“Kashmir under Siege”

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By Senator Shibli Faraz  :

The Indian government crossed all limits of human dignity on August 5, 2019 by unlawfully legitimizing its blatant acts of aggression and subjugation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK). As if the seventy plus years of oppression and suppression were not enough, Nirendra Modi-led Indian Government has ‘outperformed’ all its predecessor governments in tackling, rather manhandling the Kashmir issue.

As a matter of fact, the former governments did retain a semblance of constitutionality although they too had been consistently pursuing the policies of Kashmir’s forcible enslavement, considering this region as their ‘Atoot Ung’ (integral part). Actually, this ‘Atoot Ung’ philosophy of the state of India is the mother of all ills and evils, but unfortunately Modi Sarkar considers it mother of all cures.

However, Modi Sarkar has surpassed all the Delhi governments of the bygone days by abrogating Articles 370 and 35 A of the Indian Constitution that conferrred special status on Occupied Kashmir besides pledging not to change the demographic status of this territory.

It may be noted that the aforesaid articles’ incorporation in the Indian constitution, immediately after the Pak-India sub-continents’ Independence (1947) did create the impression in the foreign capitals that India was not trampling its former Premier, Jawaharlal Lal Nehru’s solemn pledges made at international forums.

It was rather Nehru who took the lead in pledging to the United Nations Security Council that a plebiscite would be held in Kashmir to ascertain the will of the people of Kashmir.

The conferment of special status on Kashmir under Article 370 was, in fact, in line with this solemn pledge as well as in line with the Security Council resolutions accepting the right of self-determination of the people inhabiting the Kashmir.

What did the Kashmiris get thereafter is a sad story. Instead of giving them the right of choice, their bodies were pierced with bullets. Those protesting against coercion, high-handedness of the state machinery and usurpation of their due rights would be abducted and made to disappear for years. Women crying against their widowhood or forced disappearances of their male members would be gang raped by merciless Indian troops which use this ‘mass humiliation methodology’ as a tool of oppression as they deem it to be an effective tool of subjugation and enslavement.

Now that a year has gone by since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A, Kashmiri Muslims continue to face abject misery at the hands of Indian tyrants and their merciless forces which have unleashed a reign of terror in the shape of killing of unarmed Kashmiri freedom-seekers, siege, lockdown and total blockade of communication, not to name the blinding of peaceful Kashmiri youth and children with the use of pellet guns.

Above all, the ruthless practice of forced disappearances has intensified, the troops making excessive use of powers conferred on them through the promulgation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA). Such powers are not even enjoyed by judges in any country of the world. These soldiers can enter, rather break into, any house without a search warrant and can take away any person on the pretext of ‘suspicious conduct’.

A large number of them have never returned homes, leaving thousands of widows or half widows (and half orphans) behind. The discovery of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley speaks volumes of such atrocities which are being camouflaged under the banner of constitution with unjust and unjustified amendments (read abrogation) made in it in sheer disregard for the universal principles of natural justice.

Even their own constitution debars Indian parliament from change of special status without initiation of a move from the state Assembly which means the Kashmir Assembly.

And, as for Article 35 A, it guaranteed no changes in the demography of Kashmir Valley but now, after this article’s repeal, Modi Sarkar has picked up momentum at a very fast pace to ‘neutralize’ the Muslim majority in the Valley. In this regard, a large number of non-Muslims from outside Kashmir are being given incentives and facilitation to settle there and also buy properties- in sheer violation of the true, original spirit of Indian constitution.

All this is happening under the aegis of a democratically elected government that claims to be a torch-bearer of democracy, simultaneously bragging, time and again, that India is the biggest (or one of the biggest) democracy of the world.

Is this Indian version of democracy all about invading and enslaving a small, peaceful fraternity of Kashmiri Muslims? May be the international community cannot provide a reply to this question…! But let me assure you that under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, we have dedicated all our efforts to project the issue of Kashmir at all international fora, we shall continue to do so and we shall continue to lend our moral and ethical support to the Kashmiri brethren in their just struggle for the right to self-determination.

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