Indian Bloodlust in Kashmir
By Sidra Insar Chaudhary
Sidra Insar Chaudhary
This week the photo of a three-year-old child sitting on the lifeless body of his grandfather in Sopore town of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) swept the subcontinent like a storm. The child was whimpering uncontrollably, and his clothes were soaked in his grandfather’s blood. Since then, a video of the family of the 65-year-old victim identified as Bashir Ahmad has also gone viral. In this video, the family can be seen calling the incident a staged scene by Indian security forces “for taking pictures.” The family said that Bashir Ahmad was dragged out of his car by Indian forces and ruthlessly shot at point-blank range. Local Kashmiri press, which sighted no bullet marks on the victim’s car, also backed the family’s claim over the Indian version of the incident. Nazir Ahmad, brother of the murdered Bashir Ahmad, has also said that he is ready to debate top police officers in IOJ&K to counter their claims.
This method of subverting human rights has been the same for many years now, but after the annexation of Jammu and Kashmir in August last year, Indian viciousness has been baffling. But even so, killing a grandfather and then using his three-year-old grandchild for propaganda cuts across even the most horrid and archaic practices of human barbarity.
Kashmiri children, who are being robbed of their innocence by the Indian forces, are the absolute tragedy of our times. The current generation of children in Kashmir has seen nothing but conflict. During the last decade, massive protests and confrontations with security forces have become the pattern of everyday life in IOJ&K. By now, most of the young kids in Kashmir have seen their friends killed or taken to jail by the authorities. According to Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a rights watchdog in IOJ&K, from 2008 to 2018, Indian forces have killed 1081 civilians extrajudicially and among these 318 were children. This indicates that children are being targeted systematically as part of state violence. These oppressive methods are employed to inject fear among the public to bar them from joining the movement for their freedom.
For over eleven months now, 1.5 million Kashmiri children remain out of school as essentially every private and public school in the region remains closed. Kashmiri children are being stripped of their right to education. Instead, kids have to handle trauma, depression and demoralization. There is also an acute shortage of food in the valley and it is affecting children seriously as they need appropriate nourishment for their developing bodies.
The Indian security forces have also been using pellet guns in the occupied territory to repress demonstrations and protests. Children and young people are also the most afflicted by pellet gun wounds. Over 1000 Kashmiri children have suffered eye injuries from pellet guns. The world also took notice of this when, in late 2018, a 19-month-old child Heba Jan had acute eye injuries after being shot by a fire from a pellet gun. Numerous human rights organizations have since been calling for a ban on these guns in Occupied Kashmir, but so far, India has ignored their demand.
For many years now, instead of focusing on the root cause of the trouble, India has been using terrorism as a cover to persecute the Kashmiri people. Where does the struggle against Indian authority emerge from in IOJ&K? The answer is straightforward, Kashmiris have been calling for their legitimate right to self-determination for seven decades now. All these years, India has declined to go with the UN’s suggested solution of holding a plebiscite in the occupied region. Experts acknowledge that when people are denied their right of self-determination, turning toward defiance and seeking freedom by force is the rational and commonly respected practice. Even the UN recognizes Kashmiri freedom struggle as natural and declines to label it as terrorism.
There is one soldier for every nine citizens in Indian occupied Kashmir. In comparison, there is only one doctor for every 4000 and one ventilator for every 71000 people. The valley has been under curfew for over eleven months now. The region has been characterized as the world’s biggest militarized jail. All of this is only to fight 200 active militants (Indian government official count) is bewildering. In truth, the sham excuse of containing terrorism is a front for massive human rights abuses like extrajudicial killings, torture, collective punishment, illegal arrests and detentions, and sexual assaults. Many human rights organizations have detailed these violations despite Indian attempts to suppress the reports.
Last year, when India unilaterally annexed the special constitutional provisions for Jammu and Kashmir, the action was declared as a “final solution” by the Hindu nationalist BJP government and the Indian media. However, scholars and experts cautioned that the action will only escalate the conflict towards a more violent phase as Kashmiri youth’s sense of alienation will increase. Human rights watchdogs reminded about the risk of genocide in Kashmir and stated that the Hindu nationalist path of India will seriously impair the communal setting of secular India. After eleven months of curfew and arrests of twenty thousand Kashmiris; experts have been proven correct and India’s efforts of standardizing demographic flooding and settler colonialism have been unsuccessful. Kashmiris have strongly rejected harsh Indian measures and reports of growing demonstrations in the occupied region points to escalating conflict.
The world has thus far tacitly accepted the Indian story of Kashmir brutality. As a result, now emboldened Indian regime is using kids, as young as three years old, for their propaganda after dragging people out of their cars and killing them savagely in broad daylight. Eleven months of curfew and market shutdown has left the economy of the occupied valley unrecognizable; the region has also been without the internet. Indian oppressive measures have affected the young Kashmiri generation the most. Therefore, as time goes by, the number of Kashmiri striving for their right to self-determination will increase, which will intensify the Kashmir conflict. Indeed, for the global powers, the time to act is now, blindness to Indian bloodlust in Kashmir will only make the situation worse.