Right to Self-Determination Day for Kashmiris

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Raja Muhammad Sajjad Khan

EVERY year the people of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of ceasefire line and residing all over the world observe 5th January as Right to Self-Determination Day for the last 72 years. Kashmir is the oldest unresolved issue in the agenda of UN. India herself knocked the doors of UN on 01 January 1948. On 17 January 1948 the first resolution on the India-Pakistan Question was passed by the UN, which called on India and Pakistan to take measures to improve the situation in Kashmir and to refrain from doing anything that would aggravate it. UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was established by UNSC on 20 January 1948 to investigate the dispute between the two countries over Kashmir and exercise “mediatory influence”. On 21 April 1948 UNSC adopted the first resolution on right to self-determination, which states, “Both India and Pakistan desire that the question of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.”
UNSC has passed 18 resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir and UNCIP had passed two resolutions. On 05 January 1949 UNCIP passed the resolution which states, “The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite”. The UNCIP resolution of 13th August 1948 and 05 January 1949 are not only resolutions, these are also an agreement between Pakistan and India. The resolution of 13 August 1948 states, “The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people and to that end, upon acceptance of the Truce Agreement both Governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured.”
Jammu and Kashmir was never part of India, it was princely state and India had forcefully occupied it in 1947. The people of Jammu and Kashmir had liberated Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir from Dogra ruler and Indian army. The people of India-occupied Kashmir have been struggling for freedom and right to self-determination since 1947. Indian army is using oppressive measures and lethal force to suppress this legitimate and indigenous freedom struggle of people of IOJK. One of the basic purposes of establishment of UN as stated in Article 1(2) of charter is to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples. Right to self determination of all the people has been recognized by Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1966 and Article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) 1966. This right is a basic human right and all other rights are useless without this right. There are several UN resolutions which are imposing responsibilities on international community for provision of right to self determination to the people.
India had illegally occupied Kashmir and to maintain her occupation had deployed 9 lakh army. Kashmir is heavily militarized zone in the world. On 05 August 2019, India had annexed Jammu & Kashmir which is clear violation of international law, UN charter, UN resolutions on Kashmir and bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India. India is involved in crimes against humanity and war crimes in occupied Kashmir. According to Association of Disappeared Persons (APDP), there are 8000 to 10,000 missing people in IOJK and 2000-2500 half widows. Nearly 6,000 single or mass graves have been discovered since 2008. India had redefined domicile in 2020 after the abrogation of Article 35-A in 2019. Under the new law, non-Kashmiris and their children are now eligible for domicile if they have served as government officials in the region, or worked in the public sector, including banks and universities for a period of 10 years. They can also claim Kashmir as their place of domicile if they have lived in the region for 15 years, or have studied for seven years in educational institutions located in Kashmir and have taken their exams there. The government has issued over 20,87,815 domicile certificates in the last one year to settle Indian population in IOJK. On 27 Oct 2020 India passed the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Third Order, 2020 to enable people to buy land (except agricultural) in Kashmir. On the same day, it enacted the J&K Development Act empowering the government to declare any local area as a “strategic area” on the “written request of the Army”. The basic purpose of all these actions is to change the demography of Kashmir. In last 30 years, 95,723 civilians were killed, 22,922 women were widowed, 107,807 children were orphaned, 11, 266 women were gang raped, 110,383 structures were destroyed and 116,330 civilians were arrested.
—The writer is PhD (Law) Scholar at IIU, Islamabad.