The murder of Burhan Wani in Kashmir, the 22 year old young leader of Hizb ul Mujahideen, during the end of Ramadan by Indian security forces has unleashed a new wave of Indian state violence. The Kashmiri Muslims’ street protests have been met with a brutal Indian response; since the 8th July Wani killing more than 70 people have been killed and nearly 10,000 injured. Many young men have been injured through the use of indiscriminate pellet shot guns that have led to terrible eye injuries; hundreds have either been partially or completely blinded.
The internet and social media has been cut by India in an attempt to limit the reporting of such news and curfews have been imposed in Srinagar and the rest of Indian held Kashmir. Yet as remarkable and painful as this news is from Kashmir for many Muslims around the world, the truth is that Kashmir has been suffering for many years now under the brutality of India’s occupation. This situation has been mostly ignored by the world’s media and by governments around the world. In fact Kashmir remains unfinished business from the partition of 1947 that divided India into two after the end of British colonial rule.
During partition in 1947 millions of Muslims migrated from what is India today to what is now known as Pakistan; they sought safety with Islam as their way of life. Kashmir was never formally part of India even before the British Raj. The Hindu Maharajah of Kashmir, Hari Singh, did not own Muslim majority Kashmir when he decided to join India signing a supposed temporary Instrument of Accession with the last British viceroy Lord Mountbatten. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru declared on 3rd November 1947 in an All India Radio broadcast “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by its people. That pledge we give not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it.” This ploy that was supposed to be temporary, with the final status of Kashmir joining either India or Pakistan to be decided by a plebiscite (referendum) has never been honoured. Indian claims of sovereignty over Kashmir are simply illegitimate and a lie.
India though has never been able to suppress the Kashmiri Muslims who have been under a brutal occupation since 1947. Over a half million Indian forces comprising of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF) and the regular Indian army have flooded Kashmir today. The charade of India’s supposed political process was torn away when it enacted the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) of 1990 to try stem the growing mass protests of the Muslims of Kashmir. This act has allowed the Indian state to shoot on sight, arrest and detain without charge, impose curfews and permit house searches at anytime including the night. With Indian security forces’ effectively immune from prosecution it has given the Indian security forces carte blanche for unbridled abuse.
The result has been disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings with bodies being dumped. Houses have been burned and destroyed as collective punishment in an attempt to humiliate and break the resistance of the Muslims of Kashmir. Many tens of thousands of Kashmiris have been killed with more than 100,000 tortured. Under the pretext of fighting a few hundred armed rebels at any one time the Indian military has subjugated an entire 12 million people.
This sadistical abuse is a fact acknowledged by many; the Indian journalist Arundhati Roy said in March 2013:“Today Kashmir is the most densely militarized zone in the world. India has something like 700,000 security forces there. And in the ’90s, early ’90s, the fight became—turned into an armed struggle, and since then, something like 68,000 people have died, maybe 100,000 tortured, 10,000 disappeared, you know? I mean, we all talk a lot about Chile, Pinochet. These numbers are far greater.”
The most disturbing and particularly disgusting abuse by Indian forces has been the deliberate rape of thousands of Kashmiri women. Gang rapes by Indian soldiers as punishment for their resistance to Indian rule is the norm; in 2015 alone 3500 cases of rape were registered against Indian troops. The true number will never be known because most cases will go unreported because of family shame and honour. The use of rape by the Indian army is something that has been acknowledged long ago. Humans Rights Watch in a report titled Rape in Kashmir: A Crime of War said back in 1993 “Rape is used as a means of targeting women whom the security forces accuse of being militant sympathizers; in raping them, the security forces are attempting to punish and humiliate the entire community.”
This abuse continues because Indian forces have a free hand to do as they please. Minar Pimple, Senior Director of Global Operations at Amnesty International said “5th July 2015 will mark 25 years since the AFSPA in effect came into force in Jammu and Kashmir. Till now, not a single member of the security forces deployed in the state has been tried for human rights violations in a civilian court. This lack of accountability has in turn facilitated other serious abuses.”
The fact is that life for a Muslim in Kashmir is one of oppression; in conditions resembling military rule there can be no economic prospects where a whole generation has grown up under violence. India attempts to mask this brutality with the veneer of state elections and handpicked puppet governments’. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi parroted his predecessor’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s slogan of “insaniyat, jamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat (humanity, democracy and Kashmiriyat)” after the latest Kashmir unrest as part of this continuing deceit. If India genuinely believed its democracy was ideologically robust then it would have held a genuine plebiscite to determine the will of the Kashmiri people years ago.
