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July 4, 2020

India’s war on Kashmir


July 4, 2020

Sometimes a picture or a video clip becomes more powerful than thousands of words. The picture of a three-year-old boy sitting on the bullet-riddled body of his grandfather killed by Indian forces in Indian occupied Kashmir speak volumes about the very nature of the Indian occupation. Such powerful images not only bring tears but also fuel rage.

The image expresses the helplessness of the Kashmiris as well as the brutality and naked display of Indian state power. The Indian state and ruling class are in a state of denial. The Modi government is using all the means at its disposal to promote an official narrative that denies the basic facts.

This brutal and cold-blooded murder took place in Sopore town of Indian occupied Kashmir. The Indian forces are blaming the militants for this killing. However, there is widespread anger and hundreds of people in Indian occupied Kashmir have staged protests, accusing Indian forces of killing an elderly man in front of his minor grandson. The family of Bashir Ahmed Khan says that he was dragged out of his car after the showdown and shot dead by paramilitary forces.

Hundreds assembled at Bashir Khan’s funeral near the main city of Srinagar, shouting “We want freedom". One can feel the pain and misery of the Kashmiri people caused by the continued military occupation and brutal repression. But no action will be taken against the soldiers responsible for this killing. Indian troops enjoy complete impunity from gross violations of human rights including, killing, rape and torture. Indian troops in Occupied Kashmir violate international laws, conventions and UN resolutions without any fear.

The world powers continue to silently watch the gross human rights violation committed by India in Kashmir. The situation in Kashmir and Palestine clearly shows us that we live in a world dominated by the powerful. Both the Kashmiris and the Palestinians are resisting two powerful brutal countries. US imperialism and other big powers are keen to protect their own economic and political interests and will not support the just cause of Kashmiri and Palestinian people. That is the reality of today’s world. The Indian market is more important than the gross violation of human rights. This is why the Indian state and ruling class feels no pressure.

The big powers are not exerting enough pressure on the Indian government to force it to lift restrictions including a communications blackout in Kashmir. The 10-month long lockdown and restrictions have crippled the Kashmiri economy. Unemployment and poverty are on the rise. The Kashmiri economy mainly depends on tourism and agriculture. Both these main sectors of the economy have already been crippled under the prolonged lockdown. The nationwide forced lockdown has badly affected the supply of fruits and vegetables from Kashmir.

In a desperation caused by the silence of world powers, some young people are taking up arms to fight for freedom against the Indian occupation. But the majority of young people are engaged in a peaceful struggle for their democratic rights and freedom.

The Modi government has declared an all-out war against the Kashmiri people since August 2019, and is doing everything to quell the resistance in Kashmir against the Indian occupation. First, it changed the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir and abolished all the protections provided in the constitution to protect the demography of Kashmir.

India is paving the way for demographic change in Occupied Kashmir on a large scale. The new domicile law is a practical step in that direction. This law is a clear violation of the Geneva Convention, and could permanently alter the demography of the disputed region. It is the beginning of a process to convert Kashmiri indigenous populations into a minority on their own lands.

The Modi government also launched a war against the media in Kashmir. According to the new media policy to censor news and information in the region, the Indian authorities will examine the content of the media.

They will have the power to declare fake, unethical or anti-national news and take legal action against the journalist or media organization concerned, including sharing information with security agencies.

The media in Kashmir continues to face intimidation and harassment. The authorities are using unlawful Activities Act to muzzle the media. Two Kashmiri journalists have been booked under this act. This law clearly infringes on the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

The Modi government has intensified state repression in the occupied valley since March. And since January, at least 229 people have been killed during over 100 military operations across Occupied Kashmir. More than 141 young Kashmiri have been killed and declared militant by the Indian forces in the course of military operations.

Even teenage boys have been arrested and tortured in torture cells by the Indian forces. Despite the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Occupied Kashmir, the Indian forces continue the detention of young men and boys.

India calls itself the largest democracy in the world but it continues to deny the basic democratic and political rights to the Kashmiri people who are fighting for their legitimate right of independence and freedom.

The writer is a freelance journalist.