The United Nations and the Neglected Conflict of Kashmir

By Ghulam Nabi Fai

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Washington D.C, October 08 (KMS): The principle of ‘right of self-determination’ and its applicability to the 72-year-old Kashmir conflict needs to be considered during the 75th session of the Fourth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly that is taking place between October 08 to November 10, 2020 at its headquarters in New York. The committee will discuss and deliberate the issues related to international conflicts and decolonization. What I do hope to offer is an unstarry-eyed view of the fate of self-determination in Kashmir; and, the indispensability of convincing the United Nations that international peace and security would be strengthened, not weakened, by resolving the Kashmir conflict to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

The self-determination of peoples is a basic principle of the United Nations Charter, which has been reaffirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and applied countless times to the settlement of international disputes.

The concept seems to be as old as government itself and was the basis of French and American revolutions. In 1916, President Wilson stated that self-determination is not a mere phrase. He said that it is an imperative principle of action and included it in the famous 14-point charter. This gave a prominence to the principle. Self-determination as conceived by Wilson was an imprecise amalgamation of several strands of thought, some long associated in his mind with the notion of “self-determination”, others hatched as a result or wartime developments, but all imbued with a general spirit of democracy.

Self-determination is a principle that has been developed in philosophic thought and practice for the last several hundred years. It is an idea that has caused people throughout the world to rise up and shed the chains of oppressive governments at great risk.

Finally, in 1945 the establishment of the UN gave a new dimension to the principle of self-determination. It was made one of the objectives, which the UN would seek to achieve, along with equal rights of all nations. Article 1.2 of the Charter of the United Nations reads: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.”

From 1952 onwards, the General Assembly of the UN adopted a series of resolutions proclaiming the right to self-determination. The two most important of these are resolution 1514 of 14 December 1960 and resolution 2625 of 24 October 1970. Resolution 1514 was seen almost exclusively as part of process of decolonization. 1514 is entitled: Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

International Court of Justice considered the several resolutions on decolonization process and noted: “The subsequent development of International Law in regard to non-self governing territories as enshrined in the Charter of the UN made the principle of self-determination applicable to all of them.” This opinion establishes the self-determination as the basic principle for the process of decolonization.

The principle of self-determination in modern times can be defined as the right of peoples to determine their own political status and pursue their own economic, social and cultural policies. Self-determination in its literal meaning or at a terminological level also implies the right [of a people] to express itself to organize in whatever way it wants. A people must be free to express their will without interference or threat of interference from a controlling authority. This includes alien domination, foreign occupation and colonial rule.

Although, the applicability of the principle of the self-determination to the specific case of Jammu and Kashmir has been explicitly recognized by the United Nations, it was upheld equally by India and Pakistan when the Kashmir dispute was brought before the Security Council. Since, on the establishment of India and Pakistan as sovereign states, Jammu and Kashmir was not part of the territory of either, the two countries entered into an agreement to allow its people to exercise their right to self-determination under impartial auspices and in conditions free from coercion from either side. The agreement is embodied in the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, explicitly accepted by both governments. It is binding on both governments and no allegation of non-performance of any of its provisions by either side can render it inoperative.

It is apparent from the record of the Security Council that India articulated the principle, accepted the practical shape the Security Council gave to it and freely participated in negotiations regarding the modalities involved. However, when developments inside Jammu & Kashmir made it doubt its chances of winning the plebiscite, it changed its stand and pleaded that it was no longer bound by the agreement. Of course, it deployed ample arguments to justify the somersault. But even though the arguments were of a legal or quasi-legal nature, it rejected a reference to the World Court to pronounce on their merits. This is how the dispute became frozen with calamitous consequences for Kashmir most of all, with heavy cost for Pakistan and with none too happy results for India itself.

By all customary moral and legal yardsticks, 23 million Kashmiris from both sides of the Ceasefire Line (CFL) enjoy a right to self-determination. Kashmir’s legal history entitles it to self-determination from Indian domination every bit as much as Eritrea’s historical independence entitled it to self-determination from Ethiopian domination.

India’s gruesome human rights violations in Kashmir also militate in favor of self-determination every bit as much as Yugoslavia’s human rights violations and ethnic cleansing created a right to self-determination in Bosnia and Kosovo. Kashmir’s history of social and religious tranquility further bolsters its claim to self-determination every bit as much as East Timor’s history of domestic peace before Indonesia’s annexation in 1975 entitled it to self-determination in 1999.

If law and morality are overwhelmingly on the side of Kashmiri self-determination, then why has that quest been thwarted for 72 years? The answer is self-evident: the military might of India. India is too militarily powerful, including a nuclear arsenal, and too economically mesmerizing to expect the United States, the United Nations, NATO, or the European Union to intervene. The United States is reluctant to exert moral suasion or pressure to prod India because it covets more India’s alluring economic markets and collaboration in fighting global terrorism. Further, the size and wealth of the Indian lobby in the United States dwarfs the corresponding lobbies supporting Kashmir.

The world powers need to understand that there is no way the dispute can be settled once and for all except in harmony with the people’s will, and there is no way the people’s will can be ascertained except through an impartial vote. Secondly, there are no insuperable obstacles to the setting up of a plebiscite administration in Kashmir under the aegis of the United Nations. The world organization has proved its ability, even in the most forbidding circumstances, to institute an electoral process under its supervision and control and with the help of a neutral peace-keeping force. The striking example of this is Namibia, which was peacefully brought to independence after seven decades of occupation and control by South Africa; East Timor and Southern Sudan, which got independence only through the intervention of the United Nations. Thirdly, as Sir Owen Dixon, the United Nations Representative, envisaged seven decades ago, the plebiscite can be so regionalized that none of the different zones of the state will be forced to accept an outcome contrary to its wishes.

In conclusion, a sincere and serious effort towards a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute must squarely deal with the realities of the situation and fully respond to the people’s rights involved in it. Indeed, any process that ignores the wishes of the people of Kashmir and is designed to sidetrack the United Nations will not only prove to be an exercise in futility but can also cause incalculable human and political damage.

IOJK Going through the Darkest Phase of a Mental Health Crisis

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Srinagar, October 11 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the medical experts have said that after struggling through two consecutive sieges since August, 2019, the territory has been pushed to the limit in its mental health crisis.

The health experts said on 5th August 2019, when the Indian government unilaterally repealed the special status of IIOJK and imposed a strict military siege, it instilled distress among most of the residents, especially women and children.

“We are now going through the worst and the darkest phase of the mental health situation,” said a Kashmir-based doctor from at a govt-run hospital, who wished not to be named.

“There is an immense rise in the number of cases of depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma. Any doctor in Kashmir, whether a psychiatrist or not, will tell you the same.”

Dr Junaid Nabi, consultant psychiatrist at the Department of Psychiatry of Government Medical College in Kashmir, said: “For more than 30 years, the state of the mental health situation in Kashmir has been bad, but due to the back-to-back sieges, anxiety and distress increased massively.”

He added that psychiatric patients faced difficulties in accessing healthcare and medicine since last year and women and children were particularly hard hit.

“In our society, females are a part of the interdependent family structure,” he explains. “The closure of schools for so long led to anger issues among children and also parents. Among women, symptoms of depression and somatic symptom disorder are on the rise.”

Health officials say most people are not truthful about their experiences because of taboos.
“We see around 300-400 patients with depressive symptoms every day but due to stigma, most people do not seek help,” says Nabi.

Surveys conducted in Kashmir by various international organisations show that the territory had continuous human rights abuses, including killings, torture, blinding of youngsters, imprisonments, and everyday humiliation of citizens, leading to social and economic deterioration.

In 2015, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) concluded that 45 percent of the total population in the occupied territory has significant symptoms of mental distress. “Nearly half of all adults showed symptoms of mental distress. 41 percent…showed signs of depression, 26 percent showed signs of anxiety and 19 percent showed probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” according to its independent study.

Turning a Blind Eye on Pellet Use in IOJK

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Kashmiri children injured by Indian forces firing pellets in Kashmir

On 28 August 2020, Indian forces in Srinagar opened fire with “pellet guns” on a peaceful religious procession. More than forty people were wounded while several were blinded. As usual, Pakistan protested vehemently. As usual, Indians responded on Twitter with triumphalism and aggression — if you don’t want to get shot, they said, don’t come out on the streets. And as usual, the world watched in silence.

It was not always so. India first started using pellet-firing shotguns against the Kashmiris in 2010 but the matter only hit international prominence in 2016 when protests following the death of Burhan Wani resulted in thousands of injuries, the blinding of hundreds and the deaths of over 70 people. The Guardian, for example, published a story asking if Kashmir represented “the world’s first mass blinding.” Even Indians were rocked by a viral series of pictures showing the distorted faces of celebrities.

The storm of international condemnation resulted in India scaling back the use of pellet-firing shotguns but not abandoning the weapons. In August 2019, when protests erupted against the revocation of Article 370, the Kashmiris were again dispersed with shotguns. Subsequently, shotgun usage subsided but that was simply because there was an unprecedented months-long lockdown in Kashmir in which people were confined to their houses. But as recent events show, India has not given up on shotguns. They remain India’s weapon of choice to deal with the Kashmiris.

One of the many tragedies of Kashmir is that it often gets subsumed into a larger narrative about the “unfinished business of Partition.” This narrative imposes a geostrategic lens on the issue and leads to a reductive analysis about whether Kashmir belongs to either India or Pakistan, a debate which India then further muddies by trying to paint all Kashmiri opposition as Islamic terrorists, a debate which the rest of the world has long since learned to tune out.

greater kashmir pellet victim

Kashmiris are not just symbols of injustice: they are real people living real lives in terrible pain. They also have rights under international law, rights which are being consistently violated. Irrespective of how the territorial issue of Kashmir is eventually resolved, there is a human aspect to Kashmir which needs to be confronted now. This is not just a dry legal dispute to be debated in textbooks and seminars: India’s ongoing use of shotguns is a war crime.

Indian sources and by extension, many international sources — normally do not use the word “shotgun” to describe the weapons used by Indian forces in Kashmir. Instead, they use the term “pellet gun.” This is a misnomer. The term “pellet gun” is associated with the type of airguns used to shoot balloons at village fairs; that is, guns which fire individual pellets and must be reloaded after every shot. However, the guns used by Indian forces bear no resemblance to such weapons. Instead, Indian forces use standard 12 gauge pump-action shotguns, each of which can be loaded with up to four shotgun shells.

Admittedly, each shotgun shell is in turn loaded with up to 600 pellets. But that, by itself, is no excuse to refer to a deadly weapon as if it was a child’s toy. As Orwell advised many years ago, it is generally better to use plain words. To quote a group of English parliamentarians,”[The phrase ‘shotgun’ may better convey the violence which these weapons embody. These shots can mutilate and blind and have had an impact on hundreds of individuals caught in the crossfire.”

So far as international law is concerned, the position is very simple: there is no legal regime which permits a state to routinely disperse crowds of civilians by firing shotguns at them. This is true whether it is assumed that India has illegally occupied and annexed Kashmir (as per Pakistan), that Kashmir is “disputed territory” (as per the UN Security Council, the UNGA and the OIC); or whether one assumes that Kashmir is an integral part of India (as per the Government of India).

If we start with India’s contention that it exercises undisputed sovereignty over Kashmir, it follows that the Kashmiris are entitled to the full range of human rights afforded to them under international law (including the right not to be shot at random with shotguns). Of course, India may argue that (a) international law is only applicable to the extent enacted into domestic law; and (b) India’s independent judiciary has decided that the use of shotguns for crowd control does not violate Indian law. However, there are certain human rights obligations which cannot be ignored by any state, irrespective of domestic laws and domestic judges. Article 6(1) of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is one such norm and states as follows:

Kashmiri doctors and paramedics, their eyes covered by patches, protest at a hospital in India-held Kashmirs Srinagara area in hopes of evoking the plight of victims of pellet guns fired by Indian security forces to disperse crowds.

“Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

The key word here is “arbitrary.” And in this context, it is important to examine the weapon itself which is being used.

The shotguns used by the Indian army are manufactured at the Ordnance factory in Ishapore. Till date, Indian authorities have refused to divulge information about them on national security grounds. However, reports suggest that the guns are crude copies of the American Mossberg 500 series which were originally used in World War 1 for close-quarter combat.

In Kashmir, Indian forces have been using No. 6 (300 pellets of 2.79mm each) and No. 9 (600 pellets of 2.30 mm each) cartridges. For such small pellets the key issue is the distance from which they are fired. If they are shot at a closer range, the pellets do not have time to disperse and instead travel in a high-speed clump behaving almost like a handgun bullet. This makes them incredibly harmful and they can penetrate tissue and even bone, causing serious damage. However, if they are fired from a distance, the pellets disperse haphazardly.

According to the Omega Research Foundation (ORF), an independent UK-based organisation that monitors military equipment, “the spread pattern specified by the pellet manufacturer is so inaccurate that even when security forces use the weapon to target protesters’ legs, pellets are still likely to hit areas of the body above the waist.” According to a spokesman for the ORF, “This weapon should not be used at all. No modification could make its use compliant with international human rights law and standards.”

In simple terms, there is no safe or legal way to use a shotgun for crowd control. At close quarters, a shotgun is lethal. When used from a distance, a shotgun is entirely arbitrary and indiscriminate. Either way, the result is unjustifiable cruelty.

International human rights law on policing and the use of lethal weapons is enunciated most clearly in two documents approved by the UN General Assembly, the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials (1973) and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (1990). Each of these is now regarded as declaratory of the customary law.

The content of these two documents amounts to basic common sense: that the use of force should be limited to the extent necessary, that it should not be disproportionate, that it should be backed by law and that there should be an effective means of accountability if force is used. In relation to the use of deadly force, these principles require additional care and precision: intentional lethal force can thus only be used if there is an imminent danger of death or serious injury that cannot otherwise be averted. Finally, there is the principle of precaution: that all operations be “planned, prepared, and conducted so as to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the recourse to lethal force’.

India’s use of shotguns for crowd control fails all of these tests. Shotguns are not just inherently indiscriminate weapons, but India’s usage of them is horrendously cruel. Human beings instinctively shudder when confronted with the prospect of being blinded. One reason why the world banned chemical weapons after World War I is because of the collective trauma of watching blinded soldiers shuffle past, each with their hand on the soldier in front. More recently, an international convention banning the use of blinding laser weapons was promulgated in 1998 precisely because there is a unique revulsion attached to the deliberate blinding of humans.

More importantly, India regularly uses shotguns against crowds even when there is no imminent danger of death or serious injury to Indian forces. In the most recent instance, for example, the people who were fired upon were not even protesting: they were simply taking out a religious procession. There is also no realistic possibility of accountability. Back in 2015, Amnesty International noted that over the previous 25 years, “not a single member of the security forces deployed in [Kashmir] has been tried for human rights violations in a civilian court.”

Finally, there has been no serious attempt by India to develop alternate means of crowd control. A committee was set up to examine such options as far back as 2016 but till date, shotguns remain the preferred option for Indian forces in Kashmir. And India’s insistence that it has no other option is absurd. There is no other country in the world besides India which uses shotguns for crowd control. And even within India, there is no other place besides Kashmir where shotguns are regularly and consistently used for crowd control.

When faced with such queries, Indian defenders retreat to different norms. Kashmir is not a normal civilian area, they argue. It is instead a warzone where Indian soldiers are confronted with an externally fomented Islamist insurgency. In short, they argue, India’s actions in Kashmir need to be judged using the laws of war, not the laws of peace.

But the problem for these defenders is that Indian actions in Kashmir fail even the laws of war.

The precise relationship between international human rights law and the laws of armed conflict is heavily debated. However, there is a broad consensus that the laws of war represent a specialized set of rules which take precedence over international human rights law, but only to the extent there is an actual conflict in terms of the applicability of the two sets of laws. Thus, the mere fact that there is an armed conflict does not by itself negate the applicability of international human rights law. In fact, the ICJ has specifically held that “the right not to arbitrarily be deprived of one’s life [under Art. 6 ICCPR] applies also in hostilities.”

In the case of Kashmir, there is no actual conflict between the two sets of laws. This is because India is not using shotguns to fight militants. Instead, it is using shotguns as a crowd control measure against civilians. The laws of war do not regulate the conduct of normal policing measures or the manner in which local administrations can control otherwise peaceful protests. In fact, to the extent a state is called upon during times of war to perform normal policing functions with respect to a civilian population, it must act in accordance with normal policing procedures. And as already noted, the established norms of policing do not permit states to disperse crowds by firing shotguns at them.

One of the most fundamental principles of the laws of war is the principle of distinction, i.e., that fighting states must always distinguish between combatants and civilians. Even if it is assumed that Kashmir is the site of an armed conflict, that only authorizes the Indian military to use deadly force against combatants, not civilians. Furthermore, the law of armed conflict recognizes a very bright and clear line between the two categories: civilians cannot be attacked in the same manner as combatants “unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.”

Participating in a protest against Indian occupation does not constitute taking “a direct part in hostilities.” That standard is only met when a specific act directly targets military operations or military capacity of a party to an armed conflict and is specifically designed to cause a certain, non-minimal level of harm to that party. Shouting slogans at a march does not qualify as taking a “direct part in hostilities.” Even throwing stones at soldiers does not qualify as taking a “direct part in hostilities.”

Another, equally fundamental principle of the law of armed conflict is the principle of proportionality. In simple words, this principle prohibits attacks against a military objective if the incidental loss of civilian life would be “excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” Even if some people participating in demonstrations are also actively helping Kashmiri freedom fighters, the use of shotguns is still illegal. Indian forces have no way of knowing which protestors — if any — are also active in the Kashmiri resistance. It cannot therefore use weapons which kill, blind, and maim at random.

It is this arbitrary aspect of shotgun usage which is the biggest issue. When an Indian soldier fires a shotgun at a crowd of Kashmiris, the current SOPs stipulate that he should fire from a distance of at least 40-50 metres. At that distance, it is impossible to aim a shotgun with any degree of accuracy: one is only aiming at a mass of people, knowing full well that a certain number of them are likely to die, that a slightly greater number are likely to be blinded, and that an even greater number are likely to be injured. The usage of shotguns for crowd control is thus no different from rounding up protestors and blinding (or killing) an arbitrary number of them.

Collective punishment has a long and inglorious history. The word “decimate” comes from the Roman Army’s tradition of killing every tenth member of a mutinous cohort. Conquering armies in Europe were traditionally allowed three days of pillage after subduing a city while the Mongols preferred to build towers from the skulls of those foolish enough to resist. In more recent times, the Nazis during World War II regularly massacred entire villages in response to the killing of a single German (see, for example, the 1942 killing of 340 Czechs in response to the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich). It is precisely for this reason that collective punishment is clearly prohibited by both the Third and the Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949 as well as the Hague Regulations of 1899 (all of which have been signed and accepted by India).

In theory, India could argue that Kashmir is not an “armed conflict” of the type to which the laws of war apply. However, that debate misses the point: what India has deliberately and consciously adopted as a state policy in Kashmir is so cruel and so inhumane that it would constitute a war crime even if that type of armed conflict existed. Furthermore, international human rights law and the laws of armed conflict do not exist in separate silos. As noted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in the Tadic matter, “elementary considerations of humanity and common sense” mandated that “[w]hat is inhumane, and consequently proscribed, in international wars, cannot but be inhumane and inadmissible in civil strife.”

The Security Council has chosen to remain quiet for many years on Kashmir. But the fact that Kashmir is disputed has nothing to do with the human rights of the Kashmiris. Their human rights are undisputed. And it is time that the international community stopped turning a blind eye to India’s violation of those rights.

J&K Never Was An Indian Territory, Never Will Be: Pakistan

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United Nations, September 26 (KMS): Pakistan has asserted that the territory of Jammu and Kashmir is not a part of the India – it has never been, nor will it ever be – and that the Indian government is resorting to the worst state terrorism against the oppressed people of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan Mission’s First Secretary, Muhammad Zulqarnain Chheena, said this while delivering the first Right of Reply during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. He was responding to the false claims of Indian representative that Jammu and Kashmir is India’s “integral part”.

The Pakistani diplomat said, Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir will be free one day. “Jammu & Kashmir is not a part of India: it never was and it never will be. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognised disputed territory as decreed by the Security Council,” he said.

The Kashmir dispute, he said, will be settled as per the will of the people as expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations. He said the Kashmiri people have a legitimate right to resist the Indian occupation by all means at their disposal.

The Pakistani diplomat said the Kashmiris’ just freedom struggle cannot be described as terrorism. It is the occupying state which is guilty of terrorism against the occupied people, he pointed out.

Zulqarnain Chheena said, “The Indian right of reply was another shameful attempt to deflect the attention from the real issues. India, however, will not be able to escape accountability for its crimes.”

Indian UN Mission’s First Secretary, Mijito Vinito, in his right to reply following the speech of Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, had claimed that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inalienable part of India and the rules and legislation brought in the territory are strictly internal affairs of India. Vinito had earlier walked out of the hall when PM Imran Khan’s pre-recorded statement was played.

The Pakistani diplomat highlighting the oppression of India in IIOJK said the Kashmiri people have been resolutely facing Indian state terrorism, noting that over 70,000 Kashmiri people have been martyred by Indian troops during past three decades. Moreover, he said, India knows a lot about terrorism, as it has used terrorism against each of its neighbours, its own people and against the innocent people of IIOJK.

Zulqarnain Chheena underlined that India is actively involved in orchestrating, financing and providing logistical support to terrorist organisations like the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and the Jamaat-ul-Ahraar to target Pakistan from across the border. “India has hired and organised criminal groups located at our western borders to conduct terrorist attacks in Pakistan, especially to disrupt the development of the western and southern regions of my country,” he pointed out.

Making a mention of the Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, captured by Pakistan, the First Secretary said the Indian intelligence agent had confessed that he was organising and supporting these criminal groups to perpetrate terrorism in Pakistan. He added that Pakistan and entire region face Hindutva terrorism as well.

He said the BJP and RSS extremists continue to espouse the fiction of Akhand Baharat [or Greater India] which represents their desire for a unified sub-continent dominated by the Hindu religion where minorities are either converted to Hinduism or become second-class citizens.

Shopian Fake Encounter Shows Troops’ Involvement in Genocide

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Srinagar, September 19 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference has said that the admission of killing of three Rajouri labourers by Indian Army in a fake encounter in Shopian vindicates the fact that Indian forces are committing genocide of Kashmiris.

Indian Army had killed three youth during a cordon and search operation in Amshipora area of Shopian on July 18 and passed them on as “unidentified militants”. Days later, the victims were identified by their families through the pictures released by the Indian Army as Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Muhammad Ibrar from Rajouri who had gone to Kashmir Valley in search of work. The army, yesterday, admitted that the youth hailed from Rajouri.

The APHC spokesman in a statement in Srinagar said that Indian forces’ personnel were killing innocent youth in staged encounters in IIOJK to suppress the Kashmiris’ ongoing struggle for securing their right to self-determination. He demanded an impartial investigation into all incidents of killings by the troops in IIOJK through an impartial international agency to bring the perpetrators to book.

