Asif Haroon Raja
Indo-Pakistan unabated antagonism
Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of the Partition in 1947 which was left behind by the British and it has bedeviled Indo-Pakistan relations. The two arch rivals went to war thrice over Kashmir and reached the brink of war several times even when both acquired nuclear capabilities.
Armed Kashmiri uprising erupted in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in summer of 1989. It rose in strength in 1990s and peaked in the early 2000s. Thereon, the intensity of the movement began to subside. The reason was that India under Vajpayee gave hope for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue. Gen Musharraf signed the peace treaty in January 2004 hoping that resumption of composite dialogue would lead to settlement of core disputes including Kashmir, Siachin, Sir Creek and water issue. It proved to be a deception and a farce.
One good thing that happened as a consequence to Musharraf’s anti-Kashmir policies was that the struggle in IOK became wholly indigenous. Whatever little progress made in dialogue was reversed after India blamed Pakistan for the RAW engineered Mumbai attacks in November 2008. Thereon, India adopted a hostile posture and accorded terrorism primacy over Kashmir.
Modi regime intensified antipathy
India’s antipathy against Pakistan and Kashmiris grew phenomenally after Modi took over power in June 2014. BJP leaders view Pakistan as a thorn in the flesh of India which must be removed. They have been threatening to break Pakistan into four parts and have repeatedly stated that Pakistan will not exist on the map of the world map in 2025 and it will become part of India.
As a state policy, Indian Muslims were lynched on account of eating beef or slaughtering cows. Muslims were forcibly converted into Hindus under the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (Back to Home) banner in an attempts to turn India into a Hindu nation. Urine of holy cow and even the bull’s shit were glamorised as health tonic and for curing all diseases.
In IOK, the Kashmiri youth were systematically eliminated. Rape was used as a weapon of war and pellet guns were used against the children to blind them in order to break the will of Kashmiris. In order to change the demography of IOK, new colonies were constructed where Hindu Pundits and retired servicemen were settled in big numbers. Refugees from Azad Kashmir were awarded lands and houses in IOK.
After the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in July 2016, the zeal of Kashmiris morphed into passion for freedom. Love for Pakistan and hate for India intensified.
India’s brutalities against Kashmiris and hatred against Pakistan scaled new heights in the aftermath of engineered terror attack in Pulwama on February 14, last year. Hate mongering ideology against Pakistan was generated by Modi regime and Pulwama route taken with an eye on May 2019 elections and desire to gain two-third majority. War hysteria also helped him in deflecting the attention of Indians from dismal performance of BJP on the socio-economic front.
Irrespective of the Indian atrocities and denial of fundamental rights, the Kashmiri people continued their struggle for their right of self-determination and reminded the UNO to play its role and resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UNSC resolutions.
Special status of IOK snatched
To avenge mortification of Balakot fiasco and robust PAF counter action, and also to save Kashmir from slipping out of the hands of India, Modi regime took the unconstitutional step of repealing Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution on August 5, 2019, which granted special status to IOK. J&K was bifurcated into two Indian Union territories (Kashmir-Ladakh, and Jammu). The thoughtless act tore apart all the UN resolutions, bilateral agreements and decisions of Indian Supreme Court.
For over 8 months, the people of Kashmir locked up in the biggest open jail are subjected to horrendous atrocities committed by 9 lacs Indian forces and 30,000 RSS gangsters, and are cut off from the world with no internet facility. Encouraged by whole-hearted support of the US, Israel, West and the oil rich Gulf States, India is now threatening to annex Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan.
After 5 August 2019, the passion of the Kashmiris mixed with hate got converted into deep-seated revenge. All shades of Kashmiris irrespective of religious divides have started hating Modi regime. This is altogether a new phenomenon which has never happened before.
Enactment of Citizenship Act
In pursuit of accomplishing its age-old dream of making India a Hindu Rashtra, and to treat all Indian minorities as aliens and 2nd rated citizens, the BJP regime enacted discriminatory Citizenship Act (CAA) in December 2019, which is Muslim specific. Non-Muslim citizens from Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan living in India are eligible to become Indian citizens and only Muslims are excluded. It sparked country wide riots and led to state vandalism against Muslims in New Delhi and also gave fillip to dozens of insurgencies in northeastern India which are worst affected by CAA.
Enactment of new domicile law
If ever there was a doubt regarding India’s intentions of changing the demography of IOK, the recently introduced domicile law has put all doubts to rest. Even as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world, including India, the Indian government has twisted the knife once again by introducing a new domicile law in already bleeding IOK. The government of India enacted the law on March 31, 2020 and named it ‘J&K Reorganization ‘. A notification was issued on April 1 changing the decades-old domicile law of the region. It is a clear violation of the 4th Geneva Convention.
