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Monday, 9 April 2018

An open letter to the People of India on the killing fields of Jammu Kashmir:


An open letter to the People of India on the killing fields of Jammu Kashmir:
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Are you aware that in your name the Indian army has killed 100,000 people in Jammu Kashmir since 1988?
Are you aware that 7000,000 Indian troops are considered as an occupation force by Kashmiris?
Are you aware that Kashmir is not a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan?
Are you aware that over one dozen UN resolutions exist on the Kashmir issue?
Are you aware that Kashmiris have not consented to be ruled by India or by any other country?
As Kashmiris we only wish to exercise the right to decide our political destiny with a peaceful and dignified existence as free people. We hope that for peace, justice and democracy you as free people of India, will support our fundamental right to be free in our own country.
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The Shupian massacre:
9 April 2018

Your country has deployed hundreds of thousands of military and para military forces in Jammu Kashmir, who kill and maim civilians indiscriminately in militarised violence. The killing spree by the Indian forces in Shupian with 19 killed and over 200 injured, including in Anantnag, Tral, and Kangan, and in other parts of especially the valley of Kashmir, is not an exception. Those killed in such encounters are labelled as militants or Pakistanis by your military to justify death and destruction perpetrated against civilians every day.

Within this background, one wonders how Prime Minister Modi would justify deaths in Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir, to 53 other leaders whom he will meet at the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting-CHOGM- in a week’s time in London. And how would Mr Modi justify, if he is asked, about the conduct of his country’s army which arrests, tortures and kills civilians. And how would he justify the behaviour of his military and paramilitary forces, whose soldiers callously and vindictively torture, and cripple civilians mercilessly? And how would he justify that the ‘incredible’ largest democracy in the world uses its favourite democratic practices of imprisoning the entire population in the homes, and imposes curfews for weeks on end, to deny democratic rights of free speech and assembly? And when the people come out on the streets against militarised oppression, and engage in peaceful protest your army resorts to the use of its preferred weapon for crowd control, the pellet guns, to blind civilians in their thousands. How would Mr Modi justify, depriving the entire Kashmiri society by shutting down schools, colleges, universities, and other facilities and amenities like mobile phones and the internet, which the rest of contemporary world takes for granted? And above all how would he hide the heinous crimes perpetrated by the army of the ‘incredible’ largest democracy in the world on the social media- loaded up in many cases- by Indian soldiers who commit such acts of depravity to assert and boast about bravery of the Indian army, over the helpless people of Jammu Kashmir.
Inevitably as patriotic Indians, you would wonder why the Indian army would and should resort to such unethical conduct that belittles the reputation of a professional military. These acts of violence against Kashmiris are committed by the Indian army to instil fear and a sense of helplessness in the minds of the inhabitants, who wish only to determine their political status as free people. The militarised violence is perpetrated to send a clear message to the people in Jammu Kashmir that they are not the arbiters of their destiny. Under the pretext of militancy, your government, and the military forces are busy in silencing the voice of the people, and their cry for freedom. Your country’s forces that number over seven lakh (seven hundred thousands) in total, have wreaked havoc and devastation in the lives of millions of civilians over the past 30 years. During this period, in your name the Indian military, has killed as many as a hundred thousand civilians, and the count is rising with the latest indiscriminate killings in Shupian. Your military forces have got into the habit of even shooting directly with bullets and pellets at funeral prayers which are offered for those killed by the Indian army during peaceful protests.

How ironic therefore, that an Indian court awards a sentence of five years to a famous film star for shooting a blackbuck, while your country’s soldiers are awarded with promotions and bonuses for killing women and children, and using civilians as human shields in Jammu Kashmir. Under the cover of laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act- AFSPA- and Public Safety Act-PSA-, your army acts with impunity in Kashmir. Rape of Kashmiri women is used as a weapon. Youth of Kashmir is particularly a favourite target of your forces. Many are deliberately targeted during peaceful political demonstrations with the aim to kill. Those arrested are never seen again by their loved ones. There are over seven thousand unmarked graves all over Jammu Kashmir, and particularly in the valley of Kashmir. Up to eight thousand people are missing. Your government, and the army have a lot of explaining to do, in terms of the Indian state’s conduct in what can only be described, as war crimes against the people in Jammu Kashmir. Your government knows full well that Jammu Kashmir is not a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan- it is an issue that is about the right of 20 million people to freedom, and self-determination across both sides of the ceasefire line. Our simple question as Kashmiris to the people of India is- for how long can the world be hood-winked by your government in believing that in Jammu Kashmir India is fighting ‘terrorism’ or Pakistan? The truth and reality in Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir is that an entire nation is being held hostage against its will in subjugation with a massive military presence by your country. Jammu Kashmir is the most militarised region in the world. And your army has unleashed a militarised reign of terror in the territory. Your government refuses even to allow the UN to investigate human rights excesses, and violations committed against civilian population by the regular military and a plethora of para military forces. 

