In occupied Kashmir, resentment is brewing among the people against rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party’s designs to change the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir and turn the Muslim majority of the territory into minority. Narendra Modi-led BJP, before the Lok Sabha elections and after coming into power in May last year, has made some announcements and taken some decisions to dishonour the sacrifices of the Kashmiri people and erode the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir and its complete integration with the Indian Union.

Before polls, Modi and BJP had announced to start debate after coming into power over the continuation of the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir. They are devising a plan to set-up high security separate colonies in the occupied Kashmir Valley for the Kashmiri Pandits, who had migrated from the territory to Jammu and different Indian states. The objective of this move is to defame the Kashmiris’ ongoing liberation struggle as a communal movement and to provide a platform to the extremist Hindu organisations to persecute the Kashmiri Muslims and further the Hindutva agenda of the present Indian government. The BJP government also asked the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), last year, to vacate its office in New Delhi. The UNMOGIP, which was set up in 1949 after the first war between Pakistan and India on Kashmir and was tasked with monitoring the ceasefire between the two countries, had been functioning from New Delhi office for the past several decades. In August 2014, India suspended foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan following meetings in New Delhi between Pakistan High Commissioner, Abdul Basit, and Kashmiri Hurriyet leaders.

In yet another such move, an Indian Parliamentary Committee recently recommended grant of state subject rights and other concessions to the non-Kashmiri refugees (mostly Hindus and Sikhs who migrated from erstwhile West Pakistan in 1947 and settled in Jammu). Ahead of the farcical elections in November-December 2014, BJP was confident of securing 44 plus seats of the 87-member Kashmir Assembly but could only get 25 seats – none from the Kashmir Valley. These election results gave a major set-back to its communal agenda in the occupied territory and now it wants to settle non-Kashmiris in the territory to strengthen its vote bank to secure more seats in the sham polls in future.

The All Parties Hurriyet Conference Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Faroq, and other Hurriyet leaders including Syed Ali Gilani, Muhammad Yasin Malik and Shabbir Ahmed Shah have expressed serious concern over the decision of settling non-state subjects in Jammu and Kashmir saying that the move is aimed at changing the demography of Jammu and Kashmir. They said that the Kashmiris would resist it tooth and nail as it was the issue of survival of their Muslim identity.

It is unfortunate that instead of honouring the aspirations of the Kashmiri people New Delhi is using different tactics to strengthen its illegal hold on Jammu and Kashmir. The world community must take cognisance of India’s actions regarding Jammu and Kashmir – an internationally-recognised disputed territory – and impress upon it to give the Kashmiri people their right to self-determination.

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