COMMENTARY / INSIGHT
Oppressed Kashmiris and the right of self-determination
India should realize that it cannot perpetuate its oppressive rule over the oppressed Kashmiris for a long time
Abdul Rasool Syed
NOVEMBER 6, 2018
Like every year, the people of Kashmir marked 27th October as a black day. On this very fateful day in 1947, India in utter denial of the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir, forced the then Maharaja of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to sign the instrument of accession with her and thereby annexed the Kashmir to its dominion. Since then, India while resorting to various tactics of tyranny and oppression left no stone unturned to silent the voice of oppressed Kashmiris and suppress their just struggle for freedom.
The recent report of UN on human rights violation in Kashmir testifies to the fact that the people of Kashmir have been subjected to inexplicable atrocities. The report took the veil of secrecy off of India’s crimes against humanity. This was a significant step towards greater international recognition of serious abuses committed against Kashmir is at the hands of Indian army. The report states that “In responding to demonstrations that started in July 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and very high number injuries… one of the most dangerous weapons used against protesters during unrest in 2016 was the pellet-firing shotgun”. The report further mentions that “the government of India has passed the legislation under Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas of Act of 1990 which gives extraordinary power to all ranks of Indian military and paramilitary forces”. These draconian laws, the report underscores, “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 high idealism of the Indian government in international matters breaks down completely when confronted with the question of Kashmir” Bertrand Russell
The report also noted that “civil society and media often cite the figure of 500,000 to 700,000 troops which would make Kashmir one of the most militarized zones and the largest concentration in the world.
The sanctity of women” the report highlights “has been violated, in a gruesome and unforgiving fashion. The report upholds that in 2013 report on her mission to India, the special Rapporteur on violence against women , its causes and consequences , said, “women living in militarized regions, such as Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern states, live in a constant state of siege and surveillance, Whether in their homes or in public. Information received through both written and oral testimonies highlighted the use of mass rape, allegedly by members of the state security forces, as well as acts of enforced disappearance, killings and acts of torture and ill-treatment, which were used to intimidate and to counteract political opposition and insurgency.” Briefly speaking, the report made 17 recommendations to the government of India so as to bring these atrocities to end including:
“Urgently repeal the armed forces (Jammu and Kashmir) special powers act, 1990.”
“Establish independent, impartial and credible investigations to probe all civilian killings which have occurred since July 2016”.
The most important recommendation made by the UN report which possibly seems to be the only viable solution to Kashmir conundrum is to “fully respect the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir as protected under international law.”
The Kashmir dispute basically involved three parties. Pakistan and India are the two main parties according to UN resolutions. The third are the Kashmir is whose right of self determination has been recognized in several UN Resolutions. Pakistan and India, on their own, cannot decide the future of Kashmir is. The commitment to enable the Kashmiris to decide about their future was not only made by India when it accepted the conditional so called “instrument of Accession” but was also explicitly admitted in India’s complaint before the UN security council in January 1948. The Indian Representative, in his letter to the president of Security Council, regarding the status of the state, clarified that finally. “Its people would be free to decide their future by the recognized democratic method of plebiscite or Referendum which, in order to ensure complete impartiality, might be held under international auspices. Furthermore, the UN Security Council discussions led to the resolutions of August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949 clearly laid down that, the question of accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite. These UN resolutions are still valid even though India has made many efforts to declare them” dead” particularly after signing of the Simla Agreement on July 3, 1972.
The right of self-determination is the basic principle of the united Nation charter which has been reaffirmed in the universal declaration of human rights, and applied countless times to the settlement of international issues. The concept played significant role in post-world war I settlement, leading for example to plebiscite in a number of disputed areas.
However, in 1945 the establishment of UN gave a new dimension to the principal of self-determination. It was made one of the objectives which the UN would seek to achieve, along with equal rights of all nations.
The principle of self-determination and the maintenance of international peace and security are inseparable. For example, the denial of this right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir has brought the two neighbouring countries in South Asia — India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.
The idea that the dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir can be settled only in accordance with the will of the people, which can be ascertained through the democratic method of a fair and impartial plebiscite, was the common ground taken by both Pakistan and India. It was supported without any dissent by the UN Security Council and prominently championed by the United States, Britain and other democratic states. It became matter of controversy only after India realized that she would not manage to win the people’s vote through UN supervised ballot.
Moreover, the fraudulent elections in 1987, extinguished the last flicker of hope among Kashmir is that India would ever capitulate to fair and free plebiscite as ordained by Security Council. Further, India’s ruthless suppression of peaceful protest destroyed the moderate option, resulting in the latest uprising in 1989. Since then, more than 100,000 Kashmir is have died. Greater numbers have been tortured, mutilated, kidnapped and arbitrarily arrested. Political prisoners also ran into thousands…
India should realize that it cannot perpetuate its oppressive rule over the oppressed Kashmir is for a long time. It will one day, have to accept the already unanimously agreed solution of the issue of Kashmir that is to grant the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir.
The status of East Timor was resolved in 1999 by a free and fair enfranchisement of East Timorese. The same, championed by the United States and the European Union happened in Kosovo, Montenegro and Sudan. The solution of Kashmir’s indigenous freedom struggle is no more different.
To cap it all, the world powers should take a leaf from the statement made on June 15, 1962 by American representative to the UN, Adlai Stevenson” the best approach is to take for a point of departure the area of common ground which exists between the parties. I refer of course to the resolutions which were accepted by both parties and which in essence provide for demilitarization of the territory and a plebiscite whereby the population may freely decide the future status of Jammu and Kashmir.”
The writer is Legal Practitioner based in Quetta Balochistan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org