UN report on Kashmir rekindles hope
Muhammad Jamil


THE first-ever UN report on human rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir focuses mainly on serious human rights violations in the region from July 2016 to April 2018. “In responding to demonstrations that started in 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries,” the report said. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a statement called for a commission of inquiry by Human Rights Council into all violations before opening a three-week session in Geneva on Monday. He added that alleged sites of mass graves in Kashmir Valley and Jammu should be investigated. This goes to prove that Kashmir is very much on UN agenda, as report calls for finding a final solution to J&K dispute through meaningful dialogue that includes also people of Kashmir.

Welcoming the report, Kashmiri Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Twitter wrote: “People of Kashmir thank the UN, especially the bold efforts of its HR commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, for its support to the right of self-determination.” The main focus of the report is the human rights situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016. However, the day the UN released report on gross human rights violations in IOC, a senior journalist Syed Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated in IOK. Apart from running three daily newspapers, including the English language daily Rising Kashmir, Mr. Bukhari lobbied aggressively for peace by organising conferences and summits in the US, UK and other parts of the world. He envisioned better relations between India and Pakistan. He frequently wrote for international publications including the BBC – being the voice that explained the complexities of the region to the rest of the world.
After martyrdom of Burhan Muzaffar Wani in July 2016, protest demonstrations were held in the Valley and other parts of Kashmir. Indian military and police resorted to firing and use of pellet guns killing about 90 people including children and injuring hundreds of them. Such protests and slogans raised for azadi had never been so loud in the past. The planned killing of freedom fighter Burhan Wani had triggered protest throughout the valley and all parts of Kashmir, and his martyrdom infused a new spirit into the Kashmir freedom movement. Later the martyrdom of his successor, Sabzar Bhat once again sparked fierce protests and agitation against the occupying Indian forces across the IOK. Earlier in 1989, Kashmiris had started armed struggle in retaliation to the atrocities, rape and killings, but after 9/11all those who waged armed struggle for freedom from occupiers were dubbed as terrorists.
Instead of accepting the reality that freedom struggle is waged by Kashmiris, India accuses Pakistan of stirring Kashmiri uprising. In fact it is a ploy to hoodwink the International Community on Kashmir issue and to hide state-sponsored atrocities on innocent people of IOK. International community must realize the plight of IOK’s people, as Kashmir has been under unlawful Indian occupation since October 1947. Though the report covers period from 2016 to 2018, it questions the India’s repressive laws. The report stated: “Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978 (PSA) have “created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.”
The AFSPA prohibits prosecution of security forces personnel unless the Indian Government grants prior permission to prosecute. This gives security forces virtual immunity against prosecution for any human rights violation. In the nearly 28 years that the law has been in force in Jammu and Kashmir there has not been a single prosecution of armed forces personnel granted by the central government, the report said. It has also been suggested in the report that India should urgently repeal the AFSPA; establish independent, impartial and credible investigations to probe all civilian killings since July 2016 and all abuses committed by armed groups; and provide reparations and rehabilitation to all injured and to families of those killed in security operations. The report has rightly called for final political solution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute through meaningful dialogue that includes leaders and people of Kashmir.
The UN has to play a key role in the resolution of this dispute, as the people of Jammu and Kashmir were granted the right of self-determination under UN Security Council resolutions. For over seven decades, Kashmiris have been denied their right to self-determination bestowed by the United Nations Security Council resolutions including UNSC resolution of 5th January 1949. However, the repression, oppression and atrocities by Indian forces have turned Kashmir into a hell that would stretch Dante’s imagination reflected in his famous poem “Divine Comedy”. These heinous and barbaric acts could not break the will of Kashmiris. The fact remains, that the heroic struggle waged by people of Kashmir is unparalleled in the history; and they are committed to continue their struggle till their objective is achieved. It has to be mentioned that no political movement or struggle can be suppressed through military means.