Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest hammering on the special status of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) is an absolute and unmitigated falsity and perfidy not only with the Kashmiri people but also the international community and to India’s constitution.
People around the world worriedly watched Modi’s pouring extra soldiers in IOK— already the most militarized region in the world – where there is one Indian soldier for every 10 Kashmiris.
Since India illegally occupied Kashmir in 1947 it adopted two-pronged duplicity: false and fabricated commitments and atrocities geared to annihilate an entire population.
Indian duplicity is as old as its occupation of Kashmir. When Jammu and Kashmir ruler Raja Hari Singh, ignoring the Kashmiris sentiments, hopes and aspirations, opted to accede Kashmir conditionally to India, tribal militia from Waziristan descended down on Kashmir. To check and halt the march of the militias against Hari Singh’s controversial accession of Kashmir with India, it raised the issue before the UN and sought its mediation.
When the UN adopted unanimous resolution of holding a free and fair plebiscite to give Kashmiris their undeniable right to decide whether they want to join India or Pakistan.
India’s then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru cordially welcomed the resolution and vowed to implement it. He declared that India would respect the plebiscite results even if it would go against his country.
But Modi has backtracked on the commitments of India’s founding fathers and pushed South Asia to the brink. If Modi is not stopped and the special status of Kashmir is not restored, the crisis can turn into a nuclear exchange and the world cannot escapes its consequences.
Historically, Article 370 was never an Indian gift to the Kashmiri people. Rather it reflected instruments of accession or conditions set by Hari Singh. When this article has been voided, the instrument of Kashmir accession to India automatically stands nullified.
So, none in India, including its president can void the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Vindu Goel, an Indian journalist wrote in the New York Times: Article 370 could only be abrogated with the consent of the legislative body (of Kashmir) that drafted the state constitution. That body dissolved itself in 1957 and India’s Supreme Court ruled that article 370, therefore, a permanent part of the constitution.
The Indian Constitution is thus not applicable in Kashmir, as it has its own constitution under the terms of instrument of accession. The removal of Article 370 by India’s parliament thus is ultra votes and legally should not affect the special status of Kashmir.
The annulment of article 370 is a sheer violation of India’s constitution and commitment. Hence it is a self-deception. It exposed India’s ugly hawkish face. It is also contradictory to India’s outstanding claim that Kashmir is a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan. India violated its own position as well.
When last month President Trump informed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that Modi requested him to mediate the Kashmir dispute, Indian foreign minister, not only denied Trump’s disclosure but also claimed that Kashmir is a “bilateral issue” between India and Pakistan and a third party have no role in resolving the dispute.
Now Modi unilaterally abolishing the special status of Kashmir, dividing it into two and degrading it to a union territory, has buried India’s claim that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.
Modi has technically made Kashmir an international issue, as his actions were unilateral. If Kashmir dispute were a bilateral issue, Modi couldn’t change the current character and status of Kashmir. He closed all the doors of bilateral dialogue. So the UN is the only platform that will have to take the issue seriously to avert human catastrophe in South Asia and beyond.
The international community cannot trust the Indian leadership because what it utter in words, it acts the opposite. They raised the Kashmir issue before the UN, welcomed UN resolutions on plebiscite and pledged to honor and implement them, but they didn’t do that.
Through the Simla Agreement in 1972, India compelled Pakistan to degrade Kashmir from international to a bilateral issue. Forty-seven years have passed by, but Indians have never been sincere in reaching an amicable solution. They followed the tactic of procrastination to gain time and swallow the territory. And now they did so unilaterally changing the basic character and status of Kashmir. They turned the entire Kashmir valley into a mass detention center that is totally blocked and disconnected from the outside world. No one knows how many thousands of Kashmiris were killed and arrested, or women raped and went missing under the curtain of curfew and blockades.
Modi’s plans aside, his colonial action will backfire and serve as a blessing for the Kashmiris. India’s misadventure has in fact paved the way for Pakistan to internationalize the issue. It is now established that India is an illegal occupier and it ultimately will have to leave the entire Kashmir.
The annexation has brought India’s known stooges like, like Omar Abdullah, Mehbuba Mufti, and their followers, to their sense after their Indian masters simply dumped them after using them for years.
The time has come for the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir to bury their petty differences and resist Indian occupation. And it is time for the international community to wake up from its slumber and minimize the chances of a bloodbath in Kashmir. The world must stop India from continuing with it illegal occupation and subjugation of a population that is not willing to stay with it. Any attempt by India to change the demography in occupied Kashmir will be counterproductive and cause more bloodshed.
The author is a New York-based senior journalist and analyst of Bangladesh origin.