Burning Kashmir

Author: Umme Haniya

India’s consistent betrayal of promises to Kashmiris and blatant disregard for UNSC Resolutions on J&K have resulted in a state of oppression and fear in the region.

The dire situation in Indian-administered Kashmir has been characterized by a disturbing trend of human rights abuses and ‘atrocity crimes’ for the last thirty years.
The UN Security Council has recognized the importance of addressing the Kashmir conflict as a crucial aspect of international peace and security. The recent special session on Kashmir held by the UNSC in August 2019 marked a significant step towards addressing the longstanding issues in the region. UN Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated the UN’s commitment to resolving the Kashmir conflict in accordance with the UN Charter and relevant UNSC resolutions. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has also expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, condemning the widespread human rights abuses. The US State Department has joined the chorus of voices urging India to take immediate action to restore local elections in the region. It is imperative that the international community continues to press for accountability and justice in Kashmir to ensure the protection of human rights for all individuals in the region.
The US government and members of the European Parliament have both raised concerns about the human rights violations in Kashmir by India. It is crucial that all parties involved in the Kashmir conflict prioritize human rights and self-determination for all individuals affected.
To bring about lasting peace in the region, nuanced diplomacy, adherence to international laws and norms, and a sincere commitment to dialogue and compromise are essential. Approaching the situation with a balanced and fact-based perspective that respects all viewpoints will lead to more effective progress. Let us work together to ensure that the people of Kashmir can finally experience the peace and freedom they deserve.

The international community must ensure the protection of the fundamental rights and perspectives of the Kashmiri people. Any violation of human rights or denial of basic freedoms is unacceptable and must be addressed through appropriate legal and diplomatic means. International organizations such as the UN and human rights groups have sounded the alarm about the situation in Kashmir, yet their concerns seem to be falling on deaf ears. It is crucial to present their findings accurately and in full context. The complexities of the Kashmir situation, with its diverse perspectives and historical grievances, must be acknowledged and resolved for the betterment of all involved.

The UNHRC reports from Jun 2018 and Jul 2019 have underscored the urgency of addressing ongoing human rights violations in Kashmir and delivering justice to all its people. The establishment of a commission of inquiry for conducting a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir is of paramount importance.

On March 24, 2022, Human Rights Watch shed light on the severe restrictions imposed on the Kashmiri people, limiting their freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. They criticized Prime Minister Modi’s oppressive policies, which have only heightened the sense of insecurity among Kashmiris. The organization also condemned the special legal provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), calling for its immediate repeal due to its role in obstructing accountability for human rights violations in Kashmir.

On September 2, 2022, Amnesty International highlighted the deep-rooted suspicion with which the people of IIOJK are viewed by the Indian government, including bureaucrats, politicians, intellectuals, and the media.

In a recent report from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, disturbing findings have been revealed regarding the treatment of religious minorities in India. According to Dr Gregory Stanton, Founder and President of the HR organization Genocide Watch, India is allegedly preparing for “genocidal massacres” of 200 million Muslims, with Kashmir being compared to the atrocities of Rwanda. The persecution of Muslims is reportedly escalating, as evidenced by the recent termination of Kashmir’s autonomy.
The report requests that the US State Department designate India as a “country of particular concern” due to the ongoing attacks on religious minorities. The Indian government has been accused of repressing critical voices, particularly those belonging to religious minorities, through laws like the UAPA and the Sedition Law.
The statistics are truly alarming, with over 96,300 fatalities reported from January 1989 to April 2024, including 7,333 custodial deaths. Civilian arrests have reached 170,354, with over 110,510 structures being around or destroyed. The impact on women and children is devastating, with nearly 23,000 women widowed, over 107,000 children orphaned, and more than 11,000 women targeted. This report serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for action to protect the rights and safety of all individuals in India, regardless of their religious beliefs.
In 2023, there were a total of 248 deaths in incidents of state violence in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK). This included 82 freedom fighters, 66 civilians, and 100 Indian Occupying Forces personnel. The Indian military has been weaponizing gender-based violence, using physical attacks to intimidate and suppress the Kashmiri people’s desire for freedom from India’s occupation. In one horrific instance in 1991, around 100 women were assaulted by Indian troops in Kunanposhpora, and a woman was raped in front of her child in Batote.
India’s consistent betrayal of promises to Kashmiris and blatant disregard for UNSC Resolutions on J&K have resulted in a state of oppression and fear in the region. The laws enacted for counterinsurgency purposes have granted excessive powers to the Indian Occupying Forces, potentially paving the way for ‘Atrocity Crimes’ against innocent Kashmiris.
From January to December 2023, there were a staggering 260 Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs) and Cordon and Destroy Operations (CADOs) carried out by the IOF. These operations led to at least 70 encounters between the Indian forces and freedom fighters of Kashmir. The collateral damage from these operations resulted in the vandalism and destruction of approximately 138 civilian properties.
Furthermore, the frequent instances of Internet shutdowns, totalling 171 from January to December 2023 in IIOJK, highlight the severe restrictions placed on communication and information flow in the region. The people of Kashmir deserve justice, freedom, and the right to live without fear of violence and oppression.
The youth in Kashmir are being unjustly taken to interrogation cells and civilians are facing mass massacres. This cruel treatment of Kashmiri natives is a method of reprisal, punishment, and control that is being widely and extensively used in the occupied territory. It is a systematic tactic designed to instil fear in the population and weaken their spirit to resist the occupation. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is being misused to target Kashmiris with false charges and inflict collective punishment. This unjust campaign creates an atmosphere of fear and injustice, silencing those who speak out for self-determination, human rights, and justice. It is time to put an end to this oppressive regime and stand up for the rights of the Kashmiri people. It is time for the Indian government to uphold the rights and dignity of all individuals in Kashmir, without discrimination or prejudice. Let us stand together in demanding justice and equality for all.

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