OIC rejects Indian bid to alter IoJ&K demographics

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-Islamabad hails condemnation illegal Indian actions

By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly condemns and categorically rejects the Indian Government’s recently introduced ‘Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020’ which spells out new domicile rules causing ‘demographic flooding’ of non-natives in the IoJ&K.While the world is striving to fight a global pandemic of Covid-19, India has mischievously used the opportunity to illegally alter the demographic composition of Muslim majority in IoJ&K. However, as in the past, the people of Kashmir have squarely denounced this law as yet another illegal move and expressed their resolve to stand firm against the tyranny of Indian occupation.
Earlier concerns, expressed by the Commission, are proving to be real as series of actions undertaken by the Indian Government are designed at systematically paving the way for ‘settlement colonialism’ through forced demographic change, institutionalizing a system of domination over indigenous Muslim population by converting them into minority within their homeland and obviating the exercise of their right to self-determination.
This is a manifest violation of the human rights of the Kashmiri people guaranteed under well codified international human rights treaties including Articles 27 and 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which clearly declare any illicit transfer of population in conflict zones or disputed territory as illegal. It will not only change the demographics of the occupied area and resultant disenfranchisement but will further complicate the dispute which has already claimed thousands of innocent lives of Kashmiri Muslims, the Commission added.
The Commission is appalled to note that, since 5th August 2019, the Indian Government, despite widespread international condemnation from UN, OIC and other human rights bodies, continues to pursue systematic persecution of Kashmiri Muslims through vicious political, economic and communication blockade in the IoJ&K. However, despite deployment of over half a million security personnel, the Indian Government has failed to quell the Kashmiris’ legitimate struggle for the right to self-determination. The impugned laws of Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act continue to provide blanket protection to the Indian security forces to trample human rights of innocent Kashmiris with impunity. The denial to Kashmiris of their basic human rights and fundamental freedoms including the right to life, right to self-determination, right to freedom of expression, freedom of religion, right to peaceful protest and assembly, are contrary to international human rights law and is also violative of India’s international human rights obligations.
The Commission urges the UN and the international community to play their due role to pressurize India to: a) abide by the relevant UN Security Council and OIC resolutions to refrain from any administrative and legislative actions, which tantamount to altering the geographic and demographic status of the IoJ&K; b) restore all fundamental freedoms of Kashmiris; repeal its discriminatory laws; and c) allow people of Kashmir to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination through a free and fair plebiscite as provided in the relevant UN and OIC resolutions. Pakistan on Wednesday welcomed the Organisation of Islamic Conference’s (OIC) rejection of a new domicile law imposed by India in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. “Pakistan welcomes OIC statement strongly condemning and rejecting Indian government’s illegal actions to redefine domicile rules to alter IoJ&K demographic, and terms it settlement colonialism against OIC, UNSC resolutions, 4th Geneva Convention, [and] international humanitarian laws,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aisha Farooqui in a tweet.
The controversial law, notified by New Delhi on Monday, prescribes the procedure for issuance of domicile certificate, which is a mandatory requirement for seeking jobs in the region.
However, critics, including Pakistan, say it is a continuation of India’s move to rescind the region’s semi-autonomous status in August last year, and paves the way for outsiders to settle in the disputed territory.
Under the new law, eligible non-locals, along with people who have lived in occupied Kashmir for 15 years or studied there for seven years and appeared in class 10 or 12 examinations in a local school, can apply for the certificate.
In a statement, the OIC said it had been following with deep concern the “unilateral” scrapping of the valley’s longstanding special status in August 2019, and subsequent measures to alter the demographics of and undermine the rights of the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
The OIC’s general secretariat, according to the statement, reaffirmed the importance of complying with international law and UNSC resolutions, considering the recent notification of Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules 2020 as “baseless, running counter to international law and UN Security Council resolution 122”.
The statement also noted that since Aug 5 2019, “India, despite widespread international condemnation from the UN and OIC and other human rights bodies, continued to pursue systematic persecution of Kashmiri Muslims through vicious political, economic and communication blockade” in the valley.
Recalling the Islamic Summits’ and the Council of Foreign Ministers’ resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, the organisation reaffirmed its solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It also called on the international community to gear up its efforts to resolve the dispute in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and as per the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.