The partition of the sub-continent left the fate of 568 princely states undecided by giving the right to decide which of the two countries they would join to their rulers. Being an overwhelmingly Muslim majority state, and because of the geographical location, Jammu and Kashmir should have joined Pakistan. But Hari Singh acceded to India contrary to the wishes of the people. On October 23, 1947 tribesmen entered Kashmir to help their Kashmiri brothers after which Hari Singh acceded to India. This led to the landing of the Indian army on October 27, 1947 at Srinagar. By the evening of October 27, 1947, the first provisional government of Azad Kashmir came into existence with Sardar Ibrahim as president. In the meantime, the people of Kashmir rose in revolt and the tribesmen were 4 miles short of Srinagar when the Indian army halted their advance.

With the Indian military intervention, Jammu had become the centre of importance as India had no other route going to the valley except passing through its region. Quaid-e-Azam ordered the acting commander in chief, General Gracey, to send troops to Kashmir but he refused the orders on the pretext of not willing to issue any such instruction without the approval of the supreme commander, Field Marshal Auchinleck, in Delhi. The tribesmen had entered Kashmir at their own will to help their Kashmiri brothers but it was difficult for them to fight the Indian army or face the heavy artillery, tanks and the air force. However, Pakistan’s army responded militarily when the Indian army started its advance towards Muzaffarabad.

In December end, India realised that she can’t end the liberation movement by force therefore took the matter to the UN with the request to intervene. On December 31, 1948 a ceasefire was agreed upon and war came to an end. UNSC resolution recognized both Pakistan and India as parties to the dispute and the people of Jammu and Kashmir were to decide their future through a plebiscite. According to former president of Azad Kashmir, Sardar Abdul Qayum Khan, “The accession of Kashmir to India is illogical and unnatural while its accession to Pakistan is entirely natural and logical”.

In 1957 Kashmir was incorporated into the Indian union and granted a special status under Article 370 of the Indian constitution. Article 35-A granted special citizenship to the locals and barred outsiders, including Indian nationals, from other states to get jobs to maintain a demographic balance. On August 5, 2019 the racist government of Modi revoked Article 370 which granted Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) a special status and this was followed by a new political map where Gilgit Baltistan has been shown as part of newly created union territory of Ladakh and Azad Kashmir as a part union territory of IIOJK. The aim of issuing a new map is to permanently change the status of IIOJK by giving India control of the areas it did not physically possess.

On August 5, 2019, after abrogating Article 370 of the Indian constitution, the occupation forces imposed a lockdown across the IIOJK. Since then, the entire IIOJK is under curfew and lockdown. All the Kashmiri politicians, intellectuals and student leaders are under detention. At least 8000 people, mostly youngsters, had been arrested since the lockdown and are being kept in various jails across IIOJK by using a draconian Public Safety Act. Even during the peak of the pandemic, no facilities were extended to Kashmiris and this took a heavy toll on the health of the population. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has highlighted the atrocities being committed by India at various world forums from the day he took over as the prime minister. He tried his best to raise alarm and warn the UN and the international community about the fate of the innocent Kashmiris and the deteriorating security situation in South Asia.

He feared that a bloodbath would be initiated in IIOJK when the curfew and lockdown is lifted. His speech at the UN, and raising the issue with president Trump, has been well received in IIOJK. Imran Khan also called onto Trump to play the role of a mediator between Pakistan and India. One million people have died in clashes with occupation forces since 1987 when the indigenous movement started. Despite the lockdown, Indian forces are committing gross violations of human rights and are involved in extra judicial killings, summary execution and indiscriminate firing at unnamed Kashmiris, rape and sexual abuse as well. One of the most dangerous weapons being used against innocent Kashmiri protestors is pellet firing shotguns which contain 500 to 600 pellets. Pellet guns fire metal pellets and are extensively being used for maiming, blinding and killing innocent people according to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). According to them, in 2016, about 13 million pellets were fired in just 32 days. Pellet guns have caused thousands of injuries including loss of eye sight as well as the killing of innocent Kashmiris.

On March 31, India introduced the policy of issuing new domicile certificates replacing the 1954 law which had empowered the state to define the permanent resident of the state. According to the new policy, anyone who has resided within the region for a period of 15 years or has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in class 10-12 exams in any educational institution is eligible for a permanent residence status. Meaning, by now Indian nationals and their children residing in IIOJK are eligible for permanent residence and they can now apply for local jobs and scholarships. These decisions by a fascist regime are an insult to the people of IIOJK and through this, millions will get certificates and alter the demographic balance. I am certain the Kashmiris will never allow for this to happen, especially in a Muslim dominated valley.

Former Chief Minister of IIOJK, Mehbooba Mufti, in her first appearance after the release from detention of 14 months said that she would raise the Indian flag only when IIOJK’s flag and Article 370 is restored. She accused the BJP government to be a group of robbers who had stolen constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people of IIOJK. She further added that in India, there is no place for minorities and it is validating Jinnah’s two nation theory. Another former Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, has requested China to help Kashmiris in restoring Article 370. The UN has failed to implement its own resolution for organising a plebiscite in IIOJK. The major powers and OIC have also failed to fulfil their moral responsibility. The international community has long turned a blind eye towards human rights violation including the excessive use of force, pellet guns, extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, restriction of freedom of expression and custodial killings. The world must understand that the road to peace in South Asia lies in the final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.