Memorandum on India’s oppression in Kashmir, including denial of right to assembly and free speech, denying JKLF Chairman Mr Yasin Malik his fundamental right to engage with the public, and growing violent extremist chauvinism led by BJP and RSS nexus in Jammu Kashmir; and on the inaction of UN permanent members including the United Kingdom in the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
Presented at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office-FCO by the JKLF delegation during discussion with the FCO officials on 21 October 2015.
As the UK prepares to welcome Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi in November 2015 we consider it our duty to remind Her Majesty’s Government-HMG- that Mr Modi must be taken to task on the unresolved political status of Jammu Kashmir.
Mr Modi should be taken to task on communalism, extremism and chauvinism that has been unleashed under his watch in Kashmir.
He should be taken to task on the oppressive and undemocratic methods adopted by Indian occupation forces to stifle public expression, and deny the pro freedom and anti-status quo politicians like Mr Yasin Malik, their democratic right to engage with the masses in the public square.
He should be reminded that on 1 January 1948 it was an Indian government led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru which took the Kashmir issue to the United Nations.
He should be reminded that on 27 October 1947 India invaded Kashmir by landing a battalion of her troops in Srinagar, under the pretext that the then despotic ruler had acceded Kashmir to India on the previous day.
He should be reminded that it is more credible to believe that a plan might already have existed to invade Kashmir under the pretext of accession, when British India was partitioned into India and Pakistan on 14 and 15 August 1947 respectively.
He should be reminded that India invaded Kashmir to throttle a freedom movement of people who endured unimaginable suffering and despotism at the hands of their rulers.
Mr Modi should be reminded of the fact that unlike Pakistan, India refused to enter into ‘Stand Still Agreement’ with the Government of Jammu Kashmir prior to the partition of British India- which clearly indicated India’s ill intent towards Kashmir.
Mr Modi should be reminded that newly emancipated and decolonised India had in fact invaded a country that was an independent and sovereign nation between 15 August, (India’s Independence Day) and 27 October 1947, the day Jammu Kashmir was invaded.
This is certainly the conclusion of independent observers on the period which includes among others, the respected British historian and expert on Kashmir Alastair lamb. Poignantly Kashmiris throughout the world, mark 27 October as a Black day in their history.
Mr Modi should be reminded that there are numerous United Nations Resolutions that clearly stipulate that a plebiscite under the UN’s auspices must be facilitated by India and Pakistan to determine the future status of the state of Jammu Kashmir.
The first of these resolutions was passed in April 1948 then subsequently a plethora of resolutions followed in June 1948, August 1948, January 1949, March 1950, March 1951 and January 1957; all these resolutions require the state of India mainly, to facilitate a plebiscite for determining the status of Jammu Kashmir with unfettered participation of the populace in the plebiscite.
Mr Modi should be reminded that India made many commitments and pledges at the UN, including the following to comply with the wishes, aspirations and rights of the people of Kashmir:
“that the question of Kashmir’s future status vis-a-vis its neighbours and the world at large and the question on whether Kashmir should withdraw from her accession to India, and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent with a right to claim admission as a member of the United Nations all this we have recognised to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir after normal life is restored to them” UNSC document Agenda 227.
How ironic that India which demands a permanent seat on the UN Security Council has completely reneged on her solemn commitments and obligations in relation to the Kashmir issue.
India has failed to honour the Shimla Accord of 1972 with Pakistan that required both countries to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
Today Mr Modi and his lieutenants have gone as far as to say that there is no Kashmir problem or Kashmir issue, as was declared quite blatantly by Mrs Sushma Swaraj last month at the UN General assembly in New York.
It is incredible therefore that India is demanding a seat at the top table in the comity of nations when she does not care to honour the resolutions of this August world body which with the purpose of its inception, is bound to uphold, the fundamental principles of justice, liberty and democracy for the subjugated, dispossessed and colonised people of the world like the 20 million people of Jammu Kashmir.
It has to be said however that the UN and the permanent members of the UN Security Council, -UNSC- on the question of Kashmir’s future political and constitutional status, have patently failed the 20 million Kashmiris in resolving the issue in accordance with their fundamental right to self-determination.
We strongly believe that UNSC’s Inaction has enabled India to holds on to Kashmir with the force of arms with the presence of over 700-000 military and paramilitary forces of occupation in the territory. These forces, over the past 27 years have killed around 100-000 people, with thousands missing and many hundreds buried in unmarked graves throughout parts of Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir. And over these 27 years these forces have committed some of the most outrageous acts of brutality including rape.
As pointed out above Mr Modi should be taken to task on the extremism and chauvinism that his political rhetoric and Hindutva ideology has encouraged, not only in Jammu Kashmir but also in India itself.
Since 2014 Mr Modi’s BJP led government has aggressively pursued its chauvinistic political ideology and has orchestrated to subvert the harmonious social character of society in Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir.
