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Monday May 27, 2024

A people oppressed

By Editorial Board
December 25, 2021

The news from Indian-occupied Kashmir has been grim since 2019 when the BJP government ended the partial autonomy available to the state and split it into two union territories. In addition, the mass displacement of Kashmiris was encouraged and other groups permitted to purchase land in an area from which they had previously been barred. The purpose appeared to be to change the demography of Kashmir once and for all and end its status as a Muslim majority area. Since then, there have been multiple arrests and multiple incidents of harassment or rape in Kashmir with human rights activists continuing to struggle against the endless oppression they have faced. While this oppression has been confronted by them for some seven decades, it has only grown worse.

The sentiments – and actions –against Muslims also appear to have worsened across India, with now even conferences being held at which leaders have called for a genocide which would kill the 204 million Muslims who make up a large part of the Indian population. There have also been large gatherings to drive home this message to people everywhere. Messages on Twitter and other social forums take it forward and add to the hate that exists and that damages Muslims in all capacities of civil life, mainly in Kashmir, but also outside it.

We do not know when this terror is going to end or when the people of Kashmir will be able to lead a life that they can call normal. The Russell Tribunal, an initiative of grassroots justice, has recently reported to the UN a worsening of human rights abuses in Occupied Kashmir and large-scale repression which they have termed genocide in some of the reports prepared by the group. How the world reacts is unclear. Pakistan has continued to raise its voice for the rights of Kashmiris but succeeded only partially in galvanising other countries to act in a unified manner and highlight the terrible plight of the Kashmiris, who are too often forgotten by nations around the globe.

The UN has lately taken note of the arrest of Kashmiri activist Khurram Parvez who according to reports was guilty of doing nothing more than highlighting the situation in his homeland. His arrest puts him at risk as it does others working with him. Other Kashmiris face a similar plight and it is likely that more will be held in the same manner over the months that lie ahead. Certainly, there is no evidence that the BJP government is prepared to alter the policies on Kashmir or to grant the basic human rights that they talk about when it comes to other countries. At the same time in India, hatred against Muslims continues to be promoted, creating a dangerous split in the territory, which could usually damage a nation founded on secular beliefs and harmony among all groups.