Kashmir needs solution, not suppression
Since 1989, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been killed, tortured, humiliated, and disappeared. The cycle of violence prevailing in the state has claimed thousands of lives. Countless number of people has become permanently disabled. People have lost their sons and daughters. Many women have lost their husbands who were the only earning hands in the family. Thousands of houses and shops have been burnt.
A simple survey reveals that every family in Kashmir has suffered by way of seeing their youths killed, injured or tortured; women raped or molested; and elder men and women harassed and humiliated. Those killed or injured were mostly innocent children between the ages of 5 and 22 years. Even women were killed and wounded during peaceful protest marches.
Most lamentable thing is that these atrocities and human rights violations are committed by unidentified gunmen and forces. Then there are laws like Public Safety Act (PSA) and Armed Forces Special Powers Act. These Acts are an open violation of international laws and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Also, it’s against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that India has ratified. These draconian laws provide complete impunity to the forces to unleash strong military actions against the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations have reported countless stories of tyranny and oppression by government forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
Killings through torture and hostage taking are the common phenomenon. Along with it, sexual violence and psychological torture are other horrific weapons. In the past and at present times Kashmiri women are facing sexual violence. And generally rape and violence against women is committed on gunpoint. For the last many years,
Kashmiris do not feel safe even in other parts of India. Students enrolled in Indian universities especially become the victims of acts of violence and communally motivated organised crime which amounts to terrorism. All this is done on the basis of bayonet and misuse of power. Opportunists, communal politicians and media houses debunks the image of Kashmiri people everywhere which gives rise to increased violence and suspicion against them.
Undoubtedly, it can be said that Kashmiri people are talented, humane and generous, but the system always suppressed them without taking into consideration their genuine demands. Democracy is based on rule of law, justice, equality, and liberty. But it’s quite ironic that these features of democracy are absent in Jammu and Kashmir. All the eruptions in the state were caused because of the democratic failure.
On the other hand, the government of India refuses to acknowledge that the people of JK have become alienated. The Kashmir conflict is a legacy of the past. The international community gave India and Pakistan many chances to resolve the outstanding issues. At the bilateral level, the political leadership of both the countries failed because prior to every sincere approach towards the resolution of Kashmir dispute, politically motivated opportunistic preconditions are placed which are not acceptable to one or the other stakeholders to the dispute.
Also, the stakeholders incorporate the political interests of their party with the choice of inclusion of stakeholders to the dispute and at one time accept different elements as the stakeholders but on other instance refuse to recognise them as a party to dispute which undermines the spirit of an unconditional dialogue. During the last three years, there have not been any productive and substantive talks between India and Pakistan.
The leadership in India and Pakistan need to realistically plan the future of the region but first they must accept the ground realities with an optimistic mind-set. It is in fact the Kashmir issue which has blocked the process of normalisation of political relationships between India and Pakistan.
Kashmir bleeds and for the past seven decades the people of Kashmir remain trapped in this status quo. The baggage of history weighs heavy on us and the change in this shift is possible only through sustained unconditional dialogue, which in today’s world is the most civilised and humane way to resolve conflicts.
There remains an urgent need to address human rights violations continuing in Kashmir for so long and to deliver justice to the people of Kashmir. Any resolution to Kashmir problem should entail a commitment to ending the cycles of violence and accountability for past and current human rights abuses committed by all parties. Such a resolution can only be brought about by meaningful dialogue that also includes the people of Kashmir.
India and Pakistan should resume dialogue and engage people of Jammu and Kashmir as well. It is imperative for a lasting peace in South Asia. In order to move forward on Kashmir, there should be a proper mechanism. Kashmir is a political issue which needs a political solution. Pushing it towards a military solution would be disastrous. Everlasting Peace is not possible through suppression of public sentiment by force. Sooner or Later, the issue has to be resolved by diplomacy. We hope good sense prevails and all parties to the dispute realise the evils of violence. A peaceful conclusion is a must to prevent further bloodshed. The branches and roots of war have a far outreach, lest we forget!
(Both the writers are human rights activists. They can be reached at jaan.aalam#gmail.com)