Mr Modi never tires of reminding the world of India being a democracy of one hundred and twenty five crores or 1.25 billion people. In reality however Indian democracy is defunct and quite tenuous beyond the borders of Jammu Kashmir.
As if presence of 700-000 military and para military forces of occupation was not sufficient in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP government has unleashed forces of extremism that have become out of control in Kashmir.
The ultra-right wing extremism and chauvinism of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Shiv Sena, Vishwa Hindu Prashad (VHP), and an assortment of other belligerent extremists, have taken lead from Prime Minister Modi’s Hindutva ideology and bellicose political rhetoric that has given rise to extremism which has crossed all limits of decency and civilised behaviour.
Political and democratic expression is being stifled through a combination of militarised oppression and violent extremism, chauvinism and communalist acts of BJP and the RSS. Anti-status quo popular leaders like Mr Yasin Malik are prevented contact with masses in an alarming frequency which is not only an affront to democracy but would not be accepted in a democratic society.
As can be seen below, Mr Malik has been arrested or put under house arrest dozens of times only in a period of last couple of months alone. Even during the assembly elections in November / December of 2014, Mr Malik was incarcerated throughout the seven week long process, and was denied not only contact with the public but the Indian authorities violated his basic democratic right of assembly and free expression by keeping him in custody.
Mr Modi since coming to power had intended to change the character of Kashmiri society on the one hand, and on the other Kashmir’s relationship and temporary arrangement under the so called accession treaty with India.
Within first 5 months of his Premiership Mr Modi visited Kashmir 8 times to bring about his intended change. In the 2014 assembly elections he had hoped to secure a majority for his BJP which he failed to obtain despite investing so much time and effort.
Mr Modi’s party however secured 29 seats in the 87 seat assembly but all of the seats were won from the Jammu province. This result therefore reflected that Kashmiri politics had become polarised on communal lines with the Modi factor.
Nevertheless Modi government forced a coalition with the PDP and has since begun to influence policies and actions that have communalised sections of society within the Jammu region who are heavily influenced by the BJP/ RSS extreme chauvinist political rhetoric.
Repressive and heavy handed actions against Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF- and in particular its Chairman Mr Yasin Malik, as well as other anti-status quo leaders have increased over the past year.
Mr Modi wished to abrogate article 370 of the Indian constitution which affirms the autonomous status of Jammu Kashmir, and stipulates the temporary and provisional nature of its relationship and arrangements with India.
However Mr Modi’s failure to have article 370 abrogated led him to embarked upon creating ‘facts on the ground’ by making demographic changes both in Jammu as well as in the valley of Kashmir.
Kashmiris however whemently opposed the BJP machinations with political activism by the anti-status quo leaders like Mr Malik. The coalition however has exacerbated the political atmosphere due mainly in its failure to curb the rise of communalism and chauvinism of the BJP and RSS in Jammu region of the state.
Death of truck driver Zahid Rasool Butt (succumbed to his injuries on 18 October), who was attacked by RSS backed extremists in Unhamper, is a sad example of this state of affairs that now prevails in Jammu Kashmir. This situation is the handiwork of rulers who have created an ‘atmosphere’ that “pollutes and communalises” society according to Mr Yasin Malik.
The forces of extremism and chauvinism act with impunity as they have no fear of penalties or legal retribution. Their actions are an attempt to vitiate the traditional socio- cultural and political solidarity of Jammu Kashmir.
It has to be said that the tyranny of the BJP and RSS led extremism is a direct result of the Modi effect or phenomenon. His political rhetoric gives the extremists a green signal in adopting social, cultural and political chauvinism, that prior to 2014 had not been a factor in Kashmiri society.
The BJP and RSS extremism is a dangerous and troubling development that would further polarise Jammu Kashmir on religious lines. The ideological collusion and nexus of the BJP and the RSS creates fear, intimidation and violence that does not bode well for peace and communal harmony in the region and particularly in Kashmir.
The presence of more than 700,000 thousand military and paramilitary forces of occupation further emboldens the unholy nexus of these forces of communal disharmony and extremist chauvinism.
The state oppression and denial of right to assembly and free speech is an intolerable situation to which Mr Yasin Malik and other prominent anti-status quo leaders are subjected to day in day out.
Mr Modi’s frequent refrain of India being a democracy of 125 crore loses its meaning when a popular leader of MrYasin Malik’s stature is taken in custody or put under house arrest even during the wedding of his close family members.
The following account of Mr Malik’s arrests is a serious indictment on Mr Modi’s ‘democratic’ India
Details of Mr. Yasin Malik’s arrests and house arrest from August 2015.
· On way to district Pulwama arrested at Pantha Chowk, Srinagar on 12 August while going to attend the funeral ceremony of one local innocent young civilian Bilal Ahmed Butt who was killed by Indian forces.
· Ahead of Indo-Pak NSA meeting that was scheduled to be held on 23 August.
· Mr. Malik was arrested from his residence and detained in a local Police Station (PS) on 20 August and released on Aug. 25.
· Arrested at Safapora on 28 August while going to district HQ’s of Bandipora to lead and address a peaceful protest rally against human rights violations.
