Renowned scholar Prof Noam Chomsky on Thursday said that Islamophobia has taken a “most lethal form” in India, turning some 250 million Indian Muslims into a “persecuted minority”.
“The pathology of Islamophobia is growing throughout the West — it is taking its most lethal form in India,” the famed author and activist, who is also Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a video message to a webinar organised by the Indian American Muslim Council, a Washington-based advocacy organisation.
Apart from Chomsky, several other academics and activists took part in the webinar on “Worsening Hate Speech and Violence in India”.
Chomsky also said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist regime has sharply escalated the “crimes” in Indian-occupied Kashmir. “The crimes in Kashmir have a long history,” he said, adding that the state was now a “brutally occupied territory and its military control in some ways is similar to occupied Palestine”. The situation in South Asia, Chomsky said, was painful in particular not because of what was happening but because of what was not happening. There was, however, hope and opportunities to solve South Asian torment but not for long, he added. Annapurna Menon, an Indian author and lecturer at the University of Westminster, urged the international community to focus on the status of press freedom in India as, under the Bharatiya Janata Party government, the situation has become a cause of concern.
“The situation on [the] ground is extremely alarming as four journalists have already been killed in 2022, simply for doing their job,” Menon said, adding journalists, especially women, have been exposed to all kinds of reprisals including harassment, illegal detention, police violence and sedition charges.
“The situation in IoK is even dire, where the journalists routinely face police questioning, ban on reporting, suspension of internet services and financial constraints in line with BJP’s recent ‘media policy’. The family of award-winning Srinagar-based photojournalist Masrat Zahra was subjected to harassment and intimidation by the Indian Police as a crackdown on the press in IoK continues to escalate,” she said. Fahad Shah, a renowned Kashmiri journalist who is the founder and editor of ‘‘The Kashmir Walla’’, was arrested recently by the police in Pulwama under terrorism and sedition laws, Menon pointed out.