*Image Source: AFP
On the 5th August 2019, the autonomy of the region of Jammu and Kashmir was stripped off due to the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. It has been almost 2 years and Kashmir and its people remain isolated from the rest of the world.
Communications blackout, media outage, indefinite curfews, and arrests of mainstream political leaders steer the boat further into the avalanche of human rights violations.
The revocation of Article 370 means that Kashmir no longer has autonomy with a separate constitution, and has to abide by the Indian constitution much like any other state.
All Indian laws were then automatically applicable to Kashmiris. This means that Article 35A of the Indian constitution, which protects the unique interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, have been scrapped.
Such decisions have huge ramifications because 35A is part of and has been the basis of Kashmir’s complex relationship with India for some 70 years.
As an Islamic country, Malaysia under the leadership of the then Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir Mohammad took a strong stand on India’s decision.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly in September 2019, Tun Mahathir had said that Jammu and Kahsmir had been “invaded and occupied” and that India’s action in the state was wrong.
Unfortunately, since the new Perikatan Nasional Government took over, Malaysia’s position in relation to Jammu Kashmir siege has not been clear.
As a member of the United Nations, Malaysia must continue to stand in solidarity with the Muslims of Kashmir and should be very concerned with the alleged erosion of fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people.
The situation in the region can no longer be put on hold. The fact that India has sent hundreds of thousands of army personnel into Kashmir, making it the most militarized zone in the world should necessitate international concern on such necessity in the first place.
In 2018 and 2019, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued human rights reports calling for an end to human rights violations and for all parties to respect Kashmiri right to self-determination. The report also calls for an independent international Commission of Inquiry to investigate egregious abuses of power by the Indian military.
India is a great friend of Malaysia and the Kashmiri too. It is high time that Malaysia take a responsible position recognizing that the Kashmir issue is still governed by “international agreements” and urging India to initiate steps to restore peace and stability to Jammu and Kashmir.
Malaysia and like-minded countries have a vital role to play, and they must act with conscience to protect the fundamental human rights of Kashmiris.
The besieged Kashmiri people are in dire need of international remedies for justice, bringing an end to the conditions of occupation, militarization, and war.
This political conflict requires a permanent political solution, involving the international community. A mediation process brokered by countries close with both the Dominion of India and the Republic of Pakistan such as Turkey, Qatar, Malaysia, and Iran should be seriously pursued.
As a country which holds important political power and the world’s biggest democracy, it is crucial for India to observe its commitment to uphold the rule of law, humanitarian rights, and adhere to its international commitment.
By Abdul Razak Ahmad (PhD) – Founding Director of Bait Al Amanah