Protesters rally against India to express solidarity with Kashmiris in Peshawar on Wednesday. Associated Press
Pakistan Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari has written a detailed letter to 18 UN Special Rapporteurs alleging massive human rights violations by India in Jammu and Kashmir, after it revoked its special status, which she termed as “an annexation by force and therefore an illegal act.”
In a seven-page letter, Mazari said an Indian Cultural Forum went on a fact-finding mission to Jammu and Kashmir between Aug.9-13, and highlighted serious shortages of medicine and other basic necessities there after the August 5 lockdown. The team also highlighted incidences of targetting of civilians with pellet guns, and cited the case of a Rising Kashmir graphic designer who reportedly received 172 pellet injuries.
She requested the UN Special Procedures Mechanisms to intervene with the Indian government, to reverse its “illegal annexation of Jammu and Kashmir;” end the communications shutdown, ensure compliance with international human rights obligations, among other suggestions.
To keep the Jammu and Kashmir issue alive in Pakistan, the government has urged all Pakistanis to stand for three minutes at 12 noon on Friday to “show solidarity with Kashmiris.”
Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan, gave this information to Pakistani media on Wednesday.
Awan appealed to every segment of Pakistani society to come out and demonstrate solidarity with the Kashmiris on the call of Imran Khan.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, a Pakistan army spokesperson also called upon people to stand in solidarity with Kashmiris.
National anthems of Pakistan and Kashmir will be played at noon on Friday in line with the government’s move to observe ‘Kashmir Hour’ every week, said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) ) Director General Major Gen Asif Ghafoor.
Speaking at a conference for the upcoming Defence and Martyrs Day, the military spokesperson added that sirens would also blare during the hour. The conference was attended by civil and military leaders from across the country.
Former Pakistan cricket team captain Shahid Afridi also urged his countrymen to support the government’s decision and participate in Friday’s campaign in big numbers.
Afridi said he will soon visit the Line of Control (LoC) “to express solidarity with our Kashmiri brothers and sisters.” The minister cited several specific cases of “gender-based violence as a weapon of war.” Mazari mentioned a video that surfaced of the Indian ruling party BJP lawmaker Vikram Saini on Aug.6, in which he was shown as saying that Muslim party workers should “rejoice’ at revoking of Kashmir’s special status as “now they can marry the white-skinned women of Kashmir.”
The letter also mentions Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar saying on Aug.10 that with Kashmir now open, “brides will be brought from there to here.” He clarified that it was a “joke.” She also listed how Google has experienced a surge in searches on “how to marry a Kashmiri woman.”
Mazari drew a parallel with earlier reports by UN rapporteurs alleging gender-based violations against Dalit women and girls in India, and said: “What should be of particular concern is the capacity for increased threats of gender-based violence against Kashmiri women, taking into consideration the impunity for large-scale violations of this nature” against Dalit women.
She cited the shutdown of telecom facilities in Jammu and Kashmir since Aug.5, and termed it the “blackout” as a “collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir without even a pretext of a precipitating offence.”
She attacked the curfew imposed since Aug.4 night on Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was a violation of the right to religious freedom of Muslims.
She also attacked the arbitrary arrests and detentions, including arrests of political leaders, citing former CM Mehbooba Mufti who termed the revocation of special status “as the darkest day in Indian democracy.”
Mazari alleged that at least 2,300 people have been detained in AKashmir. Mazari termed the revocation of Article 370 and 35A that gave special status to Kashmir as “infringing on the freedom of thought, conscience and religion of the Kashmiri people” and that the restrictions prevented the people from celebrating Eid by congregating for prayers.
Mazari alleged the Indian security forces have been arresting minor children and also denying them the right to go to school due to the lockdown and that children have been the target of pellet guns.
Indo-Asian News Service