Black day in Kashmir

On the Republic Day of India on January 26, nearly all of Kashmir observed a black day. Though it was not the first time it has happened, the intensity of it this year was much more severe in comparison with the past. Of course, an obvious cause for this year’s severity was the BJP government’s unilateral abrogation of the special status of Kashmir in the Indian constitution and announcement in August 2019 that Kashmir was being annexed into India. In protest, the Republic Day of India witnessed widespread demonstrations and rallies not only in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK) but also in Pakistan and across the world. For example, Sikhs held a massive demonstration in London. A complete strike or lockdown was observed in IOK. Even after turning the whole of Kashmir valley into a cantonment of military personnel and making it a garrison, the Indian forces have been unable to quell protests. The black day once again tried to draw the world’s attention to human rights violations in Kashmir; the world community must take this seriously and respond appropriately. When the Modi government scrapped the special status of IOK last year, it had imposed curfew across the valley and jammed all communication channels and mobile networks. Even those measure could not suppress dissent and as soon as the ban was slightly relaxed, protests against the controversial move of the BJP government have resumed. IOK has been under a virtual siege since August, and the miseries suffered by the Kashmiri people have only worsened. Before Republic Day, the Indian occupation forces had intensified roadblocks for checking and intercepting vehicles, making it more difficult for common people to travel, do business or simply go about their everyday lives. The All Parties Hurriyat Conference and other parties have been at the forefront of the protests. Leaders such as Syed Ali Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have strongly condemned the Indian atrocities and have registered their protests against the continued lockdown.

It has been nearly six months now and there is no relief in sight for the besieged people of Kashmir. The Indian government and state should realize that by cracking down on Kashmiris, the democratic credentials of India are coming under serious threat internationally. The world is no more ready to accept the hoodwinking by India, and voices are being raised almost at every international forum. No country that suppresses people’s democratic and human rights can be called a truly democratic country. There is a need for India to revisit its policy in Kashmir and accept that Kashmir is not its integral part and must be given self-determination.