Kashmir: A humanitarian issue
Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
Upon establishment of the United Nations Organization, Colonialism came into sharp contrast with the right of self-determination.
Resultantly, many of the Afro-Asian countries including India and Pakistan were decolonized and got independence. The UN however, failed to give right of self-determination to Kashmiris. Rather, the miseries of Kashmiris, started with the Treaty of Amritsar-1846, had increased many-fold over the years. Earlier, Kashmiri’s peaceful attempt to come out from the clutches of the slavery was brutally crushed, resulted into the worst massacre by Dogra Rule in 1931. Sequel to this, Dogra rulers’ committed worst form of human rights violation of the Kashmiri until Kashmiris revolted in October in 1947 to get their right of freedom. In the process, they gained partial success, with bulk of the state getting under Indian occupation.
United Nations has passed a number of resolutions, all promising them their right of self-determination. These resolutions were accepted by India too. However, subsequently, India denied the right of self-determination to Kashmiris, until their peaceful struggle was forced to convert into an armed resistance movement against Indian occupation in early 1990s. The tactic used by India for the human rights violation include; indiscriminate killings of Kashmiri masses by its security forces, arbitrary arrest and detention, gang rapes of women, torture and even arson and looting of houses. Through inhuman and discriminatory laws, India has given special sweeping powers to its security forces. As per Jawayria’s article, ‘Kashmir: India’s Reign of Terror’, there is a huge concentration of Indian army in Jammu and Kashmir, indeed, unparallel in the world. “From January 1989 to December 2007, nearly 100,000 Kashmiris have been killed by Indian troops in Kashmir and as many disappeared during Indian forces’ custody in various interrogation centers and torture cells. About 113,882 civilians have been arrested without any reason, 22,591 women widowed, 1756 gang-raped and the children orphaned estimate to 107,051, People rendered homeless are beyond calculation as vaguely 105,536 buildings/homes have been destroyed brutally. There is hardly any house in occupied Kashmir, which has not sacrificed one or two or more of its members for the cause of liberation.”
India did not let loose its brutalities even after Kashmiris denounced their armed struggle in 2003. Indian security forces still number over 650,000, continued human rights violation of Kashmiris. In 2008, Indian forces fired on the group of peaceful demonstrators and killed dozens of innocent Kashmiris. These protestors were asking for a safe passage to sell their fruits and other agricultural product either to Indian markets or else to Azad Kashmir. Their movement was blocked by Indian security forces and Hindu nationalists, under BJP, thus disallowing them their legal right of selling their product. Like all other discriminatory acts of the Indian security forces, this was a clear violation of the international humanitarian law. Earlier, India attempted to change the demography of Kashmir, through allotment of Kashmiri land for settling non Kashmiri Hindu population in the garb of extending the space for a Hindu shrine. There have been continuous brutalities on Kashmiris by Indian forces thereafter. In May 2009, India Army rape and murder two Kashmiri women at Shopian area. The incident was seriously resented by all Kashmiris and also invited condemnations from all over. Similarly, Indian forces killed a nine years old boy without any fault. In 2010, there has been killing of many innocent Kashmiris by Indian security forces, an act totally in violation of the UN Charter and Human Rights Declaration. Until now, there has been a debate whether Kashmir is a political or a religious issue. A dominant class believes that, it is a political issue. It in fact is the issue of the future of a state, having population of over 15 million, spreading over an area of 84471 square miles. A limited class, however, believe on the religious context of the state. Nevertheless, over the years, the humanitarian dimension of the issue has become more glaring then other two. Today, the global community has a realization that, the massive human rights violations in the occupied state has to be dealt as per the provisions of the Universal Declarations of Human Rights of December 1948 and Article 1 of the UN Charter. Under the declaration, the broad guidelines are “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The declaration prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention of any human being and also declares that, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The declaration takes a lead from the UN Charter, which aims to, “develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples,” Article 1 of the UN charter, emphasized on the promotion and encouragement of respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction.
Upon Kashmiri uprisings in 1990, Governor Rule was imposed in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and through a special amendment in the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (TADA), Indian security forces were given sweeping powers of arrest and detention of Kashmiris. The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), permits people to be detained for a period up to two years on vaguely defined without trial for simply asking whether the state of Jammu and Kashmir should remain part of India. This contravenes their right to express their opinions guaranteed in Article 19 of the ICCPR a clear violation of human rights by Indian forces as they have never permitted any detainee or arrested person to know the charge or allegation against him / her.
Similarly, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, (TADA) permits the Indian forces to detain the people arbitrarily for just inquiring whether Jammu and Kashmir should remain part of India or discussing the possibilities of plebiscite. This cruel act allows the authorities to arrest and detain people just on mere suspicion and people can be remanded up to 60 days in police custody. Amnesty International has analyzed the provisions of TADA and found it completely violation of important international Human Rights Laws. No guarantee is given for freedom of expression or security for fair under TADA. This Law is a gross violation of Human Rights. Besides, as per Special Power Act, Indian Army and Para-military forces have the power to shoot any individual who is violating or behaving in contravention of the law enforced. Under all these discriminatory laws, Indian security forces could even shoot to kill with virtual immunity. These special legal provisions are in contravene to most important human rights provisions laid down in international human rights instruments to which India is a party. It is therefore, moral responsibility of international community that, India should be forced to abolish these inhuman and discriminatory laws specially designed for human rights violation in Kashmir. After all, in this highly civilized world, Kashmiris too should be given their basic right to live as a free nation. The issue has to be tackled as a humanitarian issue, aiming to reduce the human sufferings.