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Modi uses Israel’s ‘settler’ tactics to change Kashmir

Press TV – August 29, 2020

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is changing Indian Kashmir’s residency laws for the first time since 1947, in a bid to snuff out any challenge to the disputed territory belonging to India.

Drawing comparisons with Israel’s “settler” tactics in the Palestinian Territories, Modi’s Hindu nationalist government aims to change the demographic makeup and identity of the Muslim-majority region, critics say.

AFP looks at the background, what the new rules are and their implications for the area’s 14 million population.

What has Modi done in Kashmir so far?

The Himalayan former princely state has been split between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947.

In the Indian-administered part a conflict between separatist rebels and government forces has killed tens of thousands since 1989, mostly civilians.

More than 65 percent of the population is Muslim. In the Kashmir Valley, the main center of the rebellion, it is close to 100 percent.

On August 5, 2019 Modi’s government revoked articles in the Indian constitution that guaranteed Kashmir’s partial autonomy and other rights including its own flag and constitution.

A huge accompanying security operation saw tens of thousands of extra troops — adding to 500,000 already there — enforce a siege-like curfew. Thousands were arrested and telecommunications were cut for months.

Jammu & Kashmir state was demoted to a union territory governed directly from New Delhi, while the Ladakh region was carved out into a separate administrative area.

Creating such new “facts on the ground” in Kashmir has long been advocated by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the hardline Hindu parent organisation to Modi’s BJP party.

The move sent a further shudder through India’s 200-million Muslim minority and defenders of its secular traditions, who fear Modi wants to create a Hindu nation — something he denies.

“What I see unfolding is a Hindu settler colonial project in the making,” Mona Bhan, associate professor of anthropology at Syracuse University who has long researched Kashmir, told AFP.

What happened to Kashmir’s special rules?

Modi’s government tore up Kashmir’s special residence rules dating back to 1927 which had ensured only permanent residents could own land and property, secure government jobs and university places and vote in local elections.

Now a raft of different categories of people from anywhere in India can apply for domicile certificates, giving them access to all the above.

These include those living in Kashmir for 15 years, who include around 28,000 refugees who fled Pakistan and as many as 1.75 million migrant laborers — most of whom are Hindus.

In addition, civil servants who have worked in Kashmir for seven years and their children, or students who have taken certain exams, also qualify for domicile status.

The changes are “the most drastic imposed since 1947,” Siddiq Wahid, a historian and political analyst, told AFP. “It was done with the intent to open the gates to demographic flooding.”

What do locals have to do?

Locals too now have to apply for the new “domicile certificates” in order to qualify for permanent resident rights.

To get this, they have to produce their Permanent Resident Certificates (PRC), cherished documents valid since 1927, which then become worthless.

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, an engineering graduate said young Kashmiris were in effect being forced to give their political loyalty to India in exchange for a livelihood.

“They say, you want a job, OK, get the domicile document first,” he said.

Is anybody happy?

A few people. Bahadur Lal Prajapati, born in Indian Kashmir to Hindu refugees who fled Pakistan during its first war with India over Kashmir seven decades ago, is finally an official resident and has “never been so happy”.

“We got the right to live in this part of India as citizens after 72 years of struggle,” Prajapati, 55, told AFP from his home in Jammu, the Hindu-dominated district of the region.

One of the first people to receive the new domicile certificate was Navin Kumar Choudhary, a top bureaucrat from the Indian state of Bihar who worked in Kashmir for many years.

Photos on social media of Choudhary proudly holding the certificate sparked huge anger among Kashmiris but delight among Modi’s supporters.

What happens if people complain?

Some 430,000 new domicile certificates have been issued — despite the coronavirus pandemic. It is unclear how many of them are to people from outside and how many to locals.

Many locals are refusing to swap their old documents, even though this makes life harder. Some do it in secret for fear of censure from their neighbors.

Wary of being labelled “anti-national” by the authorities many Kashmiris are also scared to speak out openly. Some are deleting their Twitter accounts.

“It’s a travesty that I have to compete with outsiders for citizenship rights in my own homeland,” said a student — who also wished also to remain anonymous out of fear of problems with the authorities.

August 29, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

India introduces new Kashmir domicile law, raising fears of demographic manipulation

Press TV – April 2, 2020

India has introduced a new law that would make its citizens eligible to become permanent residents of the Indian-administered Kashmir, raising fears of demographic change in the Muslim-majority, Himalayan region.

