How India makes Kashmiris pay for Palestine solidarity

MEE writers

20 May 2021 10:58 UTC | Last update: 24 mins 55 secs ago

When cries emerge from Kashmir over Israel’s devastating brutality against Palestinians, authorities respond with threats, arrests and heightened surveillance

A Kashmiri child protests in support of Palestine in Srinagar in 2018 (AFP)

As the world has watched Israel kill Palestinians with brutality and impunity, and as Israeli bombs levelled the building housing the media offices of Middle East Eye, Al Jazeera and the Associated Press, Jammu and Kashmir police sent out a diktat via Twitter about social media usage.

“J&K Police is keeping a very close watch on elements who are attempting to leverage the unfortunate situation in Palestine to disturb public peace and order in the Kashmir valley … All irresponsible social media comments that results in actual violence and breaking of law including Covid protocol will attract legal action,” read the statement, a veiled threat in the name of law and order.

Despite repression and erasure, the call for freedom – from Kashmir to Palestine – continues to echo

This warning came as protests were held in parts in Kashmir, alongside an outpouring of support for Palestine by Kashmiri social media users. The region, militarily occupied by India and frequently likened to Palestine through a noticeable “motif of suffering”, often expresses solidarity with Palestinians fighting Israeli settler-colonialism even as Kashmiris fight their own battle against India.

Recently, graffiti reading “We are Palestine”, with the face of a crying woman wearing the Palestinian flag as a headscarf, was seen in Srinagar; police later had it covered with black paint. The graffiti artist and 20 other people who took part in protests were arrested. There are reports that some were released with a warning not to indulge in such activities.

A religious preacher, Sarjan Barkati, was also arrested for praying for Palestine and raising pro-freedom slogans for Palestine and Kashmir during the Eid sermon in his native village. Barkati, famous for his unique sloganeering style in support of Kashmir’s freedom, had been released in October last year after a four-year detention.

Challenging oppression

When an insurgency, backed by mass popular support, emerged in Kashmir in the late 1980s, a Palestinian man is known to have travelled there to join a local militant group. He was later arrested and died in prison.

In 2014, when Gaza was being bombed by Israel, a 14-year-old boy was shot dead by Indian forces in Kashmir at a pro-Palestine protest. These protests, joined by thousands across Kashmir, saw placards such as “Save Gaza” and “Down with Israel”, amid chants of “Go India, Go Back”. Young boys engaged in stone-throwing battles against Indian forces, who fired at protesters.

Indian soldiers are pictured on the outskirts of Srinagar on 30 December 2020 (AFP)
Indian soldiers are pictured on the outskirts of Srinagar on 30 December 2020 (AFP)

The slogans about Palestine and Kashmir, reflective of oppression and posing a challenge to suffocating state policies in each region, easily blend into each other, paving the way for an “affective solidarity”, as Kashmiri scholar Ather Zia puts it. 

After India’s 2019 decision to facilitate the process of Indian citizens settling in Kashmir, the parallels with Israel’s settler-colonialism in Palestine became even stronger. The Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has called for solidarity with Kashmiris “under military repression that in so many cases is similar to Israeli forms of subjugation and control”.

In November 2019, while Kashmir continued to suffer under a total communications blackout, India’s consul general to the United States was seen in a viral video calling for the Israeli model to be applied in Kashmir. 

Israel-India military ties

In 2015, India had also abstained when the UN Human Rights Council voted on a resolution condemning Israel’s Gaza violations, in what came to be seen as part of the Israel-India romance. Israel is a major defence partner for India, with annual arms sales averaging $1bn, and India is the largest purchaser of Israeli weapons systems. India reportedly signed a secretive defence deal with Israel last year, to the tune of $200m. The ‘Israel model’: The fragile paradise of Kashmir faces an existential threatRead More »

While the military occupation and settler-colonialism in Palestine and Kashmir have their own distinct histories, trajectories and specific ends for Israel and India, both countries rely on similar forms of violence and dispossession, largely triggered by Islamophobia and the need to discipline and control the Muslim “other”.

Home demolitions, cultural aggression, erasure of history, refusal to hand over bodies for last rites, criminalisation of protest, and strengthening of surveillance architecture are policies that resonate in both countries as “embodied experiences of colonial occupation”. This is in addition to killings, massacres, torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detentions, and various other human rights violations embedded in the everyday militarised order.

