It is Kashmir Day when Pakistanis show their solidarity with their Kashmiri brothers and sisters in their struggle for freedom from India’s reign of terror. This year, however, may arguably the worst-ever in terms of oppression as India has used the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to further abuse Kashmiris. While the disputed territory had already been placed under a lockdown on August 5, 2019 to avert a backlash against the revocation of the articles of the Indian constitution that granted special status to the Muslim-majority state, the restrictions continue to this day in the name of containing the spread of the pandemic.
Criticism of New Delhi’s actions in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) has come from all quarters in the last year, including some countries that had previously stayed silent on the issue. India has chosen to respond to this criticism like a wife-beater, repeatedly telling the critics to stop commenting on its “internal issue”. That is nonsense. For one, it is not an internal issue. Kashmir has been a disputed region since the Partition. But even if we were to ignore this lie, internal issues concerning any country are not above critique given the fact that they are part of the comity of nations. The United States did not raise this complaint when world leaders criticised it over the Capitol riot. European countries do not use this excuse when criticised for their handling of illegal migrants. Even Pakistan does not use this excuse when criticised for the actions of radicals.
We all try to fix what was broken. But not India, because the only way to ‘fix’ Kashmir would be for New Delhi to give up its claim on people who don’t want anything to do with the country. If “internal issue” were an acceptable excuse, nobody would ever have intervened over the Rwandan or the Bosnian genocide. Incidentally, several leaders implicated in the mentioned genocides also used the same excuse before being deposed. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself is not new to the excuse either, nor is he new to genocide. He orchestrated one as chief minister of Gujarat in 2002 — something that earned him the “Butcher of Gujarat’ title.
Conditions were already near rock bottom in the disputed Muslim-majority region before Modi hit the national stage, but under his rule, with every passing year, they have somehow gotten worse and worse. Just when it looks like we have hit rock bottom, the sadistic mind of Modi comes up with new ways to inflict misery on the oppressed populace. Even if we leave aside the combat deaths of martyred freedom fighters, dozens of innocent civilians have been murdered in cold blood by the Indian occupation forces. Journalists are being jailed for daring to report on the excesses of the Indian government and military. Under new laws, the government, rather than facts, will decide what is true and what is false, opening the doors for further oppression of the fourth estate, and with it, the people of Kashmir.
Everyone wants the Kashmir issue resolved, but we have reached a point where world powers must intervene and force India to the dialogue table before we finally reach rock bottom.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2021.