Six freedom fighters were martyred by occupation forces in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) during two separate clashes, police said on Thursday, rounding off another year of oppression by the Hindutva regime of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the disputed territory.
According to a police statement, an Indian soldier was also killed while four others sustained injuries during the shootout in the occupied valley. Officials said that at least 380 separatists, nearly 100 civilians, and over 80 security forces personnel have been killed in the region since August 2019. That was when New Delhi unilaterally revoked the region’s limited autonomy and brought it under direct rule, adding to anger among locals and galvanizing support for self-determination.
This year the death toll was 264, compared to 321 in 2020, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal. Police said that with intensified military operations against the freedom fighters, the number of local fighters has dropped to fewer than 100 for the first time in a decade. Local police chief Vijay Kumar told the Economic Times daily this week that some 70 percent of the youth who joined separatists’ ranks this year were either martyred or arrested.
Most of those arrested are being held under anti-terror legislation called the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The law allows people to be held for six months — often rolled over — without being charged and bail is virtually impossible. One of those – in custody since November – is Khurram Parvez, program coordinator for respected rights group the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS).
On December 1, the UN Human Rights Office criticized the arrest and said that the UAPA “raises serious concerns relating to the right of presumption of innocence along with other due process and fair trial rights”. India has an estimated 500,000 soldiers deployed in IIOJK.
Pakistan on Thursday strongly condemned the extra-judicial killing of the six Kashmiri youth in IIOJK by the Indian occupation forces in the last two days. In the escalating campaign of repression in IIOJK, including fake encounters and so-called cordon-and-search-operations, at least 24 Kashmiris have been martyred in the month of December so far, Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar noted in a statement issued on Thursday. “Equally reprehensible are the continuing human rights violations in IIOJK, including arbitrary detentions, humiliation and harassment of Kashmiris,” he added.
The spokesperson said that the international community must take cognizance of the deteriorating situation in IIOJK and hold India accountable for its unrelenting oppression of Kashmiris with total impunity in complete disregard of international law. “It is equally important that relevant international, UN and OIC human rights bodies thoroughly investigate incidents of fake encounters in IIOJK, including the one in Hyderpora in November 2021, in which the Indian occupation forces are now desperately trying to cover up the massacre of four Kashmiris through fabrication and lies,” he added.
“Pakistan will continue to expose the BJP-RSS combine’s tyranny in IIOJK, as we steadfastly stand by the Kashmiri people in their just struggle for the right to self-determination as promised to them by the UN Security Council,” the spokesperson stated. Also, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Malki Thursday called on Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood on Thursday. During the meeting, they exchanged views on further fortifying the ongoing momentum in relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The foreign secretary deeply appreciated Ambassador Nawaf’s contributions to strengthening historic and multi-dimensional ties between the two brotherly countries.