Thursday, 21 November 2019

Growing unease over Jammu and Kashmir situation

AP Photo

European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs expressed serious concern over complete communications and media blackout in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, demanding that the Delhi government immediately lift the curfew. The committee also urged the European Parliament and the European Union to issue a “reactionary statement.” A day earlier, Vice President of the EU Commission, Federica Mogherini, issued a statement calling upon New Delhi to “restore the rights and freedoms of the population in Kashmir” also emphasising that the Kashmir issue needs to be resolved through bilateral discussions between Pakistan and India. Last Saturday, while speaking at the Islamic Society of Northern America’s annual convention in Houston, US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he was “deeply concerned” about the Indian government’s crackdown on dissent and a communications blackout, adding that “the crackdown in the name of ‘security’ is also denying the Kashmir people access to medical care.” He asked Washington to speak boldly in support of the international humanitarian law and of a UN-backed resolution of the conflict that “respects the will of the Kashmiri people.”

These statements are reflective of a growing unease in important political circles over the grim human rights situation in occupied J&K. However, India’s ultra Hindu nationalist government remains unmoved, secure in the knowledge that Western governments are not about to take a bold stand against it even as the clampdown imposed on August 5 enters into second consecutive month. Economic and geo-political interests take precedence over humanitarian considerations. Sad as it is the Western countries let no opportunity go by to wag their fingers at rival powers, China and Russia, over relatively minor rights issues; in this case they remain hesitant to condemn the Modi government’s atrocious behaviour. If the thinking is that in due course the BJP despotism would be able to control the situation, that seems to be a dubious expectation. According to reports, all Kashmiri leaders and at least 8,000 others have been arrested and shifted to jails in Agra and Delhi; use of torture – including electric shocks – is rampant; countless women are being subjected to sexual harassment and abuse. Schools have been opened but pupils remain absent because their parents are too afraid to send them out not knowing if they would return home safely. All of this shows despite the reign of terror the Delhi government has let loose in occupied J&K it is not confident enough to lift the curfews and communications blackout. In other words, the situation is uncontrollable.

Whenever restrictions are lifted things are likely to explode. All signs suggest more and more young Kashmiris will take up arms and offer stiff resistance to Indian rule. No one knows what the future holds for them. But there is little doubt about that in the event some Pulwama-like incident happens New Delhi will lay the blame at Pakistan’s door, as it did in that instance. It could then resort to some misadventure against this country, leading to unforeseen consequences with grave repercussions for the wider world as well. It is imperative therefore that the international community should help resolve the Kashmir conflict according to the wishes of its people before it is too late.

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