The new law, which was announced by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday and which reportedly is not subject to parliamentary review, will deem any person who has resided in the Indian-controlled Kashmir for a period of 15 years or studied at certain school grades there as “domicile” of the territory.

The new law will also provide domicile status to the children of central government officials who have served in the Indian-controlled Kashmir for a total period of 10 years.

It will also open local jobs to non-residents.

The introduction of the law comes almost eight months after the Indian government stripped the disputed region of its limited autonomy. On August 5 last year, New Delhi revoked Article 370, a constitutional provision that had come into effect in 1949 and had granted special status to Kashmir, allowing it to have its own flag and constitution, among other rights.

In the lead-up to the revocation, India sent thousands of additional troops to the disputed region, imposed a curfew, arrested political leaders, and shut down telecommunication lines.

The new law also comes as the country of 1.3 billion people is under a 21-day lockdown in an attempt to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, raising speculation that the timing is intentional.

Legalizing settlements?

Residents in the Indian-controlled Kashmir fear that the new law would alter the demographic status of the region, with experts saying it will lead to “demographic flooding.”

“It is a lot to circumvent the law. I think it illustrates clearly that some will not stop from politicking during coronavirus [epidemic],” Siddiq Wahid, a political analyst based in the Indian-controlled Kashmir, said.

“Obviously it is an attempt to change the demographics, not only change but flood it. It will lead to demographic flooding,” Wahid said, according to Al Jazeera.

Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a professor of legal studies based in the region, said the move had already been in the offing.

“The whole purpose of revoking Article 370 was to settle outsiders here and change the demography of the [Jammu and Kashmir] state. Now this provides the modalities and entitles so many categories of Indians whose settlement will be legalized over here.”

India’s ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has denied that the new law is an attempt to change the demography of the region.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since partition in 1947. Both countries claim all of Kashmir and have fought three wars over the territory.

Meanwhile, Muslims elsewhere in India have also been facing abuse and violence.

April 2, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

Crippling lockdown on Kashmir surpasses 200 days

By Javed Rana – Press TV – February 21, 2020

The crippling security and communications lockdown in the Muslim-majority Indian disputed Kashmir region has entered its 200 days. Nearly 900,000 military and paramilitary troops are deployed to prevent mass agitation since August 5 last year when New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special status and forcibly annexed it into India.

The controversial merger of the disputed territory was in defiance of eleven UN Security Council resolutions which call for a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to decide on whether they want to stay with India or join Pakistan.

Since then, the top Kashmiri leaders including three former chief ministers have been imprisoned. In their absence, the second tier leaders held press conference in Islamabad to inform the world of what India seeks to hide.

India has banned the entry of independent journalists, human rights activists, observers and even many western politicians from entering into disputed Kashmir region.

Kashmiri leaders believe that the Indian government has been deliberately crippling the economy to create adverse conditions for Kashmiris to force them to sell their properties to Hindu businessmen. This, they say, is aimed at altering the demography of the Muslim-majority state.

February 21, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

“Will Not Comment on Recent Events in Jammu & Kashmir”: Detainees Being Released Sign Gov’t Form

Sputnik | January 12, 2020

Thousands were detained under India’s Public Safety Act, a law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial, in Jammu and Kashmir before the Narendra Modi-led government revoked Articles 370 of the Constitution, stripping the state of its special status on 5 August.

The detained people, who are being released after five months of imprisonment, have to sign a bond where they say they will not make any comment or statement on the “recent events” in Jammu and Kashmir.

The bond, signed under Section 117 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), includes Section 107, which states that the executive magistrate has the power to apprehend any individual for not more than a year on information that a person is likely to disturb peace and public tranquillity.

“I undertake that in case of release from the detention, I will not make any comment(s) or statement(s) or make public speech(s), (or) hold or participate in public assembly(s) related to the recent events in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, at the present time, since it has the potential of endangering the peace and tranquillity and law and order in the State or any part thereof for a period of one year,” section two of the bond reads.

Nearly 4,000 people were arrested and some political leaders were detained after the revocation of Article 370, over fears of outbreaks of unrest and “most of them were flown out of Kashmir because prisons here have run out of capacity”, news agency AFP had quoted an official as saying.

The government bifurcated the state into two federally-administered territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The union territory then imposed a communications clampdown as new charges for mobile phone services were imposed. Postpaid mobile calling and messaging services along with broadband internet have been resumed, but internet services remain suspended. India’s apex court has termed the restrictions unconstitutional.

