August 5, 2020, was celebrated all over the world, including Pakistan, as ‘Youm-e-Istahsal’. On the same day last year, India declared the annexation of the disputed territory of Occupied Kashmir in violation of international law. In the last six weeks, India has been issuing domicile certificates to 25,000 Indian nationals in the region and trying to convert the Muslim population into a minority.
The main reason for this attitude was the repealing of two important articles of the Indian Constitution, Articles 370 and 35A. Both these points have in the past maintained the disputed status of Occupied Kashmir. Since their abolition, resettlement, property, permanent residence, education, and employment of Hindus have been made possible in Kashmir. This is not only a violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 47, 51, 80, 96, 98, 122, and 126, but also a violation of the rights of Kashmiris. In this situation, not only Kashmiri men but also women and children have been forced to endure three generations of persecution.
Although there are many types of war crimes, the worst is gender-based violence against women. According to a report by the Kashmir Media Service, at least 671 Kashmiri women have been martyred by Indian troops since January 2001. History has shown that whenever there is an emergency in a country, be it in the form of an epidemic or a war, women, and children are the most affected.
In a war situation, women’s problems increase slightly. The first problem is migration. Because women spend more time at home, they also have to endure more physical and mental suffering than men when they have to migrate. The second problem is that they are used as weapons during war. Because they are physically weaker than men, they easily fall prey to the nefarious intentions of the enemy. As is happening with Kashmiri women in the case of Indian terrorism. This is indicated by both Human Rights Watch’s 1993 and 1996 reports.
Seema Kazi, a well-known author on the oppression of Kashmiri women, says, “Rape in Kashmir is a cultural weapon of war, a failed attempt by Indian security forces to stop Kashmiri men from fighting for freedom. The soldiers’ confessional documents show that they are formally ordered to rape Kashmiri women. “An example of this is the rape and murder of an 8-year-old Muslim girl (who belonged to a poor family) in January 2018. Seven Hindus (including four policemen and a temple priest) were involved. Demonstrations were held against the arrest of the accused, led by two ministers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Eventually, all the accused were released. The UN Secretary-General also took note of this heinous crime. The incident is known as the “Kathua Rape Case”.
The international attention paid to the incident shows that although the advancement of technology has exposed the oppression of the Kashmiri people, including women, globally through the media, the abuse has not been cured. The main reason for this is that the powerful countries in the world are not only violating human rights themselves but are also suppressing the voice of international justice institutions. This has made the situation worse. An example of this is the threat to the United Nations Court of Justice over the investigation of war crimes against US forces in Afghanistan.
When countries do not take action or punish their atrocities, but also stop international institutions, the situation worsens. As is happening in Kashmir. The main reason for this is the Special Powers Act of 1990, in which section 7 prohibits legal action against security officials without the prior approval of the Government of India. Under the Act, Indian forces are not responsible for their violent actions.
The ‘state patronage’ of violence is a violation of human rights in Kashmir. That is why in the last 30 years, despite numerous media reports of violence and killings, not a single Indian officer has ever appeared in court or been convicted. Although the national and international media are constantly drawing attention to this, the Indian government’s oppression continues due to a lack of international pressure.
Pakistan is constantly raising its voice for the rights of Kashmiris in international justice institutions, the international powers must also take positive steps; otherwise, history will always give these countries an equal share in this oppression.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.