By Arshad Zargar
Human right abuses in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed territory administered by India, are an ongoing issue. The abuses range from mass killings, forced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. Be it fake encounters, disappearances, issue of mass graves or extrajudicial killings by security personnel, these things are not so uncommon in this part of world. Unfortunately, the staggering human cost of the conflict, deaths and devastation have become either a matter of statistical or academic arguments.
This state-sponsored terrorism has cost us over six lakh martyrs, nearly 10,000 subjected to enforced disappearances, chastity of 6000 women outraged, 25000 youth booked under Public Safety Act, 38000 houses destroyed and 38 persons given the life sentence. It seems like Kashmiris are guilty, unless proven innocent.
Most of the Kashmiri’s in their early 20s have known nothing other than violence and horrific stories of disappeared family members and friends. Indian-ruled Kashmir has the highest rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. When truth is hidden and justice cannot be pursued, people are definitely going to rise up and ask to be heard.
The trigger happy government forces don’t mind using lethal weapons on peacefully protesting civilians which has cost more than 60 lives this past month alone, left scores blinded and many more critically injured. Even when the human rights watchdogs have been consistently asking for a probe and ban on use of lethal weapons, the unarmed civilian population continues to be hit by the violence being unleashed by Indian forces. There is little concern for the social and legal protection of the human rights. Ironically, the idea of human rights suggests, “if the public discourse of harmonious and serene global society can be said to have a common moral language, it is that of human rights.”
The beautiful prison that is Kashmir, which is a nuclear flashpoint, and the most densely militarized zone in the world, where we are caged by half a million Indian soldiers and a maze of army camps and torture chambers is bordered by three nuclear powers. Each one claiming a part of Kashmir. Indian occupied Kashmir, which Indians rhetorically love to call an “integral part of India” has witnessed many political surgeries during the past few decades, but nothing substantial has come out so far.
Besides, Kashmiris are well aware that their movement is a just cause. It was promised by Jawaharlal Nehru, the then prime minister of India on November 2, 1947 that the fate of Kashmiris will be decided by the people, however nothing even after 68 years seems to have materialized.
The basic reason why Kashmir continues to be an ongoing issue is because it is a political orphan even today. Different parties have offered quite a few proposals, each one claiming its own political space, yet Kashmiris who are the main stakeholders remain unrepresented. The PDP’s self-rule, NC’s Greater Autonomy, Musharraf’s four-point formula have all failed miserably owing to interests of different stakeholders. Every formula or a proposed solution to the Kashmir conflict has, as of now, come out to be halfbaked.
The resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is only possible by the realization of the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, as per the UN Security council resolutions, through a fair and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices. The prerequisite to holding the plebiscite would be to revoke the draconian impunity laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the “lawless” Public Safety Act, release of political prisoners from jails, and demilitarization of the region of Jammu and Kashmir. ThaW t would be democracy at its best for the people of this embattled and beleaguered population.