There have been a deadly epidemic, physical and economic instability, and savage conflict ravaging the earth for the last two years. Tyranny gained strength around the globe after democracy’s defenders suffered heavy losses in their battle against authoritarian adversaries. Because the international world was not doing enough to aid, persecuted activists frequently risked lengthy jail sentences, torture, or even death in detention facilities. The use of force was also common under power regimes when competitors and conflicts were typically resolved by violence in the interest of public health.
Governments of all political shades utilised invasive monitoring, racial restrictions on assembly and association, and arbitrary or violent enforcement of these restrictions by law enforcement and non-state actors. False and misleading information, some of which was intentionally spread by political leaders, flooded the communication channels of many nations. People around them sought to cope with the epidemic in sloppy or dumb ways, and autocrats from Venezuela to Cambodia and other parts of the world utilised the catastrophe to quiet their critics and maintain their positions of power. Most democratic nations made sure that any limits on freedom were essential and commensurate to the danger presented by the virus, on the other hand.
In world history, there have been both the greatest heroes and the cruellest despots, but those who motivated them to achieve great things for themselves and others are remembered. For the great majority of people, a genuine hero is an ordinary individual who overcomes obstacles with courage and inspires the masses to resist injustice. Benjamin Franklin, an American political philosopher, famously stated, “if you do not wish to be forgotten when you are dead and decaying, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing”. It is worthwhile to read and write about the experiences of Kashmiri freedom fighters.
Kashmiris have been following saviours of their human rights and sovereignty, such as Mirwaiz Molavi Mohammad Farooq in the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) valley for many years. He was known as the Mirwaiz of J&K during his stint as Chairman of the All Jammu and Kashmir Awami Action Committee, a coalition of political parties in J&K that sought to settle the J&K dispute. In May 1990, he was assassinated by gunmen at his residence in Nageen, Srinagar. During the May 2002 commemorations of the 12th anniversary of Mirwaiz Molavi Muhammad Farooq’s killing, another prominent Kashmiri lawyer and politician, Abdul Ghani Lone, was also murdered by Indian Occupation soldiers. The authorities enforce curfews and other restrictions in Srinagar to prevent a march to the graves of the two Kashmiri heroes, even though thousands of Kashmiris, South Asians, Hurriyat leaders, and other organisations commemorate their contributions every May.
The story is not yet complete. Tens of thousands of people in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) have lost family members due to their battle for self-determination. The Kashmiri people have endured the horrors of conflict for many centuries. Not only are Kashmiris the direct victims of the upheaval, but so is everyone in South Asia. Regardless of what occurs in IIOJK, the future of relations between India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers in South Asia, will be affected. In response to the problem of shrinking political space, the Kashmiri resistance has undergone a dramatic tactical shift from civil disobedience to armed resistance since August 2019. Students, academics, intellectuals, and researchers have often embraced the path of armed confrontation, mostly because they have been unable to discover other measures of preventing the atrocities perpetrated by the Indian military machinery.
With each passing day, anti-Indian emotions push the Kashmiri youth closer and closer to rebellion. Armed resistance to governmental persecution has risen in IIOJK as a consequence of the military’s iron fist tactics, which has created population alienation. Instead of pursuing education and employment, the youth demand their right to self-determination by violent means. Everyone wants the Kashmir issue to be addressed, but the time has come for other countries to exert pressure on India to participate in the discussion. While the removal of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution has led to the globalisation of the Kashmir Conflict, a settlement of this conflict is urgently required. Given the success of referendums in achieving independence for East Timor and South Sudan, it would be a grave violation of United Nations resolutions and international law to deny the people of Kashmir the right to self-determination.
Never forget the sacrifices made by Abdul Ghani Lone and Mirwaiz Molavi Muhammad Farooq. People paying homage to the martyrs and expressing their determination to continue the ongoing liberation struggle demonstrate that the Indian government is scared of the population’s power and fervour, which leads it to conduct these dictatorial actions. According to the concepts of classical realism, the use of power is influenced by many interactions between the strong and the weak. It is common knowledge that the powerful have a hand in moulding events and persons, thus the power of the weak should never be underestimated. Kashmiris in the J&K valley will continue to strive for their right to self-determination regardless of how oppressive the situation grows.
The concept that democracy is failing because it cannot fulfil the wants of the people is complicated. In truth, democracy is in peril because of the silence of democratic torch-bearers. Democratic states need to take the lead on the international stage and come together fast. The new administration in Washington, DC, and the governments of other nations that respect democracy must work together to make the most of its advantages, combat its adversaries, and aid its supporters. They must also clean their own houses to defend their institutions and retain their credibility in the face of politicians and other actors who are prepared to compromise democratic values to acquire power. If these crucial actions are not done, the world will turn even more against the principles that free countries stand for, and the calamity of tyranny will spread to every country.
Note: This article appeared in Pakobserver, dated 27 June 2022.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are of the author and do not necessarily represent Institute’s policy.