KASHMIR CONFLICT — AN EMERGING GENOCIDE

BY Vincent Lyn and Sardar Nouman Azam

Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian sub-continent. Until the mid-19th century, the term “Kashmir” denoted only the Kashmir Valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Pangal Range.

In the first half of the first millennium, the Kashmir region became an important center of Hinduism and later of Buddhism; later still, in the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose. In 1339, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, inaugurating the Shah Mir Dynasty. Kashmir was part of the Mughal Empire from 1586 to 1751, and thereafter, until 1820, of the Afghan Durrani Empire. That year, the Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir. In 1846, after the Sikh defeat in the First Anglo Sikh-War, and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Arimstar the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became the new ruler of Kashmir. The rule of his descendants, under the British Crown, lasted until the partition of India in 1947, when the former princely state of the British Indian Empire became a disputed territory.

The Kashmir Conflict is a territorial conflict over the Kashmir Region, primarily between India and Pakistan, with China playing a third-party role. The conflict started after the partition of India in 1947 as both India and Pakistan claimed the entirety of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan recognizing Chinese sovereignty over the Trans-Karakoram Tract and Aksai Chin since 1963.

It is a dispute over the region that escalated into three wars between India and Pakistan and several other armed skirmishes. India controls approximately 55% of the land area of the region that includes Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, most of Ladakh, the Siachen Glacier and 70% of its population, Pakistan controls approximately 30% of the land area that includes Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan while China controls the remaining 15% of the land area that includes the Aksai Chin region, the mostly uninhabited Trans-Karakoram Tract, and part of the Demchok Sector. After the partition of India and a rebellion in the western sector of the states, Pakistani tribal militias invaded Kashmir, leading the Hindu ruler of Jammu and Kashmir to join India and starting the Indo-Pakistani war of 1947 which ended with a U.N-mediated ceasefire along a line that was eventually named the Line of Control After further fighting in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 and the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, the Simla Agreement formally established the Line of Control between the two nations’ controlled territories. In 1999, armed conflict between India and Pakistan broke out again in the Kargil War over the Kargil District.

Since 1989, Kashmiri protest movements were created to voice Kashmir’s disputes and grievances with the Indian government in the Indian-controlled Kashmir valley with some Kashmiri separatists in armed-conflict with the Indian government based on the demand for self-determination. The 2010s were marked by further unrest erupting within the Kashmir Valley. The 2010 Kashmir unrest began after an alleged fake encounter between local youth and security forces. Thousands of youths pelted security forces with rocks, burned government offices, and attacked railway stations and official vehicles in steadily intensifying violence. The Indian government blamed separatists and Lashkar-e-Taiba a Pakistan-based militant group, for stoking the 2010 protests. The 2016 Kashmir unrest erupted after killing of a Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Burhan Wani, by Indian security forces. Further unrest in the region erupted after the 2019 Pulwama attack.

The government’s continued refusal to comply with the SHRC’s recommendations gives impunity to and protects the perpetrators of violence. It also reflects the state’s reluctance to acknowledge the very existence of enforced disappearances, a culpable offence. For thousands of families looking for closure and justice, such a response from the state only aggravates their grief. It further deepens the sense of distrust for generations of Kashmiris who live in the constant fear of being raped, murdered or tortured for speaking up against the oppression and impunity and what many in Kashmir would say ‘occupation of the region’. It is time for the state to hold the armed forces accountable, repeal laws that give them impunity, and investigate the mass graves as ordered by the State Human Rights Commission.

According to scholars, Indian forces have committed many human right abuses and acts of terror against Kashmiri civilian population including extrajudicial killing, rape, torture, and enforced disappearances. According to Amnesty International, no member of the Indian military deployed in Jammu and Kashmir has been tried for human rights violations in a civilian court as of June 2015, although there have been military court martial held. Amnesty International has also accused the Indian government of refusing to prosecute perpetrators of abuses in the region.

Kashmir is now standing on the verge of absolute and utter chaos. Two nuclear armed countries Pakistan and India both fighting for Kashmir since 1947. Kashmir the jugular vein of Pakistan. Every single day in the occupied region, females are raped and killed. Teen-age boys are slaughtered in front of their parents, and what is their crime? Simply the very right to freedom. As the Lord said in both the Quran and the Bible, freedom is fundamental and an essential right of every human being. Every time I think about the future of those children whose parents were killed and sisters raped in front of their eyes but they can do nothing to defend themselves. Defiantly when they grow up they will pick up a gun and fight for freedom while the International World will call them terrorists. If fighting for freedom is terrorism then Nelson Mandela was also terrorist. And the same goes with the Palestinian conflict that has lasted 72 years. Personally, I know if a foreign invader took my land and home and killed my family I would want retribution even if it meant sacrificing my own life. Kashmir is a blessed land.

Many people who don’t know the region, its geography and history will ask why is Kashmir so important to India, Pakistan and China? The answer is the glaciers and fresh water they provide to the region and to India. The glacial waters that flow through Kashmir provide water and electricity to a billion people in India.

It seems a no brainer to stop the brutal horrific killing and not overlook simple humanity and save Kashmir. If the Kashmir Conflict is not solved, and continues to spiral out of control, unchecked, the continued blood bath will spontaneously cause yet another genocide. History repeating itself after it’s been said time immemorial, “Never Again” (Holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia, China, Cambodia, Uganda, South Sudan, etc.) and yet here we are at the precipice of yet another genocide of epic proportions.

The people of Kashmir are such beautiful and talented people who have been continually oppressed for over 70 years leaving them two choices. They either fight for freedom or die trying. Humanity requires the United Nations and First World Nations to step up to the plate and save Kashmir and its people of destruction.

CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children

Director of Cultural Development at African Views Organization

Economic & Social Council at United Nations

Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency

Founder-We Can Save Children. Director Creative Development-African Views Organization, United Nations. Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency