Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, during an interaction with a delegation of Italian journalists here at Jammu and Kashmir House, said that India has unleashed a reign of terror on the innocent Kashmiris living in Indian Occupied Kashmir in order to quell the freedom movement and deny them their inalienable right to self-determination.
The Italian media delegation consisted of Mr. Alberto Negri, Daily 2 Sole 24 Ore Newspaper; Mr. Gianluca Di Feo, Deputy Editor in Chief of La Repubblica and Ms. Emma Jacqueline Charlotte Rossi, Freelance Journalist.
During the meeting, the President informed the delegation that in the latest phase of repression after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani, Indian occupation forces have murdered, tortured, blinded and illegally incarcerated thousands of Kashmiris under the guise of so-called cordon and search operations in the occupied territory. He said that India is using brute force to suppress the legitimate freedom struggle of Kashmiris and on countless instances used sexual violence including rape and sexual harassment as an instrument of war. He said that according to conservative estimates over 2000 innocent unarmed Kashmiris have been affected by the lethal pellet guns used by Indian forces.
President Masood Khan said that under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act, the Indian occupation forces have been granted immunity from any prosecution and are openly perpetrating war crimes against the people of Jammu and Kashmir. He said that armed personnel ransack homes, demolish properties and destroy the livelihood of Kashmiris.
President AJK said that human rights violations in IOK have also been reported by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He said that OHCHR in its report has comprehensively listed horrendous human rights violations taking place in IOK. He also informed that the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament is working on a report to highlight the state of human rights in Kashmir. Similarly, a report on Kashmir is being compiled by the British Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group, for which numerous hearings have been conducted and testimonies have been recorded.
Indian Occupied Kashmir, said the President, is not a part of India and is a disputed territory. The people of Kashmir have resisted the Indian occupation for over seven decades and they continue to demand the right to exercise their political will through a free, fair and impartial plebiscite in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions, he said.
President Masood Khan denounced the Indian government’s decision to cancel talks between the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and Indian on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Session. He also condemned the provocative statement made the Indian army chief. the President said that while the Government of Pakistan and Kashmiris desire resolution of this dispute through dialogue and peaceful means, India is threatening Pakistan by beating its war drums. He said that India has adopted a policy of divesting itself from talking to the Kashmiri leadership and Pakistan’s Government on the Kashmir conflict.
The President said that Italy and Pakistan enjoy cordial relations and closely cooperate on the diplomatic front. He urged the Italian journalists to highlight the grave human rights situation in IOK. He encouraged the Italian media to create space for the Kashmir conflict and effectively highlight the human rights violations being perpetrated in IOK. He added that the international community must come forward and help bring an immediate end to the human rights violations taking place in IOK.
President Masood also invited the journalists to visit Azad Kashmir and see for themselves the endeavours made by the Azad Government for promoting and protecting human dignity, encouraging economic development, and the efforts made for providing access to education, health and livelihood.