Kashmir Propaganda in UK Parliament

Lakshmi Koul
On 19th January 2017, the British Parliament saw 29 MPs debate passionately about the human rights violations by India on the people of Kashmir. The motion itself read in bold, capitals:Anti-India propaganda! It was a mockery of democracy especially because all the MPs representing the Pakistani and Pakistan Occupied Jammu Kashmiri population were speaking almost off a common hymn sheet. Each spoke animatedly about the cruel use of pellet guns on ‘innocent civilians’ and how dictatorial the Indian government under Prime Minister Modi is!
The timing of this debate could not be worse. While the Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) mourned the bloody acts of 19th January 1990 as they remembered the sad, black day when they were rendered homeless overnight at the behest of Jihadi slogans – “Die, Convert or Leave”, our Honourable MP David Nutall decided to hold a debate glorifying the terrorists sponsored by Pakistan! Not even a single mention of the armed infiltration and terror attacks sponsored by Pakistan in Jammu & Kashmir and certainly no acknowledgement of the significance of this very day by anyone except Bob Blackman MP and Virendra Sharma MP who were the only ones to lay out facts in their 10 minutes each of limited speaking time.
The actual sufferers of gross human rights violations – the Kashmiri Pandits were forced to listen to people justifying bloody retribution, killing of innocent civilians and destruction of centuries of heritage. Masked as the freedom struggle of Muslims of Kashmir valley, this ideological fight is against democracy, progress, inclusion, growth, prosperity – it is the justification of painting Kashmir in the colours of Islamic State. The events of last summer leading to Burhan Wani’s death (the so called poster boy of Jehaad in Kashmir) draws parallels with Jihadi John in the West, who use social media and propaganda to promote Jehaad and killings in the name of religion.
For those who were so passionately speaking without any mention of the terrorist groups sponsored by Pakistan and infiltrating Indian territory via borders of Jammu & Kashmir, I would like to remind them that at the recent India-EU Joint declaration on the fight against terrorism (30th March 2016), both European and Indian leaders condemned, “the recent terror attacks in Brussels and Paris, Pathankot and Gurdaspur and recalling the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, calling for the perpetrators of these attacks to be brought to justice. Leaders called for decisive and united actions to be taken against ISIL (Da’esh), Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaishei Mohammad, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network and other internationally active terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.”
Security experts believe that the ongoing border violence is mostly linked to Islamabad’s goals to push disruptive elements and terrorists across the border before snow blocks the mountain passes. Trained militants belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Harkatul Mujahideen, Jeish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and others are given protection and logistical support by the Pakistani army until they are sent across the Line of Control (LoC) in batches of five to ten. The Pakistani army also maintains many terrorist camps across the border in Pakistan and has launching pads available near the LoC that keeps small groups of militants waiting for infiltration into Indian controlled Jammu &Kashmir.Pakistan-assisted infiltration across the LoC tends to succeed in effecting penetration into India. The terrorists, trained in guerrilla warfare, manage to hide in the dense vegetation and when detected and engaged they often manage to escape into the hinterland after hours and days of exchange of gunfire with the security forces. (ref: South Asia Democracy Forum)
The debate arguments although hooked into the Kashmir human rights issues took on a strong Anti-India stance with parliamentarians questioning the very fabric of democracy in the largest democracy of the world! The response from the government brought some solace when The Rt Hon Alok Sharma made it clear to all parliamentarians that this is a matter purely between India and Pakistan and that UK does not interfere in their internal matters unless asked by them.
As for the information of David Nutall and his colleagues, Pakistan’s support has been instrumental in spreading terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir, but also in Punjab and North-eastern Indian states through military, logistical and financial means. In Jammu & Kashmir, however, Pakistan goes further as it openly pledges moral and political support to the Kashmiri jihadists, calling it a “Kashmiri freedom struggle”.
The people fighting against the Indian Army are Jehadis and Mercenaries trained in Pakistan with a view to destabilise the region. The recent demonetisation drive has put a sudden halt in any stone pelting activity thereby proving that they were all paid to attack the Indian Armed forces and Government buildings. The only human rights that have been brutally violated are those of the minority Hindu community in the region. Ever since 1988-89 there have been active training camps in Pakistan where young Muslim youth from Kashmir were taken to train them in arms handling and brainwash them into fighting for Jehad. Today there are 8 year olds and 9 year olds who act as Mohalla Commanders and those who indulge in stone pelting on Indian officials and establishments. These are young child soldiers and terrorists that have been created by Pakistan sponsored trainings and support – the UN has remained silent on this aspect of human rights violation that has taken away not just the peace and harmony of the region but has more importantly taken away the childhood and youth of these young people.
In the last couple of years the number of ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LOC) have risen steeply. According to Indian authorities, the unprovoked firing by the Pakistani army is aimed at infiltrating trained militants into Kashmir. Lives of many innocent civilians are also lost during these heavy shellings. There were 437 ceasefire violations by Pakistan till November 2016, killing 37 and injuring 179 in the Indian side. In a recent report to the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, it was stated that there are atleast 200 terrorists active in Jammu & Kashmir. Ceasefire violations in the last few years are known to intensify during festive and harvesting seasons. The mainly agricultural border population suffers heavy economic losses. With the firing starting just around the harvesting time, it chases away the labour working in the fields. The shells lying on the farmlands makes them inaccessible.
In response to the huge Propaganda call made by these 27 MPs for India to abide by UN Resolutions, they may note that it was India that, on January 1 1948, went as a complainant to the UN asking that Pakistan vacate the territory it had occupied, the Indian delegation led by the Kashmiri leader, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah.On 4 Feb 1948, the US Representative to the UN Security Council stated: “with the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to India, this foreign sovereignty went over to India and is exercised by India and that is how India happens to be here as a petitioner”
For those of you who recall the Kashmir debate in 2014, you will remember there were an equal number of contributors on both sides making it a fairer debate. This time it was 27 MPs for the motion and 2 opposing it. I am forced to question the very passion and interest of the Indian diaspora in human rights issues and their discussion in the UK Parliament, especially those that are aimed at vilifying India.
I am deeply concerned at the lack of any political lobby in defence of India in the UK even though there are numerous organisations, facebook groups representing the direct interests of India and Indian diaspora. 70,000 people gathered at Wembley stadium to welcome the beloved PM Modi and a few thousand could gather again at Wembley to protest against the ban on traditional bull fight in Tamil Nadu, where were these same people who claim to be proud Indians when their motherland was being insulted in the UK Parliament by utter twisting and partial representation of facts? Hardly any interest was noticed, despite numerous calls and requests to members and community leaders for lobbying local MPs. The various political parties especially Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems who have Friends of India groups were silent – none of their members came to speak in defence of India. I personally wrote to a number of MPs requesting them to speak in the debate which was otherwise one sided – I am yet to hear back!