His Excellency Mr Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary General
UN HQ 1st Avenue at 46 th Street
New York, NY 10017 USA.
5 August 2020
Exactly a year ago today on 5 August 2019, India abolished articles 370 and 35A of its Constitution, and annexed the State of Jammu Kashmir (generally referred to as Kashmir), and created two union territories of Ladakh, and that of Jammu and Kashmir to be ruled from Delhi. This was done in a veil of secrecy, and with the arrest of political opponents including JKLF Chairman Mr Yasin Malik, under the draconian Public Safety Act PSA. Jaamat-e-Islami, and the pro independent JKLF were banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act UAPA in March 2019. Despite international commitments, domestic legal and constitutional obligations, India began the dissolution of Jammu Kashmir State in earnest while its political status, though its status remained to be determined through a plebiscite, in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations. The illegal act of the Indian government not only betrayed Kashmiris, it also snubbed the international
community, as India defied many UN resolutions on Kashmir. With annexation India decided to take away centuries old heritage and identity of all the people of the State. 5 August 2019 therefore, will be remembered by Kashmiris as their nakba.
Excellency the following UN resolutions 122 of 24 January 1957, 123 of 21 February 1957, and 126 of 2 Dec 1957, are a clear reminder that unilateral action to change disposition of Kashmir was prohibited. Despite the emphatic prohibition, India did exactly the opposite with the disputed territory. India’s decision to dismember, and annex the three provinces of Kashmir under her occupation is a flagrant breach of trust and India’s solemn international obligations. Leading up to the illegal decision India made certain that opponents of its undemocratic, and sinister machinations, were put behind bars. Mr Yasin Malik in particular, who as well as being head of the JKLF, was also one of the three leaders of the Joint Resistance Leadership the JRL, was arrested on 22 February 2019 from his residence in Srinagar. Currently he remains incarcerated in solitary confinement at the Tihar Jail in Delhi. With fabricated and politically motivated cases, he is accused of ‘terror funding’. Thirty year old cases have been opened up against him, to remove, or even
eliminate him, as a prominent leader of political dissent and resistance in Kashmir.
The manner of Indian leadership’s manipulation of the situation, through misinformation, deception, incarceration of Mr Yasin Malik, banning of the JKLF, clearly demonstrates that the Modi government is not at all interested, in a negotiated, and peaceful solution of the issue. And has embarked on a pernicious and calculated scheme to silence Mr Yasin Malik, and other leaders, who are part of the solution, as indeed they advocate for a just and equitable resolution of the seventy three year old issue.
Excellency India negotiated with the government of Kashmir in 1949 to agree on a special status for Kashmir within the Indian union. Article 370 was created in its constitution to formalise the special status, and affirm spheres of responsibility between the two governments that were part of the conditional accession of Kashmir with India. The accession however, was contingent upon the UN supervised Plebiscite, which is yet to take place, for the final status of the disputed state. India’s responsibility was confined to defence, foreign affairs and communications, while other areas of governance, remained with Kashmir. It is pertinent to note that section 1 (c) of article 370 is explicit,
in that article 1 of the Indian constitution applies to Kashmir, only through article 370. In other words it is article 370, which provided a ‘legal’ basis for the relationship that the Indian union had with Kashmir and vice versa.
Article 35A was added to India’s constitution in 1954, and it empowered Kashmir’s Legislature to define rights of residence and citizenship. Kashmiris however, had secured these rights through their pre-1947 struggles, and were protected by these State Subject Rules since 1927. Addition of article 35A in India’s constitution simply affirmed the State Subject Rules. With revocation of article 35A India has brought in new domicile rules, which have opened up flood gates to allow residency, employment, and ownership rights to non-Kashmiris. Unilateral abolition of articles 370 and 35A without approval of the Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, which was conveniently dissolved in 2018, let alone convening of a Constituent Assembly as is the legal requirement to abolish these articles, means that Kashmir has reverted to its political position prior to its conditional accession with India. In other words abrogation of article 370 has rendered Kashmir an independent country, which is under India’s colonial rule since 5 August 2019. However, the past year has been a traumatic period in the lives of Kashmiris, with the social, political and economic consequences of the annexation.