According to this law, Indians who have resided in IOK for a period of 15 years and students who spent 7 years and appeared in class 10th or 12th exams, have now become eligible to be permanent residents of IOK. In addition, children of central government officials who have served in IOK for 10 years will also be favored. The law empowers tehsildars to issue domicile certificate within their territorial jurisdiction.
The law has opened all jobs for people across India, while only level-4 jobs which include jobs like peon, clerks, constables etc. are reserved for the current J&K domicile holders.
Resentment over the new law
The law has generated resentment in Muslim dominated Kashmir Valley as well as Hindu dominated Jammu. Panther Party led by Harshdev Singh staged a protest. Other parties in J&K have also raised their voices. The protests forced Union Government to revisit the law on April 4. Some amendments have been made and all jobs are now reserved for domicile holders. But it has not put the people at ease since the new laws entail lot many social and economic implications for Jammu region as well.
The new domicile law has heightened the fear and anxiety among the Kashmiris since it has opened flood gates for non-Kashmiris to settle and alter the demography of J&K. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah lamented that the law is an “insult heaped on injury”. PDP has condemned the law.
Taking away of the special status of J&K followed by the new domicile law has brought the people of both Jammu and Kashmir on one page and turned them against Modi regime.
BJP leaders are trying to justify its actions by painting a false picture that everything is alright in the Kashmir Valley and that Kashmiris have welcomed the new law. They ae vainly trying to dispel the fears of demographic change, saying it is not true.
Selection of timings
India upped the ante after the false flag operation in Pulwama on February 14, 2019 in order to badger Pakistan at a time when it thought that Pakistan was deeply enmeshed in internal and external instabilities and India had gained a definite edge over Pakistan on the diplomatic front. Offensive act in Balakot was also aimed at rallying Hindu vote and paving the ground for August 5 act in IOK followed by CAA.
Encouraged by wholehearted support of USA, Israel, the West, the Arab Gulf States and Iran, India decided to take the third ominous initiative of enacting domicile law. The Indian government cleverly chose this time when the whole world is busy fighting the coronavirus and the people are engulfed in fear psychosis owing to surge in infected cases and death rate. Timings suit Indian government since 8 million Kashmiris confined to their houses since 5 August are under strict curfew and are unable to stage protests.
With international focus on battle with COVID-19, the timing of this move by India is clear exploitation and attempts to further its aim of altering the demography of IOK. This is also a clear violation of Customary International Humanitarian Law rule 130 according to which: “States may not deport or transfer parts of their own civilian population into a territory they occupy.”
10.35% of the population in the IOK lives below the poverty line, with the rural areas holding more poor than the urban centres. The prolonged lockdown by the Indian government has already been a “terrible experience” for the people of IOK. The introduction of more unconstitutional changes in the region rather than focusing on the registration of people in IOK in need of social welfare and financial assistance, BPJ finds this to be an opportune time to further Hindu majority, and rule in IOK.
IOK in fact is now under a double lockdown of the Indian military and the coronavirus, and where the Indian government seems deliberately impervious to the travails of the people already burdened by curfew. According to few interviews conducted by Deccan Herald in the IOK, it is noted that the poor daily wagers earning around Rs. 300-400 per day are losing all hopes because this consecutive second curfew with double intensity is proving to be the proverbial ‘last straw on the camel’s back’ for the people already deprived of any economic and social activity. As per Ministry of Health India, there were total 300 confirmed coronavirus cases. Doctors in Kashmir Valley are expressing concern over poor health infrastructure and equipment.
Demographic change and genocide of Kashmiris underway
Where COVID-19 has proven to be a challenge for the nations of the world, it has been an opportunity for India to sneak in another insidious move for ensuring a complete Hindu majority in IOK. Human rights had already been under stress in IOK, but with international attention diverted from pre COVID issues, the Indian government and authorities are using the pandemic to further demoralize and destroy the will of the people in IOK in hopes of eradicating the Kashmiri freedom struggle.
The 30,000 strong band of RSS are busy killing Muslims and raping girls with a view to change the demography of J&K. Non-Muslims are being settled in big numbers and non-Kashmiris are buying properties and lands in J&K.
Troop level in Jammu was further increased by sending 700 additional soldiers on April 20. Over 900,000 Indian troops based in IOK are looking for an excuse to carryout genocide of Kashmiris and force them to exit from IOK and create a huge refugee problem for Pakistan.
It is apparent that the fascist regime of Modi is too obsessed with its Hindutva agenda and making India a ‘super power’ in 2020. It is least bothered about the pains of Kashmiris, or the miseries of Indian Muslims, or the pandemic which is causing severe socio-economic strains to the downtrodden. It is continuing to play monkey tricks.
