by Tanvir Alam (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 4, Sha'ban, 1437)
The Hindu occupation army has escalated its brutal crackdown on the people of Kashmir that have been struggling for their fundamental right to self-determination for decades.
India has successfully projected an image of a “nonviolent” state. To an army of fraudulent gurus peddling transcendental meditation and group sex must be added the most successful campaign to project Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as the champion of non-violence. He has even been bestowed the title of mahatma (holy man). Gandhi was anything but holy; he was a total fraud and in his personality can be seen the Indian campaign to hoodwink the world into believing that India is a nonviolent, peaceful country.
The long-oppressed people of Kashmir and a host of others in places like Assam and Mizoram can be forgiven if they do not buy into India’s nonviolent claims. India gets away with such fraud because unfortunately, global politics are not based on principles; personal or national interests dictate each country’s policy. Thus, India is seen as a lucrative market for Western goods and an upcoming power. The people of Kashmir will have to forego their rights even if they are as fundamental as the right to life, liberty, and independent existence, as far as Western policymakers are concerned.
Out of a total population of 12 million, at least 8 million Kashmiris have lived under the yoke of Indian military occupation since 1947. Kashmir does not belong to India; it never has. Its culture, history, and even geography separate it from India. Huge mountains stand as barriers between Hindu India and Muslim Kashmir as if nature itself wanted to confirm that it is not part of India.
Even though India has maintained 700,000 troops to suppress the Kashmiri people, it has demonstrably failed to achieve its goal. This is evident from the manner in which the Kashmiris have valiantly resisted India’s brutal occupation. In recent weeks, the people have again risen up in the face of intense military brutality. On May 21, when the Indian occupation army killed five Kashmiri freedom fighters in Drugmulla village of Kupwara district (81km from the capital city, Srinagar), Hizbul Mujahideen, one of several groups fighting against Indian military occupation, vowed to exact revenge for the killings.
Two days later, three policemen were shot and killed in two separate incidents. Two of them were shot and killed in the Zadibal district of Srinagar and another in the Tengpora district. Following the operation, Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attacks and said it had done so to avenge the killing of its fighters. It must be borne in mind that India maintains at least 300,000 troops in Srinagar with a total population of one million, making it the most militarized city in the world. Police, paramilitary forces and border security forces augment Indian army troops’ presence.
Indian occupation troops comprising mostly hard-core Hindus have perpetrated horrific crimes against the Muslim people of Kashmir. These include torture of suspected activists, disappearances, rape of thousands of women as well as extrajudicial executions. Since the latest uprising began in 1989, the Indian occupation army has murdered more than 120,000 Kashmiris. Indian army abuses are well documented.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have all documented these crimes. So alarmed was Human Rights Watch about the disappearances of Kashmiris that Brad Adams, its Asia director, called in an official release for the Indian government to investigate these disappearances (February 16, 2007). In 2010, WikiLeaks documents showed that the ICRC had informed the US embassy in Delhi in 2005 about the widespread torture of Kashmiri detainees. Far from taking any action against such abuses, the US government has cultivated even closer links with successive regimes in India currently ruled by the Hindu fascist Narendra Modi who has openly proclaimed his admiration for Nazism.
Despite widespread human rights abuses in Kashmir, Indian occupation troops are protected from accountability through a number of laws enacted by successive Indian regimes. For instance, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1958 was revived in 1990 to provide additional protection to armed forces personnel as they went about killing Kashmiris and raping women. One of the most disgraceful episodes occurred in February 1991 when a large number of women and girls ranging in age from 7–70 were gang-raped in the village of Kunan Poshpura by drunken Indian soldiers from the Rashtriya Rifles. Not one Indian soldier has ever been arrested for such crimes, much less punished.
A host of other laws, the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) of 1985 and the Prevention of Terrorist Activities (POTA) of 2002, for instance, have been in force and used to shield soldiers from prosecution. The former Indian army chief, General V.K. Singh admitted on September 24, 2013 that state politicians in Jammu and Kashmir are funded by the secret army fund to keep the general public calm and under control. What General Singh revealed further was even more explosive; he said that a Kashmiri politician had been bribed from the secret fund to topple the state government that was pushing for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (indiantimes.com, “Paying ministers nothing new in J & K, former Army chief Gen V K Singh”; greaterkashmir.com, “JK ministers in Army payroll: Gen Singh”).
The recent escalation of violence occurred in the aftermath of the rape of a schoolgirl on April 12, 2016 in Handwara town of Kupwara district. As usual, the Indian occupation army issued misleading reports but people were certain that a member of the Rashtriya Rifles, a notorious group of Hindu zealots who have indulged in similar disgraceful acts in the past, were involved. When people protested, the police and paramilitary forces opened fired and within days at least five people had been killed and scores injured. Among the dead was Naeem Qadir, a star cricket player who was the first person to be included in India’s Under-19 cricket team from Kupwara district.
The Hindwara episode occurred within days of Mehbooba Mufti being sworn in as the state chief minister. Her People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has entered into an unholy alliance with the Hindu fascist outfit, the BJP that rules in Delhi. This is a new and dangerous development but as the former Indian army chief admitted, Kashmiri politicians are on the army’s payroll; they are willing to sell their souls for a leg of mutton!
At the heart of the Kashmir dispute lies the unsettled question of its future. Masters of intrigue, the British created this problem before departing the subcontinent in 1947. As a Muslim majority state, Kashmir should have been part of Pakistan but in connivance with the Hindu rulers of India — and Kashmir — Indian troops illegally occupied the state in October 1947 resulting in a war between the two new states of India and Pakistan. It was India that took the matter to the UN Security Council to seek a ceasefire and a resolution. There are several resolutions calling for plebiscite (referendum) on the future of Kashmir.
India stubbornly refuses to honor its pledges made repeatedly in the early years. Now it maintains the fiction that since there have been periodic elections held in Kashmir, these override the referendum option. State elections are held to elect politicians for local affairs, not to determine the future of Jammu and Kashmir. Further, local politicians are almost all thoroughly corrupt; what credibility can be placed in their politics of convenience?
The people of Kashmir continue to pay the price for a fundamental right that has been denied them for decades. This shameful state of affairs must be brought to a speedy end. A good starting point would be to expose Hindu fascism that masquerades as “democracy” in India.