A day or two before the 5th of August 2019, in a sensational melodrama, the Indian Prime Minister Narendera Modi ordered every single student of Kashmiri Universities and colleges hailing from outside the Kashmir Valley, the tourists, the Hindu pilgrims undergoing Amarnath Yatra to leave Kashmir immediately. This uncalled-for apparent state of emergency left the people of Kashmir flabbergasted who stood standstill to find out what heaven is about to fall on them.
In the wee hours of 5th of August, it turned out that the entire Vale of Kashmir is subjected to unprecedented 24-hour curfew, clamp down and locked down in such a way that it was cut off from the world physically as well as electronically. No one was allowed to leave or enter the Valley, neither by road nor by air. A delegation of Indian opposition parties led by Sitaram Yechuri, General Secretary of CPI (M), was not allowed to come out of the aeroplane and visit the Valley; they were turned back by the same flight. Telephone landlines, mobile service as well as internet service were totally switched off. No one was allowed to leave the home; neither the sick and infirm nor the terminally ill were allowed access to the places of treatment.
The pharmacies, the food stores, the places of other day to day needs were all closed down. People were not allowed to go to Eidgahs to offer Eid prayers; no sacrifices of animals; no access to the mosques on Friday congregation. When Kashmiris were being sacrificed at the altar of their motherland, the ritual of animal sacrifices had no value.
Hundreds of thousands of activists were either blocked to come out or arrested and sent to unknown places. Top leadership of the Valley, no less than three former chief ministers of Indian J&K State, including members of the previous cabinets, leaders of the APHC, JKLF leadership, all were either incarcerated or subjected to house arrest.
All these steps were carried out as precautionary measures to check any imminent unrest because the Hindu extremist Modi government of India, fulfilling their election promise, had changed the special status of J&K.
What they did was unconstitutional and thus illegal because whatever was legislated by the Constituent Assembly of J&K could only be undone by the Constituent Assembly which was dissolved soon after the approval of the J & K constitution by that Assembly. None of the subsequent Indian Parliaments had the powers to do away with this piece of legislation and no one dared to do that except the incumbent recalcitrant BJP-led Parliament.
Modi, enjoying brute majority in the lower house of the Indian Parliament, in spite of the strong resistance of the Opposition Parties, revoked Article 370 and Article 35 A of the Indian Constitution that gave the J&K state a special status with internal autonomy and protection of their demography, the proprietorship of their lands, other properties and the priority right over employment in state services. Thus, they turned the state into two Union Territories, Ladakh having no local assembly and Jammu & Kashmir having a toothless assembly.
The incident triggered unrest not only within the locked down Valley but also among diaspora Kashmiris in the whole world as well in Pakistan-administered Jammu Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and those settled in the four provinces of Pakistan.
Both India and Pakistan suffer from a congenital defect. They have been going to wars against each other since when they were in the womb of their mother. United India gave rise to Bharat and Pakistan after the partition in 1947. They fought with each other over what none of the two had any legal or moral right and that was the former state of Jammu and Kashmir. They fought with each other in Kashmir soon after their independence was declared and the ceasefire was brokered by UN on 1st January 19479. The ceasefire line divided the State into Indian-held Jammu Kashmir and the Pakistan administered Azad Kashmir and GB.
At this juncture, it would be most pertinent to mention Resolution 47, passed on April 21, 1948, by the UNSC out of many. This resolution stated that Pakistan should withdraw all their forces, and India, the bulk of their forces from the State of Jammy and Kashmir. It would then be followed by plebiscite held under the auspices of UN and the people of Kashmir would be asked whether they want to accede with India, or with Pakistan or they want to remain independent. Neither India nor Pakistan withdrew their forces until this day and the issue lingers on.
Once again, in September 1965, they again challenged each other’s military might, but the war could not last more than 17 days. Both had run short of resources to continue fighting. This time the US came to their rescue and brokered a ceasefire. The former USSR acted as a mediator. The peace treaty, called Tashkent Declaration was signed by PM Shastri of India and FM Ayub Khan President of Pakistan. As a result of this treaty, the forces of both the countries were drawn back to their positions before the war began.
Then, once again the two fought in Kashmir too, when Pakistan had to surrender in Dhakka on 16 December 1971 and more than 92,000 Pakistan’s men in Khaki were taken prisoners and moved to India. India was inclined to charge them as war criminals. The situation, however, was saved. This time, another peace treaty called Shimla Agreement, was signed by Mrs Indra Gandhi and Mr Z. A. Bhutto. This agreement dictated that the issue of Kashmir would not be taken to any international forum but would be resolved bilaterally.
Belligerence remained the name of the game when it came to India and Pakistan. Never ever any of the two bothered to take into confidence the principal party in the issue about their future, that is, the Kashmiris. Following the same line of action, once again they took to the highest peaks of the Himalayas, the Kargil, and fought another most bloody battle. Yet Kashmir remained unresolved.
Now, it is the neo Nazism of Hindu supremacists whose heroes are Hitler and Mussolini. They are following the footsteps of these world-known fascists. They openly adore them. Nazi literature sells in India like hot cakes. Yet, like the fascists of the yester years, the end of today’s fascists is not far behind. They are approaching their dooms day very soon.
They are the one who killed Mahatma Gandhi, the proponent of Ahimsa, the respect for life of all living beings. Gandhi preached non-violence all his life. But he was killed by one of these Hindu extremists.
The current lock down in Kashmir is termed as Modi’s Viet Nam. Kashmiris are struggling in their motherland to protect their sovereignty whereas Modi is blatant aggressor. Kashmiris have now taken to Satyagraha, the non-violent form of civil disobedience. They have sent a message to the Indians to cover all statues of Gandhi, the originator, to save him from shame while his nation is celebrating his 150th birthday. How long will they stand the people’s resistance movement? Has anyone ever stood for ever in the past? None.
One way, for Pakistan as a supporter of Kashmiris, to come out of this quagmire is that AJK including GB should be recognised as the successor State of the former State of Jammu & Kashmir that existed on and before 27th of October 1947. Pakistan should be the first to recognise it and efforts must be made to get it recognised by other countries. The solution, no doubt, is an ideal one. It tests Pakistan’s trust in Kashmiris as well as Pakistan’s commitment as a selfless supporter of Kashmiris. It also tests Pakistan’s standing in the comity of nations to get this done. We have seen recently that the country failed to garner the support of just 16 UN members to move a resolution.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan declared that from the 5th of August he has become Kashmir’s Ambassador. He will go everywhere in the world; he will meet every single statesman of the world; he will expose the unhuman treatment meted out to Kashmiris by the Modi government. He will tell the whole world that Indian forces have been committing atrocities in Kashmir for nearly 40 years. He will speak at every forum and say that protesting youth of Kashmir injured by the pallet guns are now being identified by the Indian forces by the pallet marks, taken out of their homes and led to unknown destinations.
He says that he will tell the whole world, Kashmiri women are worst hit; they need to be protected. Thus, following his resolve, he came up to the expectations of the people of Kashmir when he took up the stage in UNGA on 27th of September. The entire people of Kashmir came out of their homes, breaking the curfew and applauded him in the streets of Srinagar.
These days are dull, dark and dreary for the people of Kashmir. But there is always hope; a ray of hope, a silver lining. “If winter comes, can spring be far behind”.