By Lakshmi Kaul
On 19th January, the British Parliament saw 29 MPs debate passionately about the human rights violations by India in Kashmir. Each spoke animatedly about the cruel use of pellet guns on ‘innocent civilians’. The timing of this debate could not be worse. While the Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) mourned the bloody acts of 19th January 1990 as they remembered the day when they were rendered homeless at the behest of Jihadi slogans – “Die, Convert or Leave”, David Nutall MP (Bury North – Manchester) decided to hold a debate glorifying the terrorists sponsored by Pakistan.
Not even a single mention of the armed infiltration and terror attacks sponsored by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir and certainly no acknowledgement of the significance of this very day by anyone except Bob Blackman MP and Virendra Sharma MP who were the only ones to speak in defence of India in their 10 minutes each of limited speaking time.
While the state assembly in Jammu & Kashmir passed a historic resolution on the safe return of the Kashmiri Pandits; in the United Kingdom MPs justified bloody retribution, killing of innocent civilians and destruction of centuries of heritage. Masked as the freedom struggle of Muslims of Kashmir valley, this ideological fight is against democracy, progress, inclusion, growth, prosperity – it is the justification of painting Kashmir in the colours of Islamic State. The events of last summer leading to Burhan Wani’s death (the so called poster boy of Jehaad in Kashmir) draws parallels with Jihadi John in the West, who use social media and propaganda to promote Jehaad and killings in the name of religion.
The UK government stand on this issue is that of non-interference. The Rt Hon Alok Sharma made it clear to all parliamentarians that this is a matter purely between India and Pakistan.
As for the information of David Nutall and his colleagues, Pakistan’s support has been instrumental in spreading terrorism in J&K, but also in Punjab and North-eastern Indian states through military, logistics and finances. In J&K, however, Pakistan goes further as it openly pledges moral and political support to the Kashmiri jihadists, calling it a “Kashmiri freedom struggle”. The people fighting against the Indian Army are mercenaries trained in Pakistan with a view to destabilise the region. The recent demonetisation drive has put a sudden halt in any stone pelting activity thereby proving that they were all paid to attack the Indian Armed forces and government buildings. The only human rights that have been brutally violated are those of the minority Hindu community in the region and of those living in Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir region.
In the last couple of years the number of ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LOC) have risen steeply. There were 437 ceasefire violations by Pakistan till November 2016, killing 37 and injuring 179 in the Indian side. In a recent report to the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, it was stated that there are atleast 200 terrorists active in Jammu & Kashmir.
In response to the huge Propaganda call made by these 27 MPs for India to abide by UN Resolutions, they may note that it was India that, on January 1 1948, went as a complainant to the UN asking that Pakistan vacate the territory it had occupied. A close look at the much discussed, UN Security Council Resolution of 13 Aug 1948. Part II, A1 shows that the first condition of the resolution is for Pakistan to withdraw its occupation as well as troops from the Indian territory. The status quo was altered by Pakistan as it ethnically cleansed the population of Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir so there are no more non-Muslims living there – they were killed, converted to Islam, or forced to flee to India. Through an Act of Parliament in 1972, it formally annexed Gilgit and Baltistan, all these now called the Northern Territories. It is interesting to note how free (Azad) the people of Azad Kashmir are. The Interim Constitution Act 1974, Clause 4 (7) 2 states: No person or political party in Azad Jammu & Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of the State’s Accession to Pakistan.
International and Indian media personnel, foreign diplomats, the International Committee of the Red Cross, all have had free access to Jammu and Kashmir. The National Human Rights Commission of India and the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission are performing a stellar role in investigating any human rights violations by security forces and initiating punitive action, where necessary. The parliamentarians speaking on 19th January were obviously not given these necessary details of the issue by the propagandists and it is shocking to see them not do their own homework either! The Home Minister of India has announced an expert committee to find alternatives to pellet guns and are investigating the use of these.
Indian Governments of all colours have consistently maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is part of India and that the matter is internal for India alone. It rejects all third party interference. India is committed to holding dialogues with Pakistan on all outstanding issues including Jammu & Kashmir, through a direct bilateral dialogue process as mandated in the Shimla Agreement. A partisan debate such as the one held recently in UK Parliament has the potential to cause serious harm to bilateral relations between the UK and India and therefore also the interests of Britain. It would cause a great harm to liberal, democratic & civilized western world. It sends a message that the largest democracy in the world is not trusted by Britain; while a country (Pakistan) where minorities are exterminated, military coups are a norm and terrorist camps are rife is favoured.
Encouragement of such debates and the media coverage encourages the extremists with Jehadi mentality to bring their reprehensible fight closer to the British soil.