In Focus

Demographic Apartheid in IIOJK

With the introduction of discriminatory laws in IIOJK along with the contentious delimitation exercise of political constituencies underway, the apprehensions of Kashmiris of being turned into a minority in their own homeland are becoming a reality. Through the introduction of these laws, India is trampling the international laws and various United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions on Kashmir under its foot.



As more than three million fake domiciles get issued to non-Kashmiris in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), India’s long-cherished dream of altering the demographics of the region by turning Kashmiris into a minority and with the grand aim of altering the result of any future UN-sponsored referendum in the occupied territory is becoming a reality. 
India’s atrocities in IIOJK and within its own borders reflect the systematic ethnic cleansing of Muslims to achieve Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) long-cherished objective to establish a Brahminical state as claimed by Sadhvi Saraswati that India would soon be a ‘Hindu rashtra’. 
Over the past few years, thousands of Muslims, Christians, and low-caste Hindus have been persecuted, assaulted and even killed for allegedly slaughtering cows. Many Muslims are being targeted for allegedly participating in the so-called Love Jihad. 
Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwarkar–one of the chief founders of RSS–praised Nazis’ extermination of Jews in his book, We or Our Nationhood Defined by stating, “To keep up the purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of Semitic races–the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated.”


India’s atrocities in IIOJK and within its own borders reflect the systematic ethnic cleansing of Muslims to achieve Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) long-cherished objective to establish a Brahminical state as claimed by Sadhvi Saraswati that India would soon be a ‘Hindu rashtra’. 


Thomas Blom Hansen of Stanford University and Srirupa Roy of University of Göttingen, edited an anthology of thirteen essays that reconnoiters the “New Hindutva.” The book titled Saffron Republic: Hindu Nationalism and State Power in India highlights concerns of the world’s leading academics, award-winning journalists, and independent filmmakers over the violent ideology that defines contemporary Hindu nationalism. It discusses details of Hindutva repression that rarely make it to the mainstream media while highlighting that the oppression of Muslims, Christians, Dalits, and women in India by state apparatus has reached an all-time high. In the same book, Lalit Vachani, an Indian filmmaker states, “The perception of the Muslims as the threatening ‘other’ was very much the raison d’etre of the RSS.”
In its rhetoric and policies, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has systematically sought to exclude the ‘other.’ In today’s India, national registers have been updated to exclude immigrants; cow vigilantism/lynching is encouraged; dissenting journalists, activists, and academics are systematically silenced; and sexual violence against women and children has increased. Three years into Modi’s first term, a research report published in 2017 found that 97 percent of all cow-related violence in India came after he was elected and in 30 percent of the attacks, the police registered cases against Muslims. It is clear that the BJP-RSS regime’s sinister design includes cleansing India of vestiges of its Islamic heritage by making Muslims second-class citizens. 
Post-August 5, 2019, India has unleashed constitutional terrorism in IIOJK by introducing several new laws and amendments to the existing laws to change the demographic structure of the occupied region and further suppress the inhabitants of the besieged Valley.
In March 2020, India enforced 37 new laws in IIOJK that were previously not applicable to the occupied territory. Under section 96 of J&K Reorganization Act, 2019, the new laws were (1) Code of Civil Procedure; (2) Indian Penal Code; (3) Criminal Procedure Code; (4) Census Act; (5) Central Goods and Services Tax Act; (6) Cinematograph Act; (7) Collection of Statistics Act; (8) Commissions of Inquiry Act; (9) Dentists Act; (10) Family Courts Act; (11) Government Securities Act; (12) High Court Judges Act; (13) Homeopathy Central Council Act; (14) Immoral Traffic Act; (15) Income-Tax Act; (16) Indian Medicine Central Council Act; (17) Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code; (18) Real Estate Act; (19) National Co-Operative Development Act; (20) Official Languages Act; (21) Press and Registration of Books Act; (22) Press Council Act; (23) Protection of Human Rights Act; (24) Public Debt Act; (25) Railway Property Act; (26) Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act; (27) Textiles Committee Act; (28) Court-Fees Act; (29) Indian Forest Act; (30) Limitation Act; (31) Prevention of Corruption Act; (32) Representation of People Act; (33) Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act; (34) Arbitration and Conciliation Act; (35) Advocates Act; (36) All India Services Act and (37) Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. Moreover, the Indian government enacted 26 land-related regulations in October 2020 which marginalised locals and aimed to deprive them of their ancestral land. Out of 334 state laws, 164 laws were repealed and 167 laws were adapted.


The delimitation commission is set to disenfranchise and disempower the Muslim population in IIOJK based on its discriminatory distribution of seats where Muslim majority area (Kashmir) has only been served with an increase of one seat and Hindu majority (Jammu) area has been served with an increase of six seats.


In April 2020, India introduced a domicile law in IIOJK. Under this law, Indian citizens who have lived in IIOJK for 15 years, as well as those who have studied there for 7 years could claim a domicile certificate for residency benefits. Children of central government officials, who worked in IIOJK for at least 10 years, could also apply, even if they have never set foot in the territory. Reportedly, 3.5 million non-Kashmiris have been issued a domicile  under the same law. The domicile law is susceptible to challenge on the grounds of discrimination. Moreover, it even violates Articles 14, 16, 19, and 21 of the Indian Constitution. Besides, the Indian parliament has not delegated its lawmaking powers under Article 16(3) to the Central government, under Section 96 of the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019. In July 2020, India lifted a requirement in IIOJK under which Indian security forces had to obtain a special certificate to acquire land in IIOJK. The new order allowed Indian Army, Border Security Force, paramilitary forces, and other similar organizations to acquire land without a no objection certificate (NOC).
Through the aforementioned laws, India is following the Israeli playbook of building illegal settlements to change IIOJK’s demography. Using these laws, a huge number of outsiders will qualify for domicile status. The new exploitative laws have become a source of anxiety for resident Kashmiris who fear that their region will be flooded by settlements of Hindu zealots. Muslims are facing an existential threat. With the introduction of these discriminatory laws, the demographic apartheid in IIOJK has begun.


