Over the past couple of years two of the world’s famous democracies, the oldest one being the United States, and ostensibly the largest one being India, have witnessed a most tumultuous period in their histories. The United States mended its course in due time by ousting the most controversial and divisive President in its history, Mr. Donald J. Trump. However, it appears that India has failed to reconcile with the fact that it is losing its so-called democratic appeal under the Hindutva zeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Indian public at large remains numb to the fact that the contentious agenda of their Hindutva-driven leadership is a recipe of disaster.
Under the ultra-nationalist spree of the BJP-led government, India has become a hub of human-right violations. While all the minorities in India are facing the tyranny of the Modi’s government, the intensity of brutalities borne by the innocent Kashmiris of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) is unlike any other.
IIOJK has been a victim of Indian state occupation and terrorism for decades in the form of extrajudicial executions, rape, torture and civilian massacres. Even before the communication clampdown imposed by the Modi government in 2019, the violence in Kashmir has reportedly caused around 800,000 deaths. Draconian laws like Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978, Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act 1990, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) 1990,Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1990, Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) 2002, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Ordinance 2004, the National Security Act (NSA) and Official Secrets Act (OSA) etc. enforced in the region in literal terms gives Indian forces a license to kill with zero accountability. India has been using these laws since 1947 as an effective shield to abuse, oppress and discriminate Kashmiri citizens in order to weaken their quest for freedom and masking their just voice from reaching the world. Nonetheless, the people of IIOJK have remained persistent in their struggle for freedom even in the wake of institutionalized oppression. The Kashmir people are hopeful that by exercising their inalienable right to self-determination through the UN mandated plebiscite can liberate them from Indian occupation.
Even though successive governments in India left no stone unturned to bury the Kashmiri dream of freedom, the arrival of Modi as the premier appears to be the most brutal blow to the cause of Kashmiri freedom. Modi, being the Hindutva stalwart that he is, with his utter disregard of international norms, ethics,practices and human rights, flouted the decades’ long toughly negotiated bilateral and multilateral agreements on Kashmir dispute. The August 5, 2019 move of the Modi government, by carrying out a material change in the territory, not only snatched the already persecuted Kashmiris’ day-to-day freedom by laying siege to their homeland, but also endeavored to snatch their last hope of freedom. Kashmiris, for decades, had been living anything but a dignified human life, but as PM Modi came into power, their condition has only worsened.
India’s claim of normalization returning in IIOJK are sheer lies. As many people in the privileged world are fortunate enough to be coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Kashmiris are even losing count of the lockdown. Covid-19 has made life more miserable for Kashmiris as amid the COVID restrictions, India has got a reason to further limit freedom of movement in the territory.
The international community neither holds India accountable for flouting International Law (by disregarding its commitments to United Nations of not carrying out a material change in the territory) nor for the human rights violations being perpetrated by it against the innocent Kashmiris. The fact that India is a huge marketplace for the major powers, absolve it of all its sins in Kashmir. This sinful silence over the atrocities in Kashmir is a failure of the much-celebrated document called the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’. It is only recently that some of the world leaders have shown empathy with the plight of Kashmiris, but it is far from enough.
As long as India is ruled by the ultranationalists who champion the Hindutva cause, no good can be expected either for Kashmiris or for the any of the minorities living in the country. Secularism and justice seems like a distant dream in present-day India as dissenting (democratic) voices are aptly being shut down. The abuse that persists in Kashmir and India is worsening with time.
To show their solidarity with the Kashmiri brethren and to regard their struggle for right to self-determination, Pakistanis commemorate 5 February as Kashmir day. Pakistan is constantly raising Kashmiri voices, but it is time that the world too should pay heed to their cries lest it should see another humanitarian catastrophe. On this 5th February, it should not only be Pakistan supporting the Kashmiris’ just cause, but all the ardent supporters of democracy, freedom and human rights in the world. The international community should call upon India to stop its grave human rights violations in Kashmir, besides pushing for a UN-mandated resolution of this dispute. The UN must be urged to conduct its long overdue referendum in Kashmir to settle the fate of Kashmiris and their liberation from Indian occupation once and for all.