All humans are born free, and all Divine and Hindu religions enshrine the free will of their followers without any discrimination. The law of nature and laws made by humans provide equal opportunities to everyone regardless of their color, caste, creed, religion, or geography. In the aftermath of global wars and decolonization, an increase in the number of nation-states, and due to human and technological developments, the realization grew to make laws to ameliorate the sufferings of war victims and to provide better conditions for people under occupation.
The creation of the League of Nations and the United Nations was the collective will of the international community to help craft a better and more peaceful world for all humans to live in.
However, in the 21st century, there are still some states that disregard their religious beliefs and principles of international law; India is one of the violators of all human rights in its illegally occupied territories, especially in Kashmir. Therefore, on the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) passage, this essay deals with the gross violations of human rights conditions in the illegally occupied Kashmir by India.
International law concerning human rights evolved with the passage of time, starting from the International Humanitarian Law of 1864 by the Swiss Government through the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1903, and the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Later, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) were passed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1966 and came into force in 1976. Importantly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), another international document, was adopted by the UNGA on December 10, 1948, through resolution 217.
Out of the 58 members of the UNGA at that time, 48 voted in favor without any opposing votes. Presently, all 193 members of the United Nations have ratified the UDHR.
The UDHR enshrines the rights and freedoms of all human beings through its 30 articles; however, India is a violator of almost all of these articles, notably the following;
Rights and Protections
|Right to life and to live in freedom and safety.
|Right to be free from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.
|Prohibits arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.
|Rejects arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence and prohibits attacks on honor and reputation.
|Right to freedom of movement.
|Right to freedom of religious belief.
|Right to freedom of opinion and expression.
|Rights that protect freedom of assembly, association, and democracy.
India carries out the above violations through the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSFA) 1958, the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) 1978, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 1967, amended in 2019. Since its illegal occupation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir through a fraudulent Instrument of Accession (1947) to the revocation of Article 370 and 35A (2019), India has committed gross human rights violations; some have even called it ‘genocide’ in the illegally occupied Kashmir.
India has used tactics such as mass killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, sexual abuse and rape, torture, extrajudicial killings, fake encounters, killing of professionals (doctors, educationists, journalists), putting a ban on religious gatherings, use of pellet guns and destruction of civil property. Since August 2019, the violations have been intensified by search operations, illegal demographic change, suppression of freedom, denial of media access, and lockdown on internet and social media communications.
With the revocation of Article 35A, India has issued domicile to more than 3.5 million outsiders and established illegal non-Kashmiri colonies in the suburbs of Kashmir Velly, against all international laws.
These gross human rights violations have been condemned by many around the world. Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur, states that “Indian authorities appear to be intensifying the long-standing repression of Kashmiri civil society. The state must respect its human rights obligations and be held accountable where it violates them.” (March 2023), Amnesty International (June 2022) highlights the failure of the Indian government to protect minorities, the UN Rapporteurs (August 2012) have shown their concern over rights abuses in Kashmir, and the International Commission of Jurists (July 2019) voiced their serious concern on the human rights situation in the occupied J&K.
The Human Rights Watch and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom have also shown their serious concerns about sexual and gender-based violence. Moreover, the United Nations Human Rights Commission, in its first-ever report on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir (2019), noted serious violations and called for an international inquiry into multiple violations.
Indian violations of fundamental human rights, principles of international law, and resolutions of the United Nations with impunity have continued since its inception as an independent state in 1947. It violated the British Partition Plan by forcefully and illegally occupying the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir through a fraudulent instrument of accession, which does not exist. Its leader, Jawaharlal Nehru, solemnly pledged to the people of Kashmir to hold a free and fair plebiscite, which never took place. It took Kashmir’s case to the UNSC to resolve the dispute and later violated its very resolutions. It accepted Kashmir as a disputed state by giving special status to the J&K through Article 370 but revoked it in 2019.
Since 1989, it has been suppressing the rightful indigenous struggle for the right to self-determination by the Kashmiris, enshrined by the world bodies.
Against all principles of international law, it has changed the J&K ‘state subject’ by revoking Article 35A without the consent of the J&K Legislature Assembly. India, as an occupying power, has violated all human rights principles by denying the people of J&K their legal rights. It tried to project Kashmir as an integral part of India by convening one of the G-20 meetings in Kashmir but failed miserably as many states boycotted.
India aspires to be a major power and wants to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Still, it violates the universally accepted rules/principles of international law and denies implementing UNSC resolutions. All human rights bodies, conscientious people of the international community, and world organizations have vehemently condemned the Indian human rights violations in Kashmir and called for transparent inquiry and media access.
The brutal Indian atrocities and human right violations continues unabetted with impunity but it cannot change the ground realities in Kashmir and the yearning of Kashmiris for their rightful self-determination. December 10, being the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), reminds the world about the gross human rights violations in Kashmir and expects the world bodies to let the Kashmiris have their fundamental human rights for a peaceful living.
The Author is a Professor of International Relations and presently working as a Member Board of Directors, at the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS) Colombo-Sri Lanka. He has served as Dean Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Wah, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, and Director of School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR), Quaid-i-Azam University. He has over 30 years of teaching, research, and administrative experience. He Tweets @Sheeshgar1