The family members of the martyred labourers have demanded capital punishment for the killer soldiers. The uncle of the slain youth, Lal Hussain, in a media interview said that they had three demands; return of the dead bodies, capital punishment for those involved in this fake encounter and rebuttal of remarks that the youth were militants. The Chairman of International Forum for Justice and Human Rights, Muhammed Ahsan Untoo, in his statement said Shopian fake encounter is not the first of its kind but there were thousands of such heinous acts perpetrated by Indian forces in the territory.

Political analysts, Kashmir watchers and observers talking to the KMS over phone from Srinagar while seeking anonymity due to reprisal from the Indian authorities said that the ongoing use of pellet firing shotguns by Indian troops in IIOJK constituted a war crime. They noted that there is no other country in the world except India which uses shotguns for crowd control. And even within India, they added, there is no place where shotguns are regularly and consistently used for crowd control.

The Chairman of Tehreek-e-Muzahamat, Bilal Siddiqi, in a statement in Srinagar termed the implicating of Dr Bilquis Shah, the wife of illegally detained senior APHC leader Shabbir Ahmed Shah, in a false case as a fresh example of political vendetta by the Indian authorities. Jammu and Kashmir Tehreek-e-Wahdat-e-Islami in a statement in Srinagar while reacting to the economic package announced by the Indian authorities for IIOJK maintained that the Kashmiris were not making sacrifices for perks and privileges but for freedom from India’s illegal occupation of their homeland.

Indian police and troops arrested five youth from Pulwama and Rajouri areas.

Speakers of a webinar organised by Islamabad-based Kashmir Institute of International Relations strongly condemned the Modi-led fascist Indian regime for carrying out systematic human rights abuses in IIOJK. The speakers including British and European parliamentarians, human rights defenders, former diplomats and experts highlighted the plight and unending miseries of the half widows who despite the passage of several years were still wandering from pillar to post to trace the whereabouts of their missing husbands.

Anuradha Lifts Veil on Modi regime’s media gag in IOJK

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Srinagar, September 09 (KMS): Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, the executive editor of Kashmir Times, in her fresh article has said that journalism in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir has begun to succumb to pressures from the Indian government.

According to Kashmir Media Service, Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal in the article titled “Kashmiri Editors Can’t Use Fear as an Excuse for Their Continued Silence” writes, “When August 5, 2019, descended, with the gagging and muzzling of dissent, newspapers completely lost their voice, even as some continued to be printed in their truncated forms and with content that was out of sync with the existing situation of the time.”

The article further goes as: “Setting aside the arrests, torture and human rights violations, the absence of reporting on the impact of a stringent lockdown on the day-to-day lives of ordinary humans and the devastating blow to the health and education sector was so pervasive, it ended up legitimising the myth of ‘normalcy’ that the [Indian] government was labouring to showcase.”

Referring to the military siege imposed after August 5, last year, she says, “The Valley’s leading newspapers have chosen to keep their publications alive by killing news stories and burying all morals of journalism.”

“When a bevy of newspapers agree to fall in line, without a whimper, the going becomes even tougher for the rest, including weekly and monthly publications as well as freelancers, many of who are courageously struggling to speak out and facing risks;” she added

“It has been a tight-rope walk for media personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Valley, since last year. But despite the logistical impediments of operating without a communication system and in an intimidating climate of partial bans where journalists are criminalised or summoned repeatedly, many brave journalists have resisted all kinds of pressures to ensure that news about Kashmir does not absolutely spiral down the black-hole,” the article said.

Although, the article is lengthy, yet the main chunk is being given as under:

Kashmiri Editors Can’t Use Fear as an Excuse for Their Continued Silence

Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal

Tazia processions during Muharram in Kashmir have rarely been event-free in the last three decades. This year however marked a departure for another reason.
As clashes erupted between mourners and the police in Srinagar on the ninth and tenth day of the Ashura on August 29 and 30, teargas shells and pellets were fired, slogans of Azadi were raised and stone-pelting broke the calm of the procession, the local newspapers responded with a conspicuous silence even as the scale of brutality surpassed those of previous incidents.

In the past, claims and counterclaims have been common after processions have gone awry. The recurrent cycle where the police and the locals blame the other for the provocation – effectively reducing the debate of whether police brutality preceded the sloganeering and stone-pelting or vice versa to a chicken and egg story – has come to occupy the columns of local newspapers in recent decades.

This year, the story all but disappeared – interestingly on the day that the world observes as the Day of Enforced Disappearances – instead papered by bold headlines of ‘Religious fervour’ of the Muharram processions. Evidently, many believed that the story didn’t merit any further coverage or was reduced to a footnote.

What was glossed over by the local newspapers, however, was splashed across social media on the evening of August 29 with appalling images of pellet riddled bodies and faces. The story figured prominently in some sections of the national and the international media the next day and was pursued by many others the day after that.

Since last year, particularly after the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill was passed, Article 370 of the constitution was scrapped and a stringent lockdown accompanied the developments, local journalism has been in a state of stupor. While many professionals have struggled to keep the news alive and ward off any attempts to suppress the flow of information despite a communications blockade in place, multiple forms of intimidation and the launching of an Orwellian Media Policy 2020, the Valley’s leading newspapers have chosen to keep their publications alive by killing news stories and burying all morals of journalism.

For over a year, I have grappled with the question of ethics – whether as an editor of the newspaper Kashmir Times, I might be crossing the principled stand of commenting on the content and conduct of ‘rival’ newspapers, and thus held my peace.

But a race driven by purely material considerations is not my line of work. More importantly, when the actions of some affect a trend impacting journalism as a whole – and perilously so – it is important to speak out. In Jammu and Kashmir, the powerful dailies dictate the kind of journalism that the rest are obliged to follow, unless they choose to be out of sync with the rest and face consequences.

When a bevy of newspapers agree to fall in line, without a whimper, the going becomes even tougher for the rest, including weekly and monthly publications as well as freelancers, many of who are courageously struggling to speak out and facing risks.

Notable is the case of the editor of The Kashmir Walla, Fahad Shah, who was summoned by the Cyber Police and twice faced an interrogation for one particular report. I do not intend to take any high moral ground. As journalists, we go about the daily rigours of negotiating multiple challenges, including occupational hazards and deadlines for work, imperfectly. The excessive risks media professionals, particularly Kashmir based editors, are exposed also deserves acknowledgement. But when the very foundational principles of journalism stand compromised, there is a need for introspection. The idea behind writing this article is to initiate this much-needed debate.

Needless to say, it has been a tight-rope walk for media personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Valley, since last year. But despite the logistical impediments of operating without a communication system and in an intimidating climate of partial bans where journalists are criminalised or summoned repeatedly, many brave journalists have resisted all kinds of pressures to ensure that news about Kashmir does not absolutely spiral down the black-hole. The counter to the state’s narrative has made headlines in the national and international media due to their admirable efforts.

Are the pressures more exacting on local media organisations which have largely preferred to remain silent and submit to the powers that be over pursuing ethical journalism? The consideration of advertisements and finances apart, in July 2019, editors of two Kashmir based newspapers were grilled for several days by National Investigating Agency (NIA) as part of an investigation into a case of “terror funding”.

When August 5, 2019, descended, with the gagging and muzzling of dissent, newspapers completely lost their voice, even as some continued to be printed in their truncated forms and with content that was out of sync with the existing situation of the time. Setting aside the arrests, torture and human rights violations, the absence of reporting on the impact of a stringent lockdown on the day-to-day lives of ordinary humans and the devastating blow to the health and education sector was so pervasive, it ended up legitimising the myth of ‘normalcy’ that the government was labouring to showcase.

Even as editors were caught in a situation with a lack of choices, with two essentials vital for the existence of newspapers – local news and political comment – gone, the publications were reduced to mere shadows of their former selves. A year on, while some of this has been salvaged, the readers are judging the newspapers, not on the basis of what was reported but what was not.

The absence of the news on pellet gun injuries becomes an important case study in assessing the state of media in Kashmir and the interplay between journalism and its readers. What disappeared or appeared in a muted form on August 30, after the first day of the brutal crackdown on the Muharram processions, resurfaced, mostly apologetically on August 31, after the newspapers faced a severe backlash from Kashmiris on the social media.

One of the leading dailies, Greater Kashmir, in a report on August 30 titled ‘Ashura Today’, detailed the significance of Muharram procession in the opening paragraphs, and dismissed in two small paragraphs – which figured at the fag end of the report – that “the police used tearsmoke shells at Hamdania Colony Bemina” to disperse the procession leading to “injuries to mourners”. It also added that “The mourners alleged that metallic pellets were also fired on them. A couple of youth sustained pellet injuries.”

The Rising Kashmir blacked out the Muharram procession completely, neither carrying the ‘religious fervour’ associated with it, nor the disruptions to it. The Kashmir Reader published on August 30 dismissed in six small sentences a news item titled, ‘Restrictions in parts of Srinagar to prevent Muharram procession’, barely mentioning some barricades manned by police and CRPF.
What was missing on August 30 found a cautious and guarded presence in print the next day. The criticism on social media surrounding the lack of coverage of pellet injuries by local newspapers brought the news into focus the next day, even though the report about the ‘religious fervour marking the 10th day Ashura procession’ dwarfed the violent scenes on the road.

The Greater Kashmir published, on August 31, the news titled, ‘Two dozen mourners injured as police use force to stop Muharram processions in Kashmir‘ and a strap that read, ‘Our men too received injuries: SSP Srinagar’. It said that two dozen mourners sustained injuries from police action and two youth sustained pellet injuries. It went on to mention:

The clashes started after police deployed in huge numbers in Zadibal tried to stop a large procession. The mourners in turn clashed with the police who restored to tear gas shelling and fired pellets. The police also lathi-charged the mourners.”

The rest of the news article (about nine paragraphs) was dedicated to the police version of the events.

The Rising Kashmir, in its edition of August 31, carried the Muharram story titled ‘Amid COVID-19 restrictions, curbs, Ashura observed in Kashmir‘ and straps that read, ‘Clashes reported in Zadibal areas, Police officer among several injured; Rich tributes paid to Hazrat Hussain (RA) and other Karbala martyrs’. The news, an overall round-up of various Muharram processions in Jammu and Kashmir and Kargil, also made a cursory reference to the violent happenings of the day by saying:

“Later in the day, mourners gathered at Kathimaidan and tried to come on the main road in shape of the procession. Police used tear smoke shells and disperse them.

A Police official said that the mourners resorted to stone pelting at Kathimaidan.
A Selection Grade Constable Showkat Ahmed (1007/s) from Police Station Soura sustained head injuries.”

The Kashmir Reader on August 31 published a report ‘
Restrictions mark Ashura’ as its second lead story and a smaller box item under it, with a detailed news item titled ‘Mourners hit by pellets in eyes writhing in pain’. The report was based on the version of some eye-witnesses, a doctor, and pellet injured victims including a man who said, “I have forty pellets inside my eyes”.

Last year, the news about a protest in Soura, a locality in Srinagar, where hundreds of demonstrators had occupied a park with banners opposing the ‘abrogation of Article 370’ and an incident of violent clashes between protestors and security forces, was first broken by the BBC within days of the imposition of restrictions.

The Indian government responded to the report with an abject denial. Some Indian and foreign media organisations reported the same, one reported on how young men were using the mosque to mobilise the public in the area. Few others reported about young men being wounded by shotgun pellets and another reported that a young man had jumped into the Jhelum river that flows through the city to rescue himself. Some outlets also reported about cases of those who had been injured by pellet and were refusing to visit hospitals and were being treated by self-trained locality experts working with basic antiseptics and crude blades. The Indian state called these reports fake.

The handful of newspapers being printed from Srinagar maintained silent – they were cautious enough to even avoid reporting on the contested claims of both sides and instead cherry-picked ‘safer’ things to talk about. A contested incident about Kashmir and the controversy surrounding it, that garnered headlines in the foreign and national media, was not considered newsworthy enough in Kashmir.

