British MPs Condemn Human Rights Violations in Kashmir

Narendra Modi (file photo). Courtesy: PIB
Narendra Modi (file photo). Courtesy: PIB

The hollow condemnation statements from the local as well as the world community against the excesses of the Modi government are falling on deaf ears.

By Rakesh Raman

A new parliamentary debate in the United Kingdom (UK) has discussed the human rights violations issue in Kashmir, which is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. The debate, organized by Labour Party’s Sarah Owen on January 13, included the participation of cross-party British MPs.

The participating MPs raised concerns of alleged human rights violations and called on the UK government to seek access to the region for direct reports from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to be presented to the UK Parliament in future. [ Click here to watch video recording of the debate. ]

Although the people of Kashmir have been facing extreme excesses unleashed by the Indian security forces, their miseries have increased during the lockdown that has been persisting for the past few months.

“I am sure that at some stage we have caught ourselves moaning about lockdown, but for the people for Kashmir, it’s not something new. And unlike Kashmir, lockdown is not about safety, it is about control,” tweeted Sarah Owen.

She was referring to the repressive control over the people of Kashmir by the Indian government headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi. “And Kashmiris, whether in Kashmir or in Luton North, you have not only my solidarity, but also my enduring friendship and commitment to keep fighting until your human rights are protected, now and in the future,” added Sarah Owen in her tweet.

Reacting to the debate, the Indian High Commission issued a statement to say that since the administrative reorganization of J&K in August 2019, it is well on the path of good governance and accelerated development. The statement added that all administrative measures taken by the Government of India in J&K are entirely an internal matter of India.

CONDEMNATION FROM THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY

This particular debate held by the British MPs on the human rights violations in Kashmir is one of the many condemnation exercises from the UN agencies and the world community against the Modi government.

But each time this topic is raised in the international forums, India skirts the issue by calling it an internal matter or a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. Unfortunately, the world leaders accept India’s absurd argument while the innocent people of Kashmir are being continuously tortured and killed by the Indian security forces.

Recently, the former chief minister of J&K and Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah stated emphatically that the people of troubled Kashmir prefer to live under the Chinese rule instead of living with India.

“Kashmiris do not feel that they are Indians. Today, they would rather have the Chinese rule them,” Farooq Abdullah said in a video interview with journalist Karan Thapar.

Moreover, the innocent Kashmiris are being falsely implicated in terrorism cases so that they should not raise their voice against the Indian repression. Recently, for example, Indian police accused an army officer and two associates of planting weapons on the bodies of three labourers killed in Kashmir to make it look as though they were armed fighters in a staged gun battle.

The Indian army admitted its soldiers had exceeded powers under the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which accords impunity to soldiers in the killing of the civilians.

“Security forces have long operated with impunity in Kashmir, and past army investigations have been more focused on shielding those responsible for abuse than providing justice,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “There can be no end to the cycle of violence in Kashmir if security forces are not held accountable for their past and current abuses.”

In its report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has raised serious concerns over reports of extrajudicial killings by the Indian security forces in Kashmir.

REPRESSION IN KASHMIR

Earlier, Liam Byrne – a Member of Parliament (MP) of the British Labour Party – had warned PM Modi that he should not commit human rights violations in Kashmir. He led a protest of thousands of people with the message to Modi: “You cannot silence the people of Kashmir.”

Byrne had also started an online petition for the House of Commons about the deteriorating human rights situation in Kashmir, which has been occupied by the Indian security forces.

The petition informed that the Indian Government, in revoking Article 370 and 35a of the Constitution has stripped the people of J&K of their long-settled political status and rights, deployed thousands of troops to a heavily militarized state, and shut down communications.

In a despotic move, Modi government had imposed a curfew in Kashmir and millions of people have been almost locked in their homes since August 4, 2019 – a day before revoking Article 370. The Modi government is also not allowing the press to cover the burning situation in Kashmir.

Disturbed by the repressive action, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her concern over the persisting human rights violations being committed by India in Kashmir. During her 2019 visit to India, Merkel raised the Kashmir issue and the hardships that the people of Kashmir have been facing.

