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September 3, 2019

Paradise in flames


September 3, 2019

It has been nearly a month that the champions of Hindu raj ran amok in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Parts of the disputed territory now resemble a vast prison with Indian soldiers forcing the inhabitants to stay indoors, causing serious shortages of food, water and medicines.

The reason: the world’s largest ‘democracy’, its second most populous nation and a nuclear power dare not face the outpouring of grief by unarmed Kashmiris.

People all over who care about fundamental rights, including in India, are raising their voices in protest over the actions of the BJP government, held hostage by two known criminals, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. The fact that they remain unpunished and have reached the top shows the helplessness of India’s justice system, which in turn raises doubts about the Indian Supreme Court’s capacity to take them to task for denying basic rights to the Kashmiris.

The Indian Supreme Court has already granted the Modi government several weeks to give its response, thus prolonging the inhuman conditions of life for millions. More time is what Modi & Co want to break the will of the Kashmiris and, in case of failure, to descend from their high horse.

The flag bearers of Hindutva have scant remorse as news of deaths from sickness, hunger and aggression by security forces filter despite restrictions on the media. In any case, they are unlikely to admit that publicly. Modi had the temerity to tell Trump that he had the situation under control as he chuckled in front of media representatives. It would be futile to expect compassion from the ruling team or their RSS handlers who openly pressurize India’s minorities, particularly Muslims, to submit to the majority’s diktat.

While the Indian authorities try to muzzle domestic media, the worsening situation has caused consternation in most parts of the world. Sane voices within India too have recovered from the initial shock and are increasingly giving vent to their frustration over the government’s violation of human rights and the constitution.

Nirupama Rao, India’s former foreign secretary and a poet, wrote a piece titled ‘Paradise lost or regained?’ that appeared in ‘Times of India’. She stressed that Kashmir “must be drawn away from the precipice, with humane and judicious calibration”. Though generally supportive of Modi’s constitutional tinkering, and criticizing Pakistan, Rao ended by acknowledging the fresh wound inflicted on the Kashmiris by the BJP government’s action on August 5 that she says was preceded by “a controversial shroud of secrecy inducing a sense of doom and gloom in the Kashmir valley”.

As time passes, more and prominent Indian citizens from diverse walks of life have questioned Modi’s high-handed policy towards the Kashmiris and his design to destroy the secular and democratic traditions of India. The assault on Jammu and Kashmir has provided an opportunity to the beleaguered opposition parties to challenge the BJP for its anachronistic values, and for making all non-Hindus suspect and victimizing them through practices which place animals higher than humans.

It is to be recalled that in selecting Modi as their prime ministerial candidate, the BJP-RSS high command had entrusted the chief minister of Gujarat an agenda that among others aimed at subjugating India’s 200 million Muslims; turning Jammu & Kashmir into an Indian colony; and targeting Pakistan through different forms of aggression. Once sworn as prime minister, Modi and Doval unleashed a brutal reign of terror in Kashmir, which inspired younger Kashmiris to fight for their rights.

India intensified the propaganda war against Pakistan, trying to make people at home and abroad believe that Kashmir was a target of terrorism rather than a genuine movement for freedom. Modi personally threatened Pakistan with diplomatic isolation internationally. A low intensity war along the LoC was launched to increase the pressure.

Modi succeeded in getting re-elected in May 2019 by choreographing a nationalist wave and creating massive war hysteria before the election. He ordered a surgical strike within Pakistan against alleged terror camps in cloudy weather to dodge Pakistan’s radar system. Pakistan’s downing of an Indian aircraft and releasing the captured Indian pilot further helped Modi claim that he alone could face Pakistan on the battlefield.

Modi outdid himself two months later by turning J&K into a prison camp and then repealing Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian constitution which formed the basis of the territory’s accession. In doing that, Modi has crossed the red line between accession and colonization. He and his co-conspirators Doval and Shah will pay for their crimes. But for now they have confronted the Kashmiris with an existential problem and divided India along ideological lines.

Pakistan has been hit most severely by the BJP’s attempt to tighten India’s grip over Kashmir. The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, already beset by grave economic woes, faces a new challenge of convincing people that it will not allow India get away with its aggression against the Kashmiris. The government is not really helping itself by launching a war of words. Its main responsibility is to calm the people and encourage them to return to normal activities, while expressing complete solidarity with the Kashmiris in their just struggle.

We must not fall into Modi’s trap of weakening Pakistan. As one of the younger representatives of Kashmir, Shah Faesal summed up before his arrest, Modi government’s assault on Kashmir threatens a whole new generation, prolonging their struggle for decades to come.

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