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The right-wing Hindu forces including Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had a long-standing desire of complete integration of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian Union and revival of the Hindu civilisation in the territory. Kashmir remained one of their main focuses following the formation of Narendra Modi-led fascist government in New Delhi in 2014. However, they found a golden opportunity to give practical shape to their nefarious designs after the BJP won a landslide victory in 2019 Indian general elections. They intensified their efforts to implement their Hindutva agenda in the territory and as a first step made the announcement of repealing the special status of occupied Kashmir on August 05, 2019. As such, this date became a turning point in the history of IIOJK.

Revocation of Article 370

The move came via presidential orders, which revoked Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian constitution. Article 370 had accorded special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir and all the provisions of the Indian Constitution, which were applicable to the Indian states did not apply to the territory. Due to this Article, Jammu and Kashmir was a region, which (despite being a part of Indian Union under the so-called Instrument of Accession) enjoyed separate constitution, flag and official language. It was only because of this Article that except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Indian Parliament needed the concurrence of the so-called government of Jammu and Kashmir. Though most of the special privileges that Jammu and Kashmir was entitled to under the Article 370 had long been eroded with the passage of time yet Article 35A debarred non-Kashmiris from acquiring property and jobs in government institutions in the territory. Through the so-called Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act (2019), the Indian government also divided the occupied territory into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature and Ladakh without a legislature.

Military siege and other restrictions

The Modi-led rightwing Indian government created an environment of fear and terror in IIOJK by adopting a multi-pronged military approach to quell the Kashmiris’ resistance to its unilateral and illegal actions of 5th August 2019. It imposed curfew in the main cities and towns of IIOJK and suspended all internet, cellular as well as landline phone and television services. Indian forces personnel were deployed in every nook and corner of the occupied territory while the army and air forces’ were also put on high alert. Fear and anxiety had already gripped occupied Kashmir as India had deployed 38,000 additional troops few days before enacting the illegal move.  It had also cancelled a major Hindu pilgrimage, Amarnath Yatra, ordered closure of schools and colleges and asked tourists to leave the territory. The authorities also imposed strict restrictions on the media. Local newspapers even failed to update their online editions. Majority of the newspapers also could not be printed for months due to curfew and other restrictions. No reports of the territory could reach the news outlets in India and the world. The IIOJK virtually remained cut off from the rest of the world.

The abrogation of the special status of Kashmir was accompanied by arrest of around 19,000 innocent Kashmiris including Hurriyat leaders, political activists, lawyers, human rights defenders and leaders of religious, trade and social organisations.
During this military crackdown, over 8 million Kashmiris were locked down in their homes incommunicado. The continued military siege for months created a humanitarian crisis as people faced acute shortage of essential commodities and life-saving drugs.
At the same time, Indian troops under the cover of draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), intensified violent operations and since 5th August 2019 till June 30, this year, the occupational troops have martyred 660 Kashmiris. The troops have damaged over 1,092 houses .

India launches lawfare against Kashmiris

After the 5th of August 2019, the occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by India can well be defined as a case of prolonged Indian illegal occupation of the territory. India annexed with it an internationally recognized disputed territory and changed its status. India, in brazen violation of international norms, abrogated laws that upheld the separate identity of the occupied land.

After the 5th August illegal and unilateral actions, India launched a lawfare against the people of Jammu and Kashmir, changing laws and imposing new colonial laws. Besides extending several federal laws, India introduced new domicile and land ownership laws to occupied Kashmir. Recently, New Delhi-installed administration in IIOJK added a clause to the J&K Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020, allowing the spouse of a native woman married outside the territory to apply for a domicile certificate. Even after the August 5, 2019 abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A, the spouse of a native woman married outside IIOJK was not issued a domicile certificate as the gazette notification issued by the Indian government on August 4, 2020 provided for the issuance of a domicile certificate only to those who have resided in J&K for 15 years, or have studied for 7 years in the territory. He was entitled to a domicile certificate only subject to the fulfilment of above conditions. The new clause has removed even these conditions.
The new legal framework provides the occupation authorities a full license of changing the demography of the territory while converting the locals’ majority into a minority by opening gate for an influx of non-Kashmiris. In gross violation of the UN resolutions and the international law, Modi government has granted domicile status to over 32 lac people, majority of them non-Kashmiri Hindus. Apprehensions are ripe that more than 800,000 Indian soldiers and over 600,000 migrant labourers present in the territory might also be granted the domicile status in the coming days and months.

India has made another law authorising its army to declare any land in the occupied territory as strategic and take it into its possession. Also, as part of its anti-Muslim policies, BJP led Indian regime took several steps to do away with the symbols and manifestations, which portrayed the inherent distinct character of Jammu and Kashmir. During the cordon and search operations the people of IIOJK are dictated to chant slogans of Hindu religion and those who do not comply are subjected to torture.

The Indian government has unveiled a new media policy for IIOJK in the name of examining the content of print, electronic and other forms of media. As per new laws, the media can print and publish only that content, which is approved by the authorities.