Muslims in India have faced oppression and abuse not just in Kashmir. Discrimination against Muslims is widespread in India. The Babri masjid demolition at Ayodhya in 1992 was led by the BJP party in power today. Its current heir and ruler Narendra Modi has his hands drenched with the blood of thousands of Muslims slaughtered in the riots he directly instigated in Gujarat in 2004. Yet the truth is that the Indian state has a history of suppression and abuse of not only against the Muslims in India but against other minorities as well. The Sikhs who seek an independent ‘Khalistan’ were brutally crushed in Indian Punjab which culminated in the storming of the Golden temple in 1984. India today has up to 30 separate armed secessionist or insurgencies’ raging across many of its states including Maoist rebels from West Bengal in the north east including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura to the Tamil Nadu movement in the South.
It’s not hard to understand why when one considers the failure of the Indian state to treat its minorities with dignity and ensure their rights. Indeed the caste system enforced by the top 5% Brahmin caste legitimises discrimination against the majority Dalits or ‘untouchable’ lower Hindu classes. This is coupled with the rampant corruption within India’s democratic system institutionalised by capitalist policies that have enriched the ruling elite with more than 100 billionaires whilst leaving over 800 million people grinding in abject poverty. India’s cultural and political ideology has cultivated socio-economic deprivation built on religious and class segmentation and is a recipe for uprisings and subsequent state repression. So how can any Muslim expect the Indian state to treat the Muslims in Kashmir fairly?
So as Indian forces blind the protesting Kashmiri youth with their pellet guns the world stares on silently. Western governments, usually high on human rights rhetoric, ignore Kashmir’s plight. Yet the most pathetic response has been by the Pakistani political and military leadership. Despite seeing the harsh and brutal oppression by India, Pakistan’s leaders have nothing to offer but two-faced double talk. Nawaz Sharif’s boldest gambit was to declare that Pakistan would pay the medical expenses of any Kashmiri wounded by Indian forces; he then simultaneously invited Narendra Modi to Islamabad for a SAARC summit huddle. How can the Indian leadership not interpret this as anything but a continued license for a brutal occupation of Kashmir?
The Pakistani army chief, General Raheel Sharif, who has made a name for himself by continuing his predecessors’ American policy in the FATA tribal region by making war with zeal on the very tribes that liberated Azad Kashmir in 1947 also demonstrated his impotence as he gave the usual sound bites for media consumption. General Raheel’s much vaunted courage in the Pakistani media deserts him when it comes to Kashmir and dealing with India resolutely. Instead it emerged that the Pakistan Air Force held joint exercises with Israel, an occupying entity that butchers Muslims in Palestine that also advises India tactically over Kashmir. Tomorrow under General Raheel’s watch can we now also expect the Pakistan Air Force to hold joint exercises with the Indian Air Force as the Kashmiris continue to get raped and slaughtered?
With the Pakistan-Afghan trade transit agreement giving India full access to Afghan trade routes through Pakistan the truth is that since General Musharraf Pakistan has begun a process of abandoning the Muslims of Kashmir to their fate under US guidance. This is so that India can seemingly close the festering wound of Kashmir in order to divert its resources into containing China. This is why Modi can shrill tongue in cheek standing at the Red Fort that India will now champion the issue of Balochistan; he does so as the Indian leadership fears no meaningful response from a defeatist Pakistani establishment which is more anxious about its own wellbeing and US aid dollars. Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, a former Pakistani diplomat, wrote recently in the Dawn saying “Pakistan has never cared to develop a longer-term policy or strategy towards Kashmir… support for the ‘Kashmir cause’ are all rhetorically and symbolically espoused, often with great passion, while our leaders ensure no organised and sustained popular movements for their achievement are allowed to develop. Why? Because the power and class elites fear such movements would undermine the political status quo that sustains them.”
Its clear after nearly 70 years that Pakistan’s rulers are not going to do anything about Kashmir; any negotiations with India are a sham designed to fool the Pakistani public. The UN is also not going to do anything either; it only acts as a rubber stamp for Western foreign policy. This is why it can deliver independence for East Timor which has a majority Christian population from Indonesia but remains dumb and mute over Kashmir despite there being numerous earlier UN Security Council resolutions calling for a plebiscite which India wilfully ignores. Western countries such as the US and the UK are not going to help either; they remain more interested in trade deals, partnering with India to contain China and working together to contain any Islamic political revival in South East Asia. John Kerry, US Secretary of State, on his recent visit to India endorsed its position on Kashmir saying “We cannot and will not distinguish between good and bad terrorists… US stands with India on all matters of terrorism, no matter where it comes from. It’s crystal clear we are on the same view over it.”
