The Roar of the Lambs
Every year, the month of August makes us remember how India and Pakistan - two nuclear armed countries of South Asia - came into existence at the stroke of midnight in 1947. Kashmir was a princely state during British Raj in India and like many other princely states, it was given a choice to remain independent or accede to India or Pakistan. However, against the wishes of Kashmiri Muslims, India occupied the major parts of Kashmir through an armed invasion. As a result, the first of many armed conflicts between India and Pakistan over the region followed and the sovereignty of Kashmir remained disputed ever since. Currently, it is divided among three countries: India, Pakistan and China. India controls the largest portion, which until now has been known as Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state, while Pakistan has jurisdiction over two areas called Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). China controls a territory called Aksai Chin to the east, although India has long claimed this area as well. The year 2019 was particularly significant as India changed the Constitutional status of J&K by revoking Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which granted special status to J&K. It also bifurcated J&K into two Union Territories - J&K and Ladakh - which violated territorial sovereignty and provoked India’s recent territorial dispute with China in Galawan Valley.
Since 73 years, several wars have broken out between India and Pakistan and the Indian atrocities in J&K have become a common occurrence of daily life.
In J&K, the Indian government had deployed the Indian troops which were 150,000 in 1990 and have shot up to almost 900,000 in recent times. Though, the Indian atrocities in J&K are occurring since 1989, the atrocities began to be formally reported in 1990. In 2016, in the aftermath of the killing of a freedom fighter Burhan Wani, the civilian protests against state violence demanding the right of self-determination were met by excessive force by security forces, resulting in numerous atrocities. The people of J&K are suffering from extreme inhumane treatment by the Indian Armed forces that are deliberately violating the fundamental human rights and norms. There have been innumerable incidents of daily raids on houses, firing on innocent bystanders, illegal arrests, extra-judicial killings, torture, raids and burning of houses, use of pellet guns, assaults on peaceful demonstrations, indiscriminate arrests and sexual harassment of woman.
Since August 5 last year, the Indian government has flooded the valley with troops and everyday life has been paralyzed leaving Kashmiris furious. A protracted history of human rights violations, lack of prosecution of perpetrators, a generalized community feeling of occupation and impunity has already been widely documented in the context of the Kashmir Valley both in the media and the literature. The human rights organizations have called Kashmir one of the “world’s most militarized zones”, while Amnesty International has condemned the Indian government’s practice of using a sweeping public safety law to detain people there without trial. A preoccupation with injustice is a negative association with poor mental health outcomes. Consequently, the potential impact of preoccupation with injustice on mental health outcomes in J&K should not be underestimated and is worthy of further exploration. This mesmerizing abode which people visit to find inner peace has become a place of political violence and insecurity for Kashmiris themselves. This crisis will be enduring, continuing long after the COVID lockdown is lifted. The sufferings of the Kashmiris make me remember “Blood stained snow”, one of the wonderful poems by Maharaj Santosh. He writes:
‘I fill my eyes
With the sorrow of
Of the Chinar
Of the Lake
And weep for hours
On the blood stained snow.’
On the contrary, the independence and human rights narrative of Kashmiris is growing stronger as evident from the activities of Kashmiris diaspora around the globe. They believe that whole of the J&K remains disputed until the right of self-determination is exercised. The Indian government did not expect the massive indigenous resistance in valley, however Kashmiris rose and rejected the forced occupation of their land by Indian laws. It is carved in stone that until the Kashmiris do not accept, nothing is going to be decided about J&K. Though Kashmiris have nothing to fight violence with but resilience. This resistance is growing day by day because of oppression and brutalization of Kashmiris. It is almost impossible for Indian government to break the will of the Kashmiri people and suppress their indigenous resistance movement through the use of force. This is high time for international intervention to help the crisis from escalating into war between India and Pakistan. The shameless silence of the world over Kashmir Dispute is extremely disturbing. When all the world is still, the fearless and mighty roar by Kashmiris will awaken the world in the midst of human rights violation in J&K. BJP government needs to realize that the Kashmir Valley may be conquered by love, but not by the black laws and force of 900,000 soldiers.