NEW YORK - Azad Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan has said that Indian Occupied Kashmir is burning and following the extrajudicial killing of Kashmiri youth leader Burhan Wani on July 8 this year, hundreds of Kashmiri men, women and children have been killed and more than 150 civilians have been blinded by the use of lethal pellet guns while more than 10,000 men, women and children have been seriously injured because of indiscriminate firing by the occupying Indian forces.

Addressing a meeting of OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir, the AJK president called upon the Group to condemn once again the horrendous killings and brutalities in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK), the use of pellet guns and the measures taken by India to terrorise Kashmiri population and force India to stop such criminal activities forthwith. The OIC Contact Group should also demand of India to rescind the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and other draconian laws, besides urging UNOCHA and other relevant UN agencies to explore the possibility of establishing a humanitarian corridor to provide relief to the besieged Kashmiris, he asserted.

He further urged the OIC Secretary General to apprise the UN Secretary General and the President of the UN Security Council of the gravity of the situation in IOK and its serious implications for peace and security in South Asia and take the European Union leadership into confidence to explore ways to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

The OIC Contact Group must urge the UN chief to use his good offices and the recognised diplomatic tools of preventive diplomacy under Chapter-VI of the Charter – enquiry, mediation and negotiation – to address the crisis in Kashmir.

Addressing the meeting, attended by the OIC Contact Group on Kashmir secretary general and foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz, the AJK president said the Kashmiris in IOK were under siege. In their own land, they are being killed, maimed, blinded, tortured, and hounded by the occupying forces. The use of sexual molestation and rape as an instrument of terror was common, he said. “In IOK, peaceful demonstrations are a crime, political meetings are banned and true Kashmiri leaders have been incarcerated. Free speech is a crime, free movement is a crime, and voicing aspirations for the right to self-determination is treason. Prolonged curfews and mobile phone as well as Internet blackout in IOK undermine human rights. Indian occupation forces in the territory hunt down innocent citizens in pursuit of their illicit, draconian black laws,” he lamented.

“In the past 10 weeks, a serious humanitarian crisis has unfolded in IOK. In pursuit of their policy of collective punishment, the Indian forces have blocked essential supplies, assaulted families of protesters physically and sexually and attacked villages and townships to terrorise their residents. They have not even spared ambulances and hospitals where injured under treatment hide their identity to escape Indian wrath,” he strongly regretted.

“All these acts of terrorism are being committed with impunity. Human rights violations against the Kashmiris are deliberate, rampant, gross and systematic. The crime of targeted civilians is peaceful and unarmed protest against the killings. India is guilty of violating Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions, especially the recognised international humanitarian law principles of proportionality, distinction and precaution,” Masood Khan stated, expressing deep sense of grief.

“There is a sense of urgency to take action. This is not a business as usual. We reject the Indian campaign of disinformation that Kashmiris are terrorists. Kashmiris are victims of terrorism unleashed by Indian army. India is committing terrorism against besieged and beleaguered Kashmiris,” he averred.

“War is not an option because India and Pakistan are nuclear-armed states. India should stop using brinkmanship, subversion and state terrorism under the nuclear umbrella,” he remarked. “We reject the fallacious Indian claim that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory whose political future has to be decided by its people through a democratic method of UN-supervised plebiscite,” he professed.

“Kashmir is a test case for the conscience of humanity and international law. People ask what will prevail; rank mercantilism, expediency and realpolitik or rule of law for an entrapped people who have been deprived of their basic rights by an occupying power. The people of Kashmir say no matter what happens, their will is bound to prevail,” he affirmed.

“The government and people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir extend their full moral, political and diplomatic support to the just cause and struggle for freedom of their brothers and sisters in the Indian-occupied Kashmir,” he concluded.

SALIM BOKHARI