We are well aware of the historical facts about Kashmir, but days like 26th October every year bring into sharp relief the brutal Indian military occupation based on a dubious instrument of accession that set into motion a chain of unjust actions that continue unabated. The Maharaja of Kashmir, who had entered into a standstill agreement with Pakistan, dithered and procrastinated with mala fide intent to keep himself in power for as long as possible. Faced with a popular revolt and fearful of the wrath of the people, he fled his capital and was still in transit when the Indians airlifted 1 Sikh Regiment to the Srinagar Airport, lighting a prairie fire of conflict and bloodshed that was temporarily halted when Pundit Nehru took the issue to United Nations.
As per historian Andrew Roberts in his classic book Eminent Churchillians, “the Indian troops had moved into Kashmir before the tribesmen crossed the border.” According to Stanley Wolpert, “the instrument of accession was signed by the Maharaja after the occupation of the Srinagar Airfield by 1 Sikh Regiment.” Alastair Lamb also writes in “Kashmir, A Disputed Legacy” that “since the Maharaja was on the run towards Jammu, on a journey of 350 km, there is no way he could have signed an instrument of accession on 26th October as claimed by the Indians.” The UN Resolutions that called for plebiscites were not honored by India on one pretext or the other. From 1948 onwards, the Kashmir dispute witnessed a continual spectacle of the Indians reneging from all commitments and a sedulous encroachment upon the freedom and identity of Kashmiris.
Kashmir remains in bondage after two years of illegal annexation by India. In the last two years, the Indians have continually encroached upon the state’s political and sociological identity through illegal extension of Indian laws to the illegally occupied state.
The apotheosis of this sordid drama of occupation was the revocation of Article 370 and 35A and its denouement in the shape of the illegal annexation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Over 4.8 million illegal “non-domicile” people have been settled in the state after 2019, and out of those, 1.2 million have been added in the voter lists along with gerrymandering of electoral constituencies to give a clear advantage to the Hindu dominated districts of Jammu over the Muslim majority districts of Kashmir Valley. Out of seven new seats added to legislature of Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), six have been parceled out to Jammu with a population of 5.3 million, while only one has been granted to Kashmir Valley, with a population of 6.8 million. Similarly, the delimitation of constituencies has been full of chicanery to benefit the BJP vote bank. A new seat has been created at Kishtwar with a population of 57,279 to benefit the Hindu majority area, but in Surankote with a population of 180,000, including a sizeable Muslim population, no constituency has been carved out. In an egregious twist of law, the Indian Election Commission has allowed troops stationed in Kashmir to cast votes in local legislative polls.
Kashmir remains in bondage after two years of illegal annexation by India. In the last two years, the Indians have continually encroached upon the state’s political and sociological identity through illegal extension of Indian laws to the illegally occupied state. The Indian annexation of Kashmir is violative of UN Resolutions 47, 39 and even 91 (1951). Legally, constitutionally and morally, the State of Jammu and Kashmir remains under illegal occupation and the Indian attempts of demographic changes to convert the Kashmiris into a minority constitute an egregious violation of international law at the hands of an occupation army. The heartless Indian occupation force has injured over 11,000 Kashmiris between 2016 and October 2023, through pellet guns, that are used against animals, blinding over 410 Kashmiris, including children and women. Since August 2019, over 15,000 people have been arrested along with 390 extrajudicial killings.
The assault on demography, culture, economy and the ecology of Kashmiris continues unabashedly to deprive Kashmiris of their identity and political rights.
The Genocide Watch, a Geneva based watchdog of genocide and mass atrocity crimes has identified ten stages of genocide i.e. classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, persecution, extermination and denial. Each one of the above stages could follow a linear progression or happen simultaneously. In Kashmir’s case, the Genocide Watch has identified the State entering the eighth stage, staring extermination in the face. The above is a gruesome reality that should rile the international conscience despite growing Indian political and corporate clout in international circles. Since August 2019, when the illegal annexation happened, the state has suffered a loss of over $5.3 billion to the economy due to curfews, internet blockade (213 weeks continuous blockade) and brutal crackdown against the local population.
The assault on demography, culture, economy and the ecology of Kashmiris continues unabashedly to deprive Kashmiris of their identity and political rights. Farooq Abdullah, an ex-President of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, ruefully stated that it looked as if the next state assembly would be in the hand of outsiders after any future elections. Coming from a pro-India politician, this is a very poignant statement that captures the helplessness of Kashmiris. India routinely abuses human rights through draconian laws like Public Safety Act, TADA, and Armed Forces Special Powers Act, that brazenly violate Articles 6 & 7 of UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as well as the UN Convention on Torture.
Now the Indian army and its logistics units have also been illegally permitted to commandeer any area and construct a military installation in IIOJK. Henceforth, the Indian Army, Border Security Forces, paramilitary forces and similar organizations” can acquire land without a “no objection certificate” (NOC) clearance from the region’s home department. The pressure on scarce land and public housing is going to exacerbate with the influx of Kashmiri economic migrants who have been allowed to settle and purchase property, besides being eligible for the scarce public housing in the state. Ironically, new land laws allowing non-permanent residents to buy property were introduced on 27th October three years ago, a day that the Kashmiris observe as a black day when the Indian Army invaded their state in 1947.
PDP leader and former CM Mehbooba Mufti’s cri de cœur captures the essence of anguish when she said, “If Article 370 is abolished, then India will be to Kashmir what Israel is to Palestine, and the Indian Army would become an occupation force.”
The Kashmiris are being punished for their tenacity and uncompromising fidelity to the cause of freedom that was denied to them because of Indian denial of UN Resolutions. As Kashmir suffers the implacable march of Indian illegal occupation that began through a dubious instrument of accession on 26th October in 1947, the taxonomy of violence features crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Whether or not the above attracts the International Criminal Court (ICC) censure or the UN Security Council cognizance under Chapter 7 would be a test of the will and strength of the collective human conscience.