Indian government run administration in IIOJK has started to arbitrarily sack Muslim employees from government departments for being sympathetic to the resistance movement. Since April 2021, over a dozen such employees have been fired in the name of being ‘threat to the security of India’ without explaining them on what basis they were sacked and without giving them a chance of fair representation.

The Modi regime has finalised the process of delimitation of Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies in J&K with an aim to give more seats to Hindu-dominated areas of Jammu division. By doing this, the RSS-backed Indian regime wants to gain majority whenever so-called Assembly elections are held in IIOJK and install its own chief minister in the occupied territory.

Indian Objective

The Articles 370 and 35A provided important legal protections that restricted non-Kashmiris from getting jobs, purchasing land and permanently settling in IIOJK. The whole purpose behind the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A was to remove this barrier and thus convert IIOJK’s Muslim majority into a minority by legalising the settlement of non-Kashmiri Hindus there. This will allow massive demographic changes and thus diluting the Muslim-Majority character of IIOJK. This indeed can affect the results in India’s favour if New Delhi is compelled to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir at any point of time in the future. It is also aimed at damaging the essence of the UN resolutions under which Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory and its fate is to be decided by the Kashmiri people through the exercise of their right to self-determination.

Pakistan’s Response

The 5th August move of the Modi government caused strong resentment across Pakistan. The people and government of Pakistan expressed solidarity with the people of IIOJK and reaffirmed their continued support to the Kashmir cause. They rejected the unilateral changes in the status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir as violations of international and bilateral agreements. The Government of Pakistan repeatedly urged the UN and the international community to intervene to stop India from changing the disputed territory’s demography. Pakistani leadership effectively highlighted at the global forums the sufferings of the people of the occupied territory. Pakistan drew world’s attention to the worst Indian atrocities on the people of IIOJK and repeatedly warned the world that Modi government’s belligerent posture posed serious threat to the regional and global peace.
 The Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry is continuously updating the world leaders on the Indian atrocities on the people of the occupied territory. Since August 05, 2019, the Pakistan Parliament has passed several resolutions expressing solidarity with the oppressed people of IIOJK and condemning India’s illegal actions in the territory.  The Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, has repeatedly expressed Pak Army’s support to the Kashmir cause. He has declared that Pakistan is ready to fight till last bullet, last soldier for Kashmir.

As part of its programs, the Government of Pakistan announced to observe ‘Youm-e-Istehsal’ (Day of Exploitation) on August 5 to mark the anniversary of India’s illegal revocation of IIOJK’s special status. The main intent behind observing the occasion is to show solidarity with the people of IIOJK, expose Indian atrocities as well as its evil designs against them.

In 2020 and 2021, on ‘Youm-e-Istehsal’, the Pakistan’s government arranged host of events in order to denounce the Indian actions against the Kashmiri people as well as the atrocities being carried out by Indian forces in the occupied territory. The government also renamed Islamabad’s Kashmir Highway as Srinagar Highway.

How World Reacted

In the aftermath of 5th of August 2019, Jammu and Kashmir assumed a centre stage and the dispute became a serious discourse all across the globe. The Pakistan’s strenuous efforts and the grim human rights situation caused by the continued military siege in the occupied territory convinced the UN Security Council to hold its session on Kashmir thrice first time after the period of over 50 years. Following the heightened tension between Pakistan and India, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the former US President Donald Trump repeatedly offered mediation to resolve the Kashmir dispute. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, several members of UK parliament and US lawmakers as well as world bodies including the OIC, the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed serious concern over the rights situation in IIOJK. The Human Rights Council issued two reports on the grim situation in Kashmir. UN Rapporteurs also issued their statements highlighting the human rights situation of the territory. The Genocide Watch, international watchdog that keeps an eye on the international disputes, has issued a genocide alert for Muslims living in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmiris’ Indomitable Spirit to Resist

Right from 1947, the Indian invasion faced stiff resistance from the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The people of the occupied territory gave impetus to their struggle to secure their inalienable right in 1989. For three consecutive years from 2008 to 2010, thousands of people hit the streets of Srinagar and other major towns on a daily basis, demanding freedom from the Indian yoke. Occupied Kashmir witnessed another mass uprising following the extrajudicial killing of a popular youth leader, Burhan Wani, on July 08, 2016.

Instead of honouring the sentiments of the Kashmiri people, New Delhi responded with brute force, resulting in the killing of hundreds of protesters and injuring of thousands. Indian troops have martyred 96,093 Kashmiris and arrested 164,948 others since January 1989 till June 30, 2022. The troops have also molested 11,255 women and destroyed 110,486 houses and structures during the period.

It is a fact that despite facing the worst kinds of Indian brutalities, the brave Kashmiris have always resisted all anti-Kashmiri moves initiated by New Delhi in the past and are determined to foil the latest machinations of Modi regime as well. Actually India’s illegal action of August 5 has further solidified the Kashmirs’ resolve and made them more steadfast against its illegal occupation. As unresolved Kashmir dispute is a potential powder keg in the region, it is high time for the global community, particularly the UN to come forward in a big way to stop New Delhi’s onslaught on the Kashmiris’ identity and Muslim majority status of IIOJK and initiate measures for settling the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people without any further delay.