The beautiful valley of Kashmir became the place where human rights are being violated since the creation of two independent states, Pakistan and India, out of the British dominion in 1947, and then Kashmir was a princely state. The Kashmir Valley has long been a bone of contention between the two sovereign states of India and Pakistan for its accession into their own territory. Since Kashmir is a Muslim majority region and at the time of partition of subcontinent, they favoured its accession to join Pakistan. On the contrary, though, India claiming occupying the Jammu and Kashmir, a so-far disputed territory, is legal on the basis of an instrument of accession signed by Mr Hari Singh, the then Raja of Kashmir.
The officials of both the states, India and Pakistan, allegedly point fingers at the opposite side, calling them out as responsible for human rights violations in the disputed territory of Kashmir. In this regard, Meenakshi Ganguly said, “Authorities in both countries should use the opportunity created by the UN general assembly report to change course and hold accountable those who have committed serious abuses.” Multiple wars have been fought between the two states to merge the valley into their territory. However, in such a scenario the most affected people are the Kashmiris.
In the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, currently administered by India, human rights abuses are being recorded. There are allegations that mass killings are being practised. The forced disappearances and torture, rape and sexual abuse are observed. The suppression of freedom of speech and bans on religious gatherings in Kashmir is also a violation of human rights.
According to the United Nations human rights report, the Indian armed forces installed in Kashmir are responsible for human rights abuses including kidnappings, killings of civilians, sexual violence, recruitment of children for armed combat, and attacks on people who are associated with political organizations in Jammu and Kashmir. The OHCHR found that the Indian security forces are involved in using excessive force towards violent protests that began in July 2016. The use of pellet-firing shotguns as a crowd-control weapon is also involved even though they have caused a large number of deaths and injuries. The government of India in Jammu and Kashmir amended section 10 of the Public Safety Act in 2018, removing the prohibition on detaining permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir outside the state. At least 40 people, mainly the separatist political leaders, were transferred to prisons outside the state in 2018, according to the United Nations. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a 42 pages long report on July 08, 2019. The report speaks volumes on serious concerns about abuses by the state’s security forces and armed groups in both Indian and Pakistan-held parts of Kashmir.
International human rights law gives protection to fundamental human rights of people. There are different human rights organisations that are working under the auspices of the United Nations to highlight and serve the cause of human rights. International law prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of life in any case as a right to life is a basic human right. The Indian government is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 6 of which also prohibits states to take the right to life even during times of emergency. Similarly, the Articles 4 and 7 of the same explicitly ban the torture, even in times of national emergency or when the security of the state is threatened. The application of international humanitarian law to the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir can be observed in Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions known as “Common Article 3.” Common Article 3 deals with international law and standards governing the internal affairs of disputed territory with armed insurgents. Common Article 3 declares that if a person surrenders and drops a gun, his life will not be harmed. Similarly, the wounded people will be collected and cared for.
When the Kashmir issue was taken to the platform of the United Nations in January 1948, “Resolution 39” was passed that established a UN Commission for India and Pakistan. The United Nations Security Council further conceded a detailed “Resolution 47” in 1948. Resolution 47 was intended to practice the principle right of self-determination for Kashmiris. Mr Owen Dixon proposed adding the plan for the plebiscite in Resolution 47 in order to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
The then Indian prime minister Mr Jawahar Laal Nehru unilaterally declared in 1954, “The United States’ alliance with Pakistan had changed the whole context of the Kashmir issue and that the plebiscite was no longer an option that India supported”. The UN Security Council in return responded with Resolution 122 in January 1957 expressing the frustration of the United Nations with the lack of progress and restating its resolution that the right to a fair trial should be given to the people of Kashmir. In August 2019 India also revoked the articles 370 and 35-A in its constitution which are related to the administration of Kashmir. It is the continuity of the violation of the rights of Kashmiris. The hegemonic behaviour of the administrative states is continuously negating the right of self-determination of Kashmiris, which is their due right according to the principles of international laws.
In today’s modern age world where a lot of voices have been raised about human rights violations, people of Kashmir are still struggling with the same issues. They are not given their due rights, the right of self-determination. Pathetically speaking, the inhumane behaviour to them of the occupied forces has always snatched their fundamental human rights. The platform of the United Nations has been used multiple times when the Kashmir issue is being highlighted. The United Nations, which is widely known as the custodian of human rights worldwide has tried to solve the issue by keeping in mind the norms of international law. Conventions have been signed and delegates have been sent but as international laws are merely a moral standing but not legally binding, they are not implemented in their true letter and spirit. At the same time, India and Pakistan called it a bilateral issue. Therefore, according to international law, the issue will not be resolved until the concerned parties are not reached a point of a bilateral agreement.
Also see: India China Conflict history | From Nehru 1959 visit to Beijing to Ladakh confrontation 2020
Ahmed is a scholar of International Relations. He is doing Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations (BS IR) from NUML University in Islamabad, Pakistan, Ahmed also works as a researcher at NUML’s Department of International Relations, where he specialised in International Law and practices of conflict resolution. His writing has focused on a number of issues pertaining to the study of International Relations regarding International Law, including the role of culture in shaping international relations, and the impact of globalisation on regional politics.