Yet, it is not simply the rise of the right wing that sees India aligning with Israel’s settler-colonial project. Like Palestine’s Nakba, which people continue to live through, most of these forms of violence have existed for decades in Kashmir, irrespective of the regime in power in India. They continue to be strengthened through more blatant forms of counterinsurgency and digital militarism.

‘Topographies of pain’

As much as the alliance of the settler-colonial regimes of India and Israel has strengthened over the years, the “similar topographies of pain” that Kashmiris and Palestinians share opens up possibilities for radical imaginings of liberation, alongside powerful solidarity. When cries emerge from Kashmir over Israel’s devastating brutality against Palestinians and al-Aqsa Mosque, authorities respond with threats, arrests and more surveillance of social media.

When a Kashmiri screams “Palestine” with love, admiration and rage, it is as much a threat to the occupying power as the slogan of azadi for Kashmir. It is an urgent, intimate prayer, a call for togetherness across occupied homelands. It rejects the hollowness of international human rights instruments that continue to protect the powerful through the “both sides” and “clashes” narratives.

Despite repression and erasure, the call for freedom – from Kashmir to Palestine – continues to echo.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.MEE writers

The names of writers have been withheld for security reasons

Kashmiri Mothers Awaiting Jailed & Disappeared Sons

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Srinagar, May 09 (KMS): When most parts of the world are observing Mother’s Day, today, thousands of Kashmiri women continue to wait for the return of their sons imprisoned in jails and subjected to enforced disappearance in custody by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir over the past 33 years.

A report released by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service on Mother’s Day, today, said that the continued Indian state terrorism had resulted in the killing of 95,780 Kashmiris including women and children from 1989 to 9th of May 2021. As many as 22,926 women have been widowed by the Indian forces and 11,240 women were raped, disgraced or molested during the period.

Over one dozen women including 60-year-old resistance leader, Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi, Nahida Nasreen, Shazia Akhter,Haseena Begum Saima and Insha Tariq are illegally facing detention in different jails including in India’s infamous Tihar Jail on false charges.

The report pointed out that the troops had subjected about 8,000 Kashmiris to custodial disappearance during the period and the mothers of majority of these disappeared people had been waiting for their return. Second Sunday of May is observed as Mother’s Day since 1914 as a result of continued efforts by Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, a peace activist in, West Virginia, the United States, for her mother’s contributions towards the society.

Meanwhile, several mothers including Haseena Begum died whose son Syed Anwar Shah, a wall painter by profession, went missing on 21 July 2000, when arrested by Indian troops in Srinagar.

Mahtaba Begum hailing from Kashmir’s far-off village Karhama died while looking for her son who was arrested during a crackdown in 1990. Her son Mohammad Yaqub Khan was a laborer. Misra begum of Bemina’s boatman colony died in the desolation of her only son Shabbir Hussain Gasi who was arrested by Indian army on 21 January 2000. Hameeda Parveen died in 2012 after searching from pillar to post with the hope that her son would one day return to home. Details informed that her son, Abid Hussain, was a student.

Zoona Begum, hailing from Raj Bagh, whose son disappeared in May 1996 when he was detained after forces raided his house. Her son Imtiyaz Ahmad was a forester. Zoona died in 2011 while waiting for her son to return home.

Haleema Begum, hailing from Batamaloo area, died in February 2020. She struggled for the last 24 years in search of her son, Basharat Ahmad Shah, who was studying at Aligarh Muslim University, India. Basharat was arrested on 7 January 1990 by Indian CRPF from Sopore area.

65-year-old Rehti Begum reflects on her quiet life in Chaki Kawoosa village of Budgam, before her only son went missing. Begum said Muhammad Ramzan was detained in 1994 by the Indian army. He was never seen again.

“There is no one around with whom I can share my pain,” she says. Her husband died months after their son disappeared and she has since worked odd jobs. She searched for Ramzan for three decades, even as age took a toll on her health.

Meanwhile, International Forum for Justice Human Rights Jammu and Kashmir has said that while the world is celebrating Mother’s Day, today, nobody seems to be bothered about the state of Kashmiri mothers.

In a statement issued in Srinagar, IFJHRJK Chairman Muhammad Ahsan Untoo said that while there are celebrations going on around the world to honour the mothers, the Kashmiri mothers are longing to see their sons who have been imprisoned in Indian jails and subjected to enforced disappearances.

He said that the mothers in Kashmir have been inflicted enormous pain by the Indian state by killing and maiming their sons, and murdering and blinding their husbands.

