Published On: Thu, Apr 16th, 2020

Change of Demography in Kashmir and Responsibility of Government of Pakistan

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Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani
Difficult times for the locked down people in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir (now re-occupied) are not over. Bad times have just begun. The situation was different until 4 August 2019. We had been raising the human rights situation at the United Nations Human Rights Council, previously Commission and theSub Commission. Indian actions of 5 August and 31 October, have thrown Government of Pakistan, Government of Azad Kashmir, the people of Kashmir and all others off balance.

Government of India is pursuing with rigour and method, a policy to grab the Kashmiri land and settle non State Subjects, in order to hurt the Muslim majority and the outcome of any future Plebiscite in Kashmir. In this regard President of India has signed Jammu Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019. Does it mean anything? The answer is de facto yes and de jure no.

The State currently functions as three administrative units. Any such effort in a part of Kashmir has no merit. It is a gross violation of Indian obligations agreed as a member State of UN and as under UN SC Resolutions. India has come into conflict with the people of Kashmir, Government of Pakistan and the United Nations.

Vigil needed to check the unlawful doings by the Indian army has been missing, even before the action of 5 August 2019.Indian Government has started making its moves of influencing the habitat and population in Kashmir. The Lt. Governor of Kashmir Girish Chandra Murmu(replacing Governor) has allocated 40 Kanal land for Kendriya Vidyalaya in village Dugmulla – Kupwara and transferred 40 Kanal of Land for developing transit accommodation for Kashmir Migrant Employees under PM’s package in Shopian – Kashmir. It is the beginning of a sinister RSS template to change the demography in Kashmir.

Government of India tested waters in this regard in May 2008 and failed. On 26 May 2008, the government of India and state government of Jammu and Kashmir reached an agreement to transfer 99 acres of forest land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) in the main Kashmir valleyto set up temporary shelters and facilities for Hindu pilgrims. This caused a controversy. People came out in demonstrations from the Kashmir valley against the land transfer and protests from the Jammu region supported it. The largest demonstration saw more than 500,000 protesters at a single rally, the largest in Kashmir’s history. Indian Government failed to stand up to public protests and withdrew the transfer of Kashmiri land.

It was on June 8, 2016 that Jammu and Kashmir Government was forced to reveal in the Legislative Council that 6000 kanals of Waqf land was under illegal occupation of Indian Army, government and civilians in the state. Indian army is currently occupying 1856 buildings, 1526 private establishments, 280 government buildings, 14 industrial units, 5 cinemas, 28 hotelsin full and 3hospitals meant for health sector are partially occupied.

Jammu and Kashmir Government admitted on 7 October 2015 that 1300 kanals of State land was under the illegal occupation at different locations in Delhi, Haryana, Amritsar and Chandigarh since 1946.Hospitality and Protocol department revealed that the state land of Jammu and Kashmir measuring 1251 and 4 marlas was under illegal occupation of Bajwa Brothers to whom the land was initially leased out for a period of 5 years w.e.f. 1957 to 1962. Kashmir government was seeking the re-possession of the property through the High court of Punjab and Haryana.

It was also revealed by the Government that Kashmir state land measuring 32 kanals at Tapai Road, Amritsar was under illegal occupation of the family members of the original lease holders. The land measuring 96 kanals with huge building infra-structure on it at Kashmir House, Raja Ji Marg, New Delhi is under the occupation of Ministry of Defence, government of India from 1946 at a nominal annual rent of Rupees 97,642. The state government has been vigorously perusing the matter with the concerned ministry at the highest level right from 1977.About the state land measuring 2 kanals in Chandigarh, the reply said that the matter was being “vigorously” followed up with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India to vacate the state owned building at SCO28-31, sector 17, Chandigarh.

In June 2016 it became public that Mehbooba Mufti Government had secretly allocated land to build a Sainik Colony at Old Airfield on a fast track basis. It became public that construction work on 47 buildings was almost completed and 700 flatswere ready. It was also revealed that more land was being requisitioned for ex-servicemen colony. “On 7 May 2016, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah shared on Twitter a government document regarding the confirmation of the allotment of 173 Kanals (21.6 acres) of land at the old Air Field area for construction of the Sainik Colony.”

It has been unfortunate that Hurriyat or any other pro-India Kashmiri political party did not formulate any opposition to this method of secret land grab and settlement of non-Kashmiris in the State. If we do not wake up now, people of Kashmir may one day find themselves roaming on the streets of India lock, stock and barrel. All their land would have been possessed by Indians.

The situation allows Azad Kashmir Government to make a reference to UN directly or through Pakistan to assume further responsibilities, previously allocated to JK Government at Srinagar. Under UNCIP Resolutions Prime Minister of Pakistan has assumed a shared constitutional responsibility in Azad Kashmir. One of which is in respect of Self Determination. It involves the integrity of the State territory as envisaged in UN SC Resolution of 30 March 1951 and other resolutions. Matter needs to be agitated at the UN and as appropriate.

The author is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.

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