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Year of tyranny


August 4, 2020

Veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Gilani has called for a complete strike on August 5 in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, urging people to observe the days as ‘Awareness Day’.

The Pakistan government has also justifiably announced to observe August 5 and rename Kashmir Highway in Islamabad as Srinagar Highway to express solidarity with people of IoJK.

The day marks the completion of a year of unprecedented tyranny since the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir have been living under siege, cut-off from the outside world and bearing the brunt of the brutalities of the Indian security forces. According to reliable sources, more than 200 Kashmiris have been martyred by Indian security forces during cordon and search operations while the world by and large remains oblivious to the situation in Kashmir. Who can forget the callousness exhibited by the Indian security forces when they killed a grandfather in front of his three-year-old grandson on July 1 after pulling him out of his car and making viral a video of the grandson sitting on the chest of the martyred man?

Unfortunately, the global community and the UN did not react the way they should have against India’s action to scrap Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian constitution, amalgamation of the state in the Indian Union through the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organization Act 2019 and the promulgation of a new domicile law designed to change demographic realities in Occupied Kashmir. All the foregoing actions taken by India constitute blatant violations of the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir, bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The people of Occupied Kashmir are living under inhuman conditions since the 5th of August 2019, further aggravated by the onset of Covid-19. The Indian government has tried its best to keep Kashmir out of the focus of the global community by denying access to foreign journalists and other independent observers.

But the international media has been successful in unraveling Indian atrocities in Kashmir and discrediting the Indian actions. The Guardian, The New York Times, Washington Post and other eminent publications have been regularly reporting on human rights abuses – though the Indian government remains in denial mode.

The Washington Post in its photography blog ‘Insight’ published a number of photographs taken by Indian photographer Jayanta Roy on April 10, 2020 with regard to the permeating situation in Occupied Kashmir with the caption ‘Land of Permanent Sorrow’. As the title suggests, these photographs provided a harrowing visual narrative on the inhuman conditions under which eight hundred thousand Kashmiris are forced to live. A commentary on those photographs said “As conditions around the world continue to evolve because of the coronavirus, people must remember that a large population is suffering from the same pain we are facing now but for longer than us much before the Covid-19 outbreak and their suffering is like a never-ending nightmare”.

India under Modi, a diehard proponent of the RSS ideology of Hindutva, has not only violated UNSC resolutions and trampled the Fourth Geneva Convention in Kashmir but has also enacted discriminatory laws against Muslims within India itself. The implementation of the National Register of Citizenship in Assam which rendered 1.9 Muslims stateless, and the promulgation of the Citizenship Amendment Act speak volumes about hatred against Muslims. Although the Muslim minority in India has all along been subjected to discriminatory treatment and from time to time also had to endure the wrath of the Hindu zealots in the shape of massacres during anti-Muslim riots, what has been happening since the BJP came into power, knows no parallel in the history of the Subcontinent.

Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in an article published in ‘The Hindu’ on March 6, 2020 said: ”Delhi has been subjected to extreme violence over the past few weeks. We have lost nearly 50 of our fellow Indians for no reason. Several hundred people have suffered injuries. Communal tensions have been stoked and flames of religious intolerance fanned by unruly sections of our society, including the political class. University campuses, public places and private homes are bearing the brunt of communal outbursts of violence, reminiscent of the dark periods in India’s history. Institutions of law and order have abandoned their dharma (duty) to protect citizens. Institutions of justice and the fourth pillar of democracy, the media, have also failed us. Just in a matter of a few years, India has slid rapidly from being a global showcase of a model of economic development through liberal democratic methods to a strife ridden majoritarian state in economic despair.”

It is pertinent to mention that even the UN rights chief in Delhi Michelle Bechelet moved the Indian Supreme Court against the controversial legislation passed by the Indian parliament by becoming a third party in a petition brought by a former civil servant.

India has adopted a belligerent posture towards Pakistan, as is evident from the continued violations of the ceasefire line and the indiscretion of sending planes to Balakot to hit imaginary terrorist camps last year, which nearly brought the two nations to the brink of war. The escalation was averted due to the restraint shown by Pakistan and the timely intervention of friendly countries.

India is using these tactics to cover up the state terrorism it has unleashed against the people of Kashmir, not realizing that it could have very serious repercussions for peace and security in the region. Prime Minister Imran Khan has been sensitizing the world about the dangers lurking on the horizon as a result of Indian actions in Occupied Kashmir and its burgeoning animosity against Pakistan.

As the killing spree and complete lockdown continue, the people of Kashmir while resisting the Indian oppression are looking to the UN and the international community to come to their rescue through concrete actions, instead of showing muffled concerns over the developing situation in the state.

The global community needs to remove the blinkers from its eyes, especially those nations that never tire to announce their humanitarian credentials.

The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: [email protected]