He said that the so-called civilized world should wake up to the sufferings of Kashmiri mothers and address their issues.

Untoo said that over the last several years the sufferings of the Kashmiri mothers have increased manifold. They have been denied bodies of their sons and husbands, killed by the troops.  He urged the world bodies including the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and other bodies of women’s rights to take note of the sufferings of Kashmiri mothers.

Hurriyat AJK leader Abdul Majeed Mir in a statement said that Kashmiri mothers have nothing to observe the Mother Day as they have lost their sons to the brutal Indian troops. 

Western Sahara Is Extremely Important For The Anti-Imperialist Cause

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Western Sahara Is Extremely Important For The Anti-Imperialist Cause
Most folks never heard about Western Sahara until Trump unilaterally recognized Morocco’s claims to this disputed region of the Maghreb last week in exchange for it agreeing to a peace deal with “Israel”, but it’s actually extremely important for the anti-imperialist cause since its standing is similar to Palestine and Kashmir’s in the eyes of international law.

Trump’s unilateral recognition of Morocco’s claims to the disputed Maghreb region of Western Sahara in exchange for Rabat formalizing its long-held and not-so-secret ties with Tel Aviv caught many observers by surprise who previously weren’t familiar with this unresolved conflict. Palestine and Kashmir are much more globally prominent because of the involvement of nuclear powers and the efforts of some to focus more on the inter-religious optics of these conflicts than their international legal origins. Western Sahara satisfies neither of those two “exciting” criteria, hence why it’s largely been forgotten about by most of the world since the issue first came to the fore of international politics in the mid-1970s.

Francoist Spain’s “decolonization” process saw the totalitarian country refuse to grant independence to the Western Sahara, instead dividing it between neighboring Morocco and Mauritania against the wishes of the indigenous Sahrawi people as represented by the Polisario Front. This group in turn proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic with the support of neighboring Algeria, which has an historic rivalry with Morocco and was also sympathetic to socialist causes such as this one during the Old Cold War. Mauritania eventually abandoned its claims to the disputed region, and after over a decades’ worth of fighting, Morocco and the Western Sahara reached a UN-backed agreement in 1991 to hold a referendum on the region’s political status.

The vote never took place since the two warring sides couldn’t agree on who’s eligible to vote, with the primary problem being Morocco’s insistence on letting settlers participate. Western Sahara is also de-facto divided by a sand wall that the occupying army built to solidify its control over approximately 80% of the territory. With Trump’s unilateral recognition of Rabat’s claim to the entire region (which might eventually be followed by others such as “Israel”), as well as his government’s subsequent decision to move forward with a $1 billion arms deal, it’s extremely unlikely that last month’s end of the 29-year ceasefire will result in any serious gains being made by the Polisario Front.

Russia denounced the US’ political decision as illegal under international law, which is an entirely accurate assessment, but this isn’t expected to have any tangible effect on altering the conflict’s dynamics. Only Algeria could potentially have an impact, but its ongoing domestic political problems over nearly the past two years have forced it to suddenly look inward instead of continue with its traditional policy of presenting itself as a regional leader. Moreover, the US’ planned arms deal might ultimately shift the regional balance of power in a decisive way, especially if “Israel” gets involved too, or at the very least spark a new arms race between Morocco and Algeria as the latter looks to Russia and China for more military support in response.

Amidst all of this, anti-imperialists shouldn’t ever forget the international legal importance of the Western Saharan cause. However one feels about the legitimacy of either side’s claims in the conflict, it’s nevertheless a UNSC-recognized dispute that’s supposed to be resolved by a referendum. The precedent of the US unilaterally abandoning its international legal obligations is disturbing and arguably also destabilizing, though it’s obviously doing this in pursuit of its own national interests as it subjectively understands them. The problem, however, is that this might embolden other claimants over different UNSC-recognized disputed territories across the world to double down on their maximalist positions, thus making it much more difficult to resolve those issues.

Another important point is that international law exists not solely for “moral” reasons like its most passionate supporters claim (since it’s obviously imperfect), but for practical ones related to the necessity of having predictable means to resolve international disputes in order to avoid unintentional escalations that could quickly evolve into larger and more uncontrollable conflicts. Unilateral maximalist claims by one party are troublesome, but they become even worse when they’re supported by self-interested external actors who might also have an ulterior motive to divide and rule the region in question like the US clearly does in the Maghreb, Mideast, and South Asia regarding Western Sahara, Palestine, and Kashmir.

