Muhammad Raza Malik
October 27 is the darkest day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir and the Kashmiris living on both sides of the Line of Control and across the world observe it as Black Day. This is the day, when, in 1947, India had forcibly occupied the then Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir by landing its army in Srinagar against the will of the Kashmiri people and in total disregard to the Indian Independence Act and Partition Plan. Under the Partition Plan, Indian British Colony was divided into two sovereign states, India (comprising Hindu majority areas) and Pakistan (consisting of Muslim-majority areas of Western provinces and east Bengal).
As per the understanding behind the Partition Plan, the Princely States were given the choice to accede either of the two newly-formed countries on the basis of their geography and demography. With 87% Muslim population, Kashmir had a natural tendency to become a part of Pakistan as both shared strong bonds in respect of religion, geography and culture. But, unfortunately, the then Hindu ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, destroyed the future of Kashmiri people by announcing its accession to India under a controversial document, Instrument of Accession, thus laying the foundation of the Kashmir dispute. Many neutral observers including prominent British historian, Alastair Lamb, deny the existence of such a document with the argument that had it been there, the Indian government must have made it public either officially or at any international forum. Even Indian Archives Department has now declared that the document is lost and the announcement has put question marks on the very existence of the document.
In a bid to punish the Kashmiris for their aspiration to join Pakistan and with the intention to change the demographic composition of the territory to turn the results in favour of India in any referendum in future, Indian troops, the forces of Dogra Maharaja, and Hindu extremists massacred over three hundred thousand Kashmiri Muslims within a period of two months in Jammu division.
Kashmir in the UN
Right from the day one, the people of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir rejected India’s illegal occupation and started an armed struggle with total public support in 1947. They were able to free a vast area now known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir on the world map. On seeing its forces at the verge of a humiliating defeat, India approached the UN Security Council on January 01, 1948, seeking its help to settle the Kashmir dispute. Successive resolutions passed by the Security Council nullified Indian invasion and occupation of Kashmir and called for the resolution of the dispute through impartial plebiscite to be conducted under the supervision of the World Body. However, Indian leaders later backed away from their commitments due to which the plebiscite could not be held till date.
Kashmiris’ revolt and mass uprisings
Disappointed over the failure of all the efforts aimed at resolving the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means for decades, the people of IIOJK intensified their freedom struggle in 1989 to secure their right to self-determination. This movement gave sleepless nights to the Indian rulers. They responded this popular movement with the brute military might.
The people of IIOJK added a new dimension to their freedom movement in 2008. They hit the streets in thousands during mass uprisings in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016. However, most of the time, Indian troops and police personnel used brute force against these peaceful demonstrators, killing hundreds and injuring thousands of them.
Indian state terrorism
India has exhausted all its resources during the past 75 years but has miserably failed to intimidate the people of Jammu and Kashmir into submission. The serial brutalization of Kashmiris takes many forms: extrajudicial killings, incarceration, custodial torture and death, indiscriminate use of force, deliberate targeting of Kashmiri youth with pellet guns, and ‘collective punishments’ imposed on entire communities. During the last 33 years only, Indian troops have martyred over 96,150 Kashmiris, widowed more than 22,950 women, orphaned not less than 107,880 children and molested or gang-raped over 11,250 Kashmiri women. Thousands of innocent youth have been subjected to disappearance in custody and their whereabouts remain untraced. The shocking discovery of thousands of unmarked graves in the territory puts serious question mark over the safety of the disappeared youth. Even the European Union Parliament unanimously passed a resolution in its session in Strasbourg on July 10, 2008, asking India to conduct an independent and impartial investigation to ascertain the identity of the people buried in these graves. This demand is yet to be fulfilled.
Modi’s 5th August onslaught
Narendra Modi-led fascist Indian government has endangered the peace and stability of the entire world, particularly the South Asian region, by revoking Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir and completely annexing it with India on 05 August 2019. Thousands of Kashmiris including Hurriyat leaders and activists arrested after the repeal of the Article 370 remain lodged in different jails of India and IIOJK. Senior Hurriyat leader, Altaf Ahmad Shah, recently died in the Indian captivity due to denial of basic facilities including medical care in the jail. He had been under illegal detention for the last over five years. Prominent APHC leader, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, also died in the Indian custody in May, last year. The life of many other detainees is in danger as they have developed serious ailments during the illegal detention.
In order to legalise the settlement of non-Kashmiri Hindus in IIOJK, the Modi regime has extended several federal laws and introduced new domicile rules in the territory. It has granted domicile status to thousands of non-Kashmiri Hindus in blatant violation of Security Council resolutions and international law, particularly the 4th Geneva Convention. Modi-led 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, the BJP-led communal government is replacing the Muslim names of important places and departments with Hindu names and plans to construct 50,000 temples to Hinduanise IIOJK. It is also terminating the Kashmiri Muslim government employees to punish them for their affiliation with ongoing freedom movement and replace them with Hindus. The Delimitation Commission constituted by the Modi government in its report has granted six additional assembly seats to Hindu majority Jammu region and only one more seat to Muslim dominated Kashmir division. This has been done despite the fact that the population of Kashmir Valley is 15 lacs more than Jammu as per the last census exercise. By doing this, the RSS-backed Modi regime wants to gain majority whenever so-called Assembly elections are held in IIOJK and install a Hindu chief minister there. The basic objective behind all these unilateral illegal measures is to damage the essence of the UN resolutions on the Kashmir dispute and affect the results in India’s favour if New Delhi is compelled to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir in the future.
Pakistan’s support to Kashmir cause
History is witness to the fact that Pakistani leadership and people have always supported the Kashmiris’ just liberation struggle. The father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had rightly termed Kashmir as the “Jugular Vein” of Pakistan. Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, in his address to the UN General Assembly, made it clear to the world that Pakistan desired peace with all its neighbours including India, however, sustainable peace and stability in South Asia remained contingent upon a just and lasting resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. He pointed out that India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019, to change the internationally recognized disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir and to alter the demographic structure of the occupied territory further undermined the prospects of peace and inflamed regional tensions. 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 and last soldier for Kashmir.
These are the reasons of the observance of October 27 as Black Day by the Kashmiris all across the globe. The observance is aimed at reminding the world of its obligations towards resolving the Kashmir dispute for the peace and stability in South Asia and the world at large. At the same time, it is intended to send a loud and clear message to New Delhi that the Kashmiris reject its illegal occupation of their homeland and that they will continue their struggle till they achieve their inalienable right to self-determination promised to them by India and the international community. After Modi regime’s illegal action to change the disputed status and demographic composition of occupied Kashmir, the observance of October 27 as Black Day has become more important for the Kashmiris to send a loud and clear message to India and the world community that they would never accept India’s subjugation and they would continue their struggle till they achieved their inalienable right to self-determination promised to them by India and the world through several UN resolutions.
(The writer is a Senior News Editor at Kashmir Media Service)