World must speak up for Kashmiris
It will be a year on Wednesday since Kashmir was placed under military siege by the Indian government.
To put things in perspective, it was in August last year that India unilaterally decided to revoke the special autonomous status of the “Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir” (IIOJK) enshrined in article 370 of its own constitution.
This special status was conferred on IIOJK due to the dispute which started in 1947 between India and Pakistan when India illegally occupied Kashmir in October 1947 two months after the departure of the British colonial administration from the Indian subcontinent. The dispute landed at the UN in January 1948 and has remained there since.
The UN passed more than a dozen resolutions calling on India to allow Kashmiris to exercise their right of self-determination through a free and impartial referendum.
India first agreed, but then went back on its commitment. In doing so India gradually eroded the special status of illegally occupied Kashmir pending the final settlement.
Ultimately, on August 5, 2019, it abrogated Kashmir’s special status in utter disregard of international obligations, the bilateral accord with Pakistan and above all its own constitutional provision.
The Kashmiri people protested. At this, Indian forces unleashed another dark chapter of tyranny, resulting in the worst kinds of human rights violations and dehumanisation not seen, experienced or perpetrated under state supervision anywhere in today’s world.
The Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Association of Parents of Displaced Persons (APDP) have recently released their six-monthly review of the human rights situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, covering the period January to June 2020. The report makes special mention of the promulgation of new laws and policies, including those relating to granting of domicile (residence) rights, in the aftermath of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 5, 2019.
According to an estimate quoted in the report, 1.74 million outsiders, constituting roughly 14% of the local population, could acquire domicile rights through the new rules.
The report underlines that the new domicile law was a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the ICRC provisions and possessed “genocidal intent”.
It was another step by India to settle a non-indigenous population in the valley, systematically paving the way for demographic apartheid in the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
The report is the latest in a series shedding light on Indian atrocities, and trampling on human rights, vindicating Pakistan’s viewpoint.
In his visit to Pakistan in February this year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on India to lift the blockade from its illegal occupation of Kashmir. He urged a just resolution of the Kashmir dispute. He also stated clearly that “India must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms while dealing with discontent in Kashmir”.
The European Parliament also reproached India for the miserable human rights situation in Kashmir. But India blatantly ignores and flouts these humanitarian gestures and concerns of the international community.
The world, being in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, can empathise with Kashmiris who have been under heavy military siege for the past year. The international community cannot be a mere bystander regarding Kashmiris.
The people of South Africa and elsewhere who launched a struggle for freedom can realise the pain and suffering of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
August 5 is another grim milestone in the freedom struggle of Kashmir.
Major countries, instead of remaining hostage to their geopolitical and economic interests, must make an impact on the present government of India over their brazen policy injustices against the innocent people of the illegally occupied Kashmir.
* Sohail Khan is Pakistan's ambassador to South Africa.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.