The ongoing crisis in Indian-held Kashmir has three distinct but interconnected dimensions: geopolitical, humanitarian and legal. The Modi government sees the ‘problem’ primarily through...
The ongoing crisis in Indian-held Kashmir has three distinct but interconnected dimensions: geopolitical, humanitarian and legal. The Modi government sees the ‘problem’ primarily through the prism of power politics. While in opposition, the BJP had made it impossible for the ruling Congress to resume dialogue with Pakistan. After coming to power in 2014, it stepped up the repression in Kashmir to unprecedented levels, hoping to break the will of the Kashmiris. The opposite happened. A younger generation of Kashmiris gradually became committed to resisting India’s stranglehold over the disputed territory.
Turning a deaf ear to voices within India supporting peaceful methods, Modi – upon re-election – chose to launch an even bigger crackdown in the Kashmir valley and rushed through legislation to change Jammu & Kashmir’s legal status. Modi & Co scrapped the territory’s special status but fearing a powerful backlash from the Kashmiri people ordered a lock down, enforced by 700,000 security personnel.
This brutal use of force against the unarmed Kashmiris shows that man-made disasters can be far more destructive than natural phenomena. Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Ajit Doval must consider the rest of the world imbeciles as they plug their claims of Kashmir being an internal matter while turning it into a penitentiary.
No less disturbing has been the tendency among India’s friends and business partners to stretch backwards in order to minimize the magnitude of the human tragedy unfolding in Kashmir since early August. While some have since acknowledged the massive violations of fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Indian constitution, others appear to be oblivious to the actions of gun-toting Indian soldiers forcing Kashmiris to stay indoors, and punishing them by the most despicable acts committed in times of war.
Those at the helm in India are hoping that the logic of power and business interests will prevail in the long term, enabling New Delhi to achieve its aim of subduing the Kashmiri masses and controlling their leaders including those from the younger generation. The BJP leadership is smug with its coercive diplomacy; India’s smaller neighbours have endorsed the crisis in Kashmir as an internal matter. These are the same countries that were coerced to support India’s scuttling of the Saarc summit due to be hosted by Pakistan.
India’s logic of might being right does not help the BJP leadership on the other two counts, the legal and humanitarian aspects of the crisis. The world media and humanitarian or legal rights groups across continents have highlighted the worsening crisis where people are unable to seek medical assistance, or meet their daily requirements of basic necessities like food or water. Which country in the world claims a territory as its own while locking it down with military might?
It is largely due to the BJP’s racist behaviour towards Muslims, especially the Kashmiris, that India finds itself in a weak position as a society governed by rule of law and democratic values. The plight of the Kashmiri people in the valley was never so apparent to the outside world as now. The Indian Supreme Court has given the government undue leeway to prolong the inhumane conditions in Occupied Kashmir. The Indian SC’s observation on September 16 is not sufficient but gives a faint hope that the judges cannot remain impervious to the requirements of rule of law indefinitely.
It remains to be seen if the court finds the Indian parliament’s act of August 5 unconstitutional. However, the Indian government’s blatant violation of its commitments in changing the legal status of Jammu & Kashmir has led to the internationalization of the problem. This has been witnessed in a closed door meeting of the UN Security Council on Kashmir, and the censure of India’s gross violation of the Kashmiris’ very basic human rights at the Human Rights Council and the European Parliament as indeed at several other forums.
The diplomatic war between Pakistan and India will move to different venues as both prime ministers prepare to visit the UN and the US next week. Modi’s strategy may be to ignore Pakistan and its leaders or at best portray them as a nuisance not worthy of much attention. The terrorism bogey is always there – though the world is seeing that India’s massive deployment has not shown any proof of Pakistan-backed terrorist activities. On the other hand, the world notes on a daily basis the Indian acts of turning a whole territory into a gigantic prison.
Modi will be receiving full support from a large and affluent Indian community in the US. Pakistanis are also organizing rallies to draw attention to the fascist methods of the Hindu supremacists ruling India. Modi may still believe that he has the cards to persuade large trading nations not to allow the pitiable condition of the Kashmiris affect their lucrative ties with India.
It has been pointed out that India is following Israel’s policies of apartheid. However, it is more of a mirror image as both try to outdo the other in colonizing the Palestinians and the Kashmiris. Annexing the Golan Heights, the West Bank or the occupied parts of Kashmir are sad reminders of the international community’s double standards and proof that nobody cares about Muslims under oppressive rule.
These developments can be partly explained by a breakdown of morality in the world order after the emergence of leaders like Modi and Trump who have no qualms about going back on their nations’ solemn commitments.