They got away. Locked up in their homes with no internet connections or phones – probably also without any knowledge of the controversy or the incident – the readers made no public display of their disappointment.

What local newspaper organisations took for granted last year may no longer be possible. The overall shock and sense of fear that germinated last year has begun to wear off. The two days of coverage on the latest spree of pellet gunshots demonstrates that even a slight rebuff from readers and the general public is enough to compel media-houses to stop ignoring local voices and incidents.

This moral policing, however, has limitations. As long as involved readers expect the media to function and seek accountability with positive results, it may be fine. But at what point can this readership activism morph into mob-rage? In the last one decade, Kashmir’s media has dealt with its share of mobs setting newspapers on fire or disallowing selective journalists from entering certain areas on allegations of deliberate blacking out of the news of public protests and campaigns or human rights abuse.

When democratic spaces vanish, the dangers of a venomous and unstoppable mob are enhanced with a probable future of the thin line between reason driven criticism and irrational, vitriolic vengeance blurring. The only thing that can avert such a danger is a responsive media, guided purely by the principle of informing and enriching informed opinion. The realm of fear, real as it is, cannot be used as a perpetual excuse by editors of newspapers to defend their silence.

An unidentified editor of a Kashmir based newspaper was quoted in a report in The Telegraph on August 31, as having said, “the Kashmir dailies were ‘gradually reclaiming the space’ they had conceded last year after the clampdown.”

What can be reclaimed after they chose to turn a blind eye to the horrifying spectacle of over 200 injured men, many being sprayed with pellets on their bodies, faces and eyes?

According to the same report, another editor claimed the newspapers had been discreetly told to give the most extensive coverage to “developmental activities” by the government.

About two months ago, senior Indian journalist Ajaz Rashid, while researching about J&K’s new media policy, asked me whether journalists and editors would be willing to speak freely. I told him I had doubts about the latter. The editors who are part of the Editors Guild of Kashmir haven’t made a murmur as yet, and newspapers are carefully dropping anything that the government would be uncomfortable with. A day later, after trying to speak to some editors, he messaged back, “you were right. Either they don’t speak or speak little but do not want to be identified.”

Resisting what senior journalist Yusuf Jameel calls as the present moment of “Undeclared Censorship” requires not just overcoming fear but also searching for alternate models of revenue, without which the choice is either of ‘silence’ or of struggling to continue in keeping with the true spirit and ethics of journalism, at the risk of sagging circulation, downsized staff, poor quality of production and even the threat of closing down.

When the dictum comes ‘Fall in line or Perish’, the choice is not between survival and persecution, the choice is between saving a business enterprise or journalism which certainly cannot be reduced to a pamphlet fed on advertising.

Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal is the executive editor of Kashmir Times.

Enforced disappearances in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir: A challenge to world conscience

By Altaf Hussain Wani

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Enforced disappearances are a serious problem in almost all regions of the world; however, in the conflict-affected regions like Kashmir the forced disappearance is being used as a political weapon to subjugate and silence the dissenting voices and instill a sense of fear in the society. The region that has undergone intermittent periods of sporadic violence since 1989 continues to be in the whirlwind of state oppression that has led to killings and forced disappearances of innocent Kashmiris by the Indian forces on an enormous scale. Decades’ long conflict had left tens of thousands of Kashmiris dead; more than 7000 bodies of missing persons still lay buried in unmarked and unknown mass graves unearthed in and around the Kashmir valley.
It was almost a decade back, that the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir released an eye-opening report on mass graves in the IoK. The report titled ‘Buried Evidence: Unknown, Unmarked, and Mass Graves made a shocking revelation about the existence of 2,700, unnamed mass graves, containing 2,943 bodies, across 55 villages in Bandipora, Baramulla, and Kupwara districts of Kashmir. “Of these, 87.9 percent were unnamed, 154 contained two bodies each and 23 contained between three to 17 bodies”, the report said adding that the government of India should allow an independent inquiry to ascertain the facts.

Years have passed but family members of enforced disappeared persons still continue to wander from pillar to post trying to exercise their rights to know the whereabouts of their loved ones. Social, psychological, legal, and financial effects of this tragedy of immense proportions have made their lives a living hell. The painful saga of half-widows is yet another off-shoot of this illegal and ignominious practice of enforced disappearance in Kashmir. As per reports the number of ‘half-widows’ in Kashmir are around 2,500. It is feared that the bodies buried in these unmarked graves are of the missing husbands of the half-widows who have been picked up from their homes and disappeared after getting killed in the custody of the Indian army. On July 10, 2008, the EU Parliament passed a resolution lending support for the investigations into the discovery of mass graves and enforced disappearances.

Unfortunately, the Indian authorities are reluctant to acknowledge the very existence of mass graves and to hold an inquiry despite the fact that the State Human Rights Commission in 2009 took a suo moto notice of the report. A special investigation team that was tasked to conduct an inquiry confirmed the presence of 2,730 unidentified bodies buried across 37 sites in the three districts of north Kashmir. Citing lack of technology, expertise, and human resources the Indian government refused to conduct the investigations, even though the European Parliament had offered financial assistance to take it forward. In November 2017, SHRC unearthed 2080 unmarked and unknown mass graves in Poonch and Rajouri district in IoK. Till now there has neither been a probe nor an Action Taken Report from the government.

In Kashmir, more than 8000 – 10, 000 cases of enforced and involuntary disappearances have been reported since 1989. The government of India (GoI), however, had grossly underreported the number of forcibly disappeared persons – something that many victims and rights groups have contested publicly. The GoI puts the number of enforced disappearances at 4,000. This discrepancy in the number has been highlighted by the OHCHR in it’s first-ever report released in June 2018.
Since the early 1990s, rights groups have time and again regretted the rising trend of enforced disappearances in the region urging New Delhi to stop the vicious cycle of violence. But Indian state has miserably failed in bringing to justice the military, paramilitary and police personnel who have been found guilty of abducting civilians, murdering them in fake encounters just to get promotion or cash reward.

Kashmir happens to be the only place in the world where men in uniform are being awarded cash money and gallantry awards for killing innocent civilians. Using civilians as human shields and terrorize and torture people have become a norm; rape has been leveraged as a ‘weapon of war’ by the so-called Indian security forces. During the years of turmoil, many Indian soldiers and even the top-rank officers have been found involved in these heinous crimes but no soldier was ever punished or held accountable.

As per the international law Enforced disappearance is considered a crime against humanity. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (2010) compels States to fight enforced disappearance in their respective territories. In particular, it affirms the right of individuals to know the fate of their disappeared relatives, and to obtain justice and reparation.
The Indian authorities’ perpetual denial to respect the international law and the fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people is gravely threatening peace and stability in the restive region. It is time that the world should come forward in a big way and compel the Indian state to halt gross and systematic human rights violations in the region.

Tale piece: The world’s inaction would only further embolden the occupying power (India) to escalate its actions with impunity in Kashmir.

Kashmiris observe India’s independence day as Black Day

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Srinagar, August 15 (KMS): Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control and the world over observed the Indian Independence Day, today, as Black Day to convey the message to the international community that they reject India’s illegal occupation of their motherland.

The day was marked by a complete shutdown in the Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Call for the strike was given by the veteran Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Gilani, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat forum and supported by almost all Hurriyat leaders and organizations.

Syed Ali Gilani in a message referring to India’s illegal occupation over Jammu and Kashmir said, a nation that resorts to usurpation and deprives others of their freedoms, loses every right to celebrate its freedom. The APHC spokesman in a statement in Srinagar said that India had no moral right to observe its Independence Day as it had held the people and land of Jammu and Kashmir illegally for the last 73 years through military might.

Meanwhile, the occupation authorities converted the valley, particularly Srinagar, into a military garrison by deploying Indian troops and police personnel in every nook and corner. A cricket stadium at Sonawar in Srinagar where the main function was held was turned into a fortress. Sharp-shooters were deployed on high-rise buildings around the venue. The public movement was constantly monitored through the close circuit cameras and drones. Besides, sniffer dogs and bomb disposal squad were pressed into service. The so-called security was also heightened in other parts of the territory. The authorities also snapped the internet service.

A report released by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service, today, maintained that the Kashmiris are justified in observing India’s Independence Day as a Black Day as New Delhi is illegally holding Jammu and Kashmir against their will. The report said that Indian troops in their continued acts of state terrorism had martyred 95,649 Kashmiris since January 1989 till date to suppress Kashmir freedom movement. The report said that the troops arrested over 160,630 people during the period. It added that New Delhi is hell bent upon changing the Muslim identity of Kashmir by providing domicile certificates of IIOJK to the Indian Hindus and settling them in the territory.

On the other hand, despite strict restrictions and heavy deployment of Indian troops across IIOJK, people took to the streets and fired firecrackers in Srinagar and many other places across the territory to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day, last night. Besides bursting firecrackers, the people on the occasion shouted slogans like “We are Pakistanis, Pakistan is ours”, “Long live Pakistan” and “We want freedom”.

APHC leader, Advocate Devinder Singh Behl, Tehreek-e-Wahdat-e-Islami and various Sikh organisations including Sikh Intellectuals Circle J&K, International Sikh Federation, Sikh Students Federation, J&K Sikh Council and the Sikh Youth of J&K in their statements welcomed the decision of Pakistan government of conferring Nishan-i-Pakistan on veteran Kashmiri Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Gilani.

In Islamabad, the APHC-AJK chapter organized an anti-India demonstration outside the Indian High Commission while Jammu and Kashmir Right to Self-determination Movement and Ittehad-e-Islami organized a protest outside the National Press Club to mark India’s Independence Day as a Black Day, today. The participants of the events said India has no right to celebrate its Independence Day till it gives the Kashmiris their right to self-determination. Anti-India rallies were also held by the activists of Tehreek-e-Istiqlal Jammu and Kashmir, Refugee Action Committee and Young Mens League in Muzaffarabad.

Kashmiris worry about a demographic change after August 05 move: Khurram

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Srinagar, August 08 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar-based noted human rights activist, Khurram Parvez, has said that August 5 action by Modi government was yet another step towards completely annexing Kashmir – a move used to garner popular support in India at the expense of Kashmiris.

Khurram Parvez in an article in US-based Time magazine wrote that the consent of the governed, which is essential in a democracy, is not at all a concern for the Hindu nationalist government of India when it comes to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes the Kashmir Valley.

Khurram Parvez, who is coordinator of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society and chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, wrote that IIOJK was under a lockdown long before COVID-19. “For weeks last year, all phone lines and internet services were cut off by the Indian government. Basic mobile-phone connectivity took months to be restored and a ban on high-speed 4G internet continues till this day,” he pointed out.

The rights activist wrote that the Indian government has made full use of coronavirus lockdowns by passing the domicile rule, which has caused alarm because of its potential to change the demography of the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, he maintained. “In just more than a month, around 400,000 people have already acquired domicile certificates. It could alter the results of any referendum seeking people’s opinion for the resolution of the larger, international dispute over control of the territory, he added.

Khurram Pervez wrote that the first attempt to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir came in 1947 when the Muslim-majority district of Poonch in Jammu faced a siege, which resulted in a massacre of Muslims across Jammu. It is unclear exactly how many people died, but estimates put the casualty count between 20,000 to even more than 200,000 – with half a million being forced to migrate to Pakistan, he added.

He wrote that elections have been rigged and laws have been imposed by twisting the local government’s arm; anyone who opposes the Indian government’s writ was jailed or killed. “There has been absolute lawlessness as structures of accountability have been rendered dysfunctional. Not one armed forces’ personnel has ever been prosecuted in civilian courts for their involvement in human rights violations,” he maintains.

