Every year, the martyrdom anniversary of Muhammad Afzal Guru is being celebrated on the 9th of February to pay homage to him, as India secretly hanged him and buried inside the Tihar jail complex on February 9, 2013. His martyrdom resulted into protests in Kashmir and widespread condemnations from various political and human rights organisations. Afzal Guru was convicted in 2001 Parliament attack case and awarded death sentence. Afzal had always denied plotting the attack, which left 14 dead, including five militants.
In the past five years, during his martyrdom anniversary, a complete shutdown was observed in the Indian occupied Kashmir and protest demonstrations were held to demand the return of mortal remains of Afzal Guru.
Every year, call for the strike is being given by pro-freedom leaders and organizations to mark the anniversary of Muhammad Afzal. Indian authorities arrest Kashmiri leaders, Yasin Malik, along with several other Hurriyet activists and lodge them in different police stations and jails. The authorities also place many Hurriyet leaders under house arrest.
In their statements and meetings, all the leaders of the freedom movement of Kashmir paid glowing tributes to the martyred Muhammad Afzal Guru who sacrificed his live for the Kashmir cause.
Even, the Sikh organization, Dal Khalsa President H S Dhami, while paying tributes to Muhammad Afzal Guru on the eve of his second martyrdom anniversary, in a statement in Amritsar criticized India for failing to hand over his mortal remains to his wife.
However, this time, this very day has come at time when the people of Kashmir have accelerated their legitimate struggle in the aftermath of the martyrdom of the young Kashmir leader Burhan Wani by the Indian security forces in the Indian Held Kashmir in wake of continued sieges, prolonged curfews, arrests and detentions of the Kashmiri leaders. Since July 8, 2016, Indian forces have martyred more than 1500 innocent persons who have been protesting against the martyrdom of Burhan Wani.
The very tragedy of Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their genuine right of self-determination which was recognized by the UN resolutions. Passing through various phases, the struggle of Kashmiris keeps on going unabated.
Nevertheless, various forms of state terrorism have been part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army and paramilitary forces against Muslim Kashmiris, especially since 1989. It has been manifested in brutal tactics like crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounter.
In fact, Indian forces have employed various draconian laws like the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act in killing the Kashmiri people, and for the arbitrarily arrest of any individual for an indefinite period.
Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces”.
In its report on July 2, 2015, the Amnesty International has highlighted extrajudicial killings of the innocent persons at the hands of Indian security forces in the Indian Held Kashmir. The report points out, “Tens of thousands of security forces are deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir…the Armed Forces Special Powers Act allows troops to shoot to kill suspected militants or arrest them without a warrant…not a single member of the armed forces has been tried in a civilian court for violating human rights in Kashmir…this lack of accountability has in turn facilitated other serious abuses…India has martyred one 100,000 people. More than 8,000 disappeared (while) in the custody of army and state police.”
In this respect, European Union has passed a resolution about human rights abuses committed by Indian forces in the Indian held Kashmir.
It is of particular attention that in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of the Indian-held Kashmir. Then researchers and other groups reported finding thousands of mass graves without markers. In this respect, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves.
Foreign sources and human rights organisations have revealed that unnamed graves include those innocent persons, killed by the Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake encounters, including those who were tortured to death by the Indian secret agency RAW. In the recent past, more unmarked graves have been discovered.
It is mentionable that report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released on June 14, 2018-“Situation in Kashmir” pointed out Indian atrocities in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). It said: “From July 2016, the High Commissioner for Human Rights has on numerous occasions requested the Governments of India and Pakistan that his Office be given unconditional access to Kashmir to assess the human rights situation. India rejected this request; while Pakistan offered access…The refusal to allow unhindered access to United Nations team into Indian-Administered-Kashmir gave rise to an idea of “Remote Monitoring”. The report was then compiled by doing “remote monitoring” on the situation of Human Rights in Kashmir. The report by the independent authority is an eye-opener for many. The focus of the report is on the situation of human rights in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018. During this period ‘OHCHR’ received reports of allegations of widespread and serious human rights violations by Indian security forces that led to numerous civilian casualties.
