The Indian Independence Day on August 15 was observed as a Black Day by Kashmiris on both sides of the divide and the world over, while it was marked by a complete shutdown in Indian held Kashmir on the call of APHC. The Indian authorities imposed a curfew and other restrictions in Srinagar and excessive security forces were deployed in other cities to prevent people from holding anti-India protests. A similar situation has persisted since the martyrdom of Burhan Wani last year and the Indian security forces have let loose a reign of terror in the valley.

In the meantime, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing a crowd at Red Fort Delhi on the eve of Independence Day, reportedly stated, “Neither bullets nor brickbats will solve the Kashmir issue, only love will.” On the face of it, the statement strikes a reconciliatory note and recognises the need for resolution of the issue without use of guns and coercive methods in a peaceful manner. But unfortunately, Indian authorities have invariably acted contrary to what Modi has said. Those who are well-acquainted with the hypocrisy of the Indian leaders know fully well that it was only an occasional soother rather than real and honest feelings or a change of mind.

Nonetheless, there is no denying the fact that the only way this festering dispute could be resolved and peace ensured in this region is to faithfully implement the UN resolutions. The Indians have tried bullets and other methods of repression with relish ever since the freedom struggle began in 1989 and the second wave that started in the wake of the murder of Burhan Wani. According to the reports complied by Amnesty International, Indian security forces have killed nearly 94 thousand Kashmiris during the last 27 years, raped more than ten thousand women and killed more than seven thousand persons while in custody under the cover of Section 7 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1990, which grants immunity to members of the security forces from prosecution for human rights violations. The report hurls scathing criticism at the Act for having created an ambience of impunity for Indian security forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir and enabling them to commit human rights violations without any fear of being tried.

The prevailing situation in occupied Kashmir with regards to human rights violations by the Indian security forces, despite the compilation of reports by human rights groups and AI, regrettably have gone unheeded by the international community and the powers that be, because in the unfolding global scenario, they are looking at the developments in this region through the prism of their own strategic and commercial interests rather than showing commitment and sincerity of purpose. Regrettably, the UN, which is under obligation to resolve the Kashmir issue in conformity of its own resolutions, also remains indifferent to the plight of the people of Kashmir.

Nevertheless, the people of Kashmir undeterred by the Indian atrocities are continuing their struggle for freedom and the current wave of anti-India demonstrations and hoisting of Pakistani flag by the protestors are a clear indication that Indian machinations have not been able to subdue their urge for independence. The Kashmiris also observe Black Day on October 27 every year since the landing of Indian forces in Kashmir on that day in 1947. India is holding Kashmir against the will of its people and its stance on the issue has no moral or legal basis.

Perhaps a brief insight into the history of Kashmir dispute is warranted to reinforce this point. The Indian forces landed in Kashmir ostensibly on the basis of a controversial instrument of accession signed by the Maharaj of Kashmir. However, it is pertinent to note that the accession itself was provisional as is manifest from the letter that Lord Mountbatten wrote to Maharaja in October 1947, accepting the accession provisionally and making it clear that the state would only be incorporated into the Indian Union after a reference had been made to the people of Kashmir.

When India approached the UN in 1948 in the wake of war with Pakistan, the UN during the course of its deliberations adopted 23 resolutions including two by UNICEP calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir under the auspices of the UN. It is quite evident that like the supposed instrument of accession and the partition plan, the UN resolutions also vividly recognised the right of the people to decide their own future through a process of self-determination. It is also pertinent to mention that the UN, through its resolutions 91 and 122, also repudiated the Indian stance that the issue of accession of Kashmir had been resolved by the constituent assembly of Kashmir. These resolutions reiterated that the question of accession could not be resolved by any means other than enunciated in the UN resolutions on the subject. This proves beyond any doubt that the Indian claims of Kashmir being an integral part of India represent a travesty of the facts and lack any legal basis.

India has remained defiant in fulfilling its obligations under the UN resolutions. It has not even honoured its commitments under the Simla Agreement for resolving the Kashmir dispute through dialogue and has always used contrived excuses to sabotage sporadic dialogues. The Modi government has also spurned the peace overtures by the PML (N) government and adopted a bellicose stance towards Pakistan, which does not augur well for peace and security in the region as well as the people of Kashmir. The international community and the UN need to look at the situation realistically and fulfil their obligations towards the people of Kashmir. The dispute is not about a territory but the inalienable right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir. The only way to stop India from human rights violations in Kashmir and atrocities against its people is to have the issue resolved amicably either through dialogue between the two countries facilitated by the word powers like USA or through the implementation of UN resolutions, before another military confrontation between Pakistan and India, which might even endanger regional and world peace. For Pakistan, Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of the partition of the sub-continent. For Kashmiris, it is about their right of self-determination. Both cannot afford to withdraw from their taken and recognised positions.