Dr Syed Nazir Gilani
The killing of three civilians Dr. Mudasir Gul, Altaf Butt and Mohammad Amir in Hyderpora, Srinagar, on the evening of November 15, 2021 has shaken every conscience beyond all earlier experiences. The police have taken the mourners into custody for the just demand to have the bodies.
People around the world, like, Israel, US and many other countries have refused to obey unlawful orders to kill the innocent people. Many young Israeli soldiers see no merit in killing a Palestinian child and refuse to shoot. These soldiers face arrest and imprisonment.
Boxer Mohammad Ali refused to join US army during the Vietnam War. He said that he had no quarrel with men, women and children of Vietnam and would not take up a gun to kill them. Mohammad Ali was stripped of his title and imprisoned. Many US soldiers refused to take part in Iraq war on the grounds of “conscience” and ran away to Canada and sought asylum.
These people are called, “conscientious objectors”. They are the “individuals who claim the right to refuse to perform military service on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, or religion. This is one of the oldest internationally recognised human rights. In some countries, conscientious objectors are assigned to an alternative civilian service as a substitute for conscription or military service. On March 8, 1995, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights resolution 1995/83 stated that “persons performing military service should not be excluded from the right to have conscientious objections to military service”.
India should also have its share of good and decent people, who would refuse to kill a Kashmiri on the grounds of “a good conscience”. If there are any or many, they have yet to identify themselves. Valley of Kashmir should have people of ‘conscience’ in all its disciplines and police should not be an exception. They should refuse to kill civilians as “objectors of conscience”.
Unfortunately, killing by Indian forces in Kashmir has been institutionalised. They kill for medals, monetary benefits and promotions. In early 1990s Indian army raised a private force called “IkhwanI” and gave it incentives of all kind to kill unarmed civilians or their kin to spread terror. Indian army gave incentives of financial rewards and promotion in rank to its personnel and to personnel of Kashmir police to arrest and kill the Kashmiri youth suspected of opposing the Indian rule.
The incentives encouraged killing in staged fake encounters and deaths during custody. It has resulted into the death of a generation. The growing local and international uproar on finding Unmarked Mass Graves all over Kashmir, has forced the Ikwanis to return to their hideouts.
In February 2016 Inspector General of Police on the Indian side of Kashmir took a decision to enhance the reward money for killing militants (in fact unarmed Kashmiri youth). The reward money is paid by the police for killing militants fighting Indian rule in the state. The amount of money is fixed according to the category of a militant, which is decided by his activity. “The highest paid category is A++, followed by A+, A, B and C categories.
Reward money for killing category A++ militant has been enhanced from Rupees 10 lakh to Rupees 12.5 lakh; for category A+ militant the amount has been increased from Rupees 5 lakh to Rupees 7.50 lakh. For category A militant, the amount of reward has been increased from Rupees 3 lakh to Rupees 5 lakh. In the same manner the reward money for killing category B militant has been increased from Rupees 2 lakh to Rupees 3 lakh and for the category C militant, the reward money has been increased from Rupees 1 lakh to Rupees 2 lakh.
It is an institutionalised and open inducement to any private group or individual to earn through the killing of a ‘militant’ – in fact a State Subject, who is identified for opposing the Indian rule. The police policy to profile the Kashmiri youth and fix awards for their killing is unlawful and constitutes a war crime. This manner of profiling and killing is not permissible in Kashmir.
Noel Baker the British representative has argued at the 241st meeting of the UN Security Council held on 5 February 1948 that “It is my conviction that raids and incidents will continue to occur until the question of Kashmir has been disposed of by the Security Council…And, so long as fear dominates the minds of the peoples in that area of the Punjab and of Kashmir, incidents will continue and the situation will remain extremely grave.”
In addition to this, Britain has accepted that there are six elements that need to be satisfied of the just solution of the Kashmir dispute. Britain has named these elements as Pakistan, insurgents, tribesmen, Government of India, other inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir and the outside world. There is a distinction made between insurgents and tribesmen.
Insurgent are indigenous and are duly recognised as an interest group. Noel Baker said that “This plebiscite must inspire confidence in everybody, including those who are now fighting. We have all stated it before. The representative of India said at our 239th meeting the day before yesterday that the two parties interested in the Kashmir question are Pakistan and the insurgents in Kashmir. Therefore, we have to satisfy these two parties. What the Security Council does must seem fair to these two parties. It must also seem fair to The Government of Pakistan, to the insurgents, to the tribesmen, to the Government of India, to the other inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir, and to the outside world.”
What should we do to protect the people of Kashmir? This concern should occupy our daily thoughts. As a start we should audit the history of our efforts in defending the people’s right to self-determination and shortlist the mistakes made or duties skipped. We have to return to the Canadian proposal to “afford security to the people of Jammu and Kashmir” made at the 235th meeting of UN Security Council held on 24 January 1948. Pakistan revisited the proposal at the 761st meeting of UN SC on 16 January 1957. The question of a credible protection has been supported by Australia, Cuba, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and United States of America on 14 February 1957.
Under the Karachi Agreement of April 1949 Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir has entered an agreement with the Government of Pakistan on the division of work, how to run the administration and how to advance the right of self-determination. Government of AJK has entered another constitutional arrangement under the Constitution Act 1974 with the Government of Pakistan, to ensure good governance and to discharge duties under UNCIP Resolutions.
AJK government has a duty to take by itself and to co-ordinate with other disciplines, radical, credible and verifiable steps and has a duty to engage the Government of Pakistan on the shared duties. Daily killings of innocent Kashmiris in the Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir set a compelling need on the Government of AJK and Government of Pakistan to honour the shared duties under the Karachi Agreement of April 1949 and the Constitution Act 1974. In addition the people should stir into a serious concern against the “institutional killings” in the Indian occupied Kashmir.
The author is President of London-based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.