Hardly a day passes by without a Kashmiri youth being killed in some remote village or town in the war-ravaged state. Under a brutal Indian military colonization since October 1947, the people of Kashmir have struggled for the fundamental right to hold a referendum to determine their future.
India, the self-styled largest democracy in the world, has responded with brute force. In addition to 700,000 heavily armed troops, there are an estimated 300,000 paramilitary and police forces bringing the total to one million armed men. This makes Kashmir the most militarized region in the world but media outlets generally ignore these facts.
Barring a few notable exceptions, even the Muslim world has turned its back on the Kashmiri people. This is not surprising since dictators and tyrants rule most countries. If they are busy brutalizing their own people why would they care about the plight of the Kashmiris?
There is, however, one exception: on June 14, the UN Human Rights Council issued its report on India’s gross violations of the Kashmiris’ rights and indulging in wanton killings. It called for an independent inquiry into these crimes. India summarily rejected the UN report. The Hindu fascists represented by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the so-called liberal Congress Party both rejected it. The same day (June 14), a prominent Kashmiri journalist, Shujaat Bukhari was gunned down as he left his office in the evening. Indian agents are suspected of the execution-style killing. Was it timed to divert attention from the UN report?
The UN report pointed out that the Indian government has adamantly refused to allow UN rights observers into Jammu and Kashmir to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. The self-declared “largest democracy” in the world even refuses journalists to visit the troubled state. If it has nothing to hide, why is it so reluctant for independent observers to see the reality?
The UN report quoting civil society estimates says that security forces had killed 130–145 civilians between mid-July 2016 and end of March 2018. The July 2016 timeline is related to the killing by Indian occupations forces of a young charismatic Kashmiri leader, Burhan Wani. It sparked an instant uprising against the colonizers. Despite a curfew, more than 200,000 people attended Burhan Wani’s funeral.
The UN report says “one of most dangerous weapons used against protesters during the unrest in 2016 was the pellet-firing shotgun, which is a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun that fires metal pellets.” While the UN report mentions 130–145 deaths in the nearly two-year period, the actual figures are much higher. Kashmir Media Service (KMS), the most reliable source of news on Kashmir has reported the following figures from July 2016 to mid-June 2018:
• number of persons killed . . . . . . . . 609
• number of persons injured . . . . 22,000
• injuries due to pellet guns . . . . . . 8,424
• number of persons blinded . . . . . . 128
• those blinded in one eye . . . . . . . . 207
• youth on verge on losing sight . . 1,020
• partial damage to eyesight . . . . . 1,869
• number of persons arrested . . . 19,230
Kashmiri deaths since February 1989 when the uprising first began now exceed 95,000. Similarly, more than 11,000 Kashmiri women and girls have been raped. To India’s lasting shame, not one person has been arrested much less charged with this heinous crime.
In April, when the police submitted its report into the kidnapping, gang-rape and brutal murder of the eight-year-old Kashmiri girl named Asifa, far from feeling ashamed of such a horrific crime, Hindu fascists held rallies in support of the rapists. Even BJP cabinet ministers joined pro-rape rallies. Lawyers in Jammu refused to represent Asifa’s family. When a brave female lawyer, Deepika Rajawat, took up the case she was threatened with rape and death.
“It is shocking that the lawyers in Kathua [town where the rape and murder occurred] so blatantly tried to obstruct justice in this case,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, said in her report in April. “For the local lawyers and other BJP supporters, the Hindu suspects and the Muslim victim were grounds for blocking prosecution of the case,” Ganguly said.
The UN report lamented, “Without unconditional access to Kashmir on either side of the Line of Control, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has undertaken remote monitoring of the… situation.”
On the political front, the situation is equally grim. On June 19, the BJP withdrew from an alliance with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Indian-occupied Kashmir. It led to collapse of the local government and imposition of governor rule. The BJP said it was pulling out of the coalition in Jammu and Kashmir because of worsening “terrorism and violence.” The BJP itself is largely responsible for increased violence.
It is a party of Hindu fascists that insist on turning India into an exclusively “Hindu” state. Kashmir has a Muslim majority but it is being crushed under the heavy boot of Indian militarism. The Hindu Nazis are closely aligned with that other racist entity, Zionist Israel, which is dominated by war criminals who are also brutalizing the indigenous Palestinian population in the Holy Land. Like the BDS campaign against Zionist Israel, a campaign against Nazi India also must be launched. These political lepers must be isolated.