Kashmir has been a centre of dispute since 1947 after India and Pakistan sought independence. Mahraja Hari Singh who was the ruler of Kashmir was unable to a make a swift decision on whether to join India or Pakistan .He was Hindu whilst the majority of the Kashmiri population were Muslims. He remained neutral till Pakistan sent tribesmen to Srinagar the capital of Kashmir. Out of fear he asked India for military assistance and decided to relocate himself to India.
He signed the Instrument of Accession, ceding Kashmir to India on October 26 1947. The matter was taken to the United Nations as both countries failed to come to any form of agreement. A resolution was passed on the 18th August 1948 by the United Nations asking Pakistan to remove its troops after which India would remove theirs allowing the people of Kashmir to have a ‘free and fair’ plebiscite allowing them to choose their own future. This never occurred resulting in years of bloodshed and occupation by both states.
The Occupation has led to young men like Burhan Wani to make extreme choices and join the path of militancy. He was killed in the Indian Occupied Part of Kashmir on the 8th of July 2016 after which an uprising has occurred resulting in at least 100 people being killed and thousands being injured.
Burhan like many other Kashmiris had become disillusioned with the occupation. Limited jobs, a lack of medical facilities and the lack of implementation of basic human rights have pushed a frustrated generation on to a path of resistance and destruction.
The lack of attention to Human Rights in the Jammu and Kashmir region has become apparent in the recent wave of violence. Pellet Guns which are loaded with lead pellets have been used on protestors in the recent uprising ,this has had life changing consequences for some. Pellet guns have generally been used for hunting as it multiplies into many fragments before penetrating the tissue causing severe injuries. Some of the victims documented have been as young four years old. The theme tends to be to shoot these pellets into the eyes which inevitably leads to blindness.
The Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Jammu and Kashmir, which was implemented 25 years ago, has allowed for human rights violations to be a common occurrence within the state. Section 7 of the Armed Forces Special Act (AFSPA) 1990 prevents and protects security forces from being held accountable for their actions, which is a clear violation of Indians Fundamental Rights charter which is embedded in their constitution.
In the last two decades not one personnel has been held accountable for the various violations that have been reported. From 1990 to 2011 approximately 43,000 people have been killed including women and children. There have been no trials, no investigations and no closure for families who have suffered in silence for decades.
Many would argue that those who have been injured are insurgents or terrorists and that this was merely a method of India protecting themselves. The statistics and reports have proven otherwise. Disproportionate force and the lack of accountability are the key reasons for increasing tension in Jammu & Kashmir and not terrorism.
The dispute in Kashmir would not exist if people were given a choice to implement their democratic rights by the largest democracy in the world.
“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.” (Howard Zinn)
KEYWORDS: Kashmir, India, Muslim, democracy, human rights.