A delegation of envoys from 15 countries such as the United States, South Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Maldives, Morocco, Fiji, Norway, Philippines, Argentina, Peru, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Guyana visited the Jammu and Kashmir on 9 January.

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Blocks State-run Radio Pakistan’s Live Streaming for Highlighting Kashmir Issue

Sputnik – December 30, 2019

For four months, the Pakistani government has been accusing Twitter of suspending hundreds of accounts of Pakistanis for raising issue related to Indian-administered part of Kashmir. The communication blockade entered its 148th day in Kashmir since the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by Modi’s government.

Pakistan’s government has criticised the American social media giant Facebook for blocking the live streaming of news bulletins run by state-run Radio Pakistan, terming it a violation of basic human rights.

Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Ministry Firdous Ashiq Awan said that government will “make efforts for the restoration of the live streaming of Radio Pakistan’s news on Facebook”.

The minister said every time the state-run radio service tries to highlight “human rights violations” in Kashmir on social media platforms, “the accounts are suspended”.Earlier in the day, Radio Pakistan said its live streaming service of news bulletins was blocked for highlighting “Indian atrocities in Kashmir”.

The news coverage exposing “continued atrocities, curfew and military lockdown” led to the blockage, the statement read.

Radio Pakistan has also shared a screenshot message reportedly sent by Facebook in which the American firm claimed that “your post goes against our Community Standards on dangerous individuals and organisations”.

A huge number of Pakistani nationals have been venting their ire on social media since the Indian parliament revoked the decades-old temporary special status of Jammu and Kashmir State on 5 August and bifurcated it later into two federally-administered Union Territories.

A number of accounts of Pakistani journalists, activists and even some of government officials were suspended in August, triggering outrage among the people.

The Kashmir region has been a bone of contention for India and Pakistan. Both the nuclear-armed neighbours claim Kashmir in full but rule only part of the region.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia reads the riot act to Imran Khan

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | December 17, 2019

The Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 hosted by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on December 18-21 was originally conceived as a landmark event in the politics of the Muslim world. It still is, albeit on a wet wicket struggling to tackle a nasty googly that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan threw at the event at the last minute.  

To recap, the idea of the KL Summit was born out of a trilateral pow-vow between Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed and Pakistan’s Imran Khan in September on the sidelines of the UN GA session in New York.

The common perception of the three countries was that the Muslim World failed to react forcefully enough to the emergent situation affecting the Kashmiri Muslims. Pakistan actively promoted the perception that the leadership of the ummah was not reacting forcefully enough over Muslim issues such as Kashmir.

On November 23, while announcing his decision to host the KL Summit, Mahathir said that the new platform hoped to bring together Islamic leaders, scholars and clerics who would propose solutions to the many problems facing the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims. He disclosed that dignitaries attending the KL Summit would include Erdogan, the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Imran Khan.

The role of politics in development, food security, preserving national identity, and redistributing wealth were listed as other topics to be discussed, alongside the expulsion of Muslims from their homelands and the categorisation of Islam as the “religion of terrorism”.

In poignant remarks, Mahathir bemoaned that no Muslim country was fully developed, and that some Islamic nations were “failed states”. He said,

“Why is there this problem? There must be a reason behind this. We can only know the reason if we get the thinkers, the scholars, and the leaders to give their observations and viewpoints.

“Perhaps we can take that first step … to help Muslims recover their past glories, or at least to help them avoid the kind of humiliation and oppression that we see around the world today.”

Importantly, Mahathir described the summit as a meeting of minds that had the “same perception of Islam and the problems faced by the Muslims”.

From among the list of invitees, it now turns out that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be attending tomorrow’s summit, but King Salman of Saudi Arabia has regretted that the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) is being bypassed.

Mahathir disclosed that King Salman  conveyed to him in a phone conversation that it was better that the Muslim issues were discussed in a full-fledged OIC meeting. Mahathir said laconically,

“He (King Salman) wanted to tell me the reasons why he couldn’t make it. He’s afraid that something not good will happen to the Muslims. He has a different opinion from us. He feels that matters like these (Muslim issues) shouldn’t just be discussed by two or three countries, and there should be an OIC meeting and I agreed with him.”

The testy exchange signalled that the Saudi regime sees the KL Summit as a calculated challenge to its leadership of the ummah and as an initiative about laying the foundations for an Islamic alliance.

Mahathir is outspoken but what is less noticed is that his positions actually align closely with those of Turkey and Pakistan. These include the Palestinian question, the situation in Jammu & Kashmir and the persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar.

According to the Malaysian news agency Bernama, the KL Summit “aims to revive Islamic civilization, deliberate (over) and find new and workable solutions for problems afflicting the Muslim world, contribute (to) the improvement of the state of affairs among Muslims and Muslim nations, and form a global network between Islamic leaders, intellectuals, scholars, and thinkers.”

In sheer brain power, Saudi Arabia cannot match such an agenda. A sense of frustration has been building up over the past decade or so among the Muslim countries that the OIC is reduced to an appendage of the Saudi foreign policies. Saudi Arabia’s rift with Qatar, its rivalries with Iran, the brutal war in Yemen, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, etc.  also seriously dented Riyadh’s image in the most recent years.

Of course, Saudis hold a big purse and that still translates as influence but the new Islamic forum is poised to move in a direction that is progressive and far more inspiring, with plans to pursue joint projects, including, eventually, the introduction of a common currency.

Mahathir is on record that this mini-Islamic conference could turn into a much grander initiative down the road. Such optimism cannot be disregarded since a growing number of Muslim-majority countries harbour great unease over the near-term prospect of the ascendancy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the Saudi king and the next Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Saudi Arabia, anticipating the gambit being thrown down by Mahathir has reacted viciously to undercut the KL Summit. It tore into the summit’s ‘soft underbelly’ by reading the riot act to Imran Khan,  which put the fear of god into Imran Khan and how it happened we do not know, but the great cricketer panicked and has since called Mahathir to regret that he cannot attend the KL Summit.

No doubt, it is a big insult to Mahathir’s personal prestige but as the old adage says, beggars cannot be choosers and Imran Khan is left with no choice but to obey the Saudi diktat like a vassal.

With Imran Khan staying away, Mahathir is left to host his counterparts from Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Indonesia. The fizz has gone out of the KL Summit. Nonetheless, Mahathir is not the type of person to forget and forgive. His initial reaction to Imran Khan’s cowardly behaviour shows studied indifference, betraying his sense of hurt.

Pakistan is ultimately the loser here, as its credibility has been seriously dented. Imran Khan was the original promoter of the idea of the three-way axis of Turkey-Pakistan-Malaysia. But to be fair, his modest agenda was to create an exclusive India-baiting regional forum that he can use at will, whereas Mahathir turned it into an unprecedented Islamic forum that is independent of Saudi influence. Perhaps, Mahathir can only blame himself for the overreach.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

UN Security Council Meeting on Kashmir at China’s Request Postponed Indefinitely

Sputnik – December 17, 2019

A crucial closed-door meeting at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the Kashmir issue has been postponed for a month at least.

The meeting was scheduled on Tuesday to discuss the humanitarian situation in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Previously, a first such meeting was held in August this year in the aftermath of India’s decision to revoke the seven decades old special status of Kashmir on 5 August. However, the provisional schedule and daily meetings of the UNSC don’t mention the consultative meeting on Kashmir.

In its August programming schedule, the UNSC clearly mentioned the closed door consultation on India and Pakistan. But in December’s schedule no such meeting is planned. Two diplomats have also confirmed the development.

Currently, the decision to postpone the meeting on Kashmir came ahead of crucial boundary dispute talks between India and China.

India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi are expected to meet on 20-21 December to stabilise relations and discuss the contentious boundary issues between the two nations during Special Representatives-level talks.

The boundary discussion was stalled for months due to strained relations between the two Asian giants over Kashmir. Beijing termed the Indian decision to revoke the special status of Kashmir as unilateral and impinged upon the sovereignty of China.

The last time the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was on the UNSC agenda was during a meeting on 21 December 1971. It was followed by the adoption of a resolution calling for a durable ceasefire, the halt of all hostilities in conflict areas, and the provision of international assistance to refugees impacted by the territorial dispute.

In a related development, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has also cancelled his scheduled visit to Malaysia to participate in a meeting on Kashmir.The development comes two days after Khan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in Riyadh, during which matters related to bilateral relations were discussed.

A summit of Muslim leaders is expected to deliberate upon a shared agenda of Islamic countries and their collective challenges in a highly interconnected world.

India and Pakistan have contended for the Kashmir region, the southern part of which lies in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state (now a union territory), since the end of British rule in 1947. Despite a ceasefire being reached in 2003 following several armed conflicts, instability has continued, leading to the emergence of various extremist groups.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

The ballad of India’s Kashmir and Israel’s Palestine

Palestinian children play outside their dwelling in al-Eizariya town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank with the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim in the background.
By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | November 29, 2019

“I believe the security situation will improve (in J&K), it will allow the refugees to go back, and in your lifetime, you will be able to go back … and you will be able to find security, because we already have a model in the world.”

“I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it.” 

The above reported remarks by India’s consul-general in New York Sandeep Chakravorty while addressing an audience of Kashmiri Pandits raised some dust in the Indian media. But his job or career is no mortal danger.

For, Chakravorty must be an intelligent man and probably estimated that he was only articulating from a Track 1.5 platform the Modi government’s surreptitious policy in J&K  — following the Israeli footfalls of forcible occupation and colonisation of lands inhabited by alienated people. 

Whether the policy is doable or not is for time to tell. To my mind, the final word is not yet available whether even the brutal Israeli policy will work or not. Besides, circumstances are vastly different, and Kashmir is not an analogous situation. 

The main difference is that although the Indian state resorted to the use of force, much like Israel had done in Palestinian lands, the security situation has only deteriorated over the years, over decades. There are no two opinions that even half a million troops could not achieve anything by way of enduring results in the Kashmir valley. 

The ground realities in the valley militate against repression and state terrorism as viable policy option for a country such as India. The stark evidence of it lies in the government’s decision in August to change the status of J&K, which is an admission of failure rather than a mark of triumphant glory. 

Consul-general Chakravorty seems unaware how Israel went about systematically to prepare an external environment first by subduing the Arab countries that surrounded it and harboured sympathy, and were willing to support the Palestinian cause. Arguably, India too should begin with defeating and subduing Pakistan first? But, honestly, such an option is not available for India in our thermonuclear era, now or ever, the bravado of our ruling elite and their acolytes notwithstanding. 

Then, there is the western support for Israel, which helps it to get away with murder. The underlying factors here are complex and deep rooted in history. At its core, the western countries are constantly forced into an attitude of atonement for their anti-semitism that has a long and loathsome history dating back centuries. Remember the notorious Dreyfus affair in France — leave alone the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust, which makes Angela Merkel wobbly in the legs even today when she mentions Israel. 

Israel plays the “anti-semitic card’ very effectively. In actual practice, any criticism of Israeli state violations against Palestinians is instantly discredited as being “antisemitic”. Today, US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn are in the crosshairs of the Israeli lobby for this reason. Corbyn’s sin is that he has pledged to cut military trade with Israel and move to officially recognise a Palestinian state, if elected to power. 

The well-known commentator Finian Cunningham recently wrote, “This conflation of valid criticism of the Israeli state with being “anti-Jew” is a cynical distortion which is wielded to give Israel impunity from international law. It plays on moral blackmail of critics by equating the historical persecution of Jews and in particular the Nazi holocaust with the sanctity of the modern Israeli state.” 

Unfortunately, there is a notion even amongst educated Indians (including bureaucrats in the Indian Foreign Service) that linking up with the Jewish organisations would enable India to piggy ride on the Israeli lobby in the US. The false notion largely stems from sinister claims about the influence of “Jewish money” — and, it is not of recent origin. Didn’t Brajesh Mishra, the NSA under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, envisage a US-Israel-India condominium? 

The heart of the matter is that India is not Israel. Unlike Judaism, Hinduism is not an Abrahamic religion and it is not joined at the hips with the Christian world. This is one thing. Second, while large sections of Hindus too have suffered cruel persecution through centuries, it happened to be at the hands of their co-religionists. Clearly, there is no reason for atonement on the part of the West. 

Third, while Indian-Americans are a prosperous community relatively, their clout in the Wall Street is minimal. Unlike the “Jewish lobby”. Simply put, following the Israeli footfall on the occupation and colonisation of the Palestinian homeland or the territories illegally annexed during wars will not take India very far in regard of the J&K situation. 

The bottom line is that the western opinion on Kashmir is supportive of neither India nor Pakistan. It always rooted for the “Third Option” — an independent and sovereign state of Kashmir. The official US position, in particular, always made it a point to stress that any solution should take into account the “wishes of the Kashmiri people.” 

In the prevailing geopolitical situation in Asia, an independent Kashmir state will be a strategic asset for Washington. Surely, any colonisation of Kashmir Valley by non-Kashmiris grates against the US interests. Israel, on the contrary, is itself a western creation on the map of the Middle East and the US condones Israel’s war crimes and aggressive state policies as a matter of regional strategy. 

One would imagine that an Indian diplomat of the rank of ambassador would know that discretion is the better part of valour. Yet, he voiced maverick opinions like a run-of-the mill rabble-rouser on the Hindutva platform, which, he should be intelligent enough to grasp, would only serve to confirm Pakistani allegations regarding the Modi government’s intentions behind the change of status of J&K. The politicisation of the Foreign Service, which such sordid episodes highlight, won’t serve any good.

November 29, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Kashmir after India’s unilateral move: A story of fear and hopelessness

By Shahana Butt | Press TV | Nov 15, 2019

Indian-Administered Kashmir – More than 100 days have passed since India stripped Kashmir of its autonomous status and divided the state into two federally-ruled territories. The region has been observing a protest close down ever since; with shops, businesses and schools shunned by the people in protest against New Delhi’s move.

Although India has promised the return of normalcy in the region through equal rights and development; rumors are moving the other way round.

The return of check posts and eruption of new security bunkers across the Muslim majority region has pulled back the horror scenes of 1990’s in Kashmir and has all together made it more difficult for the people living in the world’s largest militarized zone.

In the past 100 plus days hundreds of bunkers have been built in addition to the existing security vigil; the prevailing circumstances have further silenced the people of Kashmir.

Press TV spoke to a cross section of people in Kashmir to know how they see this new Kashmir and what they faced in the past 100 plus days.

Since august 5 people of Kashmir are living in a controlled communication zone; with no internet facilities and limited cellular network that was provided after the intervention of India’s top court and international criticism.

In the absence of international concern and given New Delhi’s ‘not so clear’ Kashmir agenda people of Kashmir are caught in skepticism, doubt and fear.

Sooner or later so called ‘normalcy’ might return to the valley of Kashmir. But India’s unilateral move and the world’s turning a blind eye to the issue has left a deep-rooted impact on the lives of people here. This has added to the existing alienation of Kashmir, where people accuse both India and Pakistan of playing the Kashmir card for political and strategic gains.

Video Report

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

No Freedom for India’s Kashmir Valley Politicians, Jammu Counterparts Released

Sputnik – October 2, 2019

The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday released all politicians that had been held under house arrest in Jammu since India scrapped the region’s special constitutional status at the start of August.

Jammu region politicians have been released from detention ahead of local block development council elections scheduled for 24 October. Eight politicians were released from house arrest, including Devender Singh Rana, Raman Bhalla, Harshdev Singh, Chaudhary Lal Singh, Vikar Rasool, Javed Rana, Surjit Singh Slathia and Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo.

However, the state administration did not free politicians under house arrest in the Kashmir Valley as the situation there is still sensitive from a security point of view. Former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah remain under house arrest.

Administration officials said the Jammu region is peaceful, and therefore, a decision was taken to release politicians detained before or on 5 August after India’s Parliament passed a law to revoke the quasi-autonomous status of the state.

The state is to be divided into two federally-administered territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh from 31 October.

On 30 September, Jammu and Kashmir’s chief electoral officer announced that block development council elections would be held in October.

Meanwhile, several pleas were filed before the Supreme Court of India challenging the Central government’s 5 August decision to bifurcate the state into the federal government administered territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. On Tuesday, the top court gave the Central government a month to file its response to the pleas.

The court made it clear that if needed it would direct the government to produce all relevant documents pertaining to its decision to scrap Article 370.

It also said it will not entertain fresh petitions on the issue.

The bench said that it would allow a week for petitioners to file their replies to the Central and state governments’ counter-affidavits.

October 2, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Asian Century bypasses Modi’s India

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 1, 2019

The stunning news that India’s GDP growth rate is hitting a six-year low figure of 5 percent in the past six-year period comes as reality check. Many economists even hold the view that in actuality, take away the statistical jugglery, India’s actual GDP growth figure could be somewhere around 3 percent.

Either way, it is a dismal scenario. As mostly the case, it is the poor people who will suffer from the decline in the GDP growth rate than the rich. There is going to be a significant decline in the employment rate and the number of people below poverty line could rise. Clearly, the 5-trillion dollar economy that Prime Minister Narendra Modi boasted about as his second term began 100 days ago, seems a pipe dream. Even to recall PM’s quote becomes a painful embarrassment.

In a Reuters poll of economists, analysts believe the slowdown could persist for two or three years while much needed structural reforms are put in place. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said on Thursday a big push on infrastructure spending would be needed to revive consumer demand and private investment. Structural reforms were also required to ease the path for businesses in India, it said.

What causes such profound disquiet is that all this appears to go way beyond a cyclical slowdown. The economy has lost momentum.

To be sure, the government policy approach will need to be multi-pronged. But this is also fundamentally a crisis of India’s political economy. Watch former PM Manmohan Singh’s stern warning that the looming crisis should not be underestimated, as it is a combustible mix of many elements that aren’t easy to separate — deficiency in statecraft, populist politics, political vendetta, flawed economic measures, bad economic management, lack of accountability, authoritarianism, etc.

There is a crucial foreign-policy dimension to it — India is in critical need of a peaceful external environment so that it can prioritise the economy. Plainly put, the government needs to apply itself diligently to keep down tensions in relations with Pakistan.

All that talk by senior cabinet ministers about “nuclear first use” and of “taking back” POK and Northern Areas from Pakistan is hogwash. Standing on such emaciated legs, no country can wage a war. Just throw into the dustbin all that jingoism.

Misplaced national priorities have brought the economy to a cul-de-sac. Glance through the statistics of the top ten fastest growing Asian economies today: Bangladesh (8.13%) ; Nepal (7.9%); Bhutan (7.4%); China (6.9%); Myanmar (6.8%); Philippines (6.7%);  Malaysia (5.9%) Pakistan (5.4%); Indonesia (5.1%); India – 5%

Modi becomes the first prime minister of independent India to take the country’s GDP growth rate below Pakistan’s. This should be rude awakening and should prompt honest soul-searching.

What a wasteful foreign policy our country has been saddled with, focusing on vainglorious projects that have no relevance to the “real India”! How does it help India if PM worships at the Krishna temple in Bahrain or receives the highest national award of the Emirati nation?

Alas, the diplomatic calendar of the present government since it took over in May shows that we are still focused on dream projects to boost the image of the Leader in the domestic audience and to pursue a US-centric foreign policy.

The foreign-policy priority today is to somehow “lock in” the Trump administration by buying more oil and LNG from the US even if at a much higher cost than what Iran is able to supply. By succumbing to the US diktat, India is compelled to import phosphates — a vital input for farming sector — via enterprising Emirati middlemen rather than directly from Iran, at an increased cost of 30 percent! Who cares?

The government prioritises a mega energy conference in Houston, Texas, later this month so that we can buy more energy from the US — and also, explore proposals for massive Indian investments in the American energy sector. The idea is to substantially contribute to “America First” so that Trump is somehow kept happy and the long-term “Indo-Pacific strategy” aimed at containing China can be pursued without hiccups.

Of late, the thrust of Indian diplomacy lies in warding off the Pakistani challenge on the Kashmir issue. But the more we go on that track, the more work it generates for our diplomats to “counter” the Pakistani backlash. It is all turning out to be a Catch-22 situation.

Not all the waters in the Ganges can clean the accumulating filth of the comparisons being bandied about in the world media between Modi’s India and Nazi Germany. We are going to get even more of all that when the European Parliament meets tomorrow to exchange views on the situation in J&K.

Delhi got the tip-off that the POK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider will be present at the European Parliament when it will discuss the Kashmir issue on September 2. So, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar gets through to Brussels post-haste in the weekend with tons of detergent powder to sanitise the lobby. Raja Farooq Haider versus Subrahmanyam Jaishankar: nothing could more graphically highlight the tragedy of Indian diplomacy today.

Forget about India attracting western businessmen as an investment destination in the prevailing setting. And, make no mistake, no one is yet accounting for the massive haemorrhage of resources in the deployment of a million troops in J&K till eternity. How many world economies can sustain such a futile enterprise?

Not even the US, the lone superpower. Trump has programmed his diplomats to delver on his stern demand that the American troop level in Afghanistan should be drastically reduced in immediate terms — from 14,000 troops to 8,600 troops. He thinks it is “ridiculous” and stupid that a great army trained to fight wars is deployed for police duties. Trump is pressing hard for a political solution.

Doesn’t some of all this rub on Modi when he converses with the leaders of Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, the three top “Asian tigers”? Don’t they talk serious stuff when they get quality time with Modi — how well their countries are growing but how much better they still could if only India ceases to be a laggard in the neighbourhood?