According to DW News (a global English-language news service from German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle), Merkel criticized PM Modi’s clampdown in Kashmir, saying that the situation for the people of Kashmir is not sustainable and not good.

It is reported that India has deployed nearly 900,000 security people to control unarmed Kashmiris (nearly 80% are Muslims), and nearly 80,000 civilians have been killed in the conflicts during the past 7 decades.

The Modi government’s annexation of Kashmir is a unilateral, authoritarian move, which is expected to make Kashmir a veritable inferno because most people of Kashmir do not want to live under the Indian rule where Modi is the ruler.

Today, nearly 2 billion Muslims of the world expect the global community – including the U.S. – to save the Muslims of Kashmir who are being treated as slaves by the Modi government.

UNREST IN INDIA

But it is not only Kashmir where the human rights violations are being committed by the Modi government. In fact, the acts of oppression are taking place across the country.

Recently, over 200 top citizens from the UK condemned the “dictatorial and majoritarian agenda” being pursued by the Indian government of PM Modi.

In an open letter signed by prominent figures from the field of arts, academia, journalism, law, and politics, the signatories have accused the Modi government of trumping up charges against students, human rights defenders, and civil society activists for peaceful and democratic protests.

A number of British MPs cutting across various political parties, including Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell and Scottish National Party’s Philipa Whitford, are among the signatories who have lamented that “India’s image in the world has never been so tarnished.”

The letter adds that the Modi regime has incarcerated student protesters, feminist campaigners, human rights activists, and prominent civil society figures.

Likewise, as the Modi government has been using force on protesting farmers, a large number of British lawmakers have raised concern. Recently, British Labour Party MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi has sent a letter, signed by over 100 MPs and Lords, to PM Boris Johnson on the ongoing farmers’ protests in India, asking him to raise this matter with PM Modi.

Dhesi also released a video in Punjabi language in which he has revealed how the Indian farmers faced brute force unleashed on them by the Indian police and security forces.

HOLLOW CONDEMNATION STATEMENTS

Modi and his government are being censured by leaders from across the world for their dictatorial actions. Last year, for example, four U.S. Senators had expressed their deep anguish over the continuing human rights violations in India.

In their letter written to the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Democratic as well as Republican Senators raised concerns about the trouble in Indian-occupied Kashmir and the discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA introduced by the Modi government.

In October last year, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Maria Arena (S&D, BE), expressed deep concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in India under the Modi government.

“It is with great concern that I have been observing the rule of law deteriorate in India, which is the very corner stone of our special relationship,” Ms Maria Arena said in an official statement.

She added that the marginalized communities, religious minorities, particularly Muslims, a vocal and vibrant civil society and critics of government policies have been under increasing pressure for a long time.

Her statement as a member of the European Parliament listed a number of cases in which the Modi government is committing grave atrocities and human rights violations on the Indian citizens.

While the Modi government is being accused of human rights violations and crimes against humanity by the global human rights organizations, UN agencies, and world leaders, there is no punitive action being taken against Modi and his accomplices in the government.

As an apex organization of Muslims across the world, the Contact Group of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on J&K held an exclusive meeting against the backdrop of the troubled situation in J&K.

The Contact Group of OIC – which is the 2nd largest inter-governmental organization after the UN with 57 member states – called on India to halt security operations against the J&K people immediately.

In an official statement, the Group also advised India to respect basic human rights, refrain from changing the demographic structure of the disputed territory, and settle the conflict under the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

In 2019, children’s rights activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai also urged the UN General Assembly to bring peace to Kashmir, which is currently under the occupation of Indian security forces.

Malala said she is deeply concerned about reports of 4,000 people, including children, arbitrarily arrested and jailed, about students who haven’t been able to attend school, and about girls who are afraid to leave their homes.

However, the hollow condemnation statements from the local as well as the world community against the excesses of the Modi government are falling on deaf ears. In the absence of any penal action against Modi and his party colleagues, the human rights violations and crimes against humanity being committed by the Modi government will continue. Statements without consequences have no effect.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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