Saturday Feb 06 2021

The war on humanity in Indian-occupied Kashmir

Today, India has lost its standing in the world as a secular and pluralistic democratic country.

Under the rule of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing Hindu nationalist party, the “Hindutva” extremist ideology is now the overarching policy of Narendra Modi’s government.

The BJP and its ideological godparent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), are making life difficult for minorities in India. And the methods they are using are not much different from how Jews and other minorities were hounded and eliminated during the Nazi-regime in Germany.

Images of Christians, Dalits, Muslims and Sikhs being targeted by RSS-trained BJP supporters during the communal violence and lynching recently in Delhi and before that in Una, Gujarat, and Indian-occupied Kashmir are a grim reminder of what one can expect from India in future.

Persecution on the basis of religion and race has been taken to an art form by the Modi regime.

Read more: India abolishes special status of occupied Kashmir

The BJP has also enacted special rules to expedite discriminatory policies. These rules programmatically exclude religious and other minorities from the Indian society.

Take for example the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the National Register of Citizens, and the revocation of Article 370. These are just some examples of how Modi has used legislation to marginalize minorities.

AG Noorani, an Indian lawyer and constitutional expert, has described measures against Article 370 as "communal-minded majoritarian" intentions.

He is right. In Indian-held Kashmir, the humanitarian crisis has never been more bleak. Kashmir is now the most militarized piece of land in the world. There are over half a million Indian soldiers stationed in the valley, while the civilian population has no freedom to exercise its basic civil rights.

Those protesting for human rights are crushed by a disproportionate military force. Then, there is the use of rape as method of torture in Kashmir.

Read more: Lockdown in Indian-occupied Kashmir is not for safety but control: UK MPs

In addition, Kashmiris living on the Pakistani side of the border are also targeted by the Indian military. Under the Modi regime, violations of Line of Control (LoC) have increased manifold. In 2020 alone, over 3,000 incidents of crossfire were recorded, resulting in many civilians losing their lives. Recently, even a convoy of the UN Military Observers, stationed on the Pakistani side, came under attack from across the border.

Modi is on a mission to ensure that Muslims become a minority in Kashmir. He is driven by the concept of Hindutva, which preaches that Hindus are a supreme race.

Commitment to protect human rights is an important slogan of the new US administration and the Biden-Harris team. The plight of 12 million Kashmiris whose human rights are violated every day is a cause which the US needs to engage urgently with. This requires a multilateral approach backed by personal commitments to hold a free and fair plebiscite in Kashmir, as mandated by the UN.

History is a good teacher, but only if lessons are learnt.

If the ethnic cleansing continues in India, then the day is not very far when the ruling class will begin to view “Gestapo, Ghettos and Gas Chambers” as appropriate methods against the minorities.

What is planned by the BJP regime is too grim to imagine. A cry from the mountains of Kashmir is going out to the world urging them to implement their “never again” pledge to humanity, before the darkest chapter of history repeats itself.

Siddiqui is a London based South Asian analyst. He tweets @SiddiquiAftab