InternationalVOLUME 15 ISSUE # 03

Human rights violations in occupied Kashmir

According to the United Nations (UN), human rights is a cross-cutting theme in all its policies and programmes in the key areas of peace and security, development, humanitarian assistance and economic and social affairs under a series of international human rights treaties and other instruments adopted since 1945. They have expanded the body of international human rights law, including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crimes of Genocide (1948), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), among others.

Internationally, protests are increasing day by day to express solidarity with the people of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Restrictions on movement and assembly have been imposed. Educational institutions are closed. Mobile and Internet services are suspended. There is severe shortage of food, medicines and other basic necessities. There is a worst curfew in Kashmir for more than a month. International media and the community with its sane voices are raising their concern about the deplorable news being received from Kashmir. Worldwide protests continue against the constitutional blitzkrieg of the special status of Kashmir. By all counts, the Kashmir Freedom March rally on September 3 was bigger than the massive protest on August 15, when nearly 15,000 had gathered outside the Indian High Commission after Narendra Modi’s government revoked the Article 370.

US Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democrat candidate for Presidential election, said that he was also deeply concerned about the situation in Kashmir where the Indian government has revoked autonomy, cracked down on dissent and instituted a communications blackout. The crackdown in the name of security is also denying the Kashmiri people access to medical care. Even many doctors in India have acknowledged that the Indian government-imposed restrictions on travel were threatening the life-saving care that patients need.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour Party, said that the situation in Kashmir was deeply disturbing. “Human rights abuses taking place are unacceptable. The rights of the Kashmiri people must be respected and UN resolutions implemented,” he said. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that Britain had asked the Indian government to respect international standards of human rights, respect rights of Kashmiris and end the lockdown of occupied Kashmir, which has now entered the second month. Dominic Raab expressed alarm at the worsening human rights situation in occupied Kashmir as a result of the draconian clampdown on Kashmiris.

Leading Indian newspaper, the Indian Express, says the Kashmir problem is becoming a bigger headache for India due to increasing reports of violence by the Indian military in the territory. In an opinion piece, the paper notes that incidents of torture and violence taking place in Kashmir are a terrible mistake on the part of Indian authorities. It says Prime Minister Narendra Modi must know that in the presence of a violent military crackdown, there is absolutely no chance of winning the peace. The paper says the arrest of a doctor in Srinagar for drawing attention to the collapse of healthcare facilities there, refutes the claims by Indian authorities that there has not been a single death since the military clampdown. Indian journalist Nirupama Subramanian said that the government would eventually tire out the people, but if there ever was a plan to win them over, it has become much more difficult now, if not impossible than it was before August 5.

The BBC, Aljazeera and other international media are severely critical of the Indian oppressive and claustrophobic behaviour for the people of Kashmir. Two recent UN reports on Kashmir call for a probe into human rights violations. Moreover, the Genocide Watch calls upon the UN to warn India not to commit genocide. The Human Rights Watch reported that 50,000 people had been killed in Kashmir from 1989 to 2006. The Kashmir State Human Rights Commission has evidence of 2,730 bodies buried in 40 mass graves. The commission reported over 8,000 disappearances. The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society said that by 2016, there were over 70,000 killings, most by the Indian forces. Amnesty International reports that disappearances, torture and rape by the Indian army units against Kashmiri Muslims are common.

The UN report asked India to investigate reports that more than 100 protesters were killed in the five-month-long street protests following Burhan Wani’s killing in 2016, triggering a new wave of popular anger against the Indian rule. The UN report says the heightened tensions in Kashmir following the February suicide bombing continues to have a severe effect on the human rights of civilians, including the right to life.

It says authorities in India-administered Kashmir “continue to use various forms of arbitrary detention to target protesters, political dissidents and other civil society actors”.

The second report by the UN on Jammu and Kashmir once again affirms massive human rights violations perpetrated by India. India was the first party among the two to go to the UN in 1948 for international meditation. One of the most important resolutions was Resolution 47 that added a provision to facilitate a “free and impartial plebiscite” which is yet to be conducted.

According to a report, official government figures list 17 people killed by pellet injuries between July 2016 and August 2017. Subjecting Kashmiris to violence on the pretext that terrorism is being unleashed in the garb of freedom struggle is just not acceptable. Two million Muslims in Assam have been stripped of Indian citizenship and more than eight million Kashmiris are under siege. The situation between India and Pakistan has reached the boiling point and people of Kashmir are stuck in the middle.

The world should intervene and try to reduce tension between the two countries. It should also facilitate dialogue between the communities in Kashmir and also between India and Pakistan.