Since 1989, over 100,000 Kashmiris have been killed by Indian forces. According to official figures, out of these, more than 7,200 people have been murdered in Indian custody, more than 23,000 women have been widowed, more than 110,000 children have been orphaned and more than 11,000 women have been raped by Indian occupation forces. In addition, over 7,000 unnamed mass graves have been discovered with thousands of victims. Some 10,000 Kashmiri youth have been injured due to the deliberate use of pellet rounds. With the deployment of around 200,000 additional troops last year, which raised the number of Indian occupation forces in the state to nearly one million, Jammu and Kashmir became the most militarized zone and largest prison in the world today.
On Aug. 5, 2019, the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir woke up to a nasty surprise. On this day, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India eliminated Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. These articles were an uncomfortable reminder of the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir and had so far protected the territory from a demographic invasion from India.
The unilateral Indian decisions on Aug. 5, 2019, threw open the gates of occupied Kashmir to settlers from India. In addition to confronting the world’s biggest and most unrestrained occupation army, the Kashmiris must now confront a direct attack designed to make them a minority in their own land.
This constitutional sleight of hand was accompanied by the injection of tens of thousands of additional occupation troops into the territory. Their number swelled to close to a million, one soldier for every 10 Kashmiris. At the same time all means through which the Kashmiris could register the rejection of these measures were taken away. A curfew was imposed. The internet was taken down. Kashmiri leaders were jailed or placed under house arrest. Even pro-India leaders, on India’s payroll, were detained, since their loyalty was also suspected given the insult and injury done to Kashmir on Aug. 5, 2019.
The occupying power must have thought that with this last overwhelming blow, the will of the Kashmiris will finally be broken and they will give up their demand for the right of self-determination promised to them by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). It could not have been more wrong. The Kashmiri determination to achieve their right of self-determination remained undimmed. Their resistance to Indian repression has continued unabated for three years. Three years after the abolition of Articles 370 and 35A and more than 70 years of unremitting repression have brought India no closer to breaking the Kashmiris’ will.
The repression in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir is unique in its duration, scale and intensity: More than seven decades long and nearly a million occupation soldiers armed with weapons and impunity. These forces have free rein to engage in the worst human rights violations. There are reams of reports from credible human rights organizations detailing these violations which cover the spectrum from extra-judicial killings, custodial deaths, involuntary disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, degrading punishments, rape and molestation, collective punishment, to curtailment of the right to freedom of expression and religion and belief.
Nearly 1,000 Kashmiris have been martyred in fake encounters and extra-judicial operations in the last three years. The region remains cut off from the rest of the world due to a media black-out, foreign journalists have no access to Jammu and Kashmir. Almost the entire Kashmiri leadership including Shabbir Ahmed Shah and Masarat Alam Bhat are either detained in crowded jails in India or are under house arrest on trumped-up charges. In a recent display of state oppression of legitimate political leadership, an Indian court sentenced Hurriyet leader Muhammad Yasin Malik to life imprisonment on fabricated charges, without any semblance of fair trial. This goes hand in hand with an elaborate strategy of military occupation, land confiscation, promoting influx of non-Kashmiris, and creation of alien settlements in IIOJK. So far, India has issued more than 4.2 million illegal domicile certificates to non-Kashmiri settlers to reduce Kashmiris to a minority in their own homeland.
And yet the Kashmir dispute remains as alive as it was before Aug. 5, 2019. Like all other blows in their misery-laden past the Kashmiris have withstood this blow also. They have rejected Indian orchestrations. Their will remains unbroken and their resistance resolute.
