WHILE this country has for decades been telling the world about Indian atrocities in held Kashmir, Pakistan’s narrative is now being confirmed by numerous independent observers. A new report released recently, compiled by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, offers a sobering reminder of the brutal tactics the self-declared ‘world’s largest democracy’ is applying in the held territory. The report says that accountability of Indian troops in the region is “non-existent”, pointing out that no security personnel in the held region accused of torture and other abuses have been prosecuted in civilian courts “since ... the early 1990s”. The report has also slammed Delhi’s abhorrent use of pellet guns, offering the gruesome statistic that over 1,200 people have been blinded by these weapons “from mid-2016 to the end of 2018”. While India keeps trying to falsely paint the Kashmiri struggle for rights and self-determination in the colours of terrorism, it will be difficult for it to dismiss the serious evidence of human rights abuses highlighted by a forum as august as the UN. Last month, Amnesty International had also launched a report about rights abuses in the held territory.
While the Indian military machine’s brutality in held Kashmir stands exposed before the world, the key question is: will the right-wing government in Delhi change tack and try to deal with this political issue with sagacity? Or will it continue on the destructive path it has adopted? Unfortunately, it appears that the BJP-led combine will opt for the latter course. Just on Monday — the death anniversary of young fighter Burhan Wani — India-held Kashmir was under virtual lockdown, indicating that Delhi was extremely jittery that the occupied region’s people would take to the streets to mark the event. It is a fact that, due to India’s clumsy handling of the issue, more and more Kashmiris are losing faith in the political process and choosing to opt for armed struggle to secure their rights. This is, of course, the consequence of India’s own deeds — as when it locks up moderate Kashmiri political leaders and treats the region like a colony, the citizens of held Kashmir will only rise up in revolt. There is still time to salvage the situation if India chooses to do so, by opening a meaningful dialogue with the Kashmiris and Pakistan to resolve this issue peacefully. But is anyone in Delhi willing to adopt the path of reason?
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2019