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Indian occupied Kashmir: Paradise or an open air prison?

Anum RizwanWeb Editor

02nd Nov, 2019. 10:30 am
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“If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.” Mughal Emperor Jehangir said it all when he visited Kashmir in the 17th century.

“Three Months of Siege”

Revocation of the special status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir

On 5 August 2019, the Government of India revoked the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir—an occupied state in India, located in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947, under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

The Indian Government justified its action by saying that this will help end violence and militancy in the state and enable people to access government schemes such as reservation, right to education and right to information among other schemes.

However, international human rights groups condemned the revocation resolution. In contrast, Hindu nationalists celebrated, stating that this “could bring peace and investment” to this region.


Prior to the 5 August revocation announcement, Section 144 curfew was imposed in the Muslim-majority areas of the valley.

Concrete barricades blocked roads every few hundred meters. Shops and clinics were closed, as were all educational institutions and a red alert was sounded across Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmiri Reactions

The most recent Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti called it the “blackest day of Indian democracy”. She felt that the Indian Parliament snatched away everything from the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah called the government’s move on the Article 370 “unilateral and shocking”.

Kashmiri politician Shah Faesal denounced the move, saying that “This is being seen as the biggest betrayal by the Indian state in last 70 years.

You can say that the entire eight-million population has been incarcerated like never before,” and in an interview with international news channel, Shah Faesal described that the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was “an insult to the dignity of the people. My belief is that it will have immediate and long-term consequences.

Humanitarian Crisis

Men in Kashmir:

Thousands have been detained and many of them tortured since India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy three months ago.

“After I fainted, they used electric shocks to revive me.”, a 22 year old innocent Kashmiri states after he gets brutally tortured by Indian personnel.

Men are being picked up by the security forces in midnight raids, said Mohammed Shafi Bhat of Shopian district.

He claimed that thousands have been detained since August 5 and more are being picked up and even tortured to instil fear.

Women in Kashmir:

“We feel persecuted, even more than the men of the valley today.”, said Samreen, a 22 year old make-up artist from Srinagar.

Before announcing the decision, one of the government’s arguments for scrapping Article 370 was that it would lead to gender equality and the “emancipation” of women in the Muslim-majority region.

But days later, a number of the politicians with India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made sexist comments directed towards Kashmiri women.

Pakistan’s response

The Foreign Office of Pakistan issued a statement stating, “As a party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps.” It called the revocation a “unilateral step” and said it violated the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

Pakistan’s army chief said that Pakistan Army stood by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end and that the army would “go to any extent” to support the people of Kashmir.

President of Pakistan Arif Alvi summoned an emergency joint parliamentary sitting of the National Assembly and the Senate to discuss the situation. The joint parliamentary sitting passed a resolution to condemn India’s move and called it “illegal, unilateral, reckless and coercive attempt to alter the disputed status of Indian occupied Kashmir as enshrined in the UNSC resolutions”.

On 9 August 2019, Pakistan formally suspended its trade relations with India and banned all exports and import to/from India.

On 11 August 2019, prime minister Imran Khan compared the Indian government to “Nazis”, warning that global inaction over Kashmir would be same as “appeasing Hitler”.

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi issued a statement on Tuesday 13 August 2019 that he had written a letter to the president of the United Nations Security Council with a request to convene an emergency meeting of the council to discuss India’s “illegal actions that violate UN resolutions on Kashmir”.

Speech of Prime Minister Imran Khan at UNGA Session:

Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The highlight of his more than 45-minute-long speech was intense criticism of India for its annexation of occupied Kashmir and the continued restrictions imposed in the region.

He said that the total number of security forces in Kashmir are 900,000 and they put eight million people of occupied Kashmir under curfew.

He said that the answer to how anyone can do something like this lies in the RSS ideology followed by Modi.

“What kind of people bring in 900,000 troops for eight million people? These are human beings,” said Prime Minister Imran to applause from the audience.

Human Rights Organizations over Humanitarian Crisis in IoK

Over 50 countries in UN, including Pakistan, called on India to end human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in Indian Administered Jammu & Kashmir, especially following decisions taken on August 5, 2019, requires urgent attention by the Human Rights Council and human rights mechanisms,” the countries said in a joint statement.

The statement came after Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Consistent with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions, and human rights standards and international law, the international community should ask for: Respect and protection of fundamental human rights of the people of Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir, especially the right to life, liberty and security,” the countries said in a joint statement.

They also asked for implementation of the recommendations of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) Kashmir reports, including establishment of a UN commission of inquiry to investigate “egregious human rights violations.”

“We also support a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the implementation of the UNSC resolutions,” the statement said.

Several rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.

India officially divides IOK into two union territories

In an event of far-reaching consequences, occupied Kashmir was officially split by New Delhi into two union territories at midnight Wednesday against the wishes of the people of the territory and in breach of international laws and India’s own constitution.

Narendra Modi-led Indian government on August 05, 2019, had announced to repeal the special status of occupied Kashmir and divide it into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Indian Administrative Service Officers, Girish Chandra Murmu and Radha Krishna Mathur, have been appointed the new Lieutenant Governors for the UTs of J&K and Ladakh respectively.

German Chancellor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel talking to German journalists who are accompanying her in her visit to India expressed concern for the people of Kashmir and said that the lockdown of the region cannot be supported for long.

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