The late Indian Prime Minister Nehru said: “We (India) have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given… not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and order have been established to have a referendum held under the auspices of the UN.” The Indian leadership initially took the Kashmir issue to the UN and promised to abide by it. However, 70 years down the road, Kashmir continues to bleed.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir have been denied the right to self-determination. India through coercive means has been trying to suppress the Kashmiri struggle. The use of pellet guns against the young Kashmiri protesters has left a large number of them blind. Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights (JKCHR) in one of the papers submitted to the UN Working Group (July 2016) states: “Indian army has continued to act as a private military and in the course of time, in particular from 1990 has raised a private force called IKHWANI and gave it incentives of all kind to kill unarmed civilians to spread terror.”
The issue of Kashmir is one of the oldest outstanding issues involving sufferings of Muslims. At the time of partition, the ruler of princely state of Jammu and Kashmir Hari Singh’s decision to accede the state to India was in sharp contrast to the will of the people. Since then, the Kashmiris are struggling for their right. October 27, 1947, is the day when India forcibly took over the land of Kashmir. The Kashmiris struggle for their right has been recognized by the international quarters, and there are UN Security Council resolutions over the issue. As per the Security Council resolutions of 1948 and 1949, “the question of the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.” Despite the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir, the people have been denied their right of self-determination. This is not only injustice with the Kashmiris but is also a death of humanity.
Earlier, this year, the human rights abuses reached a new low when a 24-year old shawl weaver named Farooq Ahmad Dar was tied to the front of a military jeep and used as a human shield against the stone-throwing crowds. Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights (JKCHR) called the act a ‘war crime’ committed by the Indian Army. The Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth has called the Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s leadership as “criminal”. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) prohibits derogation from the right to life (Article 6) and explicitly bans torture (Articles 4 and 7). The tortuous methods employed by India to subdue the Kashmiri right is a stark violation of human rights. There have also been instances when the communication services were blocked, thus barring the Kashmiris to communicate to the outside world and depriving them of their right of expression.
The current wave of freedom in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) is being led by the Kashmiri youth. The ruthless terrorism of Indian Security Forces in IOK, violation across the Line of Control (LoC) and Indian subversive pursuits in Balochistan are a serious threat to regional peace. The peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue, in line with the UNSC resolutions will be a just cause and win of humanity. It will also be in the larger interest of the region.
Amna Ejaz Rafi
Researcher at Islamabad Policy Research Institute, a think tank based in Islamabad.