Khurram Pervez wrote that promises of a referendum allowing Kashmiris to decide the territory’s fate, made by then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1947, had been buried and replaced by a new narrative that “Kashmir is an integral part of India”. He said, with every passing day, India’s stand on Kashmir has grown more rigid – and violence against people of Jammu and Kashmir has become a norm. He said that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power in 2014, the policies of aggression became even more crude. He pointed out that the only difference was that the deceptive sophistication of the secular Congress government was replaced by the brazenness of the Hindu-majoritarian BJP.

Khurram Pervez maintained that the unilateral and undemocratic changes governing Jammu and Kashmir, unabated human rights violations, denial of basic facilities and land-grabbing due to militarization are all in violation of international law, UN resolutions, India’s own constitutional framework and India’s commitment to the Kashmiris. India can only feel encouraged to continue its violent policy because of the lack of international moral leadership, he concluded.

 

Kashmir Martyrs’ Day – July 13

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Background

svg%3EKashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control and across the world observe 13th July as Kashmir Martyrs’ Day, every year. The day is commemorated to pay rich tributes to the 22 Kashmiris who were shot dead, one after the other, outside the Srinagar Central Jail by the troops of Dogra Maharaja. The victims had gathered in the jail premises to attend the court proceedings against one, Abdul Qadeer, who had asked the Kashmiri people to defy Dogra rule.

The tension was brewing in the territory since 19th April 1931 when Imam Munshi Muhammad Ishaq was stopped by Dogra police chief, Chowdry Ram Chand, from delivering Eid Khutba (sermon) in the Municipal Park of Jammu. The incident triggered massive demonstrations in Jammu city that continued for many days. Ban on Eid Khutba was followed by the desecration of the Holy Quran at the hands of Dogra troops in Jammu. This outrageous act led to widespread resentment throughout the State.

In Srinagar, people held massive gatherings at historic Jamia Masjid and other mosques, shrines and Imamabargahs to denounce this blasphemy and demanded punishment to the culprits. A youth, Abdul Qadeer, was also part of a crowd, which was listening to the speeches delivered by prominent Kashmiri leaders at one such gathering held in Khanqah-e-Mualla. When the meeting concluded, Abdul Qadeer pointing his finger to the Maharaja’s palace raised full-throated slogans “destroy its every brick”. He was accused of sedition and arrested instantly. Abdul Qadeer was to be tried in the court but due to a large public resentment the court was shifted to the Srinagar Central Jail.

On 12th July, intense public demonstrations were held throughout the city against the shifting of the court to the Central Jail. On 13th July, thousands of people thronged the Central Jail to witness the trial of Abdul Qadeer. As the time for obligatory Zuhar prayers approached, one of the youth stood up and started reciting “Azan”. He was shot dead by the Dogra soldiers and next youth started the ‘Azan’ where it was left by the martyred youth. He was also killed and in the process of completing the ‘Azan’ a total of 22 Kashmiris were martyred, one after the other. This massacre is the blackest chapter in the history of Dogra regime.

Before this wholesale slaughter, the Kashmiris had been facing the worst brutalities of their rulers since the selling of Jammu and Kashmir – with predominantly Muslim population – by the Britain to Dogra dynasty for Rs 75 lac under the Treaty of Amritsar in 1846. The Dogra period is considered to be the worst phase of the Kashmir history on account of cruelties meted out to the Muslims.

13th July 1931 is a significant day due to the fact that it was the first occasion when the Kashmiris rose en masse against the oppression of the Dogra Maharaja.

Indian occupation

The new saga of Kashmiris’ sufferings started after the announcement of the understanding behind the Partition Plan of the Indian subcontinent by the British Government in 1947. Under the Plan, the British India Colony was to be divided into two sovereign states – Pakistan and India. The understanding behind the Partition Plan had given the right to the then Princely States to accede to either of the two countries on the basis of their geography and demography. The Kashmiris had a great feeling to join Pakistan due to their strong geographical, religious and cultural bonds with the country. However, their dream of becoming part of Pakistan was shattered by the landing of Indian Army in Srinagar on October 27, 1947 in total disregard to the Partition Plan that sowed the seeds of the Kashmir dispute. This shows that Kashmir is the unfinished part of the partition of South Asian subcontinent.

The Indian invasion faced stiff resistance from the people of Jammu and Kashmir. They launched a freedom struggle and succeeded in liberating a large part of the State, which is now known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The resilience and determination of the Kashmiris pushed India on the verge of defeat, forcing it to approach the UN Security Council on January 01, 1948 and seeking its help to settle the issue. The UNSC through its several successive resolutions called for settlement of the Kashmir dispute through holding of a free and impartial plebiscite to be conducted by the UN. It is a historical fact that India itself had taken Kashmir to the UN accepting it as a disputed territory and promising before the world community to give the Kashmiris their right to self-determination, but these commitments are yet to be honoured.

Mass uprisings

The continued denial of their rights by India compelled the people of the occupied territory to start a massive uprising in 1989. It picked up pace with the passage of time and gave sleepless nights to the Indian rulers. The people rose against the illegal occupation and vowed to continue their struggle till Kashmir’s liberation from Indian bondage.

The Kashmiris’ liberation movement took a new turn in 2008. For the next three consecutive years, thousands of people hit the streets of Srinagar and other major towns on a daily basis. At times, one million protesters were seen on the streets of Srinagar demanding their right to self-determination. The extrajudicial killing of a popular youth leader, Burhan Wani, on July 08, 2016, triggered another mass uprising in the territory. Unfortunately, instead of taking these mammoth anti-India demonstrations in all these years as Kashmiris’ referendum against its illegal occupation of their soil, India responded with brute force, resulting in the killing of hundreds of protesters and injuring of thousands. Since the killing of Burhan Wani, 1,231 Kashmiris had been martyred and 28,066 injured by Indian forces’ personnel till June 30, 2020. As many as 11,050 persons had received pellet injuries and 385 of them had lost their eyesight in one or both eyes.

Modi regime’s assaults

On 5th August 2019, the Narendra Modi-led fascist government repealed the special status of occupied Kashmir and placed the territory under military siege and communications lockdown. After this illegal move, Indian troops have stepped up the killing spree across occupied Kashmir to suppress the uprising and intimidate the Kashmiris into submission. The killing of a 65-year-old civilian, Bashir Ahmed Khan, by Indian troops in front of his 3-year-old grandson in Sopore town in early July 2020 is the glaring example of Indian state terrorism in the occupied territory. Since 5th August, last year, Indian troops had martyred 192 Kashmiris and injured at least 1,326 others by using brute force on peaceful demonstrators till July 05, 2020. The troops had damaged over 935 houses and structures and molested 77 women. Thousands of Hurriyat leaders, political and human rights activists, religious heads, journalists, businessmen, lawyers and civil society members, who were arrested after or before the 5th August 2019, continue to remain in different jails of India and occupied Kashmir.

The Modi regime has also introduced new domicile rules in occupied Kashmir, paving way for the Indian Hindus to get permanently settled in the territory. The basic aim of the move is to convert the Muslim majority into a minority. It has so far issued domicile certificates to over 300,000 Indian Hindus including an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, Navin Kumar Choudhary.

However, the fact remains that the worst kind of Indian brutalities have failed to force the Kashmiris to surrender their just cause and they are determined to carrying forward their freedom movement.

Conclusion

The unparalleled sacrifices rendered by the people of occupied Kashmir in their just struggle during the past several decades have shaken the conscience of the world community, which has started to raise its voice in favour of their rights. The holding of discussion in the UN Security Council on the situation in occupied Kashmir twice within few months in the last over 50 years, the debates in the UK Parliament, the issuance of documents on Kashmir by the European Parliament and two reports by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighting the grave human rights abuses by Indian troops in Kashmir are some glaring examples of this fact. These developments show that the day is not far when India will have no option but to respect the Kashmiris’ aspirations and give them their right to self-determination it had promised several decades ago.

Kashmiris to observe Accession to Pakistan Day tomorrow

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Indian atrocities failed to erase Kashmiris’ love for Pakistan

Srinagar, July 18 (KMS): Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control and across the world will observe the Accession to Pakistan Day, tomorrow (19th July), with a renewed pledge to continue the struggle for freedom from Indian occupation and complete merger of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan.

On 19th July in 1947, genuine representatives of the Kashmiris unanimously passed the resolution of Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan during a meeting of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference at the residence of Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan in Aabi Guzar area of Srinagar. The historic resolution called for the Accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan in view of its existing religious, geographical, cultural and economic proximity to Pakistan and aspirations of millions of Kashmiri Muslims.

The development had come almost a month before the creation of two sovereign states of Pakistan and India under the Partition Plan of the British Indian colony on August 14 and 15 respectively, the same year. As per the understanding behind the Partition Plan, the Princely States were free to accede to either of the two newly established countries. The decision of 19th July 1947 was a testimony to the fact that the people of Kashmir had linked their future with Pakistan. They took the decision of joining Pakistan to protect their political religious, social, cultural and economic rights, as they were well aware of their fate under Hindus who had deep seated animosity for Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, an analytical report released by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service, today, revealed that over 450,000 Kashmiris have laid down their lives for Jammu and Kashmir’s freedom from Indian occupation and its Accession to Pakistan during the last over seven decades. It said the worst kind of Indian brutalities have failed to wipe out the Kashmiris’ love for Pakistan.

The report said Indian troops in their continued acts of state terrorism have martyred over 95,630 Kashmiris including 7141 in custody since January 1989. It said the troops have subjected over 8,000 Kashmiri youth to custodial disappearance, molested over 11,200 women and destroyed as many as 110,334 houses during the period while thousands of Kashmiris still remain lodged in different jails of occupied Kashmir and India. However, the report added, these atrocities have not been able to force the Kashmiri people to give up their just cause and they are determined to continue their struggle to achieve their cherished goal.

The Sopore killing: Perils of impunity

By Altaf Hussain Wani

Source

The gruesome killing of an unarmed civilian in front of his grandson by the Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on 1st July 2020 in Sopore, north-west of Srinagar, has shocked the world. The images of a shell-shocked, speechless toddler lying on the chest of his dead grandfather were heartbreaking.

This barbaric murder by the Indian occupation forces triggered widespread condemnation and protests by residents and members of civil society from Indian Occupied Kashmir. They continue to plead for justice and an end to the state-sponsored violence which has been a hallmark of the Indian occupation.

The July 01 incident is just a tip of the iceberg. There are scores of such heart-wrenching incidents of state-sponsored violence against Kashmiris during the decades of conflict. Media sanctions imposed by the Indian authorities and the absence of social media, prevents incidents of violence gaining international attention and a cumulative humanitarian response.

One incident that should have stirred the sleeping conscience of the international community was that of a newly married bride from South Kashmir’s Islamabad district, whose husband was killed in front of her. She was later raped by the Indian forces in the bus in which she was travelling to her husband’s home. But there was no outcry.

The gang rape of a pregnant woman from Kunan Poshpora village of Kupwara by Indian forces who two weeks later gave birth to a baby with a broken leg should have made every Indian hang their head in shame that such attacks are carried out by their military. Kashmiri women being raped by Indian troops in front of their male family members have no place in this modern world. Yet although such shameful incidents were widely reported in the local and international press the perpetrators were never brought to book. Rape is always a crime. When committed by occupying forces it amounts to a war crime.

Systematic violence over several decades has had far reaching consequences on the physical and mental health of Kashmiri society. Living in a constant state of fear is a feature of Kashmiris’ life. According to a recent Medicins Sans Frontier report, Kashmir has one of the highest rates of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the world.

The MSF report stated, “The result of the violence has caused a chronic trauma that affects nearly all of Kashmir’s four million Muslims, countless numbers of Hindu and Sikh residents and those displaced”. The report also highlighted that the situation in the region has deteriorated to such a level that public and private hospitals and mental health clinics are overwhelmed with the numbers of patients. Kashmir health professionals now see a rise in drug addiction and suicide rates.