Excellency UN has a duty of care towards Kashmiris, not only to protect their democratic, social, economic, cultural and religious heritage, as well as their fundamental human rights, but to ensure territorial integrity of their homeland. The ongoing situation can only be described as an upheaval, and as pointed out above, nothing short of a catastrophe or a nakba, which has been deliberately imposed on the helpless Kashmiris, the magnitude of which, Kashmiris have not felt since 1947.
People are deliberately deprived of communications and internet services, not because there is a threat to India’s enormous and unaccountable military, and bureaucratic power in Kashmir, but rather through use of India’s unrestrained oppressive military and civil power, it is as part of its ‘operation all out’ policy to humiliate, and break the spirit and dignity of Kashmiri people. As Kashmiris we strongly believe that the past seventy three years have been full of oppression, betrayals, duplicity, and hypocrisy by India, and indifference and abandonment of our basic rights by the UN, and the big powers. India’s decision of 5 August 2019, and subsequent siege enforced by aggressive militarised policy, and the introduction of illegal ‘rules’ has rendered people of Kashmir
voiceless. Kashmir valley in particular, and the regions of Pir Panjal and the Chenab valley in general, are under siege since 5 August 2019 People’s miseries have increased many fold with additional restrictions imposed on them under the cover of Covid-19 since March 2020. While the population reels under the impact of the twin lockdown since March 2020, sinister scheme hatched against the Kashmiris in Delhi, is being implemented in full spate. Covid-19 restrictions add to existing physical and psychological hardships on the people; and the Covid-19 situation is conveniently used to bring in thousands of Indians as part of Modi government’s Hindutva project, for demographic change in Kashmir.
The manifest Indian policy is to open up Kashmir for Indian settlers, and dilute and obliterate century’s old character and heritage of Kashmiri society, through domicile rules. Abolition of articles 35A and 370 has enabled Indian government to set in motion processes to achieve its nefarious objectives with impunity. Inevitably new domicile rules will disenfranchise, and dispossess the Muslim majority in the State. Hindutva project therefore, seeks the decimation of indigenous Muslim majority by turning it into a non-entity, or an inconsequential minority, not only to settle the Kashmir issue, but to also keep the majoritarian politics galvanised, and radicalised in India itself for electoral gains.
The identities, and heritage of non-Muslim communities like the powerful Dogras of Jammu, and the Pandit minority of the valley of Kashmir, will also be severely affected because of their shared identity, history and heritage with Muslims of the State, rather than with the Hindus of Bihar, Maharashtra or any other part of India. The Hindutva settler project is a multifaceted act of socio- cultural, and political genocide against the entire State’s common heritage, presents an existential threat to Jammu Kashmir and all of its peoples including Ladakh. Kashmir’s economy has incurred unprecedented losses of 5.3 billion dollars in the period since August 2019. Systematic violations of human rights with mass illegal arrests and detentions, have also taken place of civilians including children, civil society, and political leaders, with the misuse of India’s most draconian laws like the Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, (UAPA) to stifle dissent. Excellency your own report in June 2020 on “Children in Armed Conflict,” refers to 68 Kashmiri Children ranging from the ages of 9 to 17 who had been arrested on national security related charges by the Indian authorities after 5 august 2019. We respectfully beg to differ; our belief is that the figure is much higher. Only an impartial inquiry can arrive at the true extent to which all ages of Kashmiris have borne the brunt of India’s oppressive actions. The controls on the media in Kashmir are like a death blow for
independent reporting and freedom of expression. Over the past year local Kashmiri journalists who dared to report on events as they happened, are booked and incarcerated under PSA. The draconian PSA and UAPA are clearly the oppressive weapons in India’s legal armoury, and have been used to deprive Mr Yasin Malik of his liberty, and dozens of other prominent political and civil society leaders like Mr Shabir Shah, Ms Aasiya Andrabi, and the lawyer Mian Abdul Qayoom who has been released a only few days ago but not allowed to enter Kashmir until 7 August!
Excellency even before the 5 August 2019 decision by India’s government to revoke and unilaterally abolish legal and constitutional arrangements between India and Kashmir, the OUNHCHR produced its second report on the Human rights situation in Kashmir on 8 July 2019. Paragraphs 15 and 181 of the report, along with an opening text of recommendations to the UNHRC for action, is reproduced here for your attention.
