Amidst the preparations to celebrate the 56th defence day of Pakistan, Indian Illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) has concluded its second year. It is unfortunate that our Kashmiri brethren has faced the brunt of Indian cruelty for more than seventy years.
On 6 September 1965 day, India and Pakistan went to war over Kashmir as Defence day commemorates the exceptional efforts of gallant Pakistani armed forces in reinforcing territorial security and protection of life and property, as well as, the martyrs who laid down their lives. However, the Kashmir debacle remains up in the air.
The historic occupation of Kashmir took place on August 2019 after Modi-led Indian government unilaterally revoked the Article 370 and Article 35A unconstitutionally, in violation to UN resolution, with ulterior motives of altering demography. Accordingly, it abolished the rights of Kashmiri citizens pertaining to autonomous law-making, property-ownership and job security. Under the guise of Covid-19 lockdown, it imposed a draconian curfew over out-and-out communication, public movement, closure of workplaces, suspension of mobile and internet usage which remains in effect. The intent behind this infringement was to conceal massive human rights violations rampant against the enslaved.
To elucidate, the violation of civil liberties in IIOJK has been constant since decades. It continues to be a pre-eminent affair as ever-increasing accounts of extra-judicial killings, arbitrary incarcerations, missing persons, rebuttal of health care and women injustices keep up. The fascist ideology of BJP has turned a blind eye to the plight of Kahmiri muslims, in particular the women. Within this chronicle, stories of trauma, helplessness, abuse, and injustices pertaining to women have been on the backburner.
The hoodlums of BJP are actively perpetuating psychological terror amongst women via derogatory remarks, public shaming and sexual humiliation. The internet is replete with scandalous accounts of women harassment and ignominy.
While scrolling through my social media, I came across a horrifying video which made me go ballistic. Three bald Dalit women, accussed of ‘witchcraft’, were forced to consume urine and flee from the scene. Such acts have been prevalent in Muzaffarabad and Bihar.
The conflict of Kashmir is also gendered in nature like others. As Susan Mackay famously asserted, women are politicised as tools of war. We are the dupes of honor culture where men find honor and shame in womens’ bodies; hence, in Kashmir, rape has been traditionally discerend as a constructive modus operandi to enervate the morale of the adversary and provoke dread to discourage the locals in attaining self-determination. The rising chauvinistic attitude has coalesced with conventional patriarchal mindset into illicitly materializing this crime of humanity.
Consequently, as anticipated, rape cases have skyrocketed since the infamous act. A contributing motive is the unwarranted immunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which supposedly permits Indian soldiers to detain anyone without authorization, shoot suspects of incendiaries on sight and carry out annexations of private property in order to sustain ‘law and order’.
On the auspicious occasion of Defence Day, it is incontrovertible to honor the tremendous sacrifices of our valiant armed forces and rekindle the spirit of solidarity and sacrifice in order to face any adversary undeterred. Notwithstanding, it is incumbent to rejuvenate the plight of our Kashmiri counterparts who have mercilessly suffered at the hands of our neighbor since inception. Most importantly, India must realize that blatantly executing the former operations is synonymous to cutting its own throat. Modi’s acts of transgression stand in sheer contradiction not only to international resolutions of UNSC but the fundamental promises of their founding father, Nehru vis a vis the protection of Kashmiris.
The need of the hour is for the entire global community to break the silence and forgo the double standards set for Kashmiris against the rest of the world. Kashmiris demand the same level of attentiveness as Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Rwanda etc. International bodies like UN, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, OIC, as well as, great powers must play their role in impeding India against ethnic cleansing, radicalization and cease fire violations.
Last but not the least, it is a sad reality that in any situation women always suffer the most. The situation in Kashmir is certainly not different as every day a girl is either raped, slaughtered or killed. I speak for all the oppressed voices of Asifa, Asiya, Neelofer and Tabinda, to name a few, who remain devoid of justice. Justice must be served since justice delayed is justice denied.
The writer is a degree-holder in Politics and International Relations from University of London and has remained associated with the National Assembly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, South Asian Strategic Stability Institute.