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Come July: The living legacy of struggle for Kashmir

Iqbal Khan

Month of July has special significance with regard to struggle of Kashmiri people. Two events “Martyrs day” and “Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan day” are commemorated of 13 and 19 July respectively. Martyrs’ Day is observed in Kashmir and the World over in remembrance of 22 Kashmiris killed on 13 July 1931 due to reckless firing by the state forces. On that day Kashmiris were peacefully agitating outside the Central Jail Srinagar, where an innocent Muslim Abdul Qadeer was being tried on the charge of terrorism and inciting public against the Maharaja. They were buried in the compound of Kanqah-i-Maula. The place is since known as Mazar-i-Shuhada (Tomb of Martyrs). So, Indian strategy of mixing up terrorism with legitimate struggle of Kashmiri people predates India’s independence from the British Raj.

And a historic resolution was passed unanimously by the people of the Muslim-dominated state in a meeting of the All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference held at the residence of Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, the founder President of AJK on July 19, 1947 at Aabi Guzer in Srinagar demanding of Maharaja to materialise the accession of the Jammu Kashmir state to Pakistan, honouring the decision and the categorical viewpoint of the majority population of Jammu & Kashmir state.

This day is marked as “Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan day.

Fast Forward 2018:  Kashmir continues to be occupied by India against the will of Kashmiri people. Indian Occupied Kashmir is burning.

Hundreds of Kashmiri men, women and children have been killed over the past two months; more than 150 civilians have been blinded by the use of lethal pellet guns; and more than 10,000 men, women and children have been seriously injured because of the indiscriminate firing by occupying Indian forces.

While Indian claims that pellet guns are non-lethal, the Doctors Association in Kashmir has clearly said that the embedded pellets in the bodies of the victims were causing fatal lead poisoning and put pregnant women at serious risk. Further, the toxic lead deposits in children’ bodies would stunt their growth. Kashmiris in IoK are under siege in their own land.

The use of sexual molestation and rape, as an instrument of state terror, is a norm. Peaceful demonstrations are a crime, political meetings are banned and true representatives of Kashmiri people had been incarcerated. There are prolonged curfews and mobile telephone and internet blackouts in IoK. Indian occupation forces in the occupied territory are hunting down innocent citizens involving draconian black laws. Today, hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris are campaigning against the Indian repression to attain freedom and realization of their right to self-determination.

Now two years after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani, his legacy for struggle for self-determination lives on. Martyrdom of Burhan Wani has infused new vigour in the indigenous freedom struggle of innocent Kashmiris who have been fighting for their right of self-determination for almost seven decades. Burhan Wani’s martyrdom has handed down the baton of freedom struggle to the youth of Kashmir, a fact recognized by a recently released report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The silver lining is that awareness about plight of Kashmiris is picking up momentum. And powerful voices are now worried about HR violations in Kashmir. The latest in joining the ranks of those expressing serious concern over quandary of religious minorities, in India, is the US State Department, which showed its disappointment over refusal of the Indian Government in allowing a delegation of the US Commission on International Freedom to visit the country to have first-hand knowledge of trampling of human and fundamental rights in India. This is for the third time that the delegation has been denied visas and the motives are quite understandable. And only recently, the UN Human Rights Council has documented details of what is happening with Kashmiris, urging the UN General Assembly and Security Council to take up the issue seriously. National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa has confirmed that it will be investigating Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi for his involvement in war crimes and HR violations in Kashmir.

In a recent Conference, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has appealed to the Canadian lawmakers to develop a bipartisan approach for the promotion and protection of human rights of Kashmiris in IoK.

He made this appeal to the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons while addressing a Kashmir Conference at Hamilton, Canada, organized here by the Pakistan Business Association of Hamilton.

Back in 1949, Canada, as President of the Security Council, had played an active role in the resolution of Kashmir dispute by proposing an impartial plebiscite. Plebiscite is not a dated instrument; Canada has recently held a plebiscite in Quebec.

The Kashmir Conference also passed a resolution which unanimously calls on the UN to assume its responsibility to organize the Kashmir plebiscite under its supervision; and urges the UN to investigate all massacres, gang rapes, fake encounters, forced disappearances and wilful blinding of the Kashmiris. The resolution also called upon India to cease forthwith all human rights violations in IOK; and to allow UN/ independent investigations into the human rights situation in IoK; and to withdraw all its troops including armed constabulary from Jammu and Kashmir, particularly from cities, towns and villages.

While the world, especially the western countries know fully well that Indian occupation forces are on a murderous rampage, even then, the majority of the western nations have chosen to be silent. The world must break the cycle of appeasement of India. And India must come back to diplomacy for settling the dispute in line with aspirations of Kashmiri people.

Iqbal.khan9999@yahoo.com

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