Post August 5, 2019, India has unleashed constitutional terrorism in IIOJK by introducing several new laws and amendments to the existing laws to change the demographic structure of the disputed region and further suppress the inhabitants of the besieged Valley.


Under the delimitation exercise in IIOJK, the delimitation commission proposed the new electoral boundaries for Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of geography and not on the basis of population. There would be 43 seats for Jammu and 47 for Kashmir. As per the population, there should be 51 constituencies for Kashmir (6.8 million population) and 39 for Jammu (5.3 million population). The new scheme would not just disenfranchise the Kashmiri Muslims, but pave the way for the first Hindu Chief Minister, a lackey of the BJP. 
Population has been a universally accepted measure for the demarcation of boundaries. Article 82 of the Indian Constitution reinforces that. Previously, Kashmir had 46 seats whereas Jammu had 37. Now there would be 6 additional seats for Jammu contrary to just one addition for Kashmir. According to the J&K Reorganization Act, census 2011 had to be the basis of delimitation, but the Delimitation Commission cleverly added that it would also take into account the political aspirations of various sections of society and factor in accessibility, topography and proximity to the border as part of consideration to the allotted seats. However, even those considerations have been used selectively. The violation of topography is evident in the Commission’s recommendation of merging Jammu division’s Rajouri and Poonch districts with the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat despite the fact that there is almost no geographical connectivity between the two regions as they are separated by the Pir Panjal mountains.
Controversially, the J&K Reorganization Act 2019, under which the delimitation exercise has taken place is under litigation in Supreme Court of India. The electoral representation of Muslims in Jammu region has drastically come down (from 13 Muslim majority assembly seats to just 10 seats) despite that total assembly seats in Jammu have been increased by 6 seats.
The unequal distribution as per the population composition reveals a Hindu majority region. Padder, home to 51,279 residents, has become a new assembly segment, while a Muslim majority region Surankote remains a single constituency with 188,154 residents. Moreover, Ramaban hosts 146,859 residents and over 70 percent of them are Muslims, and it hasn’t received an additional seat either. Largely, Hindu regions have been the principal beneficiaries of the commission’s decision. Total population of IIOJK as per census 2011 is over 12.5 million. 96.4 % Muslims reside in Kashmir Valley and 62.5% Hindus in Jammu area.
The Delimitation Commission is set to disenfranchise and disempower the Muslim population in IIOJK based on its discriminatory distribution of seats where Muslim majority area (Kashmir) has only been served with an increase of one seat and Hindu majority (Jammu) area has been served with an increase of six seats.
Through the introduction of these laws, India is trampling international law and various UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir under its foot. The laws, particularly the domicile law, are a blatant violation of international law including the 4th Geneva Convention. Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention states: “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territory it occupies. Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportation of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motives.” Through the imposition of the aforementioned laws, India is trying to provincialize IIOJK in blatant violation of UNSC resolutions 91 and 122. These laws are seen as a precursor for demographic flooding of the occupied region with outsider Hindus to convert the Muslim majority into a minority. The domicile law signifies growing similarities between Modi’s Hindu rashtra and Netanyahu’s Zionist Israel. The laws should be seen as the first step towards systematic ethnic cleansing/genocide of the Kashmiri Muslims. Modi is following in the footsteps of Hitler who introduced the Nuremberg Laws to segregate, incarcerate and marginalize Jews, leading to Holocaust. The constitutional terrorism of India and atrocities by its occupation forces in IIOJK have resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis in the region that is under military siege since August 5, 2019. 


The move to abrogate Article 370 is a clear violation of UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir namely; UNSCR 38, 47, 51, 91, and 122. Moreover, the unilateral action to change the status quo in IIOJK also violates 1972 Simla Agreement between Pakistan and India. Article 3 of the Geneva Convention makes it illegal for member states to use torture on prisoners of war in non-international armed conflicts.


India has shredded more international laws in IIOJK than imaginable: the UNSC resolution of 1948 that mandates a plebiscite and Geneva Conventions that prohibit an occupation force from transferring its own civilian population into the held territory were all violated by India. The move to abrogate Article 370 is a clear violation of UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir namely; UNSCR 38, 47, 51, 91, and 122. Moreover, the unilateral action to change the status quo in IIOJK also violates 1972 Simla Agreement between Pakistan and India. Article 3 of the Geneva Convention makes it illegal for member states to use torture on prisoners of war in non-international armed conflicts. The article states that “violence to life and person, in particular, murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” are prohibited from being used against prisoners of war and persons who did not take part in the conflict. India is a party to the Geneva Conventions, hence protecting people against torture remains an obligation for the Indian state under instruments of international law.
International Criminal Court (ICC) needs to step in as it did in confronting situations such as in Yugoslavia or Rwanda where national judicial structures had broken down. Years after the establishment of ICC, India has deliberately stayed out from becoming a party to Rome Statute which governs ICC’s jurisdiction. India’s brazen and systematic crimes against humanity infringe on Article 12 of the human rights treaty of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), already ratified by India.
Ironically, such a gross violator of international law is eying for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council–a body that is meant to ensure compliance with international law by the member states.


The writer is PhD scholar of Peace and Conflict Studies.
 

Read 607 times


TOP