Despite Indian machinations and trickery, occupied Kashmir has entered a new phase of defiance. This Ramadan, the Indian Army announced a reluctant ceasefire to try calm down a tense situation in Kashmir; however events in past one week suggest that Indian strategy has badly failed and Kashmiri youth and the old guard have taken the movement into a new domain.

UN Human Rights report castigated India for blatant violation of human rights, abductions, disappearances and state sponsored killings, and asked for a probe by a commission. The report has also observed that Indian forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of casualties. One of the most dangerous weapons used against protestors during the unrest in 2016 was the pellet-firing shotgun, which is a 12 gauge pump-action shotgun that fires metal pellets.

The first ever UN human rights report on Kashmir calls for international inquiry into multiple violations. It states that there is an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses and deliver justice for all people in Kashmir, who for seven decades have suffered a conflict that has claimed or ruined numerous lives. The political dimensions of the dispute between India and Pakistan have long been center staged, but this is not a conflict frozen in time. It’s a conflict that has robbed their basic human rights and continues to this day to inflict untold sufferings. UN High Commissioner for human rights, Zaid Raad al Hussain stated that he will be urging the UN human rights council to consider establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive, independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.

The report highlights that impunity for Human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The report says that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA 1990) and Jammu and Kashmir public safety act (PSA 1978) had created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.

Chronic impunity for sexual violence also remains a key concern in Kashmir; an emblematic case is the Kunan-Poshpora mass rape twenty seven years ago when, according to survivors, soldiers’ gang raped twenty three women. Attempts to seek justice have been denied and blocked over the years at different levels.

Although the gaging of dissenting voices in Occupied Kashmir is phenomenal and has seen its worst since Modi took power, RSS cabal has created an environment of fear throughout the Indian Union. Last year, left wing liberal from South India, Ms Gauri Lankesh was brutally murdered by RSS thugs belonging to Sri Ram Sena on the plea that she advocated human rights of Naxalites and the downtrodden lower classes. The arrest of a suspected man Parashuram Wagmare in her murder and his recent statement that he killed Gauri to save his Dharam, points to the hate environment created by RSS and their surrogates. Gauri Lankesh was also stalked and trolled on social media with dire threats emanating from Saffron bandits with connections to highest leadership level like Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Similarly, Professor Kalburgi, again from South India, was murdered by the same gang, who killed Gauri Lankesh. Unfortunately, the suffocation of liberal voices in India is not given its due coverage in Pakistani academia, liberal circles as well as the mainstream media because talking against India is considered a taboo.

Coming back to Occupied Kashmir, the gruesome murder of Shujaat Bukhari happened just after the UN human Rights watchdog released its report on violation of human rights by Indian government in Occupied Kashmir. Abrar Reyaz while discussing Bukhari’s murder in points to a sinister linkage between major terrorist attacks in Occupied Kashmir and international events. When, then US president Clinton visited Kashmir, Chattisinghpura massacre happened in which forty four Sikhs were gunned down. During Zubin Mehta’s visit and musical event at Shalimar, four innocents were silenced in Shopian and later dubbed as militants. When United Nations Security Council was discussing Kashmir in 2016 after massive uprising and revolt against Indian occupation, Uri attacked occurred in which dozens of army men were killed. And when recently, UN human rights council for the first time in history released a report on human rights violations in Kashmir, a senior journalist was silenced and shot dead in Srinagar. Whenever there is any possibility of getting International media coverage visa-vis Kashmir issue, a terrorist attack is planted or takes place in Kashmir. All this can’t be a mere coincidence.

Recent statement by Indian army Chief General Bipin Rawat, that it was difficult to control the Kashmiri youth by use of force, highlights the tempo of Kashmir freedom movement and its strategic consequences for India and Pakistan. While UN human rights report on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir is a positive development exposing Indian atrocities, the International community must realize the following:

Jammu and Kashmir is not a minor issue which can be sacrificed on selective interpretation of few pages of UN resolutions; it’s a matter of life and death of 12 million Kashmiri people who have literally been imprisoned in the biggest human prison created by India.

The Kashmiri youth empowered by spirit of sacrifice and modern communication tools like social media have put the Kashmir freedom movement onto a new trajectory and cannot be cowed down or brow-beaten by Indian army and their backers in the North Block. The baton of leadership to steer the freedom movement has been handed over to the third generations of Kashmiris while the old guards like Ali Gillani provide the mentorship.

Indian atrocities and tactics include suppression of dissent, daylight killings, free use of pellet guns to blind the Kashmiri youth, mass rapes and gagging of social media and censorship; these tactics have badly failed to quell the freedom movement. The Kashmiri youth is now joined by women folks, intellectuals, academicians, old and young and people from all walks of life. The mere fact that thousands of people throng the funerals of freedom fighters and bury them wrapped in Pakistani flags indicates a sea of love for Pakistan and an ocean of hate for India.

For India and her policy makers in North and South block, a simple advice would be to hand over Kashmir to Kashmiris and pull out their forces beyond River Ravi before Kashmiris do it for themselves.


The writer is a freelance journalist.