India has made maximum efforts since 1990 to project the freedom movement in Kashmir as terrorism and put the issue on the backburner. They believe a media blackout would consign Kashmir to oblivion.
Kashmir has been at war since the independence of Pakistan and India; it is one of the world’s oldest disputed territories, only comparable with Palestine. The freedom struggle has resulted in 70,000 deaths by some estimates. 27th October, 1947, is a date firmly etched in the minds of the Kashmiris. It is observed as a Black Day on both the sides of the Line of Control to show resentment against the occupation and the resolve to attain independence from India.
On this day, the Indian armed forces invaded and illegally occupied a large part of Jammu and Kashmir. They violated the ‘Partition Plan of the Indian Subcontinent’ and forcibly landed in the princely state. India owes the Kashmiris the right of self-determination, but till date, they have been deprived of it.
Kashmir has been a source of friction between India and Pakistan ever since these nations came into being – the Indian greed to keep regional resources in their hand being the main reason. It is one of the oldest disputes, still pending unresolved at the United Nations.
A UN commission called for the withdrawal of Indian and Pakistani armies in August 1948 and brokered a ceasefire in 1949. It was decided to hold a referendum to decide the future of Kashmir. It was also decided that the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan would be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite. These UN resolutions were disregarded by India and India continued to treat Kashmir like a colony rather than a disputed territory.
The Kashmiris were not given the right of self-determination. Kashmiri freedom fighters were abducted, murdered and tortured by the Indian security forces; the worst human rights abuses were carried out which included severe beatings, electrocution and sexual humiliation against hundreds of detainees.
Kashmiri citizens are dealt with differently from the rest of India’s population under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act, under which they are jailed for two years if considered likely to commit subversive acts. An estimated 20,000 are detained according to Human Rights Watch.
A local Kashmiri lawyer Imroz discovered 3,844 unmarked mass graves while searching for disappeared people; and he still has to search in 16 more districts. Appalling figures have surfaced, putting the murder toll at 6000, out of which only 80% have been identified. This is prima facie evidence of war crimes by the Indian army – in a war that has never been highlighted by international media. The UN sent a report to the Human Rights Council, warning India of its obligations under human rights treaties and laws, shortly after the discovery of these graves.