On August 5, 2019, Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution that provide special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir were abrogated. These actions made the state’s own Constitution, that protected the demographic character, inoperative. This was done with mala-fide intentions, meticulous planning and nefarious designs. On this date there was also the infusion of additional paramilitary and regular forces into the state, taking their number to one million. All the Hurriyat leadership was incarcerated and even politicians like Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who in the past were in cahoots with the Indian government, were arrested. Thousands of young men ranging from 15 to 35 years were picked from their homes and locked in different prisons of India. Most of them continue to languish there in sub-human conditions. The goal was to create a fear-psychosis within the population, and to convey the message that any person showing semblance of resistance will be dealt with brute force.
Once the changes were firmly entrenched, the plan to undergo numerical alterations in the population of the region, was embarked upon. At present, the state is directly ruled by New Delhi through a handpicked Lieutenant Governor, who is responsible to execute the orders of the Home Ministry. The ministry is headed by Amit Shah, a notorious politician whose criminal activities against Muslims in Gujrat riots of 2004, are well documented.
Those of us who have visited Kashmir prior to 2019, will notice observable differences in the situation of the region. The airports are crowded with Hindu fundamentalists, and you will be hard-pressed to find a local passenger or vendor catering to the needs of tourists. Similarly, you have Hindu settlers being housed in government-provided accommodations and these people are in line to receive the certificate of residency. The bureaucracy has been totally overhauled and all high-level positions in the civil secretariat and police force are occupied by Hindus brought from India. Recently, one highly respected Kashmiri American visited the valley and met the local people from different walks of life. The observations made on the basis of this visit are well corroborated by others who have been to the region. What has been noted is severe repression, undaunted efforts to change the demographic character of the region and forcing people to subjugation to the extent they shudder to even think of protesting against the grievous abuses inflicted on them. Brief description of the violations applied by the Indian government is as follows:
- Freedom of press remains blocked: Press is totally muzzled. Anybody writing against the occupation forces based on facts is slapped with draconian Unlawful Public Activity Act (ULPA) and subsequently imprisoned without any judicial reprieve.
- Cordon and search operations are held on a daily basis in all areas of occupied land to create an atmosphere of fear and to arrest or kill youth. During this process, properties are destroyed, women molested and youngsters are especially targeted.
- All the top-level government positions are held by Hindus from India and local Kashmiri officials are being marginalized.
- With the influx of a large population of Hindus from India, local Kashmiris find it difficult to compete even for the lower positions in the government.
- Institutions that were previously under the jurisdiction of IOK (Indian occupied Kashmir) Government are now run by New Delhi and there is assiduous effort to increase the number of Hindu applicants into Medical and Engineering colleges. Jammu Kashmir Bank that used to provide an avenue of employment for the local population has been heavily Indianized and filled with Hindus from India.
- Any financial transaction taking place in administrative sector has to go through Reserve Bank of India
- Agricultural land is being destroyed by constructing unnecessary roads entirely for transportation of occupation forces.
- The apple production, main source of income for occupied Kashmiris, is systematically being decimated by many oppressive measures like delaying the harvest and impeding the transportation so that fruit gets destroyed in the process.
- Under a well-planned scheme measures are adopted by which local businesses are systematically transferred to Indian Hindus.
- Revenue records are being tampered clandestinely to change the ownership of commercial properties from Muslims to Hindus of India.
- Major activity to change the demographics of IOK is the rapid issuance of domicile certificates, and gerrymandering like application of settler colonial laws like delimitation.
It is very disappointing for the people of Kashmir that these violations are continuing in an unabated manner and India appears succeeding in its evil design and the silence of the International community in this regard, is reprehensible.
Pakistan, notwithstanding the current political and economic quagmire, could play an important role in highlighting the crimes against humanity committed against Kashmiri people.
In this regard, it is important to note that national security of the country cannot be compromised due to the economic crisis.
I am pretty sure that both military and political leadership of Pakistan will not demur to protect the country against external invasion, in case it happens. We Kashmiris were always told that Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan and the country is incomplete without its inclusion. That would make Kashmir an issue in the dimension of national security of Pakistan. The current stand of the country as regards to repression of Kashmiris do not authenticate these claims.
Although the previous government had taken a stand that talks with India cannot be re-started until the decisions of August 5, 2019 are reversed, at present there are strong voices emerging from Pakistan to establish business relations with India. Although the precarious food and economic situation of Pakistan is understandable, sacrifices made by Kashmiris should not be bartered for onions and tomatoes. This will be a colossal betrayal to Kashmiris and send the wrong message to the world.