Jammu and Kashmir: Heaven under siege


 FEB 05, 2023

A boat ferries a passenger across the Dal lake with snow-covered mountains in the background during a winter day after fresh snowfall in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jan. 31, 2023. (Getty Images Photo)

A boat ferries a passenger across the Dal lake with snow-covered mountains in the background during a winter day after fresh snowfall in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jan. 31, 2023. (Getty Images Photo)


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Once known as “paradise on earth,” the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir region is today the largest open-air prison in the world. With over 900,000 Indian soldiers having unlimited powers, including the ability to kill, abduct, torture and humiliate, life in the region is far from ordinary.

Finding the causes of old disputes is never easy. However, the Kashmir dispute is an exception. Despite being the oldest dispute on the U.N.’s agenda, its origin and solution both come down to one word, “plebiscite.”

The dispute surfaced with the partitioning of the subcontinent between Pakistan and India in 1947. According to the partition principle, the Muslim majority contiguous areas were to form an independent state of Pakistan, while the Hindu majority areas were to remain with India. As a result, the State of Kashmir was overwhelmingly a Muslim-majority state. However, in October 1947, Indian forces invaded and occupied the area in a flagrant violation of the partition formula and the wishes of the regional people.

When the Kashmiris protested, and widespread agitation started against the Indian occupation forces, India took the matter to the U.N. As a result, the U.N. Security Council, after thorough deliberations, passed several resolutions calling for a peaceful solution by organizing a referendum in the Jammu and Kashmir region so that the people should decide their future themselves. However, even after 76 years, the referendum has not been held due to the Indian consistent policy to keep the Kashmiris deprived of their legitimate right to self-determination by the constant use of force and fraud.

Had India honored the Security Council resolutions and held a referendum as per the resolutions, the fate of the entire South Asian region, especially of over 8 million people living under perpetual oppression in the Jammu and Kashmir region, would have been different today. However, as V. K. Krishna Menon, the permanent representative of India to the U.N., confessed in one of his letters in 1964, “As for plebiscite, we (read India) were dishonest,” India approached the U.N. with dubious intentions.

Each time the Kashmiris raise their voices for their freedom and right to self-determination, as promised by the Security Council resolutions and international law, they are responded to with harsh measures, including mass killings, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual abuse, imposition of curfews, arbitrary arrests, political repression and media blackout by the Indian forces.

For decades, India’s gross human rights violations in the Jammu and Kashmir region have been exposed on international forums, including the U.N., the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) through special reports and sessions, but the situation remains the same.

According to various reports, over 100,000 Kashmiris have lost their lives, thousands of women have been sexually assaulted, and hundreds of thousands of properties lost in their struggle for freedom, but the Indian atrocities cease to end.

Instead, the scale and intensity of the Indian repression in the region are growing day by day. The area further descended into chaos and darkness when the government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi unilaterally and illegally scrapped the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir region on Aug. 5, 2019. With this illegal and unilateral move, India attempted to change the area’s special status and demographic composition.

To suppress the uprising against Delhi’s grotesque orders, thousands of Indian security personnel were sent to the region. Since then, fake encounters, cordon-and-search operations, torture and brutal crackdowns have been routine affairs. To this day, the Kashmiri leadership remains incarcerated under trumped-up charges in Indian jails. Extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests and detentions also continue unabated. For example, last year, the Indian court sentenced Kashmiri pro-independence leader Muhammad Yasin Malik to life imprisonment on self-contrived and fabricated charges without any semblance of a fair trial.

At the same time, India is engineering demographic and political changes to convert Kashmiris into a disempowered minority in their land. So far, India has issued more than 4.2 million illegal domicile certificates to non-Kashmiri settlers to obliterate Kashmiri’s identity. This is central to its scheme of converting the Muslim majority into a Hindu majority to drown out the Kashmiris’ demand for freedom and self-determination.

However, while doing all this, India remains oblivious that with force and fraud, it can buy time but cannot win the hearts of the Kashmiri people.

Feb. 5 is commemorated as “Kashmir Solidarity Day” by Pakistanis, Kashmiris and freedom lovers across the globe, but it is yet another reminder that no matter what tricks India employs to keep the Kashmiris away from their right to self-determination, one day the future of the Indian-occupied Kashmir will be written by the Kashmiris themselves.


Ambassador of Pakistan to Turkiye

source https://www.dailysabah.com/opinion/op-ed/jammu-and-kashmir-heaven-under-siege

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