Separatists in Kashmir have hit the roads and joined chorus with Pakistan over fears of closure of their one-stop protest destination — the office of United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) — in Srinagar. The fears were accentuated by the Narendra Modi government’s recent move where the UNMOGIP was asked to vacate from Delhi.
“Closing down the UN observer’s office is a glaring example of growing arrogance and fascism,” said Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, who in the past has handed over more than 50 memoranda to the UN office in Srinagar, seeking its intervention.
The UNMOGIP, established under a UN Security Council Resolution, was meant to supervise the ceasefire line established under the Karachi agreement of July 1949. It has an office in Srinagar too besides in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Islamabad in Pakistan.
“India went to the UN for intervention in Kashmir. The UN observers’ mission offices in Delhi, Islamabad and Srinagar are important, because they remind that Kashmir needs a peaceful settlement,” said Malik, whose party organised a street protest against Delhi’s move.
Malik warned: “Any tactic to close UN offices will bring nothing but disaster and distress to the whole region and jeopardise the already volatile peace and prosperity of the sub-continent.”
Pakistan on Thursday reacted sharply to the Centre’s move, stating “it had never accepted Kashmir’s accession to India and the UNSC mandate remains till the Kashmir issue is resolved”.
Separatists in Kashmir are rallying behind Pakistan.
Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in his speeches and sermons described it an “unrealistic move”.
“Kashmir dispute needs political courage to resolve it. Closing the UN offices would not solve the problem rather aggravate it,” said the Mirwaiz, who held a meeting of all constituents of Hurriyat over the issue.
“The UN has failed so far to play its part in the resolution of Kashmir, but this fact does not undermine the legality of the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir,” he added.
It was in January 2013 that the previous government at the Centre suggested that “the UN offices in India and Pakistan be wound up as it had been overtaken by the Simla Agreement of 1972”.
“The prime party to the Kashmir dispute is Kashmiris. They neither were part of the Simla agreement nor had been asked about their view points. The UN presence justifies the struggle of the Kashmiris’ nation,” said hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani.
The ruling National athe UN offices “futile ones”.
“The UN observers were supposed to observe ceasefire along the LoC, which they failed as infiltration continued all these years. They made no difference, and hence is a futile thing,” said Tanvir Sadiq, political secretary to chief minister Omar Abdullah.
“Kashmir problem cannot be wished away by the move to close UN offices. It requires creative approach. The problem would not disappear by such isolated decisions. It has to be a basket of decisions as was started by (former prime minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee and (prime minister Narendra) Modi is committed to follow,” said Naeem Akhtar, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman.