ISLAMABAD – Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz Friday said the nation, under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, had dedicated all efforts and energies to project the Kashmir issue at international fora.
“We shall continue to do so and we shall continue to extend our moral and ethical support to the Kashmiri brethren in their just struggle for the right to self-determination,” the minister said while addressing a seminar on “Kashmir under Siege” organised here by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Shibli Faraz said the subjugation of Kashmiri Muslims had been going on for the last seven decades through military means, but the present Indian government had crossed all limits to trample human dignity on August 5, 2019 by unlawfully legitimizing its blatant acts of aggression in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK).
The 70-year plus of oppression, he said, was not enough as the Modi government had ‘outperformed’ all its predecessors in suppressing the Kashmiris demanding their birth right of freedom. The former Indian governments did retain a semblance of constitutionality though they too had consistently pursued the policy of forcibly keeping the Kashmiris enslaved, considering the region as an ‘Atoot Ung” (integral part) of India. The ‘Atoot Ung’ philosophy was in fact the mother of all ills and evils, but unfortunately the Modi regime considered it the ‘mother of all cures’ for Kashmir, he added.
The Modi government, Shibli Faraz said, had surpassed all the previous regimes by abrogating articles 370 and 35 A of the Indian Constitution that conferred the special status on Occupied Kashmir, besides pledging not to change its demographic status.
He said the two articles, which were incorporated in the Indian Constitution soon after the partition of Sub-continent, did create an impression in the world capitals that India was not trampling the solemn pledges made by its first Premier Jaw aharlal Lal Nehru made at international forums on Kashmir.
He said it was Nehru who took the lead in pledging to the United Nations Security Council that a plebiscite would be held in Kashmir to ascertain the will of its people, he added.
He said the conferment of special status on Occupied Kashmir under Article 370 was, in fact, in line with that solemn pledge as well as the Security Council resolutions accepting the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir.
What the Kashmiris got thereafter was a sad story as instead of giving them the right of choice, their bodies were pierced with bullets, he added. Those protesting against coercion, state high-handedness and usurpation of their due rights would be abducted and made to disappear for years.
The women crying against their widowhood or forced disappearances of their male members would be gang-raped by the merciless Indian troops, who used the ‘mass humiliation methodology’ as a tool of oppression, subjugation and enslavement.
Shibli Faraz said a year had lapsed since the abrogation of articles 370 and 35-A, the Kashmiri Muslims continued to face abject misery at the hands of Indian tyrant and merciless forces. A reign of terror had been unleashed in the shape of killing unarmed freedom-seeking Kashmiris, siege, lockdown and total blockade of communication, with blinding of peaceful youth and children with the use of pellet guns, he added.
The minister said the ruthless practice of enforced disappearances had intensified as the Indian troops were making excessive use of powers conferred on them through the promulgation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA).
“The soldiers can enter, rather break into, any house without a search warrant and take away any person on the pretext of ‘suspicious conduct’,” he maintained.
A large number of Kashmiris picked up by the Indian troops and agencies, he added, never returned to their homes, leaving thousands of widows or half widows and orphans behind.
The discovery of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley, he said, spoke volumes of such atrocities, which were being camouflaged under the constitution with unjust and unjustified amendments made in it in sheer disregard for the universal principles of natural justice.
“Even their own constitution debars the Indian parliament from change of the special status (of IOJK) without initiation of a move from the state assembly, which means the Kashmir Assembly,” he pointed out.
The minister said Article 35-A guaranteed no changes in the demography of Kashmir Valley, but now after its illegal and unconstitutional repeal, the Modi regime had picked up momentum to ‘neutralize’ the Muslim majority there. A large number of non-Muslims from outside Kashmir were being given incentives and facilitation to settle there and also buy properties in sheer violation of the true and original spirit of the Indian Constitution.
He regretted the fact that all it was happening under the aegis of a democratically elected government that claimed to be a torch-bearer of democracy, simultaneously bragging, time and again, that India was the biggest democracy of the world.
“Is the Indian version of democracy all about invading and enslaving a small peaceful fraternity of Kashmiri Muslims?” he posed a question to the international community, which, he said, might not have any answer to it.