Miss World Contest: Another Attempt to Portray Normalcy in IIOJK

Sara Nazir

India with the collaboration of Miss World Organization has announced to host the next annual ‘Miss World contest’ in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). Chair of Miss World Organization, Julia Morley said that India would host a month-long series of events for the annual event from November to December, with part of the schedule to be held in occupied Kashmir. “This is a blessed place for tourism,” Morley told reporters while on a visit to Srinagar on August 28, 2023.

On August 5, 2019, the Indian government split Jammu and Kashmir into two federally ruled territories and removed the state’s constitutional authority while promising security and reform. Hundreds of individuals were arbitrarily detained with a complete communications blackout, and harsh restrictions on the right to free movements and peaceful protest. Last year, In the wake of the report, Human Rights Watch’s South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly stated that the Indian government “appears more concerned with portraying a sense of normalcy than ensuring rights and accountability, three years after the government revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional status.”

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s attempt to alter the demography of the region is not just bilaterally illegal but also an outright violation of United Nations resolution and intentionally binding principles. Sham attempts to portray normalcy in IIOJK now, would not undermine the human rights violations committed by Indian forces in the valley. India has a record of committing mass murder and serious human rights violations in Kashmir. Human Rights Watch states in a report from 2022 that Indian authorities are suppressing peaceful gatherings, free speech, and other fundamental rights in IIOJK three years after the region’s special autonomy was revoked. Insecurity among Kashmiris has worsened as a result of the government’s repressive tactics and unwillingness to look into and prosecute reported security force abuses.

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In May 2023, India hosted the G-20 (group of 20) tourism summit in Srinagar but at the same time, Indian authorities imposed strict curfews on the residents of Kashmir. Curfew entailed restriction on people’s movement in the wake of the summit even as Indian authorities claimed that such events would be in favour of Kashmiri people. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan strongly condemned India’s illegal administrative advances in IIOJK and stated that, “India’s irresponsible move is the most recent in a series of self-serving actions to continue its unlawful occupation of Jammu and Kashmir in clear disobedience of the UN Security Council’s resolutions, the UN Charter, and international law. Pakistan strongly rejects these actions”.

Such attempts by Indian government cannot disguise the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory that has been on the UN Security Council’s agenda for more than 70 years. Furthermore, such actions, including unlawful attempts to alter the demographic structure of the occupied region, could not shift attention away from India’s ruthless subjugation of the people of IIOJK. India’s violation of UN resolutions which also raises questions over the credibility of the UN, should be taken into account by the international community.

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The author is a gold medalist in Strategic Studies from Air University Islamabad and currently teaching as visiting faculty in a university based in Islamabad. She regularly writes on South Asian security and strategic issues.