The world should pay attention to Kashmir oppression
Disputes and rivalry among nations have been occurring since the beginning of human history. Unfortunately, not much has changed today as seen in the northwest corner of India, the state known as Jammu and Kashmir.
The upheaval now wracking the area dates to when India became independent from the British Empire in 1947 and lines were drawn creating the separate independent states of India and Pakistan. The princely states that existed within the countries either acceded to India or Pakistan — except for Kashmir, which wanted independence.
Kashmir, with a majority Muslim population, was governed by a Hindu maharaja, who was pressured by the Pakistani government to join it. To avert invasion from the Pashtun militia from Pakistan, the ruler asked for help from India. India agreed to assist only if Kashmir would accede to India. The maharaja agreed with the condition that the state receive a special status guaranteeing independence.
They would have their own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws. Only communications, foreign affairs and defense would be part of the Indian government. This special provision, put into law in 1954, was termed Article 370. It also allowed Kashmir to conduct its own rules relating to residency, and prevented nonresidents from buying property.
In the decades that followed, tensions in the area remained high, with India and Pakistan accusing each other of trying to assert illegal authority. The two nations fought three wars, in 1965, 1971 and 1999, over the region.
On Aug. 5, 2019, the Article 370 special status was revoked by the president of India. Tens of thousands of Indian troops were deployed, tourists were ordered to leave, telephone and internet services were suspended, cutting off communication with the world and from within. Regional political leaders were placed under house arrest and the people were placed in a lockdown with a strict curfew.
Since then, the U.N. has made charges of human rights violation in
Kashmir of killings, forced disappearances, torture, rape and the suppression of freedom of speech by the Indian occupation. The Indian military has opened fire on protesters with live ammunition, tear gas, and pellet guns that explode like shrapnel on impact. What is more, an international organization, Genocide Watch, has issued an alert for Kashmir.
India’s actions in Kashmir once again caused Pakistan to react with troop movements of its own, raising fears of another conflict between the two nations, which are both armed with nuclear weapons. Despite the crackdown, the people of Kashmir, who have been struggling for the right of selfdetermination for the past 30 years, continue to protest.
Having visited Pakistan recently and been present during Independence Day, I can tell you that one can sense the heightened patriotism that exists in the country. The Kashmiri flag runs high alongside the flag of Pakistan, and words of support for the state of Kashmir and Jammu also echo across news channels and on the streets.
The fervor for freeing Kashmir and Jammu from Indian occupation seemed to stand forefront, as attempts to bring the matter to the international table persist.
It feels ironic that the founders of the movement for independence from the British who promoted unity and peace would years later find the nations at odds with each other. Pakistan’s most famous founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, emphasized harmony. He said, “Our object should be peace within, and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial friendly relations with our immediate neighbors and with the world at large.”
Ghandi, the leader of India’s movement, pronounced “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
So it is quite disheartening listening to the reports coming out of Kashmir of the oppression and crimes being committed against its citizens.
The peace-loving people who reside outside of Kashmir and Jammu, regardless of their political opinion and loyalties, must put politics aside and look toward the will of the people and alleviate their affliction. This means being aware of what is occurring in the region on a regular basis and then reaching out to our representatives via petitions or by whatever means to finally bring relief and peace to the people of Kashmir.
Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard Aug. 14 in Srinagar, India-controlled Kashmir. India is maintaining an unprecedented security lockdown to try to stave off a violent reaction to Kashmir’s downgraded status.