For more than 7 decades, the majestic valley of Kashmir lies shrouded in bloodshed, massacres, grave human rights abuses, uncertainty and atrocities; the partition came at a heavy price levied in blood and loss and the people of the valley are still paying it. For the valiant and resilient people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the dawn of independence is still an unrealized dream, a revered aspiration for which generation after generation of Kashmiri men, women and youth have been laying down their lives. It is said about the valley that, “Kashmir is a beautiful poetry of God which he wrote while experiencing together the highest form of happiness and deepest sorrow.” And as year after year the valley continues to fall victim to Indian oppression and antagonism, a desolate chapter of state terrorism and barbarism is being written in Kashmir’s history.
The infrastructural war against the people of the ruthlessly held valley has restricted the political, social and economic freedom of its people, the revocation of Special Autonomous Status of India Administered Jammu and Kashmir under Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India, placed the valley under a political and economic paralysis, the people of Kashmir continuing to suffer inhumane treatment by the Indian Security forces, gagging of dissent and abjuration of civil liberties, as the manoeuvres derived out of a Nazi-inspired playbook are fast transforming the demographics of the area from a Muslim majority to a minority, all the while corroding the ethnic, religious and historical identity of the region.
The onslaught of COVID-19 has further aggravated the nightmare for the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir,due to inadequate healthcare infrastructure, absence of social safety nets and fragile economic conditions. The communications blackout imposed as a result of the barbaric curfew following the revocation of Article 370 and 35-A under muscular Hindutva inspired overtures to illegally absorb the valley, limited the access of people of IOK to any online medical support against the pandemic, worsening the distress and anguish of the people of IOK.
Since 5 August 2019, the valley is under a draconian lockdown; its people deprived of livelihood, isolated from the rest of the world in an attempt to extinguish the Kashmiri flame of freedom. When torture cells, imprisonments, and massacres failed to deflate the Kashmiri spirits for independence from India, the polity led by saffron brigade commanders, turned towards psychological, network and law warfare measures to subdue the people of IOK.
Lately, the Genocide Watch has issued a Genocide Alert for India Occupied Kashmir highlighting that the early warnings of an impending Muslims genocide include continued armed conflict in the region, constant impunity for genocidal killings, the exclusionary ideology of “Hindutva” with India as wholly and solely a Hindu nation, authoritarian military rule that operates without any legal restraints or accountability, forced communications breakdown, and widespread unchecked violations of basic human rights (torture, rape, detentions without charge, arbitrary arrests, imprisonments and deportations of Muslim political and human rights leaders in the valley). Calling upon the United Nations and its members to warn India, Genocide Watch observed that the ten identified stages leading up to genocide are all far advanced in India with rampant state-led discrimination under BJP reasserting Hinduness and Hindu might and dehumanization of the Muslims of the valley by naming them as “terrorists, separatists, criminals, and insurgents”. The dispute which began as a result of an ill-enforced partition plan that gave the rulers of the princely states the discretion to join either of the states, Pakistan and India, contingent upon geographical proximity, people’s aspirations and ethnoreligious composition of the state, after 7 decades has transformed into a crisis marked by the genocide of generations of Kashmiri Muslims. In 1947, Indian colonial designs overlooked the guiding principles of geographic proximity and aspiration of the people, using the instrument of accession to force their way into Kashmir. In 2019-2020, the same legalistic approach was adopted to once again take over the valley, which refuses to concede and bow to their illegal occupation.
Since 1947, subjugation and denial of civil rights have become the fate of Kashmiris as India persists to deny the inalienable right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir under a UN-supervised plebiscite, in accordance with the resolutions of 13th August 1948 and 5th January 1949. Introduction of the “Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules (2020)”, is the latest onslaught against the people of the valley which allows residency and property rights for various categories of non-residents: non-Kashmiris, aggravating the economic alienation of Kashmiris in the Hindutva driven state. Direct attacks on the indigenous identity of the valley via tools aimed at altering the demographics of Indian Occupied Kashmir, not only cement Indian illegal occupation in the valley but also, once and for all, diminish any chance of Kashmir’s freedom through a plebiscite following the UNSC resolutions.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the border, Pakistan opened its door as a symbol of unity, religious harmony and respect for minority Sikh religion to the Sikhs and other devotes of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak upon his 550th birth anniversary in 2019. Kartarpur to Kashmir illustrates the tale of the treatment of the two states towards the minorities and diverse ethnic groups in the region.
BJP’s rise in India has been characterized by broadcasting hatred, classification of Hindu vs. Muslims, racial intolerance, tyranny and the rule of polarizing leaders that preach alienating ideologies. The oppression of the people of Kashmir under raging fires of Hindutva has given a fresh impetus to the freedom movement, where Kashmiris of all ages, from all walks of life are joining the struggle against Indian persecution. The fight is no longer against the belligerent forces in IOK, neither does it remain a question of disputed territory between two states, for Kashmiris the renewed militancy for freedom is nowvabout ensuring their own future and the future of their children in the land of their ancestors.
Today, under BJP’s Hindu-first, Hindu nation-state narrative, the valley’s indigenous, demographic, and religious contours are being reshaped by force. The resolve of the people of Indian occupied Kashmir remains unwavering in face of Indian barbarism as they continue to oppose their occupation, with a hope that their sacrifices in blood shall pave the path to liberation. Their fight is for the protection of their homes, for their livelihood, for lives of their loved ones, for their right of expression and most importantly for their right against discrimination on the basis of race and religion.