DR AMJAD AYUB MIRZA
Imagine you have to live under conditions where there is no electricity for days and in order to keep your family warm during the winter season you are forced to burn the wooden furniture that you inherited as your wife’s dowry.
Imagine there is no running water for months and you and your women and children have to fetch water from the polluted river day in and day out.
Imagine you are not being paid your salary and the local shop keeper refuses to give you food essentials on credit unless you clear the existing debt.
Imagine you have been given the sack without prior notice and the school your children go to refuses to let them sit in the class room due to ono-payment of tuition fees.
Imagine you are an old pensioner and the post office refuses to pay your pension due to lack of funds.
Imagine you send you daughter to a college to be educated and her own professor kidnaps and then rapes her.
Imagine scores of your female students are forcefully sent to visit Pakistan military personal stationed at the Line of Control satisfy their lust for male gaze.
Imagine you are a school teacher and you have to observe sit-ins at government offices and beg for a pay rise from those who you once taught in your class room.
And imagine you are unable to charge your mobile phone because you live in a city does not have power and electricity for 22 hours’ day.
This is what my people are forced to live like for the past seven decades.
In Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan (PoJK and PoGB) people are suffering from malnutrition, disease, mental health issues, unemployment, drug abuse, sexual exploitation and harassment that leaves them with little choice but to end their lives.
From 2018 to 2022 at least 219 suicides have been report in PoGB alone. Some 1.5 million young and middle aged men from PoJK out of a total population of 4 million have been forced to migrate to the Middle Eastern countries, Europe and North America to perform underpaid and unskilled or low skilled jobs for various companies.The jobs my people perform in the above mention parts of the world include fork lifting, driving taxis, working as cooks and kitchen porters, waiters, security guards and as toilet cleaners at airports and shopping malls.
Our land is rich in natural resources including minerals, precious stones, forests and fresh water rivers which if properly managed could generate a combined revenue of more than $10 billion a year.
This amount of money can easily pay for free education and electricity, hospitals, pensions as well as in developing the most modern industrial, and social infrastructure that could match any city that belongs to todays advanced capitalist world.
The reason my people are poor is because our lands have been under the illegal occupation of the state and army of Pakistan.
On October 22, 1947 Pakistan army attacked our state of Jammu and Kashmir and began massacring non-Muslim religious minorities in the name of ‘purifying’ Jammu and Kashmir of infidels.
This resulted in the worst kind of genocide of the Hindu and Sikh communities since the Holocaust. More than 100,000 Hindus and Sikhs were beheaded, shot or hacked to death between 22 October 1947 and March 1948.
It was on October 26, 1947 that our king, Maharaja Hari Singh, signed an instrument of accession with the Republic of India opening way for Indian troops to land in the capital city of Srinagar and push back the invaders.
However, a ceasefire brokered by the then United Nation Security Council brought the war to an abrupt halt leaving the unliberated territories of Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in the hands of the Pakistan government.
To this day my people await the time they would be liberated and set free from the illegal occupation of Pakistan.
According to the instrument of Accession, signed between Maharaja Hari Singh and Lord Mount Batten, territories that are under the occupation of Pakistan are also part of that agreement thus making both territories (PoJK/GB) and integral part of India.
Therefore, myself and my people are Indian citizens by default.
And above all Nerendra Modi is also our Prime Minister. Is it not time that our prime minister should unwaveringly raise the issue of our subjugation and suffering with the world community and help to set us free and rejoin our motherland?
(DR AMJAD AYUB MIRZA is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK.)