Kashmir needs solution not suppression

picture used for representational purposes only
By Syed Mujtaba & Mirza Jahanzeb Beig

From 1989, the People of Jammu and Kashmir are being killed, tortured, humiliated, and enforcedly disappeared. Thousands of people were killed and thousands became permanently disabled due to the cycle of violence prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir. Many are those who have lost their beloved children, daughters, sisters, mothers, husbands, wives and sons. Some men were the sole bread winners the family. Thousands of houses and shops have been burnt through the years.

A simple survey reveals that every family in Kashmir has suffered either in terms of youth killed, injured or tortured, a woman raped or molested, elder men and women dishonoured and humiliated and so on. A majority of those killed or injured have been innocent children between the age of 5 to 22 years old, not only this but women were killed and injured even during the peaceful protest march.

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These atrocities and Human Rights violations are done by unidentified gun men , forces, etc. Then there are some anti human Laws like Public Safety Act (PSA) and Armed Forces Special Power Act which are direct violations of International Law and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Also, it’s against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that India has ratified. These draconian laws provide complete freedom to the forces to unleash strong military actions against the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations have reported countless stories of tyranny and oppression of forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Killings through torture and hostage taking are a common phenomenon. Along with it, sexual violence and psychological torturing are another horrific weapon. Kashmiri women are facing sexual violence from a very long time. Rape and violence against women is committed on gun point. From the last many years Kashmiris are not feeling safe even in other parts of India, especially students. Kashmiri students have become victims of acts of violence and communally motivated organised crime which amounts to terrorism.  This is all done on the basis of bayonet and misuse of power. Opportunists, Communal Politicians and Media Houses debunks the image of Kashmiri people everywhere which gives rise to increased violence and suspicion against them.

Undoubtedly, it can be said that Kashmiri people are talented, humane and generous, but the system has always suppressed them without taking into consideration their genuine demands. Democracy is based on rule of law, justice, equality, and liberty. But it is quite ironic that these features of democracy are absent in Jammu and Kashmir. All eruptions in the state are caused only because of failure of democracy. On the other hand, the government of India refuses to acknowledge that the people of JK have become totally alienated.

The Kashmir conflict is a legacy of the past. The international community has given Pakistan and India many chances to resolve the outstanding issues. At the bilateral approach, the political leadership of both the countries have failed because prior to every sincere approach towards the resolution, politically motivated opportunistic preconditions are placed which are not acceptable to one or the other stake holders to the dispute . Also, the stake holders incorporate the political interests of their party with the choice of inclusion of stake holders to the dispute and at one time accept different elements as the stake holders but on other instance refuse to recognise them as a party to dispute which maligns the spirit of an unconditional dialogue. In the last three years there have not been any productive and substantive talks between India and Pakistan.

Leaders of India and Pakistan need to realistically plan the future of the region but first they must accept the ground realities with an optimistic mind-set. It is a fact the Kashmir issue has blocked the   process of normalisation of political relationships between India and Pakistan.

Kashmir is bleeding. And from the past seven decades the people of Kashmir remain trapped in this status quo. The baggage of history weighs heavy on us and the change in this shift is possible only through sustained unconditional dialogue — dialogue as we all understand is currently the most civilised and humane way to resolve conflicts.

 There remains an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and to deliver justice for all people in Kashmir who have suffered several decades of conflict. Any resolution to the political situation in Kashmir should entail a commitment to ending the cycles of violence and unaccountability of past and current human rights violations and abuses committed by all parties and redress for victims. Such a resolution can only be brought about by meaningful dialogue that includes the people of Kashmir.

 India and Pakistan should resume the dialogue process and engage all the stake holders including the people of Jammu and Kashmir in a sustained unconditional dialogue aimed at resolving Kashmir issue and which will be imperative for lasting peace in South Asian Region. In order to move forward on Kashmir, there should be a proper mechanism.

One aspect about Kashmir is amply clear that it is a political issue which needs a political solution but it is being pushed towards a military solution. Everlasting Peace is not possible through suppression of public sentiment by force. Sooner or later, the issue has to be resolved  diplomatically.  The stake holders cannot remain unresponsive  for so long given the prevailing predominating situation, war may then seem inevitable. We hope good sense will prevail and all disputing parties will realise the evils of  violent conflicts and come to a peaceful conclusion so that further bloodshed can be prevented. The branches and roots of war have a far outreach, lest we forget!

Both the Writers are Human Rights Activist, observer of socio-political contexts. And can be reached at [email protected]