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February 5, 2021

Kashmir’s pain

Editorial

 
February 5, 2021

The people of Kashmir have been suffering as a result of the violence committed against them by the Indian security apparatus since the early 1990s – nay, since the first Indian boot landed in Kashmir. Since 1989, some estimates suggest 100,000 Kashmiris have been killed while the official Indian figure for this is 50,000. In addition, many Kashmiris have fled the Valley because they fear it is no longer safe to live there. The change in the status of Kashmir made in August 2019 by the federal government in India also added to the hardship of the people in the Valley, splitting the territory into two parts with Ladakh and Kashmir both becoming union territories. This move effectively stripped them of the small amount of autonomy that had been granted previously under the Indian constitution. While protests against this continue in Kashmir, there are limited protests in other places in India.

The situation for the Kashmiri people is hard to even understand. People have for years lived in constant terror and children have faced pelting by rubber bullets sometimes leaving their faces scarred forever. Against such acts, the Kashmiri people have refused to bow down and militants have continued to stage what action they can. But this is not easy in a situation where thousands of Indian security forces flood the area. Pakistan, meanwhile, has been the key country locked in the conflict. It has faced hazards of its own with consistent firing across the Line of Control through the last year also, and has also spoken out at every international forum it can reach about the situation of the Kashmiris.

Already over the last decades the Kashmiris have suffered torture, rape, deliberate harassment by security forces, detention and a situation where they can no longer feel they are living in any kind of safety. Pakistan’s voice against this has been loud, with the prime minister also bringing up the issue with the American president as well as with other heads of state. But from around the world, more support and effort is needed. At the moment, the global voice being raised for the Kashmiris is not loud enough. India’s status as a major marketplace for the world gives rise to the difficulty in convincing the world. The Kashmiris must be saved from the violence and atrocities they face. Under UN agreements, the Kashmiris have the right to choose their own future. It has already been too late. This right must now be granted to them.