Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir has been a Kosova in the making for half a century now. In many counts, Kashmir has even exceeded Kosova as a valley of death, destruction, rape, persecution, and humiliation of its people. Yet the international community has ignored the cries of the people of this once famed tourist paradise that has turned into a virtual valley of hell.
For the international community Kashmir has remained somewhat out of sight and thus, "out of mind" for many years. Even since December 1989, when the "insurgency" began and when the Indian forces launched a brutal campaign to quell it, Kashmir has been treated differently from other theaters of conflict such as Kosova or East Timor where media were relatively free to report.
India has since maintained an information blockade over Kashmir. Even at present, all India has been Internet-connected but Kashmir is not. Local and international journalists are free to report on all regions of India, but not on Kashmir. The journalists who have ventured to report on Kashmir have been routinely manhandled, beaten up and in some instances killed by the Indian forces appearing in various camouflages.
The record of Indian atrocities in Kashmir in quelling this rebellion is too shocking to be expressed in words. According to Kashmiri-American sources, Indian forces have killed an estimated 65,000 men, women and children in Kashmir, injured 86,000 more, and held 75,000 others illegally without due process of law.
Even according to the U.S. State Department, the Indian Government has violated principles of human decency and democratic freedom against Kashmiris. According to the State Department's Country Report of 1995, Indian forces were responsible for widespread torture, kidnapping, killing, and rape of Kashmiris. Human rights violations included arbitrary arrest, detention incommunicado, use of excessive force, and disruption of the judicial process. Despite such reports of atrocities, the United States has remained satisfied with simply reproaching India for its human rights record in Kashmir.
Just like the United States, Muslim governments have done little to redirect world attention to the issue of Kashmir. Once in a while the Organization of Islamic Conference issues statements deploring the Indian atrocities, but these often do little more than sympathize with the Pakistani position.
Pakistan has tried its best to redirect international attention to the issue of Kashmir. Pakistan has borne the onslaught of three wars over Kashmir. Following the war of 1971, Pakistan agreed to the Indian proposal for bilateral resolution of the conflict. This was, however, a mistaken approach to an issue that was once internationalized. For this excluded participation of the United Nations and the Kashmiri people and allowed India to manipulate the situation while keeping Pakistan under constant military threat. This also created problems for the Muslims of India who felt they had to walk extra miles to prove their loyalty whenever there was a skirmish between India and Pakistan.
Now, fifty-two years after the U.N. resolutions, an entire generation of Kashmiris is now growing up, experiencing torture, rape, scheming, insurgency, and counter-insurgency as the normal phenomena of life. They are being denied the education and development they desperately need. The continuation of this situation will be harmful for all including India, Pakistan, and the international community.
It is time for the international community to rethink and reclaim the issue of Kashmir as part of its mandate. It is time for OIC governments and Muslims worldwide to speak out loud for resolution of the Kashmir conflict under the U.N. auspices.
Mohammad A. Auwal is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at California State University, Los Angeles and is a regular columnist for iviews.com
Topics: India, Indian Army