Thursday December 08, 2022

Kashmir and the BJP

By Editorial Board
May 07, 2022

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and his BJP have continued their onslaught on the Muslims of illegally occupied Kashmir throughout this past Ramazan and even during the Eid days. First, there was a relentless campaign to target the Muslim youth of Kashmir on concocted charges, then there were restrictions on the ‘azaan’ and prayers in mosques. And finally, there was a blatant disregard for the sanctity of Eid, with reports that Kashmiri Muslims could not freely offer Eid prayers in designated Eid-prayer grounds and mosques. To top it all, a new list of redrawn political constituencies was issued on May 5, giving greater representation to the Hindu-majority areas of the Muslim-majority region. This appears to be part of new plans for fresh elections in which this demarcation is likely to play a sinister role by changing the demographic makeup of Indian-occupied Kashmir. It is worth recalling that in 2019, the Modi government broke up the region into two federal territories, a move meant to tighten the Indian union government’s grip over the region.

The BJP government formed a delimitation commission to deprive the Muslims of their majority in the entire region collectively. Now with the delimitation commission’s report finalized, there are 90 assembly constituencies for Occupied Kashmir, which excludes Ladakh. In the new setup, Jammu will have 43 seats and Kashmir 47. This has greatly diminished Muslim superiority in the number of seats as previously Jammu had 37 seats as opposed to 46 for the Kashmir valley. Kashmir valley which previously had nine more seats than Jammu will now have a reduced majority of just four seats. Kashmiri Muslims and the government of Pakistan rightly consider this move as an attempt to disenfranchise the Muslim majority in the occupied territory. Jammu and Kashmir’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the report. The Commission itself has admitted that it was difficult to accommodate ‘competing claims from various sides’. It has also cited the region’s ‘peculiar geo-cultural landscape’. But let it be clear that no amount of verbal jugglery can hide the true intentions of the BJP government which is intent on subjugating Muslims across India and particularly in Kashmir.

The BJP is promising to reinstate Kashmir’s statehood after the elections, provided the ‘situation becomes normal’. Both these points are irrelevant and misleading as the statehood itself was controversial and there has never been a ‘normal’ in that region due to India’s consistent violations of human rights and disregard for the UN resolutions that call for a plebiscite in Kashmir to determine its future status. The implications of this delimitation will be far reaching and will further aggravate the situation. This is sheer gerrymandering aiming to change the ground reality in an unfavourable way to Muslims. By doing this, the BJP is planning to win a majority in the next election to form its government in the occupied territories. There are plenty of proxies working for the BJP in India, and the Commission itself now appears to be a proxy since it has clearly no interest in considering the interests of Kashmiri Muslims who are in clear majority. The Pakistan Foreign Office has handed over a demarche to the Indian charge d’ affaires but this issue must be brought to the notice of the world community that needs to finally wake up and apply its pressure on India to refrain from such illegal chicanery in Occupied Kashmir.