AS 2021 begins, there are few signs that New Delhi is willing to change its tried, tested and failed methods in India-held Kashmir. Yet New Delhi’s attempts to militarily subdue the Kashmiris and make them renounce their desire for freedom and dignity are bound to fail; despite the passage of over a year since India revoked the disputed region’s autonomous status, the people of IHK have yet to accept this illegal move. However, the Indian establishment continues to employ brutal methods to crush the Kashmiri spirit, as was witnessed during a dubious recent ‘encounter’.
As per reports, three youths were gunned down by Indian forces on Tuesday after they were cornered inside a home. While the occupied region’s police say two of the victims were “hardcore associates of terrorists”, the families dispute this. Among the victims were two students said to be on their way to Srinagar for tutoring.
Unfortunately, it seems that due process does not matter for much in the held region, as New Delhi’s armed enforcers are free to kill whomever they choose. The incident bears a grim resemblance to an episode that occurred last July, when three labourers were killed. Then also Indian forces had claimed weapons had been found on the victims. However, this lie was recently exposed when an Indian army officer and two others were charged with planting weapons on the bodies.
It appears that the right-wing BJP-led government in New Delhi is aping the tactics the Israelis use against the Palestinians. In occupied Palestine, too, an armed-to-the-teeth military machine uses unrestrained force against a dispossessed population fighting for its rights, often murdering children and women in the process. Yet sadly, some of the most powerful actors on the world stage shield both Israel and India against criticism of such blatant rights abuses, and instead, tout their ‘democratic’ credentials. This hypocrisy must end.
India cannot be allowed to kill innocent Kashmiris at will and justify the crimes by labelling them militants. Kashmiris are not happy with New Delhi’s attempts to ‘conquer’ their land and will resist with all means available. If India is serious about bringing peace to occupied Kashmir, then instead of using violent tactics it needs to listen to the demands of the Kashmiris and work out a political solution to the crisis. Yet with a Hindu chauvinist dispensation in New Delhi, such a sagacious approach cannot be expected.