This dangerous dimension of the conflict has largely been ignored internationally. Rather than viewing the Disputed Territory of Jammu and Kashmir through the prism of humanity, internationally it has always been viewed it as a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. The abysmal international response to the human rights violations in Kashmir and its reluctance to play a greater role in resolving the conflict as per international covenants has emboldened the Indian occupation authorities to act with impunity.

Impunity from prosecution, lack of accountability for rights abuses, and the absence of an independent investigation policy and mechanism at government level, has led to countless massacres, mass murders, fake encounters, forced disappearances, extra-judicial and custodial killings.

The recent incident of killing of a grandfather in front of his grandchild therefore cannot be treated as an isolated case. Rather it should be seen in the broader context of the Indian policy intended to instil fear in Kashmiris who have refused to bow to the Indian diktat and its policy of forced integration of Jammu and Kashmir into India.

The UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric’s remarks that people responsible for the civilian killing in Kashmir need to be brought to account, is a welcome development. However, as killing of civilians continues to escalate, it is the time that the UN Secretary General, as custodian of peace and justice, should use his diplomatic clout to help bring an end to the bloodshed and finally resolve the Kashmir dispute.

The UN must also now take into consideration the OHCHR report on Kashmir that provides a detailed account of violent crimes committed by the Indian forces in the disputed region. The recent dramatic increase in violence in Kashmir further substantiates the OHCHR report and its recommendations, particularly the need for establishing a commission of inquiry to investigate the human rights violations.

Pressure must be mounted on the Government of India to allow independent monitoring of human rights abuses being committed by its forces in Jammu and Kashmir. A robust and independent monitoring mechanism and granting free access to international human rights organizations would be instrumental in ending human rights violations and bringing perpetrators to account.

IOK people appealed to observe complete shutdown on July 13

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Indian troops martyr two more Kashmiri youth in Kupwara

Srinagar, July 11 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the veteran Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Gilani, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and the Hurriyat forum led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have appealed to the people of the territory to observe complete shutdown on Monday, 13th July, to reaffirm the pledge to continue the mission of their martyrs till the achievement of the inalienable right to self-determination.

On the 13th of July 1931, the troops of Dogra Maharaja had killed 22 Kashmiris, one after the other, outside the Central Jail in Srinagar during the court proceedings against one Abdul Qadeer who had asked Kashmiri people to defy the Dogra rule. Since then, Kashmiris have been observing 13th July as Kashmir Martyrs’ Day.

Syed Ali Gilani in a tweet maintained that the people of occupied Kashmir have not submitted to the Indian oppression for the last several decades and they will continue their battle against this brutal occupation till the dawn of freedom. In another tweet he urged people to observe shutdown on 13th July.

The APHC in a statement in Srinagar said 1931 mass movement was Kashmiris’ first collective struggle against the centuries-old autocratic rule and those killed on 13th July are considered to be the first martyrs of the ongoing freedom movement. It also called for a march towards the Martyrs’ Graveyard at Naqashband Sahib in Srinagar to pay homage to the martyrs of 1931 who are buried there. The Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat forum in its statement said 13th July 1931 is a key milestone in the history of Jammu and Kashmir as a day when the Kashmiris for the first time collectively stood up to resist oppressive autocratic rule and gave expression to their aspirations.

Meanwhile, Indian troops in their fresh act of state terrorism martyred two Kashmiri youth during a military operation in Handwara area of Kupwara district, today. The troops also continued cordon and search operations in Bandipora, Pulwama, Rajouri and Kishtwar districts.

Mutahida Majlis-e-Ulema, headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, in a statement in Srinagar, condemned the arrest and harassment of innocent Kashmiris in the garb of coronavirus lockdown. It said it is ironic that the occupation authorities have banned congregations in mosques and religious places citing COVID-19 but they have opened up gardens and parks and tourist spots for people to give the impression that everything is normal. It said that the situation in occupied Kashmir was pathetic.

Indian police arrested APHC leader and the Acting Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Muslim League, Farooq Ahmad Tawheedi, in Srinagar and shifted him to a police station in Sopore. Earlier, the police had arrested Farooq Towheedi’s son, Junaid Ahmed, during a house raid in Sopore. Hurriyat leaders including Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sopori and Abdul Majeed Mir in their statements denounced the arrest of Farooq Tawheedi.

The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leaders from Kargil during a video conference with party leaders from the Kashmir Valley including Vice President, Omar Abdullah, strongly pleaded the restoration of their district to the Kashmir Valley and the special status of entire Jammu and Kashmir. They demanded revocation of the division of occupied Kashmir into two union territories.

Bringing the Israeli model to Kashmir

Anuradha Bhasin
Executive Editor Kashmir Times

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Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard on a road in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir on May 6, 2020 [AP/ Dar Yasin]For more than 70 years, Kashmiris have lived with the dread of the Indian government changing the demography and special status of Indian-administered Kashmir, which was till recently Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state. Deemed preposterous and exaggerated at one time, these anxieties have now become completely justified and have even deepened.

On August 5, 2019, Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which gave the state its special status and excluded it from the application of various constitutional provisions, was abrogated, while Article 35A, which limited certain residency rights to the local population and granted them certain protections, was altogether scrapped.

These two articles had guaranteed that the right to buy and own land or apply for government jobs was the sole prerogative of those who had inherited permanent residency by descent. They also meant a bar on business investments by outsiders or attempts by big monopolistic companies to take control of J&K’s lands and economy. This protected Kashmiris’ rights and afforded them a certain level of political and economic autonomy.

In October 2019, J&K was dissolved as a state, which meant it no longer had a state assembly empowered to pass legislation, and was divided into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh – allowing New Delhi to bring them under its direct control. Until then, J&K was the only Muslim-majority state in India.

With the abrogation of Article 370 and the removal of its status as a state, the region was fully integrated and its population stripped of the special privileges and entitlements it had been enjoying in view of the peculiar nature of the state’s history and its accession to India.

The actual disempowerment, which will soon begin to be felt on the ground, is more than the loss of the special local identity. Brought by stealth and deceit, without fulfilling the constitutional requirement of participation of the state legislature, the abrogation of Article 370 and demotion of the erstwhile state has become fait accompli, as the hearings on a bunch of petitions challenging the move in the Supreme Court of India have been postponed multiple times.

If Article 370 was aimed to lay down the foundation of the Indian government’s agenda in J&K, the actions that have followed are the building blocks to serve that design calculatedly.

Thus, in a late-night move on March 31, when the Indian government officially announced a new domicile rule for Jammu and Kashmir, more clarity was shed on what the future entails. The devil was in the detail.

According to the notification called “Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020”, anyone who has resided in J&K for 15 years or has studied in the territory for seven years, and appeared in either Class 10 or Class 12 examination, will get residency rights. They will then be eligible for various government jobs.

The notification’s timing, one week after India announced a countrywide lockdown to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, was odd. While a lockdown in the rest of the country became a safety measure in the fight against a virus, in Kashmir it assumed a different meaning. It was a lockdown within a lockdown that had been partially in place since August 5, 2019.

A stringent clampdown on J&K under military boots including an absolute communication blockade allowed the Indian government to surreptitiously scrap its special status and split it into more pliable units last year. The longest-ever lockdown in Kashmir served the purpose of scuttling any public outrage and also ensured that information slipped into a black hole, making an entire population invisible and their grievances inaudible.

The 2019 lockdown was unconstitutional, undemocratic and morally erroneous. But this has now become the foundational principle of India’s strategy in Kashmir with no punctuations of pretence. If the first lockdown was successful in preventing public outcry over the loss of special status and protections, the other provided a stepping stone for laying the blueprint of what the Indian government intends to do as part of its larger agenda.

The new domicile rule, and its timing, stirred up anxieties, particularly among the J&K youth, irrespective of their ethnic and communal identities or their political ideologies, as it meant they would be losing government jobs, they earlier had a monopoly over, to outsiders. The government is one of the biggest employers of fresh graduates in the region and in the spring a number of recruitment processes were stalled, prompting suspicions that this was done intentionally to allow outsiders who qualified for domicile under the new rule to apply as well.

On February 27, the authorities scrapped the recruitment process of J&K Bank for more than 1,450 posts, which had been going on since 2018, jeopardising the career prospects of thousands of aspirants who had been waiting after clearing their preliminary exams. On June 2, the bank advertised for 1,850 posts inviting applications for domiciles.

In the midst of the pandemic, as hospitals battled with a shortage of infrastructure and staff, the government showed the door to hundreds of healthcare employees on temporary contracts in Srinagar and Kathua district in Hindu-majority Jammu region. This, despite shortages of medical staff and the established practice of offering temporary workers permanent contracts.

The recruitment, appointment and promotion processes for various civil service positions in the administration, education and healthcare sectors have also been put on hold after the J&K Public Service Commission, which is responsible for civil service recruitment, was made defunct and the constitution of a new commission under the new status of the region as a union territory was delayed. A new chairman was finally appointed in May.

The threat of losing jobs to outsiders is coupled with the anxieties of the existing government employees with respect to service-related litigations related to pay, promotions, etc, of which there are currently more than 30,000 cases.

On April 29 this year, on grounds that J&K had lost its statehood, the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 was made applicable to J&K and Ladakh. In June, the creation of Jammu Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal was announced which will cover the union territories of J&K and Ladakh. But a single bench at the south end of the region will be insufficient, given the large size of the population and the difficult mountainous topography which renders the journey to Jammu too long.

These changes come as over the last couple of decades, locals in the administrative bureaucracy have been sidelined or sent out on deputations. This process has further picked up steam recently. After the abrogation of Article 370, the majority of top bureaucratic positions in the administration of Jammu and Kashmir are held by outsiders.

The immediate beneficiaries of the new domicile rule could go beyond the thousands of Hindu and Sikh refugees, who have fled Pakistan since partition and have settled in the suburbs of Jammu city. The rules for getting a domicile certificate are now pretty relaxed, so there is no way to assess the exact number of people who are likely to benefit.

Thousands of bureaucrats from outside and those working in the private sector have spent more than the required 15 years in J&K in the last 70 years. A sizeable part of the Indian armed forces is concentrated in J&K and many have served several postings in the erstwhile state, easily making many eligible under the new criteria.

The numbers are likely to add up by each year and given the easily corruptible system and lack of accountability, there is no telling how the laws will be tweaked to further allow an influx of beneficiaries from outside.

And this is not just about jobs. There is also the question of land ownership and business investment over which the new domicile rule is silent, which means that unlike the past, any Indian may buy land, settle and start a business venture in J&K.

Under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, which came into effect in October, the legal provisions restricting ownership of private property to permanent residents were struck down. In the past, local land reform legislation empowered peasants including the socially oppressed classes, giving them a sense of dignity and making J&K one of the few states in the country where nobody died of starvation.

The amended land-related laws induce fears in the local population of not just losing their exclusive privileges but also of suffering under possible monopolistic economic hegemonies.

The state also had in place its reservation act that provided for quotas in educational institutions and jobs for people of disadvantaged backgrounds, including Dalits, members of various tribes, etc. Women enjoyed a 50 percent reservation in professional colleges. Since the 1950s, education at school and college level was free in government institutions. All of that now stands to be reversed.

For now, using the pandemic as an excuse, the government has also halted the 150-year-old annual practice of shifting the capital from Jammu to Srinagar in the summer. Though the practice of two capitals – in Hindu-majority Jammu and Muslim-majority Kashmir – was ideally inclusive, it was Srinagar that became the hub of political power after Kashmir’s accession in 1947.

The government decision to begin the delimitation (redrawing of boundaries) of electoral constituencies, which is likely to give Hindu-majority Jammu more seats, will reshape the local political dynamics. Two ideas have been mooted by several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders to that end – enumeration on the basis of area and not population, as is the countrywide norm, as well as adding the kitty of 24 seats of Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (PAK) and Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin that lay vacant for the last 70 years to Jammu region by fielding Hindu and Sikh refugees from PAK.

