Since partition was held in 1947, Kashmir issue has still remained an apple of discord between India and Pakistan. Kashmir issue has been continuously threatening the stability of the region, a region which is home to three nuclear-armed countries Pakistan, India and China. UN has miserably failed in addressing this issue as her resolutions have till now remained unobserved and unimplemented.
Since India gobbled up Kashmir against the wishes of Kashmiris, she has been trying to hush up their voices by overt and covert plans. One factor which has continuously perturbed India the most is the Kashmir’s Muslim Identity – since the majority is of Muslims. Thus India has been trying her level best to erode Kashmir’s this identity.
The effort to turn Jammu and Kashmir into a Hindu majority state is fueled by the intention to influence the UN-supervised referendum, this effort has drawn fire from the Kashmiris as well as the Pakistani Government.
Basically, IHK is home to 12.5 million people and is divided into three administrative divisions namely- Jammu, Kashmir valley and Ladakh. Earlier there were 14 districts, which were increased to up to 22 in 2006. In terms of distribution of religious groups, out of these 22 districts, there are 17 Muslim-majority districts-ten in Kashmir, six in Jammu and one in Ladakh, three Hindu-Majority districts and one Buddhist-majority district.
The table below shows that the Muslim population in IHK is nearly the same as that in 1961.Per contra, the Muslims population in India has increased from 10.70% in 1961 to 14.23% in 2011. Several factors have contributed to the declination of the Muslim population in Kashmir. However, the slaughtering of Muslims carried out on a large scale is considered as the important reason behind this.
In addition to this, the setting of non-state subjects in IHK has also contributed to the declination of the Muslim population. The settlement of non-state subjects in Jammu from India was started since 1947, however, earlier these nefarious designs were kept under wrap.The table below shows the decline of the Muslim population in several districts of Jammu division.
The BJP-PDP government has announced the construction of Sainik colonies, in which retired army soldiers will be settled. The entrance of these retired soldiers will help in increasing the Hindu population in the region as well as in keeping Muslims under the thumb. The settling of colonies for the Indian Army is in complete violation with the Fourth Geneva Convention. Under Article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention, the occupying force cannot transfer her civilians to the occupied land under any condition. Besides this, this is against moral and ethical values as well, to turn a particular religion’s followers from the majority into a minority. Apart from this, Indian Government has also started issuing domiciles to the West Pakistan refugees (WPRs) as well. The (WPRs) estimated to be between 250,000-500,000 are those nonmuslims who had migrated from West Pakistan to IHK during partition in 1947.
As another attempt to alter the demography of IHK, BJP Government has started returning the Kashmiri pundits to IHK under the pretext of their pitiful condition and the need for a permanent settlement. The returning of pundits which are estimated to be one lakh is severely denounced by the Hurriyat leaders and Kashmiris as an effort to achieve India’s nefarious plans. It should be noted that settling Hindu pundits in Kashmir is one thing but making efforts to make them Kashmir’s permanent citizen is another thing.
Indian Government has also planned to lease out land in Jammu and Kashmir to outsiders to start industrial development. In this way, the outsiders will become the direct stakeholders of Jammu and Kashmir and any threat to their business will become the direct concern of Indian government.
Policies aimed at changing Kashmir’s Muslim identity have created palpable fear among the Kashmiri youth. The 2008 uprising also occurred following the agreement which was reached between Central Government of India and IHK Government to transfer 99 acres of Kashmir Valley’s forest land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board to set up temporary shelters and facilities for Hindu pilgrims. Inevitably, these Indian policies will meet more resistance in future as well.
Instead of subjugating the Kashmiris and devising new plans to do so, India should focus on resolving this issue by holding a UN-supervised plebiscite. India must give Kashmiris their basic right to choose which country to accede with-India or Pakistan, otherwise, Kashmiris will themselves snatch away their fundamental right from India. Until and unless Kashmir issue gets resolved, achieving peace and stability in South Asia is a mere dream and nothing else.
About the columnist:
Kashif Mirza is a Law student from Pakistan & a current amateur political analyst and observer covering domestic as well as international news. Kashif Mirza can be reached on facebook at firstname.lastname@example.org