FINALLY a report containing 40 pages by an apparently toothless organization UNO comes up to challenge India for its decades old brutalities in Kashmir. India which is again gearing up to start callous actions in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, as the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims is over. But wait! India which does not even bother about such sacred virtues and spiritual significance of any religion so what to talk about Kashmir where its level of violence has touched the skies that it has started crushing people under vehicles thinking it will be able to crush dream of freedom by Kashmiris. In Occupied Kashmir, India is trying its best to suppress freedom movement by Kashmiris, which has intensified manifolds with a new wave of uprising in Valley since 2016, post Burhan Wani.
Sadly, one day before Eid ul Fitr, 2018 one more voice of freedom was clogged forever. A renowned Kashmiri journalist was killed and Kashmiris even lifted the bodies of their martyrs on the day of Eid. Indian troops opened indiscriminate fire on worshipers after Eid-ul-Fitr prayers in one town of IOK. A large number of Kashmiri people staged anti-India and pro-Pakistan demonstrations and hoisted Pakistani flags and banners in various parts of the territory. The protesters demanded Indian troops should leave Jammu and Kashmir without any further delay. Dozens of people were critically injured after Indian police personnel used brute force, fired pellets and tear-gas shells on protesters. Indian forces assured of ceasefire before the start of Ramadan but their fake play of so-called cease-fire claimed 30 lives during holy month.
According to Kashmir Media Service, the troops arrested over 100 people during the period. It is ironical that Indian government, on Eid day announced an end to the so-called ceasefire. The announcement was made by the Indian Home Ministry in New Delhi. APHC and other leaders strongly protested Indian actions saying that Jammu and Kashmir is spinning under the worst Indian occupation where people are not even allowed to offer religious obligations. According to reports Indian occupation forces had martyred over 95 thousand Kashmiris during last three decades. Around seven thousand one hundred Kashmiris were killed while in custody during the aforementioned period and as many as about twenty three thousand women were widowed and 107,713 children were orphaned. Amnesty International and other human rights watchdog have always made their say against Indian barbarous actions in Kashmir but it is constantly ignored by higher ups and comity of nations on international forums.
Recently, a report released by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights is a significant step towards greater international recognition of the serious abuses committed against Kashmiris at the hands of Indian occupation forces. The chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, wants the Human Rights Council to form a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to carry out an independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir. It is quite encouraging and hopeful that voices of innocent Kashmiris after their seven decades old struggle for freedom are heard at such forums. Request by High Commissioner to form COI indicates that UN has a clear idea what India has been doing in Occupied Kashmir through illegal occupation and worst kind of use of military might. The recently published report highlights a wide range of human rights violations in Indian Occupied territory which are not limited to abuses, detentions, forced kidnappings and killings but any new kind of violence to create fear among masses is adopted.
Be it using humans as shield or crushing them under vehicles, Indian forces in Kashmir have failed to quash Kashmiris will for freedom. Moreover, the UN report also criticizes the constitutional and legal structures that Indian government has put in place to provide legal protection to its soldiers from the legal system of India. India has given its army a special leverage in IOK for use of force. The huge Indian occupational forces under the cover of Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) and other black laws frequently engage in religious cleansing of Muslims. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act, security forces personnel have the powers to shoot suspected persons, to arrest without warrant, and to detain people without time limits. The law forbids prosecution of soldiers without approval from the central government, which is rarely granted, giving them effective immunity for serious human rights abuses. Earlier, the international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, many at times has called for revoking of AFSPA and urged investigations into the human rights violations in J&K by an “independent and impartial” authority.
The bloody tragedy of poor Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their legitimate and UN approved right of self-determination. As a natural outcome of Indian injustice, people of IOK organized themselves and launched a war of liberation which India tried to crush through coercion and brutalities. Later, in 1988, Indian positioned a very large number of Armed Forces to suppress Kashmir struggle on gun point. Now the suggestion to form COI over human rights situation in IHK comes as a ray of hope. One should remain optimistic that Kashmiris will be able to get their inherent right of self-determination. Pakistan has always and time and again raised its voice for Kashmiris on different platforms and will continue to do so. The need of the hour is to coerce India for dialogue and prior to that all such reports, peace talks or diplomatic measures are useless if India does not stop its human rights violations in IOK.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.