By News Desk
Washington, D.C. February 23, 2019.
World Kashmir Awareness (WKA) Board in its meeting on February 23, 2019 regrets the death of 45 Indian soldiers recently killed at Pulwama, Kashmir. Further, WKA is saddened by the fast deteriorating human rights situation, particularly in the valley and Jammu. It calls up on Mr. Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India to address the human rights situation earnestly. We cannot escape the brazen disregard for the fundamental rights of Kashmiris shown by Prime Minister Modi and his most inhumane draconian apparatus in Kashmir. It is time that India joins the community of civilized nations and allows the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise the right of self –determination as agreed upon by both India and Pakistan, endorsed and accepted by the United Nations Security Council.
The gross human rights violations are documented by various international and impartial human rights agencies. A brief illustration of those violations are given below.
The crisis is so severe that the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, for the first time in June 2018, released a report detailing atrocities committed [by the Indian occupation (uniformed) forces] in Kashmir. The report alludes to the special powers granted to the Indian occupation (security) forces allowing them total impunity. “No armed forces personnel have faced prosecution since the powers went into effect 28 years ago, and the authorities have made little effort to investigate various allegations, including reports of mass graves”, the report said. It criticized the Indian occupation forces, in particular, “for inflicting mass civilian casualties in response to escalating protests” and called for an “international investigation into these gross abuses”. The conflict “has robbed millions of their basic human rights and continues to this day to inflict untold suffering,” said the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, while presenting the report.
Prior to this report, an Indian author Gautam Navlakha in his report “Internal War and Civil Rights: Disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir” in the Economic and Political Weekly, says that “The recent Amnesty International report examines the phenomenon of disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir. While some of the ‘missing’ may have crossed the border, by far the larger number have fallen victim to state terrorism – arrest, detention, torture and death at the hands of the security forces. Courts cannot provide much relief as court orders are ignored by bureaucrats and armed forces”.
In an interview published on August 28 2016, the South Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, Meenakshi Ganguly, while calling for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and other draconian laws that provide Indian military and para-military immunity from prosecution, said the way “to persuade people to believe in rule of law is for the state to set an example by first and foremost, holding itself accountable.”
The interview was conducted at a time when 70 civilians had been killed, over 500 youth blinded by pellets in one or both eyes and over 5000 civilians injured by Indian rogue army in just 50 days immediately prior to the interview.
In a most despicable act, the rogue Indian Army does not even hesitate to use civilians in Kashmir as human shield. In its editorial entitled “Cruelty and Cowardice in Kashmir”, New York Times in April, 2017 wrote “Members of India’s armed forces reached a new low in the long history of alleged human rights abuses in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir when they beat and then tied a 24-year-old shawl weaver named Farooq Ahmad Dar to the front of a jeep on April 9, using him as a human shield against stone-throwing crowds”.
The New York Times reported that many in India expressed shock and revulsion on this report. Yet “large sections of India’s booming news media — some editors, some columnists — openly celebrated what could well be a violation of the Geneva Conventions”. India’s attorney general defended the use of human shields, praising the officer who made the decision. The army should be applauded, he said. The report went on to say that “A judge on India’s Armed Forces Tribunal, which hears court-martial appeals, tweeted that it was “an innovative idea.” Mr. Ahmad was turned into a war cry on prime-time television and on social media. Such is the status of Indian Democracy!?
During the same period, as Mr. Modi was going around the world projecting the “Greatness of India”, The Washington Post reported banning of 22 social media sites in Indian controlled Kashmir. Pranesh Prakash, policy director for the Indian advocacy group the Center for Internet and Society, called the ban a “blow to freedom of speech” and “legally unprecedented in India.”
And, where is Mr. Modi’s outrage regarding the ‘Dead Eyes’ Epidemic in Kashmir brought on by the use of lead pellets by his “courageous soldiers”, as reported by international press. In less than two months (July-August 2016), New York Times reported that “more than 570 patients have reported to Srinagar’s main government hospital with eyes ruptured by lead pellets, sometimes known as birdshot, fired by [Indian] occupation (security) forces armed with pump-action shotguns…..The patients have mutilated retinas, severed optic nerves, irises seeping out like puddles of ink”. The victim even includes recent victim an 18-month old toddler. “2016 will almost certainly be remembered as the year of dead eyes.”
Commenting on “Kashmir in Crisis”, The Editorial Board of New Times, yet again wrote that a “major cause of the uprising is the resentment among Kashmiri youths who have come of age under an Indian security apparatus that acts against civilians with impunity. Kashmir is subject to India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act, or AFSPA, which grants the military wide powers to arrest, shoot to kill, occupy or destroy property. The result is a culture of brutal disdain for the local population.”
The Board trusts that the involvement of the international community, particularly the world powers in this matter will bring its influence to bear on both India and Pakistan to initiate a peace process with which the United Nations as well as the accredited leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir will be associated so as to ensure that settlement arrived at will be based on the principles of justice.
Lastly, the Board urges the Secretary General of the United Nations to bring this matter to the attention of the Security Council. Whether this could be done successfully depends on the attitudes and policies of the permanent members, but they should be left in no doubt that any failure to resolve the problem could lead the South Asian Subcontinent to a nuclear disaster, with incalculable consequences for the whole world.