Srinagar: Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman, Syed Ali Geelani Thursday shot a letter to the conference of Home Ministers of SAARC member states held in Islamabad.
Geelani has urged the SAARC Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa to use his office to help in resolving the Kashmir issue.
The text of the letter is as follows.
“With a deep sense of urgency and hope, I am writing to inform you about the besieged people of Jammu and Kashmir, who are yet again facing a brutal wave of repression at the hands of Indian occupation forces.
On July 9, when the people were still busy celebrating the Muslim festival of Eid, a fresh wave of state terror was unleashed by the Indian armed forces in an attempt to stop hundreds of thousands of people from joining the funeral of21 year old Burhan Wani, a popular resistance figure and a youth icon. Ever since, on regular basis, Indian occupation troops have fired live ammunition into the crowds of people expressing their grief, anger and outrage through peaceful demonstrations on the streets of all major towns and villages across Kashmir. This has left 50 people dead and more than 4,000 wounded so far.
In the name of non-lethal means of crowd control the Indian troops have used medieval firearms like pellet guns which have resulted in blinding and disfiguring of hundreds of people mostly aged between 13 and 25. Ambulances carrying the dead and wounded have been fired at, their drivers subjected to violent beatings, local volunteers have been stopped from offering their services while the hospitals and medical facilities remain besieged and difficult to reach in view of the curfew that has been imposed across Kashmir. The curfew and heavy clampdown has literally imprisoned the whole population in their homes, denying them access to supplies, medical care, education and livelihood. Critical care medicines and baby food are running in short supply as a humanitarian crises of war-like proportions is brewing up in all major towns and villages of Kashmir which have been cut off from each other by a blanket ban on not only the movement of people and goods but also on access to telephone, mobile and internet services. Newspapers were forced to shut down for at least a week during last one month and access to cable TV is still restricted. In this time of despair and uncertainty the hapless people when they need to comfort and console each other the most are unable to connect as a result of this brutal state repression. Relatives are unable to attend funerals of their loved ones such being the state of things.
Pro-freedom leadership has either been detained or placed under house arrest. Besides, hundreds of youth have been arbitrarily detained including minors. Spiraling out of control, this state of affairs can trigger a fresh confrontation in the region, which will result in further destruction of life, resources and property, which we understand, needs to be avoided at all costs.
Right from the day Indian military landed here in October 1947 people of Jammu and Kashmir are a facing brutal occupation at the hands of the Indian state. Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim majority region, was forcibly annexed by Indian troops against the principles of Indo-Pak partition, self-determination and natural justice. Our right to self-determination has also been endorsed by the United Nations, which has passed many resolutions asking for holding a plebiscite to determine people’s choice, a basic right which the Indian state has been continuously denying us.
Ever since, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been struggling to free themselves from this illegal occupation using all means legitimate under international law and norms of civilized behaviour. In response to this struggle for freedom India has deployed more than half a million armed forces to crush and control less than 10 million people of this occupied region turning this picturesque place effectively into what a visiting European Union delegation once aptly described as a beautiful prison.
So far the occupation forces have killed more than a hundred thousand people in Kashmir region and around half a million people in Jammu region, forced tens of thousands into disappearances, maimed thousands, imprisoned and tortured hundreds of thousands. The state its military has used rape and molestation as an instrument to demoralize the occupied people. This situation has not only destroyed the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir but also resulted in three wars and numerous confrontations between, now nuclear-armed states of India and Pakistan, whose meager resources are being eaten up by an endless and fruitless arms race in a region plagued by abject poverty, hunger, disease and lack of basic amenities and opportunity.
In this situation, the international community especially a regional forum like SAARC, of which India is a member, has a special responsibility to intervene and thus inspire the Indian state to shun state violence and uphold International law by fulfilling its promises and obligations towards the people of Jammu & Kashmir. We understand the road to peace and cooperation in South Asia runs through Kashmir and any forward march on this road shall pave way for all people in the region to live a dignified life as enshrined in the SAARC charter. A new era of freedom and friendship among South Asian countries shall be possible only after the states in this region are urged to make good on their International obligations and stop using force to deny people their basic human rights guaranteed under international law. This will go a long way to usher in a free world that we all aspire for and are committed to achieve.
We believe a good beginning could be made to create an atmosphere conducive for peace and resolution if your person and office urge India to take the following few Confidence Building Measures (CBMs):
1. Accept the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir and announce the acceptance of the people’s Right to Self Determination.
2. Announce rapid demilitarization process from Jammu and Kashmir under credible international monitoring.
3. Repeal draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA) that provide the legal immunity to state perpetrators of crimes against humanity from any prosecution and accountability thus empowering the occupation forces to operate with absolute impunity.
4. Release all the political prisoners from prisons, detention centers and house arrest and restore their right to free political activity withdrawing all cases against them.
5. Allow UN Special Rapporteurs and all international human rights and humanitarian organizations to work in Jammu and Kashmir.
6. Announce and ensure free political space in Jammu and Kashmir for those advocating peoples’ Right to Self Determination.
These steps if taken with a sense of urgency and responsibility can help in restoring calm and peace in an agitated population and pave way for the processes required for the final and just resolution of the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, thereby help disperse the perpetual clouds of war and conflict that threatens regional and global peace.
In the interests of regional and global peace, justice, progress and development, it is an earnest appeal from the people of Jammu and Kashmir to intervene through the good office of your person and institution to inform and influence the violent behaviour of Indian state in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir,” reads the letter.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.