By Syeda Mazhar
Kashmir- a paradise on earth, a land full of beauty; Snow capped mountains, rivers and green hills. But, the truth is that, the ivory white of the snow has red blood gashes in stark contrast, the gushing rivers carry bodies of brutally killed people and the green hills echo the screams of women being abused, losing their everything to the bestiality of the Indian armed forces. Mass killings, forced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech has become an integral part of the day to day life. Indian administered portion of Kashmir is suffering every moment. The utter violation of human rights in the region has no parallels yet, somehow, the issue has not been able to get enough International coverage.
The right to live is explicitly sanctioned in International Law for every individual regardless of their cast, creed, faith or geographical identity. The provision of human rights’ and security are categorically stated both in international law and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). But the human security situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir is ironically ignored fact by the International community. This can be credited to the strong diplomacy and international relations and above all its impressive lobbying in the international forums and the fact that India has completely sealed media in the region since 1990s. The magnitude of atrocities increased since then making the decade of 1990s the most horrific phase of human rights violation in Indian Occupied Kashmir, where through the deployment of its 700,000 security forces, India has killed over 93,000 Kashmir’s, who were asking for their right of self-determination. Whenever, the people demanded their rights, Indian authorities unleashed a reign of terror on the unarmed innocent Kashmiri people.
Today a common kashmiri spends his life in a state of constant fear and insecurity from the Indian forces. The Kashmir’s are being humiliated, discriminated, tortured and killed as if there is no law meant for their protection and safeguard. Despite the global prohibition on torture, even during times of national emergencies, deaths through torture of Kashmiri youth have been a common phenomenon in Kashmir. The factual position however is that torture, hostage-taking, and rape has been a prominent and common form of abuse in IOK over the last two and half decades, ever since the people started struggling against the Indian occupation of Kashmir in 1990s.
Time and again, the Indian security forces have been accused of using rape and molestation as a punitive and threatening measure against the civilians, especially women, who were believed to be sympathizers of militants in the region. Rape was regularly used as a means to punish and humiliate not only the individual but the whole community. About 11.6% of the respondents said that they have been victims of sexual abuse. Despite the insistent denial of the Indian government, the officials have reportedly confessed to Human Rights Watch of the widespread occurrence of fake encounters, rape, sexual abuse and torture and its encouragement for the rewards and promotions. Fake encounters being an incident where a security personnel kills someone in cold blood while claiming that the casualty occurred in a gun battle.
In addition, the Indian army has been reported of kidnapping four civilians and staging a forged battle between them, in the end killing them all. The matter when taken up to the authorities only resulted in the transfer of the official from his position and nothing more. Ironically, the people responsible to provide justice are the ones involved in serious human right violations. There are repeated incidents of heinous crimes conducted by the Indian Army under the infamous Armed Forces Special Powers Act that gives wide impunity to the Indian armed forces. The officials involved in invoking terrorism in the region cannot be prosecuted unless the Indian government sanctions it.
Over these past two decades, over 8000 men have disappeared. So much that a new term for their wives was coined- “half-widows”. These men are believed to be dumped in thousands of mass graves across Kashmir. Such disappearances were mainly of boys and men of the community. The females were subjected to other coarse forms of humiliation and brutality and that too, extremely frequently.
The reports also confirm the incomparable mayhem caused by the Indian armed forces in the state of Kashmir. To continue its occupation in Kashmir, India has made its forces immune from every law there. According to a recent report of China Daily (January 2, 2014), compared to 2012, there has been 38% increase in the human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir during year-2013. Whereas, the death tolls due to violence during 2012 were 148, in 2013, the human rights violation has caused 204 deaths. This data has been complied by a rights group; ‘Coalition of Civil Society’ (CCS) in its annual report, ‘Human Rights Review-2013.’
India will suffer for what it has done in Kashmir. The rape epidemic that has gripped India recently finds its genesis in Kashmir, where hundreds of Indian soldiers and their units have been involved in rape as a tool of war and occupation. The culture of impunity on rape, and the idea that you can get away with it, found its ways in India with the return of thousands of soldiers back to their home. Along with that, Indian army’s violence has caused the formation of various groups of freedom fighters, the Indians very conveniently calls “militants”. India has been long exporting terrorism to Pakistan and China. The Indian Spy Agency Raw, training Chinese nationals to cause instability in Northern China. By doing this they are merely surrounding themselves with instability which will eventually leak into their land.
India is a democratic country yet it forces people to remain in it using militaristic ways. The people of Kashmir have the right to self determination. A right they have been denied and when they demanded it, the Indian Army plays the role of the Grim Reaper.
Kashmir is one of the most protracted occupations in the world and the most ignored one too. The United Nations has successfully solved many global issues but despite all debate it is yet to find a solution to the Palestine and the Kashmir problem. The tension between two nuclear states makes the Kashmir Issue far more dangerous than any other. Even though the world laments over the perils it has not done much to improve the lives of the people of Kashmir.
Since day one India has averted its gaze from the violence caused by the Indian officials and to this date, it is that very reason that is causing continued mayhem in the region. The scenic valley is turning into a valley of death. The shrilling screams, the desperate pleas, the never ending streams of tears all are forsaken by the Indian government as it deliberately delays to give justice. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to believe that there is neither any long standing nor any legitimate deep grievances in the Indian held Kashmir. Every day countless people are mercilessly killed and the Indian Army and government disregard the loss of lives. When will India start valuing Kashmiri lives? When will the people of Kashmir not be used as pawns in a game of chess with Pakistan? The questions remain unanswered.