The Forgotten and Unending Tragedy of Kashmir

Jan 23rd, 2018 | Category: Articles

By Haroon Malik

Kashmiri Prisoners

“There were people dying everywhere getting massacred in every town and village, there were people being picked up and thrown into dark jails in unknown parts, there were dungeons in the city where hundreds of young men were kept in heavy chains and from where many never emerged alive, there were thousands who had disappeared leaving behind women with photographs and perennial waiting ,there were multitudes of dead bodies on the roads, in hospital beds, in fresh martyrs’ graveyards and scattered casually on the snow of mindless borders.” An Excerpt from the book “The Collaborator” describing Indian atrocities in the Indian occupied Kashmir, written by Mirza Waheed, a Kashmiri writer.

Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan remains the longest lingering dispute of the world with little effort to solve it, save the initial interventions by the UN or its representatives. A host of UNSC resolutions recognise the nature of the dispute and uphold the universal right of the people of Kashmir to decide their destiny, but the international system has singularly failed to help them realise that promise. They have thus existed in an outright denial of their right to freedom of choice. Scotland and the Brexit adventurers can gets theirs – not the Kashmiris.

Kashmiri Pellet VictimsHuman rights abuses by the occupying Indian army in Jammu and Kashmir state are an ongoing issue. The abuses range from mass killings, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. The Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Personnel (BSF) have been accused and held accountable for committing severe human rights abuses against Kashmiri civilians.

India has thus committed a mass genocide of Kashmiri Muslims to quell their uprising. In a 1993 report, Human Rights Watch stated that Indian security forces “assaulted civilians during search operations, tortured and summarily executed detainees in custody and murdered civilians in reprisal attacks”. Rape was regularly used as a means to “punish and humiliate” communities by Indian army.

Scholar Seema Kazi says it is used as a weapon of war by the state against the population. A 2010 US state department report stated that the Indian army in Jammu and Kashmir had carried out extrajudicial killings of civilians and suspected insurgents. The report also described killings and abuse being carried out by insurgents and separatists. In 2010, statistics presented to the Indian government’s Cabinet Committee on Security showed that for the first time since the 1980s, the number of civilian deaths attributed to the Indian forces was higher than those attributed to insurgents’ actions.

The Indian Army frequently tries to escape the blame by terming such human rights abuse as “fake or motivated”. However, a report by the US State Department said, “Indian authorities use Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to avoid holding its security forces responsible for the deaths of civilians in Jammu and Kashmir. “Some rights groups say close to 100,000 people have died since 1989 while the official figures from Indian sources state the estimates of number of civilians killed due to the insurgency in the range of 16,725 to 47,000 civilians, in which 3,642 civilians were killed by security forces.

Kashmiri Women Protestors

The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society organisation states that there have been over 70,000 killings, 8000 plus forced disappearances, mass torture and sexual violence, the majority committed by Indian armed forces, and that these cases have had zero prosecution in civilian courts. Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks revealed that the ICRC had briefed US officials in Delhi in 2005 about the use of torture from 2002–2004 by Indian army against hundreds of detainees suspected of being connected to or having information about militants. For the year 2016 alone, the number of civilians injured in Jammu and Kashmir following the killing of local freedom fighter Burhan Wani was almost eight times higher than in 2010, when there were widespread protests against Indian army’s killings.

Kashmir Protestors

Ever since the hardline BJP took reins of power and the infamous BUTCHER OF GUJRAT Modi took office, there has been a staggering 42 per cent rise in deaths perpetrated by Indian army in Jammu and Kashmir, according to data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP).

Given all the blood on Indian hands, hasn’t the time come for international community to take note of this forgotten tragedy and force India to resolve the matter? Going back to the UNSC resolutions as the legal-moral step forward as a part of Pakistan’s future strategy in its moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiris is the right choice. It is time to place Kashmir right back in the centre for any future engagement with India, and India’s with the world. All else will fall in place if we can let the Kashmiris have their right to choose their future and their destiny.

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