M Chaudhry -
ACCORDING to local human rights activists and doctors of various hospitals in Indian Held Kashmir, more than 2000 Kashmiris of various age groups have been blinded by Indian security forces in last few years. This is a known figure of blinded persons in Indian Held Kashmir, otherwise, there are many more living in remote areas, who have been blinded and paralysed by Indian forces. The worst part of this campaign is that, there is no let-up in this brutal Indian campaign of blinding and paralyzing the Kashmiris in occupied areas of the state. Though, the blinding of Kashmiris through pellet-guns was exposed after the brutal killing of Burhan Wani, the 22 years old, Kashmiri social media activist, the fact is that, Indian security forces have been undertaking this inhuman exercise for the past many years.
In November 2016, ‘The Guardian’ a prestigious British Newspaper, exposed Indian campaign of blinding the Kashmiris in an article, entitled, “India’s crackdown in Kashmir: is this the world’s first mass blinding?” The article recorded some of the incidents from July 2016 to November 2016. These four months have been described by the newspaper as the bloodiest in the recent history of Kashmir. In those few months, the peaceful Kashmir protestors ‘met with a ruthless response from Indian security forces, who fired millions of metal pellets into crowds of civilians, leaving hundreds as blinded or paralysed.’
According to this unbiased newspaper, from July to November 2016, Indian security forces have wounded more than 17,000 adults and children have been injured. Besides, 5000 Kashmiris were arrested and tortured some of them are still languishing in jails. The worst part of this entire campaign was that, the people of occupied Kashmir “spent the summer under the longest curfew in the history of curfews in Kashmir.” This practice of curfew, blinding the youth, arrest, torture and killing by brutal Indian forces is continuing unabated in IHK. This world’s mass blinding military campaign in occupied Kashmir was seriously resented at the international level. The American and European media highly criticised this blinding and paralyzing campaign of Indian security forces.
As a strategy, Indian security forces are carrying out direct firing from the pellet-guns from near distances on Kashmiri crowds, once they come out in streets. In mid-September 2016, “more than 500 people, most of them young, were shot in the face with the pump-action “pellet guns” that the Indian forces routinely use to suppress protests.” Indeed, children as young as four and five years old have received multiple pellets in their retinas, blinding them partially or fully for life. Lately in 2018, an 19 months girl Hiba was directly hit in her eyes. As per eye witnesses, “She was hit by pellets even when she was inside her home.” She has lost her eye, though she is alive. Her only crime is, she is a Kashmiri and Kashmiris are destined to be blinded, paralysed and killed.
Upon mounting pressure from international community over human rights violations and this mass blinding campaign and a signal from Pakistan that, Islamabad will formally refer the Indian brutalities to United Nations Commission on Human Rights, India stage-managed an attack on its military camp at Uri, claimed killing of 17 soldiers. As in the past, India blamed Pakistan and so-called Pakistan based militant organizations for this attack. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi even threatened that, “those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished”. Later, India propagated in Media that, its forces have retaliated the Uri attack with “surgical strikes” in Azad Kashmir areas, which never took place.
In reality, the stage-managed Uri attack and the so-called surgical strikes were aimed at attaining four objectives. One; to immediately divert the attention of international community from its mass blinding and paralyzing campaign in occupied Kashmir. Two; to put Pakistan under pressure so that, it is stopped from taking the Kashmir case into United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Three; to satisfy the Indian domestic audience, the masses, which have been betrayed earlier through the media campaign against Pakistan and later started criticizing the BJP Government. Four; to have an excuse for the continuation of its barbaric acts in the occupied areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Indeed, through its shrewd acts, India did achieve these objectives and came out from immediate pressure; it was facing against its mass blinding campaign. However, India has not learnt any lessons, thus killing and blinding the Kashmiris with new vigour and enthusiasm.
Someone described the war-torn Indian occupied Kashmir as a territory which has now become “a place on the universe where the mothers often receive the dead body of their sons, fathers announce the venue and time for their funeral prayers, and sisters throw candies and flowers on their funeral procession.” While this all goes on, Indian security forces continue firing on those, offering funeral prayers of martyrs, killing and wounding many more. It is noted in Indian occupied Kashmir that, despite threat to their lives from the direct Indian firing, the Kashmiri masses pour out into streets and venue of funeral to offer prayers of their loved ones. Their dedication is worth seen that, those do not get a place there climb the trees to ‘have the last glimpse of martyrs to bid farewell to them. India must learn now that, such a nation and its dedicated sons and daughters cannot be defeated, even it doubles the military deployment in IHK