The Delimitation Commission was announced on March 6 and immediately the process of data collection was set in motion. It has been going on without any punctuation throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.

Structures of power are being dismantled bit by bit, particularly emaciating the political significance of Srinagar and turning Jammu into a symbolic site of victory while keeping its people disempowered.

Already, the political space in J&K has been completely decimated. While many top leaders continue to be in detention, including former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, others have been let off or placed under house arrest on conditions of maintaining silence.

A lobby of renegades from various parties recently floated a new political organisation called Apni Party. It is believed to enjoy the patronage of New Delhi and has failed to cut much ice.

Under the new arrangement, while the far-flung union territory of Ladakh would be robbed of a legislative assembly, J&K will get one with limited powers, turning the two entities virtually into two remote-controlled municipalities.

This puts a question mark over the practicability of managing the erstwhile state, with its huge area, its complexity, its socio-political diversity and its fragility, under this arrangement of one centralised authority. While a sense of political empowerment is diminished, the terms of engagement in local political narrative are decimated to municipal and administrative matters.

A sense of loss appears to be a strange leveller and may have somewhat bridged the traditionally divisive narratives in Muslim-dominated Kashmir and Hindu-dominated Jammu, the latter having seen a phenomenal rise in Hindu right-wing politics in recent decades.

But while in Jammu public discontent is linked to loss of jobs, land, monopoly over trade and higher education, in Kashmir, in addition to all these, the dilution of Article 370 and domicile law assumes a whole new meaning – the fear of a demographic change.

Shaped by Hindu right-wing groups openly calling for changing demography of Kashmir and integrationist politics, anxieties of demographic change have existed in Kashmir for decades. Today, a pathway is being paved for replicating the Israeli model of occupation and colonisation of the West Bank in Kashmir towards disempowerment and dispossession of the locals, particularly Kashmiri Muslims, to exercise hegemonic control through new settlers.

Sometime in late November last year, a serving Indian diplomat in the United States, while addressing a gathering of Kashmiri Hindus, averred that “Kashmiri culture is Indian culture; it is Hindu culture” and espoused the Israeli model of West Bank settlements as the way forward. Though the Indian government did not officially support this policy of apartheid, it also conveniently did not distance itself from the remarks made by its serving envoy in his official capacity.

If there were any doubts about the seriousness of these remarks, they can now be discarded. The recent moves indicate a more systemic pattern of making this model the centrepiece of India’s Kashmir policy. The present lockdown has been used to plot the points on the map while avoiding any public outcry. This arsenal of administrative changes in a fragile setting is like dumping fuel that could well trigger an inferno of unimaginable proportions.

The government is underestimating the patience and silence of the public and the international ramifications of riding roughshod over the aspirations of the people of Kashmir and pushing them to the margins as secondary citizens with an uptick in massive human rights abuse.

While this amounts to trampling of Indian democracy, it also makes peace in South Asia extremely vulnerable. In all probability, the transition to demographic change will not be as smooth. A desperate struggle for self-preservation within Kashmir and the heightened level of tensions between India and Pakistan – two nuclear powers – will throw up an explosive situation. The present standoff between India and China also has the potential to escalate and add fuel to the fire.

Kashmiris paying heavy cost due to seven decades old conflict

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Srinagar, July 04 (KMS): The Kashmir conflict has been and is imposing heavy cost on the human life in occupied Kashmir where this conflict has adversely impacted each and every aspect of the lives of people during the past over seven decades and particularly since 1989.

An analytical report released by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service, today, said occupied Kashmir is only region of the world where humans are living without human rights as India has usurped all basic freedoms of the people. It said that killings, extrajudicial executions, arrests, torture, use of brute force on peaceful protesters, destruction of properties and molestation of women by Indian troops and police personnel have become a norm in the occupied territory. It said that fascist Indian forces were brutally carrying out massacre of the innocent Kashmiris.

The report pointed out that Indian troops in their unabated acts of state terrorism have martyred 95,615 people in occupied Kashmir since January 1989 till date. It maintained that at least 160,516 civilians have been illegally arrested while over 110,334 structures have been destroyed by the Indian forces in the territory during the period.

The report said that 2016 was declared “Year of Loss of Eyes” in occupied Kashmir because of pellet firing by the Indian forces. It said that hundreds of people had lost their eyes due to the use of pellet guns by Indian police and troops during mass uprising triggered by the extrajudicial killing of popular youth leader, Burhan Wani, on July 08 that year.

The report said that thousands of Hurriyat leaders, political activists, journalists, lawyers and civil society members had been illegally arrested by the Indian authorities and they remained lodged in different jails of the occupied territory and India. It said that these detainees included Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Aasiya Andrabi, Masarrat Aalam Butt, Mian Abdul Qayoom, Dr Muhammad Qasim Fakhtoo, Naheeda Nasreen, Fahmeeda Sofi, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Ayaz Muhammad Akbar, Altaf Ahmed Shah, Peer Saifullah, Merajuddin Kalwal, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Dr Abdul Hameed Fayyaz, Maulana Mushtaq Ahmed Veeri, Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, Maulana Sarjan Barkati, Ghulam Ahmed Gulzar and Asif Sultan.

Troops continue massive CASOs in IOK

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Rich tributes paid to martyred youth

Srinagar, June 27 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, Indian troops continued massive cordon and search operations across the territory, subjecting the residents to torture and harassment.

The troops continue to carry on their violent operations in different areas of Srinagar, Badgam, Ganderbal, Kupwara, Bandipore, Baramulla, Shopian, Pulwama, Islamabad, Kulgam, Poonch, Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Rajouri and Jammu. The residents of these areas told media that the Indian forces’ personnel barge into the residential houses, harass the inmates and vandalize the household goods. The troops have also arrested several youth from different areas.

Hurriyat leaders, Shabbir Ahmed Dar, Umar Aadil Dar, Mir Muhammad Iqbal and Ghulam Ahmed in their statements in Srinagar paid rich tributes to the youth and an 8-year-old boy recently martyred by Indian troops. They said that the sacrifices of Kashmiri martyrs would not be allowed to go waste and their mission would be accomplished at all costs.

Meanwhile, the residents of occupied Kashmir have been urged through a social media campaign that all village/mohalla/town committees of the territory should come together and make sure that not a single non-local lives in their areas. All of these committees have been asked to give clear instructions to the people that anyone who tries to give space to non-locals or tries to sell land to any non-Kashmiri will be socially boycotted and evicted from the area.

The Jammu and Kashmir Students Youth Forum in a statement in Srinagar said that its activists held protest demonstrations in Srinagar and Islamabad districts against the Indian government’s move to allow opening of liquor shops in the territory. The protesters raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.

The Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party in a statement in Srinagar said that the new media policy introduced by India in occupied Kashmir was an atrocious assault on the press freedom in the territory. The Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Pir Panjal Peace Foundation, Muhammad Hanif Kalas, in a statement in Jammu denounced issuance of domicile certificates to Indian citizens by the authorities.

Illegally detained senior APHC leader, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, has moved a Delhi court seeking his lodgment in a separate cell in Tihar jail. In an application, Shabbir Shah’s counsel, Advocate Qausar Khan, submitted that his client is suffering from various ailments and had the higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.

The family members of illegally detained ailing Hurriyat leader, Shahid-ul-lslam, in a statement in Srinagar urged the Indian authorities to shift him from New Delhi’s Tihar jail to the Kashmir Valley to save him from getting affected with the coronavirus.

An Indian Army vehicle crushed a 12-year-old boy, Farhan Ahmad Sher Gojri, to death in Kupwara district.

APHC-AJK leaders, Mahmood Ahmed Saghar, Abdul Majeed Malik and Zahid Ashraf, in their statements in Islamabad condemned the ongoing killing spree unleashed by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir. The Convener of AJK chapter of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat forum, Syed Faiz Naqshbandi, addressing a meeting in Islamabad hailed the remarks of Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President of the US, Joe Biden, wherein he asked India to take necessary steps to restore the rights of the people of occupied Kashmir.

India using molestation, arrest of women as weapon of war in IOK

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Thousands of Kashmiri women martyred, 11,204 molested since 1989

Srinagar, June 19 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, India is using violence against Kashmiri women including arrest, harassment and rape and molestation as a weapon of war to suppress the Kashmiris’ ongoing struggle for securing their inalienable right to self-determination.

According to a Kashmir Media Service report compiled by Raies Ahmed Mir on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, today, said that Indian troops had molested 11,204 women since January 1989 till date. It said that brutal incidents of Kununposhpora mass rape and Shopian double rape and murder and rape and murder of Kathua minor girl were the glaring examples of Indian brutalities against women in the occupied territory.

The report said that Indian troops had molested around a hundred women during a siege and search operation in Kunanposhpora area of Kupwara district on the night of February 23 in 1991. It said that two women, 17-year-old Aasiya Jan and her 22-year-old sister-in-law Neelofar Jan, were abducted, raped and killed in custody by Indian men in uniform in May 2009. An eight-year-old girl, Aasifa Bano, a resident of Kathua district in Jammu region, was abducted, gang-raped and subsequently murdered by Indian police personnel and members of extremist Hindu organizations in January 2018, it added.

The report pointed out that thousands of women are among 95,630 Kashmiris, martyred by Indian military, paramilitary and police personnel since January 1989 till date. At least 672 women have been martyred by Indian troops since January 2001 alone.

The report maintained that the unabated Indian state terrorism had rendered 22,915 women widowed during the last thirty one years. It said that thousands of women lost their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers in the occupied territory who were subjected to custodial disappearance by Indian police and troops. As per the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, more than 8,000 Kashmiris went missing in custody during the past 31 years and their mothers, sisters and daughters continue to wait for their return, it added.

The report said that over a dozen Kashmiri women including resistance leaders Aasiya Andrabi, Fahmeeda Sofi and Naheeda Nasreen, as well as Hina Bashir Beig, Haseena Begum, Insha Tariq and a pregnant 27-year-old PhD Scholar of Jamia Millia New Delhi Safoora Zargar, were implicated in false cases and lodged in Indian jails.

The report further said that that hundreds of women and girls were also injured by the pellets fired by Indian troops while over hundred including 19-month-old Heeba Jan, 2-year-old Nusrat Jan, Tammana (11), Ulfat Hameed (17), Insha Mushtaq (18), Ifrah Shakoor (17), Shabroza Mir (16), Rafia Bano (31) and Shakeela Begum (35) were blinded in one or both eyes due to pellet injuries.

 

Modi’s Major Himalayan Mistake Crushed the Indian Military’s Morale

By Andrew Korybko

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The death of at least 20 members of the Indian military during non-firearm clashes with China along their disputed frontier in Kashmir has been extremely demoralizing for this already distressed institution, but it’s all due to Modi’s major Himalayan mistake in thinking that he can reap immediately tangible benefits from his new American patron by making a show out of “containing” China.

Modi’s Latest Mistake Was His Worst One Yet

At least 20 members of the Indian military were killed during non-firearm clashes with China earlier this week along their disputed frontier in Kashmir, which crushed the morale of this already distressed institution. Publicly financed Russian international media outlet Sputnik, citing Indian government sources, reported that they died after Chinese soldiers attacked them with “stones” and “iron rods as well as batons wrapped in barbed wire”. Sputnik also said that “Many of the unarmed men (OneWorld Note: this means that they weren’t armed with firearms but could have conceivably had other weapons just like their Chinese counterparts did) jumped into the Galwan River in an attempt to escape.” Others, they reported, “who were critically injured at the standoff location died after exposure to sub-zero temperatures.” This epic disaster wouldn’t have happened, however, had it not been for Modi’s major Himalayan mistake in thinking that he can reap immediately tangible benefits from his new American patron by making a show out of “containing” China.

