The tragic and brutal rape-murder of two young Kashmiri women, Neelofer and Asiya of Bonagam, Shopian, on Friday, May 25, 2009, by the Indian Para- military forces has sent shock waves throughout Jammu and Kashmir and the Kashmiri Diaspora.
This gruesome crime is gut-wrenching and infuriating to Kashmiris at home and abroad. Kashmir has lost two of its innocent and precious daughters to the violent acts of the Indian security forces. Bodies of the young women were found in a village creek after their abduction by the CRPF soldiers. The families of Neelofer and Asia are left shocked and bereaved and communities around Bonagam stunned and in disbelief at the inhumane murder and the unimaginable acts of savagery that may have been committed on them before their lives were finally ended. We know of innumerable prior incidents of gang rapes and murders committed by the soldiers in the last 20 years.
Kashmiris are in rage and understandably so. Widespread public protests at the security forces’ bestiality have engulfed the state. Instead of investigating and punishing the culprits the security forces have once again resorted to vicious assault on the restive public. Anger and frustration is natural and predictable among the masses who find themselves under constant stress of an ugly and ruthless occupation. People find themselves defenseless against more than half a million unrestrained foreign forces roaming their streets, alleys, fields and orchards. No one has the power to stop their intrusion in to towns and hamlets and homes. There is no authority to curb their lawless behavior.
The soldiers keep marauding and murdering as they please; seemingly with the tacit approval from New Delhi. This is not merely an unsubstantiated charge against New Delhi’s complicity in administrative brutality. Indian government has provided a blanket legal protection to the security forces involved in any crimes committed against Kashmiris under the infamous Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Because of these draconian laws no single member of the Indian administration or its rogue security forces has ever been prosecuted and punished in the last 20 years while over one hundred thousand innocent civilians have been murdered in this period. No justice is expected and none has ever been delivered by the administration. After all, the fox is watching the henhouse and we all know what the outcome has been.
The world community must take note of these ongoing inhumane policies of Indian administration.. The international community far its part is guilty by its silence on matters of crimes against humanity committed by the Indian security personnel. United Nations has multiple resolutions pending implementation to allow Kashmiris to exercise the right to self-determination. Kashmiris have been a ward of the United Nations Security Council since 1948 when it intervened to stop the war of resistance against Indian invasion. It has the obligation to protect the civilian population. They must be protected at all costs against the Hindu Hutus. Crimes against the population must be investigated by an independent UN commission, not by an administration which is directly responsible for these barbaric acts. As for the Kashmiri judicial system, it has no leverage against the Indian administration and very little enforcement powers even when Indian security personnel are found guilty of heinous crimes against Kashmiri citizens.
A decisive change in dealing with the excesses of the Indians in Kashmir is urgently needed. The time has come that the world community, particularly the UN, the United States, the European Union and the OIC intervene and put an end to the ongoing atrocities. President Obama’s promises to the Muslims around the world in his major foreign policy speech in Cairo the other day must be put in to practice. Muslims of Kashmir need protection. President Obama’s special envoy, Ambassador Holbrook must engage India openly and publicly to resolve the Kashmir conflict and to end its siege of Kashmir. Absent concrete actions to protect the Muslims in occupied lands such as in Kashmir, his words will ring hollow.
For starters, if the world is serious about justice being done in Kashmir, let independent human rights organizations, relief organizations and foreign media enter Kashmir to find facts and to render humanitarian support to ease the suffering. Then let International Court of Justice in Hague undertake judicial probes in to Kashmir atrocities and let the culprits be brought to justice for the crimes against innocent civilians. Crimes of similar magnitude have been dealt with sternly in Europe and Africa.
There is no reason why the same cannot be done in Kashmir. People do not trust the local police and the civilian officials because are subservient to New Delhi. The situation demands an independent and transparent international investigation, if there is to be any credibility to the process.
In addition, New Delhi must call off its rogue security forces from the towns and villages of Kashmir, for their mere presence within the public sight engenders a deep sense of insecurity and resentment.
Meanwhile, Kashmiri youth must maintain calm. They must desist from acts of violence, destruction of public property and from causing harm to the very people they so much care about. They must continue to channel their talent into enhancing their education and serving the community in more positive ways. Youth must not allow themselves to be distracted from their peaceful mission of liberating and rebuilding their nation. Enemies of freedom have devoted vast resources to lure the youth directly and indirectly in to violence, so that they can distract them from the cause of national liberation and reconstruction. Neelofer and Asiya paid their price with their lives. Now it is up to us to pay tribute to them for their sacrifices and liberate the land they so loved.