By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Kashmir is the oldest and most intractable disputes in the world; older than Gaza. Forcible occupation of two-third Kashmir by Indian forces in 1947 against the wishes of Kashmiris impelled freedom fighters and Pak troops to get Kashmir freed from its stranglehold. When India saw that it was on the verge of losing the battle, it sought intervention of United Nations. United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution of 21 April 1948 clearly states that the question of accession of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite. Subsequent UNSC Resolutions reiterated the same stand. United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) Resolutions of 3 August 1948 and 5 January 1949 reinforced UNSC Resolutions. However, despite Nehru’s repeated pledges that right of self determination will be given to the people of Kashmir, Indian leaders have mulishly held on to their uncompromising stance that Kashmir is an integral part of India. In defiance of UN Resolutions, they sing this song ad nauseam ignoring the fact that Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory and Kashmiris hate them and long to join Pakistan. They get highly disturbed when Pakistan or any other country reminds them of this hard reality. They are fuming ever since China has started treating Indian officials serving in disputed territory accordingly.
After 2008 manipulated state elections in J&K, Indian leaders had proudly claimed that majority of Kashmiris were least interested in violence and had accepted Kashmir as part of Indian Union. They declared that armed insurgency had for the most part been successfully crushed, cross border movement from Pakistan effectively blocked and Kashmir was no more an issue. Drums are beaten by Indian leaders after every stage-managed election held under shadow of guns and boycotted by majority that a popular mandate has been won from people of Kashmir. Indians forget that neither military force had ever quelled popular movements nor military occupation justified. Who doesn’t know that Indian intelligence agencies have had a big role in shaping phony political parties and politicians having no roots in the masses, holding fraudulent elections and installing puppet regimes detested by the people?
No sooner these tall claims were made the whole Kashmir valley resounded with chants of ‘Azadi’, following Amarnath Shrine Board dispute in summer of 2008 which coalesced into a massive nonviolent uprising. Tens of thousands of unarmed protestors from all walks of life with placards in their hands defied gun totting security forces and marched through the streets of Srinagar protesting against state atrocities and injustices. Instead of redressing their grievances, Indian forces fired indiscriminately at the crowds. Volleys were fired not to scare and disperse the crowds but to kill innocent people since value of a Muslim Kashmiri is no better than a sewer rat. One of the reasons behind enacting Mumbai drama on 26/11 was to deflect the attention of the world from Kashmir and to exert pressure on Pakistan to stay out of it.
Another round of protest marches led by young people triggered in summer of 2009. This flare up coincided with unfolding of vicious propaganda war against Pakistan Army from August 2009 onwards. It was alleged that Pak Army had committed large-scale human rights violations in Swat. Stories about unearthing of mass graves, bodies found dumped along roadsides carrying marks of torture, corpses found with hands tied behind backs, and some corpses beheaded were splashed. Western media and RAW cultivated writers in Pakistan backed up the theme and series of articles appeared in local and international print media. Idea of this false projection was to cover up brutality of Indian forces against unarmed adolescent Kashmiris.
Making good use of their draconian laws they pickup slogan chanting young men on charges of arson, torture them in
secret dens and later kill them in fake encounters. This gory practice of missing persons and fake encounters has been going on since triggering of armed resistance in late 1989. Since then, Indian forces have been killing Kashmiris like flies. Figure of missing persons run in thousands, while number of killed persons has overshot 100,000. Hardly any missing person has rejoined his family. Each fake encounter is presented as a clash with armed militants and those shooting the handcuffed prisoners are rewarded for bravery. Huge numbers of unmarked mass graves and marked graves stand witness to the atrocities of Indian security forces.
Besides killing every able bodied person or maiming them for life through torture, rape is being used as a weapon to break the will of the Kashmiris. Thousands of women and young girls have been raped. There have been numerous incidents of gang rape reported by Amnesty International (AI) and NGOs. AI has reported criminal activities of police and Indian security forces and has also reported that almost every house in Kashmir has been traumatized. They are living in a prison house and are being constantly punished on account of asking for right of self determination.