As patriotic citizens of India you may choose not to accept the militarised oppression being committed in your name by the Indian state in Jammu Kashmir. However, the reality is that your government has given a licence to the Indian army to kill, pillage, and perpetrate acts of violence and destruction with impunity. As already pointed out Indian forces use Kashmiris as human shields, which is an incontrovertible reality. Your military operates under the umbrella of draconian laws that give it complete immunity since under these laws a culture of impunity has become prevalent in Jammu Kashmir, which gives rise to a massive violation of fundamental human, civil and political rights of millions of ordinary Kashmiris. If what we say is not true about the conduct of Indian forces in Jammu Kashmir, then why wouldn't Indian government accede to the UN’s requests for an independent scrutiny of the situation?
Your government has refused to allow the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights-UNHCHR- to visit Jammu Kashmir, despite repeated requests by the world body. What is Indian government scared of? Is your country’s government hiding its ugly militarised violence, in India’s undeclared war against the people of Jammu Kashmir? Perhaps the government of India, and the Indian army consider their actions in Kashmir above domestic and international law? We would expect of you that as patriotic citizens of India, you would consider it your national duty to pose these questions to Mr Modi, on the conduct of your army in the killing fields of Jammu Kashmir, as he contemplates engaging with fellow Commonwealth leaders in London at the 25th CHOGM in a week’s time. It is quite likely that fellow participants of the CHOGM may well choose to do so on the suffering of civilians that prevails in Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir.

It could be however, that in the face of India’s aggressive diplomacy within the United Nations, and the international system of inter- state relations, and like the people of India the international community is wrong sighted about the full extent, to which the helpless and forsaken inhabitants of Jammu Kashmir, are being oppressed by your country’s military forces? And therefore, like you the good people of India, the international community also finds it expedient to hide behind the all too familiar and obvious pretext, that Jammu Kashmir is a ‘bilateral dispute' between India and Pakistan? Thus as within the people of India the international public opinion is also not fully aware about the plight of Kashmiri masses. This no doubt creates a diplomatic escape route for India when it kills dozens of civilians and claims that they were militants or as the BBC reported, suspected militants, in the case of the   massacre in Shupian on April 2, and indeed countless other massacres and excesses that have taken place throughout Indian held Jammu Kashmir over the past thirty years.

For example it would be absolutely unlikely that disappearance of over eight thousand men, mostly picked up from their homes, and never seen or heard since their arrests, would be forgotten by their families and their nation. And what explanations would Prime Minister Modi give at the CHOGM in London if he is taken to task, and asked about the thousands of unmarked graves, and the eight thousand disappeared in Jammu Kashmir? Or would he continue to prevaricate, and escape with the customary intransigence, and double-speak over the conduct of the Indian military against the civilian population? We must remind you in all sincerity that sooner rather than later, the truth will come into the open. And when it does, your pride and reputation as Indians will surely be hurt, and suffer in the comity of nations; especially when responsibility of heinous crimes perpetrated against the civilian population , will squarely be levelled against India.

Presently Indian held Jammu Kashmir is not open to international media. And the Indian media, despite its claims, is totally biased against the genuine peaceful dissent of the masses. Like the Indian army and the government, Indian media too, considers the struggle of the people in Jammu Kashmir as Pakistani inspired, and not indigenous. This is a complete distortion of the reality of our peaceful struggle to be a free people.  Furthermore how India’s huge military presence impacts on the lives of millions of people, is the most closely guarded secret in the world today. India is silencing a genuine political dissent of the people in Jammu Kashmir; and has been for decades! India has reneged on all the international commitments it made on the issue of Jammu Kashmir’s future status at the UN. And yet India demands a permanent seat as member of the UNSC, when in reality India does not even subscribe to the UN system of arbitration, and search for solutions over international disputes. If it did the issue of Jammu Kashmir’s future status would have been resolved by now; especially since there are more than a dozen UN resolutions specifically on the issue of Jammu Kashmir’s future status. Therefore, it is an absolute travesty of truth and justice that in your name successive Indian governments call Jammu Kashmir as an ‘integral’ part of India. We must strongly reiterate that we do not consider Jammu Kashmir to be part of either India or Pakistan.

