As Pakistan marks its the 56th Defence Day, the Indian occupation in Jammu and Kashmir has concluded its second year.
It is unfortunate that our Kashmiri brethren have been facing the brunt of Indian cruelty for more than 70 years. On September 6, 1965, India and Pakistan went to war over Kashmir. Defence Day commemorates the exceptional efforts of valiant Pakistani army and air force officers in reinforcing territorial security and protection of life and property, as well as, the martyrs who laid down their lives. However, the Kashmir debacle remains up in the air.
A historic occupation of Kashmir began on August 2019 after Modi’s government unilaterally revoked the Article 370 and Article 35A from the Constitution which granted special status to Kashmir. It abolished the rights of Kashmiri citizens pertaining to autonomous law-making, property-ownership and job security. Under the guise of a Covid-19 lockdown, it imposed a draconian curfew, cutting off communication, blocking public movement, closing workplaces, suspending mobile and internet usage. This curfew remains in effect. The intent behind this infringement was to conceal India’s massive human rights violations in the occupied territories.
The violation of civil liberties in Indian-held Kashmir has been constant since decades. Reports of extra-judicial killings, arbitrary incarcerations and missing persons keep coming up. The fascist ideology of the BJP has turned a blind eye to the plight of Kashmiri Muslims, in particular the women. In the story of Kashmir, the tales of trauma, helplessness, abuse, and injustices pertaining to women have been on the backburner.
The hoodlums of BJP are actively perpetuating psychological terror amongst women via derogatory remarks, public shaming and sexual humiliation. The internet is replete with scandalous accounts of women harassment and ignominy. While scrolling through my social media, I came across a horrifying video. Three bald Dalit women, accused of ‘witchcraft,’ were forced to consume urine and flee from the scene. Such acts have been prevalent in Muzaffarabad and Bihar.
The hoodlums of BJP are actively perpetuating psychological terror amongst women via derogatory remarks, public shaming and sexual humiliation
The conflict of Kashmir is also gendered in nature like others. As Susan Mackay famously asserted, women are politicized as tools of war. We are the dupes of the culture where men find honor and shame in women’s bodies; hence, in Kashmir, rape has been traditionally discerned as a constructive modus operandi to enervate the morale of the adversary and provoke dread to discourage the locals in attaining self-determination. The rising chauvinistic attitude has coalesced with conventional patriarchal mindset into illicitly materializing this crime of humanity.
Consequently, as anticipated, rape cases have skyrocketed since the infamous act. A contributing motive is the unwarranted immunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which supposedly permits Indian soldiers to detain anyone without authorization, shoot suspects of incendiaries on sight and carry out annexations of private property in order to sustain ‘law and order.’
On Defense Day, it is incontrovertible to honor the tremendous sacrifices of our valiant armed forces and rekindle the spirit of solidarity and sacrifice in order to face any adversary undeterred. It is incumbent to rejuvenate the plight of our Kashmiri counterparts who have mercilessly suffered at the hands of our neighbor since inception. Most importantly, India must realize that blatantly executing the former operations is synonymous to cutting its own throat. Modi’s acts of transgression stand in sheer contradiction not only to international resolutions of UNSC but the fundamental promises of his founding father, Nehru vis a vis the protection of Kashmiris.
The need of the hour is for the entire global community to break the silence and forgo the double standards set for Kashmiris against the rest of the world. Kashmiris demand the same level of attention as Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Rwanda. International bodies like UN, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, OIC, as well as, great powers must play their role in stopping India from ethnic cleansing, radicalization and ceasefire violations.
It is a sad reality that in any situation women always suffer the most. The situation in Kashmir is certainly not different as every day a girl is either raped, slaughtered or killed. I speak for all the oppressed voices of Asifa, Asiya, Neelofer and Tabinda, to name a few, who still await justice.
Justice must be served since justice delayed is justice denied.