Am I an animal that I got tied and exhibited by Indian Army? This question was posed to the Indian authorities by the Kashmiri man who was tied to a jeep by Major Leetul Gogoi from the Indian Army in an attempt to shield themselves from protesters We cannot even realize the physical and mental torture that he has suffered and as expected the world showed no empathy for what has happened to him. It was as if he were not a human being or as if his life didn’t count except to serve as an object of hostility. The Indian Major, on the other hand, was awarded with ‘Commendation Card’ for this act of brutality. That’s a gross human rights violation on the part of the Indian army, which unfortunately is the bitter reality of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
Kashmir issue is not only a territorial conflict, but it is also the issue of illegal occupation and violation of the Kashmiris’ political, religious, ideological and fundamental rights. India’s brutality and barbarianism has been exposed to the world, but silence over these atrocities has prevailed. The international community has continued to raise the flags of freedom, human rights, rule of law and human dignity, but India has made a mockery of these very ideals. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is a draconian law that allows the Indian army to use maximum force with absolute impunity against the unarmed Kashmiris. Men are tortured and murdered while women are routinely raped. Countless Kashmiris have been blinded by pellet guns. Curfews have become a custom rather than an exception. Those who resist the Indian forces are labelled as ‘terrorists’ rather than ‘freedom fighters’ because they are thought to have no right to retaliate to the atrocities carried out against them, while the Indian military is free to conduct unobstructed annihilation of Kashmiri Muslims.
This is the fourth generation of Kashmiris witnessing brutality at the hands of Indians, in response to quest for identity and struggle for freedom. The turmoil in Kashmir saw ridges and furrows through time, saw war efforts to resolve the issue and through different plans like the Dixon and Chenab formula, and long standoffs between the two belligerent countries but the fact remains that all this contributed to attenuate the living conditions of Kashmiris on both sides of the ceasefire line now called as the Line of Control (LoC). India’s obsession of controlling all resources of Kashmir regardless of people’s consideration has alienated the people from the Indian federation. India is adamant to carry on with political process in the Valley by holding elections, which is a decoy to show the world that Kashmiris want to live within the constitutional framework of the Indian union. Had this been true even to the slightest extent, there would be no need of deploying over 0.8 million military and paramilitary forces, international media barred from entering the Valley and the citizens incapable of challenging the power accorded by laws like AFSPA and Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) to the security forces.
Indian courts championing the human rights seem maimed when they have to dispense justice through the iron curtains of TADA and other similar draconian laws. India’s paradigm pertaining to Kashmir has been pivoted on two cardinal principles; one of it being that Kashmir is an integral part of India as it has been declared so under her constitution during the 50s, and the other is that all unrest and turbulence caused in the Valley is perpetrated by Pakistan. Both the above stated narratives are so self-contradictory and far removed from historical facts that even a minor probe would shed the dust off their plans of hiding the truth at all costs.
The Indian atrocities in Kashmir is an undeniable fact. The so-called search operations are only a means to target the Muslims, whereby, Indian Army randomly surges into the homes of Kashmiri families, beats up men and mistreats children, commits sexual harassment and rapes women and hurts everything in their range. In the garb of these search operations, a minor had been raped and murdered by a gang of Hindu men and her body was left in the forest to decay. When after three days her body was discovered and the news of her being raped and murdered broke out across India, the country’s Hindu community not only declined to condemn this act but audaciously supported the rapists. Now this wouldn’t be termed as human rights violation by the world rather it would be taken as a measure of searching the terrorists in order to maintain peace in IOK. Was that 8-year-old girl, who got brutally raped and later murdered, a terrorist? The world is silent and has no answer for this. Approximately more than two hundred civilians have been slayed by the Indian security forces since 2017 and the number is increasing with every passing day. Even children have not been spared. The access to medical facilities has been denied to the Muslims and there is no freedom of expression at all. The fundamental right to life seems to be a mere dream for the people of Kashmir.
The government sponsored terrorist groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have forced Muslim residents to flee to the hills for safety. The indigenous resilience in Kashmir is picking up pace so fast that India’s weeded out Pakistan bashing narrative is becoming irrelevant over the period of time and lastly, they need a patsy to put the blame on for the failures of India’s domestic policies. It is no secret that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has gone off a tangent from India’s long celebrated ethos of democracy and secularism. They punish Muslims for cow slaughter and RSS goons are on the loose to chastise people on their own. The hatred against Muslims has alienated the government and worsened situation in the IOK. BJP government is not only encouraging Hindu settlements in Kashmir but also forcing Muslims to forsake their religion and convert to Hinduism in order to dilute the Muslim majority in the Valley. Moreover, PM Modi’s BJP-led government has been calling for the annulment of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that accords a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Keeping in view the prevailing condition of the people of Kashmir, the United Nations has published a report on human rights violations after a long silence. The report, while underlining the plethora of Indian atrocities, also makes a striking description about the nature of resistance in Kashmir. It states:
“This current round of protests appears to involve more people than the past, and the profile of protesters has also shifted to include more young, middle-class Kashmiris, including females who do not appear to have been participating in the past.”1
This statement is a negation of Indian accusations that Kashmir’s freedom movement is prompted by Pakistan. The Kashmiri freedom struggle is indeed indigenous. The resilient people of Kashmir have undoubtedly endured pain with patience without ever faltering in their quest for freedom. Pakistan is pursuing for a just resolution of Kashmir issue. However, Modi government is obstinately opposed to any settlement because of the upcoming general elections. It is pertinent to mention that India has never proposed any strategy or solution to address the Kashmir issue, rather all proposals for resolving this issue have either come from Pakistan or independent observers. India doesn’t want a solution to this issue at all because Kashmir is a means of increasing the vote bank for the politicians who are least concerned about the human rights violations and are indulged in violence and bloodshed.
The recent peaceful democratic change of government in Pakistan has been welcomed across the globe except India whose grim discourse tries to vitiate the political process in Pakistan and declared it as positioning of Pakistan against India. Many friendly gestures could be seen at the very formation of new government which include the offer of opening up Kartarpur border for the Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan. This offer was widely appreciated by the provincial Congress-led government in Indian Punjab but the central BJP-led government of bigots looked at it with a jaundiced eye and orchestrated a propaganda where the Sikhs were dubbed as less patriotic and more inclined towards Pakistan. The BJP government more or less exuded the same irresponsible attitude when the PM of Pakistan offered a moot in New York between the foreign ministers of the two countries during the UN General Assembly’s session. Instead of taking it as a ground breaking for confidence building, India’s army chief passed a brazenly threatening statement of trampling over the Pakistani territories and launching a pre-emptive strike which they fondly call the ‘surgical strike’. The reason for such coyish attitude can be attributed to a few major motives apart from the aforementioned simmering secessionist movement in the offing in Indian Punjab. The other reason could be that India’s policy to isolate Pakistan in the post-war Afghan settlement has failed miserably and minus Pakistan, the Afghan settlement has become a far-fetched idea. However, such a behaviour by the Indian government has shown the real face of India to the world and does not bode well for the future of peace and resolution of the Kashmir issue.
The writer is a Research Head at the Center for Global and Strategic Studies (CGSS), an Islamabad based think tank.
E-mail: [email protected]
Read 646 times