Muhammad Raza Malik
The Hindu communal forces including Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had a long desire of total merger of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) with the Indian Union and establish the Hindu civilisation in the territory. Kashmir remained their one of the main focuses following the formation of Narendra Modi-led fascist government in New Delhi in 2014. However, they found a golden opportunity to give practical shape to their unsightly designs after the BJP won a landslide victory in 2019 Indian general elections. They intensified their efforts to implement their Hindutva agenda in the territory and as a first step made the announcement of repealing the special status of occupied Kashmir on August 05, 2019. As such, this date became a turning point in the history of IIOJK.
Abrogation of IIOJK’s Special Status
The move came via presidential orders, which revoked Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian constitution. Article 370 had accorded special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir and all the provisions of the Indian Constitution, which were applicable to the Indian states did not apply to the territory. Due to this Article, Jammu and Kashmir was a region, which (despite being a part of Indian Union under the so-called Instrument of Accession) enjoyed separate constitution, flag and official language. It was only because of this Article that except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Indian Parliament needed the concurrence of the so-called government of Jammu and Kashmir. Though most of the special privileges that Jammu and Kashmir was entitled under the Article 370 had long been eroded with the passage of time yet Article 35A debarred non-Kashmiris from acquiring property and jobs in government institutions in the territory. The Indian government also divided the occupied territory into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature and Ladakh without a legislature.
Lockdown and Other Actions
Following the sensitive announcements made on August 5 and the subsequent days, the Indian government suspended mobile, television, landline and internet services and imposed curfew in the main cities and towns of IIOJK. Indian paramilitary personnel were deployed in every nook and corner of the occupied territory while the army and air force were also put on high alert. Fear and anxiety had already gripped occupied Kashmir as India had deployed 38,000 additional troops during the past few days. It had also cancelled a major Hindu pilgrimage, Amarnath Yatra, ordered closure of schools and colleges and asked tourists to leave the territory. The authorities also imposed strict restrictions on the media. Local newspapers even failed to update their online editions. Majority of the newspapers also could not be printed for months due to curfew and other restrictions. No reports of the territory could reach to the news outlets in India and the world. The IIOJK virtually remained cut off from the rest of the world.
The abrogation of the special status of Kashmir was accompanied by arrest of around 15,000 innocent Kashmiris including Hurriyat leaders, political activists, lawyers, human rights defenders and leaders of religious, trade and social organisations. All resistance leaders, including Syed Ali Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, were placed under house arrest or detained in jails. Even former chief ministers, Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, were placed under house detention.
During this military crackdown, over 8 million Kashmiris were locked down in their homes incommunicado. The continued military siege for months created a humanitarian crisis as people faced acute shortage of essential commodities, life-saving drugs and baby food.
At the same time, Indian troops intensified violent operations and since 5th August 2019 till June 30, this year, Indian troops have martyred 384 Kashmiris and injured at least 3,903 others by using brute force on peaceful demonstrators. The troops have damaged over 1,022 houses and structures and molested 118 women.
Following its August 5 illegal actions, the Modi government extended several federal laws and introduced new domicile rules to occupied Kashmir. In gross violation of the UN resolutions and the international law, it has reportedly granted domicile status to over 38 lac people, majority of them are believed to be non-Kashmiri Hindus including some IAS officers. Apprehensions are ripe that more than 800,000 Indian soldiers and over 600,000 migrant labourers present in the territory might also be granted the domicile status in the coming days and months.
Also as part of anti-Muslim policies, BJP regime is replacing the Muslim names of important places and departments with Hindu names in Kashmir. The birth anniversary of former Chief Minister, Sheikh Abdullah, and Kashmir Martyrs' Day on July 13 have been dropped from the list of public holidays. It has started to arbitrarily sack Muslim employees from government departments for being sympathetic to the resistance movement. Since April, 2021, nearly a dozen such employees have been fired in the name of being ‘threat to the security of India’ without explaining them on what basis they were sacked and without giving them a chance of fair representation. The Modi regime has initiated the process of delimitation of Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies in J&K with an aim to give more seats to Hindu-dominated areas of Jammu division.
