It is no more about human rights violations alone. In the occupied territory, you see fascism and colonialism working in tandem, with atrocities unfolding in full swing. There’s no substantive accountability whatsoever at any forum or level. You witness a toxic combination of foreign occupation, alien domination, irredentism, and lebensraum at work.
GVS: How do you see the situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir?
Masood Khan: The situation is deteriorating fast. It is no more about human rights violations alone. In the occupied territory, you see fascism and colonialism working in tandem, with atrocities unfolding in full swing. There’s no substantive accountability whatsoever at any forum or level. You witness a toxic combination of foreign occupation, alien domination, irredentism and lebensraum at work.
To follow up on its illegal invasion, reoccupation and brutalisation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 last year, the Bhartiya Janata Party(BJP)-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) regime has embarked on transforming the occupied state into a Hindu Rashtra.
The population is being swamped by non-natives, mostly Hindus, the land is being grabbed. Muslims’ majority will be reduced to a minority, and illegal settlements are being built. Nothing of this sort has happened in recent history since the collapse of the Third Reich except for Israeli actions; even the pace and scale of Israeli actions have been slower and far less.
GVS: What makes the situation so alarming?
Masood Khan: On top of the list are the New Domicile Rules introduced in the occupied territory in early April this year. In 1927, under the rule of the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiris’ four fundamental rights were recognised – permanent residence, acquisition of property, and special privileges for education and employment.
These rights, incorporated in the Indian Constitution’s Article 35-A, were repealed last year. The New Domiciles Rules open the floodgates for new Hindu settlers from all over India. A fast track process (to be completed in 15 days) has been set in motion to grant settler rights to civil servants, military officials, employees of statutory bodies and educational institutions who have lived in the IOJK for fifteen years and in some cases for ten years.
An elaborate plan has been made to give such status to their families, including children. Anybody who has studied in the occupied state for seven years or passed the 10th and 12th class examinations will qualify. Migrant workers and Hindu refugees numbering hundreds of thousands are eligible.
These new settlers will be able to grab some half a million jobs of the Kashmiris whereas the original inhabitants and the owners of Kashmir will be elbowed out. The Kashmiris through a laborious process will have to prove all over again that they are eligible residents of Kashmir and that they qualify for these jobs which have been theirs for decades.
The term “state subject” has been changed to the “domicile” status. So the state subjects will have to run from pillar to post to prove their legal status as if there were in alien territory. The rules are an equivalent of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act or the planned National Register of Citizens whereby Indian Muslims will have to reestablish that they are Indian citizens.
The irony is that doors for Kashmiri refugees have been closed and members of the diaspora community and their children will not be able to return as legal residents of Jammu and Kashmir. This is a pogrom.
In short, this is open season for rapid and forced demographic changes, land grab and evisceration of Kashmiris’ self-determination.
GVS: How can India pull off such draconian measures under the glare of the international spotlight?
Masood Khan: By deception and subterfuge. By lying to the world that Kashmir is a part of India and that Delhi is fighting terrorism in the territory. This is a plot from the Nazis’ playbook. These new domicile rules are a replica of the Nuremberg Laws enforced by the Reichstag in 1935 which stripped Jews of their German nationality, their jobs, businesses and their right to life. There is a difference, though.
The scale of importation of non-native Hindus to Jammu and Kashmir is unprecedented. In the first go, they want to settle at least 2 million people. Also, they are creating a new fake political class to legitimise India’s occupation of the state as they did in the past. Through extensive gerrymandering, the occupiers are reconfiguring the electoral college that would reduce the representation of Kashmiri Muslims in the so-called Jammu and Kashmir territory where an Assembly will be implanted as a colonial entity.
Despite its tall claims of being the largest democracy in the world, India has taken all steps in the occupied state without the consent of its people. It has been diktat all along.
GVS: There are killings and blindings too. What is the scale of such incidents?
Masood Khan: Enormous. In recent months, Indian occupation forces have intensified oppression, killing and injuring hundreds of Kashmiris. They are especially gunning for young men killing them in the cordon and search operations and fake encounters. When they do not hand over the fallen youth’s dead bodies to their families, there is a considerable backlash.
