The Illusion of Normalcy in Kashmir: Unveiling the Indian Government’s Settler Agenda

The Modi regime’s decision to organize the G20 summit in Kashmir in May 2023 is a clear indication of the government’s intentions to show the world a false image of normalcy in the region.

Syed Inam Ali Naqvi

The Modi regime’s decision to organize the G20 summit in Kashmir in May 2023 is a clear indication of the government’s intentions to show the world a false image of normalcy in the region. The truth, however, is that the situation in Kashmir is far from normal. Kashmir has been under an unprecedented lockdown and communication blackout for months, with thousands of innocent Kashmiris illegally detained and tortured by Indian authorities. The government’s efforts to showcase Kashmir as a peaceful and stable region are nothing but a ploy to distract the international community from the human rights violations and atrocities committed by Indian forces in the valley. The G20 summit will not only undermine the suffering of the Kashmiri people but also legitimize India’s illegal occupation of the disputed region. The international community must hold India accountable for its actions and demand a peaceful resolution to the long-standing Kashmir conflict.

Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK) has been a hotbed of human rights violations for years. The Legal Forum for Kashmir 2022 annual report on the human rights situation in IOJK presents a bleak picture of the region, with severe human rights abuses continuing without respite. The report highlights extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary detentions, prohibition of public assembly, mass imprisonments, curbs on press and freedom of speech, illegal land grabs by the Indian military, and demographic changes as major issues in IOJK. Indian authorities have been accused of committing severe human rights violations in the region, including the killing of innocent civilians and freedom fighters.

The report reveals that at least 312 killings took place in different incidents of state violence in IOJK during 2022. Of these, 181 were freedom fighters, 45 were extrajudicial killings of civilians, and 86 were Indian armed forces personnel. The Indian military and paramilitary forces conducted at least 199 Codon and Search Operations (CASOs) and Cordon and Destroy Operations (CADOs) during the same period. These operations resulted in the vandalism and destruction of nearly 212 civilian properties. Furthermore, Indian authorities continued to curtail the freedom of the press in IOJK. On January 15th, 2022, the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) was forcefully taken over by a group of military-backed journalists, who appointed themselves as interim management of the KPC. The freedom of the press was further curtailed by the arbitrary arrests of many journalists and editors of the local media outlets. Additionally, Indian authorities blocked the internet 164 times from January to December 2022, severely restricting the right to access information.

In addition to these human rights violations, India has planned to revive the state-backed militia known as ‘Village Defense Groups’ (VDG) in IOJK. This move comes despite gross human rights abuses by the members of the VDG, including charges of rape and murder. Official data reveals that 221 criminal cases have been filed against VDG personnel so far. This decision has sparked outrage among the Kashmiri people, who fear that the revival of VDG would exacerbate the human rights situation in the region. The report also highlights the plight of political detainees who were illegally imprisoned under draconian laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Many such detainees were shifted from Kashmir to jails in mainland India, where they were forced to live in extremely inhumane conditions. These detainees were deprived of medical care and other basic necessities, primarily for being Kashmiri Muslims and for upholding the idea of freedom from Indian Occupation. The report states that many of these detainees faced unjust harassment not only from the jail authorities but also from the non-Kashmiri Hindu inmates, which resulted in the death of several Kashmiri leaders inside Indian jails. The Indian authorities have also imposed curfews arbitrarily in IOJK, disrupting life and business in the region. In June 2022, curfew was imposed, and internet services were snapped in Srinagar, Kishtwar, and Bhaderwah districts after protests by Kashmiri Muslims against the offensive remarks made by BJP spokesperson Nurpur Sharma on Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

Occupied Kashmir has historically been a victim of unilateral decision-making by India. The abrogation of Article 370 took this trend to further extremes and drained the local population of their rights. The Indian government’s plan to invest 28,000 crore in Kashmir under the guise of development is a clear example of their neo-imperial and neo-capitalist logic. It is not a secret that the Indian government’s priority is not to develop the region but to seize Kashmiri land and resources, including human resources. This so-called development plan is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to further exploit the people of Kashmir. Since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, the Indian government has been actively pursuing a policy of demographic change in the region. The issuance of over 1.5 million domicile certificates to entrepreneurs and businessmen is a clear indication of their intentions. The government is not interested in uplifting the Kashmiri people but in bringing in outside investors to extract resources from the region. This policy is a continuation of the colonial practices of the past and represents a clear violation of the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination.

There is no normalcy in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), and the proposed G20 summit cannot hide India’s agenda. The government’s so-called development approach in the region is solely based on neo-colonial ideology, which puts profit over people. The Indian government is more interested in attracting outside investors and entrepreneurs rather than promoting sustainable development that could benefit the local population. This approach demonstrates the capitalist logic, which prioritizes the interests of the ruling class over the needs of the people. Unfortunately, the recent demolition of over 16,890+ houses in Kashmir by the Indian government speaks volumes about the true situation in the region. It is incomprehensible how the Indian government can claim to be normalizing the situation in Kashmir while committing such heinous human rights violations. This act of destruction not only violates the fundamental human rights of Kashmiris but also violates international laws and norms. It is time for the international community to take action and hold the Indian government accountable for its actions. It is unacceptable that the Indian government can justify the demolition of thousands of homes, rendering innocent people homeless and vulnerable. The international community cannot ignore the ongoing human rights abuses in Kashmir, and the Indian government must be held accountable for its actions. The proposed G20 summit in Kashmir would be seen as a support to the Indian government’s settler agenda rather than a step towards peace and stability in the region.

Author’s Bio:

Syed Inam Ali Naqvi is a President of the Kashmir Society of International Relations and a Member of the Youth Standing Committee on National Security at Youth Parliament Pakistan. He is a graduate of International Relations from University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (UAJK) and did his internship at Directorate of ISPR, GHQ, Rawalpindi. He can be reached at Twitter @Syedinamalinaq4

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