Pakistanis and Kashmiris observe October 27 every year as a “Black Day” all over the world as protest against the Indian occupation of Kashmir on October 27, 1947, when a dark chapter in the history of human rights began. Yet this time, the winds of change have picked up pace in the region where Kashmiris have been subjected to ruthless brutality and violence for the past three months in the aftermath of Burhan Wani’s death.

Thousands of Kashmiris have lost their lives due to Indian atrocities in the region. In 2008, a human rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of Indian-held Kashmir. In August, 2011, the Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves. It is no surprise then that the Indian government refuses the UN Human Rights fact-finding mission to enter the region for the fear of being exposed.

Although there are a select few Indians who now dare to speak out against the illegal occupation by Indian troops, by and large Indians fail to recognise or even accept the reflexive disposition of Kashmiris to resist the nation, living in a media-induced bubble that the Kashmiris would never want to be part of the “terrorist state” Pakistan. But the swelling resistance of the people for their right to self-determination cannot be ignored any longer. The Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest pro-freedom resistance group, has intensified its calling for the youth to snatch arms from Indian security forces and join the resistance ranks. This struggle for their land is by the Kashmiri people and them alone. The only way to end this inhumane occupation is to accept the people’s will and let them decide their fate.