Despite lockdowns, communities hold funerals in absentia and hold anti-India demonstrations. The police and troops use pellet-firing shotguns, automatic weapons and live ammunition to quell protests by unarmed civilians resulting in blindings and fatal injuries. The drift amongst the youth towards armed resistance to Indian occupation is substantial.
GVS: The Covid-19 pandemic has not tempered Indian oppression in Kashmir. Why?
Masood Khan: The occupation forces have used the pandemic as a cover to accomplish the BJP-RSS regime’s dark agenda of changes in the demographic composition and to crush Kashmiri freedom movement. Hence, the accelerated implementation of the new domicile rules and a fresh killing spree.
The occupiers know that the world is focused on the coronavirus pandemic, with scant will or time for attention to other issues. Under the pall of this distraction, India is going ahead with its nefarious plan of disenfranchisement, dispossession and displacement of Kashmiris. Killings feed into that diabolical pattern.
Read more: The Road to Kashmir’s Self-Determination
GVS: What has been the international community’s response?
Masood Khan: Muted by and large, but still there are potent voices that keep a tab on the horrendous developments in Kashmir. You would recall that after August 5 last year, the world media, parliaments and civil society had reacted sharply to the harrowing situation in the occupied territory and called out India for its wrong moves and accompanying excesses, including mass detentions, torture and scorched earth policy.
India was surprised by such censure and opprobrium. That kind of concentration drifted away after the UN General Assembly session last September, Brexit, developments in the US, and now Covid 19.
Recently, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned Indian actions. Fifteen Members of the European Parliament have written to the President of the European Commission and the European Union’s High Representative urging them to intercede to ensure the protection of all fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people including their right to self-determination, seek an end to the worst human rights abuses by Indian troops and to foster a climate of detente and dialogue while being vocal in calling for a real change in Kashmir.
This is encouraging because in March this year, before the COVID-19 lockdown, more than 650 MEPs had warned the Indian ruling party about the dire consequences of its anti-Muslim policies which could potentially cause the most massive statelessness crisis in the world; and had asked for an end to oppression in IOJK.
The Arab street has woken up to the human rights catastrophe and despotism in the IOJK. Civil society activists have taken India to task for Islamophobia in India and its repression in Kashmir.
The critical point here is that India cannot expect from its allies a hands-off policy or silence towards Kashmir. The accountability of sorts has started but mainly at the non-governmental level.
GVS: Will the Indian regime continue to operate with impunity? Are there no applicable laws that can kick in?
Masood Khan: A bevy of international laws specifically prohibit what the BJP-RSS regime is doing in IOJK. The crimes they are committing fall within the categories of genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crimes.
Actions against these crimes are listed in the Charter of the United Nations, the two International Covenants, Fourth Geneva Convention, Additional Protocol I, and International Criminal Court (ICC) Statute, as well as numerous conventions on the rights of the child, elimination of racial discrimination, discrimination against women, torture and enforced disseverances.
Indian soldiers and occupation authorities in the state are in fact Génocidaires but India gets away because of its political and economic heft. The will of the member states and states parties to the conventions and treaties has wilted over the years in dealing with difficult issues.
They are selective and choose their subjects based on political considerations. The UN Security Council and other international law enforcing bodies have taken a hiatus from issues like Kashmir. This is one of the most severe crises in the contemporary world order.
GVS: Are China’s actions in Ladakh related to the revocation of article 370 after August 5?
Masood Khan: Yes, but only partially. Of course, China aligned its position with Pakistan after August 5. But, separately, India has been taking an aggressive posture and provocative steps against China over the years, particularly after Narendra Modi, took office in 2014.
Three things have been riling up China. One, at the United State’s behest India has touted itself as a counterweight to China. Two, Narendra Modi and his cohorts have been openly opposing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s transcontinental mega-project, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Three, the BJP- RSS combine has been inciting hatred against China among its people and raising expectations that a muscular Modi will take revenge from China for India’s defeat in the 1962 war. Besides, India has been building roads to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and constructing permanent structures along with it.
Besides, the actions of India on August 5 and October 31 last year had evoked sharp reactions from China. You would recall that last year India divided the occupied state in two “Union Territories”, ruled directly by Delhi, and then went on to issue fake maps showing the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India’s sovereign territory.
That included Ladakh and Aksai Chin. That was unacceptable to China, which in a statement had said that it deplored and firmly opposed this move which challenged China’s sovereign rights. At that time China had also reiterated its position on Kashmir stating that the dispute should be resolved under the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.
