Guest Column

The Indian Charge d’Affaires was summoned by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and handed over a demarche conveying the government of Pakistan’s categorical rejection of the report of the so-called “Delimitation Commission” which was aimed at disenfranchising and disempowering the Muslim majority population of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

For thousands of times, since Indian occupation of Kashmir, Pakistan has condemned such vicious acts of India but international community does not pay attention towards Kashmir issue and even has strong relationship with India regardless of human rights violations.

Most recently, ban on Eid prayer gatherings by Indian authorities in certain areas of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir is clear indication that Kashmir is not a normal region as masses are facing all kinds of human rights abuses.

India is vehemently trying to convince international community regarding normalcy in IIOJK, whereas, disputed region is not normal because in Kashmir, political movement of politicians is restricted and Kashmiris faced torture, extra judicial killings, house arrests, fake encounters, rape of Kashmiri women and journalists’ abductions routinely. There are consistent bans on social media and internet as well. Students cannot celebrate a cricket match to support their favourite team. India is consistently making efforts to change demography of the region. Former IIOJK Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah demanded that “Article 370 should be restored if normalcy is to be brought in Kashmir.”

Kashmiris living on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) as well as around the world observed Black Day when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir after abrogating the special status of IIOJK on August 5, 2019 to fool international community that situation in region is quite normal and everything is under control. Pakistan condemned Modi’s visit and termed it yet another ploy to project fake ‘normalcy’ in the occupied territory. Pakistan also objected inauguration of construction of the Rattle and Kwar hydroelectric projects on the Chenab River, which Pakistan claimed is a “direct contravention” of the Indus Waters Treaty. The Foreign Office termed it a mockery that “the BJP-RSS regime, which is relentlessly pursuing its avowed ideological mission to politically and economically disempower and dispossess the Kashmiris, seeks to project itself before the world as a champion of development in the occupied territory.”

In the face of all war crimes, India belies international community and hides facts about atrocities but UNHRC, America, EU and Amnesty International criticized India for its widespread use of two laws against Kashmiris, including journalists. Their annual reports for the year 2021 exposed Indian false claims of normalcy. India never permitted international HR organizations, journalists and lawmakers to visit IIOJK independently to assess the ground realities. Kashmiris on both sides as well as across the world always conveyed message to international community that they reject India’s illegal occupation of their homeland and will continue their struggle to achieve their absolute right to self-determination.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), in its report published on 1st Jan 2022 said, “In 2021, Indian forces destroyed homes of 134 Kashmiris, total 355 people were killed, among them 49 were civilians, 178 armed rebels (militants), and 128 Indian occupying forces,” the APHC stated in its annual report, adding that 484 people were injured. During the same period, Indian forces conducted 467 cordoned and search operations, 87 gunfights, and arrested 1,686 Kashmiris. According to the report, 29 Indian soldiers committed suicide in various parts of Kashmir in 2021. India blocked internet access in Jammu and Kashmir 122 times, the report claimed. “410 people were booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and 178 others under the Public Safety Act (PSA),” said the report.

In a separate report, the Legal Forum for Kashmir (LFK), a global Kashmir advocacy group, claimed that over the last two years, “Indian forces buried 388 freedom fighters (militants) in unmarked graves in remote areas and denied their families the right to participate in their burial rites.”

Psychopath Indian Army personnel are conducting brutal inhumane tactics against unarmed Kashmiris and HRVs never stopped in IIOJK even for single day. Resultantly, suicide rate is quite high among Indian Armed Forces and the world witnesses frequent suicides of Indian Army officers and Jawans. It validates that Kashmiris till day are facing bloodshed, human rights violations, war crimes and occupation of their land.

Media’s role is to expose critical situation of world’s largest militarized zone to convert IIOJK into an open jail where basic human rights are abused on perpetual basis but a report by fact-finding committee (FFC) of Press Council of India (PCI) has revealed that journalists in J&K harassed for “Not Toeing Govt Line.” On the issue of the harassment, media persons have faced from security forces, the FFC report, with evidences, said, “These ranged from accusations of aiding the separatists; to lengthy interrogation in police camps; to detention and arrests for circulating fake news.”

“Many journalists said that either they themselves or other journalists they knew, had been interrogated in the infamous ‘Cargo Centre’ in Srinagar, which is generally known as a detention and interrogation centre for hardcore militants.”

Jehangir Ali writes in The Wire, “state-backed civil militia, whose members have been charged by the Jammu and Kashmir Police for gross human rights abuses, including rape and murder, is set to be revived by the Union government in Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir-based regional parties have criticized the move, saying it belies the claims that normalcy has returned to Jammu and Kashmir. The announcement has also triggered widespread concerns that the “extra constitutional armed entities” will enable a “new regime of abuses” while widening the gulf between Hindus and Muslims. The revival of the militia is an “admission that things are not normal (in J&K) as they are being projected (by the BJP-led Union government).”

Communist party leader M.Y. Tarigami stated, “These groups are involved in gross violations of human rights. Other than putting pressure on ordinary people, I don’t see any reason for reviving them,” he told The Wire. The announcement is an admission of BJP’s failure to handle the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. “The announcement also contradicts the claims of the Union government that peace and normalcy has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added. Same point was raised by AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi when he said, “problems in J&K have got aggravated after the abrogation of Article 370, insisting the measure failed to treat the disease.”

Thus, Pakistan’s revelations about reality of normalcy in IIOJK that India is misleading international community after removal of Article 370 and 35A are unavoidable concerns for international community. Now Pakistan must adopt a strategy to accelerate process to highlight the Indian atrocities in IIOJK at United Nations to convince international community on Kashmir issue. Pakistan must remind the United Nations again and again to implement its relevant resolutions to settle the Kashmir dispute as normalcy in the region has become a dream for its residents since decades.

- The writer is a freelance contributor and strategic affairs expert.