Issues Home About Contact Us Issue 30 - July 2024 عربى
International Developments

Kashmir Occupation Update

In 1947, Kashmir came under the dual occupation by India and Pakistan; and, in 1963, China also has occupied northern frontier territories of Kashmir. Land Times/أحوال الأرض periodically summarizes the events and developments in occupied Kashmir that give rise to violations of housing, land and property (HLP) rights of the Indigenous population.

On 5 August 2019, the Indian Parliament rescinded Kashmir’s special autonomous status, granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which included measures protecting the territory from population transfer and alien colonization. Since then, HIC-HLRN monitoring has focused on the resulting pattern of HLP violations under Indian occupation, entering cases in the Violation Database.

State Household Surveillance

On 26 January 2024, the Jammu and Kashmir Police distributed forms to households across Kashmir requiring information including the names, gender, age, profession, relationships and identification information of household members together with information on assets, history of foreign visits, the installation of CCTV cameras and whether they have relatives abroad. This initiative has raised concerns about the legality, possible misuse and constitutionality of this census.

While the rest of India had postponed its national census due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 and then the general elections, the Indian Jammu and Kashmir administration launched its local census drive, raising concerns about its purpose and legality. Kashmiris see this latest move as a form of household surveillance on the part of Indian occupation officials, because of the police role in contravention of the occupiers’ own prevailing law.

Under the Indian Census Act of 1948, only the office of the Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner is authorized to conduct a census, specifically prohibiting other agencies, including state governments or private organizations, from conducting censuses or population enumerations on their own. In addition, the Act guarantees the confidentiality of the information provided by respondents and prohibits its use as evidence in court. Therefore, local observers see the Jammu and Kashmir Police involvement in this census to be questionably motivated, as it contradicts current law and the safeguards it provides.

Violations of Environmental Rights

Riverbed mining in Kashmir`s rivers, particularly the Jhelum, has caused extensive damage to homes, farmlands, and orchards and has led to changes in river morphology, erosion of riverbanks, severe pollution, flash floods, water scarcity and increased food security in IAK.

Data provided by the Jammu & Kashmir government on annual sand and riverbed mining bears out citizens’ accounts of a massive intensification of mining operations in recent years. In 2021–22, leaseholders mining riverbeds for sand and minor minerals extracted over 47 million tonnes of material from 37 blocks where leases were given.  With a surge in demand to feed local construction and the massive infrastructure projects in 2022–23, the quantity of material mined from riverbeds more than doubled over the previous year, with 114.2 million metric tonnes of sand and minor minerals extracted from 72 blocks where leases were given.

On 22 July 2023, flash floods triggered by a cloudburst in the upper reaches of Kashmir`s Kulgam district, some 68 km south of Srinagar, ravaged villages among the thousands whose homes and farmlands were destroyed. Mallbagh Korel village, with a habitation of only 15 families, is a case in point. Zahoor Dar, reported having incurred damages of Rs 200,000, equivalent to his yearly earnings from the sale of apples, his only source of income. Mushtaq Ahmed Bhat, another local farmer, incurred losses worth Rs 40 million when his orchard was ravaged by flood.

Mining in riverbeds and riparian areas is usually for the extraction of sand, boulders and gravel, all used in the construction industry, a growing sector that contributes nearly 8% of India’s GDP.

Dispossession and Destruction

Indian authorities continued to expropriate property of Kashmiris on purported links to “terrorism.” On 1 January 2024, the Jammu and Kashmir Police declared 23 people from Kishtwar “proclaimed offenders” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and moved to expropriate their immovable property.

On 3 January 2024, the Jammu and Kashmir Police expropriated the land of Lateef Ahmad Kambay of Wakoora, Ganderbal (who is arbitrarily detained) under the UAPA. On 4 January 2024, the Kashmir unit of Indian State Investigation Agency (SIA) expropriated the land of Abdul Rashid Mir of Amargrah, Sopore, Baramulla district. On 6 January 2024, the NIA expropriated the property of Aamir Mushtaq Ganie of Kiran Colony, Chanapore, Srinagar for alleged links to “terrorist groups.”

On 11 January 2024, Indian authorities expropriated the assets and froze the bank accounts of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and Muslim League Jammu Kashmir, pro-self-determination parties banned in December 2023. Indian authorities also expropriated the properties of pro-self-determination Hurriyat Conference members.

Indian authorities evicted Muslim landowners and bulldozed Muslim houses in Jammu.

Indian authorities have expropriated prime agricultural land, and economically critical apple orchards, forcibly taking Kashmiri farmers’ decades of investment and livelihoods in addition to their land in Shopian, for the purpose of a railway expansion. This is example of expropriation, and economic, social, cultural and ecological destruction, in IAK in the name of “development.”

In November 2023, Haris Zargar and Goldie Osuri published “The Distinct Dispossessions of Indian Settler Colonialism in Kashmir: Land, Narrative and Indigeneity” in the peer-reviewed journal Development and Change (Vol. 54, Number 6), arguing that the situation in IAK is one of settler colonialism similar to Palestine and East Turkestan. It considers the classic theorization of settler colonialism represented an attempt to distinguish settler colonialism as a distinct form of colonialism, one that focused on land dispossession and the elimination of the native. The authors explore the links between surveillance and land dispossession (pp. 1406–08, 1414–15) and observe, as do other authors, that, while the Indian state attempted elements of settler colonialism, the occupying power had been unable to engage in a formalized process of settler dispossession until August 2019.

For further information, contact:

Email: kashmirlaw@protonmail.com
Web: https://www.kljp.org/
Email: kashmirscholarsnetwork@protonmail.com
Web: https://kashmir-scholars.org/
Email: legal@projectsouth.org
Web: https://projectsouth.org/

 

Photo: A protest against the ongoing demolition/dispossession drive in J&K, February 2023. Source: National Herald.


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