OIC urges India to safeguard “religious rights” of people of Jammu and Kashmir

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at a meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir at the level of Permanent Representatives in Jeddah, August 6, 2019. (Photo courtesy OIC twitter)
Updated 14 August 2019
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OIC urges India to safeguard “religious rights” of people of Jammu and Kashmir

  • Expresses concern over Kashmiris not being able to observe religious rituals during Eid-al-Adha
  • Calls on the international community to increase efforts for a negotiated settlement 

ISLAMABAD: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation secretariat on Wednesday urged Indian authorities to protect the religious rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan region whose special status was revoked by India last week, followed by a clampdown on communications and freedom of movement.
“The OIC General Secretariat has learned with concern the reports of curtailment of religious freedoms of Kashmiri Muslims in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including complete lockdown even on the auspicious occasion of Eid, denying Eid congregations and preventing Kashmiri Muslims from observing religious rituals,” the OIC said in a statement. 
“Denial of religious rights constitutes a serious violation of international human rights law and is an affront to Muslims across the world,” the OIC said, adding: “Therefore, the OIC urges Indian authorities to ensure the protection of the rights of Kashmiri Muslims and the exercise of their religious rights without any hindrance.”
The OIC also called upon the international community, including the United Nations and other relevant bodies, to increase efforts for a negotiated settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute on the basis of relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
India revoked the special status of its portion of Himalayan Kashmir, known as Jammu and Kashmir, on August 5, and moved to quell widespread unrest by shutting down Internet, landlines and cellphone communication and curtailing freedom of movement.
Islamabad retaliated by suspending bilateral trade and all public transport links with India, as well as expelling New Delhi’s ambassador to Islamabad.
India rules the populous Kashmir Valley and the Hindu-dominated region around Jammu city, while Pakistan controls Azad Kashmir, a wedge of territory in the west. China holds a thinly populated high-altitude area in the north.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from colonial power Great Britain in 1947, They came close to another one in February after a deadly attack on Indian police by a Pakistan-based militant group resulted in airstrikes by both countries.
India’s revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir blocks the state’s right to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has said old laws prohibiting people from outside Kashmir from buying property, settling there and taking up government jobs had hindered its development.


Jammu and Kashmir: A disputed state under siege 

Updated 22 August 2019
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Jammu and Kashmir: A disputed state under siege 

  • New Delhi fears protests if communication is restored and presence of troops scaled down in Kashmir
  • There is widespread anger and resentment among the people of the disputed region

SRINAGAR: It’s been more than two weeks since Indian administered Kashmir has been facing a security lockdown and prohibitory order. 
Markets in major parts of the Muslim majority region of Jammu and Kashmir are shut amid a communication blackout. 
Kashmiris have been barred from using any form of technology to communicate and denied even a basic phone call.
New Delhi’s decision on August 5 to abrogate two articles of the Indian constitution, Article 370 and 35-A, that gave the disputed state a special autonomous status under the Indian union has brought the Kashmir valley to a standstill.
The Modi administration has imposed strict prohibitor orders, reinforcing parliamentary troops to man each and every nook and corner of the valley.
The administration governing the Kashmiri districts relaxed the prohibitory order on August 19, allowing schools to reopen. It also restored some telephone landlines.
However, protests in some parts of Srinagar and Kashmiri towns forced the government to reimpose the communication ban. 
The schools remain empty days after reopening. 
People are gripped in fear. Uncertainty looms. Reports suggest that grieved communities have resorted to civil disobedience by keeping markets shuttered down and not sending their children to school.
There is widespread anger and resentment among the people. Majority of the Kashmiris feel let down by the government’s decision to strike down the special status passing a rush decree to annex their state without holding a plebiscite.
They say that their identity has been attacked and it’s not possible to live under abject humiliation.
Modi’s government fears large scale protests and resistance if communication is fully restored and the presence of troops is scaled down. 
If violence erupts, New Delhi fears that it stands to lose its political narrative domestically and internationally.
Jammu and Kashmir remains on edge. A disputed state divided between, India and Pakistan but fully claimed by both is under siege on New Delhi’s orders which has violated the UN charter.
It remains to be seen how long the Indian paramilitary forces will be able to contain the growing anger and angst among the local populace of the Muslim-majority region under Indian rule.