The Atrocities Of India Will Not Stop Kashmir's Inevitable Freedom From Coming To Pass

"If freedom is what they want, freedom is what they should have.”
- Arundhati Roy on Kashmir

Kashmir, with all its lush green dales surrounded by seemingly insurmountable mountains, and with its diverse as well as unique culture, has been the most unfortunate region in the world since the partition of British India took place in 1947. Seventy-three years on, the condition of poor Kashmiris is worse than it ever was, mainly due to the one-sided abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which had provided special status to the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir and granted some rights to its unfortunate inhabitants. The callousness of the incumbent fascist Indian regime is intact and the nightmare continues.

Life in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) has always been far from normal. However, ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the 2015 elections and took the reins of the self-proclaimed world's largest democratic state, there has been a palpable uptick in human rights violations and insurgencies, the proofs of which are available only a click away. Back in 2016, the killing of popular freedom fighter Burhan Wani by the deployed Indian army in Kashmir had sparked humongous protests across the region. Besides Burhan Wani, more than thirty protesters were killed and nearly two-hundred were badly wounded in clashes with Indian troops. This entire heartrending saga inscribed on the pages of history started the “amplified instability” of Kashmir and is today known as the “Burhan aftermath”.

The unrest unveiled in 2016 never ended. Much of 2017 was consumed with bursts of incessant clashes between civilians and the armed forces. There were at least 375 incidents in which both freedom fighters and Indian troops confronted each other in that single turbulent year. The rate of riots and protests in 2017 was ten times higher than in 2016, excluding the incidents of braid-chopping in the same year. There was a sharp rise in the disputed region's youth joining the freedom fighter force, which the international media named “militant force”.

Come 2018 and it turned out to be the deadliest year of the decade. In a much more strengthened quest for gaining independence, the wretched Kashmiris once again took to the streets to claim their promised yet forgotten right to self-determination. Consequently, the uprising claimed more than 324 lives – the highest in the decade. The number of lives lost every year in this Himalayan region is truly unnerving, and so is the apathy of world leaders who dare not speak against the brutalities of Indian forces, let alone taking any step to ameliorate the ever-worsening situation.

Upheavals became a norm for the entire region during 2019 when a couple of incidents drove the two disputing parties to the Kashmir issue – Pakistan and India – nearly to a full-blown war. The Pulwama attack — carried out by a young Kashmiri who drove an explosives-laden vehicle into an Indian army convoy, leaving at least 40 Indian soldiers dead — was the main reason behind escalation between the two countries. In apparent angst — though Indians wouldn’t admit to it and offer lame excuses instead – the Indian air force intruded into the swathes of Balakot, for the first time since the 1971 war, and did a cross-border strike. The agile air force of Pakistan foiled India’s belligerent designs through its quick response, bringing down the Indian fighter jet and capturing its pilot.

The little freedom left to Kashmiris to breathe in the open air was snatched away in 2019 by the extreme right-wing nationalist Modi, as his government stripped the former princely state of Kashmir of its special status and increased the presence of army personnel in the region to an alarming extent. As per an estimate, there are about nine hundred thousand army personnel from various paramilitary units deployed there to make Kashmiris’ lives worse than hell. The ghastly curfew imposed on the region right after the abrogation of Article 370 continues to this date. The curfew has restricted the movement of Kashmiris to such an extent that even patients are unable to get medical help in case of emergency, while the suspension of internet services disconnected the Kashmiris from their families living anywhere in the world. Before the recent restoration of internet services in the region, it was improbable to know whether they were alive or otherwise.

Among unending Indian atrocities, the cold-blooded murder of an elderly civilian Bashir Ahmad last year in front of his grandson, who was later pictured sitting on his grandfather's bullet-ridden chest, sparked many protests. Yet, it caused only a little outrage from the dormant international community. Even the attack on a United Nations' monitoring vehicle near Rawalakot, allegedly by Indian troops, failed to make the world leaders open their eyes to the gory violations of human rights. Every time something ill befalls the Kashmiris or a mishap transpires in IOK, the most that any world leader responds with is by paying some lip service to condemn it, which hardly leads to any real benefit on the ground. Most, however, prefer to remain silent altogether, choosing to give precedence to their economic affiliations with India than to the protection of life and dignity of innocent human beings.

Our own Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered a scorcher of a speech in the United Nations General Assembly in 2019, underscoring the inhumane brutalities of India in occupied Kashmir. He warned the world leaders that if a war was to erupt between India and Pakistan, the destruction would not simply be limited to the two countries, but would instead have consequences far beyond their borders. Despite his caveat and emotional appeal, little has changed; rather, the situation has only worsened. India's vile attempt to change the demographics of Indian Occupied Kashmir by granting domicile certificates to non-residents, mostly Hindus, is its latest infantile stratagem to ensure success in securing Kashmir for itself via “Kashmiri” residents’ right to self-determination, if ever such a referendum is held due to pressure from the United Nations.

Notwithstanding the harshest oppression inflicted upon the wretched Kashmiris over the years, the latter courageously hold on to hope that someday they will get rid of these gruesome atrocities and that Kashmir will one day emerge on the world map either as an independent state or as part of Pakistan. Sooner or later, this has to happen. The only thing left to see is when the inevitable comes to pass and Kashmiris’ wishes and aspirations are realised.