Indian military deployment in IoK largest troops concentration in any occupied territory: Masood

Indian military deployment in IoK largest troops concentration in any occupied territory: Masood

MIRPUR (AJK): Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan said the number of Indian troops deployed in Kashmir had risen to more than 800,000 making it the largest concentration of armed troops in any occupied territory or any conflict zone, now or in the past.

Addressing a press conference in Muzaffarabad, he said a sinister plan had been drawn up by India to reduce the numbers of Muslim electorate through new delimitation of the constituencies, land grab by non-Kashmiris through the use of banking laws and long-term leases to industrialists from India to “promote investment”.

The purpose of the moves, he said , was to flood Jammu and Kashmir with Indian nationals to change the demographic composition of the territory, marginalize Muslim population and crush the freedom movement.

The president said additional 35,000 (fresh 100 companies) troops had been rushed to the Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) by special flights and convoys for preparing the ground for crushing protests against Indian moves to alter the special status of the valley.

Sardar Masood said India partially recognized the disputed status of the state by the insertion of Articles 370 and 35-A in its constitution. “The latter recognizes the core identity of the state preserving the original Kashmiris’ inherent rights to permanent residence, employment, acquisition of immovable property and educational scholarships.”

He said in 1947, after massacres in Jammu and Kashmir, India deported hundreds of thousands of people to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir and, in the 1990s, it forcibly evicted and deported Pundits from the Valley of Kashmir and now it was trying to change the demography of the occupied territory. India was planning to establish settlements for Pundits, whom they had forcibly deported themselves in 1990, and colonies for former army personnel (called Sainak colonies).

In 1947, he said, the population of Muslims in Jammu was 61% and through planned pogroms and massacres their number had been reduced to 33%.

“Now India wants to do the same in the Valley of Kashmir. Village Defence Committees have been provided licensed arms to terrorize and persecute the local population in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

The AJK president condemned moves by extremist forces in the Indian government and a minority in the Indian occupied Kashmir, who in collusion with Delhi, were trying to repeal Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution to prepare the ground for influx of settlers from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Bihar, Bengal, Rajasthan and other parts of India. They, he said, were also trying to give permanent status to the so-called West Pakistan refugees, who were pushed from other provinces of India to Kashmir in the late 1940s and early 1950s as temporary settlers.

President Masood said the transfers of civilian population in the occupied territory by the occupier were a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, a breach of Additional Protocol I and the statutes of the International Criminal Court. “This constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.”

The International Conferences of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, he said, had declared that settlements in occupied territories were incompatible with Articles 27 and 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

He said attempts to alter the demographic composition in an occupied territory were condemned by the UN Security Council in its resolution 752 and it had asked the occupier for cessation of attempts to change the ethnic composition in the occupied territory. The UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Commission had also condemned the practice of settlements in the occupied territories and the “implantation of settlers”.

The AJK president warned India not to take steps to alter the demographic composition of the IoK and fully endorsed the stance taken by the Joint Resistance Leadership headed by Syed Ali Gillani, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq and Yasin Malik.

Even pro-India parties like the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in the occupied territory, reportedly, were also opposed to this move, he added.

He said the occupier’s brutal repression against unarmed non-combatant civilians in the IoK had already claimed 500,000 lives. By attempting to change the demography of the occupied part of the state, India would be setting Kashmir on fire and triggering yet another intense phase of freedom movement for self-determination.

“Over the past 70 years, the Kashmiris have been brutalized but they are not fatigued or tired. Reaction to the changes in demographic composition in Kashmir could set ablaze the IoK, India and South Asia. Such attempts add fuel to the fire”, he told the press.

The AJK president denounced unprovoked ceasefire violations across the Line of Control. The recent Indian shelling, he said, had left behind a trail of death and destruction.

He said in addition to its scorched-earth policy inside the IoK, India  had targeted civilians across the LoC in Danna, Dudnial, Jura, Leepa, Shardha, Shahkot and other sectors killing four and injuring 40 including women and children. “They haven’t spared houses, crops and livestock”, he said and paid tribute to the Armed Forces of Pakistan for valiantly defending the state.

India, he said, continued to raise tensions along the LoC so as to divert international attention from the crimes being committed by it in the IoK and hide its moves aimed at demographic transformation in the occupied state.

The ongoing year, he said, had been deadly for the IoK where more than 300 people had been gunned down while across the LoC India had committed 1,824 ceasefire violations resulting in a heavy toll of 17 martyrs and 105 injured. Last year, “we lost 58 civilians and 319 were injured as a direct result of 3038 ceasefire violations.”