Modi’s demolition squads



Modi’s government has been recently hit by a BBC documentary on Gujarat riots followed by report from Hindenburg Research which took down Modi’s close associate and leading tycoon of India, Mr Gautam Adani. In sheer frustration, Modi gov-ernment has started a demolition exercise against Muslims in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and liberals in mainland India. The demolition squads of Modi are using different tactics to quell any dissenting voices, using bulldozers and explosives to blow up Muslim houses and commercial properties in IIOJK and using RSS-sponsored state agencies like Enforcement Director-ate and tax authorities to target those sections of media which stick their neck out to expose the loot and plunder by Modi’s cronies like Adani.

Aakar Patel, chair of the board for Amnesty Interna-tional India, responded to the ongoing demolition of homes and businesses in Srinagar, Budgam, Anant-nag and Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir that began on February 4, by saying: “The ongoing demolitions appear to be an extension of the brutal human rights violations the region of Jammu and Kashmir [IIOJK], the only region of India with a Muslim majority, has historically witnessed. It’s possible that these demolitions would result in forcible evictions, which would be a serious violation of human rights.”

Amnesty International has highlighted that everyone has the right to sufficient housing under the Interna-tional Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which India is a state party, which forbids forceful evictions. When necessary, evictions should be carried out in line with the general principles of reasonableness and proportionality, with safeguards such as providing appropriate and reasonable notice, legal remedies for rights infringement, and legal help to those who need it to file a lawsuit. Evictions shouldn’t result in anyone being homeless or at risk of other human rights abuses.

Amnesty report has raised many questions, as fol-lows: Has Indian government allowed any space so that safeguards against forced evictions are put in place before any evictions are carried out in accor-dance with international human rights norms? Has the due process of law been followed to provide appropriate relief to affected Muslim population? What is the check on discriminatory behaviour of state institutions and law enforcement agencies which continue to segregate Muslim population in this demolition drive?

As per their website, JCB India Limited is a leading manufacturer of earthmoving and construction equipment in India. The company started as a joint venture in 1979 and is now a fully owned subsidiary of JC Bamford Excavators, United Kingdom. Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s Economic Affairs Director, taunted this British dozer manufac-turing company, the JCB, and stated: “JCB should be horrified that their equipment is being used in some of these demolitions. They must take active steps to prevent this. At the very least, JCB should use their dealer and customer contracts and their diagnostic technology to prevent such misuse, including by decommissioning machines remotely where possible.” He goes on to state: “If JCB fails to act over Kashmir it would be another example of the company falling short of its obligation to conduct proper human rights due diligence over how its machines are being used around the world.”

The Indian government also made changes to domi-cile law to facilitate new settlements in the occupied territory. Kashmiris fear that India seems to be fol-lowing the model of the Israeli occupation of Pales-tine. As per this model, the Modi regime seeks to establish settler colonies that will help it control the territory.

As highlighted earlier, there are two demolition squads working under the Modi government — one that does physical demolition and the other which does it through non-kinetic means, enforcement agencies. The Guardian reported on 14 February about a search of the BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai offices by Indian tax officials. This came weeks after the government prohibited a documentary that criticised Modi’s involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots. People and members of the media gathered outside the office building in the heart of Delhi as the search was being conducted, hoping for news. Modi’s role as Gujarat’s chief minister during the bloody Hindu-Muslim riots, which claimed at least 2,000 lives, was the subject of the documentary. The BJP, which Modi leads, asserted that Indian institu-tions operated independently and that the tax ad-ministration acted legally when it investigated tax compliance.

Al Jazeera joined the international press in high-lighting the demolition squads of Modi and stated that BBC employees’ laptops and cellphones had been taken. Employees scheduled for night shifts were instructed not to report for work until additional guidance was given, and those present in the offices at the time of the raid were not permitted to leave.

Earlier in January this year, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had stated that the BJP-led Union govern-ment has reduced parliament to a “notice board and a rubber stamp”. Tharoor’s statement, at the Jaipur Literature Festival, came while he was responding to a question about parliament holding the government accountable. “I am sorry to say our government has successfully reduced Parliament to a notice board and a rubber stamp,” he said.

Why is the international community and even the OIC remain quiet on such blatant violations of human rights in India and discrimination against its 250 million hapless Muslim community. The reason given is that India has a big market and that it has economic and diplomatic leverage with major pow-ers, who keep their eyes shut on the treatment of minorities in general and oppression of Muslim community in particular.

Despite India’s growing clout and big market, Paki-stan should keep highlighting oppression of people of IIOJK as well as maltreatment of minorities in India. If the BBC documentary and the Hindenburg report could shake the Raj path and corporate India, why should Pakistan keep quiet on such burning issues? Raising the voice makes a lot of difference. Pakistan should tell the world that Neo Nazi agenda of RSS is now blowing full stream across India creating a maelstrom for minorities, and the demoli-tion squads of Modi need to be stopped in their tracks, before it is too late.—KMS