TENS of thousands of citizens attended public gatherings large and small across the country in answer to the government’s call to demonstrate solidarity with Kashmiris on Friday — day 26 of India’s brutal clampdown of the occupied region. Where Kashmiris have been denied the right to be heard, Pakistanis collectively lent their voices, in scenes resonant with the support and sympathy they have for Kashmiris and their struggle for self-determination.
Indeed, Pakistan has long been telling the world about India’s blatant human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir. But now, despite the fact that Delhi may believe it can continue its odious campaign in the held region with impunity, many independent international voices too are finally noticing that the ‘world’s largest democracy’ is unleashing torture and death on the Kashmiri people.
As per a BBC report, Delhi’s military enforcers in the held region have undertaken a campaign of violence and intimidation, using extrajudicial methods to torture and maim Kashmiris suspected of having sympathies for freedom fighters. One victim who spoke to the British media outlet said he implored his tormentors: “Don’t beat us, just shoot us.”
The accounts of Kashmiri villagers as documented by the BBC are truly horrifying; they reveal a sordid campaign of beatings, night raids and electric shocks. There are graphic pictures of victims beaten black and blue, while one Kashmiri youth said the Indians threatened to frame him if he didn’t become an informant. The Indian military has, predictably, dismissed the report as “baseless”. However, it is also a fact that officials and doctors refused to speak to the media, indicating the wave of fear that has gripped the held region.
The BBC report is important for many reasons; primarily, it shines a light into a region that has been under Delhi’s lockdown for nearly a month. With such little information coming out of held Kashmir, reports such as these play a key role in exposing India’s charade that ‘all is well’ in the occupied region.
The fact is that IHK has been turned into a giant concentration camp for its inhabitants, as Modi and company seek to subdue the region in classic colonial fashion.
If India claims that the situation is normal in Kashmir, then it should open the held region to international observers to assess matters for themselves. But obviously this will not be done, as the RSS fanatics ruling Delhi have something — in fact plenty — to hide in IHK from the world.
Now, it is incumbent upon the UN, as well as the flag-bearers of democracy and human rights, to ask India to explain itself.
Can a state that claims to respect fundamental rights be allowed to get away with such brutality in this day and age? The Kashmiris who have been tortured and maimed by Delhi’s armed goons will certainly want to know.
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2019