by S Rahman: India’s continuing occupation of Kashmir is an anathema to global harmony and this very act of brutality on the part of Indian forces eclipses New Delhi’s claim that theirs is the biggest democracy in the world. Democracies are rather meant to bring emancipation, not suppression and oppression that the Kashmiris are facing at the hands of more than half a million Indian military and paramilitary troops deployed in the held Valley to subdue what Indians falsely describe as Kashmiri Muslim insurgency.
While such a huge deployment in itself raises many an eyebrow about Indians’ designs on Kashmir, yet greater source of concern for the world community is excessive and unjust empowerment of these forces in the form of black laws that grant wide powers to the authorities to detain and torture suspects for unnecessarily lengthy period of time, without even producing them in courts.
The fact is that the held Valley as well as some parts of Indian territory, have long remained under the sway of black laws namely Pota, Public Safety Act and Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The latter one is the worst among all the black laws and it doesn’t reconcile at all with a democratic system of government.
Taking liberty of AFSPA, the Indian forces have remained engaged in violation of fundamental rights with impunity for years and years together. According to the Working Group on Human Rights (WGHR), a group of civil society organizations and experts in India, the prolonged application of AFSPA has institutionalised militarism and a climate of impunity. Apart from that, fundamental rights such as the right to life, the right to a fair trial, the right to remedy and reparation, the right against torture and the right against arbitrary detention have been consistently violated in the ‘disturbed’ areas. The WGHR report maintains that even 10-year-old young boys have been detained and tortured in Kashmir under black laws “ that have alienated the public and fuelled a cycle of violence.”
The inhuman conduct of Indian authorities dates back to 1947 and even earlier. It was on October 27, 1947 that Indian troops landed at Srinagar Airport to capture the Valley against the wishes of inhabitants. And it was not without a dubious, unfair background which is rooted in the sale, yes sale, of a civilized country to a cruel local ruler (an unprecedented act of cruelty in human history). This ‘Historical Trade’ concluded on March 16, 1846 when British Government, through Treaty of Amritsar, transferred the independent possession of Kashmir to Gulab Singh forever for his (Singh’s) willingness to pay Rs75 Lacs out of the total amount of indemnity demanded by them (the British). Basically the deal was selling of Kashmiri nation along with their motherland in the hand of Gulab Singh.
It was the beginning of an era of bloody conflicts whose manifestation we have already witnessed in the shape of four Indo-Pak wars followed by nuclearisation of the two countries side by side with a never-ending arms race between these neighbours.
This conflagration could be extinguished in its early days but for atrocities perpetrated by Indian troops on innocent Kashmiri Muslims who wanted the right to self-determination in accordance with the United Nations resolutions that had been formally accepted by one of the popular Indian Prime Ministers, Jawaharlal Nehru.
According to the spokesman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference Azad Jammu and Kashmir, from 1989 to 15 October 2012, as many as 93,801 Kashmiri Muslims were killed while the count of custodial killings in various camps and jails was 6,996. Overall 1, 20,392 Kashmiri Muslims have been arrested whereas 1,05,955 properties were structurally damaged. Moreover, 22,764 women have been severely injured, 10,042 women have been gang-raped or molested and over 1, 07,441 kids have become orphans. This heavy price the Kashmiri Muslims were forced to pay for their ‘Kashmir Freedom Movement’ that basically started on the day when the British sold their territory. However, it was in the year 1931 that the struggle against Dogra rule in Kashmir came to the limelight when Kashmiri people openly opposed the cruelty of the rulers. In the same year on July 13, twenty-one (21) Kashmiri Muslims faced bullets and were martyred in Srinagar Central Jail. This day is known as Martyr Day of Kashmir and continues reminding us of the blood of liberators.
The bloody rule that India has imposed on Kashmir portends bad times ahead as the region has become highly volatile because of India’s black laws and atrocities on Kashmiri Muslims. The situation becomes graver with India playing proxy wars in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s troubled tribal region to ‘avenge’ what it wrongly terms Pakistan’s interference in the held Valley.
The time has now come for the world community to heed the wake-up call lest the Indian aggression and obduracy engulf the entire globe into a war whose devastation would not be easy to control. The time has come for repeal of black laws which not only WGHR but also many other Indian groups want repealed like, for instance, the Union Home Ministry’s Committee to Review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (2005), the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) and the Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir (2007: all these bodies have recommended the repeal of Indian black laws in Kashmir and some other Indian states).
The leading role has to be played by the United Nations but to quote President Asif Ali Zardari (while addressing UN forum recently), “Jammu and Kashmir is a sign of UN failure.”