Modi’s fatal discourse on Kashmir

1956

Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

ON 5 August, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
government issued a tyrannical decree—thereby
stripping away the autonomy that the state of Jammu and Kashmir was granted in exchange for joining the Indian Union after independence in 1947. Indian authorities also imposed an unprecedented lockdown in the region, cutting off all communication lines, restricting movement and putting prominent Kashmiri politicians under house arrest. But despite all these inhumane measures, the flame of Kashmir freedom fawns more intensely today.
Seventy years after partition, the annexation of Kashmir by India is the endgame of Devraj, the Hindu nationalist businessman protagonist of the 2017 novel We That Are Young. His tactic is settler-colonialism. The very special status, which had been in place since 14 May 1954, has facilitated Kashmiri Muslims and other communities to preserve their strong sense of culture. Yet the ditching of the status has created long-running fears that the local way of life and customs could be lost amid migration from other parts of the country. Analysts argue the Indian government wants to change the region’s demographics by allowing non-Kashmiris, mostly Hindus, to buy land and settle there permanently.
On the haunted streets of Srinagar, Kashmir’s biggest city, security officers tied black bandannas over their faces, grabbed their guns and took positions behind checkpoints. People glanced out the windows of their homes, afraid to step outside. Many were cutting back on meals and getting hungry. A sense of coiled menace hung over the locked-down city and the wider region during the past two weeks, Fairly speaking, across the LoC, India’s grip on Kashmir has never remained stronger. With nearly a million soldiers stationed there, Kashmir seems the most densely militarised area in the world. And enjoying across-the-board political support for counterinsurgency measures, Indian governments of different ideological persuasions have felt no qualms in perpetuating a reign of terror against the Kashmiri civilians found protesting on the streets. “Kashmir is under siege at the moment. The moment it’s lifted, trouble will start,” says Zahid Hussain Dar, a lawyer living in Pulwama. “Once the political and separatist leaders are freed from detention or house arrest, there will be calls for protests and people will come out.” In the already densely militarised zone, the central government airlifted an additional 43,000 armed forces to the valley. It was followed by a complete communication and information blackout: calls on mobile phones and landlines remain suspended; mobile and broadband internet services are down and local cable TV services are off the air. No news travels from one neighbourhood to another. The so-called Indian act strips the State of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status — which preserved its right to have its own Constitution and its own Flag. It further strips it of statehood and virtually divided it into two Union territories. The first, Jammu and Kashmir, will have a legislature while the second, Ladakh, will be administered directly from New Delhi and will not consequently have a Legislative Assembly.
Indian intelligence and security forces — the Indian army, the paramilitary group Central Reserve Police Force (CPRF), and the police — have a brutally tight grip over the roughly two-thirds of Kashmir that India unjustifiably occupies. And more ironically, they have the law on their side. The Public Safety Act has justified the detention (and torture) of thousands of people suspected of acting against the state, while the Armed Forces Special Forces Act (AFSPA) gives Indian security forces unlimited power. Under the AFSPA, Indian soldiers are legally authorized to search homes without warrants, detain residents and enjoy broad immunity from prosecution for rape or murder. These draconian statutes have sadly created an environment in Kashmir where forced labour, torture, murder and wanton acts of rape are commonplace. And yet many mass graves are routinely discovered in the Kashmir Valley — only to be ignored by the state. On 16 August, the UNSC considered the volatile situation surrounding Kashmir but unfortunately failed to reach an agreement. More encouragingly, however, is a statement issued on 15 August by more than 250 renowned Indian scholars, artistes and activists, including Veena Das and Partha Chatterjee, expressing solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The statement decried the Indian government’s disdain for constitutionalism, secularism, and democratic values.
For the pragmatic Indian liberals, Kashmir’s accession to India isn’t final, that the will of the Kashmiris is paramount and it hasn’t yet been determined. To that extent, Kashmiris’ demands for plebiscite, autonomy, even independence, are fully legitimate. They rightly believe that India can’t keep Kashmir with it by using state and military power. Therefore, the hawkish Indian view that it is the radical Islam backed by Pakistan is the core of the problem in Kashmir holds no validity since the freedom of the Kashmiris is indigenous though it is principally supported by Pakistan. And undeniably, with the passing of each day, the flame of the Kashmiri freedom movement is expanding tremendously. The common wisdom prognosticates that no power can stand or survive against the will of the people. The rise and fall of nations validate this truth. Prime Minister Imran Khan has rightly said that Kashmir freedom movement will gain momentum following the Indian atrocities and anti-Kashmir move in IoK, a private News Channel reported.
And yet there is a logical appeal in the caveat that in his eagerness to occupy and annex the Vale on the pattern of Netanyahu’s strategy to illegally annex the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Indian premier Narendra Modi has chosen a scary path where he is sowing the seeds of dissension and disintegration of the Indian state to decay and fall from within. Pakistan is fully determined to support the Kashmiri cause of freedom in all its capacity to help the hapless Kashmiris to win their freedom from an Indian -imposed rule of tyranny. In case of any exigency, Pakistan reserves right of its first-strike-nuclear doctrine.
—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.
