DISTURBING reports of torture and extrajudicial killings continue to come out of India-held Kashmir — indeed, the people’s miseries have only been compounded in the disputed region especially since New Delhi usurped India-held Kashmir’s autonomous status over two years ago. The Foreign Office has in fact recently issued a strongly worded statement to highlight the trampling of rights in occupied Kashmir. The latest controversy surrounds the reported extrajudicial murders of a number of Kashmiris in the Kulgam area. Cruelty knows no bounds, and after the men were gunned down their bodies were not returned to their families.
There are also disturbing claims that Indian forces used the men as human shields. The FO has condemned the usurpation of the “fundamental rights of Kashmiri families”, while calling on the international community “to take immediate notice of the Indian state-terrorism in IIOJK”. While many in India would choose to brush aside all inconvenient evidence, the fact is that even the administration of IHK has taken notice of these murders. After the families of the slain men held protests, Indian officials have said an investigation into the killings would be launched and that there would be “no injustice”. Sadly, the Kashmiris have been facing nothing but injustice for the past several decades at the hands of New Delhi and its security forces.
The latest spree of killings does not seem to be an isolated incident; at least 30 Kashmiris have been murdered by Indian forces since Oct 1 in so-called search operations. It is easy for India to label all resistance to its brutal rule as militancy and to kill Kashmiris in the name of security. However, people of conscience everywhere should not stand for this blatant abuse of rights and India must be made to answer for these killings. Will New Delhi punish those in the security forces responsible for these extrajudicial killings and send a stern message that Kashmiri lives are valuable, and further butchery will not be tolerated? It is an unlikely route that India has not taken before. Equally, it is doubtful whether India’s security forces would have resorted to such abhorrent tactics without a green signal from the top. Meanwhile, the excuse of not returning the bodies due to Covid restrictions does not work, and families should not be denied the chance to give their loved ones a respectful burial. Ultimately, New Delhi needs to change its inhuman policy in held Kashmir.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2021