MIRPUR - Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan had urged British Parliamentarians and the British civil society to have a dialogue with 10 Downing Street, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Dominic Raab and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) over the deteriorating situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K). He said that that the UK government should avoid diplomatic escapism and not term the Kashmir dispute as a bilateral issue. The President made these remarks while addressing a webinar titled “Twin Lockdown in Kashmir and Global Response”, organized by Tehreek-e-Kashmir-UK on Saturday.

The event was attended by academics and leading Members of Parliament belonging to the Conservative, Labour, SNP and Lib-Dem. Sardar Masood said that concrete steps should be taken to help stop the egregious human rights violations, killings, torture, rape and incarcerations taking place under the twin lockdown imposed in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K).

Labour MP Liam Byrne said that the UK had to drop the pretence that this disputed issue must be resolved bilaterally. There should be impartial third-party mediation for the resolution of the issue in accordance with the UN SC resolutions on Kashmir. He added that there was a risk of war if the situation escalates amongst the two neighbours. He also condemned the growing sectarian polarization in India and termed it as a degradation of the secular character of India.

MP Nadia Whittome (Labour) demanded the withdrawal of troops and an end to human rights violations in IOJ&K. She also said that Articles 35-A and 370 should be immediately restored. MP Stella Creasy from the Labour Party vowed to raise the issue of Kashmir with parliamentarians from all parties. MP James Daly, Chairman Conservative Friends of Kashmir, Vice-Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group in Kashmir committed to standing for the inalienable right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people. MP Jim McMahon (Labour) said that despite the fact that almost one year had come to pass since the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had released its second report on Kashmir on July 8, 2019, no progress had taken place and instead the situation had deteriorated even more.

The AJK President in his address said that the situation in IOJ&K was fast deteriorating and there was a humanitarian and human rights crisis. Referring to the recent Sopore shooting incident where the 65-year-old Bashir Ahmed Khan was martyred by CRPF personnel and images of his 3-year-old grandson wailing atop his bloody lifeless body as a harrowing reminder of the atrocities taking place in IOJ&K. The President said that a twin lockdown, firstly in the shape of a siege imposed in August last year and now, adding to it, a Covid-19 pandemic lockdown had made the lives of Kashmiris a living hell.

“In April this year, they [India] went a step further and introduced the New Domicile Rules. Under these rules, India has done away with the Kashmiris’ exclusive right to livelihood, acquisition of property, employment and educational scholarships. The President likened India’s actions taken to reoccupy the territory and further bifurcating as an act of imperialism and settler colonialism.

Transformation of the demography, he maintained, accounts for grave human rights violations under the Geneva Convention, ICC statute and UN Security Council resolutions. He added that in a matter of days, 25,000 Hindus from all over India had been given domiciles of IOJ&K; and in the same manner, in which Muslim Indians had become second class citizens, Kashmiris had to run from pillar to post just to prove that they are State subjects.

“If we don’t stop this now, IOJ&K won’t be a recognizable entity like it is today. 2 million Hindus will be brought in over the coming years. Help us stop this land grab” he said.

Speaking on the religious divide and discrimination against Muslims all over India and IOJ&K that had been witnessed under the BJP-RSS regime, the President said that these actions were akin to the steps taken by Hitler’s Nazi party in the last century.

The AJK President said that currently, the whole territory of IOJ&K was under an occupational lockdown. Hundreds of Kashmiris had been killed in the past 11 months and thousands of young Kashmiris were in jails. The head of the Jammu and Kashmir police had acknowledged that 22 “militants had been killed in the past two months. “India is carrying out genocide, ethnic cleansing and committing war crimes in IOJ&K”, he said.

President Masood Khan said that the resolution of Kashmir dispute was essential for regional peace. The recent standoff between China and India posed a very real risk of a nuclear war between the 3 nuclear nations – Pakistan, India and China. “That would be nothing less than a nuclear Armageddon”, he said.

The President said that a few months back the international media along with leading parliamentarians had spoken up in support of Kashmiris but now the world’s attention had been diverted due to Covid-19. He added that even though we still had a groundswell of support from parliamentarians from all over the world; governments around the globe were still woefully silent due to their strategic and economic interests with India.

 

 

Masood Khan said that anodyne statements made by the UN Secretary General did not impact India. India continued its rampage in IOJ&K and it was imperative for the UNSC to take cognizance of the situation in Kashmir as it was an active item on their calendar.

The AJK President urged his audience to initiate debates on Kashmir in the British Parliament. He said that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, UK should also raise the issue on the floor of the Council. He cautioned the participants that India, now a non-permanent member of the UN SC, might avail this opportunity to take one of three damaging steps: firstly, to delete the agenda of Kashmir from the UN SC calendar; secondly, stop any debates on Kashmir; or thirdly, cut fundings or undermine the mandate of the UN Military Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

“Appeasement of this fascist BJP-RSS Hindu-supremacist regime in India is not an option. Last century, we witnessed the consequences when the Nazi Party was appeased. We cannot let this happen again”, maintained the President.

He asserted that a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement should be initiated against India and any further trade agreements be made conditional to the halt of human rights violations taking place in IOJ&K. “Assess all possible arms sale to India from the UK. Stop it, as these weapons are not being used for self-defense but instead they are being used to kill and maim armless Kashmiris”, he said.

President Masood informed that Pakistan and the people of Kashmir were ready for dialogue with India but unfortunately, the latter had no intention to engage in meaningful talks on the resolution of the Kashmir issue. He said that we welcome impartial third party mediation by leading capitals, statesmen or the United Nations. India, he said, kept scuttling talks on the pretext of terrorism and cross-border infiltration sponsored by Pakistan.

“There is no terrorism in IOJ&K and the freedom movement is purely indigenous. There are no cross-border infiltrations from Pakistan or AJK”, established the AJK President.

Masood Khan said that we must connect with the Indian civil society. Many enlightened Indians opposed this fascist Hindu-extremist policy of Modi, he said. He also proposed the establishment of a Kashmir Humanitarian Fund and urged British charities to approach the Indian government asking for permission to enter IOJ&K. “Even this very benign request will be rejected by India but don’t take their ‘no’ for an answer”, he said.

The President thanked the chair of the session, Mr Fahim Kiani, for organizing this seminal conference. He also expressed his gratitude to Ms Uzma Rasool, moderator of the session, who had tabled a Kashmir resolution at the Labour Party Convention.

The event was attended by Chairman Conservative Friends of Kashmir & Vice Chair APPG on Kashmir James Daly MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Jim McMahon OBE MP, Liam Byrne MP, Former Member of European Parliament Phil Bennion, Brenden O’Hara MP, Nadia Whittome MP, Alex Norris MP, Christian Wakeford MP, Stella Creasy MP, Rachel Maskell MP, Danish Writer Jane Teller, Senior Kashmiri Hurriyat Leader and Chairman Jammu Kashmir Salvation Movement Altaf Ahmed Bhat and Chairman Kashmir Institute of International Relations Altaf Hussain Wani.