Kashmiris: The world’s forgotten people – Yasmeen Aftab Ali

Kasmir-man-with-pellet-injuries-REUTERSDanish-Ismail-July-15-2016
Photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters

Maleeha Lodhi – Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations – in the recent UN General Assembly session in New York noted that ‘Jammu and Kashmir was not a part of India and was recognized by the United Nations and the international community as ‘disputed territory’. “I invite all of you, and the Indian FM, to look at the UN maps,” she said.’

The atrocities by India in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir make a horrific reading. Ending 2016 alone, over 500 Kashmiris have been shot in their faces with pump-action pellet guns. These have resulted in blindness, among teenagers, and deaths. A pellet gun, especially a .22 calibre, is used to bring down small game.

Ordnance Factory Board sections 8(1)(a) of India cites exemption from providing information related to security and strategic matters, whereas section 8(1)(d) exempts information related to commercial confidence. Venkatesh Nayak of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative had wanted information on transactions, efficacy and details of this weapon but was denied. According to an NDTV report, he also wanted to know ‘details such as the identity of the buyer, date of sale, sale price, and quantity of such guns and related ammunition sold.’

Hiding behind a law and using it to commit irreparable injuries on unarmed civilians is barbarous and an act of unadulterated terrorism. In 2016, an 11 year old boy who had gone missing was found dead with pellets riddling his body.  His body carried torture marks, his right arm was broken and there were 400 pellets lodged in his little body. The discovery of his body led to protests in Harwan and surrounding areas. In spite of curfew in the area, thousands had turned up to participate in his funeral.

An inquiry report by senior police officers working for the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission in 2011 officially acknowledged and brought to light Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir. Thousands and thousands of Kashmiris who have disappeared in insurgency lay buried in mass graves, with a majority of civilians who make up the now dead bodies. As per reports, they were termed as unidentified ‘militants’. However 574 out of more than 2000 ‘militants’ were identified as residents of the local area. The Indian Army in Kashmir is based on Border Security Force, Regular Army and the Central Reserve Police Force, with Indian state now trying to hire as many Hindus as possible for the latter.

In spite of the nonviolent protests by civilians, the security forces have time and again resorted to unimaginable atrocities. As per a report by Crescent International, “Perhaps the attack on the remote village of Kunan Poshpora on the night of February 23, 1991 surpasses all other crimes by the Indian army. It was Nisfu Sha‘ban (middle of the month of Shaban) that many Muslims consider to be auspicious. People of this village as elsewhere in Kashmir and indeed in much of the Muslim world, were engaged in nightly prayers when hundreds of soldiers from the Rashtriya Rifles entered it at night. They rounded up all the men and boys and took them away into an open field where they were made to sit in the bitter cold. Indian soldiers then went into the houses and throughout the night raped more than 100 women sparing no one: young girls, 80-year-old grandmothers and even pregnant women. This beastly ritual went on throughout the night.”  (The Rashtriya Rifles are a military wing: a branch of the Indian Army under the authority of the Indian Ministry of Defence)

Barbara Crossette in the New York Times (April 7, 1991) had reported the mass rapes. Also the Human Rights Watch report on India released on January 1, 1992, also highlighted these atrocities.

Ayesha Faraz, writing in The Hindu, wrote about a seminar that took place in 2014, in Srinagar, where women from Kunan-Poshpora (twin villages in Kupwara district of Kashmir) had recounted. “Masquerading as a “cordon and search operation to catch militants,” the soldiers of 4th Rajputana Rifles, of the Army’s 68th Brigade, entered the villages and launched the most potent tool of repression used in theatres of political conflict — rape, sexual humiliation and sexual torture.”  (FEBRUARY 19, 2015)

When Sushma Swaraj in her address accuses Islamabad of terrorism and states that “Pakistan is recognized only as the pre-eminent export factory for terror,” she deliberately chooses to ignore what India is doing with unarmed old people, teenagers, women and children in Occupied Kashmir. She also chooses to ignore her country’s nefarious role in Pakistan. Her distortions can be understood. But what about the rest of the world?

Yasmeen

 

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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