August 5: The Black Day when Indian illegally annexed Kashmir

Dr Jumma Marri

August 5 is a day of infamy for the BJP government of Indian PM Narendra Modi. On this day in 2019, Modi took an action which no previous Indian governments headed by Nehru, Vajpayee and others had done. On this day in a naked and shameless display of aggressive Hindu nationalism branded as Hindutva the Modi administration abrogated Article 370 of the Indian constitution which guaranteed a special status to the disputed valley within the Indian union.

This step was illegal, immoral and fascist in nature and against the UN resolutions on Kashmir. It was a gross violation of the solemn commitment given by India at the time of partition that the normal laws of the country would not apply to the valley and a plebiscite will be held to ascertain the will of the people. The government reneged on a signed and sealed promise to Jammu and Kashmir.

By abolishing Article 370, ultra nationalist Modi by a stroke of pen deprived the people of Kashmir of the autonomy they enjoyed in managing their provincial affairs. He took away the right of 8 million people to have a say in deciding their future. The annulment of the Article erased the autonomous status of Indian held Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and bifurcated the Muslim-majority state into two union territories with Buddhist-majority Ladakh getting detached from J&K.

The Indian decision of revoking Article 370 came after days of uncertainty and massive military build-up in the disputed territory. Coupled with massive military build-up, a crackdown was imposed in the state by virtually cutting it off from the rest of the world both physically and virtually.

Following India’s imposition of direct central rule and army crackdown in the Valley, the major constraints faced by people have been as follows: cutting phone lines and the Internet; detaining top political leaders; mass imprisonment; and imposition of an indefinite curfew. A day prior to abrogation of Article 370, internet shutdown occurred across the valley. It was the 51 st  internet shutdown of the year in the region.

During the last three years, Kashmir valley continues to face both internet and phone communication blockade. The United Nations Human Rights Council has termed the communication clampdown as a form of collective punishment not permissible under international law.

Internet access disruption constitutes a human rights violation according to a non-binding resolution passed by United Nations Human Rights Council in July 2016. internet access disruption does not allow people to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, which is recognized as a fundamental human right (Article 19) by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

India was among the signatories when UDHR was put to vote in 1948. Failing to abide by the Declaration, which does not have its own legally binding obligations, is a source of moral and political failure for any country.

Since the illegal annexation of the valley on August 5, 2019, India has let loose a reign of terror in Kashmir. More than 500 Kashmiri youth have been martyred and tens of thousands arrested and put in jail without trial. Indian authorities have detained hundreds of political leaders and activists, including former Indian-administrated J&K Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti andJ&K Pradesh Congress Committee Chief Ravinder Sharma.

According to reports in the world media, more than 4000 Kashmiris were detained including political leaders, elected representatives, lawyers, activists, businessmen and students in days leading to August 5 and afterwards.

Majority of the detainees are held under a controversial J&K Public Safety Act, which allows authorities to book a person without a charge or trial for up to two years. Article 9 of both UDHR and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) does not allow arbitrary detention. The ICCPR, which was signed in December 1966 and entered into force in March 1976, was ratified by India in April 1979.

Three years after the abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir is still under siege. Curfews continue to be declared across the valley. Kashmir occupied by over 700,000 Indian troops is now the most militarized region in the world.

International media has been banned from covering events in Kashmir while Amnesty International which has highlighted the abuse of human rights in the valley has been asked to leave India. It is an endless tale of blood, shootings and killings in Kashmir. The BJP government has adopted Nazi-like tactics to crush the spirit of freedom of Kashmiri people.

The people of Kashmir are seething with anger and hate against the transgressions of Modi government. They are determined to overthrow the Indian yoke whatever the cost. August 5 comes to further steel their determination to carry on their struggle for the right of self-determination till final victory.