ON 5 August, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
government issued a tyrannical decree—thereby
stripping away the autonomy that the state of Jammu and Kashmir was granted in exchange for joining the Indian Union after independence in 1947. Indian authorities also imposed an unprecedented lockdown in the region, cutting off all communication lines, restricting movement and putting prominent Kashmiri politicians under house arrest. But despite all these inhumane measures, the flame of Kashmir freedom fawns more intensely today.
Seventy years after partition, the annexation of Kashmir by India is the endgame of Devraj, the Hindu nationalist businessman protagonist of the 2017 novel We That Are Young. His tactic is settler-colonialism. The very special status, which had been in place since 14 May 1954, has facilitated Kashmiri Muslims and other communities to preserve their strong sense of culture. Yet the ditching of the status has created long-running fears that the local way of life and customs could be lost amid migration from other parts of the country. Analysts argue the Indian government wants to change the region’s demographics by allowing non-Kashmiris, mostly Hindus, to buy land and settle there permanently.
On the haunted streets of Srinagar, Kashmir’s biggest city, security officers tied black bandannas over their faces, grabbed their guns and took positions behind checkpoints. People glanced out the windows of their homes, afraid to step outside. Many were cutting back on meals and getting hungry. A sense of coiled menace hung over the locked-down city and the wider region during the past two weeks, Fairly speaking, across the LoC, India’s grip on Kashmir has never remained stronger. With nearly a million soldiers stationed there, Kashmir seems the most densely militarised area in the world. And enjoying across-the-board political support for counterinsurgency measures, Indian governments of different ideological persuasions have felt no qualms in perpetuating a reign of terror against the Kashmiri civilians found protesting on the streets. “Kashmir is under siege at the moment. The moment it’s lifted, trouble will start,” says Zahid Hussain Dar, a lawyer living in Pulwama. “Once the political and separatist leaders are freed from detention or house arrest, there will be calls for protests and people will come out.” In the already densely militarised zone, the central government airlifted an additional 43,000 armed forces to the valley. It was followed by a complete communication and information blackout: calls on mobile phones and landlines remain suspended; mobile and broadband internet services are down and local cable TV services are off the air. No news travels from one neighbourhood to another. The so-called Indian act strips the State of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status — which preserved its right to have its own Constitution and its own Flag. It further strips it of statehood and virtually divided it into two Union territories. The first, Jammu and Kashmir, will have a legislature while the second, Ladakh, will be administered directly from New Delhi and will not consequently have a Legislative Assembly.
Indian intelligence and security forces — the Indian army, the paramilitary group Central Reserve Police Force (CPRF), and the police — have a brutally tight grip over the roughly two-thirds of Kashmir that India unjustifiably occupies. And more ironically, they have the law on their side. The Public Safety Act has justified the detention (and torture) of thousands of people suspected of acting against the state, while the Armed Forces Special Forces Act (AFSPA) gives Indian security forces unlimited power. Under the AFSPA, Indian soldiers are legally authorized to search homes without warrants, detain residents and enjoy broad immunity from prosecution for rape or murder. These draconian statutes have sadly created an environment in Kashmir where forced labour, torture, murder and wanton acts of rape are commonplace. And yet many mass graves are routinely discovered in the Kashmir Valley — only to be ignored by the state. On 16 August, the UNSC considered the volatile situation surrounding Kashmir but unfortunately failed to reach an agreement. More encouragingly, however, is a statement issued on 15 August by more than 250 renowned Indian scholars, artistes and activists, including Veena Das and Partha Chatterjee, expressing solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The statement decried the Indian government’s disdain for constitutionalism, secularism, and democratic values.
For the pragmatic Indian liberals, Kashmir’s accession to India isn’t final, that the will of the Kashmiris is paramount and it hasn’t yet been determined. To that extent, Kashmiris’ demands for plebiscite, autonomy, even independence, are fully legitimate. They rightly believe that India can’t keep Kashmir with it by using state and military power. Therefore, the hawkish Indian view that it is the radical Islam backed by Pakistan is the core of the problem in Kashmir holds no validity since the freedom of the Kashmiris is indigenous though it is principally supported by Pakistan. And undeniably, with the passing of each day, the flame of the Kashmiri freedom movement is expanding tremendously. The common wisdom prognosticates that no power can stand or survive against the will of the people. The rise and fall of nations validate this truth. Prime Minister Imran Khan has rightly said that Kashmir freedom movement will gain momentum following the Indian atrocities and anti-Kashmir move in IoK, a private News Channel reported.
And yet there is a logical appeal in the caveat that in his eagerness to occupy and annex the Vale on the pattern of Netanyahu’s strategy to illegally annex the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Indian premier Narendra Modi has chosen a scary path where he is sowing the seeds of dissension and disintegration of the Indian state to decay and fall from within. Pakistan is fully determined to support the Kashmiri cause of freedom in all its capacity to help the hapless Kashmiris to win their freedom from an Indian -imposed rule of tyranny. In case of any exigency, Pakistan reserves right of its first-strike-nuclear doctrine.
—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.

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