15. On 28 February 2019, the central government declared religious-political organization
Jamaate e Islami (Jammu and Kashmir) an unlawful association under section 3(1) of the
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. On 22 March 2019, the central government declared the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (Yasin faction) an unlawful association. Political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir criticized the ban on Jamaate-Islami and the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front as an attack on civil liberties and one that would have a “major social impact” in the state.
181. This report highlights serious human rights violations and patterns of impunity in Indian- Administered Kashmir and significant human rights concerns witnessed in Pakistan-
Administered Kashmir. As stated in OHCHR’s June 2018 report, there remains an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and to deliver justice for all people in Kashmir. OHCHR recommends: To the Human Rights Council: “Consider the findings of this report, including the possible establishment of a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir. Far from following up with recommendations of OHCHR, and to “deliver justice for all people in Kashmir” the UNHRC could not even rebuke the Indian government, on its outright dismissal of the OHCHR’s reports and the use of disparaging terminology to describe the UN report/s as “fallacious”, “tendentious”, and “politically motivated”, while continuing with its sinister policy of ‘operation all out’ to silence peaceful dissent, to ban political and social organisations, and to imprison political leaders on false and politically motivated charges and cases.
Excellency to dismantle and dissolve of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is a policy to humiliate and force the Kashmiris to accept India’s colonial occupation. The question arises therefore, does the UNHRC and the UNSC know or care, how many Kashmiris, including children and women, are arbitrarily imprisoned since Kashmir was annexed and stripped of its mutually agreed arrangements with India? And do the UN and the UNHRC have obligations on the incarceration under PSA and UAPA of political leaders, who are committed to a peaceful resolution of the long standing Kashmir
issue? And will the UNHRC in particular look the other way, while India’s huge military acts with impunity under the legal umbrella of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act -AFSPA- with unabated militarised violence against the civilian population?
And indeed Excellency, being the custodian of world’s conscience, shouldn’t the Secretary General of the UN not address the fundamental and inalienable sovereign right of Kashmiri people to decide about their future, and should you not hold India accountable as a member of the UN for its conduct in Kashmir? Is the UN not at all concerned with the huge presence in Kashmir of the Indian army, whose presence is inimical to the fundamental interests of Kashmiris, and cannot be entrusted with their protection? During the past thirty two years Indian forces have killed more than a hundred thousand men, women and children; and the thousands who disappeared are probably buried in over
7,000 unmarked graves throughout State. Does the UNHRC and the UNSC not care about the disappearances without trace of Kashmiris? Does the UN not care about thousands of half widows in Kashmir? While India and its occupation machinery is primarily responsible for inflicting miseries on the helpless Kashmiris, ultimately the UN cannot be absolved of its legal and moral responsibility towards protecting fundamental rights of
the civilian population in accordance with the UN Charter. Daily clashes across the ceasefire line-CfL- or the LoC as it is known since 1972, bring death and destruction to people on both sides of the enforced divide between the confronting Indian and Pakistani armies. Both armies are deployed in their thousands, and are entrenched eye-ball to eye-ball
across the CfL. Everyday life and livelihood of tens of thousands of residents on both sides of the CfL has been a perpetual living hell 24/7 for more than seven decades.
UN’s silence on these fundamental questions, has meant that since 5 August 2019, and by end of June of 2020 more than 25000 domicile certificates were issued, which is a tip of the iceberg as 400,000 domicile certificates have been granted to the applicants since then as reported by the Kashmir Walla on 1 August 2020. The administration of the annexed State, (which has steadily been divested of high and middle ranking Kashmiri, especially Muslim administrators) has been instructed by the Modi government to continue issuing domicile certificates at breakneck speed. Officers not complying with these instructions would be “penalised and lose up to Rs 50, 000 from their salary.
Excellency at this rate of granting domicile rights to Indians, Modi government could add at least two million Indians to Kashmir’s population. Undoubtedly this will turn the majority into a threatened minority under the shadow of a hostile colonial administration run from New Delhi.
Excellency despite presence of close to a million Indian troops who operate with complete impunity, Shesh Paul Vaid a recently retired Police chief of Jammu Kashmir, advocated arming of the non- Muslim (Hindu) population, which is a certain recipe for communal strife, and basis for genocide, which Modi government seems to be planning for in the illegally annexed Kashmir.