The Western Saharan cause is therefore inextricable from the Palestinian and Kashmiri ones in the eyes of international law, which is why supporters of those two should stand in solidarity with their Sahrawi counterparts. The issue can only legally be settled by a referendum according to the UNSC regardless of one’s personal views towards the conflict, but since that has yet to happen and might very well never occur after Trump’s combined diplomatic-military support for Morocco’s claims gives Rabat no incentive to comply, observers can’t help but be concerned. The only way to remain consistent with supporting Palestine and Kashmir is to support Western Sahara’s UNSC-recognized right to a referendum.

Perils of Unannounced War on the LoC

By Altaf Wani

Source

Over the past several years the Line of Control (LoC) has been on the boil. An unannounced war imposed by India is going on unabated. Bombing and shelling on the civilian population by the Indian troops have been a regular feature of the life near 740-kilometer long bloody ceasefire line, chosen by India’s fascist regime as a new battle-field to achieve its sinister designs in the region.

Unfortunately, the consequences of this silent war and its devastating impact on the lives of native people have gone largely unnoticed. Along with the potential of triggering a nuclear confrontation, this reckless violence is making life hell for the civilians settled in villages and towns along the LoC who have witnessed long spells of dreadful violence due to the ceasefire violations committed by the Indian forces. During the recent spate of Indian shelling in the Neelum Valley six civilians and a soldier of the Pakistan Army embraced martyrdom while two soldiers and at least nine civilians were wounded in AJK after Indian troops resorted to indiscriminate and ruthless shelling from across the (LoC) past midnight without any provocation.

Nearly 30% of total population of Azad Jammu and Kashmir lives in these highly volatile areas. Being at the edge of conflict, the long spells of violence have hit hard the lives of the common people in these highly vulnerable areas especially the Neelum, Leepa, and Jhelum valley, Farward Khota, Tatrinote, Nikyal and other areas that has witnessed a series of dreadful attacks by the Indian Army this year. As a result, hundreds of residential houses, vehicles, cattle-sheds, even schools, hospitals and places of worship (mosques) were destroyed and demolished due to the targeted shelling by the Indian troops from across the LoC. A perpetual and pervasive threat of aggression from India has caused displacement of the economically disadvantaged and downtrodden segment of the society on both sides of the line of control.

The most depressing aspect of this dirty war is that Indian troops have been using civilian population as a human shield to protect themselves from any possible reaction and response from the Pakistani side. Knowing that Pakistani side won’t target their installations in populated areas, the Indian Army is reported to have relocated its heavy artillery near densely populated areas and at some places in the middle of local population on other side of the LoC. The main aim and objective was to blame Pakistan for any civilian casualty and loss of property but India’s sinister plan was shortly exposed when people at Manzgam, Chokibal and Dardpora and Thandipora villages staged a protest against this anomaly. The incident was widely reported in local and international media wherein people revealed to the pressmen that the Indian Army was using them as human shields, which constitutes a serious crime under international law. But the fact remains that the restraint and responsibility showed by the Pakistan Army has emboldened the Indians to undertake attacks to spill the blood of innocent civilians.

While the realpolitik is steering the dynamics of the Kashmir conflict no one even bothers to talk about these war crimes being committed with impunity by the Indian forces. The absence of proper on-ground monitoring system has further aggravated the situation in the region since the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) that was mandated to supervise ceasefire violations on the LoC has been rendered virtually dysfunctional by the Indian government due to its noncooperation with the UN observers stationed in Srinagar, the capital city of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). On the contrary, the Pakistan Army on its part has continued to lodge complaints with UNMOGIP about ceasefire violations. The military authorities of India have not lodged any complaint since January 1972 and have restricted the activities of the UN observers near the LoC in IIOJK. Not allowing the observer mission to supervise the ceasefire violations, India, instead, choose to stick to its traditional policy of blaming Pakistan by paddling lies and trumpeting its so-called ‘counter-insurgency narrative’.

The historic 2003 ceasefire agreement that survived for over a decade has been instrumental in curbing cross-LoC violence in the region but this agreement too was thrown to the winds soon after the Modi government took over reins of power in New Delhi. Since then, there has been an upsurge in the incidents of ceasefire violations. According to statistics provided by Pakistan’s foreign ministry, and the State Disaster Management Authority Government of Azad Kashmir, the ceasefire has been violated by India at least 2,730 times this year, resulting in 21 civilian deaths and serious injuries to 206 others. Apart from fomenting trouble and creating instability on this side of the LoC, the Indian Army is raising tensions on the ceasefire line to deflect world attention away from the aggravating humanitarian situation in IIOJK.

