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Kashmiri lives also matter


The anti-racism movement, “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) has created a global outcry. In the US, the place of origin of the anti-racism wave, a corresponding movement ‘All Lives Matter’ has taken off. British Pakistanis have taken note of the slogan in order to draw attention to the plight of Kashmiris in India Held Kashmir (IHK) through the “Kashmiri Lives Also Matter” movement. This is attributed to movie star Mehwish Hayat who is quite vocal about condemning Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir.

During the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi things have taken a turn for the worse not only for Kashmiris, but for Indians as well. British Pakistani businessman and community leader Tarab Raja drew attention to the situation in Kashmir saying that the Western world has recently woken up to the reality of Black Lives Matter but it also needs to pay attention to ‘Kashmiri Lives Matter’ campaign that has been going on for a long time.

By revoking Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and getting the move rubber-stamped by the Indian Parliament, India has interfered with the status quo in the disputed Kashmir territory, thus violating UN resolutions and international law. 

Modi divided the territory into two separate entities, namely, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, while putting both so-called “Union Territories” under direct New Delhi rule.

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By the stroke of the pen he dismissed an elected legislature of J&K as well as its government. Kashmiri politicians were put under house arrest. Such action by the “largest democracy of the world” vividly illustrates what kind of democracy we are talking about.

In addition, an anti-Muslim campaign organised by the “Ghar Wapsi” movement re-converting Muslims to Hinduism has been going for a while. Other laws that target the citizenship of Indian Muslims has added to the insecurity of Muslims Kashmiris as well other Indian Muslims.

Also Read: From Kashmir to Meghlaya: The enemy within

Violence has been present in Kashmir over the decades where half a million Indian soldiers are maintaining ‘law and order’. Kashmir has become the largest open-air prison in the world. Lately, a picture showing a three-year-old child sitting next to his grandfather's dead body in Sopore town in Indian-administered Kashmir has stirred anger in the Muslim-majority region. The family of the deceased accused the security forces of killing the 65-year-old civilian after dragging him from a car in which the only other occupant was his grandson.

Already, one can read about young Kashmiris taking to arms and that a new civil war seems in the making as reported by a civil rights group, the “Coalition of Civil Society”. At least 229 people, including 32 civilians, have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir in the past six months.

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With the change of political status of J&K, the rights once granted to Kashmiris under Article 35(A) of the Indian Constitution which says that no outsiders can settle in the Himalayan region has also been scrapped and there is a fear of an intentional ethnic change by the settlement of outsiders in Kashmir. Up to 25,000 people have been granted domicile certificates in Indian-administered Kashmir since May 18, supporting the fear of demographic changes in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region. The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved for the local population. Kashmiri politicians across the divide have said the revocation of special citizenship rights was aimed at reversing the Muslim majority character of the region.

Apart from the dire situation of Kashmiri and Indian Muslims caused by India’s action to ‘solve’ the Kashmir issue to its own satisfaction another intention of the Modi government has come to light recently.

Ladakh has been separated from the rest of the former princely state and has come under the direct rule of Delhi. That exposes the different ethnic and cultural character of Ladakh that is part of China’s Tibet and, consequently, its population is Tibetan or close to it. With Aksai Chin, another part of Tibet, already under Chinese administration, Ladakh and the unresolved border issue between India and China takes a new look.

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The first result of this is that India has again started its ‘forward strategy’, a policy that includes advancing military posts in the disputed border area as far forward as possible, a policy that in the late 1950s led to the India-China war of 1962.

With India’s joining of the anti-China “Quad Alliance” Modi wants not only to incorporate the disputed Kashmir territory but to take in as much of disputed territory along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) which constitutes the de facto of not de jure border with China. Such grand-standing by India in the region while hoping for support from the US and other QUAD powers is a logical furthering of India’s aggressive stand against its own population and in the region. During the last few decades India has incorporated Sikkim and is claiming Bhutan and Nepal as well.

This aggressive Indian policy has already endangered peace in the region. China is not going to stand by helplessly when its territory is encroached. Last month’s violent border clash between Indian and Chinese troops may be only a first step. Since then, China has placed sophisticated weaponry in the border region so as to be ready for further Indian attacks. 

International security experts caution that the Indian army is not adequately armed and trained for a military adventure in the Himalayas. They have cautioned that the ‘support’ from the US or other Quad members would only be verbal. But there seems to be a dangerous over-confidence rampant in India. There is a probability that any new military adventure would end the same way as the 1962 war ended. At that time India was beaten miserably and had not China voluntarily withdrawn, Ladakh could have been reunited with Tibet then itself.

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There is a dangerous situation brewing in India and along the Indo-Chinese border and the world is silent. With burning wars in Yemen, Syria, Libya and an unresolved bloody conflict in Palestine, do we need another place where people are dying day by day and their lives are in constant danger? 

India must be stopped from pursuing its anti-China and its anti-Muslim designs. The former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory that cannot be changed unilaterally by India. Such illegal Indian action has to be censored.

When international media report about Ladakh they do that without even mentioning the vital connection to the Kashmir conflict, a sore wound in the body of South Asia that is damaging not only the neighbouring countries but first and foremost the Kashmiris.

‘Kashmiri Lives Also Matter’ is a message that should be heeded by the world.


(The writer is a defence and security analyst).