By Mazhar Javed
Tear of joy are normal when celebrities are honoured with prestigious awards. But when a large audience in a packed Hall in the Norwegian town of Bergen last week rose in respect of Rafto Award winner Parveen Ahangar’s tears, painfully, they were not rising to honour any tears of joy; Ahangar’s tears were the tears of real pain misery and agony; and all that happening at the ceremony where Parveen and Imroz Parvez were decorated with prestigious Rafto Award for their decades long struggle against human right violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
Parveen Ahangar had founded the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons. Imroz Parvez, a Kashmiri civil rights activist is the founder of Coalition of Civil Society. Their struggle, the awards and the Ms. Ahangar’s tears, all served to converge our thoughts, reasoning and emotions to larger issue of Jammu and Kashmir; the plight that the people of Occupied Kashmir have been facing now for decades.
Rafto Prizes came just a week after 27 October, a date that marks the landing of Indian Occupation forces in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. The day is commemorated as the “Black Day” in Jammu and Kashmir as also around the world. This year the day marked the completion of seven decades of a long story of unfulfilled promises and oppression.
Few events in contemporary world history have had greater impact in shaping the regional and world peace and development, than those that took place in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, shortly after the partition of India into two sovereign states, India and Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir was the largest among over 560 princely states in the pre-1947 undivided India. This state had an overwhelming Muslim majority and was ruled by a Dogra Maharaja.
The fate of Jammu and Kashmir had to be determined by the wishes and aspirations of its people through a plebiscite. The commitments to their right of self-determination through a plebiscite were made both, by several UN Security Council Resolutions and by India itself. What lies at the core of this 70 year old dispute is the non-implementation of these resolutions and commitments. It is this blatant denial of the right of self-determination and unfulfilled promises that forced the people of Jammu and Kashmir to a freedom struggle against India’s illegal occupation; a struggle that finds no match in modern day world.
Their struggle and uprising was met with a brutal suppression by the Indian forces leading to the worst human rights violations. Over 100,000 Kashmiris have been martyred since 1989, thousands of women raped and over a hundred thousand houses and shops set to fire since then. If at all, the occupation forces had thought that such brutalities would silence the people of Jammu and Kashmir, their hopes must have died when, in 2008, Kashmiris took to streets in rallies as strong as over a million to demand for their right of self determination. The human rights violations and the discovery of mass unnamed graves took the whole world by surprise with a wave of strong condemnation.
In 2016, the freedom struggle took a new turn with the martyrdom of young Kishmiri freedom fighter Burhan Wani by the Indian forces that was followed by long curfews and siege of civilian population. The use of pellet guns rendered hundreds of Kashmiri youth blind and caused serious injuries to others. The gravity and the scale of human rights violations shook the world conscience; and yet the freedom struggle goes with ever increasing enthusiasm and determination.
Today, Jammu and Kashmir dispute stands as the oldest unresolved issue on the UN agenda. That fact alone is a food for thought and a question mark for the global conscience; something that warrants deep introspection and a resolve to support a stance of values rather than interests.
These seventy years were a story of unfulfilled promises of plebiscite by the very apex of Indian leadership and by the UN Security Council; of wars, conflicts and threats thereof; talks to resolve the dispute; and official statements made at the UN General Assembly podium every year. Perhaps the only thing that was missing in all this history was the plebiscite, which actually held the key to the resolution of the dispute.
The current youth of Jammu and Kashmir that is suffering from pellet guns targeted straight on their face, murder, rape and disappearances at the hands of occupation forces is the third generation that awaits the plebiscite and exercise of their right of self determination.
In all these years, one thing has remained constant. The ever increasing momentum of the indigenous freedom struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir which began soon after the occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by Indian Security forces, gathered a new momentum in 1989 and brought millions to freedom rallies in 2008. Jammu and Kashmir today is the most heavily militarized region in the world. The mere strength of these rallies made many Indian intellectuals and analysts rethink their own country’s approach to Jammu and Kashmir dispute. To some, the question was, can the people of Jammu and Kashmir be denied the right of self determination?
Human rights violations have furthered the Kashmiris’ resolve to continue their struggle till they succeed. And this resolve is strengthening day by day and by every bullet that is fired on them. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are no more willing to accept subjugation. Their just struggle is bound to succeed. That is a writing on the wall. No one can doubt, let alone change that. The earlier they get their right and the dispute resolved in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of its people, the better it would be, not only for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the region but also for the credibility of the international community and its institutions. Every facet of the dispute that stems from and revolves around the promised right of self-determination is important.
(The writer is the Ambassador of Pakistan)