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The Kashmir-Ladakh issue unsettles India

Islamabad

July 8, 2020

India's unilateral decision to revoke the Article 370 on August 5 in held J&K was illegal under the international law and now India’s presence is, by its own benchmark, naked foreign occupation. The recent clashes in Ladakh with the Chinese Army were not factored in at the time of the unfortunate decision of August 5. To hide its embarrassment, the Indian government officials now claim that analysis of medical reports of the 20 Indian soldiers killed by the Chinese showed that the cause of death in most cases was a “mix of head injury and drowning.” The bodies were retrieved from the Galwan River, they say. But the Indian assertion that the revocation of Article 370 was its internal affair is patently false and a lie, corona or no corona.

The unmatched restrictions on movement and communications in held Valley since August 5 last year are in still in place. Fundamental freedoms and liberties have been seized and human rights defenders are being targeted. The Indian government claims that cyber terrorism, national security and propagation of fake news throughout the valley would rise if the internet services were restored. However, suspension of internet since August 5, 1990 has not restored security in the region and its suspension has not helped in reducing the militancy and violence in the occupied valley. There has been a systematic and serial violation of fundamental freedoms in held Kashmir, transformed by India into the largest prison on Earth where basic amenities and means of communication are not accessible. The use of pellet guns, bloodshed, curfews, clampdown and communications blackout continue. Now coronavirus had added another dimension to the deadly suffering. But nothing has been solved by the revocation of Article 370 as India’s claims of a “pluralistic society, constitutionally-guaranteed freedom, fundamental rights and robust institutions operating in the world''s largest democracy” have become a joke. More and more local Kashmiris are taking to the gun, which India wanted to avoid. The skirmishes between the Indian forces and local militants are becoming fiercer and deadlier.

The Indian Supreme Court on May 10 did not restore the 4G internet services in the held Jammu & Kashmir and asked the Modi Sarkar to appoint a special committee, which would recommend or not the 4G internet be allowed in J&K. The people, traders, journalists, students meanwhile continue to suffer. Paratap Bhannu Mehta, an Indian columnist, has admitted in a comment in the Indian Express: “On August 5, 2019, the republic of India was supposed to have brought the bright light of Indian constitutionalism to Kashmir. Instead, it has created an even more ominous darkness. The light of Indian constitutionalism is itself dimming. The latest exhibit is the Supreme Court’s order in the petitions asking for restoration of 4G access in Kashmir. By referring the matter back to a committee led by the home ministry, the court has violated all principles of natural justice. It has created a new evil. It implies that the home ministry can be plaintiff, judge, executioner, jury in its own cause.”

Mehta, a well-known Indian academic, further stated: “The government’s case rested on admitting something we are rarely allowed to say out aloud: That our Kashmir policy is pretty much a failure. The government was itself, in effect, saying that Kashmir needs to be treated as if it were a war zone. This is the justification it gives for inhumanly depriving Kashmiris of 4G access, even in the time of a pandemic, when such connectivity is necessary for basic things like education…. Think of the chilling effect it has on a profession where you could be branded a terrorist for simply doing your job, or worse, even an odd tweet. That the UAPA is now being used in other states is not a comforting thought; it is simply a reminder that the authoritarianism we perfect in Kashmir will destroy all of us.”

While the issue of Kashmir was still there, it is now the tense situation in Ladakh that has got India extremely worried.