Chronicles Of A Genocide: A Year Of Lockdown In Kashmir
August 5, 2020 marks a year since 900, 000 troops were deployed in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to impose a strict curfew. A year has passed since article 370 and 35-A were unilaterally abrogated by India from the constitution, thereby stripping Kashmir’s limited autonomy. Article 370 formed the premise of J&K accession to the Indian Union when princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after the British rule ended in 1974.
Article 370 and 35-A are incredibly significant because they guaranteed Kashmir with a certain amount of autonomy. This autonomy extended to its constitution, a separate flag, and the freedom to enact and follow their laws. These laws adjudicated foreign affairs, matters of defense, and communication.
Article 35-A lays down provisions that define the permanent residents of the region. These articles allowed J&K to come up with rules related to permanent residency, ownership of property, and fundamental rights. The articles also prohibited non-Kashmiris from settling in the region or purchasing Kashmiri property. The “special status” of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh was changed, and they were merged as a union territory. This merger means that J&K will not be following their constitution, but that of India. By doing so, India revoked its own Constitution, the UN Charter, and the bilateral Shimla agreement. This revocation of special status was a prominent feature of the election manifesto of the Hindu nationalist BJP.
The onset of a tragic series of events began on August 2. Indian authorities warned tourists to evacuate occupied Kashmir on the pretext of “terror threats.” To curb this supposed terror threat, 25,000 military troops were stationed in the region, exponentially increasing the already present, half a million military personnel. The next day, India began firing cluster bombs which had been prohibited under the Geneva Convention. These cluster bombs claimed the lives of two civilians and wounded 11 others in Azad Kashmir.
The situation changed for worse on August 5 when a bill was presented by Interior Minister Amit Shah for abolishing Article 370. Rajya Sabha approved this bill, ensuing a strict lockdown in the region. Thousands of additional troops were sent to Kashmir, some 500 Kashmiri leaders were arrested overnight, and all forms of communication were shut down.
India was criticized by the UN, the International community, the EU, the US, and global NGOs for committing serious violations of human rights and freedom of religion. 87% of the population in J&K is Muslim. These people remain confined to their homes due to the constant threat of violence that has persisted since the past year. Reports of Indian troops killing, torturing, kidnapping, raping, and detaining unarmed civilians have made headlines for a year. Indian troops stationed in the region exhausted every possible way of spreading pain and turmoil among Kashmir citizens.
Properties were bombed to debris, businesses were destroyed, and agriculture was burnt to starve the residents. All these actions are strictly prohibited as per UNSC resolutions, which are legally binding and which, to this day, are being violated by India. A combination of excessive power and draconian laws are employed by India to curb any movement of self-determination by residents of J&K. There are reports that India has enhanced its atrocities and moved into an advanced stage of genocide. Indian troops have been moving Kashmiri youth to detention camps by labeling them as mujahedeen and underground workers. This process was significantly assisted by 60,000 well trained and equipped RSS youth sent to Kashmir on the Indian government’s orders. A report prepared by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service stated, “The troops damaged over 946 houses and structures and molested or raped 84 women and arrested 13,680, including aged woman and half a dozen girls during cordon-and-search operations across the occupied territory during the period.”
Since the vast majority of residents in J&K are Muslims, they are likely to vote for a merger with Pakistan. Therefore, India is delaying the prospect of a plebiscite. Meanwhile, there are reports of India issuing domicile to Hindus from other parts of India to settle in Kashmir. Special incentives are being offered to Hindus so that they may move to Kashmir and settle down; this is an attempt to strengthen India’s hold on Kashmir. Special incentives include jobs with handsome salaries, business incentives, and a promise for property and agricultural land. If non-Kashmiris settle in Kashmir, the demography of Kashmir may be permanently changed.
All forms of communication in the region have been suspended. The ban on high-speed internet has deprived Kashmiris of any news of the outside world; they are confined to their houses in constant fear with no knowledge about their land’s fate. Needless to say, the economy has collapsed, health care facilities are non-existent, and any schools that existed in the region have been bombed to the ground.