WEB DESK: The fair sex in the land under foreign boots is very often a fair game. And so is the case in the Indian-held Kashmir where molestation of womenfolk is a favourite pastime with more than half a million troops.
The Kashmiris would invariably strongly protest and get killed by the occupying armed force which enjoys immunity from any legal consequences under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). This past Tuesday also, the men in uniform molested a school girl in Handwara, provoking a wave of resentment across many towns in IHK.
Four persons including women were killed in firing by the security forces that were being booed pelted with stones by angry protestors. Clashes also took place at many other places, including Srinagar, which was on lockdown; and local Kashmiri leaders had been placed under house arrest. What is expected to follow in this case is not going to be any different from the previous when a kind of sop is offered to the aggrieved parties by registering cases against the culprits. But nothing happens beyond that formality.
In this case, an Indian army spokesman has assured action, but only ‘after ascertaining if the standard operating procedures were followed’. And under the AFSPA ‘shoot to kill’ is that procedure. No wonder then no one in uniform was ever brought to justice during the military occupation of the state since 1989 uprising, because ‘a predatory sexual profile has been part of the operational signature’. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and reportedly asked for a time-bound inquiry.
Will she succeed when all her predecessors, including her father Mufti Sayeed failed? In fact, the opposite may happen – the girl who was immediately taken into custody by the local security establishment has been forced to change her version and claim she was molested by others and not by men in uniform.
While in Islamabad, the Foreign Office spokesman expressed “deep concern” over the Handwara incident, President Mamnoon Hussain at the OIC summit said the ‘people in occupied territory look towards the OIC member-states for continued support and settlement of the issue in accordance with the Resolutions of the UN Security Council’. One is not surprised that the OIC Contact Group on Kashmir, which met on the sidelines of the OIC Summit in Istanbul this week, has also expressed ‘continued support for the Kashmiris’ right of self-determination in accordance with the UN Resolutions’.
Of course, the IHK is a Muslim majority state, and is also expected to be spared of the continued oppressive rule given its ‘special status’ as guaranteed in India’s constitution. No surprise then that its plight at the hands of Indian military presence is a matter of deep concern to the Islamic world. But is it for the world at large, including the so-called custodians of international conscience, to ponder how much more a people under foreign occupation can endure.
That the occupied Kashmir as it exists today is a threat to international peace, it brought about three wars between India and Pakistan; the fourth if and when it takes place could be a nuclear-tipped confrontation. It is about time the international community ask New Delhi to withdraw its military presence and let the people of occupied territory manage their own affairs.
It may also be asked to explain why the Modi government is bent upon ending the IHK’s ‘special status’, which envisages more autonomy than available to other states in India. At the same time, Chief Minister Mehbooba should weigh in New Delhi and ask it to respect her electoral commitment and repeal the AFSPA.
Source: Business Recorder