It’s been more than nine months since Kashmir is under a full siege and still marked as world’s most militarized zone. The problems of Kashmiris are not coming to an end and is even getting worse with the developing Covid-19 situation. With no food and medicine supply due to prolonged lockdown, Corona pandemic has made life more difficult for Kashmiris.
The President of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), Sardar Masood Khan describing India’s evil plans said that India is clearly using cover of coronavirus to undermine and mow down Kashmiri youth to change Muslim-majority demographic and character of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Modi government is playing a dirty game of risking the lives of Kashmiris by denying them Covid-19 testing and treatment. There are approximately more than 3467 cases in IOK with 39 deaths. However, India seems to be in no mood to fight Covid-19 pandemic in IOK. The Indian media on other hand is adding fuel to fire by dehumanizing the situation in Kashmir and overall blaming Muslims for pandemic in India.
India is using Covid-19 situation to cover up violations, crimes and abuses in IOK. With the international media and governments attention on Covid-19 global spread, the world has completely forgotten about Kashmir lockdown and Indian atrocities in IOK. Modi sees this as a golden opportunity to further tighten his grip on Kashmir. The imposition of domicile law by Modi in IOK is already focused to reduce the Muslims majority to minority by offering residence and property to Hindus from India. The process has been further accelerated due to current situation.
Furthermore, the healthcare system in IOK is already understaffed and insufficient. The situation was further worsened due to nine months lockdown as the region could not handle normal medical situation due to lack of medical supply. The increasing Covid-19 patients with less medical supplies and lack of Indian government focus on Kashmir is proving to be a recipe for disaster.
Due to Covid-19 pandemic, the fight that Pakistan took forward with all the valid reasons and efforts starting from PM Khan’s address in the UNGA seems to have subsided. When the world started to react to Kashmir situation, pandemic took control of world’s attention. India is taking advantage of this pandemic to undermine the voices of Kashmiris. Though there are some good developments such as United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) took note and documented India’s atrocities in Kashmir in its annual report in April and 3 Indian photographers winning 2020 Pulitzer Prize in feature photography for capturing the real face of Modi’s violence in Kashmir during lockdown.
The world must react and take strong measures against India by keeping economic benefits aside and valuing human lives in IOK. Modi’s misuse of pandemic to turn the tables in his favor in IOK should not go unnoticed. Despite the lockdown, military activities are maintaining its pace to suppress Kashmiris. Pakistan also needs to recalibrate its efforts to keep Kashmir issue alive on global forums.