India’s Actions on Kashmir Raising Alarm
A PRESS STATEMENT
(For Immediate Release)
The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa expresses grave concern at the turn of events in Kashmir after the government in India has moved to revoke Article 370 of the constitution of India that granted the territory a degree of autonomy over the years.
Moreover, the scrapping of Article 35A of the constitution, raises alarm about the intentions of the Indian government, which is seemingly taking steps to entrench its stranglehold over Jammu and Kashmir, by changing its demographic makeup.
By passing the State Reorganisation Bill in the Lok Sabha (India’s Parliament), the government has taken a step further away from an international consensus built around a United Nations resolution calling for a plebiscite on self-determination of the people of Kashmir.
The Bill effectively formalises an annexation of a territory where its majority Muslim population risks permanent split of families whose members live on either side of the Line of Control that separates Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.
A wide-scale security crackdown on Kashmir, where curfews, arrests, an imposition of communication black-outs and deployment of more armed personnel, does not only instil panic and fear among the people of Kashmir but also raises the question of India’s commitment to human rights and international conventions.
Furthermore, the detention of prominent politicians such as Omar Abdallah, Sajjad Lone and Mehbooba Mufti, reportedly at secret locations, does not only send a message that the government cannot be trusted but also stokes potential fanaticism on either side of the Kashmir Question. It is a development that can prove genocidal.
Among several similar statements in parliament as well as elsewhere, India’s founding father, Jawaharlal Nehru, in his capacity as prime minister, had said in a broadcast to the nation on 3rd November 1947:
“We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it.”
A day earlier, Prime Minister Nehru had said about this pledge:
“Not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world . . . [to] hold a referendum under international auspices such as the United Nations…” (Sumantra Bose. 2007. Contested Lands. Cambridge, Mass.: Havard Univ Press)
We urge the Indian government to de-escalate these tensions by, among other steps, releasing all political detainees, demilitarising the policing of Kashmir and returning to the implementation of the undertaking towards the people of Kashmir and the world, of creating a suitable climate for a plebiscite, just as Prime Minister Nehru had pledged.
E.I. Bham (Moulana)
Jamiatul Ulama South Africa
8 August 2019