As countries across the globe scramble to deal with the large-scale civil emergency, COVID-19 pandemic, governments have called on their armed forces to provide all the necessary support. While this has been the case for most countries, our eastern neighbor seems bent on aggravating the situation to further its designs, putting its people, human rights and the region at risk. If we look at India’s policies, they are actively using their forces for Kashmir (IOJ&K) lockdown since August 5, 2019, making it the most densely militarized zone. Indian government’s policies of hate and aggression against the Kashmiris don’t seem to have an end and there has been a renewed escalation in the ceasefire violations (CFVs) and use of heavy artillery against the civilian population. This year alone, India has committed 850 violations, and since February 26, when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Pakistan, India has committed 456 violations that resulted in death and injuries to 31 individuals. These continued Indian CFVs do not only violate the ceasefire agreement and put innocent lives at risk but also ignore the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire during the current pandemic.
The recent Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Order-2020 is another illegal and unconstitutional move by India to settle non-Kashmiris in IOJ&K by introducing changes in the domicile laws – an agenda that aims to change the population ratio of Muslims against the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people. Earlier, by stripping IOJ&K of its autonomy and forcibly annexing it through the revocation of Article 35A [along with Article 370] in August 2019, India had removed the restriction for Indians to buy and own property in IOJ&K. That, coupled with the promulgation of a new law to relax the domicile rules and eligibility criteria for employment, is meant to change to demographic status of the occupied territory.
Despite the global crisis where entire nations are united in trying to counter and overcome the common adversity, India is adamant on promoting the RSS agenda in the region. To divert internal and international attention from its failures and its own policy blunders within the country, and to divert world’s attention from the atrocities being committed in Kashmir, India, with the help of its media, is maligning Pakistan through false propaganda. Addressing such remarks during a press conference, DG ISPR has said, “The allegations are a reflection of India's internal failures, increasing frustration and demoralisation. The fire of oppression, hatred and race that India had lit in Kashmir has now spread to the rest of the country.” He further added, "The saffronisation of the Indian military and polity is a sad spectre that the world can ill afford in the present circumstances. The reality of the fake news that India tried to spread regarding Azad Kashmir is now in front of the world. The least number of COVID-19 cases across the country have been reported in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and no deaths have been reported so far."
The world is gradually realizing RSS’ propagation of militant form of Hindu nationalism and its agenda against the Muslims. It must realize that this will exact a humanitarian toll and the cost would indeed be heavy as Hindutva is an aggressive form of militant nationalism that aims to impose a totalistic agenda to achieve paramount power. This agenda aims to forge one nation, one history, one culture, one religion and one language where there’s no tolerance for other faiths; an ideology that seeks to establish Hindu hegemony. After Muslims, there is evidence that Indian Christians will be the next target of extermination, as cases of mass violence against Christians are on the rise since BJP took power in 2014.
Pakistan has repeatedly called for lifting the lockdown and ease restrictions in IOJ&K to alleviate the suffering of Kashmiris during the pandemic but India has turned a deaf ear despite confirmed cases and deaths. Apart from the reports of arbitrary killings, rape, brutality and enforced disappearances, the real extent of tragedy, misery and pain being inflicted on the Kashmiris is currently unknown to the world due to the lack of communication means and their complete isolation from the rest of the world. Isolated, silenced and ill-equipped to handle this new danger thrust upon them, the people in IOJ&K have been left to their own devices by India.
There should be an immediate end to the brutalities against the people of IOJ&K, protection of human rights, urgent lifting of communications restrictions, provision of unfettered access to medical and other essential supplies, and access of human rights organizations and international media to the occupied territory. The United Nations and the global community must come forward and put a stop to India’s continuing violation of UNSC resolutions, fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits demographic change of occupied regions, international humanitarian law and international law.
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