TO deter Kashmir freedom movement, every time Indian army comes up with new coercion but still they are unable to break the will and determination of Kashmiris. The uprising which is very resilient and sanguine after death of Burhan Wani since 2016, has become nightmare for Indian army in Kashmir. So time and again, brutal acts come forward either by use of pellet guns on innocents without discrimination of gender and age or direct attack on people using chemical weapons or other arsenal. Last year use of humans as a shield by Indian army made news and received worldwide criticism. One of Indian soldier belonging to 53 Rashtriya Rifles in a video showed how a man was tied on the bonnet of an army jeep in Badgam and moved in the area. Video went viral and drew anger and condemnation from human rights activists, Kashmiri groups and even by a few retired Indian army generals.
Later, the Indian military awarded that soldier with Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation Card for “sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations”. While the General Bipin Rawat supported use of military force in Kashmir by saying that, “This is a proxy war and proxy war is a dirty war. It is played in a dirty way. The rules of engagements are there when the adversary comes face-to-face and fights with you. It is a dirty war and that is where innovation comes in. You fight a dirty war with innovation.” Justifying the atrocities of the occupation forces against the innocent Kashmiris, General Rawat said, if people in any country lose fear of the army then it is doomed. “Adversaries must be afraid of you and at the same time your people must be afraid of you. We are a friendly army, but when we are called to restore law and order, people have to be afraid of us”. Such statements by head of Indian military clearly depict the mind-set for using any type of vehemence and subjugation against those who are fighting for their freedom on their own homeland.
Recently, another ruthless attempt came forward by Indian army which has shaken humanity to the core. An armoured vehicle drove wildly into a crowd of protesters in Srinagar, hurtling into a half-dozen people and crushing one man beneath its wheels, injuring him critically. However Indian officials while denying the claims said that the vehicle was surrounded by a crowd of angry young men, some of whom fell beneath the jeep-like car when they tried to pull the soldiers out and lynch them.
It is a general practice in Kashmir that after Friday sermon and prayers, Kashmiris gather and protest against Indian brutalities in Kashmir and chant slogans for freedom and azadi. According to eye witnesses’ protestors were peaceful and police and soldiers were standing at a safe distance from the crowd, avoiding confrontation, and then from nowhere a vehicle ran into the crowd. The vehicle rocked back and forth for about 30 seconds when one protester was caught beneath it, finally driving away from the furious crowd. Later the person who was crushed and identified as Kaiser Bhat died from his injuries and this cruel act led to protests throughout Kashmir region, while the media reports mentioned that police directly opened fire into crowds of mourners, thus causing more casualties.
The Kashmiri movement is not time bound but it comprises of decades old struggle for freedom. This struggle has paid huge price in terms of human lives. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown. According to Amnesty International, since 1989, there have been deaths of 98,274 innocent Kashmiris, 94,180 custodial killings, 117,345 arrests and 106,030 destructions of houses. Indian brutal security forces have orphaned over 107, 520 children, widowed 22,796 women and gang raped 10,135 women and this number is increasing day by day. According to other statistics by Research Section of Kashmir Media Service, alone in the month of May, 2018, 31 people died because of Indian military oppression. Data mentions that in Indian Occupied Kashmir, Indian troops, in their continued acts of state terrorism, martyred thirty Kashmiris including a woman and six young boys during the last month of May.
During the period, three hundred and fourteen people were injured due to the use of brute force including firing of bullets, pellets and teargas shells by the Indian army, paramilitary and police personnel on peaceful protesters while two hundred eighty-eight persons including Hurriyat activists and students were arrested during house raids and crackdown operations. The troops also damaged sixty-seven residential houses and disgraced six women during the month of May, 2018.
It is unfortunate that Kashmiri freedom voices go unheard on international forums. Though Pakistan has always supported Kashmir cause and will continue to do so through all diplomatic channels. But it raises a big question for claimers of biggest democracy in the world India, that where are democratic ethics in case of Kashmir. Use of force or militant acts is never going to bring the desired results for India in Kashmir rather it is strengthening the resolve and firm belief of Kashmiris to be part of Pakistan soon. As it was well said by Joel Salatin, “When faith in our freedom gives way to fear of our freedom, silencing the minority view becomes the operative protocol”.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.