Kashmiris living on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and all over the world, alongside all freedom-loving people and human rights organisations, have all long recognised October 27 as the darkest day in their history, besides an occasion to protest. On this day, back in 1947, India sent its armed forces to Jammu and Kashmir and occupied it forcibly, in total violation of the Indian Independence Act and partition and against the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

From now onwards, Kashmiris will also be observing August 5 as yet another dark day in their history. It was on August 5, 2019 when the Indian government, in a very unexpected and conceited move, revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The article granted special status or in other words, limited autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir.

After revoking Article 370 through the Indian Parliament, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also imposed curfew all over the Indian occupied territory in a very unprecedented move. A complete lockdown still persists in the occupied territory though it has been condemned and criticised internationally by and large. But the Indian government and its Prime Minister quite shamefully continue with it.

The reaction to this revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and making it part of the Indian Union was also effectively reduced to complete silence because all means of communication were cut off and the position remains unchanged till today even though the international community has been demanding that these restrictions be lifted. The Indian government is also not providing access to foreign media to its occupied territory.

Despite all these hostile measures and dispatching addition army personnel, the Indian government has not been able to curb Kashmiri men, women, youth confined to their homes and they are continuing their protests, though unarmed, against heavily armed Indian security forces, demanding their birthright of self-determination and voicing their desire and aspiration to join Pakistan after getting freedom from Indian occupation.

As is generally well-known, according to the Partition Plan of June 3,1947, the Indian British Colony was to be divided into two sovereign states. Accordingly, the Hindu-majority areas were to constitute India while the Muslim-majority areas of the western provinces and East Bengal were to be included in Pakistan.

The Indian government had airlifted its forces in the valley on the pretext of an Instrument of Accession supposedly signed by the then ruler of Jammu and Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh in New Delhi, where it was also drafted.

It is also a bitter historical fact that the so-called Boundary Commission, headed by British Barrister Cyril Radcliffe, which demarcated the partition plan, had played a main role in the creation of the Kashmir dispute. Had the Boundary Commission done the demarcation of the partition line on the established principles of justice in accordance with the set procedure, then India would not have got the land route to enter into Jammu and Kashmir. But most unfortunately, the commission, under a conspiracy, split Gurdaspur, a Muslim majority area, and handed it over to India thus providing it terrestrial access to the territory; otherwise this area had to be part of Pakistan.

The role which the last British Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten played in this regard, by reportedly tampering the Radcliffe Award also left much to be condemned and desired.

The Pakistan government and Prime Minister Imran Khan have persistently been drawing the attention of the world at large towards the tragic happenings, brutalities and atrocities of the occupying security forces and have warned about the repercussions, as the Kashmir issue is a flashpoint between two neighbouring nuclear powers and the peace of the region as well as the world at large continues to be at stake.

Through their persistent and determined efforts and support of the people of Pakistan, the Kashmir issue has been internationalised to a great extent, been discussed and debated in the UN General Assembly and Security Council twice during the last two years after a lapse of 55 years.

Needless to say that Kashmiris are struggling and suffering and fighting for the completion of the Pakistan Movement; the international community should take concrete steps to lift the curfew and end the illegal Indian occupation of IOJK. India can kill the Kashmiris but not their sentiments and determination for freedom, through their continued sacrifices the Kashmiris are undoubtedly writing new chapters of history and a peaceful Kashmir resolution is key to the peace, prosperity and stability in South Asia.

The Kashmiris are bound to get freedom from Indian occupation soon, with continued support of the civil and military leadership and the people of Pakistan, and with the awakening of the international conscience and its condemnation of the Indian government for flagrant violations of human rights.

Muhammad Zahid Rifat

The writer is a Lahore-based freelance journalist, columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News), Radio Pakistan, Islamabad. He can be reached at zahidriffat@gmail.com.