Kashmir is a beautiful place, universally praised as ‘heaven on Earth’ it is blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. However, unfortunately, Kashmir has another side to its beauty. Over the last couple of decades, Kashmir has seen a growing level of violence and terror fill it’s valleys and streets. Recently, on the fifth of August, the Indian government hit a new low when it revoked Kashmir’s constitutional rights to self-autonomy and put the region in a lockdown state.
Kashmiris have been unable to work and move freely due to the brutal restrictions that this lockdown has imposed upon them. The Indian military has used strict curfew conditions, planted barbwire on roads, banned communication and suspended their internet services. The outside world does not know what is happening in Kashmir and Kashmiris cannot contact their loved ones outside of Kashmir. All this has happened under the leadership of the Indian government, the so-called “largest democracy in the world”. This same government is led by Prime Minister Modi, a member of the BJP Hindu nationalist party and has taken inspiration from Israel “the only democracy in the Middle East” and the way they treat the Palestinian people.
As of yet, Kashmiris have suffered from several issues as a result of this crackdown. Educational institutions, shops and healthcare have shut down resulting in food shortages, lack of medical access and healthcare. The most despicable aspect of this lockdown, that we know of, is the Indian forces firing at protestors with pellets. As a result of this, many people have been blinded from pellet wounds in the eyes. After this, the Indian forces raid Kashmiri houses and identify people who have participated in protests by looking for pellet wounds. They are then taken away to be interrogated.
Conflict is not new to Kashmiris, however, this level of oppression by the Indian government has never before seen. Kashmiri indigenous people have lost much of their freedoms and rights and are now being punished for speaking out against this oppression. The most disappointing thing about this is the lack of initiative from Muslims and Muslim leaders around the world to alleviate the troubles and suffering of Kashmir. It is our responsibility as Muslims to help our brothers and sisters in Kashmir. The least we could do is spread awareness of this issue and make it the topic of our conversations and make it a concern in our hearts just like other Muslim struggles around the world.
The Kashmiri people are a Dardic ethnic group living in the central valley of Kashmir in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. They speak the Kashmiri language. Kashmiri is an Indo-Aryan language. The Kashmiris are also known as Koshur. About 5.6 million people are speaking the Kashmiri language.
It all started back in 1947 when British rule in India finally dissolved and the countries of India and Pakistan came into existence.
The partition decided the fate of millions as various rulers had to choose which country they would belong to, but Kashmir faced an uncertain future.
Maharaja Hari Singh, the Hindu ruler of Muslim majority Kashmir managed to keep the region independent for two months. He did this by signing a standstill agreement with Pakistan and sending a similar agreement to India, which favoured continuing discussion.
But that changed in October 1947 when Maharaja confiscated armaments from Muslims who were formerly conscripted into the British Army. The weapons were distributed to local Hindu village defence forces and this provoked an uprising supported by the Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan.
The tribesmen were acting without Pakistani approval. The Maharaja sought assistance from India but the governor-general contended that it would be dangerous to send troops to a neutral state unless Kashmir first offered to accede to it.
To suppress the uprising, the Hindu ruler’s army, along with RSS, the Hindu extremist organisation, attacked Muslims in Jammu. There was a massacre.
The Hindu ruler signed a temporary arrangement ceding Kashmir to India on October 26. Pakistan disputed Maharaja’s decision claiming he has no right to sign an agreement with India when a standstill agreement with Pakistan was still in force.
On October 1947, Indian troops landed in Kashmir to fight the rebel forces. This led to the first India – Pakistan war.
The Indian prime minister at the time of the war, Jawahar Lal Nehru, promised a referendum. A little after 2 months India referred the matter to the UN. A resolution was passed on August 13, 1948, asking both nations to withdraw their forces.
Once happened, a referendum was held allowing people of Kashmir to decide their future, however troops were never withdrawn and the referendum never happened. On January 1949 a ceasefire was agreed and Kashmir became a disputed territory and was divided into two.
In Indian administered Kashmir, India maintains around one million troops who have committed human rights violation like, rape, torture, and enforced disappearance which continues today.
The number of people killed in Kashmir is estimated to be from 50,000 to 100,000. Pakistan also maintains a heavy military presence in the part which it administers. Human Right Watch has described Pakistan administered Kashmir as a land of restriction on political rights and civil liberty.
A poll published in Chatham House stated that nearly half of the people living in Indian and Pakistani part of Kashmir want the disputed region to become its own independent country. Will Kashmiri people get justice?
In a deceptive move pretending to counter terrorist attacks, towards the end of July, the BJP government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi deployed tens of thousands of troops in the state of Jammu. Kashmir is considered the most militarised area in the world with already the presence of a million strong-armed personnel.
At the same time, the major annual Hindu pilgrimage to Amarnath was cancelled and all pilgrims and tourists expelled from the state while several Kashmiri leaders were put under house arrest and the whole state was locked down under strict military curfew.
On Monday 5 August announcements were made that the Indian government was effectively annexing Kashmir by stripping it of its semi-autonomous status, breaking the state of Jammu and Kashmir and downgrading it from statehood into centrally governed union territories. The three-pronged unilateral move of the disputed region without consultation will have a far-reaching negative effect on the Kashmiri population:
⦁ Modi government has revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution, effective immediately, that gave Kashmiris a separate constitution, flag and to set its laws, except for those related to defence and foreign policy.
⦁ Article 35A of India’s constitution has also been revoked that allowed Jammu and Kashmir’s local legislature to define who were considered permanent residents denying Indians from outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs or winning education scholarships in the J&K state.
⦁ The government has also announced that it would split the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories J&K and Ladakh ruled by the central government in Delhi.
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