China also believes that India is trying to encircle it by fomenting trouble in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Ladakh.
GVS: Is China giving India a message?
Masood Khan: Yes, China has given a clear message to India to stay away and renounce its revisionist and expansionist agenda. After China’s robust response on Doklam, Sikkim and Ladakh, India caved in because it does not want a repeat of the 1962 war, but its designs vis-a-vis China remain unchanged. India’s agenda towards China is negative: block China. On the other hand, China, as a globalist economic power, values huge Indian market as profitable as any different market far afield.
But other factors are equally weighty for China. It does not want India to imperil CPEC passing through Gilgit-Baltistan or attempt to alter the status of Azad Kashmir in any way. So the Pakistan factor in Chinese military and diplomatic posture is evident. There is a careful but understated calibration and alignment. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the Line of Control (LOC) are part of the same irredentist continuum so far as India is concerned.
GVS: What is Pakistan’s and AJK’s position on the disputed Ladakh region boundary?
Masood Khan: Words would be chosen carefully in deference to the Chinese sensitivities and our long-standing relationship, but China’s pressure on India is a decisive factor because it reins in India’s aggression in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and against Pakistan. However, the standoff would not bridle India’s atrocities in IOJK or the rush for colonisation in the territory. That can be stopped only through active resistance by Kashmiris and to a lesser extent by some decisive action by the international community.
India is decimating potentially Pakistan’s citizens. Indian occupation forces target and kill civilians across the LOC in Azad Kashmir and terrorise 80,000 families now and then
GVS: Some people wonder why have Pakistan and the AJK leadership remained quiet on the ingress of the Chinese into the disputed border area of Ladakh.
Masood Khan: We have been prudent but not quiet. I, for one, have given clear and forthright statements on the standoff. This was no ingress; that’s India version. The two sides have varying interpretations on the demarcation of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). On this issue, coordination with China regarding public pronouncements is imperative. Officially, we should not jump the gun.
GVS: How does this standoff affect the morale of Kashmiri people?
Masood Khan: Positively. Their hopes have been raised. They think they are not alone and that China is on their side. That’s true but to an extent. Some engage in a flight of fancy visualising and goading for a two-front attack on India, an opportunity they think was missed in 1962.
This is pure phantasmagoria, because China and India, despite their significant differences, are tamping down tensions. Besides, China, Pakistan and India are all nuclear powers. An active war theatre between them could trigger a global nuclear Armageddon. Do we want that harakiri?
GVS: Both countries have not exchanged any firepower since 1975. Still, India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has warned this is not the India of 1962 – where do you see this situation going and how can it be resolved?
Masood Khan: Rajnath Singh’s bravado should not be taken seriously. It is pure bluff. India can indulge in brinkmanship, but it does not want a war with China for sure. This is still the India of 1962. Yes, it has more arsenals and nuclear power but has the same hegemonic mindset with feet of clay. I do not foresee even a conventional war beyond an occasional face-off or sporadic skirmishes.
The costs of a confrontation for India would be too high, and Modi does not want to be excoriated like Nehru for another discomfiture. Behind the scenes, bilateral diplomacy will address the situation. There would be no mediation by embattled President Trump. The suggestion was disingenuous because Washington and Delhi knew that Beijing would not accept the offer.
GVS: Is there a threat of aggression from India against Pakistan?
Masood Khan: Yes, there is a high probability of India’s aggression against Pakistan in one form or the other. I believe that Pakistan is already under attack and in a state of war with India. An attack on the IOJK is an attack on Pakistan. This is not Indian territory.
India is decimating potentially Pakistan’s citizens. Indian occupation forces target and kill civilians across the LOC in Azad Kashmir and terrorise 80,000 families now and then. Indian political and military leaders, including their prime minister and army chief, have threatened the use of military force against Pakistan.
They have announced explicitly that they would attack Azad Kashmir and G-B. What more proof does one need? There are rumblings that they might once again try their hand at their favourite hobbyhorse of a false flag operation combined with their fanciful surgical strikes.
The Indian ruling leaders and commanders have also launched ‘grey warfare’ against Pakistan, which includes kinetic proxy wars. So we should be prepared for any misadventure by India. The threat is existential. There’s no room for complacency.