Mourning and Celebrations: Two sides of one coin as Jammu & Kashmir observes Accession Day (Rava Special Report)


“Otherwise Kashmiris would have no option except waging an armed struggle for the liberation of their motherland from the clutches the Dogras,” the resolution declared. -APP

Accession Day is a holiday in India’s northernmost state, Jammu and Kashmir, commemorating 26 October 1947, when Maharaja Hari Singh signed of the Instrument of Accession, in which Jammu and Kashmir joined the Dominion of India. The date of this historic event has been a source of argument between Pakistan and India after a recent research by British sources claiming that the agreement was not signed till 27th October.

Nonetheless, the area remains under the leadership of India and is a reason of celebration in India and reason to mourn in Jammu & Kashmir. The festivities of the day include holding rallies, bursting of firecrackers, singing India’s national anthem, and raising the flag of India. In some areas, the festivities are as big as those of Diwali.

The history of barbarism by Indian forces in Jammu & Kashmir is not a new tale. It is a common topic of discussion for past 70 years in all international peace meetings throughout the world.

Human rights abuses in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir state are an ongoing issue. The abuses range from mass killings, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. The Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Personnel (BSF) and various separatist militant groups have been accused and held accountable for committing severe human rights abuses against Kashmiri civilians.

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Crimes by militants are said to be incomparable with the larger scale abuse by Indian state forces. Some rights groups say close to 100,000 people have died since 1989 while the official figures from Indian sources state the estimates of number of civilians killed due to the insurgency in the range of 16,725 to 47,000 civilians, in which 3,642 civilians were killed by security forces. The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society organisation states that there have been over 70,000 killings, 8000 plus forced disappearances, mass torture and sexual violence, the majority committed by Indian armed forces, and that these cases have had zero prosecution in civilian courts. India accuses the Pakistan Army for abusing human rights in Jammu and Kashmir by violating the ceasefire and continuing to kill Kashmiri civilians, a claim which is totally rejected by Pakistan who blames Indian army for the violation of LoC. Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks revealed that the ICRC had briefed US officials in Delhi in 2005 about the use of torture from 2002–2004 by security forces against hundreds of detainees suspected of being connected to or having information about militants.

Research scholar Mozammel Haque states that India has committed a genocide of Kashmiri Muslims to quell their uprising. In a 1993 report, Human Rights Watch stated that Indian security forces “assaulted civilians during search operations, tortured and summarily executed detainees in custody and murdered civilians in reprisal attacks”; according to the report, militants had also targeted civilians, but to a lesser extent than security forces. Rape was regularly used as a means to “punish and humiliate” communities. Scholar Seema Kazi says it is used as a weapon of war by the state against the population. A 2010 US state department report stated that the Indian army in Jammu and Kashmir had carried out extrajudicial killings of civilians and suspected insurgents. The report also described killings and abuse being carried out by insurgents and separatists.

Militant violence led by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation front has caused ethnic cleansing of several hundred thousands of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits, who before their exodus comprised an estimated 3% of the Kashmir valley’s population. According to Asia Watch, the militant organisations forced the Hindus residing in the Kashmir valley to flee and become refugees in Delhi and Jammu. There is controversy regarding whether the Pandits left due to fear of violence or were encouraged by the government to leave in order to undermine the support for militant movements. It is claimed that Kashmiri militants have been assisted and supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The chief perpetrators were the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front and the Hizbul Mujahideen. Ethnic cleansing continued till a vast majority of the Kashmiri Pandits were evicted out of the valley after having suffered many acts of violence, including sexual assault on women, arson, torture and extortion of property. Some of the separatist leaders in Kashmir reject these allegations. The Indian government is attempting to reinstate the displaced Pandits in Kashmir. The remnants of Kashmiri Pandits have been living in Jammu, but most of them believe that, until the violence ceases, returning to Kashmir is not an option.

Amidst all this crisis and mass killing of Kashmiri Muslims, India ruling party BJP organized a grand celebratory ceremony almost same as Diwali celebrations when the people of Jammu & Kashmir observe black day remembering lives that have been lost.


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Rava Desk

Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.


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