Norwegian Rafto Foundation has acknowledged the two most influential human rights defenders from Kashmir, Parveena Ahangar and Imroz Parvez, with a joint award. The award, the Rafto Prize, is an acknowledgment of the sufferings, resilience, and persistence of the people Kashmir. Both of the activists have long been at the forefront of the struggle against arbitrary abuses of power in a disputed region between India and Pakistan that has borne the brunt of escalating violence, militarisation, and international tension.

Their long struggle to highlight the Indian forces’ violation of human rights, their efforts to promote dialogue and find a peaceful solution for Kashmir has inspired hundreds of Kashmiri activists, Khurram Pervaiz, a leading human rights activist from Kashmir opines.

The award in itself is confirmation of Indian excesses in the occupied territory of Kashmir. The argument used many a time by the Indian government, that Pakistan relies on the false report of Indian human rights abuses and that Pakistan gives ear to false propaganda holds no water anymore. With the on-going back and forth of accusations and denials between Pakistan and India over Kashmir at the United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) in context, the award of the Rafto prize to two Kashmiri activists underscores and substantiates Pakistan’s stance.

This is not the first independent international organisations have decried Indian oppression in Kashmir. In its report titled, ‘Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns,' Amnesty International India calls Indian authorities to immediately stop the use of pellet-firing shotguns. The report has also demanded the Indian government to provide reparations to those injured by pellet firing shotguns and to the families of those killed.

The spokesperson for Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nafees Zakaria, in the briefing said that India could not deny using pellet guns against Kashmiris. He rightly highlighted Indian abuses in the occupied valley of Kashmir as only last week seven Kashmiris lost their lives to Indian violations in an attempt to suppress the people’s struggle for independence.

While India is trying hard to cover its deplorable human rights record in occupied territories of Kashmir, many international and independent human rights watchdogs are exposing the falsehoods of Indian authorities. Organizations like Rafto Foundation and Amnesty International are just two groups among many who have consistently exposed Indian violations of human rights in the valley of Kashmir. India has no basis to deny its actions anymore.