The basic objective behind the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A is to convert IIOJK’s Muslim majority into a minority by settling Indian Hindus in large numbers. This indeed can affect the results in India’s favour if New Delhi is compelled to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir at any point of time in the future. It is also aimed at damaging the essence of the UN resolutions under which Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory and its fate will be decided by the Kashmiri people through the exercise of their right to self-determination. The aim is also to finish the Muslim character of IIOJK.
The 5th August move of the Modi government caused strong resentment across Pakistan. The people and government of Pakistan expressed solidarity with the people of IIOJK and reaffirmed their continued support to the Kashmir cause. Pakistani leadership effectively highlighted at the global forums the sufferings of the people of the occupied territory. Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in his addresses to the UN General Assembly in 2019 and 2020 drew world’s attention to the worst Indian atrocities on the people of IIOJK. He repeatedly warned the world that Modi government’s belligerent posture posed serious threat to the regional and global peace. The Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry is continuously updating the world leaders on the Indian atrocities on the people of occupied the occupied territory. Since August 05, 2019 the Pakistan Parliament has passed several resolutions expressing solidarity with the oppressed people of IIOJK and condemning India’s illegal actions in the territory. The Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, has repeatedly expressed Pak Army’s support to the Kashmir cause. He has declared that Pakistan is ready to fight till last bullet, last soldier for Kashmir.
As part of its programs, the Government of Pakistan announced to observe ‘Youm-e-Istehsal’ (Day of Exploitation) on August 5 to mark the anniversary of India’s illegal revocation of IIOJK’s special status. The main intent behind observing the occasion is to show solidarity with the people of IIOJK, expose Indian atrocities as well as its evil designs against them.
Last year, on ‘Youm-e-Istehsal’, the Pakistan’s government arranged a host of events in order to denounce the Indian actions against the Kashmiri people as well as the atrocities being carried out by Indian forces in the occupied territory. The events included PM Imran Khan’s address in AJK Assembly, President Arif Alvi’s address in Islamabad, anti-India protests and solidarity marches in Islamabad and in all main cities of Pakistan, one minute silence across the country including halting of traffic and playing of sirens. Besides, a special session of the Senate was summoned to condemn Indian oppressive measures and also pay homage to the sacrifices offered by the Kashmiri people for their inalienable right to self-determination. The gvernment also renamed Islamabad’s Kashmir Highway as Srinagar Highway.
The illegal actions taken by the Modi government on and post August 05, 2019 in occupied Kashmir centre staged the Kashmir dispute across the globe. The Pakistan’s strenuous efforts and the grim human rights situation caused by the continued military siege in the occupied territory convinced the UN Security Council to hold its session on Kashmir thrice first time after the period of over 50 years. Following the heightened tension between Pakistan and India, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the former US President Donald Trump repeatedly offered mediation to resolve the Kashmir dispute. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, several members of UK parliament and US lawmakers as well as world bodies including the OIC, the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed serious concern over the rights situation in IIOJK. International watchdog, the Genocide Watch in a statement expressed fears of genocide against the Muslims living in occupied Kashmir and the Indian state of Assam.
Right from 1947, the Indian invasion faced stiff resistance from the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The people of the occupied territory gave impetus to their struggle to secure their inalienable right in 1989. For three consecutive years from 2008 to 2010, thousands of people hit the streets of Srinagar and other major towns on a daily basis, demanding freedom from the Indian yoke. Occupied Kashmir witnessed another mass uprising following the extrajudicial killing of a popular youth leader, Burhan Wani, on July 08, 2016.
Instead of honouring the sentiments of the Kashmiri people, New Delhi responded with brute force, resulting in the killing of hundreds of protesters and injuring of thousands. Indian troops have martyred 95,806 Kashmiris and arrested 161,878 others since January 1989 till June 30, 2021. The troops have also molested 11,244 women and destroyed 110,413 structures during the period.
It is a fact that despite facing the worst kinds of Indian brutalities, the brave Kashmiris have always resisted all anti-Kashmiri moves initiated by New Delhi in the past and are determined to foil the latest machinations of Modi regime as well. Actually India’s illegal action of August 5 has further solidified the Kashmirs’ resolve and made them more steadfast against its illegal occupation. As unresolved Kashmir dispute is a potential powder keg in the region, it is high time for the global community, particularly the UN to come forward in a big way to stop New Delhi’s onslaught on the Kashmiris’ identity and Muslim majority status and initiate measures for settling the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people without any further delay.