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India unable to reduce forces in held Kashmir

More than half a million Indian forces have been deployed by India in held Kashmir, which have made the Kashmiris hostage for decades. The situation worsened after August 5, 2019 when the Modi Sarkar revoked the Article 370 and annexed held Kashmir. India then brought in greater number of troops and imposed harsher restrictions on the residents of the Valley.

Following this, the Indian forces increased the pressure on the residents of besieged Valley, with brute force exacted on the local people. Over 10,000 civilians have been forcibly disappeared after August 5, 2019 and in places of incarceration there has been widespread rape, torture, and extra-judicial killings. The political activists were transferred to other Indian states. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a damning report on human rights abuses in held Kashmir by Indian security forces, which India conveniently ignored. It also brushed aside other human rights organizations’ reports. India has been blatantly violating all the conventions and international laws on human rights, defying the UN Charter and UNSC resolutions on the held Valley.

A powerful American faith rights watchdog also called for India, which claims to be a multi-religious democracy, to be globally blacklisted over concerning major breaches of religious freedoms, particularly for Muslims, recommending “targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious rights.” The commission called on the Trump administration to impose sanctions on “Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom,” given its treatment of religious minorities, including Christians as well as Muslims, exposing the claims by India as an adherent to global norms of rule of law.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) vice chairperson Nadine Maenza, appointed by President Trump, told a press conference that the deterioration of religious freedoms in India was “perhaps the steepest and most alarming” of all the negative developments identified around the world, harsh words indeed. The commission accused the ruling BJP of having “allowed violence against minorities and their houses of worship to continue with impunity and also engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence.”

The Hinduisation of Kashmir in particular is being closely watched by the world. The Indian government, despite doing away with the Article 370 in held Kashmir, has failed to gain the world support on this issue, a case that has drawn sympathies towards Pakistan’s viewpoint. But even in the face of Chinese forces’ pressure in Ladakh, the Indians are unable to transfer higher number of troops from the Valley because they fear that a large number of residents will be out on the streets, burning Indian flags and protesting against the Indian occupation.

More than 400 people, mostly civilians, have been killed by the Indian forces in six months of the year 2020 in the Valley. In one case, nine young men were gunned down by Indian forces, terming them militants.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken, Joe Biden campaign’s foreign policy adviser, has said the Biden administration, if elected, will raise the issue of Kashmir with India and would also convey its concerns on a recent Indian law that discriminates against Muslims. “We obviously have challenges now and real concerns, for example, about some of the actions the Indian government has taken, particularly in cracking down on freedom of movement and freedom of speech in Kashmir, and about some of the laws on citizenship,” said Blinken while responding to a moderator. As it is, commercial interests should not be pursued at the cost of human rights by western countries.