A video has gone viral on social media. In this particular video, a Kashmiri by the name of Malik Waseem from Kupwara in Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir and currently living in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) can be seen begging Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rescue him and his family from the ‘zulm’ (cruelty) they face at the hands of the PoJK government.
Here is the story of this happy man. In 1947, his family migrated to PoJK and was allotted a house in Muzaffarabad. At the time there were thousands of empty properties that originally belonged to Hindus and Sikhs who were either massacred during the 1947-48 communal genocide or had somehow managed to escape to Jammu.
These properties were confiscated by the government and a department of Matrooka Emlak or abandoned properties was set up. It was in these properties that the Kashmiri migrants were housed and over a period of a few years were given ownership rights.
Over decades the prices of these properties soared from a few thousand rupees to crores. Influential people are allegedly bribing the local government officials who deal with real estate to change the ownership of these properties to middlemen from whom they can then buy the property.
When the local police came to evict Waseem and his family, the police produced a document that said the property was under the ownership of a different person.
On January 18, Waseem was forcefully evicted from his property along with young children and women members of the family. It was raining and the family got drenched. At the time of writing this article, they have been sitting on the road outside their house for more than 60 hours. The weather in Muzaffarabad is freezing cold. I have been informed that Waseem’s young daughter has taken ill and has been admitted to a local hospital.
In his video message, Waseem said that these properties belong to non-Muslim Hindus and Sikhs and that they should come back and reclaim what is theirs. He has also called upon Modi ji to help him.
I can assure you that it takes a lot of guts or only when in a state of utter despair that someone living in the PoJK would record such a statement and then share it on social media. To call India for help is treason in Pakistan. But here you have a man in his early 40s who has become so desperate that he does not even think about the consequences of his appeal.
People living in PoJK are by default Indian citizens. Their light puts us in a very tight spot. The state of Jammu and Kashmir had signed an instrument of accession with India on October 26, 1947. However, by then Pakistan army had already occupied large swathes of the state, and only after a bitter and prolonged war did we manage to regain what is today known as the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
For 74 years, my people have been deceived by successive governments both in India and Pakistan regarding our future which still remains in limbo. Although it was not until the BJP government of Narendra Modi came into power in 2014 that India started to act on a comprehensive policy to counter Jihadi terrorism in the valley, it still needs to pay enough attention to resolving the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.
Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind that PoJK and Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan are constitutionally part of the Indian Republic. Likewise, let there be no qualms about our claim to the territories occupied by Pakistan. In this light, a bold statement made by our government on January 26, which happens to be our Republic Day, would encourage my people to look the devil in the eye. Let us send Malik Waseem and hundreds of thousands of Bhartiya nagriks living under the oppression of Pakistan a ray of hope.