Even while Indians and Pakistanis celebrate independence day, the Indian army saw fit to continue its Line of Control (LoC) violations on August 14.
Two civilians were wounded in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Monday after Indian troops hit a vehicle across the LoC.
The latest ceasefire violation coincided with the visit of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to the heavily militarised border which splits the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir between Pakistan and India.
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief was told that the only restraint faced by the Pakistani troops was “the professional ethos of Pakistan Army that barred them from responding in kind when Indian troops targeted innocent civilians along (the) LoC”. And this is true. Kashmiris are dying on both sides of the LoC, and none of them has been killed from Pakistani fire. Indian troops have reportedly been targeting civilian houses as well as vehicles on this side of the LoC.
This is not just a violation of the ceasefire, but also violation of the rules of conduct during war. Yet, while international laws are being broken, the global community refuses to acknowledge the plight of the Kashmiris at the hands of the Indians. In November last year, 12 passengers were killed when a public transport vehicle was targeted by Indian troops with mortars in Neelum valley. Three weeks later, a school van was hit in the Nakyal sector of Kotli district, leaving its driver dead and eight students wounded. Last month, four soldiers embraced martyrdom after their truck was hit by Indian troops in Neelum valley. The numbers, the cases, are all there if anyone in the US, or from the UN would like to tally them.
In 1989, Indian-administered Kashmir broke out into an armed revolt for self-determination from India. Since 2008, a civilian resistance, known widely as the “Kashmiri intifada”, is resurging. To date, more than 70,000 Kashmiris, both combatants and non-combatants, have been killed by Indian actions.
To make matters worse, Hindu fundamentalist Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), backed by the BJP, is seeking to repeal Article 35A of the Indian Constitution. The court is expected to make a final decision on the issue in six weeks. This article restricts non-natives of Jammu and Kashmir state from having immovable property or political franchise there. The removal of 35A can facilitate a demographic change which BJP considers prescriptive for controlling the territory. Kashmiris fear the BJP’s “Israeli model” to establish settlers that will favour Indian rule in the region.
This is a reminder, that while Pakistani’s are free, Kashmir remains in chains, and had not much to celebrate on 14 August.