After blaming Pakistan to be the nursery of terrorism for over 18 years, India’s latest cunning narrative is that Indian Muslims, particularly Tableeghi Jamaat are carriers of Covid-19. The Indian military in J&K is accusing Pakistan of dispatching corona infected Jihadis into the Valley. Milk is not being purchased from Muslim Gujjars in IOK on similar excuse.
Pakistan’s subdued response
Pakistan government is too deeply engrossed in dealing with internal and external challenges. Its major concern is to pullout the economy from the woods and has little time to deal with the abnormal situation in IOK. While war option is no more feasible for both the rivals due to nuclear factor, other viable options are not being exercised to checkmate the madness of India since its hands have been tied on account of accusations of abetting terrorism, providing safe havens to terrorist groups and involved in financial terrorism. It is also being blackmailed by IMF and FATF.
Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the new domicile law enacted by India. He tweeted, “We strongly condemn the racist Hindutva Supremacist Modi government’s continuing attempts to illegally alter the demography of IOJK in violation of all international laws & treaties. OIC has also condemned it.
Responses of Kashmiris
The Kashmiris are silently expressing their bitterness by refusing to open their shops and do business, to drive transport and to send their children to schools/colleges. The dead are being buried inside the houses.
So far, the spirits of the doubly locked up Kashmiris, denied of basic human rights and subjected to worst torture have not dampened. The day curfew is lifted, there is every likelihood of eruption of violence in the valley.
To give vent to their pent up rage, the Kashmiris might once again pick up arms and even resort to suicide attacks.
Another possibility which cannot be ruled out is the Kashmiris getting disillusioned and frustrated from Pakistan due to its laid-back approach.
- India managed to hoodwink the world and illegally retain IOK for the last 72 years. Why should it throw away its gains it has acquired without going to war with Pakistan, when politically, diplomatically and militarily it stands on a very strong wicket?
- The UN, USA, or any other country would not like to be on the wrong side of India.
- Trump can put sense in Modi’s mind but being on one page, he has no intention to do so.
- The UN is the handmaiden of USA and not much may be expected from it.
- OIC is a deadwood while the Muslim world is a house divided and has already shown its apathy.
- EU will stand by the US, while Russia may adopt a neutral stance.
- China, Turkey and Malaysia are the only three countries supporting the cause of Kashmiris, which is not enough.
- No amount of diplomacy, pleadings or threats would make Modi reverse his August 5 and March 31 decisions.
- Diplomatic and political moves would not lead to a solution.
India living in fool’s paradise
Indian leaders living in the mythical world have all along dreamed of becoming the super power of South Asia and also aspired to make India a global power. Ignoring the historical facts that India was ruled by the Muslims for over 700 years, till the British Crown took over the reins of power in 1758 after fighting the war of independence, India see itself as the sole inheritor of British Raj. From late 1990s onward when India’s economy began to improve, they started behaving like a big power. Illusion of Akhand Bharat has remained at the back of their minds. This ambition impelled them to acquire latest weapon systems from all over the world and to develop nuclear and missile capabilities in a big way. They felt elated when USA named India as the bulwark against China and policeman of Indo-Pacific region. After conducting an anti-satellite missile test in March 2019, Modi boasted that India is a “space super power”. He then declared a month later ahead of the parliamentary elections in May that only he could fulfill India’s “superpower” dreams.
Modi’s dream of making India a super power in 2020 is ridiculous since India is not even a developed country. This has been acknowledged by leader of Shiv Sena. India is miles away from the status of developed countries on parameters like education, health, employment, cleanliness and poverty alleviation and has too many incongruities. Four-fold rigid caste system is the biggest blight of Indian society.
BJP’s fascist, racist and militarist policies when seen in the light of dozens of insurgencies and separatist movements, ever growing poverty, moral depravity, rising hatred of the minorities and the oppressed, sinking GDP and economy due to mismanagement, locking down 1.3 billion population on account of Covid-19 without any proper strategy, and gathering clouds of pandemic, and above all declining fortunes of its chief patron USA are jolting the foundations of artificially woven Indian Union.
- Pakistan government need to build harmony on Kashmir and to formulate an articulate Kashmir policy with clear policy objectives.
- AJK should be strengthened as an operational base, and possibly a government-in-exile of J&K established at Muzaffarabad.
- Indigenous movement in IOK must be kept alive and given teeth to make it a bleeding wound for India.
- Diplomatic offensive must be further boosted to force India to stop brutalities in Kashmir.
- Overt and covert steps must be initiated to assure the Kashmiris that they have not been left high and dry.
- Home front will have to be fortified to achieve productive results on the external front.
I salute the Kashmiris for their valorous fighting spirit and stamina to endure the hardships in the face of extremely heavy odds and I pray for their well-being.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, former Defence Attaché’ and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches’ in Cairo, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Center, Member CWC PESS and of Veterans Think Tank, and Member Council TJP. [email protected]