WHY KASHMIRIS OBSERVE OCTOBER 27 AS BLACK DAY
Muhammad Raza Malik
October 27 is the darkest day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir and the Kashmiris living on both sides of the Line of Control and across the world observe it as Black Day. This is the day, when, in 1947, India sent its armed forces to Jammu and Kashmir and occupied it in total violation of the Indian Independence Act and Partition Plan and against the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
According to the Partition Plan of June 3, 1947, passed by the British parliament on July 18, the same year, the Indian British Colony was to be divided into two sovereign states. The Hindu-majority areas were to constitute India while the Muslim-majority areas of Western provinces and east Bengal were to be included in Pakistan. At the end of British suzerainty over Indian sub-continent in 1947, more than 550 Princely States had become independent but with a choice to accede either to Pakistan or India. However, India illegally occupied Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir by military invasions. Being a Muslim-majority state, with 87% Muslim population, Jammu and Kashmir had a natural tendency to accede to Pakistan, but the evil designs of its Hindu ruler and the leaders of Indian National Congress and Britain paved way to destroy the future of the people of the territory.
India claims that it signed ‘Instrument of Accession’, which was drafted in Delhi and presented to the then ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, on October 26. However, a prominent British historian, Alistair Lamb, challenging the Indian invasion in Kashmir, in his book “The Birth of Tragedy” wrote that the successive events after the partition of the united India strongly suggested that Indian troops had invaded Kashmir prior to the signing of the Instrument of Accession. He argued that due to this reason the Indian government never made the so-called document public at any international forum.
It is also a historical fact that the so-called Boundary Commission, headed by British Barrister, Cyril Radcliff, that demarcated partition line, played main role in the creation of the Kashmir dispute. Had the Commission done the demarcation of the partition line on the principles of justice and in accordance with the set procedure then India had no land route to enter into Jammu and Kashmir. But unfortunately, the Commission under a conspiracy split Gurdaspur, a Muslim majority area, and handed it over to India, providing it terrestrial access to the territory. This area otherwise had to be part of Pakistan.
Genocide of Muslims in Jammu
The Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir particularly those living in Jammu region in 1947 had to pay a heavy price for their aspirations to join Pakistan. Indian troops, the forces of Dogra Maharaja, and Hindu extremists massacred over 300,000 Kashmiri Muslims within a period of two months in Jammu region. The bloodbath was intended to change the demographic composition of the territory to turn the results in favour of India in any referendum in the future. Historians consider this massacre as the worst example of genocide in Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir in the United Nations
The Indian occupation faced stiff resistance from the people of Kashmir who launched a mass struggle against it. The resolute movement of the Kashmiris forced India to knock the doors of the UN Security Council on 1st January 1948, seeking help of the World Body to settle the dispute. The UNSC through its successive resolutions nullified the Indian invasion and called for settlement of the dispute by giving the Kashmiri people the right to self-determination. It approved an impartial plebiscite to be conducted in Jammu and Kashmir under the supervision of the World Body. Despite the promises made before the world community by the Indian leaders of giving the Kashmiris an opportunity to decide their fate by themselves, the plebiscite has not been held so far.
Kashmiris’ revolt against Indian rule
Disappointed at the failure of all the efforts aimed at resolving the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means since 1947, the people of occupied Kashmir intensified their freedom struggle in 1989 to secure their right to self-determination. This movement pushed the Indian authorities to the wall, forcing them to sit around the negotiation table with Pakistan. The dialogues between the two countries started in 1999 after the then Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, came to Pakistan and met the Pakistani leadership. Both the countries agreed to resolve the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means of talks. The talks process continued till it was hampered after Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008 when India without any substantive evidence laid the responsibility of these attacks on Pakistan and its intelligence agencies. An officer of Indian home ministry later revealed that India itself had orchestrated the Mumbai attacks to strengthen its anti-terror laws.
The dialogue process resumed in July 2009 and continued with hiccups and was once again suspended after Narendra Modi-led Indian government called off the Foreign Secretary-level negotiations scheduled in Islamabad on August 25 in 2014, on the pretext of meetings between the then Pakistani High Commissioner, Abdul Basit, and Kashmiri Hurriyet leaders in New Delhi, a few days before the scheduled talks. Since then the relations between the two nuclear neighbors have been tense and Indian troops are continuously engaged in ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and Working Boundary. India committed over 600 such violations since January this year. On the other hand, the ground situation in occupied Kashmir remains unchanged, as the confidence building measures and the dialogue process could not provide the Kashmiri people respite from the Indian state terrorism.
