India’s abstention on a UN General Assembly’s landmark resolution calling on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to give an opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, reflected New Delhi’s drive to pursue Israeli model of demographic engineering in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) to turn Muslim majority into a minority, diplomats said. The 193-member Assembly on Friday voted 87 in favour to 26 against with 53 abstentions on the resolution, co-sponsored by Pakistan, which saw Western nations divided but it garnered unanimous support of the Islamic world. Russia and China voted in favour of the resolution. Israel, the US and 24 other members – including the United Kingdom and Germany – voted against the resolution, while India and France were among the 53 nations that abstained. “India’s abstention derives from its own policies of occupation in Jammu and Kashmir, usurpation of Kashmiri lands, demographic change and denial of the right to self-determination — the precise issues of Israeli occupation on which the General Assembly has sought an advisory opinion from the ICJ.” Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram said in in an interview with APP correspondent. “Israeli culpability in Palestine will also confirm India’s culpability in IIOJK,” the Pakistani envoy added. The resolution — titled ‘Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem’ — calls on the ICJ to determine the “legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” as well as of its measures “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status” of the holy city of Jerusalem. It also calls on the UN Secretary-General to present a report on the implementation of the resolution in the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly in September 2023. Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s permanent observer to the United Nations, hailed the countries that were “undeterred by threats and pressure” and voted in favour of the resolution. “This vote comes one day after the new Israeli government was formed pledging to accelerate colonial and racist policies against the Palestinian people,” Ambassador Mansour added. The abstention from India, which portrays itself as a supporter of the Palestinian cause, was especially noted as it underlined its apprehensions about the implications of referral of the issues of occupation, illegal settlements and demographic change to the ICJ. By revoking Article 35 A of the Indian Constitution in August 2019, the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the floodgates of Israeli style settlements in Jammu and Kashmir as part of the ethnic cleansing of indigenous Muslim residents of the region. Kashmir’s special status had ensured that non-local businesses were barred from operating in the region without a lease agreement with the government. Following the abrogation, all mining bids in the disputed territory were solicited online at a time when internet connectivity was still restricted in Kashmir. The result was a death blow to Kashmiri businesses: for the first time, 70 percent of all mineral contracts in Kashmir were awarded to non-Kashmiris. Not only that, but it also issued “the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (procedure) rules” providing a fast-track procedure for issuance of Kashmiri domicile certificates, within 15 days, to people from any part of India. The sense of urgency to legalize the region’s status is further underscored in the new rules since non-compliance with the time frame provided therein attracts a penalty of Rs. 50,000 from the salary of an errant officer. The rules also cover 700,000 armed forces personnel stationed in Jammu and Kashmir, along with their families, that in effect turn the occupiers into settlers in the occupied land. Fernand de Varennes, the UN special rapporteur on minority issues, and Ahmed Shaheed, the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, said after the changes, the region’s people “have lost power to legislate or amend laws” to protect their rights as minorities. “These legislative changes may have the potential to pave the way for people from outside the former state of Jammu and Kashmir to settle in the region, alter the demographics of the region and undermine the minorities’ ability to exercise effectively their human rights,” the experts said. “The number of successful applicants for domicile certificates that appear to be from outside Jammu and Kashmir raises concerns that demographic change on a linguistic, religious and ethnic basis is already underway,” they said.