Barbed wire is seen laid on a deserted road during restrictions in Srinaga. File picture: Danish Ismail/Reuters
Barbed wire is seen laid on a deserted road during restrictions in Srinaga. File picture: Danish Ismail/Reuters

World’s conscience must speak up for Kashmiris under siege

By Opinion Time of article published Aug 3, 2020

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By Sohail Khan

On August 05 it will be one year since Kashmir was placed under military siege by the Indian government.

To put things in perspective, it was on 05 August 2019 when India unilaterally decided to revoke the special autonomous status of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jamu & Kashmir (IIOJK) enshrined in article 370 of its own constitution.

This special status was conferred on IIOJK due to the ongoing dispute starting in 1947.

The dispute is between India and Pakistan and it started when India illegally occupied Kashmir in October 1947 two months after the departure of British colonial administration from the Indian Subcontinent.

The dispute about Kashmir landed at the UN in January 1948 and ever since remains there.

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 to be held under its umbrella.

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 05 August 2019 it abrogated Kashmir’s special status in utter disregard to international obligations, bilateral accord with Pakistan and above all its own constitutional provision.

The Kashmiri people rejected this Indian decision and announced to protest.

At this Indian forces unleashed another dark chapter of tyranny resulting in worst kinds of human rights violation and dehumanization not seen, experienced and 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 & Kashmir covering the period January till June 2020.

The report makes special mention of promulgation of new laws and policies, including those relating to grant of domicile (residence) rights, in the aftermath of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 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 4th Geneva Convention and the ICRC provisions and possessed ‘genocidal intent’.

It was another step by India to settle non-indigenous population in the Valley, systematically paving the way for demographic apartheid in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

The report also highlighted a new repressive media policy by the Indian authorities that focused on making the media subservient to the government.

In addition, preparations for a new real estate policy, paving the way for outsiders to purchase property and own natural resources in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, were underway.

It is the latest in a series of reports shedding light on Indian atrocities, and trampling of human rights vindicating Pakistan’s viewpoint.

The fact that it emanates from within the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir lends it further credibility.

In his visit to Pakistan in February this year, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on India to lift the blockade from its illegal occupation of Kashmir.

He urged for just resolution of Kashmir dispute. He also stated clearly that “India must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms while dealing with discontent in Kashmir.”

In another instance 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 ongoing pandemic of Covid-19, can empathise with Kashmiris who are under heavy military siege for the last year.

At this critical juncture for Kashmiris’ sacrifices for upholding their dignity and human rights, the international community cannot be a mere bystander.

The world conscience has to speak up for Kashmiris who are living under brutality and constant threat to their lives.

People of South Africa and elsewhere who launched a struggle for freedom can realise the pain and sufferings of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

August 05 is another grim milestone in the freedom struggle of Kashmir. It's time to pause and reflect on the plight of Kashmiris. Freedom for Kashmiris from the Indian occupation is like a writing on the wall. Pakistan being the party to the UN resolutions on Kashmir will always extend political, diplomatic and moral support to the cause of Kashmiri people, while cherishing the just and peaceful international order.

Major countries instead of remaining hostage to their geopolitical and economic interests must make impact on the present government of India over their brazen policy injustices against the innocent people of the illegally occupied Kashmir.

* Khan is Pakistan’s Ambassador to South Africa.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.

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