KASHMIR NARRATIVE

Kashmir a place of beautiful simplicity and pristine beauty is now no less than hell on Earth. The Himalayas stand still and calm gazing at the wounded faces, traumatized souls and burning houses. Jhelum still flows but with less zeal now as it has changed colour to red. O Great Himalaya don’t shame us, we know our modesty has been outraged, but, you are also cruel, you never spoke a word of sympathy. You stood still as if nothing wrong has happened.

Kashmiris have faced persecution, abuse, despotism, repression and exploitation at the hands of oppressor. We have been maimed, killed, raped and forced disappearance. Our youth are being abducted, illegally detained and often tortured during interrogation. Thousands of Kashmiris have been killed by forces under total impunity. International NGOs have documented human rights abuses including disappearances, torture and arbitrary executions carried out during crackdowns and CASOs.

A 2014 report by ASIA WATCH puts the prevailing situation in Kashmir ,” Since January 1990, the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been the site of a brutal conflict between Indian security forces and armed Muslim insurgents demanding independence or accession to Pakistan. In its efforts to crush the militant movement, India’s central government has pursued a policy of repression in Kashmir which has resulted in massive human rights violations by Indian army and paramilitary forces. Throughout the conflict, the security forces have deliberately targeted civilians, the majority of whom are widely believed to sympathize with the militants. Indian security forces, which include the army and two paramilitary forces, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Border Security Force (BSF) have assaulted civilians during search operations, tortured and summarily executed detainees in custody and murdered civilians in reprisal attacks.” Source: RAPE IN KASHMIR, a crime of war, Vol.5, issue 9.

It further writes,” Indian government authorities have rarely investigated charges of rape by security forces in Kashmir. To our knowledge, the prosecution of two soldiers for the rape of a Canadian tourist in October 1990 is the only case of criminal prosecution which the Indian government has made public. The soldiers were sentenced to prison terms, but as of April 1993, the soldiers remained in barracks and the case was on appeal.”

The 49-page report – the first ever issued by the UN on the human rights situation in Indian-Administered and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir – details human rights violations and abuses on both sides of the Line of Control, and highlights a situation of chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces. It further writes,” There is an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses and deliver justice for all people in Kashmir, who for seven decades have suffered a conflict that has claimed or ruined numerous lives.”

The report urges India to 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 individuals and to the families of those killed in the context of security operations. Similarly, the PSA should be amended to ensure its compliance with international human rights law, and all those held under administrative detention should either be charged or immediately released.

As Kashmiris our memory of loss and death is too bloody to be marked on calendars and memorials. Of course not many citizens of India and Pakistan know that Kashmiris have long ago crossed threshold of sensitivity and empathy towards daily violence and blood on the streets. We don’t even feel strange about it.

We the Kashmiris request UN and other international groups to take all possible measures to address the festering wound- Kashmir dispute- which is essential for establishing permanent peace and stability in South Asia and put an end to the miseries endured by people caught in the conflict.

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October Ghost Still Haunts Kashmir
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27th October – Kashmir Black Day
Sajjad Shaukat