Kashmir – The Endless Wait for Self-determination

Like Palestine, Kashmir patiently waits amidst untold suffering for the United Nations resolution on self-determination to be implemented. They are waiting for the past 30 years. Waiting for India to hold a plebiscite to decide who the predominantly Muslim population will vote for. 5th January is recognized as Self – Determination Day but what is there to commemorate? Hollow promises?

As each year passes by, the hope for self-determination becomes less real, while the suffering of the Kashmiri people becomes more blatant. Once again, as History will bear testimony, the victims are women, children and ordinary civilians.

Disturbing reports have emerged about brutalities, persecution and massacres committed by the Indian army. Thousands of Muslims have been left crippled and homeless, while the systematic and unspeakably brutal rapes of young girls, as young as nine, have also emerged. Several cases have been reported of military police forcing entry into homes during the midst of the night and abusing innocent women and girls.

As far back as June 1991 already there were confirmed reports by a Delhi – based human rights group, ‘The Committee for Initiative for Kashmir’, which published an in-depth account of rape and torture in the Kashmir Valley.

This article conclusively claims: “There seems to be a deliberate attempt by the security forces to make women the prime target of the attack.” This has become a strategy of war in almost every area where Muslims are targets.

The torture continues with reports of arson and inhumane treatment to communities at large in occupied Kashmir. Many Muslim homes have been gutted by fire in order to ‘flush out activists’ – ring a bell? The military then mercilessly prevented the fire- brigade from extinguishing the blaze. Thousands of homes have been destroyed in this manner resulting in the homelessness of hundreds of thousands more Muslims.

The tragedy is that not only has India disregarded the U.N Resolution but annexed Kashmir to India and declared it to be part of India. It is anybody’s guess what would have happened if Iraq, Pakistan or any Muslim country arrogantly did the same. Our decade has passed and no action has been taken against India.

This has led to heightened tensions in Kashmir resulting in further atrocities and brutalities. What choice is there? It is time that the World in general and Muslims in particular took stock of the situation in Kashmir and demand a fair and just solution to the seemingly never-ending suffering of the Kashmir people.

Kashmiri Self-Determination cannot ‘wait’ any longer.

(Mrs. Samshad Sayed is Head of the Women Affairs at Human Rights Foundation (HRF), South Africa.)