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The taxonomy of violence

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“You may have blinded all of us, every one of us, with your pellet guns by then. But you will still have eyes to see what you have done to us. You're not destroying us. You are constructing us. It's yourselves that you are destroying.” - (Arundhati Roy)

The above quote of Arundhati Roy, the veritable conscience of India, shows the odious face of the tragedy unfolding in Indian occupied Kashmir. One of the ethereally beautiful paradises on earth is being ravaged by an occupation force numbering nearly a million strong paramilitary, police and military troops operating under infamous Public Safety and Prevention of Terrorism Acts. The pellet guns that are used to target wild animals are being used on innocent Kashmiris to deny them their rights of self-expression granted under UN Charter. The heartless Indian occupation force has injured 10,500 Kashmiris between 2016 and October 2020, blinding 139 and partially blinding 410, including children and women. The brutal oppression of the population was compounded in the Covid-19 environment where, instead of providing succor to the population, a communications blockade was imposed throughout the Indian-occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir. The digital blackout for the hapless populace continued for over seven months creating a world record of internet apartheid,
writes Raashid Wali Janjua.

The Kashmiris are being punished for their tenacity and uncompromising fidelity to the cause of freedom that was denied to them because of India denial of UN Resolutions 39 (20 January 1948) and 47 (21 April 1948). These resolutions called for a ceasefire and holding of a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the Kashmiris to join Pakistan or India. On the eve of the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 the British-introduced scheme of independence gave the option to each one of the 565 princely states within the British Indian Union to opt for either country through the formal instrument of accession addressed to the Viceroy. While other Indian states exercised their choice, the Maharaja of Kashmir, the ruler of one of the largest states, dithered and procrastinated, keeping his population as well as the British colonists confused. The ruler being a Hindu felt threatened by the 75% Muslim majority population of his State and entered into a “Standstill Agreement” with Pakistan, which allowed trade and commerce links through naturally contiguous all-weather communication channels between Pakistan and the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Increasingly threatened and paranoid, the Hindu ruler instead of acceding to either Pakistan or India waited for a miracle to prolong his rule. He had kept the Muslim majority under brutal bondage through Hindu majority police and army. Fearful of the popular revolt he embarked upon a campaign to disarm the Muslim population of the state. This measure resulted in an armed uprising against the Maharaja starting from Punch and Dhirkot area. A harried Maharaja responded with further suppressive measures instead of honouring his constitutional pledge to accede to either of the dominions. The widespread revolt and the loss of territory so rattled the Maharaja that he fled Srinagar, the capital of State for Jammu. Through the connivance of some influential ministers of Maharaja, India airlifted troops to Srinagar on 26 October before even the instrument of accession was formally signed.

Thus, the State of Jammu and Kashmir that was to be a part of Pakistan because of 75% of its four million inhabitants being Muslims was invaded by the Indian troops in flagrant violation of international law. It was an illegality in clear and simple terms as the fleeing Maharaja had not signed the instrument of accession before the crossing of State border by Indian troops. Historian Andrew Roberts, in his classic Eminent Churchillians wrote, “the Indian troops had moved into Kashmir before the tribesmen crossed the border.” According to Stanley Wolpert, “the instrument of accession was signed by the Maharaja after the occupation of the Srinagar Airfield by 1 Sikh Regiment.” Alaister Lamb also writes in “Kashmir, A Disputed Legacy” that “since Maharaja was on the run towards Jammu, on a journey of 350 km, there is no way he could have signed an instrument of accession on 26 October as claimed by the Indians.”

The Indians have tried to legalize that occupation on 5 August 2019 by annexing the State after revoking Articles 370 and 35-A. Kashmir remains in bondage after two years of illegal annexation by India. In last two years the Indians have continually encroached upon the state’s socio-political identity through the illegal extension of Indian laws to the illegally occupied state. Indians are attempting to mimic the Israeli model of encroaching upon Palestinian territory, through illegal settlements. Some of the pliant leaders like Farooq Abdullah, Mehbuba Mufti and Muzaffar Hussain Beg, who were earlier reviled by mainstream Kashmiri resistance parties as Indian toadies, gathered under Gopkar Declaration umbrella to challenge the State’s annexation by India. These leaders got short shrift from the Indian leadership, alienating even that complaisant segment ever willing to make concessions to India.

The revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A was the fulfillment of the BJP’s Modi-led government’s electoral pledge to erase all symbols of pluralism from Indian polity. As long as this misanthropic creed was confined to the Indian mainland, the disputed territories like Jammu and Kashmir could hope for justice one day. The annexation has put paid to such hopes. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 along with Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Order has altered the definition of ‘permanent resident’, which now enables India to settle non-Kashmiri Indians in the region. The Order has also amended ‘The Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Act to enable Indian bureaucrats to usurp slots of Kashmiris.

The Indian annexation of Kashmir is violative of UN Resolutions 39, 47 and even 91 (1951). According to the latter, the Constituent Assembly of the State of Jammu and Kashmir that declared the State as part of India was not legally empowered to make such a declaration as it lacked the constitutional mandate to overshadow the UN Resolutions calling for a plebiscite in the State. Legally, constitutionally and morally, Kashmir remains under illegal occupation and the Indian attempts of demographic changes to convert the Kashmiris into a minority constitute an egregious violation of international law by an occupation army. 3.8 million “non-domicile” people have been settled in the state since 2019 and out of those 1.2 million have been added in the voters’ list along with gerrymandering of electoral constituencies.

The Genocide Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog of genocide, has identified ten stages of genocide, i.e., classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, persecution, extermination and denial. Each one of the above stages could follow a linear progression or happen simultaneously. In Kashmir’s case, the Genocide Watch has identified the State entering the eighth stage staring extermination in the face. This is a gruesome reality that should rile the international conscience despite Indian political and corporate clout in international circles. Since August 2019, when the illegal annexation took place, the State has suffered economic losses of over US$ 5.3 billion due to curfews, communications blockade and brutal crackdown against the population. Since August 2019 over 15000 people have been arrested along with 390 extrajudicial killings. According to “Legal Forum for Oppressed Voices of Kashmir,” 474 people have been killed due to violence in 2020 alone.

As Kashmir suffers the inexorable march of Indian illegal occupation, which began through a dubious instrument of accession on 26 October 1947, the taxonomy of violence shows regular addition of steps like crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Whether or not the above attract ICC censure or the UN cognizance under Chapter 7 would be a test of the will and strength of the collective human conscience.

The writer is the Acting President of Islamabad Policy Research Institute. He can be reached at rwjanj@hotmail.com)
 
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