The Kashmiri groups fighting the brutal Indian occupation also cannot solve this problem. Even though the right to self-determination is enshrined in International law and is as old as mankind’s history itself these groups are not the solution as they lack the ability with little legitimacy and political support outside Kashmir and Pakistan itself; instead they provide the pretext to India to label the entire Kashmiri political freedom movement as “terrorism”.
The fact remains the only real solution to this Indian occupation is liberation of Kashmir by another state. Pakistan has the military ability and the obligation to help the Muslims in Kashmir but has no political will; India itself has lost the Muslims in Kashmir and is only tentatively holding on with brute force. It is a situation that draws some parallels with the formation of Bangladesh when India first covertly aided and then intervened openly in favour of the Bangladeshi independence movement to dismember Pakistan’s eastern wing. An army that rapes women and kills children in order to retain control over a territory as India does in Kashmir cannot be considered as anything but weak and cowardly.
Islam does not take the killing and abuse of Muslims lightly. Abd Allah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As said “I saw the Messenger of Allah (saw) performing tawaf around the Holy Ka`ba saying to it: ‘How pure and good you are! How pure and good your fragrance is! How great and exalted you are! And how great and exalted your sanctity is! But by Him in whose hand is Muhammad’s soul, the sanctity of a believer’s blood and property in the sight of Allah is greater than your sanctity!” Today we see the blood, property and honour of the Muslims in Kashmir being openly violated; yet we see the so called Islamic leadership of Pakistan remain not only indifferent but seek co-operation with the very Indian leadership that is behind this murderous occupation. How much more shameless can one become than the sycophant Nawaz Sharif when he welcomed Modi the right wing Hindutva zealot to his granddaughter’s wedding in Raiwind, Lahore?
Contrast this reaction with that when a Muslim woman was attacked by the Romans in the Roman city of Ammuriah. She was not raped, but she was abused and she shouted, “Ya Mutasimah”. When these words reached the Khaleefah Mutasim, he called an emergency adhan in the masjid and the Muslims gathered. The Khaleefah said, “A report has reached me that one Muslim sister was attacked in a Roman city. Wallahi, I will send an army that is so big that when it reaches them it is still leaving our base. And tell me the strongest city of these Romans and I will send the army to that city.”
Liberation of the weak and protection of both Muslim and non-Muslim is the real warfare sanctioned by Islam; oppressive regime change is the true Jihad. This is something which has a great place in the history of Islam whilst groups like ISIS have no precedence or legitimacy. Battle for the Khilafah’s military has to be just and within limits; the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said “I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly.” Allah (SWT) declares in the Quran “But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” TMQ 8:61
If America can attempt to justify invading and destroying Afghanistan because more than 3000 of its citizens were killed on 9/11 than what of Kashmir where more than 100,000 have been killed and more than 12 million remain subject to a vicious Indian occupation?
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also said “Behold, the Khaleefah is but a shield from behind which people fight and by which they protect themselves.” A sincere Islamic leadership tomorrow will not forget the Muslims of Kashmir and India should understand that the Khilafah state will not turn a blind eye as Pakistan does today. 6th September, known as ‘Defence Day’, marks the anniversary of when Pakistan successfully defended itself against an Indian attack in 1965. The war involved the largest tank battle since the Second World War and represented both a military and political setback for India. It is poignant to note that the 1965 war as in all conflicts between India and Pakistan had its roots in this unresolved Kashmir dispute. With Kashmir under a ruthless occupation, its people treated like animals, how is that Pakistan’s leaders think that they can ‘celebrate’ anniversaries such as Defence Day whilst allowing the Muslims in Kashmir to suffer unrelenting Indian violence?
As we approach Hajj we are reminded of the real unity of Muslims globally through their simple belief irrespective of their ethnic origin, colour or wealth; we are reminded of the immense potential power that is at the fingertips’ of the Ummah that is waiting to be harnessed by a righteous Khaleefah. Eid ul Adha also reminds us of the unswerving obedience and willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his son Prophet Issac (AS) in order to please Allah (SWT). In Pakistan’s rulers today we find instead a selfish leadership determined to continue their disobedience to Allah (SWT) with no expectation to liberate the Muslims of Kashmir amongst many other crimes. The celebration of 6th September as Defence day is a meaningless farce when these cowards leave Pakistan’s Muslim brethren in Kashmir at the mercy of a tyrannical Indian regime.