The Cost of Freedom

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Kashmir has been a long standing dispute between Pakistan and India. When the subcontinent was partitioned in August 1947, it was assumed that Kashmir, with its predominantly Muslim population, would become part of Pakistan. However on October 27th 1947, through an illegal Instrument of Accession, the then Maharaja of Kashmir acceded to India, depriving the Kashmiri people of their right to self-determination. On the same day, India deployed forces to Srinagar and occupied Kashmir.

The UN declared that the people of Kashmir would be given the right to decide the final status of the region through a plebiscite. However, little or no effective action has been taken towards that; the UNSC’s suggestions have consistently been ignored.

Therefore, October 27th is observed as a Black Day by Pakistanis and Kashmiris all over the world. They protest the illegal Indian occupation of Kashmir and the brutalities they have suffered at the hands of the occupants. The United Nations has declared their actions as human rights violations.

Indian forces have increased deployed personnel. They continue shelling and pellet firing on the unoccupied side, which results in severe injuries and loss of eyesight. A UN report on human rights states that since 1989, 100,000 Kashmiri civilians have been killed. There have been 7,023 custodial killings, 122,771 arrests and, 105,996 buildings have been damaged. Over 23,000 women have been left widowed, around 10,000 have been gang-raped/molested and 107,466 children have been orphaned.

The atrocities of the Indian securities forces manifest in tactics like crackdowns, illegal detentions, massacre, shelling, pellet firing, targeted killings, torture, disappearances, curfews, rape/molestation of Muslim women and killing of people under the guise of encounters.

The Indian leadership aims to deflect all international attention from the Kashmiri freedom movement.

This movement, which is completely indigenous and garners mass support from Kashmiris and Pakistanis, came to a peak when renowned young liberation leader, Burhan Wani was martyred in July 2016.

However, Wani had just been one name among many to have embraced martyrdom. Twenty-nine year old Naseer Ahmed Pandit, a police constable was killed in April, 2015. Waseem Malla, 25, died along with him.

Ishaq “Newton” Parray was killed in an encounter in 2016. Omais Ahmed Sheikh, 21, from Chatapora and 17 year old Adil Sheikh of Bijbehara were killed in an encounter in 2017.

According to Amnesty International, in just September this year, 42 innocent people were killed, 231 were injured and, 399 were arrested. The reported number of women raped/molested by Indian forces was 14 while 12 children were left orphaned. Amnesty International further state that these statistics have been drawn only from reported cases and that there could be many more that go unnoticed.

New Delhi cancelled peace talks between both Foreign ministers in September, citing the involvement of Pakistan-based entities in “glorifying terrorism”, according to news reports. As recently as October 21st, an encounter in Laroo in Kulgham district killed 7 civilians and 3 alleged militants.

Among the deceased is 18 year old Muqeem Bhatt, who was a student of grade XII. Talib Maqbool Laway, a first semester Bsc. student was martyred, leaving a widowed mother and a sister behind. Aquib Gulzar, 18, was a first year BA student and the eldest of six siblings.

Recently married Muhammad Mansoor Dar, 26, was an only son who left behind a widowed wife and a 1 year old son. Irshad Ahmed Padder was 21, Javeed Ahmed was 26 and, Uzair Mushtaq, the youngest of these martyrs was just 12 years old.

PM Imran Khan said on October 22nd that he wants resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue. “It is time India realise it must move to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue in accordance with the UN SC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” he said.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has urged the international community to take notice of the human rights violations in Kashmir. Although, practical measures to a further extent should be taken to resolve the issue.

The suggestions of the UN Security Council should be acted upon; the Kashmiri people should be given the right to self-determination. Both sides should have an open dialogue to help resolve the issue for the sake of the innocent Kashmiri people who have been at war for decades.

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is a Mass Communication graduate from NUST. She enjoys creative writing, reading and, photography in her free time.

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