Excellency in view of the on-going situation, it is clear that the United Nations has failed people of Kashmir, by abdication of its responsibility to protect both them and their homeland. And that the Kashmiris have been abandoned, and left at the mercy of an oppressive, undemocratic and draconian rule by India. We are deeply aggrieved at the indifference of the United Nations, which could legitimately take action to protect Kashmiris’ political, social, economic, cultural, and above all their basic human right, simply to exist in their homeland.
Excellency the world must know and recognise, that an iron curtain descended over Jammu
Kashmir on 5 August 2019, and therefore: we strongly urge, that in your capacity, as the custodian of the world conscience, you call on the Indian government to lift the year long Siege of Kashmir, and all the restrictions imposed and enforced with immediate effect, and relieve the people of Indian occupied Kashmir of the on-going physical, psychological and material suffering and trauma, which they have endured since the imposition of the siege by the India’s government on 5 August 2019. And that the deployment of thousands of Indian military and para military troops in the cities, towns and villages of Kashmir was meant to instil fear, and awe of the Indian state’s oppressive power,
rather than protection of the defenceless Kashmiris, and their livelihood. We urge your Excellency to call upon the Indian government to withdraw these troops from the above locations and return them to their bases in India.
Excellency, massive violations of human rights have taken place with deliberate and calculated policy of deprivations, privations, physical, mental and psychological disorientation, as a callous means to humiliate and undermine the collective dignity of more than ten million people.
You are strongly urged to ensure that UNHRC sets up an independent and impartial commission of inquiry, to ascertain the extent of excesses committed by India’s occupation apparatus as a direct consequence of the Modi government’s policy, and to ascertain:
a) The human rights violations of all Kashmiris, but with specific reference to children, especially arrests and incarceration of boys, women including treatment and cases of molestations and ill treatment of females of all ages.
b) And to ascertain the impact of the Siege on young peoples’ education, and mental, physical and psychological impact on people of all ages and gender.
c) We strongly urge your Excellency to call upon the Indian government, for an immediate release of Kashmiri leaders including Mr Yasin Malik, Mr Shabir Shah, Ms Aasiya Andrabi and all political activists from incarceration. These leaders are part of the solution in Kashmir, and their incarceration and charges against them are politically motivated.
Excellency we strongly urge that you call upon the India government to stop its policy of
demographic change, withdraw its illegal Domicile Rules, and restore State Subject Rules with immediate effect.
Excellency as you are aware, the State of Jammu and Kashmir is neither part of India, nor of Pakistan, nor any other country in the region. It is also not under any understanding of pre and post partition history of British India, an integral part of India. The history of Jammu Kashmir’s conditional accession with India on 26 October 1947 is well documented at the United Nations since India took the matter of Kashmir to the UN on 1 January 1948.
What is pertinent to affirm is that the Kashmir dispute, is primarily to do with the determination of the erstwhile kingdom’s political status through a fair, transparent, and democratic referendum or plebiscite.
Excellency as Kashmiris we strongly believe that the issue can only be resolved through the exercise by the Kashmiris, of their sovereign right, to decide on the status of their homeland, under the auspices of the United Nations, as is recognised in numerous UN resolutions on the Kashmir issue.
We urge your Excellency as the Secretary General of the UN, to uphold Kashmiris’ unfeterred sovereign right to decide, and help the people of Kashmir to exercise their inherent and inalienable sacred right as free people, so that the long standing issue of Kashmir’s status is permanently resolved, and settled in the interest of peace, justice and democracy.
We therefore strongly urge your Excellency to ensure that:
a) India and Pakistan disengage their armies across the ceasefire line-CfL- also known as the Line of Control-LoC- that has forcibly divided the State of Jammu Kashmir, and separated its people for the past 73 years.
b) We urge your Excellency to call upon India and Pakistan to withdraw their armies as required under the UN resolutions, and meet their respective commitments for the process to begin, for a transparent and democratic referendum, to resolve the issue of Kashmir’s permanent political status.
c) We assure your Excellency that as Kashmiris, we desire nothing more than peace and prosperity in our enchantingly beautiful, but oppressed and humiliated homeland; and that we desire for a reunified Jammu Kashmir to be a bridge of peace, and a cross roads of prosperity and amity in the region.
Chairman Diplomatic Bureau
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF
London Secretariat 119-123 Cannon Street Road North Basement
London E1 2 LX