On June 14 last year, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) issued its first report on human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Invariably, the report was critical of gross human rights abuses by the Indian state against the Kashmiri people who have been struggling for their right to self-determination since 1947. It seriously questioned the façade of democracy, pluralism and justice in India which takes pride in its secular credentials. Human rights abuses, including killing with impunity of innocent Kashmiris under the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), partial or complete blinding of Kashmiri protestors — the majority of whom were teenagers — and the use of rape as a weapon to break the will of the Kashmiris to submission were the major highlights of the report.Indian protestations about the report was on expected lines, because it stood in sharp contrast to the optical illusion it has created around the country. The report is a dark commentary on “shining India”, and a sheer embarrassment to its leaders and officials trying to convince the world that “India has arrived”. It is now nearing a year since the UNHRC report was made public, inviting the attention of the world to gross injustices being done to the hapless people waiting for their fate to be decided in accordance with the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. However, since the publication of the report, the plight of Kashmiris has only increased with each passing day. Despite all ordeals that the Kashmiris have borne over the past seven decades, especially since 1989, the Indian state machinery has failed to turn the situation in its favour. Even pro-Indian Kashmiri politicians admit that Kashmiris are completely alienated from India and they would not settle for anything less than independence.Indian rulers deceived the Kashmiri people at each step of history. During the past seven decades, India brought in pliable politicians in the state in the name of electionsThe question is as to what is lacking in India which forces or tempts Kashmiris to raise the flag of freedom; give their lives and blood and bear worst kind of atrocities one can think of? Why has India failed to convince the Kashmiris that they would be better off in India due to its size and resources? The answer to these questions is the historical wrong done by the Indian leadership before and after the partition. Before partition, the Indian leadership, led by Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru promised “Azadi” from the Dogra Raj, and after the partition, when Kashmir was to be merged with Pakistan, it resorted to military action in the state on the pretext that the Maharaja of Kashmir had signed an instrument of accession with India. The buck didn’t stop at the occupation. India rushed to the UNSC and promised a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to decide whether to join Pakistan or India. But all those Indian pledges to the Kashmiris, and to Pakistan, were deceptive devices to buy time and arm twist Pakistan and the Kashmiris in the initial years. Once those devices failed, which included the incarceration of Kashmiri leaders, Indian belligerence transformed the entire state into a garrison state. It is also a matter of record that the UNSC made it clear to India that it’s holding of elections in the occupied state would not mean a declaration of the Kashmiris will be in its favour. Resolution 91 (1951), dated March 30, 1951, states: that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. The same resolution further affirmed that the “convening of a Constituent Assembly as recommended by the General Council of the “All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference” and any action that Assembly might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire State or any part thereof would not constitute a disposition of the State in accordance with the above principle”.Indian rulers deceived the Kashmiri people at each step of history. During the past seven decades, India brought in pliable politicians in the state in the name of elections. Whenever Kashmiri politicians raised the demand for a plebiscite, they were lodged in detention for years. Objective commentators are unanimous in saying that the 1987 state assembly elections were a turning point in the political history of occupied Jammu Kashmir when they saw blatant rigging in the elections to bring the favourites to power while the genuine representatives were kept at bay. The coming into being of All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) is the consequence of that fraudulent elections which forced the overwhelming population of Kashmir to say enough is enough and launch a historic movement for Azadi which is still continuing. The Pulwama incident on February 14, in which a local youngster carried out a suicide attack, should serve as a wake-up call to the Indian leaders across the board. This incident shows that the Kashmiri youth has decided to take the extreme measure in order to register their frustration with the Indian occupation and express their resolve to render the ultimate sacrifice for their cause. India would be committing a monumental mistake if it dumps the blame for the suicide attacks on Pakistan as it is symptomatic of a deep-rooted desire for freedom which can be tackled only by genuine Kashmiri leaders who represent the aspirations of the populace. India’s head-in-the-sand attitude would only aggravate the problem as has been the case during the past seven decades.The Indian interlocutors’ common refrain on having a plebiscite in Kashmir is that it would damage the credentials of India as a secular country and it may have a negative backlash on the rest of India against Muslims. This line of argument is flawed for a variety of reasons. First, Kashmir has never been a part of India like other states and India itself stands committed to holding a plebiscite in the state under the supervision of the United Nations (UN). Secondly, the time has come for the Indian leadership to tell the truth about the true nature of the Kashmir dispute. They are to be told honestly that the fate of Kashmir is yet to be decided and that it is not an integral part of India. Indian leaders have to realise that by resolving the Kashmir dispute they would be honouring the pledges made by the founding fathers of India to the world. Third, by allowing the Kashmiris their right to self-determination India would strengthen its secular credentials because of democratic right India would allow to the Kashmiris. More importantly, a resolution of the Kashmir dispute would promote a new beginning between Pakistan and India which would help in bringing the two people closer to each other and defeat the forces of extremism and obscurantism. The writer is a former ambassadorPublished in Daily Times, March 13th 2019.