Human rights violations in Kashmir
The violation of human rights in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) by the Indian government has been going on for decades. Since the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party BJP took power in India, matters in IIOJ&K have been going from bad to worse, as the Hindu nationalist party seems hell-bent on destroying all vestiges of autonomy and crushing the people’s desire for freedom with brute force. The special status of Jammu and Kashmir was a major barrier for extremist BJP’s plans of altering the state’s demography. Article 35A of the Indian constitution empowered the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. The state of Jammu and Kashmir defined these privileges to include the ability to purchase land and immovable property, ability to vote and contest elections, seeking government employment and availing other state benefits such as higher education and healthcare. Non-permanent residents of the state, even if Indian citizens, were not entitled to these ‘privileges’.
So, as a first step, the Modi government repealed articles 370 and 35A to revoke special status of Jammu and Kashmir, declaring it a union territory. With this, non-permanent residents were granted rights to purchase lands, immovable property or seek higher education on a special quota earlier allocated to Kashmiris. In an attempt to systematically shift the demographic equilibrium against native Kashmiri Muslims, the Modi government has just granted residency rights to 25,000 people in the shape of domicile certificates. The highest number of 8,500 certificates has been issued in the Doda district, which has a delicate demographic balance, with Muslims comprising 53.81 percent and Hindus 45.76 percent. Up to 6,213 domicile certificates have been issued in Rajouri district, which has 62.71 percent Muslim population. Authorities have distributed 6,123 residency certificates in Poonch, a border district comprising 90.44 percent Muslim population. In the Kashmir region, which is about 96.4 percent Muslim population, 435 certificates have been issued. The local government was ordered and threatened by New Delhi to penalise officials Rs50,000, if a domicile certificate was not issued.
Since decades, over 100,000 Kashmiri people have been killed by Indian forces in IIOJ&K. According to official figures, out of these, more than 7,200 people have been murdered in Indian custody, more than 23,000 women have been widowed, more than 110,000 children have been orphaned and more than 11,000 women have been raped by Indian military forces. In addition to this, over 7,000 unnamed mass graves have been discovered with thousands of victims. Some 10,000 Kashmiri youth have been injured due to the deliberate use of pellet rounds. With the deployment of around 200,000 additional troops last year, which raised the number of Indian occupation forces in the state to 700,000, IIOJ&K became the most militarised zone and largest prison in the world today. Unfortunately, encouraged by international silence toward its illegal annexation agenda and motivated by ideological compulsions, Indian aggression is systematically increasing. The situation in IIOJ&K requires urgent international attention, but the world is silent, and the tension between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over Kashmir, has not been eased. Experts have already begun to calculate the effects of a possible war to determine how many millions of people will die and how many billions of people will suffer in the aftermath.
The Kashmir issue was one of the first disputes brought to the United Nations by India in 1948 in the post-World War II era. It has been 73 years since the Kashmir dispute was first debated there, but a solution has yet to be reached. On April 21, 1948, UN Security Council Resolution 47 was adopted concerning the Kashmir conflict. Accordingly, the Kashmiris were going to decide their future with a plebiscite—either they would accede to Pakistan or India. Although Security Council resolutions are legally binding, India was belligerent, refused to cooperate and blocked the implementation of the vote. Today, there are 11 Security Council resolutions for a free and impartial plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, but New Delhi doesn’t just block them, it also uses violent methods to continue its illegal occupation. This reveals the failure of international organisations namely UN and its champion (the West). Neither they urged India to adhere to UN resolutions before revocation of the articles by the BJP-led extremist Indian government, nor any action has been taken after revocation.
Achieving the national dream of an IIOJ&K merger in Pakistan to save Kashmiri people from Indian human rights abuse and brutalities is not only the responsibility of the government and its institutions but citizens too. Pakistan can exert greater pressure outside if it acquires the economic strength as well as political stability. It is therefore needed for political parties and citizens to create political stability in the country and work hard to make Pakistan a great nation of the globe on economic terms.
Jai Kumar Dhirani
The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at email@example.com.