Merwah Qureshi |
For decades, people of Kashmir have been suffering at the hands of Indian authorities. And over these years excluding a few instances, the world has performed tremendously well in feigning ignorance towards the human rights violations committed by the Indian army in that very disputed land. The international power-shave often pays no heed to the hues and cries of Kashmiris being brutally suppressed, killed, tortured and raped by the Indian administration.
However, UN’s first-ever report on human rights violation in Kashmir, released recently by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, seems to be a ray of hope in the gloomy Asian-Switzerland. It has unveiled the actual, but evil, a face of the aspiring south Asian superpower: India. It has opened a Pandora box, revealing the inhumane treatment of Kashmiris by the Indian army and the Indian government.
The international powers have often paid no heed to the hues and cries of Kashmiris being brutally suppressed, killed, tortured and raped by the Indian administration
The report has been submitted after two and a half years of remote monitoring because India did not allow the High Commissioner for Human Rights and access to IOK to evaluate the human rights situation; however, Pakistan allowed conditional access. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has suggested the UN Human Rights Council, “to establish an independent Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive and independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir”.
This report has covered the issues in both Indian-held and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, but the focus is on the humanitarian crisis in the Indian-held region for it has marked a history of inhumanity. It has been mentioned in the point 3 of the Executive summary of this report, “The focus of the report is on the situation of human rights in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018 over which period allegations of widespread and serious human rights violations were received, notably excessive use of force by Indian security forces that led to numerous civilian casualties.”
From July 2016 to the end of March 2018, 135 to 140 civilians had been killed by Indian security forces. Not only this, but Indian forces ridiculed the notion of humanity by using pellet guns in which, according to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, 6,221 people had been injured, from July 2016 to February 2017.
Moreover, the list of atrocities committed by Indian authorities has consumed 20 pages of the report, however, Pakistan related issues of any trivial nature have been explained on 5 pages, in contrast. This report, while shedding light on human rights abuses in IOK explicitly, has discussed lack of access to justice through impunity, military courts and tribunals impeding access, administrative detention, excessive use of force, killings perpetrated in 2018, use of pellet-firing shotguns, arbitrary arrests and detention (including children), torture, enforced disappearances, violations of the right to health, restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, reprisals against human rights defenders and restrictions on journalists, violations of the right to education and sexual violence. Interestingly, the report has cleared Pakistan-administered Kashmir from human rights abuses of serious nature, and the issues presented are of structural and trivial nature.
This report on Kashmir didn’t even mention a single instance of killing, torture, protests, excessive use of force or pellet guns, curfews, forced disappearances, sexual violence and social or political unrest in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The report further explains that many rounds of protests started after the killing of Burhan Wani, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Commander, by Indian Security Forces in July 2016. These protests were carried out at an ‘unprecedented scale’ by a greater number of participants – youth explicitly as compared to the protests held in the past. In addition, from July 2016 to the end of March 2018, 135 to 140 civilians had been killed by Indian security forces.
Not only this, but Indian forces ridiculed the notion of humanity by using pellet guns in which, according to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, 6,221 people had been injured from July 2016 to February 2017. The worst, however, are special laws such as the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA), which have critically hampered the legal rights and security of the people of Kashmir. These laws have provided impunity to human rights abuses and have fueled the fire of injustice, usage of excessive force and extra-judicial killings.
This report categorizes AFSPA and PSA as the real challenges to the human rights in the valley. The torturous detention and killing of a lecturer Shabir Ahmed Mangoo, a laborer Nasrullah Khan and strapping of Farooq Ahmed Dar to the Indian army jeep, manifest the brutality of so-called democratic India. Similarly, obstruction of medical and educational services, communication blockades, forced disappearances, curfews, sexual assaults, and attacks on journalists have further questioned the democratic norms of the Indian government.
However, one fact which should have been mentioned in the report is that at numerous events, the people of IOK have been noted to chant the slogans of Pakistan and have been seen holding the green flag. Contrarily, not even once in Pakistan-administered Kashmir has anyone ever held the Indian flag.
The report has also criticized India as a state party to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and The Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, for vigorously violating these international covenants by wreaking havoc of human rights abuses in the IOK, therefore; not carrying out its international responsibility.
As far as the issues regarding Pakistan are concerned, the problems are of structural nature with an entirely different magnitude and dimension. On a positive note, this report on Kashmir did not even mention a single instance of killing, torture, protests, excessive use of force or pellet guns, curfews, forced disappearances, sexual violence and social or political unrest in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The absence of all these gruesome human rights abuses testifies the lawful, humane and just approach adopted by the Government of Pakistan towards Kashmir.
However, one fact which should have been mentioned in the report is that at numerous events, the people of IOK have been noted to chant the slogans of Pakistan and they have been seen holding the green flag. Not only this, but the Pakistani flag is often wrapped around the martyrs during funerals. Contrarily, not even once in Pakistan Administered Kashmir anyone ever held the Indian flag. This fact proves the love for Pakistan in the populace of both regions, owing to the positive role played by Pakistan in this longstanding issue.
The regional powers should also help Pakistan bring peace to Kashmir, for stability in South Asia without a peaceful Kashmir is nothing but a far-fetched dream.
Consequently, this report has opened a Pandora box of Indian atrocities – no less than war crimes – in IHK. It is now the utmost responsibility of international media and international players to shun the widespread prejudicial approach and to stop salting the wounds of Kashmiris by supporting, rather giving a safe cover too, the brutality of India. This time, India should be apprehended for violating the international legal, moral, ethical and humanitarian laws under Geneva and similar conventions.
Additionally, Pakistan also needs to play a more positive and progressive role to lessen the pain of Kashmiris by approaching the international legal and statutory organizations, regarding these human rights abuses by India in IOK. Pakistan shall also allow an access to international, but neutral and independent bodies, for assessing the human rights situation in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and shall seek the help of international players to pursue India, to allow the UN Observatory Groups access to IHK. Furthermore, the regional powers should also help Pakistan bring peace to Kashmir, for stability in South Asia without a peaceful Kashmir is nothing but a far-fetched dream.
Miss Merwah Hamid Qureshi holds an M. Phil Degree in Biochemistry from QAU, Islamabad and is also a visiting lecturer for International Relations at National Officers Academy (NOA), Rawalpindi. She is a freelance content writer for online portals like Amazon. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.