August 3, 2020
Ulvi Ahmedli is Baku Based Research Journalist who has a specialization in Regional Affairs and Economy.
By Ulvi Ahmadi
Kashmiri people living in Indian Held Kashmir (Editor’s Note: read as Indian Occupied Kashmir) had been deprived of special status and fundamental freedoms by the Indian nationalist government since August 5, 2019.
They have been victims and eyewitnesses of the deployment of hundreds of thousands of Indian troops to maintain “stability”. The government imposed information and communication blockade by shutting down internet and mobile services since August 5, 2019.
Human rights activists fear that it is just a tip of the iceberg, after this decision, India would attempt to transform the demographic situation. Alas, Indian government enjoys global silence on Kashmir and increases its efforts to integrate Indian Kashmir into the center against UNSC resolutions.
India did not refrain from including Kashmir into India and now new domicile law is changing its demography.
One year under lockdown
Since August 2019, almost no improvement has been observed in the Kashmir cause. In contrast, so many negative instances were recorded. India stripped Kashmir special status by abrogating Article 370 and 35A. A group of concerned citizens led by former Union Minister of India Yashwant Sinha on Saturday said the region continues to be in a “social, economic, political and communication lockdown” for a year but none of the stated goals of the move has been achieved.
Thousands were arrested including pro-Indian political leaders, Kashmiri leadership, shop owners, lawyers, students, and even women and children. Right after the decision, 144 children were arrested then sent to deradicalization camps. These are just official numbers; the unofficial part may be huge.
Freedom of expression still has not been restored even one year has passed and people have no access to social media and they can only use state-controlled websites. Indian government fears possible flare-up Muslim militant groups in the region.
The murdering of innocent Kashmiris has not ceased and new cases were reported this year. The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society reports 229 killings in the first half of 2020 including civilians, children, and women. A number of Kashmiri journalists faced arrests and stringent charges.
Although Kashmir was in lockdown, the authority imposed several restrictions during the pandemic. Until April, almost 2303 people were arrested for defying lockdown orders, mostly those who wanted to go out for getting medical care and foodstuff.
According to the report of the Tamil Nadu based rights organization ‘Human Rights Forum for Jammu and Kashmir’ evaluates the situation in Kashmir as a total alienation of Kashmiri people.
There is no doubt that political instability and total lockdown leads to an economic recession. According to statistics, Gross Domestic Products was 10.3 billion during 2016-17, but it declined to 5.6 billion between August 2019 – June 2020.
Revoking the special status of Kashmir didn’t suffice the Indian Government and on April 1, 2020, Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Order was adopted. The new law allows Indian authority to change the demographic situation by residing non-Kashmiris Indians in Kashmir.
Although the Indian government views this law as generating equality and dignity for all, the indigenous people of Kashmir irrespective of their religious background fear that newcomers can seize lands and job opportunities from them and their political voice would be diminished. Nevertheless, the Indian government considers their steps on Kashmir will lead the development of the region but we observers the contrasting results as it was given above.
The government within this year is getting to enhance its control over Kashmir, as we mentioned above by adopting new rules. Another new rule is the lifting of the special certificate for landing Kashmir for security forces. It could lead to the deployment of Indian forces in Kashmir which this action has already gained support by the constitution since the new decision.
The Kashmiri Muslim population which contains over 70% of the overall population wants to be free or union with Pakistan but not under Indian rule. The former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti said that India wants to occupy their land and make them minority and disempower them.
The time has worked in favour of the Indian nationalist government through this period, while the world focused on pandemic and didn’t pay attention to Kashmir.
Kashmir in global scale
Kashmiri conflict caused Muslims to live there and to suffer from famine, persecution, and death of innocent people. Despite passing one year, the problem has not been solved and the special status has not been restored. Although the conflict poses danger to the international community, there is no sufficient reaction.
Immediately after revoking Article 370 and 35A, US and UN spokespersons called both sides to be restraint and to solve problems by dialogue. The US expressed its concern over the reports in Kashmir and called India to respect individual rights.
Pakistan’s strategic partners like China, Azerbaijan, and Turkey expressed solidarity with Pakistan. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized India’s decision on Kashmir in his speech in United Nations General Assembly meeting. After his statement, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi canceled a trip to Turkey. Azerbaijan participates in the Contact Group within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) along with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Niger. The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan has always supported Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir during his meeting with Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed its obvious opposition against Indian decision which covers also Ladakh region, a territory claimed by China.
You could find so many materials about the importance and strategic locations of Kashmir. The conflict covers three countries with three billion population and nuclear arms on all sides. So many analysts and writers warn about the possible threat on the international level.
In June, India and Chinese security forces exchanged fires which led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers and approximately 40 Chinese according to Indian sources while China says it did not lose a single soldier and independent sources claim that India lost over 49 soldiers including the Brigade Commander. It is worthy to note that China claims Ladakh. The shootings happened around the border in Ladakh. It is another aspect of the conflict.
The international community may think that nuclear powers will not fight or will not use nuclear arms. As if, such opinions set to ease for them. We shouldn’t forget that there have been 4 wars between India and Pakistan and we couldn’t predict the danger of the fifth one.
International law doesn’t recognize Indian sovereignty over the Kashmir region so that Indian authority couldn’t make decisions unilaterally. However, we see the different picture in reality. The violations and conflicts should be stopped or we could open the path for the growth of violation in the world like the spread of cancer.
In such conditions, bilateral dialogue may not seem optional so the interference of the third party to the negotiation table is necessary. The active participation of international organizations is needed. If some conflict continues so much, it means someone doesn’t want the solution. The political interests speak louder than law and, justice. The Kashmiri conflict is the victim of such an approach and only sufferers are people.
It is obvious that the activity of international organizations is extremely necessary. Noting the being of sides of the conflict are nuclear power countries, so the unboreable results are unavoidable. It is pertinent to mention that several UN Security Council resolutions promised plebiscite and referendum in both sides of Kashmir to let Kashmiri people decide their fate but UN itself is not pushing its passed resolutions and now asking India and Pakistan to decide the issue bilaterally.
If international silence will not cease, we could see other actions taken by the Indian government in order to prevail in Kashmir. We also should note that the Kashmir conflict cannot be solved by the final agreement between India and Pakistan because India is not ready to talk about Kashmir issue with Pakistan. If the international community will not react appropriately, the world will witness so much injustice.