On May 11, 1998, India conducted nuclear explosions and started threatening Pakistan. This left Pakistan with no option but to respond by showing its nuclear capabilities on May 28 to strike balance of power in the region. The development turned Kashmir as a flashpoint as underlined by several world leaders.
The Kashmiris’ struggle to get rid of Indian bondage took a new turn in 2008. They started hitting the streets in large numbers and expressing their anti-India and pro-liberation sentiments in a peaceful manner. This mass uprising continued for three consecutive years and at times the number of peaceful protesters thronging the streets of Srinagar crossed one-million mark. But most of the time, Indian forces’ personnel responded these peaceful demonstrators with excessive use of brute force, killing more than 200 people during this period.
The extrajudicial murder of a young liberation leader, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, on July 8, last year, by Indian troops gave an impetus to the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle. People in large numbers hit the streets in every nook and corner of the occupied territory on daily basis, demanding their right to self-determination. However, Indian police and troops continue to use every brutal tactic against the protesters. So far, 168 civilians have been killed and 20,170 injured in the firing of pellets, bullets and teargas shells on the demonstrators. More than 270 youth have lost their one or both the eyes due to the pellet injuries while around 1000 are at the verge of losing their eyesight. Hundreds of people including Hurriyet leaders have been put behind the bars. However, all these brutalities have failed to suppress the Kashmiris’ resolve who are committed to carry forward their ongoing liberation movement.
State terrorism and new Indian tactics
New Delhi has exhausted all its resources during the past seven decades but has not been able to intimidate the people of Jammu and Kashmir into submission. The continued Indian state terrorism, particularly since 1989 has made the life of Kashmiri people miserable. The occupation forces enjoying unbridled powers under the protection of draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Disturbed Areas Act in the occupied territory have broken all records of human rights violations. During the last 28 years, the trigger-happy forces have martyred over ninety-four thousand Kashmiris, widowed nearly twenty-three thousand women, orphaned not less than one hundred thousand children and molested or gang-raped more than eleven thousand Kashmiri women. Thousands of innocent youth have been subjected to disappearance in custody and their whereabouts remain untraced. The shocking discovery of thousands of mass graves across the occupied territory has raised concerns about the safety of the disappeared persons.
New Delhi is hell bent upon changing the Muslim majority of occupied Kashmir into minority. On one hand, it is using its judiciary to abrogate Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian Constitution to pave way for giving the citizenship rights of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian citizens. On the other, it is using its investigating agencies like National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate to implicate Hurriyat leaders, activists and pro-freedom people in false cases to force the Kashmiri people into submission. Indian designs to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir are intended to influence in its favour the results of a referendum whenever it is held in the territory. As such, the move is against the very purpose of the relevant UN resolutions.
Pakistan’s support to Kashmir cause
It is an undeniable fact that Pakistani leadership has always supported the Kashmiris’ just struggle and never betrayed the trust reposed in it by them. The father of the nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had termed Jammu and Kashmir as the jugular vein of Pakistan. The incumbent government is projecting the sufferings of the Kashmiri people and the gross human rights violations by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir forcefully at all international forums. Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, in his recent address to the UN General Assembly and meetings with the world leaders drew attention of the international community towards the Indian atrocities on the people of occupied Kashmir. He also called for settlement of the Kashmir dispute by implementing the relevant UN resolutions that guaranteed the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. The Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, in his speech at the Defence Day on September 6, 2017 reaffirmed Pakistan’s continued political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris in their struggle for securing their right to self- determination.
In the backdrop of above facts, the people of Kashmir observe October 27 as Black Day all across the world. The objective of the observance of the Black Day is to make it clear to New Delhi that the Kashmiris reject its illegal occupation of their soil and that they will continue their struggle till it grants them their inalienable right to self-determination. It is also aimed at reminding the world of its obligations of resolving the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the relevant UN resolutions.
(Muhammad Raza Malik is working as the Senior Editor of Kashmir Media Service and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)