The antagonistic approach and senseless targeting of innocent civilians would further, vitiate the tense atmosphere along the LoC and threaten regional peace and security. It is high time that the world must take effective notice of this reckless war imposed by India and force the government of India to resolve the lingering Kashmir dispute that happens to be the mother of all disputes pending between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan Made A Compelling Case That India Is A State Sponsor Of Terrorism

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Pakistan released a detailed dossier during a press conference on Saturday strongly making the case that India is a state sponsor of terrorism whose intelligence services have weaponized this phenomenon as part of the proxy war that they’re fighting with respect to the UNSC-recognized international Kashmir dispute and against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with it now being the responsibility of the international community to investigate these scandalous claims in order to decide whether India deserves to be sanctioned by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and other related bodies for its rogue behavior.

This year’s Diwali celebration got off to a very symbolic start after Pakistan shined some light on the dark activities that it accused India of carrying out in the region. Islamabad released a detailed dossier during a press conference on Saturday strongly making the case that India is a state sponsor of terrorism whose intelligence services have weaponized this phenomenon as part of the proxy war that they’re fighting with respect to the UNSC-recognized international Kashmir dispute and against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). These claims aren’t anything new, but what’s novel is the amount of detail devoted to proving them this time around.

According to Pakistan, Indian diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan are being used to coordinate the training of various terrorist groups on that landlocked country’s territory, including efforts to unite relevant Baloch and Pashtun ones as well as create a new ISIS branch dedicated to attacking Pakistan. Islamabad mentioned names, dates, bank accounts, phone numbers, and other identifying information such as exposing the Indian mastermind of these regionally destabilizing activities to make its case that India is a rogue state whose behavior should be investigated by the international community, which might find it fitting to sanction the country through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and other related bodies.

Pakistan’s diplomatic masterstroke puts India in a very uncomfortable position because it had hitherto been the latter making such claims about the former and not the reverse. The comparatively muted reaction from the international community in the 24 hours since the dossier was revealed suggests that they feel uncomfortable about the accusations and aren’t too sure how to respond. India is a close military and economic partner of a growing number of influential players such as the US and “Israel” who might now be embarrassed for so closely associating with a country that’s been convincingly accused of such rogue behavior. At the same time, however, “birds of a feather flock together”, as they say.

For reasons of self-interest, it might turn out that the international community as a whole doesn’t react the same way to Pakistan’s accusations as they’ve done in the past whenever India made similar but much less detailed ones. Nevertheless, what’s most important to pay attention to is how these revelations might shape Chinese-Indian relations considering their clashes along the Line of Actual Control this summer and ongoing state of ever-intensifying cold war. The grand strategic interests of the People’s Republic are directly threatened by India’s Hybrid War of Terror on Pakistan, which aims to destabilize CPEC’s northern and southern access points in Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan respectively.

In fact, the timing of this dossier’s release might have been connected to those two countries’ rivalry. To explain, India was handily defeated by China during their clashes over the summer, which might be why it’s doubling down on its proxy war of terrorism against Pakistan in response. After all, Islamabad warned that New Delhi would soon seek to intensify its terrorist efforts in the coming future, so the dossier might have been intended to preemptively thwart that by exposing these plans in order to put pressure on India to reconsider its actions. Of course, it also took plenty of time to assemble all the details that were disclosed, but the timing was at least very convenient from the Pakistani perspective even if it was ultimately coincidental.

All told, the dossier heralds the advent of a new phase of Pakistani diplomacy where Islamabad confidently exposes India’s Hybrid War of Terror on the world stage. Since it can be assumed that China considers these claims credible considering the fact that its interests are directly threatened irrespective of the country’s public reaction (or potential lack thereof in line with its diplomatic traditions), the conclusion can thus far be made that this report already had a significant impact. It might very well end up being the case that Chinese-Indian relations will never return to their former friendliness, especially if Beijing begins to wonder whether Washington might be tacitly supporting New Delhi’s proxy war on CPEC.

446 People Have Received Pellet Injuries in IOJK since August 5, 2019

Source

Srinagar, November 08 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, 1,448 people were injured including 446 by pellets, fired by Indian troops on protesters from August 5, 2019 to October 2020.

