India’s illegal occupation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir continues
By Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry
Seventy years on, India’s illegal occupation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir continues. Illegal, because the use of Indian forces to occupy the State on 27 October 1947 was a violation of the Partition Plan, which required ascertaining the wishes of the people of Kashmir whether they wanted to join Pakistan or India. Being a Muslim majority State, and with borders contiguous to what was to become Pakistan, the State was likely to be a part of Pakistan. However, the Maharaja of the State did not make any arrangements to obtain the wishes of the people about their political future. Sensing his intentions, the local Kashmiris and tribals revoted. The Maharaja sought help from India. It is not clear if the Maharaja had signed any instrument of accession. There are reasons to believe that Indian forces landed in Srinagar before the Maharaja could sign the instrument of accession. It is this illegal occupation of the State that Kashmiris all over the world and in Pakistan protest about and mark 27 October each year as the Black Day.
India took the matter to the United Nations thinking that its view would prevail. There too, through a series of resolutions, the Security Council called for holding a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the Kashmiri people. India did not cooperate with the United Nations to hold such a plebiscite and after some initial delaying tactics, took an about-turn from its position and started calling the State an integral part of India. For seven decades now, India has consistently violated the will of the international community expressed in UNSC resolutions and also suppressed the voices of the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination. Yet, India has failed to subjugate the valiant Kashmiris. Three generations of Kashmiris have resisted Indian occupation. This in itself is a clear message to the Indian leadership that the Kashmiris do not wish to live under occupation.
Three years ago, on August 5, 2019, the Modi regime took the illegality to a yet shallower level, when it took away the special status of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmiris of all political dispensation reacted strongly to the abrogation of articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution as this was a direct assault on their identity as Kashmiris. India tried to silence the Kashmiri voices by intensify its repression on the one hand and making arrangements to introduce a plan for demographic changes. The past two years have witnessed how systemically demographic and electoral engineering has been carried out by encouraging non-Kashmiris to settle in Kashmir, and according voting rights to non-Kashmiri residents. The design was clear: To change the Muslim majority status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and turn it into a Hindu majority State.
The actions in Kashmir are an extension to the policies that the Modi government is pursuing in the mainland India to establish a Hindu Rashtra (State). India is now emerging as a fascist state, which has severely bruised its image in the international community and undermined its’ democratic credentials. The Hindutva driven policies could have dreadful consequences for the country because sizable minorities live in India and consider it their home.
The BJP-led government of Prime Minister Modi is deriving its ideological zeal from the philosophy of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which believes that all those living in India should either be Hindus or adopt the Hindu way of life. If this policy direction leads to the purging of non-Hindu minorities and expelling them from India, there could be serious consequences for regional peace and stability as well. Two trends are visible. One an internal convulsion in India where exclusionary Hindutva ideology is creating fear and scare amongst the minorities living in India especially Muslims.
Second, the Modi regime, emboldened by the US tilt towards India, is now behaving like a hegemon in South Asia. Pakistan is, of course, resisting Indian hegemony as this would disturb the delicate balance of power in South Asia with consequences for the whole region. It is no surprize that other South Asian countries are also resenting this heavy-handed approach by India. Accordingly, India has conflictual relations with most of its neighbors.
Have all these developments tarnished the image of India as a secular and democratic country? Certainly yes. These extremist policies are a huge setback to India’s image, and have exposed India’s claims of being a secular state. A country that thought it was democratic and pluralistic is now trying to create a Hindu State at the expense of all other minorities.
Faced with such a grim situation, the people of Pakistan stand with the people of Kashmir and share their resolve not to accept the illegality imposed on them by the oppressive Indian regime since the Black Day of 1947 – the 27th of October.
The write is Director General of Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, and author of ‘Diplomatic Footprints’.