By Sameer Rather
Every year 27th October is marked as a black day in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. On this particular day, Indian troops settled illegally for the very first time in 1947 and occupied the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir happened to be a princely state before the Indian occupation. The drastic occupation didn’t take into account the will and consideration of the people of Kashmir. This day is marked as a black day every year in Kashmir in order to counter the political treachery of the Indian state. On this day, people of Kashmir want to spread the message of human rights violations and forceful occupation to the international community. It is a symbolic protest against Indian rule which is based on military might and deadly weapons.
When we look back to the history of Indian occupation in Jammu and Kashmir, we find that the occupation by the Indian military in Kashmir was not to secure the common population, but to secure the despotic King, Maharaja Hari Singh, who in the following years was to be replaced by proxy rulers in the garb of democracy. India used the Srinagar air strip on 27th October to force a silent invasion of Kashmir.
It all started with the unending Dogra oppression and arduous taxation forced primarily on the majority Muslim population. The revolt against Hari Singh began in the Poonch area of Jammu and Kashmir. Fearing rebellion by Muslims in Poonch, who owned firearms because many served under the British Army, Maharaja Hari Singh in June 1947 ordered the surrender of firearms, which were confiscated by force and were later handed over to the minority Hindus of the region. The Times (London) in its report, “Elimination of Muslims from Jammu, Part 2” on 10th August, 1948, wrote: “2, 37, 000 Muslims were systematically exterminated…by the forces of the Dogra state headed by the Maharaja in person and aided by Hindus and Sikhs.” Other sources estimated the toll of the massacre to be more than 5 lakhs, which subsequently changed the demography of the Jammu region.
Angered by the massacres, the Poonch rebels started organising an armed mutiny against the Dogra Maharaja of which India took advantage and declared the landing of its troops, who were ready at the Srinagar airfield from 17th October, camouflaged in civilian vehicles, especially trucks. They had already taken control of the airport there. All this was done by the Maharaja with the intention of signing an illegal agreement of accession, known as the instrument of accession.
The people of Kashmir have rejected illegal Indian occupation since day one. India, however, took the matter to the UN Security Council on January 1, 1948, to settle the Kashmir dispute. Consecutive resolutions passed by the Security Council invalidated the Indian invasion in Occupied Kashmir. Through the resolutions passed on August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949, the UN approved a ceasefire, demarcation of the ceasefire line, demilitarisation of the State, and a free and impartial plebiscite to be conducted under the supervision of the world body. However, the demilitarisation of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and the demand for a plebiscite still remain unfulfilled. Today, the geopolitical location of Kashmir has made it a nuclear flashpoint in South Asia. In 1954, in his book, Danger in Kashmir, Josef Korbel, father of Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State, wrote: “For today, as in past seven years, the two great nations of subcontinent, India and Pakistan, continue to dissipate their wealth, their strength and their energy on a near fratricidal struggle in which the hitherto almost unknown State of Kashmir has become the physical battleground.”
Today after seventy years and India’s evident exhaustion in Kashmir in every respect, it is unable to break the will of Kashmiris. Since the death of Burhan Wani, a young Kashmiri militant leader, a new wave of uprisings has swept through Kashmir. Since July 8, 2016, IOK is kept under curfew by the Indian army; the killings to suppress Kashmiris and their struggle are on the rise. Unfortunately, despite driving the attention of the world community and reminding India time and again of its barbarism in Kashmir, India has only vowed to take tougher action against Kashmir’s protestors. The ruthless killings have led to spontaneous protests across the state against the continued brutalities of the Indian armed forces, which enjoy impunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Instead of reaching out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and opening communication channels, India has enforced a complete lockdown on the millions of inhabitants of the valley since July 8. Indian authorities have severely crippled all communications: jamming mobile and internet services, seizing offices of local newspapers and detaining staff members. Many hospitals and ambulances have reportedly been damaged by security personnel and it still continues today whenever the Indian army gets a chance to suppress protestors. The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Kashmir currently is not a one-off occurrence. It has been an integral part of how India continues to rule over Kashmir. Such events have repeatedly occurred throughout the past three decades, with India continuing to look away from the writing on the wall. The current protests, and those in the three bloody summers from 2008-10, only reflect the resilience of the Kashmiri people and their demand for the right to self-determination, which is not only guaranteed by the UNSC resolutions but was promised by the Indian Parliament in 1948.
The pain and anguish of the people of Jammu and Kashmir on this particular day – 27 October – against the Indian state can be analysed by an inspection of the social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. Most of the people from Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the valley as well as in other corners of the world, will be uploading their DPs and status regarding the black day in Kashmir, provided the Internet is accessible on this particular day.
Every single individual in Kashmir is waiting eagerly to celebrate the day of freedom, instead of black day. The question is: Can India give back our freedom which it snatched from us and will the international community continue to look at us as being oppressed from a distance? We will fight till freedom is won. Only then we will be able to live a life of peace and harmony. Let me conclude with an apt quote from Abraham Lincoln: “Those who deny the freedom of others deserve it not for themselves; and under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.”
Sameer Rather is studying Sociology (Hons.) at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh, India.
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