A report released by Kashmir Media Service, today, said that 85 per cent of the pellet victims are suffering from various psychiatric disorders. It said that India while trampling international laws is using pellet guns to maim, blind and kill Kashmiris, creating particularly an epidemic of ‘dead eyes’ in IIOJK.
The report maintained that grievous eye injuries continue to torment Kashmiris as one or both eyes of 144 people were damaged with pellets during the said period.

International human rights bodies deplored that India is ignoring their repeated calls for ban on the use of the lethal weapon in the occupied territory.

October 27: A Bloody Trail of Colonialism

By Altaf Hussain Wani

Source

The invasion of Jammu & Kashmir by India on the fateful day of October 27 is the most dreadful incident of India’s colonial history that threw the region into throes of instability and perpetual violence.

Right on this day in 1947 the leaders of the so-called secular India hurriedly rushed its troops to Srinagar in the dark of night trampling down under the jackboots the Kashmiris’ fundamental political and democratic rights for which the Indians had themselves fought for years together under and against the British rule.

The shameful act, rightly censored by neutral observers as an act of aggression, not only put a stumbling block in the way of smooth and full implementation of the agenda of partition plan in the subcontinent but also laid a horrible foundation of the deadly conflict that threatens peace and stability in the South Asian region.

Etched deep down into the collective memory of the people of Jammu and Kashmir this bloody trail of colonialism haunts Kashmiris even after the passage of seven decades. The naked aggression on the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir ushered in decades of conflict leading to two full-fledged wars between Indian and Pakistan and decades long struggle against India’s illegal occupation of the territory.

The unresolved dispute on one hand continues to bedevil relations between the two nuclear neighbours while on the other it poses most serious existential threat to Kashmiris who have been worst victims of the deadly conflict, which has now assumed dangerous proportions after the Indian fascist regime led by BJP stripped the region of its 70-year old special status guaranteed to it under article 370 of the Indian constitution.

Over the years New Delhi has used its repressive state apparatus, Machiavellian machinations and colonial tactics as a tool to crush the ongoing liberation struggle in occupied Jammu & Kashmir, to seize the fundamental freedoms and liberties of the people and to silence the political dissent in the region.

Notwithstanding to its commitments on Kashmir the successive Indian governments and rulers have unabashedly pursued a policy of deceit and deception to neutralize the Kashmiri masses’ legitimate demands for holding a referendum under the auspicious of the world’s highest forum the United Nations, which had guaranteed the right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir through a number of unanimously accepted resolutions. The resolutions calling for a free and impartial plebiscite in the region was endorsed by the Indian representative in the UN Security Council in particular the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who was the first to approach the highest forum on the matter.

After debating the issue the UN set up a commission (United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan), followed by a series of resolutions in 1948 and 1949, which upheld the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. In the meanwhile the UN proposed a comprehensive roadmap seeking peaceful settlement of Kashmir dispute but 73 years down the line Indian state is still reluctant to implement this roadmap.

Instead of creating congenial atmosphere to pave a way for an amicable settlement of the dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions India played dilly delaying tactics to defer the holding of referendum in the region. With the advent of the ongoing mass resistance in Kashmir New Delhi deployed over a half million military and paramilitary troops to suppress the freedom struggle besides fortifying its illegal hold over the territory, which over the past 30 years has led to large scale death and destruction and loss of tens of thousands of Kashmiris particularly the youth have been on the forefront of the liberation struggle.

However, in the wake of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 05 August last year, these atrocities have intensified to manifolds. Having witnessed a year long siege and communication blockade the people of the Indian occupied Kashmir are forced to live in constant fear and anxiety. During the last fourteen months, India has illegally detained 13000 Kashmiri youth, tortured many of them, summarily executed young boys, put down protests violently, including the use of pellet guns against peaceful protestors and imposed collective punishment by demolishing homes and burning entire neighborhoods and villages. A series of new laws in particular the redefinition of the state’s age old domicile law have stoked fears of demographic change in the region.

Moreover, the settler colonialism policies of the Indian government, which mirror Israel’s policies have instilled a sense of fear among Kashmiris who feel increasingly unsafe and insecure even in their homes. Unfortunately, the bloodshed that India started in occupied Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 is still going on unabated. Kashmiris on both sides of the ceasefire line are getting killed day in and day out by trigger happy Indian forces. The unprovoked shelling by the Indian troops and targeting civilian population on this side of the ceasefire line is yet another dark and dangerous aspect of this long drawn conflict, which has resulted in the killing of hundreds of civilians including the school going children and women. The dispute, if left unresolved, is bound to consume more precious lives besides fuelling unrest in this highly volatile region.

