Children's rights are grossly violated in Indian-Occupied Kashmir. It is commonplace for children to be hit by pellet guns, often to be left blind, while schools are used as bunkers for military personnel to further suppress dissent and attack the spirit of the people.
On June 29, 2021, UN Secretary General António Guterres condemned the Indian military’s use of pellet guns against children in Indian-ccupied Kashmir, citing activity by the Indian government as “grave violations” of children’s rights. He further stated that armed forces must not harm children in any way. This is one of many side effects of a rigid Occupational regime that subjugates Kashmiris, especially to the detriment of children, under colonial Indian rule. Children are often victims to rounds of pellet gun assaults administered by Indian military personnel on Kashmiris protesting against the Indian Occupation in the region. In fact, in 2016, Indian-administered military personnel blinded over 1100 people during a protest. This horrific event is known as the “world’s first mass-blinding” (Al-Jazeera).
Children’s rights in Kashmir are severely overlooked and ignored by the Indian government, as well as world humanitarian organizations and advocates. At the end of March 2021, children finally returned to school after two years of educational shutdowns due to occupational curfews, political turmoil, the COVID-19 disaster and general unrest in the region. Dissent of Kashmiris has been met by military personnel shutting down schools to use as bases to attack groups of Kashmiris fighting for autonomy and sovereignty over their own land. This caused many problems including gaps in education for students, severe stress, the illegal detention and torture of children who support sovereignty, among many other mental and physical health problems. Since the unprovoked stripping of Article 370 in 2019, frequent and long internet shutdowns in conjunction with the closing of schools created scenarios that disallowed access to basic rights such as education for youth. Now, schools have closed once again due the gross mishandling of the COVID-19 disaster by the Indian state, and are to be reopened on July 15 – a dark reminder of the futures of a whole generation that this Occupation is stripping away. It is extremely difficult to grow up in Kashmir – yet the critical nature of this topic hasn’t been addressed as clearly as it has been recently by the UN.