Notably, in his address at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 29, 2018, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “The neighbouring country [India] rejected the Pakistani offer of resuming peace talks on ‘flimsy grounds…We are ready to talk to India on all issues but with respect…Kashmir issue is the biggest obstacle to regional peace…the Indian forces subjecting Kashmiris to atrocities for seven decades. India should not test Pakistan’s patience…we will respond to Indian aggression…The latest UN report on the occupied Kashmir has exposed Indian atrocities on innocent civilians…the meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers would’ve been a great opportunity for dialogue. But, the Modi government chose politics over dialogue…India would have to bear the brunt of Pakistan’s retaliation if it makes the mistake of any misadventure on the Line of Control (LoC)”.
It is also of particular attention that pointing out June 14  UN report that calls for the establishment of a ‘commission of inquiry’ to investigate the grave human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed the hope on January 18, this year that Pakistan and India would be able to engage in a “meaningful dialogue” to resolve their disputes. The report also emphasised that a dialogue includes the people of Kashmir to resolve their problem. Guterres said that he has been offering his good offices in relation to the dialogue between the two countries that until now had no condition of success.
Some online authentic sources suggest that recent wave of Kashmiri intifada has witnessed repression of Indian armed forces; large numbers of the dead and injured have been youngsters. The pellet guns used by security forces have damaged the faces of 1600 people and more than 1100 people have partially or wholly lost their eyesight making 2016 as the year of dead eyes.
In 2017, reports also disclosed that Indian security forces have also used chemical weapons against the Kashmiri civilians in violation of international law and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Due to mounting causalities in IOK, Indian security forces have started giving collective punishment to Kashmiri civilians. In a development on July 4, 2017, the Indian Army had destroyed houses in Pulwama and killed 3 Kashmiri civilians. Upon recovery of the bodies, it was discovered that they were burnt beyond recognition.
Sources report that Indian Army is emulating Israeli tactics by using white phosphorus bombs to destroy houses of Kashmiris suspected of harboring Mujahideen. The same tactics was used by Israel during its attacks on Gaza and it seems that these weapons have been provided by Israel to India for use in IOK.
As a matter of fact, Indian authorities are not willing to talk with Kashmiri people on political grounds. New Delhi reached to a conclusion that only bullet is the right way of dealing with Kashmiris, demanding their right of self-determination. Surprisingly, Indian successive governments are trying to ignore the dynamics of the freedom movement of Kashmiris for the sake of their alien rule.
Failed in suppressing the Kashmir movement, Indian central government imposed President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir which started from December 20, 2018. The main purpose is to accelerate atrocities on the Kashmiris who are demanding their genuine right of self-determination.
And New Delhi is still showing its intransigence in order to resolve Kashmir issue with Pakistan by neglecting the fact that Kashmir remains a nuclear flashpoint between both the neighbouring countries. While, by manipulating the false flag terror attacks at a military base in Uri and Baramulla, the BJP-led Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has intensified war-hysteria against Pakistan. Indian forces have continued violation of the LoC by shelling in Pakistani side of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan’s Army has been compelled to give a matching response. New Delhi’s main aim is to deflect the attention of the international community from the new phase of Kashmiri Intifada, while in this regard; pressure has been mounting on the Modi government both domestically and internationally to resolve the dispute of Kashmir with Pakistan.
It is noteworthy that Egbert Jahn in his book, “Kashmir: Flashpoint for a Nuclear War or Even a Third World War?” has pointed out, “The Kashmir conflict is embedded in the wider conflict over the incomplete creation of nations and states on the Indian subcontinent, which during the east-west conflict even threatened at times to escalate into a nuclear world war between Pakistan and the USA on the one side and India and the USSR on the other. Until now, there have been three wars between India and Pakistan over the Jammu and Kashmir: in 1947–49, 1965 and 1999… finally, the Indo-Chinese border war of 1962…after these wars…and could unexpectedly again lead to a regional and under certain circumstances…even a major nuclear war or a Third World War.”
Undoubtedly, the martyrdom of Muhammad Afzal Guru infused a new spirit into the Kashmir’s struggle remains alive today. His martyrdom anniversary provides an opportunity to ponder over the fact that various countries of the world got independence by sacrificing their precious lives. On this vary day, the best way to pay homage to the hero of Kashmir’s struggle Muhammad Afzal Guru is that all the Kashmiris must renew their pledge to take the war of liberation to its logical end.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations