Kashmir – paradise turned into hell
Indian army’s atrocities on the people of Kashmir, and their murder, rape and fake encounters have turned Kashmir into a hell that would stretch Dante’s imagination. Last month, Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) released its report titled "Juveniles of Jammu and Kashmir: Unequal Before the Law & Denied Justice in Custody". According to the report a large number of Kashmiri children detained under PSA in 2010 uprising in IOK have not been produced in the courts and are illegally kept in adult jails, and the state has no detention facility for detainee girls, in contravention to international law. India’s callous attitude towards pro-movement leadership is obvious from the fact that they are detained in IOK for indefinite period.
All the prominent leaders in IOK are denied freedom of expression. Chairman Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Gelani was kept under house arrest for 141 days in 2010 and 163 days during the current year, whereas Chairman Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) Shabbir Ahmed Shah was placed under house arrest for three months and detained by police on different occasions for 12 times during the last eight months.
Kashmiris suffered death and destruction unparalleled in the history, first during Dogra Raj, and then faced murder, rape and killings at the hands of Indian armed forces. Frustrated by the apathy of the international community and non-implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, Kashmiri youth took up arms in 1989. However after 9/11, political landscape of the world changed dramatically, adversely impacting the freedom struggles of the people the world over who were dubbed as terrorists.
Nevertheless, writers, intellectuals and peace loving people condemned India’s repression on people of Kashmir and also for treating them as second class citizens. Renowned Indian novelist and political activist Arundhati Roy once again made a strong case for Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination before American audience on 12th November, 2011. "I think that the people of Kashmir have the right to self-determination-they have the right to choose who they want to be, and how they want to be," she said in the course of a discussion on 'Kashmir’. In her remarks, she lamented the fact that so little is known about the atrocities being committed by more than 700,000 Indian troops and indignities let loose on Kashmiri men, women and children. Disappearances were almost a daily occurrence as also kidnapping, arrests, fake encounters and torture. Mass graves have been discovered and the conscience of the world remained unstirred. Roy attributed the apathy towards Kashmir, especially in the western world, to their pursuit of commercial interests in India where they were more eager to sell their goods than human rights.
M. Ashraf in an article carried by Kashmir Times wrote: "The Army has stated in no uncertain terms that it is they who are keeping Kashmir with India in spite of its unwilling population and that is possible only if they have a free hand to deal with the situation without any consideration for the collateral damage….. If AFSPA, the legislation giving unaccountable power to the Army is withdrawn, then Kashmiris would have to be given Azadi in 2016!" Meanwhile, Indian government reportedly is considering pulling out some army units from several towns of the state but without revoking the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).
There is a perception that despite Omar Abdullah’s lobbying, Jammu and Kashmir may have to wait till the end of 2012 summer before a partial withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) is considered. It means that people of Kashmir would have to face the draconian laws even if some troops are withdrawn. Biased Indian corporate media always blames Pakistan Army for any uprising in Kashmir. But some human rights organisations are exposing Indian military for perpetrating atrocities on the people of Kashmir.
The advisory council of the Belgium-based Kashmir Centre (EU) and the International Council for Human Development (ICHD) asked the United Nations to conduct a high-level probe into the recent unearthing of 1,000 unmarked graves in Indian Held Kashmir. Advisory group requested United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon to send a fact finding mission to the region. There is no denying that state violence or counter violence never help solve the problem but the big powers should understand the gravity of the situation and help resolve the Kashmir issue.
However, it does not look like if they will do it because only when public protest fits into the geopolitical designs of the US and the West that they declare it a popular movement and honour it with the award of a colour label. The orange revolution of Ukraine, the rose revolution of Georgia, the cidar revolution of Lebanon and much earlier velvet revolution of Czechoslovakia would pale before the Kashmiris’ movement for their freedom, yet they were given colours by the colour-blind big powers.
It has to be mentioned that in none of the above cases there was a UN mandate whereas Kashmiris have been given their inalienable right of self-determination by the UN in 1948 and 5th January 1949. International community should help resolve the Kashmir issue because tension between the two nuclear states would not only make the environment of the region perilous but also the world at large.It is unfortunate that more than six decades have elapsed but international community shows apathy and indifference towards sufferings of Kashmiris and do not impress upon India to implement the United Nations Security Resolutions that bestow on Kashmiris the right to self-determination.
Even those countries that had in the past supported Pakistan’s genuine stance now suggest that India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir dispute through bilateral negotiations, knowing full well that many rounds of dialogue have taken place including the stalled composite dialogue, but to no avail. India takes the plea that according to Tashkant Declaration and Simla Accord both countries are obliged to resolve the issue through bilateral negotiations. India should bear in mind that the Kashmir dispute is pending in the UN, and if the dispute is not resolved within a 'reasonable’ period of time, Pakistan can approach the UN with the demand to play its role and make arrangements to hold plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir as per United Nations Security resolution.