SIA to terrorise Kashmiris

SIA may well conduct itself in manners that violate human rights


November 06, 2021

Pakistan’s Foreign Office had some scathing comments on New Delhi’s plans to create a new ‘security agency’ in Occupied Kashmir. The FO spokesman noted that the new State Investigation Agency (SIA) — which is mandated to investigate terrorism-related cases — could end up becoming another repressive tool to terrorise innocent Kashmiris.

On paper, the SIA is only supposed to coordinate with the National Investigation Agency and others to take “measures as may be necessary [for] speedy and effective investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related cases”. However, the fact that India already had specialised bodies to investigate major crimes, including terrorism, provides strong justification for the FO’s concerns. This SIA will likely not be subject to the same oversight as other agencies and may well conduct itself in manners that violate human rights.

The FO spokesman also noted that India’s much-touted investments in development projects in the disputed region are just an attempt by New Delhi to divert attention from the human rights violations and war crimes committed in the occupied region. In October alone, Indian security forces reportedly martyred at least 22 Kashmiris. And the violence is not just limited to the disputed territory. There was also a spike in violence against Kashmiris across India after the national team received a drubbing in a T20 World Cup match a few weeks back.

There has also been a new wave of violence against Muslims and even the Urdu language across India, actively stoked by PM Modi’s allies in New Delhi and at the state level. The ‘controversy’ over Urdu may well sum up the repressive environment in today’s India. The language — which was born in Delhi and is, by some measures, the mother tongue of more Indians than Pakistanis while also being spoken by a significant number of non-Muslim Indians — is being called anti-Hindu and anti-national by leaders of the BJP and other right-wing groups. We wonder when they will condemn the Indian Army — which uses Iqbal’s Urdu poem ‘Sare Jahan se Acha’ as a marching song.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2021.

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