By Rubab Nawaz
The onset of the continued misery of the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir is an outcome of persisting colonial thinking. It started during the British time period who sold the land to the repressive Dogra rulers and is now continued under the Indian authorities who have illegally occupied the region. For more than a hundred years now, the Kashmiri people have faced multitude of unimaginable barbaric acts that go against the principles of modern world and civilized nations. However, the people of IIOJK have been showing utmost resilience and will that has led them to fight for their rights despite intensifying atrocities. Pakistani leadership and nation reaffirms its unflinching support and solidarity to the cause of the Kashmiri people. They are also advocating the cause of Kashmiris at the international arena.
The British colonial government sold the territory of Kashmir to the Sikh rulers without the consent of the people. The territory was deemed unnecessary for the colonizer along with its people. The colonial mind set and treatment of Kashmiris continued under the oppressive Dogra rule for almost a century. Resultantly, given the larger context of freedom movement in the British India, the indigenous movement by Kashmiri Muslims started in the 1930s. As other princely states, Kashmir was given the choice to either join Pakistan or India according to the will of the people. During the Indo-Pak partition, the then-ruler of Kashmir, Hari Singh, felt his rule under threat from indigenous Muslim majority who wanted to join Pakistan. He hastily acceded to India, again like British authorities, without and largely against the public wishes which brewed first war between India and Pakistan.
As there seemed no end to the war, India took the matter to the United Nations Organizations (UNO) and then-Indian Prime Minister promised the people of Kashmir that their political future will be determined by fair plebiscite. In his statement in the Indian Parliament on February 12, 1951, he stated, “We have taken the issue to the United Nations and given our word of honour for a peaceful solution. As a great nation, we cannot go back on it. We have left the question for final solution to the people of Kashmir and we are determined to abide by their decision.” However, India, over the time, proved that IIOJK is its ‘orient’; an unknown and isolated place whose beauty and people are fantasized like fairy tales. Its obsession with it has left the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and its people in the continued oppression, misery and suffocation.
Under the fascist Modi government, such fantasies are expressed immodestly by the BJP leadership. For instance, BJP’s Vikram Saini, a member of the Legislative Assembly said in the aftermath of revocation of autonomous status of IIOJK and the subsequent change in the laws of the region, “Muslim party workers should rejoice in the new provisions. They can now marry the white-skinned women of Kashmir.” Such objectified thinking highlight the dangerous sense of otherness which Indian authorities have regarding people of IIOJK. This colonial mind set has resulted in the heightened sense of insecurity among the people, especially women, of IIOJK—a region that is the world’s largest militarized zone. According to Kashmir Media Services, since last three decades, more than eleven thousand women have been gang raped or molested in IIOJK.
Moreover, Kashmiris are intentionally kept backward as second-class citizens by Indian authorities. As decades pass by, discrimination against Kashmiris and their inhuman treatment are intensifying. Initially, the autonomy of the region was eroded over the years from 1960s to the 1980s through various means such as electoral interference, removal of leaders, etc. The 1990s saw the enforced disappearances, torture and mass rapes. In a population of a few millions, almost 0.1 million people have been killed and more than 0.16 million people have been arrested. Ever since the revocation of article 370 and 35A that snatched the autonomy of IIOJK, Indian authorities have intensified perpetration of more war crimes like pillaging, torture, unemployment, destruction of cultural and religious symbols, etc.
To be precise, India’s affirmations of its post-colonial credentials are contrary to its colonial ideologies that its majority of Hindu population follows. The RSS-driven Hindutva ideals not only detest the presence of non-Hindu people in India but also advocate the expansion of India as manifested in the concepts like ‘Akhand Bharat’. The intensified brutalities brewed in IIOJK after the revocation of its autonomy substantiate the implementation of such racist ideology. Similarly, the change in domicile law which has allowed non-locals’ settlement and employment in IIOJK also corroborate to the actions of settler colonizing states. In essence, India, with its colonial ideology and actions, is going all out to suppress the freedom struggle of people of IIOJK just like its predecessors who tried to control it.
Pakistan supports the freedom struggle of people of IIOJK since day one and pays tribute to their sacrifices throughout the years. Pakistani nation offers unending solidarity with the people whose resilience and patience is uncovering the atrocious face of India that is doing everything to keep IIOJK under its occupation. International community must prevent the strengthening of colonizing agendas in the modern world by holding India accountable for breaching its promise to the people of IIOJK, taking unilateral actions in the disputed territory and conducting war crimes in the region.
The writer Rubab Nawaz is Research Officer at Islamabad based Rights organization YFK. International Kashmir Lobby Group.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.