Though border skirmishes between India and Pakistan along Line of Control (LoC) are usual for Kashmiris, they prefer an uneasy peace and normalcy. As a writer who loves drawing attention to human sufferings, I feel impelled to highlight and discourage treachery, disloyalty, unfaithfulness and oppression of Kashmiris. Whoever said Kashmir is beautiful told a lie; it is perhaps more prepossessing than Paradise itself. I have basked in the clouds of this paradise on Earth; but, I also feel a rain of terror and blood on this beautiful land. Its people have not seen dawn of hope since the Indian occupation. Their children have only seen guns rather than toys. Their women, God knows how many time, have faced harassment. Only hope left, is their identity. Their separate identity! Unfortunately, it is also taken by authoritative India. It is a place where youth is cast as a traitor and left red painted, where bullets are fired upon the unarmed; where people tolerate many pains and where many eyes shower red rains. There are many question marks and blanks. I can imagine what happens to people who live under a military occupation for decades, how do they feel when the seven decades of constitutional guarantees are undone in five short years? I also do not know for how long the Kashmiris will live in dilemma, in confusion and in conflict?
Kashmir has been a source of conflict between India and Pakistan since many decades. It is the most difficult of all the problems between both the countries. It is a disputed territory according to United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) where both Pakistan and India cannot change the status of Kashmir. It is not only a geographic region or a border dispute between India and Pakistan, but according to Former Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru (in the Lok Sabha, 31 March 1955) “it has a soul of its own; it has an individuality of its own. Nothing can be done without the goodwill of the people of Kashmir.”
During a recent visit of Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan, to the US, Kashmir also came under discussion and the US President, Mr. Donald Trump, while talking to the media alongside Pakistani Prime Minster at the White House said that the current Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, had recently asked him whether he would like to be a mediator or arbitrator on Kashmir — something India immediately denied. He further reiterated that, but if they wanted somebody to intervene, to help them, I would certainly intervene.
This development seems to have triggered an emergency environment in India. Tensions mounted as India deployed extra paramilitary troops in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Such quick re-location of security forces was never done before. According to the local’s opinion, Indian Prime Minister wanted to abrogate a constitutional provision – Article 35A and 370 – which will enable Indians to buy land and settle down in the disputed territory of Kashmir. J&K had an autonomous status under the Article 370. Incorporated in the Indian Constitution in 1954, it gave special status and rights to the people of J&K. Moreover, it also defined as to “who are permanent residents of the state”. It not only gave the people of J&K “special rights and privileges regarding employment with the state government, acquisition of property in the state, settling in the state” but also accepted these fundamental rights of the people of J&K. Moreover, citizen from any other state were not entitled to buy property in J&K.
Regrettably, the top story of yesterday happened to be about changing status of J&K. Though, there are several states in India with special status apart from J&K but Indian hyper Hindu nationalism has problem with this state only. Yesterday, India revoked Article 370 of its Constitution. It was unbelievable and shocking. It was a flagrant incidence of rising Indian authoritarianism, aiming at occupying territories with special privileges. Whatever it is, Kashmir was and remains a military occupation and the Indian Government just staged a military demonstration for the whole world. As per the UN resolutions it is the people of Kashmir who have to decide the future of Kashmir, whether to join India or Pakistan.
According to the President of National Conference, Mr. Farooq Abdullah, “modification or abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A would be an aggression against the people of J&K and Ladakh.” During an all-party meet, he further divulged that “it was unanimously decided that all the parties will be united in their resolve to protect and defend identity, autonomy and the special status of J&K and Ladakh, against all attacks, whatsoever.”
All the tactics used by India in past and present are part of a coercive strategy to squeeze Kashmiris. It used prohibited cluster bombs along LOC, targeting innocent population which is a violation of Geneva Convention and International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Moreover, Indian Army on night 30th / 31st July targeted innocent citizens including women and children in Neelum Valley through Artillery using cluster shells. Indian oppressive attempts now stand completely exposed as Indian media is accepting that local Kashmiris are up against them. Farooq Abdullah had many a time indicated that Kashmiris are now reacting to Indian aggression and why the Indian establishment is not reaching out to Kashmiris. India’s cancellation of Kashmir’s special status will have consequences; it will give impetus to freedom movement there. Consequently, it will galvanize a new generation of Kashmiris to deal with fascist India. India must realize that the solution to the J&K does not lie in such aggressive tactics. It is not about territory; it is about humanity. Kashmiris deserve fundamental rights, most importantly the right to life and choose. One of the prominent Indian authors, Suzanna Arundhati Roy, opines sadly in one of her writings that “Particularly about Kashmir, where only fiction can be true, because the truth cannot be told. In India, it is not possible to speak of Kashmir with any degree of honesty without risking bodily arm.”