Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer, Hirdesh Kumar, recently announced that the region was undergoing electoral changes to include as many as 2.5 million new voters, all at the behest of India. In addition to granting non-locals a vote, the Indian state is issuing property rights and domiciles that are rapidly changing the demographic landscape of the region. This is clearly a reflection of India’s blatant disregard of the UNSC resolutions, the sanctity of the region and humanity as a whole.

Back in 2019, India stripped Kashmir of its special status and initiated policies that would alter its demographic makeup so that a Muslim majority could be transformed into a minority. Such attempts are further supported by permitting non-temporary residents and non-locals to vote in the upcoming poll in November. 2.5 million is a significant addition to the voter base and constitutes as much as a third of it. It is undeniably going to impact the outcome of the vote by favouring the BJP government.

Pakistan has categorically rejected this illegitimate grasp for power that threatens the decades-long fight for the freedom of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). Manipulating the polls will completely alienate the Kashmiris who are already struggling to get their voice across the border, are suffering from countless human rights violations and have little to no agency remaining.

The international community must recognise this as a step too far and hold India accountable. The fact that India has to go through an illegal avenue to retain some measure of control and power in a disputed region should speak volumes of the motivations with which it acts. The freedom movement is strong and clearly poses a threat to the BJP government, and the only reason that it is strong is because of the countless sacrifices made by the Kashmiri population. We cannot let their efforts die in vain and upholding accountability is something that the international community owes to the suffering people of Kashmir.