Jammu and Kashmir issue: Persistent violation of international law - M5 Dergi
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Jammu and Kashmir issue: Persistent violation of international law

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The international community has largely ignored India’s controversial policies and human rights violations in Kashmir for years, indicating that the issue will persist as a concern for the Muslim world.

Last week, the Jammu and Kashmir issue was widely discussed in certain media outlets because of the anniversary of the revocation of the special status of the region. The Indian government of Premier Narendra Modi, representing the ultra-rightist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), unilaterally revoked the autonomy of the Kashmir region on Aug. 5, 2019. The special status was granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to the region. The Indian government, known for its anti-Islam and anti-Muslim practices, has divided the Kashmiri territory into two different administrations with no special status.

After the revocation, the Indian government cut off communication lines for months and sent thousands of security forces to the region. It is claimed that there is a soldier for every 12 individuals. In other words, security forces constitute 1 out of 12 of the population. Worse still, thousands of paramilitary security forces were mobilized into the region. Hundreds of Kashmiri politicians, journalists, activists and academicians were taken into custody. Thousands of innocent people were detained by the security forces and thousands of civilians were killed by the paramilitary forces. The security forces even detained those not participating in the anti-government demonstrations. The Indian officials claim that they take “preventive measures” to prevent any criticism against the government.

Then the central government imposed a curfew for years and restricted the fundamental rights of the Muslim majority in the region. The government has shut down cell phones, the internet and cable TV to close the region to the outside world for months. Many observers from India and international platforms claim that they cannot get information about the region. The government forces threaten journalists not to report the developments on the ground. Furthermore, since then, the BJP government has been trying to change the demographic structure of Kashmir. For this reason, the government has allowed the security forces to buy land in Kashmir.

Colonial power’s divide-and-rule principle

Kashmir has been the subject of regional disputes between Pakistan, India and China since the late 1940s. The colonial power divided the Kashmiri territory into three parts, reflecting the infamous divide-and-rule colonial principle. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gave special status to Kashmir, was considered a permanent feature of the Indian Constitution. It also granted the region the right to have a separate constitution, a state flag and large autonomy over the internal affairs of the state. According to the article, the Muslim majority of the region would live under separate laws.

However, over the years, the Indian central governments tried to reduce the special status of Kashmir. After the BJP government representing the Hindutva movement came to power, the Hindutva movement raised their voices claiming that Kashmir was an inseparable part of India. The BJP government has met the demand of the ultra-nationalist Hindutva movement and targeted to eradicate the autonomous status and identity of the Kashmir territory. However, many politicians and lawyers have claimed that the presidential order revoking the special status of Kashmir was a violation of the Indian Constitution. For instance, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Article 370 had attained permanency. The court has continued to challenge the government’s decisions regarding the region. But the political will subjugated the legal perspective, and the court could not resist the political pressure.

With these illegal and unilateral actions, the Indian government not only damages the democratic structure of India but also threatens regional security. It is clear to all that the Kashmir issue is a regional dispute between the three states. Although many international actors condemned the Indian government for human rights violations in Kashmir, no international body took a concrete step to force India to end the restrictions and violations. The governments of global powers keep silent against these illegal unilateral steps taken by the Indian government. These actions are not against the Indian Constitution only but also against the United Nations Resolutions.

It has been four years and the international community has remained largely silent against the controversial policies and human rights violations in Kashmir by India. It seems that in spite of many U.N. resolutions about the fate of the Kashmir territory, the Kashmir issue will remain a blind spot for India and the international community. In other words, Kashmir will continue to be one of the “bleeding wounds” of Muslims worldwide.

Source: DailySabah/Muhittin Ataman

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