ‘union territory’, directly ruled from New Delhi through a ‘Lieutenant Governor’ having a legislative assembly with very limited powers.

To fulfil its sinister designs, the government of India approved a set of laws known as the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Order 2020 in April last year which allowed Indians from other states of India to become permanent residents of of Jammu and Kashmir.

Previously, Article 370 reserved lands and jobs only for ‘permanent residents of the state’.

Under this new law, any person or children of a parent who has resided in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir for at least 15 years or who has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in class 10 or 12 examinations in an educational institution located in the territory will be eligible to become a permanent resident.

Furthermore, central government officials who have served in the region for at least 10 years will also be provided domicile status along with their children.

Migrants registered by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner of the Union Territory are also eligible to get Kashmiri domicile.

This law also allowed people with a domicile status to apply for gazetted or non-gazetted jobs in Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the occupation administration has redrawn electoral constituencies in the region and engineered defections in Kashmiri political parties to build up a new political front comprising the BJP’s touts and stooges and an atmosphere of fear was created all over the occupied territory.

To make the UN resolutions on Kashmir redundant and ineffective as well as neutralize the Kashmiris’ just liberation struggle, New Delhi had resorted to different tactics.

Changing the demographic composition of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is a major and most dangerous tactic to dilute the Muslim majority in the state into a minority and make Jammu and Kashmir a Hindu Rashtra.

For changing the demography of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, India had been taking measures to fill the Muslim majority valley with non-Muslims in violation of political and democratic rights of the Kashmiris.

The Modi-led Indian government, having links with fascist Hindutva segments, has even used the coronavirus pandemic to introduce the illegal and immoral domicile rule, to effect demographic changes in the region.

By bulldozing the new domicile law, India has initiated a planned strategy to replicate the Israeli-style colonization as adopted in the West Bank in Palestine in IIOJK by displacement of local Kashmiri Muslims through new settlers from India and it is feared they would trigger demographic flooding in the region.

The citizens of Kashmir have so far unanimously resisted efforts to alter the demography of this area after the introduction of domicile provision.

But the BJP government is aggressively following the policy to establish a permanent settlement in IIOJK.

As part of lawfare, the Indian troops deployed in India-occupied Kashmir operate under several Kashmir-specific draconian laws which have made these forces take on the role of an occupying army.

They have been given a free hand to play havoc with the life, honour and property of the hapless Kashmiris.

These black laws having inhuman dimensions include Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act,1978, Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act,1990, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) 1990, The Armed Forces Special Powers Act,1990, Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) 2002 and Unlawful Activities) Prevention) Amendment Ordinance 2004.

— To be continued
—The writer is a senior journalist, based in Islamabad.