by Taimur Khan
Apart from being known as the “longest pending dispute” on the United Nations (UN) agenda, the state of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJK) is also known as ‘heaven on earth’ because of its majestic landscape. But it would not be wrong to call IOJK as the “land of martyrs” as well.
Ever since the time of the Hindu Dogra Raj (Dogra rule), the people of Jammu & Kashmir have been subjected to the most brutal oppression and tyranny by different rulers for raising voice for their rights and freedom. Hundreds and thousands of innocent Kashmiris have paid the ultimate sacrifice for preserving their ‘Kashmiriyat’.
On July 13, 2020, the world will commemorate 89th Kashmir Martyrs Day (KMD) in remembrance of all the Kashmiris who laid down their lives fighting against injustice, oppression, and illegal occupation.
July 13th has been celebrated as Kashmir Martyrs Day ever since 1931 when the people of Kashmir began to revolt against the Dogra Rule and came out in protest against the illegitimate arrest and torture of Abdul Qadeer Khan Ghazi, a sympathizer and an activist of the Kashmir struggle.
As an attempt to quell the uprising, the Dogra state forces in a disproportionate and exaggerated response, killed twenty-two innocent Kashmiri protestors in front of Central Jail Srinagar. This was the beginning of the modern day Kashmir struggle that has been through several phases to date.
After the partition of the Indian sub-continent, Kashmir’s tale of sacrifice did not end there. In fact, it took a turn for the worst with the Indian illegal occupation of the Muslim majority state of IOJK right after the partition in 1947. Since then, the Indian occupying forces (IOF) have unleashed a brutal and barbaric reign of tyranny and oppression against the innocent people of IOJK.
From extra-judicial killings and kidnappings to conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), the Indian state have tried every tool & trick at its disposal to destroy the will of the Kashmiri people and their struggle for the right to self-determination. But it has been more than seventy years and the Kashmiri intifada rages on.
As the intensity of the Kashmir struggle increased with each passing year, so did the tyranny of the Indian state. Forced abductions, illegal search and cordon operations, torture and rape were some of the tools initially used by the IOF in IOJK to instil fear among the Kashmiri population.
Finding such brutal tactics inadequate to silence Kashmiris, the IOF introduced new methods to brutalise innocent Kashmiris such as tear gas and pellet guns. These "non-lethal” weapons have been used for lethal purposes in IOJK by the IOF.
The use of pellet guns have not only been responsible for partial and/or complete blindness of its intended targets but in many cases have resulted in the deaths due to serious injuries caused by such weapons as well.
Furthermore, the Indian state has now embarked on a new path of political, economic and social oppression against the people of IOJK. The Indian state, especially under the far-right Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have initiated the demographic change in the IOJK by abrogating Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land and settle in IOJK.
The purpose of this move is to turn the majority of the Muslim population into a minority to pave way for a plebiscite which will be in favour of India and crush the legitimate struggle of the people of Kashmir for self-determination.
Moreover, since August 05, 2019, IOJK has been under a complete lockdown. It is almost a year that the people of IOJK have no communication with the outside world whatsoever. There is a complete media blackout and no internet in the state. Local economy has been reduced to nothing, leaving the people of IOJK with no means to earn a living.
Matters have gotten worse since the spread of novel Corona virus (COVID19) globally. Under the garb of lockdown due to COVID19, the IOF are carrying out blatant human rights violations in IOJK. People of IOJK are sitting ducks for the IOF who have mercilessly killed scores of Kashmiri youth in fake encounters since August 05, 2019.
Indian oppression in IOJK over the last seven decades have now given rise to a new breed of militants such as Burhan Wani and Riyaz Naikoo. Both of whom were martyred by the IOF.
For the Indian state, Burhan, Riyaz and their comrades are nothing more than terrorists but for the people of Kashmir, they are heroes. In the words of great Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Geelani:
"their life, liberation struggle and martyrdom has become the beacon of courage and inspiration. Our Mujahideen (Holy Warriors) are heroes and shining example of our struggle…”.
Incidents that took place in IOJK (post-martyrdom of Burhan and Riyaz respectively) are a testament to the failure of the Indian state in subjugating the will of the Kashmiri people and a success of the Kashmiris’ struggle for self-determination.
Today, almost a million of IOF are deployed in IOJK. As per Indian claims, only a few hundred of militants are left in IOJK. If this is true, then what is the logic behind such a large deployment of forces in the region? The soldier to civilian ratio is 9:1 in IOJK. What is the Indian state afraid of that it needs such a large force, armed to the teeth to control a small population of IOJK?
Atrocities of the Indian state in IOJK have been reported by local and international journalists and observers alike. Organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called out India over its human rights violations repeatedly. International organisations such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the UN have also raised their concerns about Indian brutalities in IOJK.
The ascent of BJP to power in India and the surge of Hindutva ideology in the country have reduced the breathing space for Kashmiris to nothing. The people of IOJK are left with no choice but to fight back in order to protect their lives, dignity, honour and ‘Kashmiriyat’ in the face of Indian oppression.
To make matters worse, the international community is also maintaining a deafening silence over the situation in IOJK where recently an innocent bystander, late Bashir Ahmad Khan of Sopore was shot dead in front of his three-year-old grandson in cold blood. The incident was reported extensively in media outlets around the world but no substantive action was taken to hold India accountable.
The world needs to realize that the Kashmir dispute is no longer a political and a legal matter rather it is a humanitarian crisis now. The IOF are committing war-crimes in IOJK. The silence of the international community in the face of Indian atrocities in IOJK is criminal.
The struggle of the people of IOJK against the illegal occupation and oppression by the Indian state will continue until the dispute is resolved according to the wishes of the people of Kashmir.
Just like every year, a complete strike will be observed throughout IOJK on July 8 and 13. Prayer meetings will be held Mazar-i-Shuhada (Martyrs Shrine) along with observance of "Day with Martyr’s Family” in localities all across IOJK.
Kashmiris have not and will not submit to Indian oppression and subjugation and they will continued to resist India till the dawn of freedom. There will always be more to follow in the footsteps of Burhan Wani and Riyaz Naikoo who will continue to fight and never let the Indian state remain in peace.