Europeans should care more about the plight of the Kashmiris

    Europeans should care more about the plight of the Kashmiris

    Friday, 11 October 2019
    This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
    Kashmiri protesters walking through rice fields in 2010. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

    To ignore the plight of the innocent and voiceless people of Jammu and Kashmir is not just plain ignorance, it is inhumane and barbaric.

    Just over seven decades ago the Indian subcontinent gained independence from British rule. Kashmir, however, has remained a disputed territory between neighbours and arch-rivals India and Pakistan. It has repeatedly been used as a political tool, as a mere pawn by these two nuclear powers.

    In fact, this custody battle has already led to two devastating wars between the two states which, needless to say, threatened the stability of the entire region. 

    On 5th August 2019, Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist party (BJP) unilaterally revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution. This revocation not only undermines decades of history but also, and more importantly, strips the people of Kashmir of autonomy. It crushes their hope for a better, more peaceful tomorrow and with that destabilises the already volatile region.

    Plight of the Kashmiri

    The decision enables Modi’s government to systematically bring about political and demographic changes in Kashmir which, in the long run, will benefit India at the cost of the lives, integrity and interests of Kashmiris.

    For over a month the people of Kashmir have been in a state of complete blackout. In anticipation of backlash post the revocation of Article 370 the current Indian government shut down all mediums of communication including mobile services and the internet in Kashmir.

    Kashmir is cut off from the rest of the world when it is at its most vulnerable. 

    The 21st century marks the height of human development. We have made momentous technological progress as well as achieved high levels of economic and social prosperity. In short, this epoch is supposedly the epitome of advancement of humans.

    Yet despite all this, the most basic human rights are being blatantly denied to the people of Kashmir. Public gatherings of more than four people are forbidden, there are severe restrictions on freedom of speech and it is estimated that India has deployed 500,000 to 700,000 troops in the area, making it one of the most militarised regions in the world.

    In addition to this, political leaders in Kashmir have been detained, schools and colleges are forced to be closed and on top of this there are reports of widespread use of pellet guns by the Indian forces in occupied Kashmir. This is the ugly reality of the world’s biggest democracy.

    Actions, they say, have consequences. Yet so far, Modi’s government has gotten away with trampling the most fundamental of civil rights, threatening the very foundations of democracy itself. The world is currently witnessing one of the worst atrocities committed by a supposedly secular and democratic government.

    But why should you care about this? Why should the escalating violence in Kashmir and the subsequent tensions between India and Pakistan be a source of concern to, say, the average European? 

    Here’s why. 

    A Global Village 

    In an increasingly evolving world decisions made by sovereign nation-states have far-reaching consequences. In other words, today’s world is a global village. Our economic, political and social situations are closely interlinked due to increasing globalisation.

    What happens in one part of the world invariably impacts a completely different part of the world. Take the recent Syrian crisis, for example. The civil war in Syria led to Germany taking in nearly one million refugees from the region.

    The sooner we realise that this is a real cause of concern for all, not just for the helpless victims of the Indian government’s actions’, the sooner we may reach an end to this catastrophe.  

    Actions borne out of inconsideration often have grotesque consequences and the Kashmir crisis is a physical manifestation of that. 

    Mahrukh Mirza