Kashmir is different from most other intractable problems and disputes in the world. In the case of the latter, there is no clear solution. In many cases, the UNSC is silent. If there is a UNSC mandated solution, one or the other party disagrees. Kashmir is perhaps unique in that there is a clear solution prescribed by the UNSC. The solution is eminently peaceful and democratic — free and fair, a U.N.-administered plebiscite to ascertain the will of the Kashmiris. Not only that but both Pakistan and India are on record as having accepted this solution. Indeed, the Indian leadership reiterated its pledge numerous times to the Kashmiris. But the allure of someone else’s land is sometimes too great a temptation. India fell victim to that temptation and reneged on its promises.
Since then it has had to employ all manner of force, fraud and trickery to maintain its hold on the territory of Jammu and Kashmir and to browbeat the Kashmiris into submission. Nothing has worked and nothing will work. Kashmiri perseverance is more than a match for Indian force and pressure.
As if this wasn’t enough to contend a more pressing subject that has long been known, regarding the ongoing atrocities committed by Indian forces against children and youth. Children and youth are routinely detained and subjected to torture and ill-treatment in order to elicit intelligence or extract confessions that they are associated with the Kashmiri groups struggling for the self-determination which was promised by the Security Council,” Munir Akram. Pakistan’s permanent representative at the U.N. Ambassador Akram cited the Secretary General’s report which urged New Delhi to undertake preventive measures to protect children in occupied Kashmir, including by ending the use of pellets and illegal detention, both in the Himalayan region and in several prisons across India.
Since August 2019, when India passed legislation to annex the disputed territory, an estimated 13,000 children and youth have been arbitrarily captured by the nearly million-strong army deployed in Kashmir, Akram said.
“The list of such horrifying crimes is long,” he said.
He recalled Islamabad released a comprehensive dossier covering accounts, corroborated by audio and video evidence, of 3,432 cases of war crimes, including those committed against women and children, perpetrated by senior military officials since 1989.
“We will share this evidence with the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, and the SRSG (Special Representative of the Secretary-General), and urge that those responsible be held accountable,” Ambassador Akram said.
“We would also urge the Office of the SRSG to continue to closely monitor and report on the situation of children in IIOJK [Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir],” he added. Akram underscored its singular focus to address the conditions of children in situations of “armed conflicts”. However, he pointed out that it does not extend to consideration of violence within the member states which is within their national jurisdictions.
Ambassador Akram’s sharp remarks drew a response from the Indian delegate, Ashish Sharma, claiming Pakistan was misusing the forum. Sharma claimed the entire territories of Jammu and Kashmir “were, are and will always be an integral, inalienable part” of India.
At this, Muhammad Rashid, a third secretary at Pakistan’s mission, hit back, observing that “Kashmir is neither nor was it ever a part of India”. In all its resolutions on this issue, he said, the Security Council has decided that the final disposition of Kashmir shall be determined by its people through a United Nations- supervised referendum, pointing out India has accepted this decision and is bound to comply with it. The maps of the United Nations all show Kashmir as disputed territory, said Rashid.
In Kashmir, he said the oldest United Nations peace-keeping force is deployed at present along the cease-fire line. Above all, the report which is under consideration by the Security Council itself considers Kashmir as a disputed territory.
“If India has any respect for international law and moral courage, it will end its reign of terror, withdraw its troops and let the Kashmiris freely decide their future in accordance with the Security Council resolutions,” he said.
Rashid went on to say that Pakistan possesses concrete evidence that terrorist organizations have been financed and sponsored by Indian intelligence and security agencies, that India has sponsored terrorism against all its neighbors, and that there has been no terrorism across the line of control in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where the ceasefire, agreed on in February 2021, is holding.
India can spare itself, Pakistan, South Asia and particularly the Kashmiris, further aggravation by upholding its pledge to allow a free and fair U.N. administered referendum to ascertain what the Kashmiris want. This is the sensible approach. This is the democratic approach. This is the approach the world’s self proclaimed largest democracy should not be afraid of.
CEO & Founder of We Can Save Children
Deputy Ambassador of International Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization
Economic & Social Council at United Nations (ECOSOC)
Editor-in-Chief at Wall Street News Agency
Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts