Amidst the outbreak of COVID-19, where thousands around the world are dying, the economy is crippling and the future is uncertain, India adds up to the further misery to the lives of Kashmiris. Kashmir has been the state of exception for India always, but India’s negligence in Kashmir during COVID-19 poses an existential threat. Kashmiris cannot afford coronavirus complacency.
India as the Occupying Power should be combating the coronavirus along with Kashmiris and should be ensuring that proper health facilities are provided. These International humanitarian laws (IHL) rules are not being followed in COVID-19 crises in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.
Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that with all the methods accessible, the Occupying Power has the obligation to guarantee and maintain the general wellbeing and cleanliness, with the use of the prophylactic and preventive measured important to battle the spread of infectious sicknesses and pandemics. Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stated that with all the methods accessible the occupying power should ensure the adequate supplies and if resources are not fully available then the occupying power should ensure that they are supplied. Article 59 states that if in the condition the occupied territory does not have enough supplies, the occupying power must provide supplied offered by Humanitarian organizations.
Under the above-mentioned provisions, Kashmiris should be provided with ventilators, healthcare staff, protective equipment, and the consignments from humanitarian organizations should be accepted.
Kashmir is unable to combat COVID-19 efficiently due to extremely less intensive care capacity. There are around 200 ventilators in Indian Occupied Kashmir for 15 million people. Health workers lack personal protective equipment. Not enough tests are being carried out in Kashmir. Kashmir had a shortage of healthcare staff even before the outbreak of COVID-19. The outbreak of COVID-19 has left the doctors in a state of hopelessness and severe psychological crises.
Under Article 59 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, India must ensure that the medical teams are sent to Kashmir and the hospitals are well-staffed. The doctor-patient ratio in Kashmir should be maintained at least the same as in India.
Lack of high-speed internet has been a hindrance in raising awareness campaigns about COVID-19 among the Kashmiri locals and has affected the work from home setup. The unavailability of high-speed internet violates Article 59 of the Fourth Geneva Convention since it is a hindrance for doctors as they can’t reach out for consultations and medical guidelines. Due to the unavailability of high-speed internet, doctors are unable to video call patients in order to treat them a home. Doctors are unable to access new research and join live webinars.
Doctors are being provided with less protective equipment. One of the doctors who publicly demanded protective equipment was transferred to a remote hospital in Jammu. The doctors are told not to raise their concerns or else they will lose their job.
Despite the coronavirus lockdown, India continues its counterinsurgency operations in Kashmir. As stated by Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan, Indian Army martyred 33 Kashmiris and injured 150 Kashmiris in the month of April, and only 9 Kashmiris passed away due to Coronavirus in April. This surely proofs that Modi Virus is far more hazardous for Kashmiris than Coronavirus.
An incident took place in a village of Southern Shopian district where a house was raided by police and soldiers who were informed that the rebels were hiding there. The house was blown up by the troops during the gunfight.
The world is in the grasp of COVID-19, and the Kashmiris are stuck in the middle of a global pandemic with very little resources to survive. They are deprived of access to a stable internet connection, adequate medical facilities, education, and above all mental peace. The Kashmiris are not safe from counterinsurgency operations during the outbreak of coronavirus. India has surely stripped away all human rights from Kashmir.