The situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) has been dreadful for three decades. The Indian intelligence agencies have been running sleeper-cells to kill the political activists and Indian military has been employing brutal tactics to quash any mode of expression that calls for the right of self-determination. Ironically, the international community realizes as well as speaks out against human rights abuses in the IOK, but it is unenthusiastic to act seriously to prevent the innocent Kashmiris genocide from the Indian state-terrorism. The seven decades miseries of the Kashmiris in the IOK remind the international community about the non-implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 passed on April 21, 1948. It necessitated “free and impartial plebiscite to decide whether the State of Jammu and Kashmir is to accede to India or Pakistan.” Indeed, without the execution of UN Security Council Resolution 47 in letter and in spirit, the permanent resolution of Kashmiris human rights violations seems impossible.
The gross violations of the human rights in the IOK alarmed the United Nations Human Rights Council and the other international humanitarian organizations. They have expressed serious concerns over the continuous violence in the occupied territory and genocide of the innocent Kashmiris. Last week, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) highlighted the Indian law enforcement agencies’ atrocities and recommended ‘the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.’
The OHCHR released a report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir on June 14, 2018. It highlighted chronic impunity for violations committed by the Indian security forces in the IOK. It pointed out that special laws in force in the state such as the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu & 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 OHCHR strongly recommended: “Urgently repeal the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990; and, in the meantime, immediately removal the requirement for prior central government permission to prosecute security forces personnel accused of human rights violations in civilian courts.”
The contemporary upsurge in the IOK was triggered due to the killing of a 22-year old leader of Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani by Indian security forces in Bundoora village in Kokernag area in the IOK on July 8, 2016. The killing of Wani immediately transformed the peaceful protests and demonstrations into a violent struggle. It was reported that the current wave of the uprising “appears to involve more people than the past, and the profile of protesters has also shifted to include more young, middle-class Kashmiris, including females who do not appear to have been participating in the past.” Instead of engaging the Kashmiris, incumbent Indian ruling elite has adopted violent tactics to crush the freedom movement. Consequently, security forces between mid-July 2016 and end of March 2018 killed more than 130 to 145 civilians in IOK. “One of most dangerous weapons used against protesters during the unrest in 2016 was the pellet-firing shotgun, which is a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun that fires metal pellets.”
The United Nations Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stated that he would urge the Human Rights Council during the three-week session starting on June 18, 2018, in Geneva “to consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.” Realistically, the Indian armed forces brutalities have failed to pacify the Kashmiris insurgency. The sustained Kashmiris’ freedom struggle has frustrated the Indian armed forces. Recently, the Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat in an interview published a few days ago recommended: “Talks must happen. The issue is that a lot of locals are joining militancy. We kill them and more would join. Infiltration can be controlled, but this cycle of recruitment of local youth can go on and on. So…let’s give peace a chance and see.”
To conclude, the sustained freedom struggle of the Kashmiris manifests that Kashmiris do not want to live within India. The killing of innocent civilians with bullets instead of terrorising the Kashmiris boosts their resolve for the right of self-determination.
Published in Melange Intl. Magazine in July 2018.