Systemic Demoralization In The Indian Armed Forces

Before explaining the strategic drivers behind India’s misguided strategy of aggression against China, it’s important to emphasize just how demoralizing of a development this was for the country’s armed forces. According to a report from Modern Diplomacy asking “Why more Indian soldiers die in suicides and fratricides than in combat?“, “One jawan (OneWorld Note: this means ‘soldier’) commits suicide every third day.” Quite clearly, there are deep systemic problems driving this epidemic in the military, including discrimination against soldiers by their superiors for ethno-religious or caste-based reasons, insufficient rations that leave some recruits on the brink of starvation, and a lack of support for their illegal occupation of Kashmir where most of the suicides take place and the latest clash with China occurred. Against this backdrop, one can only imagine how crushing it was to the Indian military’s already dismal morale to have so many of their members killed by the Chinese without a shot being fired and die of the cold simply because their military couldn’t rescue them.

“Paper Elephant”

Many in India had hitherto been brainwashed by their government-pressured media into thinking that China was a so-called “paper tiger”, but recalling that their country proudly associates itself with the image of the elephant (patient but powerful, as its proponents allege), India itself can be described as a “paper elephant” following the recent disaster in Kashmir. So many of its military members died in brutal face-to-face combat, not because someone pulled a trigger or pressed a button from far away. Others fled in fear and basically committed suicide by jumping off the mountains into a nearby river, while still others died unnecessarily of the cold because their military lacked the political will and/or physical means to rescue them. The Bollywood-propagated myth of India as a so-called “superpower” was conclusively shattered once and for all, which explains society’s literal shock at what happened and its leadership’s inability to even comment on the matter immediately after it transpired. The “politically inconvenient” fact is that the “paper elephant” was just shredded by a real tiger.

Ideology & Geopolitics

India should have known better than to have tested China’s resolve by invading its territory under the mistaken belief that the People’s Republic was supposedly just a “paper tiger”, but it did so anyhow for two interconnected reasons as the author wrote in his recent piece for CGTN about how “India Must Urgently Refrain From Its Strategy Of Regional Aggression“. The Hindu nationalist BJP wants to carve “Akhand Bharat” (Greater India) out of “Greater South Asia” (which includes parts of China’s Xinjiang and Tibet regions) so as to impose a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu fundamentalist state) upon the region. It’s been encouraged by the US in pursuit of this ideological-geopolitical goal since America regards India as a proxy for “containing” China. Prime Minister Modi thought that he could reap immediately tangible benefits from his country’s new ally through India’s failed foray, but America has thus far refrained from formally intervening in the conflict, whether militarily or diplomatically.

The American Proxy

Three of the author’s recent pieces shed some relevant insight on the US’ strategic aims in this proxy war and should be reviewed by the reader in order to familiarize themselves with its Machiavellian objectives:

In summary, the American goal is to misportray China as the “aggressor”, solidify its emerging trans-regional alliance against it in response, restructure supply chains away from the People’s Republic, and thus “contain” it.

“Saving Face”

The US will likely provide some tangible form of these envisioned benefits to India with time, but the fact that they haven’t immediately materialized in the aftermath of the recent clash has humiliated India as a country and especially its armed forces. The ultra-nationalist sentiment that the ruling party has cultivated over its past six years in power is at risk of backfiring against it since approximately 1,3 billion people have just realized that they’ve been lied to by their leaders this entire time about their civilization-state supposedly being a “superpower”, only to be exposed as the “paper elephant” that it’s always been. This dangerously means that the authorities might undertake another military foray against what they consider to be a less formidable military foe in order to “save face” and distract the agitated masses. This scenario could take the form of another false flag provocation against Pakistan like last February’s (with predictably similar self-inflicted humiliation), an attack against Nepal, or another “surgical strike” against Naga rebels hiding out in Myanmar.

Concluding Thoughts

There’s no going back to the status quo ante bellum wherein India unconvincingly tried to deceive China into thinking that its much-ballyhooed policy of so-called “multialignment” with the US wasn’t really a strategic pivot aimed at “containing” the People’s Republic. India learned the hard way that there’s a tremendous difference between its domestically-targeted propaganda against China and the cold reality of the Chinese military. Just as there’s no returning to the prior state of affairs between the two countries, so too is there no return to how the average Indian previously perceived of their military’s strength. The “paper elephant” was shredded into pieces by the Chinese tiger without a shot being fired, and the Indian military was unprecedentedly humiliated. The resultant demoralization that’s expected to take hold of the entire armed forces in the aftermath of Modi’s major Himalayan mistake will likely ensure that it’ll never regain its prior confidence, which could prove catastrophic when it comes to defending what it regards as its national interests.

Indian troops martyr 4 more Kashmiri youth in IOK

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India killing Kashmiris to prolong its occupation

Srinagar, June 13 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, Indian troops in their fresh acts of state terrorism martyred four more Kashmiri youth in Kulgam and Islamabad districts, today.

The troops martyred two youth each during cordon and search operations at Nipora in Kulgam and in Lallan area of Islamabad. The operations continued till last reports came in. Indian police and troops sealed all entry and exit points of the areas. The occupation authorities suspended internet service in the two districts. These killings raised the number of martyred youth to 18 during last one week. Indian troops have martyred 14 youth during violent military operations in different areas of Shopian district since Sunday.

A delegation of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples League visited Shopian to express solidarity with the families of the youth recently martyred by the troops. The delegation members, on the occasion said that the mission of Kashmiri martyrs would be accomplished at all costs.

The Jammu and Kashmir Young Men’s League and Jammu and Kashmir Students Youth Forum in a joint statement said that scores of activists of the two organizations held protest demonstrations in different areas of Srinagar and Islamabad against the continued killing of Kashmiri youth by Indian troops.

APHC leader and the Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Political Movement, Khawaja Firdous, addressing a gathering in Ahmed Nagar area of Srinagar said that India had been committing atrocities on the Kashmiri people for the last over seven decades to prolong its illegal occupation of the territory.

The Jammu and Kashmir Mass Movement Patron, Farida Bahenji, in a statement in Srinagar paid rich tributes to the youth martyred by Indian troops in Kulgam and Islamabad districts, today. She appealed to the UN and the international community to take cognizance of the stepped-up Indian state terrorism in the territory.

Indian police have filed an open FIR and started questioning those criticising the judgment of High Court of the territory, which denied bail to illegally detained High Court Bar Association President, Mian Abdul Qayoom, just for his political ideology and stance on the Kashmir dispute. The lawyers of the Valley have said that the police are hounding them for criticising the court verdict. A lawyer from Shopian, Habeel Iqbal, who was summoned on Wednesday, said that he was questioned for five hours and asked to reveal every personal and family detail, including the name of his five-year-old child. In a tweet, Iqbal had said the judgment shall be remembered as yet another instance of court acting as an extension of the executive.

India has raised the ante in Kashmir – Do we have an answer?

By Syed Nazir Gilani

Source

India has raised the ante in Kashmir. Doordarshan and All India Radio (private channels to follow) have started from 8 May 2020, to telecast and broadcast temperatures and weather reports of Indian towns and cities including “Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit” as a feed from The North Western Division of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). DD News and All India Radio will include “Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit” in their prime time news bulletins at 8.55am and 8.55pm weather reports, as part of their claim on these areas of Azad Kashmir.

IMD move to include “Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit” in their weather bulletin is a disturbing tactical move, on the top of a strategic move of 5 August and 31 October 2019. India has started selling to its people, that the large Indian army has the chin to take any loss of life of its armed forces in Kashmir.

Loss of life in the households of Kashmir is far different in character. The youth are prepared to lead into the next generation and killing of a Kashmiri youth is slowly killing the right of ‘self-determination’. Do we need to sit and watch for the chain actions of Indian Government, that started on 5 August 2019, let it hold the Valley under lock and allow its army to roam free to pick up and kill Kashmiri youth at will? The answer should be no!

Pakistan did fairly well at the UN General Assembly in September 2019. Forcing UN Security Council to revisit Kashmir, in whatever manner, on 16 August 2019 and 15 January 2020 were two very good efforts. However, we have again lost the momentum and have misinterpreted the Indian actions. Indian has disturbed the status quo on Kashmir and in a way has annexed the Indian administered (occupied) part of Kashmir. It does not need to go for any quick demographic change. The actions of 5 August and 31 October 2019, provide a safe cover to India, to hurt the Muslim majority character of the State.

India did not claim “Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit” as its cities out of any whim. Indian actions add up to a fact that India has been cheating Pakistan even in diplomatic engagements. JKCHR did point out one such overbearing influence of India, in the Indo-Pak Joint Statement issued after the June 19-23 1997 India Pakistan talks at Islamabad. Indian side tricked Pakistan to retreat on Kashmir from its core position and add it in the eight “outstanding issues of concern to both sides”.

Kashmir was displaced from its ‘principal’ character and it became an ‘include’ in many other issues. It was an unbelievable retreat in the history of Kashmir. In a way it was as agonising as Kashmir being hit at the UN Security Council in August 1996, by rule 11 of the Procedure Rules of Security Council.

JKCHR made a five page representation to the Government of Pakistan on 30 June 1997 and pointed out the serious mistakes made in the joint statement. Indian side made the full use of the principle of “literal and strained interpretation’, while interpreting the terms of the joint statement on their arrival in Delhi. On 25 June 1997, Indian Foreign Secretary Salman Haider said, “When we talk about the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, there is a juridical element in that. We make the point that parts of Jammu and Kashmir are under Pakistani occupation by military force and that is something that we would certainly discuss”.

Explaining the merits of the joint statement, Indian FS said, “We have said that there is no dispute in our part of Kashmir but there are issues relating to POK”. Indian Parliament Resolution of February 1994, on Azad Kashmir and GB, declaring them as part of India, should have forced Pakistan, Azad Kashmir and every Kashmiri into meditation and unease.

Indian Meteorological Department, Doordarshan, All India Radio and Indian private TV channels have started doing, is exactly, what Indian Parliament has pending on its files since February 1994. What are our options?

War and the use of International law (UN Resolutions) are our only options left. Pakistan like India is a nuclear state. Pakistan’s nuclear capability, cancels out the overbearing Indian misplaced big size boast of its size and number. One would love to see India and Pakistan return to the call of “their spiritual heritage and the responsibility of their power” in the service of their people and the region. If war is avoided, we have a future. However, if war breaks out the present leadership may not survive to see a depopulated and vastly deserted India.

The other way forward would be engagement and respect for international law. Kashmiris and Government Pakistan have international law on their side. UN Resolutions would not entertain Indian hegemony and such actions at all, unless we have lost faith in the jurisprudence of our case and in our abilities to take India to the “Police Station”. International Law in our case are the UN Resolutions and we need to re-visit the merits of our case.

Foreign office of Pakistan indeed has brilliant minds, but we need people who have a reliable knowledge of Kashmir case and reliable understanding of UN Resolutions. To be brilliant in any discipline of foreign office is one thing and to be knowledgeable on Kashmir case is quite different. We may need to fix the political tripping and tipping in the appointments of the chairman of Kashmir Committee. There is need to upgrade and regularise the expert input from Government of Azad Kashmir, Kashmiri experts and start it on a war footing.

Prime Minister of Pakistan, as Chairman AJK Council has accepted a constitutional role in Azad Kashmir. Even if he had not volunteered to be an ambassador of the people of Kashmir, he has retained enough role, to structure a new team to work on Kashmir. AJK Council could be converted into a role that Section 11 of 1974 Act or Section 8 of 1970 Act warrants from Government of Azad Kashmir. We failed to make use of a space given to us by UNCIP Resolutions and UN Security Council Resolutions. It seems to have corrected the Indian hump and its leadership has gone mad. We need to keep the options of war and international law open.

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