Under the given situation, the first and foremost responsibility of the global community is to take effective cognizance of the prolonged military occupation and play its due role to mount pressure on the Indian government to settle the conflict in accordance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, which have promised the people of Jammu and Kashmir their right of self-determination. In the meantime, effective mechanisms are needed to be put in place to check the impunity enjoyed by the Indian occupation forces and stop Indian government from pursuing settler colonial policies which are creating further political, economic and territorial marginalization of the Kashmiris.

The United Nations and the Neglected Conflict of Kashmir

By Ghulam Nabi Fai

Source

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.

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.

Occupying Palestine Is Rotting ‘Israel’ From Inside. No Gulf ‘Peace’ Deal Can Hide That

Occupying Palestine Is Rotting ‘Israel’ From Inside. No Gulf ‘Peace’ Deal Can Hide That

By Raja Shehadeh – The Guardian

More than a quarter of a century after Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn, ‘Israel’ has managed to turn its occupation of Palestinian territory from a burden into an asset. What was for so long a liability – the flagrant violation of international law – has now become a valued commodity. Understanding this development is key to explaining why the ‘Israelis’ are making ‘peace’ with two distant Gulf states but not their closest neighbors, the Palestinians – without whom there can be no real ‘peace.’

‘Israel’ has learned in recent years how to manage the occupation in perpetuity with minimal cost. But from the very beginning of the occupation in June 1967, ‘Israel’ has been unwilling to recognize the Palestinian nation or cede control of the Palestinian territory occupied in order to make ‘peace.’

The evidence to support this claim is easily found in ‘Israel’s’ own archives. Two days after the occupation began, ‘Israel’ passed military order number three, which referred to the fourth Geneva convention relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war – mandating that military courts apply the provisions of the convention to their proceedings. Four months later, this portion of the order was deleted.

In September 1967, the legal counsel to the ‘Israeli’ foreign ministry, Theodor Meron, was asked by the prime minister, Levi Eshkol, whether building new settlements in the occupied territories would violate the Geneva convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its civilians into the territory seized in war. He answered in the affirmative. But his advice was rejected and the government proceeded from that moment to establish illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Over the following months, ‘Israel’ began a process that would continue for many years: amending laws governing Palestinian land – from the periods of Ottoman, British mandate and Jordanian control of the territory – to construct a false “legal” basis for the acquisition of land and other natural resources for the establishment of Jewish settlements.

I spent much of my working life, from 1979 until 1993, investigating and resisting ‘Israel’s’ abuses of law in the occupied territories, and warning about the implications of building illegal settlements, all to no avail.

Yet it was not the legal transformations alone that enabled settlements to be built and to flourish. The militant Zionist thinker Vladimir Jabotinsky had written, in the 1920s, that “settlement[s] can … develop under the protection of a force that is not dependent on the local population behind an iron wall which they will be powerless to break down”. And so it was.

There was an added component to the transformation of the laws to enable the settlement project and that was sheer violence by settlers: vigilante actions that seemed to go against the law ‘Israel’ had put down and bound itself to. In the early 80s Al-Haq, a West Bank-based human rights organization that I was then directing, worked hard to document incidents of settler violence.

At the time we naively believed that if only ‘Israelis’ knew what was taking place and the failure of law enforcement to stop it, they would take action to prevent it. We were unaware that it was all part of the ‘Israeli’ struggle for the land. The agents of the orderly ‘state’ can stay within the boundaries of their rewritten laws while the unruly settlers do the work of intimidation and violence to achieve the desired goal. It is all part of the same scheme.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, settler violence in the West Bank has become an almost daily occurrence. It is all out in the open and the government and the courts are on the same page in supporting the settlers and working to achieve the goal of greater ‘Israel.’ The Knesset has passed the regularization bill, which “legalizes” settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land via de facto expropriation.

While Jewish settler violence against the Palestinians rages – preventing Palestinians from working their land or using it as their own, with no real attempt by the ‘Israeli’ military or police to prevent this – ‘Israel’ declares any and all Palestinian resistance to occupation to be terrorism.

When Palestinians began to organize non-violent resistance to the occupation, ‘Israel’ redefined attacks by the army on these unarmed protesters to bring them under the category of “combat operations”. Recently, the villagers of Kafr Qaddum were staging weekly demonstrations against the blocking of a road, which prevented access to their village, because it was claimed that the road passes through a new part of the settlement of Kedumim. The army planted explosives on roads used by the villagers – but the soldiers who took this decision would be immune from prosecution for any injuries caused to the villagers.

