Security forces deployed by New Delhi have since long been accused of abusing their emergency powers in IIOJK. Nearly a dozen special emergency laws protect Indian soldiers serving in Kashmir from facing trial in civilian courts, and convictions in military courts are extremely rare. Human Rights watchdogs from all over the world have urged India to revoke these draconian laws giving total impunity to its law enforcing personnel.
In a rare admission of wrongdoing, Indian army confessed on September 18 that its soldiers exceeded their powers during a “fake encounter” operation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) that killed three men on July 18,they were buried in remote border area. Actually they were local daily wage labourers.The incident generated outrage in Kashmir, with political groups, rights activists and many residents demanding an independent probe into the deaths.Indian Army spokesman Rajesh Kalia said the soldiers on the operation had “exceeded” their powers and “contravened” the guidelines governing military conduct in Kashmir.”Disciplinary proceedings” would be taken against those responsible, Kalia added.A concurrent police investigation into the killing had yet to establish the involvement of the three men “with terrorism or related activities,” the army statement added.
According to senior journalist and Indo-Pak peace activist Chanchal Manohar Singh, “After almost a year, the resolve of all major political parties in Jammu and Kashmir to reiterate the demand of the implementation of the Gupkar Declaration of August 04, 2019, has finally reflected the signs of dissent against the “unconstitutional” and “unilateral” abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A. And “Gupkar Declarations proves Kashmir is experimental lab for [Indian] politicians”.
Former IIOJ&K Chief Minster Farooq Abdullah gathered pro India Kashmiri politicians at his Gupkar road residence in Srinagar, to make public their future course of action. Gupkar Declaration IIwas announced on August 22, it wasa follow up to pre annexation Gupkar Declaration I of August 04, 2019.
Farooq Abdullah had presided over the meeting of pro India political parties leading to Gupkar Ion August 04, 2019.Meeting was attended by the representative of:Jammu and Kashmir National Conference;Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party;Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference;Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee;Communist Party of India (Marxist);Peoples United Front; Awami National Conference. All these parties are focused on autonomy of Indian annexed Kashmir within the ambit of Indian constitution. Participants had deliberated on the thenprevailing political situation triggered by massive deployment of security forces, the multitude advisories issued, the abandonment of Amarnath Yatra midway, and forced removal of tourists from the Valley.
It was unanimously resolved: “That all the parties would be united in their resolve to protect and defend the identity, autonomy and special status of J&K against all attacks and onslaughts whatsoever; That modification, abrogation of Articles 35A, 370, unconstitutional delimitation or trifurcation of the State would be an aggression against the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh; That the parties participating in the meeting resolved to seek audience with the President and Prime Minister of India and the leaders of other political parties to apprise them of the current situation and make an appeal to them to safeguard the legitimate interests of the people of the State with regard to the guarantees given to the State by the Constitution of our country”.They pondered over the unwholesome consequences bound to follow the unconstitutional violation of these guarantees; andresolved to remain together and stand united in their struggle for safeguarding the identity, autonomy, and special status of the State. So far they have kept their word.
However, before they could implement the decision of the Gupkar Declaration I, most of them were thrown in jails or were kept under preventive detention with the abrogation of Article 370. For a year, no political activity was seen in IIOJ&K, except some membership drives by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). Many political leaders, including former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti are still under detention, while some, including, Farooq Abdullah, have been released after signing a bond of compliance with the government.
Now on 22nd August, 2020, anew resolution termed Gupkar Declaration-II was circulated in media. This was the first combined statement issued by the political parties after more than a year. Acknowledging the difficulties in bringing out a resolution of all political parties, it stated that the signatories to the Gupkar Declaration-I, “have barely managed to establish basic level of communication with each other” in the face of a series of prohibitive and punitive curbs.
The Gupkar Declaration II enlists three points (demands) only in 122 words: “That all the parties would be united in their resolve to protect and defend the identity, autonomy, and special status of J&K against all attacks and onslaughts whatsoever.That modification, abrogation of Articles 35A, 370, unconstitutional delimitation or trifurcation of the State would be an aggression against the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh; That the parties participating in the meeting resolved to seek audience with the president and prime minister of India and the leaders of other political parties to apprise them of the current situation and make an appeal to them to safeguard the legitimate interests of the people of the State with regard to the guarantees given to the State by the Constitution of our country”.
The Gupkar Declaration II has cleared its ideology of peace by mentioning that “We don’t believe in bullets and bullet and stone throwing politics”. This is very significant as the Gupkar Declaration has separated itself from those fighting with arms. Farooq Abdullah blamed the Prime Minister for creation of a new chapter of peoples’ alienation in J&K. Every decision is taken at PM level.
Only response to the Gupkar Declaration came from the J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina, who launched a scathing attack on sponsoring political parties, especially the National Conference and the Congress for enacting the instrument of Gupkar Declaration to demand reversal of Abrogation of Article 370. Rana charged that those who want to fight the nullification of Article 370 and demand for the restoration of special status to the erstwhile state are supporters of Pakistan.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s stated that the second declaration was “not an ordinary occurrence but an important development”.Reacting sharply to Pakistan hailing the recent Gupkar Declaration II Farooq Abdullah asserted that “we are not anyone’s puppets”. “Pakistan has always abused mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir but now suddenly they like us.”
Gupkar declarations offer nothing to those who are struggling for the right of self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, their focus is on perpetuating pre August 05, 2019 status of IIOJ&K. However, these declarations indicate that even pro India political elements of IIOJ&K are not ready to reconcile with annexation of IIOJ&K. It is in this context that Pakistan’s foreign minister has termed it as an “important development”.
Notwithstanding the futile political gimmicks in IIOJ&K, tyranny of Indian occupation forces continue to make the life of Kashmiris people miserable. Indifference of international community is neither tenable nor understandable.
The writer is a freelance contributor. E-mail: Iqbal.firstname.lastname@example.org