· House arrested on 6 September on the pretext of Kashmir Flood Anniversary Peaceful Programmes that were scheduled to be held on 7 September organised by local trade and business community to remember the catastrophe and the losses. Released on 8 September.
· Put under house arrest on 11 September and was not allowed to lead and address a peaceful rally at the district HQ in Ganderbal.
· Arrested at Zenageer near Sopore and lodged at Sopore PS on 15 September and was not allowed to attend the funeral ceremony of Bashir Ahmed and son 3 year old Burhan Bashir who were killed by unidentified gunmen backed by government sponsored special task force of police. He was later released on 17 September.
· Arrested on 22 September while holding a token one day hunger strike against BJP, VHP and RSS high handedness and anti-Kashmir policies adopted by state and Indian authorities, and especially against RSS threats to block Jammu highway from the Valley of Kashmir.
· Put under house arrest on the evening of 24 September on the pretext of Eid-ul-Azha the next day. Was not allowed to offer Eid prayers.
· Put under house arrest a day before he was scheduled to lead and address a peaceful protest rally at Kangan in district Ganderbal on 2 October.
· Arrested from his residence on 8 October and detained at the Kothi-bagh PS on the pretext that he was to lead a peaceful protest rally at Lal Chowk, Srinagar the following day on 9 October against human rights violations and high handedness of RSS, Indian forces and state authorities. It is worth mentioning here that his elder sister’s son was to enter into wedlock on 8 October and Mr. Malik, and his maternal uncle were to accompany the groom’s wedding party -Barat- and the wedding function was to take place at Mr. Malik’s residence.
· Mr Malik was put under house arrest on 11 October when RSS extremists attacked truck drivers from the valley of Kashmir on Jammu Highway near Udhampur. Mr. Malik appealed to the public to observe a peaceful bandh (shut down) on 12 October against the attacks by BJP and RSS extremists and chauvinists backed by government machinery. Mr Malik was immediately put under house arrest.
· Mr Malik was prevented from attending the funeral of Zahid Rasool Butt (murdered truck driver) at Islamabad in South Kashmir, and was put under house arrest 19 October. Zahid Rasool was attacked by RSS extremists on Jammu Highway near Udhampur and succumbed to his injuries on 18 October.
· Prevented from addressing a rally in Islamabad on 20 October, to protest at the murder of Zahid Rasool Butt and taken in custody at Islamabad police station.
The method and manner of Mr Malik’s arrests, is clearly undemocratic and devoid of any justification. Mr Malik is a popular leader who commands respect and love of his people and by denying him direct contact with the masses is a serious disregard of his political and democratic rights.
Mr Malik’s frequent arrests and denial of his right to engage with the public is a clear indication that India fears the popular will of the Kashmiri masses.
Despite India’s incessant mantra that Kashmir is an integral part of India or that Kashmir issue does not exist, and that it is all Pakistan’s doing, and that people of Kashmir are ‘happy’ with India; all that can be said in response is that India should allow democratic, moderate and popular leaders like Yasin Malik to engage in the public square.
This is a challenge India is not prepared to accept by deny leadership and the people to have a say on the future status of the Jammu Kashmir state in a democratic and free plebiscite.
India’s intransigence and prevarications over Kashmir are a clear betrayal of the UN and India’s responsibilities and obligations over Kashmir.
Pakistan too considers the Kashmir issue and the dispute as the ‘unfinished agenda’ of the partition of British India. It therefore becomes all the more important that the dispute is resolved in accordance with the democratic will and fundamental rights of the people.
Regrettably British view is that India is a responsible state and therefore it can be trusted with permanent membership of the UNSC. In our view however this would be tantamount to rewarding India for her intransigence and betrayals over its obligations both at the UN as well as in bilateral commitments on Kashmir.
As permanent member of the UNSC Britain has an obligation to ensure that Kashmiris are allowed the opportunity to exercise their inherent and inalienable right to self determination
Kashmiris want peace between India and Pakistan. They harbour a strong desire for Kashmir to become a bridge of peace and prosperity, and not a bone of contention and enmity in the South Asian sub-continent.
To this end however it is an absolute necessity that constructive engagement and dialogue takes place between the concerned parties. Thus far however Mr Modi has shown no desire for dialogue with Pakistan and the Kashmiris.
As long as powerful country like Britain, with privileged position in world affairs maintains the view, that the “pace and scope” of interaction over Kashmir is up to India and Pakistan, unfortunately such a passive British ‘nudge’ will add no moral or diplomatic pressure on India to be constructive over resolving the Kashmir issue.
Furthermore as permanent member of the United Nations’ Security Council -UNSC- such a passive British position on an extremely dangerous issue, that could precipitate a catastrophic fourth war between India and Pakistan, is an abandonment of 20 million Kashmiris and their fundamental right to freedom.
Prof Zafar Khan
Head of Diplomatic Bureau
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF
119-123 Cannon Street Road
London E1 2LX