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By Komal Khan 6 February 2023
The unilateral annexation of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019 is a violation of the principle of ‘equal rights and self-determination’ under article 1(2), Chapter 198 of the United Nations Charter. It secures the right to independence and autonomy of the people of Kashmir.
February 5 marks the Kashmir Solidarity day: solidarity in their right to self-determination and human rights. The Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir has seen a long history of conflict, with various human rights violations by the Indian security forces. The Indian government is responsible of using excessive force and violating the rights of Kashmiri civilians, including extrajudicial killings, mass detentions, and the use of torture. The situation in the region has been the subject of international concern and calls for investigations into the allegations of human rights abuses.
Human rights organizations have reported numerous violations of human rights in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. Amnesty International has documented cases of excessive use of force, arbitrary detention, and restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Human Rights Watch has reported instances of torture, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses committed by Indian security forces in the region. The United Nations has also expressed concern over the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir, and called for impartial investigations into allegations of abuse. According to United Nations Human Rights report on July 8, 2020, the use of pellet guns by the Indian forces as crowd-control punitive technique blinded 1,253 people in between mid-2016 to 2018.
This is a crime according to article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that prohibit subjection of people to ‘torture, to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment’. It’s important to note that the unlawful inflictions of terror, use of pellet guns and tear gas on civilians by the Indian troops in Kashmir have similar effects as war crimes, and therefore, need to be dealt as violation of the laws of war and war crimes by the international community.
Following the August 5 annexation of Kashmir, India denied humanitarian access to regional and international human rights agencies for relief assistance to the occupied and detained population of Kashmir. In a call to humanitarian access to the IIOJK, the spokesperson to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated concern over the denial access in the disputed region by the Indian government to the human rights agencies affiliated with the United Nations.
The immediate curfew and siege had serious humanitarian consequences. The lockdown made the people of Kashmir suffer hunger and unavailability of basic commodities for survival. This is in violation to International Humanitarian Law and the article 54, additional protocol I, the Geneva Conventions. As clarified by the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, that the state of starvation caused as a war tactic falls under the war crimes. The 4th Geneva Convention, in its article 59 provides for humanitarian access to the relief agencies by the occupying force in the occupied territory. Secondarily, in accordance with the Customary International Humanitarian Law, the International Committee of the Red Cross in rule 56 obligates freedom of movement to humanitarian relief agents unless restricted by military necessity.
The politics of Hindutva in speech and practice is a violation of ethical standards and legal code of conduct set by the International Law, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, and Human Rights Law. In the face of the war crimes being committed by the state of India in the IIOJK, it is crucial for the international law agencies to conduct impartial and transparent investigations into these human rights violations and hold the nationalist government of India responsible to this account. This will help to address the human rights concerns of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and promote stability in the region.
The writer is associated with the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), a non-partisan think-tank based out of Islamabad, Pakistan.