Human Rights in Indian occupied Kashmir: A lost cause?

October 8, 2017

kashmir

Iqbal Khan

Kashmiris are being humiliated, incarcerated, tortured, blinded, and demonized; their properties and means of earning livelihood are being destroyed with impunity. All this oppression is being done to suppress the voices of Kashmiris who are seeking freedom from illegal military occupation of India.

Reportedly, Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, has once again said that cross-LoC surgical strikes of last year were a message to Pakistan, and hinted at more such strikes if necessary. Pakistan had taken international media to the areas mentioned by India (for surgical strikes), to prove that there was no truth in the Indian claims. International media reports also supported the Pakistani rebuttal after visiting those areas and meeting the residents there. Even then,the comic general continues to insist that such strikes did take place.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) India-Chapters, in their recent statements have reaffirmed that the Indian government was not willing to accept important recommendations made by other UN member countries on May 4, during India’s third periodic review at Human Rights Council. These recommendations included greater accountability of Indian armed forces, ensuring freedom of expression, right to peaceful assembly, and abolishing the death penalty.

There is no time for further complacency. Notwithstanding India not allowing the fact-finding mission of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to have access to the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir, India cannot be and should not be allowed to imperil regional peace.

AI has published an exclusive 112-page report entitled “Losing sight in Kashmir: The impact of pellet-firing shot guns” containing pictures of pellet-guns victims with their emotions recorded. On November 08, 2016, The Guardian reported: “There is no recorded instance of a modern democracy systematically and willfully shooting at people to blind them”. Earlier, with reference to the use of pellet guns by Indian occupation forces on peaceful Kashmiri protesters in IoK, the New York Times had published an article captioned “An Epidemic of Dead Eyes in Kashmir as India Uses Pellet Guns on protesters”. While citing heart-rending scenes of pellet guns victims, as young as 8 years old, the article concluded that: “2016 will almost certainly be remembered as the year of dead eyes”. The prediction has come true.

According to HRW, Indian government did not accept a number of key Human Rights recommendations on September 21, 2017 at its United Nations review in Geneva.“In the face of countless attacks on free speech and threats to marginalized communities, the Indian government has chosen to be in denial,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. The HRW has urged the Indian government to promptly act on the recommendations raised by the UN member countries.

At the May 4 UN Human Rights Council’s session, 112 countries made 250 recommendations. On September 21, the Indian government only accepted 152. Thirty countries called on India to ratify the “UN Convention Against Torture”, a treaty it signed two decades ago but never ratified. Though the Indian government denied the existence of torture at the May meeting, saying: “the concept of torture is completely alien to our culture and it has no place in the governance of the nation”,while referring to a recent report on deaths in police custody, the HRW found that “torture is frequently used to gather information or coerce confessions”.

India’s National Human Rights Commission has pointed to the country’s failure to implement several recommendations adopted in the previous review cycles as well. “Regarding several pressing human rights concerns, the government’s outcome report merely “noted” the recommendations, drawing criticism from several countries and domestic and international rights groups. In the past, the Indian government has consistently ignored recommendations that it only noted,” the statement said.“For instance, concerns over the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a law that provides soldiers who commit abuses effective immunity from prosecution, was also “noted” in previous review sessions. But the government has refused to repeal this law.“The Indian government’s claims of respect for the process mean nothing if it simply brushes aside important recommendations at a time when the country’s long cherished freedoms and its poor and vulnerable are at great risk,” Ganguly said.

During his maiden address to the72nd UNGA session, UNGA,Prime Minister ShahidAbbasi had brought up the Human Rights issue in Kashmir firmly and requested that the UN should send a special envoy to Kashmir in order to monitor the actual situation on ground. Despite intimidating presence of 700,000 Indian troops in occupied Kashmir, India has miserably failed to crush the struggle for freedom.Prime Minister’s address to the UNGA, meetings and the sidelines interactions afforded opportunity to forcefully highlight the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, grave human rights violations in IoK at the hands of Indian occupation forces and Indian involvement in terrorism, terror financing, subversive activities and use of Afghan soil to launch terrorist attacks with the help of TTP, JuA and other terrorist outfits based in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister also submitted a comprehensive dossier on HR Violations in IoK to the UN Secretary General during his visit the UN.

Legal position of Pakistan with regard to Kashmir is quite secure since the UNSC Resolution 47 of 1948 and over a dozen subsequent resolutions supporting this foundational resolution, latest of which came on June 06, 1998 (UNSC R 1172) in the aftermath of overt nuclearization by India and Pakistan that “Urges India and Pakistan to resume the dialogue between them on all outstanding issues, particularly on all matters pertaining to peace and security, in order to remove the tensions between them, and encourages them to find mutually acceptable solutions that address the root causes of those tensions, including Kashmir”.

The UN has, by and large, remained mindful of the gravity of Kashmir conflict, most of its Secretary Generals, at one occasion or the other, have been offering their good offices for resolving the conflict. Pakistan has always accepted these offers with grace while India has always rejected such offers out of its misplaced hubris.

During the 36th Session of Human Rights Council in Geneva, banners were displayed along the road leading to the venue of session drawing attentions towards HR violations in IoK. HR situation in IoK is constantly deteriorating. Each year on the eve of ministerial session of the UNGA Kashmiris from all over the world participate in rallies at the UN, New York, to remind the World body about its obligations towards Kashmir. This year also hundreds of Kashmiri Americans held a huge rally during the speech of the Indian Foreign minister to the General Assembly.  Some of the slogans they raised are: “India: Honor UN Pledges”; “Freedom for all, Freedom for Kashmir”; “Indian Forces: Out of Kashmir”; “Time to Resolve Kashmir Dispute Now”; “Kashmir: The Nuclear Flashpoint”; “No Justice, No Peace”. Rally participants demanded of the UN to fulfill its obligation regarding right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir.

According to Hindustan Times, a hawkish Indian analyst, Professor Bharat Karnad, has admitted that Indian spy agency RAW uses TTP against Pakistan. He has underscored the point that India would never severe its relations with TTP not only because TTP is getting financial support from India but also that TTP is facilitating Indian terrorist agency RAW’s connectivity to other terrorist outfits based in Afghanistan.

If India’s appeasement by the US continues, Indian atrocities in Kashmir do not end and a lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute is not found, there is a risk that the regional and international order will be unhinged, and unleash an unspeakable horror.Continuation of status quo in Indian occupied Kashmir is no longer a tenable option.

*The writer is a freelance columnist and can be reached at iqbal.khan9999@yahoo.com