BY EDITORIAL , (LAST UPDATED 2 DAYS AGO)
• With no end in sight
While the world fights against the novel Coronavirus, trying to contain the human and economic cost of the pandemic, India has shown no signs of any let-up in its campaign against the indigenous population of Jammu and Kashmir. IOK (Indian Occupied Kashmir) has been under a state of strict lockdown for the past nine months, not in some severely paranoid early anticipation of a highly contagious pathogen, but to quell the justified outrage of the people of the region after revocation in August of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that gave them the status of a semi-autonomous state, which was successfully operationalized in October last year.
Despite multiple calls from human rights groups and Western countries to ease restrictions, there is still no freedom of movement, a communications blackout persists and widespread detentions of politicians, business leaders and residents of Jammu and Kashmir continue unabated. India has instead upped the ante, killing 36 freedom fighters since late March, most significantly, the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo, a former math teacher and a close aide to Burhan Wani who was killed in 2016 leading to severe unrest and rebellion in in the valley. Naikoo’s body will not be handed over to his family but will be buried by authorities at an undisclosed location to avoid the sort of funeral processions and anger that was seen following Wani’s killing. The cowardly decision shows how India realizes that it has taken the conflict too far and another significant trigger could very well result in a lot more bloodshed on both sides.
Simultaneously, in order to peddle its unsubstantiated self-serving narrative of ‘cross-border terrorism’, India continues indiscriminate firing along the LOC resulting in civilian deaths, all the while claiming that Pakistan initiates such attacks. Last year the two nuclear-armed countries came to the brink of war following a suicide bombing in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, even though the attacker was a local. India should heed the call of the international community to lift the inhumane lockdown and let the people of IOK realize their right to self-determination. Short of this, by keeping them caged in their homes and in detention centres, India is providing a breeding ground for more freedom fighters who will take that right through force.