December 10: Human Rights Day & Kashmir

Sadly, the international community has often fallen short of its commitment to human rights. Several crises have shaken humanity in the last 70 years. Conflicts, inequality, violence, discrimination and exclusion continuously wreak havoc on individuals and societies throughout the world. Too often human rights are ignored when addressing these crises.

Each year, Human Rights Day is observed all over the world, especially by the oppressed nations on December 10, as on this very day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It reflected the conviction that human dignity is at the heart of our societies and that respect for human rights is essential to the prevention of conflict and the promotion of human development.

December 10 is also celebrated in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) where protests, demonstrations, seminars and conferences marked the international Human Rights Day, as gross human rights violations have continued unabated by the Indian security forces.

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 300 innocent persons who have been protesting against the martyrdom of Burhan Wani.

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.

Latest 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 recent development on 4 July 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.

It is notable that an Indian journalist Sagarika Ghose in her piece in “Times of India” admitted that India has become a “de facto Hindu country” and “the boiling situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir is a sign of triumph for Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Two-Nation theory”—also admitted that “Today Kashmir is a cantonment, patrolled by lakhs of security forces.”

Another Indian journalist Santosh Bhartiya in an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has published on ‘Rising Kashmir’ has claimed that although “the land of Kashmir is with us, the people of Kashmir are not with us.” New York Times editorial “Cruelty and Cowardice in Kashmir” also has the same shade commenting on an incident on the current situation in the valley. Former chief of RAW, Dulat felt that “the ongoing unarmed uprising has worsened under the current government due to alienation and the anger of youth; young Kashmiri minds have gone out of control…There is a sense of hopelessness. They aren’t afraid to die. Villagers, students and even girls are coming out on the streets. This has never happened in the past.”

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. After deployment of heavy arms and weapons at the Line of Control (LoC), Indian forces have increased troops and continue shelling in Pakistani side of Azad Kashmir. 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.

Nonetheless, during the partition of the Sub-continent, the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) which comprised Muslim majority decided to join Pakistan according to the British-led formula. But, Dogra Raja, Sir Hari Singh, a Hindu who was ruling over the J&K, in connivance with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord Mountbatten joined India.

The design to forcibly wrest Kashmir began to unfold on August 16, 1947, with the announcement of the Radcliffe Boundary Award. It gave the Gurdaspur District—a majority Muslim area to India to provide a land route to the Indian armed forces to move into Kashmir. There was a rebellion in the state forces, which revolted against the Maharaja and were joined by Pathan tribesmen. Lord Mountbatten ordered armed forces to land in Srinagar.

When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on December 31, 1947, India made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire ultimately came into effect on January 01, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine whether they wish to join Pakistan or India. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding plebiscite. Instead, in March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India-an integral part of the Indian union.

The very tragedy of Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their genuine right of self-determination. They organized themselves against the injustices of India and launched a war of liberation which New Delhi tried to crush through various forms of brutalities.

It is mentionable that since 1947, in order to maintain its illegal control, India has continued its repressive regime in the Occupied Kashmir through various machinations.
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.

According to a report on human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, since 1989, there have been deaths of 1,00000 innocent Kashmiris, 7,023 custodial killings, 1,22,771 arrests, 1,05,996 destruction of houses or buildings, 22,776 women widowed, 1,07,466 children orphaned and 10,086 women gang-raped/molested. Indian brutal securities forces have continue these atrocities.

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.

Notably, 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. Now, more such graves have been discovered.

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.

But, 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.

In this context, 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.”

Meanwhile, like the previous year, Pakistan’s recent serious and sincere effort at the annual session of the United Nations—highlighting Indian atrocities, the Kashmir dispute and demanding its solution has infused a new spirit among the Kashmiri people.

Although 10th of December is observed throughout the world as the Human Rights Day, yet, the case of Indian Held Kashmir is of special attention, where Indian security forces have left no stone unturned by violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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