Their miseries are never ending since they can neither escape from the open prison nor their cries can be heard by the world. Biased US and Western media, think tanks and NGOs have remained mum over massive abuses of human rights occurring in Kashmir and in Gaza since perpetrators of crimes are non-Muslims and victims are Muslims. Instead of coming to the rescue of the bereaved, the US and western world are patronizing and encouraging India ruled by devilish Brahman rulers to continue with their reign of terror and cleanse the erstwhile paradise on earth now turned into hell from the presence of Muslims. India and Israel are two sides of the same coin and qualify to be declared terrorist states because of their callousness and barbarism but are treated as darlings by Christian world since Muslims are their common enemies.
Indian Police and paramilitary forces deal with the protesters under non-bailable Public Safety Act 1978 (PSA), which authorize them to arrest anyone on a flimsy charge, award two-year imprisonment through court and re-arrest the accused upon release. Even freedom of expression and right to protest peacefully is declared a crime. PSA is applied on minors as well. There were large numbers of cases where adults and minors were arrested and re-arrested several times under PSA. Apart from black law of PSA, Indian Army has license to kill without fear of accountability under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Security forces have never bothered about human rights violations since their gruesome acts are shielded by their political government, psychological warfare, USA and western world.
Indian forces are not differentiating between armed freedom fighters and unarmed protesters resorting to nonviolent means to seek freedom. They are applying black laws on teenagers with equal impunity. Massive crackdowns have been unleashed; shoot at sight orders given and Kashmiri leaders’ house arrested to stifle protests. Continuing with its past practice of blaming Pakistan whenever Kashmiris raised their voice against India’s atrocities, India promptly blamed Pakistan that it was instigating the teenagers. It alleged that cross border movement had increased.
The new round of protests started in the wake of killing of a student on 11 June. Stone-pelters have introduced a new phenomenon of resistance against which Indian military has no solution other than resorting to old method of brutal force. Soldiers and police are so fond of firing indiscriminately that they automatically aim at chest and above not realizing that protesters are teenagers carrying stones in their fists. Their hearts does not soften even when they see small boys as young as 8-10 years writhing in pain after getting hit by bullets. It is worth noting that in all the protests since mid 2008, not a single Indian policeman or soldier got killed at the hands of protesters. India is flabbergasted and doesn’t know how to justify its high-handed actions against youngsters and how to project them as terrorists. It can no more shed crocodile tears that it is victim of terrorism. Indian leaders have now started to whisper that stones are made in Pakistan and provided by ISI which are lethal and a threat to world security.
An increasing number of women moved by the extraordinary motivation of youngsters have joined them and are talking part in demonstrations enthusiastically. Hundreds of women and girls, some carrying sticks and stones, are seen regularly out in the streets chanting ‘we want freedom’, and ‘blood for blood’. Participation of women has added yet another dilemma for the police and paramilitary forces struggling to control protests.
Since 11 June 65 persons have been killed. Ignoring daily deaths of small boys aged between 8 and 17 years at the hands of Indian troops, Manmohan Singh tried to appease agitating Kashmiris by offering dialogue on autonomy and an economic package and rhetorically assuring them that there will be ‘zero tolerance’ for human rights violations. Mirwaiz rejected his offer and said that autonomy was not a solution to Kashmir issue. He said that no solution is acceptable to Kashmiris other than freedom. He demanded revocation of AFSPA, PSA, Disturbed Areas Act (DAA), and withdrawal of armed forces. Anger of the younger generation in Kashmir can no longer be doused through hypocritical rhetoric or even by pep talk of elder Kashmiri leaders. They are determined to break the walls of prison house and breathe freely.
Pakistan is equally determined to find a just solution to this chronic dispute. No amount of RAW sponsored pressures in the form of target killings in Karachi and Balochistan, suicide attacks in Lahore and elsewhere and building of dams on rivers would dilute affections of Pakistanis for Kashmiris. India must understand that if it is really worried about terrorism and is sincerely aspiring for peace as is being preached by Aman ki Asha preachers, without resolution of Kashmir dispute this objective is next to impossible.
Brig Asif Haroon Raja an Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces WarCoursequalified, holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously. He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently. He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready. He is a defence analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defence and political matters for numerous international/national newspapers/websites