Ishaal Zehra 28 September 2019
Article 370 of the Indian constitution gave special status to the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir which, at the time of partition, was annexed with the mainland India at the behest of its Hindu ruler Maharaja Hari Singh. The article 370 along with Article 35A, stated that the Jammu and Kashmir state’s residents will live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to people of other Indian states.
On 5 August 2019, the Government of India unilaterally and illegally revoked both the Articles negotiated between the then Indian government and Maharaja Hari Singh, in 1947. This Instrument of Accession was a legal document. In a letter sent to Maharaja Hari Singh on 27 October 1947, the then Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten accepted the accession with a remark, “it is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Jammu and Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.”
Prior to the revocation announcement, on August 4, Section 144 curfew was imposed in IOK. The Valley was placed under a virtual lockdown with all communication lines cut and political leaders placed under house arrest. The Ministry of Home Affairs granted approval for the mobilization of thousands of additional paramilitary security troops into Jammu and Kashmir, citing reason to maintain law and order in the area. The Government of India notified students and tourists, both local and foreign, to leave Jammu and Kashmir. Satellite phones were distributed in central, north and south Kashmir among the security forces. The government thereafter ordered a total communication blackout, shutting down cable TV, landlines, cellphones and the internet. Many news sources reported an effective curfew. Doctors and district administrators were advised to remain on standby.
More than 13,000 Kashmiri protesters are reported to be arrested by the month of September, including several Kashmiri leaders to prevent any protest or outbreak of violence. Jammu and Kashmir’s former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, and MLAs Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami and Engineer Rashid were among those placed under preventive detention by the security forces. While the International human rights groups condemned the revocation of this autonomy of Jammu as a state, Hindu nationalists celebrated.
This lockdown was far more intense in the Srinagar region, where people are used to curfews and living under a heavy security presence, according to The Guardian newspaper. Concrete barricades blocked roads every few hundred meters. Shops and clinics were closed, as were all educational institutions and a red alert was sounded across Jammu and Kashmir.
The international news agencies have been receiving information from Srinagar residents regarding clashes between the protesters and Indian forces, accompanied with pellet gun attack and the firing of tear gas shells by the Indian army, which is leading to eye-injuries and several other kind of injuries to thousands of people who are protesting against this unlawful act of the occupying country. Pellet guns are a form of pump-action shotguns that fire metal pellets also called birdshot. Pellets are small metal pieces, round or irregular in shape. One pellet cartridge contains around 500 pellets. Some report that the pellet gun attacks have severely wounded and lacerated civilians with many losing their vision for ever. The Indian army is also accused of using cluster ammunition to target the civilian population in Azad Jammu and Kashmir across the Line of Control in violation of the Geneva Convention and international law.
The situation in Kashmir has been progressively worsening every passing day. Kashmir is witnessing a massive spike in killings. The use of pellet guns has completely or partially blinded scores of people. But far from helping in enforcing the calm, Indian militaristic approach to Kashmir has only fanned the trouble. In the absence of India’s willingness to solve the Kashmir issue with an independent plebiscite, there is considerable statistical and circumstantial evidence which lends credence to the allegations of indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by the Indian security forces against unarmed and innocent civilians and human rights activists, resulting in torture, extrajudicial killings and mass blinding through use of pellets and cluster bombs.
In the wake of uncontrollable situation in IOK, the Modi Media has been churning controversies, proliferating old video clips afresh to distort IOK situation. The media is seen blending stories about so-called infiltrations from across the border of Pakistan. Their army command seems giving credence to the media campaign by making media appearances to tell stories of suspected infiltrations. History has been a witness to the fact that India, as a traditional tactic, generates fictitious narrations as a prelude to some false flag operation. As Pakistan’s efforts in internationalizing IOK situation is becoming fruitful, the propaganda is becoming more and more visible in the Indian media. It is therefore highly possible that some major false flag in shape of terrorist act in IOK and Southern coasts of India may be staged keeping the timings of UNGA session in sight.
It is unimaginable that infiltrations are possible in the presence of such huge numbers of Law Enforcement Agencies and Indian Army in the valley, along the borders. In fact, India has been desperately churning news about fabricated infiltration stories to swing the attention of the world from the devastating situation of IOK, providing a cover-up for its crude form of cruelty being practiced in IOK.
Kashmir is not merely a question over territorial jurisdiction but it concerns about the future of millions of people who wish to exercise their inherent and inalienable right to self-determination.
UN and international community must emphasize upon the Government of India to put an end to the on-going human rights violations in IOK and urge the Government of India to implement UN resolutions to allow people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination in a free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspices. The UN has an overbearing role and responsibility to protect and promote the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the international community should consider commemorating international solidarity day with the Kashmiris and put pressure on Government of India to allow free access to international media and independent human rights organizations to provide necessary humanitarian and medical assistance till the issue is amicably resolved.