‘Kashmir' a place that has been called Paradise on Earth has been turned into a blood bowl. Kashmir situated in Central Asia, is bordered by Pakistan, India, China and Afghanistan. With an area of 87,000 sq. miles, The population is estimated at approximately 18 million across all the divisions of Kashmir.
People of Kashmir mainly speak Kashmiri, but Urdu is recognised as official language, while there are many other regional languages, English also widely spoken
Kashmir has always been home to diverse religions, culture and traditions, a true life testament of multi-cultural diverse society.
Since the occupation in 1947, contrary to agreements made by India in UN in 1947, Kashmir is illegally occupied by over 800,000 armed Indian forces, including regular army and paramilitary.
The state apparatus along with Indian armed forces has consistently been used by the center government to implement and execute draconian laws. These laws include Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA); Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA); National Security Act (NSA); and Prevention and Suppression of Sabotages Act among many others.
Thousands of human rights are committed by the armed forces, killings including custodial deaths, torture, rape, blinding, molestation, burning of property, restrictions on basic human rights such as freedom to live, travel, speech. Communication and media blackouts are a daily occurance.
The Kashmir Question is one of the world’s oldest unresolved issues, one that is of global significance to humanity today. The issue not only impacts on relations between India and Pakistan, the two immediate protagonists, but it also directly affects peace and stability far beyond South Asia.
The end of the British Empire in South Asia led to the break-up of the Indian Subcontinent; the latter was divided into two dominions: India (represented by the National Congress with its Hindu majority), and Pakistan (represented by the Muslim League, with a Muslim majority).
The people of Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir expressed a desire to accede to Pakistan. However, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir at the time, Hari Singh, wanted to remain independent and therefore formed a standstill agreement with both India and Pakistan; this was duly ratified by Pakistan but objected to by India who refused to sign it.
On 27th October 1947, India flew its armed troops to Srinagar, under the pretext of curbing a popular uprising by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The validity of this IoA has since been challenged numerous times by historians and scholars.
In January 1948, India brought the Kashmir Question to the United Nations after realising that it would not be able to quell the growing resistance by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, a resistance supported by volunteers from the newly-created Pakistan who had already helped liberate a third of the territory (which it called ‘Azad Kashmir’, ‘azad’ meaning ‘free’).
On 21st April 1948, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution 47, developed on common grounds between India, Pakistan and the international community, that provided a solution to the Kashmir Question. The Resolution focused on creating a ceasefire line, the withdrawal and progressive reduction of military forces by both Pakistan and India respectively, and a free and impartial plebiscite under the control of an Indian-appointed administrator nominated by the UN Secretary-General. Ever since over 18 resolutions have been passed in UN affirming the disputed status and right to self-determination by the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Read More
People of Kashmir have never accepted what they consider to be an illegal occupation by India; several peaceful protests by civilians, such as those in 1953, 1964, and 1988, have witnessed a deadly response by Indian security and military forces, including the indiscriminate use of pellets, bullets, shells and tear gas, not to mention numerous human rights violations, such as rape, torture, enforced disappearances and ambushes by the Indian military.
Since then, many demonstrations and protests involving virtually the entire population of Jammu and Kashmir has rightly expressed its collective outrage over India’s draconian measures. India continues to try and portray this popular resentment as ‘terrorism’, perhaps conveniently forgetting that terrorists are neither composed of entire populations, including women and children, nor do they look to the UN and international community to fulfil an outstanding promise for a peaceful and rational settlement.
Torture, rape, arbitrary molestation of citizens exercising their fundamental rights to free speech and free movement, forced disappearances, and fake encounter killings in which individuals are executed in cold blood by Indian security forces who then claim that the killing, admitted as having occurred, took place during a gun battle or similar scenario – all these clearly illegal and disproportionate measures by the Indian State apparatus are commonly practiced by Indian armed forces under the false pretext of ‘fighting terrorism’. Read More
The history of Kashmir has shown that any solution that does not include all three parties and the wishes of the people themselves is neither acceptable nor viable. Many bilateral talks between Kashmiri representatives and Indian leaders have taken place but all have failed to resolve the Kashmir Question,
So how can the Kashmir Question be ultimately resolved? The answer to this predicament is simpler than one might imagine. For all the politicking that has gone on since 1948 – the key to a just solution is to ensure that the collective will of the people of Kashmir is part of any process.
To ensure a just and peaceful solution meaningful to the people of Kashmir and the South Asian region as a whole, there are certain steps that India in particular must take with immediate effect:
- Stop Human Rights Violation: repealing all barbaric laws including, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA) which provide impunity to the armed forces, allowing them to commit mass human rights violations;
- Restore democracy, release all prisoners of conscience and allow them to express their views on the future of Kashmir freely, both locally and internationally;
- Safeguard Lives, allow international aid organisations, media, and other NGOs to work freely in the areas occupied by India;
- Begin the process of demilitarisation, allow the inhabitants of Kashmir to live a life free from fear and persecution, and ensure that the conditions agreed through the UN mechanism relating to the presence of armed forces are adhered to in accordance with that agreement;
- Conduct the plebiscite as mutually agreed, in Jammu & Kashmir via UN Security Council Resolutions and respect the democratic decision of the people of Kashmir.