With all these “victories” on ‘Israel’s’ part, it has now decided that it can manage the occupation rather than end it. The occupation even began to be seen as an asset. ‘Israel’ has turned the occupied territories into a laboratory for testing weapons and systems of surveillance. ‘Israelis’ now market their crowd control weapons and systems of homeland security to the US, based on testing in the occupied territories. Yet all this financial investment in the occupation – and all the twisting of domestic laws to protect the illegal settlement project, all the political contortions to cultivate authoritarian allies, from Trump to Orban to Bolsonaro – is rotting ‘Israel’ from the inside, turning it into an apartheid ‘state’ that rules over millions of Palestinians without rights.

In Arundhati Roy’s novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, one of her characters, Musa, says that if Kashmiris have failed to gain independence from India, at least in struggling for it they have exposed the corruption of India’s system. Musa tells the book’s narrator, an Indian: “You’re not destroying us. It’s yourselves that you are destroying.” Palestinians today might say the same of our struggle with ‘Israel.’

Pakistan center of hope for oppressed Kashmiris: TWI

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Srinagar, September 06 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Tehreek-e-Wahdat-e-Islami (TWI), a constituent of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), has paid glowing tributes to the government, the people and the Armed Forces of Pakistan on Defense Day and prayed for the prosperity and stability of the country.

The Tehreek-e-Wahdat-e-Islami spokesman in a statement issued in Srinagar said that Pakistan’s brave forces had proved in the 1965 war that the enemy’s numerical superiority did not matter before the spirit of jihad and faith.

He said that Pakistan was the center of hope for the oppressed Kashmiris, fighting against the illegal Indian occupation. He said that Pakistan wanted Kashmiris to get their birthright to self-determination and as a party to the Kashmir dispute, it was providing full moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris.

The spokesman said that the subjugated Kashmiri people were grateful to Pakistan for its full support to their right to self-determination and for continuing the efforts for settlement of the lingering dispute at the international level.

He said that only a strong, stable and prosperous Pakistan was the guarantor to the freedom of the subjugated Kashmiris from the clutches of India. He said that India at present had done so much for Yazidism in IIOJK but it would only achieve defeat and disgrace.

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.

People targetted for their faith in India and IIOJK: report

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Islamabad, August 22 (KMS): As the world observes International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, today, reports of atrocities in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir and India continue to surface.

A report released by the research section of Kashmir Media Service in connection with the Day, today, maintained that Indian troops are even denying the Kashmiri people their right to observe their religious practices. “India has snatched every right including religious freedom of Kashmiri Muslims. Demographic change in IIOJK is a proof that India targets people because of their faith. Religious minorities are being persistently hounded in India under rogue Modi’s regime. Killing and torture of Indian Muslims in the garb of cow slaughter is a scar on the concept of civilized world. Gujarat massacre in 2002 indicates victimization of Muslims in India,” it said.

The report pointed out that RSS and BJP are using hate campaign as a weapon against Muslims and other religious minorities in India. “There is an alarming rise of Islamophobia across India. Recent anti-Muslim riots in Delhi and Indian Supreme Court’s Babri Masjid verdict are ample proofs that India is becoming increasingly intolerable for Muslims. Religious sites of Muslims, Christians and other minorities in India are being vandalized by Hindutva forces with impunity,” it said.

The report stated that hatred towards religious minorities is at its peak in India and the RSS-backed racist Modi government is using terror as a policy to intimidate religious minorities across the country. RSS-inspired BJP government is planning ethnic cleansing of Muslims through discriminatory laws like Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Population Register (NPR), and National Register of Citizens (NRC) it said, adding that Modi’s fascist regime is trampling upon fundamental freedoms of religious minorities in India.

The report maintained that the global community must make sure that voices of victims of violence in IIOJK and across India are heard. World must take practical steps to protect rights of IIOJK people and of India’s religious minorities. Fascist Modi govt must be brought to book for its crimes against IIOJK people and religious minorities in India,” it added.

The report pointed out that the international community has already been warned of the genocide of Muslims in India and IIOJK. Muslims, Dalits and Christians are completely unsafe in India because of their faith, it added.

It is to mention here that the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief is a day designated by the UN for states to step up their efforts to combat intolerance, discrimination and violence against persons based on religion or belief.

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.

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.

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