Constitutional terrorism against Kashmiris

It was India who took the Kashmir dispute to UN under Chapter VI (Pacific Settlement of Disputes) rather than Chapter VII which deals with aggression. The Kashmir dispute came on the UN Agenda in 1948 and has been recognised to be one of the most intractable and dangerous political disputes facing the international community. The Kashmir issue could not be settled despite UNSC resolutions passed from time to time.

According to the Shimla agreement of 1972 between Pakistan and India, both countries committed to resolve the Kashmir issue through peaceful means. The UN has failed to implement its own resolutions to organise a plebiscite in occupied Kashmir. Since 1990, occupation forces were given sweeping powers of arrest and detention through the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA). The army and paramilitary forces were also given special powers according to Section 4(a) of the Armed Forces Special Power Act and given the power to kill any individual on any slightest doubt. Since 1990, occupied Kashmir has been transformed into a war zone through an armed rebellion against Indian occupation.

The occupation forces breached all limits of human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. They have martyred over 100,000 innocent Kashmiris, orphaned hundreds of thousands of children and widowed and gangraped thousands of women. Generation after generation, the people of the occupied Kashmir have continued to render untold sacrifices against fearful odds. Every passing day, the brutality of occupation forces is mounting and deaths are being rounded up.

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Article 370 of the Indian constitution which gave special status to occupied Jammu and Kashmir, according which the Indian parliament did not have the powers to increase and decrease borders of occupied Kashmir and the authority of the centre was restricted to three areas; defence, foreign affairs and communication. Article 35A was inserted through an order of 1954 which defined permanent residents of the state and provided special rights and privilege and retained the definition of 1927. On August 5, 2019 the BJP-led government revoked the special status by abrogating Article 370 and this also implied that Article 35A stands abolished. After revoking Article 370, India issued a new political map of occupied Jammu and Kashmir where Azad Kashmir has been shown as a part of newly created union territory of occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan in the union territory of Ladakh.

On March 31, 2020 the Indian government passed the Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) 2020 repealing 29 state laws and amending 109 laws of occupied Jammu and Kashmir. According to this law any person who has stayed in occupied Jammu and Kashmir for 15 years or studied for a period of 7 years and appeared in class 10th and 12th examinations in the territory will be deemed to be domiciled in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Children of central government officials and others who served in occupied Jammu and Kashmir for a period of 10 years and their children also have domicile status. Also, a person registered as migrant by relief and rehabilitation commission can also apply for the domicile.

Pakistan has rejected the new domicile law termed the move yet another attempt by India to illegally alter the demography of occupied Jammu and Kashmir while the world is focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Imran Khan also rejected the new law and expressed solidarity with the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The OIC condemned the promulgation of illegal Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation law 2020, an attempt to alter the demographic and geographic status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Congress party described the new ruling as a “betrayal of the trust of the people”. India already granted domicile status to over three hundred thousand refugees who migrated from Pakistan to Jammu after partition, all Hindus. In the past, India also attempted to change the demography of occupied Jammu and Kashmir through allotment of Kashmiri land for settling a non-Kashmiri Hindu population under the garb of extending the space for a Hindu shrine.

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The passage of law is an attempt to colonise occupied Jammu and Kashmir and to make indigenous citizens a minority in their own land. The Hindutva republic under the RSS/BJP-led government is making all-out efforts for mass settlements of Hindus in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, allowing purchase of property and land to create demographic imbalance. India is applying the same strategy and tactics as being followed by Israelis in Gaza. Beyond any doubt all these moves are aimed at bringing about demographic changes in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir which is a blatant violation of international law and the relevant UNSC resolution which prohibits introducing material changes to the disputed territory.

Occupied Jammu and Kashmir’s self-determination has been consistently ignored not only by India but also by the rest of the world. If in East Timor, a UN-sponsored referendum can be carried out, then why not a plebiscite in occupied Jammu and Kashmir? It is time for the Muslim ummah to wake up; the Muslim world needs to be revitalised on the issue. The UN must play its role and stop India from changing occupied Jammu and Kashmir demography. With the international community closing its eyes and ears on the lockdown, curfew, massive human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir by occupation forces will not end the issue. The International community must force India to lift the lockdown and resolve the core issue as per the wishes of the people in the light of UNSC resolutions. The road to peace in South Asia lies in the final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.