Kashmir: The bleeding Valley
The conflict over the Kashmir valley is one of the main protracted conflicts of the last Century. Particularly since the outbreak of the anti-India freedom movement in Kashmir in 1990 (ongoing), a focus on the Kashmiri people’s right to determine their own fate has reemerged as a critical component of the conflict. The right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people has been discussed as a peace strategy for Kashmir starting with India’s acceptance of Jammu and Kashmir’s Accession to India by Maharaja Hari Singh in October of 1947. Internationally, self-determination has been a part of the conflict since 1948, when Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, referred the conflict to the United Nations Security Council, mentioning a plebiscite as the solution to determine Kashmir’s future. Security Council Resolution 47 notes satisfaction that “both India and Pakistan desire that the question of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.”(UN Security Council Resolution 47,1948).
Atrocities in Kashmir
1. Instead of granting the people their genuine right of self-determination and holding plebiscite in the controlled territories of Kashmir in accordance with the UN resolutions, various sorts of state terrorism have become part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army againstMuslim Kashmiris, especially since 1989. It has manifested in brutal tactics such as crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape and molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounter.
Black Law of Savagery
2. The Kashmiri people have been subjected to the worst kind of human rights abuses ever since the British sold Kashmir to the Dogra Maharaja Gulab Singh. The biggest myth of all times is that India is a democracy. In reality, it is not. In the Kashmir valley alone, some 80,000 people have been killed. The Indian troops deployed in Indian Occupied Kashmir operate under a host of draconian laws, specific to Kashmir, which have made these forces take on the role of an occupying army. They have been given a free hand to play havoc with the life, honour and property of the hapless Kashmiris. India has been guilty of the most egregious and brutal human rights violations committed in the part of Kashmir it has illegally and forcibly occupied has been no secret from the world. Instances of gruesome murders, torture and rape have been documented by impartial international bodies. The Kashmiris’ only fault has been their unremitting, but peaceful, struggle to get the occupation vacated and have the opportunity to decide their own fate in accordance with the UN resolutions stipulating a free and fair plebiscite to be held under UN auspices. It has simply ignored these demands and to suppress the voices of freedom in the Valley has sadly, though not unexpectedly, persisted in its cruel tactics. Thus, in furtherance of the motive to keep its hold on the disputed state, it even targets those who are committed to promoting and defending human rights. The situation in the Valley is becoming worse by the day, as the Indian security forces get desperate in the face of continued peaceful movement on the part of Kashmiris to secure their birthright of freedom.
Separation Wall in Kashmir
3. India plans to build 179km long wall in the Indian-administered Kashmir to separate the southwestern portion of the disputed region from Pakistan. The wall will pass through 118 villages within the three districts of disputed Kashmir and would be 41 meters wide and 10 meters high to accommodate bunkers and check posts. This plan also includes to erect an all-weather fence along the 740km long LoC that divides mountainous region into Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Indian-administered Kashmir was also presented to then India’s Home Secretary R K Singh in 2012. Construction of the wall along LoC is like the Berlin wall and is aimed to make the occupation of India permanent in Kashmir. India has drawn this idea from the Israeli wall on West Bank and the Great Wall of Berlin that symbolized Cold War, dividing a nation for more than four decades. Such a decision runs contrary to all norms of justice and fair play, exposing India so called largest democracy’s real face.
Indian Army design in Kashmir
4. Indian army desired for the continuing presence of soldiers in Indian-occupied Kashmir in view of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. Indian army chief coined a theory that “terrorist may spill-over” into Kashmir. Indian army also rejected demands for the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to be scrapped in Kashmir. Withdrawing from Kashmir will Indian army will lose its relevance.
Half widows of Kahsmir
5. Women whose husbands have been subjected to enforced ‘disappearances’ are often called ‘half widows. Half widows illustrate one of the starkest forms of the general insecurity in Kashmir. There are roughly more than 2,500 half widows in Kashmir. An estimated 8,000 people have disappeared in Kashmir since the Freedom movement against Indian rule began in 1989.Indian authorities claim that the disappeared men crossed over into Pakistan-administered Kashmir to complete arms training, became militants and never returned. Local civil society and international human rights organisations dispute this claim and say that these men were abducted by Indian security forces and were either detained indefinitely or disposed of. The Indian government’s refusal to officially recognise enforced disappearances in Kashmir has left families in perpetual limbo, promulgating stress and psychological trauma for parents, spouses and children, But for the “half-widows” it is particularly difficult. Half widows are deemed ineligible for pensions and other governmental relief and thus face severe economic hardship. The current legal remedies are pursued only by a minority of half widows since they are unclear, exhausting, and degrading. Children of half widows are often particularly traumatized, showing extreme resentment and loneliness, and are vulnerable to impoverishment and exploitation. Civil society organizations working to address various socio-economic insecurities faced by half widows are hampered by current laws, a dearth of resources, and lack of outside support to develop programming for half widows and their children. Half widows represent various forms of insecurity, signify rights violations, stand as a constant reminder of alienation, and thus impede resolution in Kashmir.
Extra Judicial Killings
6. Over hundred thousand Kashmiris have reported to be killed by Indian security forces in custody, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances and these human right violations are said to be carried out by Indian security forces under total impunity. Civilians including women and children have been killed in “reprisal” attacks by Indian security forces and as a “collective punishment” villages and neighborhoods have been burnt down and women raped. International NGO’s as well as the US State Department have documented human rights abuses including disappearances, torture and arbitrary executions carried out during India’s counter terrorism operations. United Nations has expressed serious concerns over large number of killings by Indian security forces. Human Rights groups have also accused the Indian security forces of using child. Although the Indian government denies this allegation. Torture, widely used by Indian security, the severity described as beyond comprehension by amnesty international has been responsible for the huge number of deaths in custody. In a WikiLeaks 2007 report quotes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that Indian security forces were physically abusing detainees by beatings, electrocutions and sexual interference. These detainees weren’t Islamic insurgents or Pakistani-backed insurgents but civilians, in contrast to India’s continual allegations of Pakistani involvement. The detainees were “connected to or believed to have information about the insurgents”. According to ICRC, 681 of the 1296 detainees whom it interviewed claimed torture. Amnesty International accused security forces of exploiting the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that enables them to “hold prisoners without trial”. The group argues that the law, which allows security to detain individuals for as many as two years “without presenting charges, violating prisoners’ human rights. Hundreds of civilian’s including women and children have been reported to be extra judicially executed by Indian security forces and killings concealed as fake encounters.
Buried Evidence (Mass graves)
7. Hundreds of unidentified graves believed to contain victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses – have been found in Indian occupied Kashmir. The Indian army has claimed that those found buried were armed rebels and “foreign militants” killed lawfully in armed encounters with military forces. However, the testimonies from local villagers saying that most buried were local residents hailing from the state. An Indian human rights commission inquiry confirmed there are thousands of bullet-ridden bodies buried in unmarked graves in Indian occupied Kashmir.
The situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir is pathetic and calls for a strong response not only from the international human rights bodies, but also the world powers, which do not tire of proclaiming the virtues of democracy and are even going to wars to enforce it and championing the cause of the victims of human rights abuses.