Your country also does not recognise the UN Charter in its entirety. Therefore, while Mr Modi’s claim for a permanent seat on the UNSC may be based on India’s size and economic power, the international community however may not be persuaded to look the other way anymore, and continue to be misled about the true nature of the Kashmir dispute. The most important and central party in this dispute is the Kashmiri nation, comprising of twenty million people across both sides of the cease-fire line, that forcibly divides them between India and Pakistan.
India claims to be the so called biggest democracy in the world, whether this claim is true, only you the Indian people, are the best judges to substantiate. But this is most definitely not the case as far as Jammu Kashmir and millions of its people, under your country’s occupation are concerned. In Kashmir India is an occupying power, and has been since it invaded an independent country in October 1947. Ever since 1947 India has trampled on the fundamental right of the people, including their right to freedom of expression, of assembly and above all the right to life as free people. In your name India stifles and puts down political dissent. Imprisons and incarcerates political leaders who engage in peaceful political dissent.

This is exemplified by the way your government has treated the Joint Resistance Leadership-JRL- over the past two years. This treatment is indicative of your government’s attitude to the people of Jammu Kashmir and a peaceful resolution of the dispute over their future political status. The JRL is confined to house arrest or incarcerated in jail. Over the past two years Mr Yasin Malik the Chairman of the JKLF has been in and out of Srinagar central jail on dozens of times, while Sayed Ali Shah Gilani and the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq are constantly confined to house arrest. There are numerous restrictions imposed on the JRL. It is denied the democratic right to engage with the people. The JRL has been prevented from travelling to Shupian to condole the bereaved families of those killed by the Indian army on 2 April. Mr Yasin Malik was incarcerated and released only on 8 April from Srinagar central jail. A deliberate policy of communal divide is being promoted and orchestrated by your government in Jammu Kashmir. The leadership is not allowed to travel with in Jammu Kashmir and interact with all the sections of society, including religious minorities. The Indian government uses PSA to prevent peaceful and legitimate political dissent in Kashmir, and yet India portrays itself as the biggest democracy of the world.

Your governments claim that Jammu Kashmir is part of India their ruler acceded to India in 1947 we must humbly remind you that
the idea of the right to self-determination as a concept implies, that those who are governed must give their consent to be governed, and that people have the right to shape their own destiny, and their right in shaping their destiny must be recognised as sovereign right. This patently is not the case as regards the relationship of people of Kashmir vis-a’vis India and Pakistan.
You must recognise, and accept the reality that with seven lakh Indian soldiers deployed in Jammu Kashmir, one wonders what on earth your country’s idea of Jammu Kashmir being an ‘integral’ part of India means? Your huge military in Jammu Kashmir is a hostile force, which has subjugated the people of Jammu Kashmir by force. The people of Jammu Kashmir have not given their consent to your country to rule over them. If ever there was consent it was conditional, and India has not fulfilled its side of the obligations in the temporary arrangements of 1947. India treats Kashmir as a colony and we as Kashmiris feel as colonised people. Thus as people of Jammu Kashmir we do not have a covenant with either India or Pakistan, nor have we given our consent to be ruled by either one or the other country. This is a basic fact that we sincerely wish to convey to you, as we protest throughout the world against the militarised violence perpetrated by the Indian army in Jammu Kashmir against our people.
Finally, we would like to remind you that as peaceful people, we have always desired for Jammu Kashmir, to become a bridge of peace between India and Pakistan, and not a perpetual bone of contention. We hope that, as your Prime Minister prepares to depart for London to attend the 25th CHOGM, you would advise him as patriotic citizens of your country, to accept the wise counsel of his fellow leaders, from the family of Commonwealth nations to embark on a peaceful resolution of the future status of Jammu Kashmir based on the undeterred right of twenty million Kashmiris to self-determination. This is the only practical and sane wayforward.
Sincerely
Prof Zafar Khan Chairman of Diplomatic Bureau
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF
International Secretariat-119-123 Cannon Street Road
London E1 2LX
Presented at the Indian High Commission in London by:
Mr Sabir Gul President JKLF UK Chapter
Mr Tahseen Gilani General Secretary JKLF UK Chapter
Mr Tariq Sharif Member of JKLF’s Diplomatic Bureau
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