September 1, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

Kashmir’s New Status: Why the West Turns a Blind Eye to Democracy Deficit in India

By Brian Cloughley | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 27, 2019

On August 23 the New York Times reported that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs “won’t say why foreign journalists continue to be blocked from setting foot in Kashmir” but managed to obtain a compelling first-hand account of one of the thousands of arrests by the authorities. In this instance “Asifa Mubeen was woken up by the sound of barking dogs as policemen began pouring into her yard. Her husband, Mubeen Shah, a wealthy Kashmiri merchant, stepped out onto their bedroom balcony in the night air. The police shouted that he was under arrest. When he asked to see a warrant, his wife said, the police told him there wouldn’t be one. ‘This is different,’ they said. ‘We have orders.’ It was the start of one of the biggest mass arrests of civilian leaders in decades carried out by India, a close American partner that bills itself as one of the world’s leading democracies…”

The appalling situation in Indian-administered Kashmir has been created by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who announced on August 5 that he was annulling Article 370 of India’s Constitution, which since 1949 has given the territory (called a State by India) virtual self-government. It had its own Constitution and the most important thing was that the special status of the region allowed it to adhere to the ancient law prohibiting outsiders from buying land. The central government could not overrule the law — but with Modi’s repeal of Article 370 there is now direct rule by Delhi.

This means that the people of the territory have no say whatever in their own governance. It has also meant, thus far, the arrest and detention of some 4,000 people under the Public Safety Act which allows the authorities to jail anyone for up to two years without charge. That isn’t exactly democratic — and it is intriguing to think about how Donald Trump would regard such a law, were he aware of it.

Deficiency of democracy doesn’t stop there, because the Armed Forces Special Powers Act “grants the armed forces the power to shoot to kill in law enforcement situations, to arrest without warrant, and to detain people without time limits. The law forbids prosecution of soldiers without approval from the central government, which is rarely granted, giving them effective immunity for serious human rights abuses.”

The Public Safety and Special Powers Acts are in full swing in Indian-administered Kashmir, and the population is in effect under military occupation authorised by Modi’s ultra-right wing government in Delhi. It is, to all intents, occupied territory whose inhabitants have no say whatever in their own governance. (There were supposed to be elections this year, but with the invalidation of Article 370 these can no longer take place. It has all been carefully thought through.)

And the leaders of the US and Britain, these usually eloquent supporters of freedom for the peoples of the world, have made no critical statements about the mass arrests or cancellation of elections or total closure of means of communication, and they ignore the fact that India’s Constitution “explicitly declares that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression [Article 19(1)(a)].”

The New York Times managed to ascertain that in Kashmir, the thousands of detainees “have not been able to communicate with their families or meet with lawyers. Their whereabouts remain unknown. Most were taken in the middle of the night, witnesses said.” This smacks of dictatorship, for it is undeniable that detention and incarceration without trial is totalitarian rather than democratic.

It is barely credible that “Among the people who were rounded up were Mian Qayoom, president of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association; Mohammed Yasin Khan, chairman of the Kashmir Economic Alliance; Raja Muzaffar Bhat, an anticorruption crusader; Fayaz Ahmed Mir, a tractor driver and Arabic scholar; and Mehbooba Mufti, the first woman elected as Kashmir’s chief minister. Shah Faesal, another politician, was arrested at New Delhi’s international airport, bags checked, boarding pass in hand, heading for a fellowship at Harvard. Several prominent state politicians have also been put under house arrest; they told Indian news outlets they had been ordered not to engage in any ‘political activity’.”

But there hasn’t been a peep of protest from Britain’s Boris Johnson, he who showed solidarity with the protestors in Hong Kong by declaring “I do support them and I will happily speak up for them and back them every inch of the way.”

There hasn’t been a squeak of remonstrance from Washington, either, where Trump’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced that the rule of President Maduro “is undemocratic to the core” and Trump committed his country to “stand with… all Venezuelans who seek to restore democracy and the rule of law.”

If Johnson and Trump are so supportive of democracy, why do they not protest about mass arrests and detentions and cancellation of democratic elections in Indian-administered Kashmir? Why do they not take Modi to task for his excesses? It was recorded on August 23 that in Indian-administered Kashmir, “Data obtained by Reuters showed 152 people reported to Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences and Shri Maharaj Hari Singh with injuries from pellet shots and tear gas fire between Aug 5 and Aug 21.” It is regrettable that Trump and Johnson ignored the fact that on August 22 “UN human rights experts today called on the Government of India to end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests imposed in Indian-Administered Kashmir this month.” It was also stated by the UN experts, headed by Special Rapporteur David Kaye, that “The shutdown of the internet and telecommunication networks, without justification from the Government, are inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality. The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence.”

The absence of any criticism by Trump and Johnson of the military rule excesses in Indian-administered Kashmir will encourage Modi and his far-right nationalist administration to extend their racist grip throughout India. Since Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014 there has been a most marked increase in officially-endorsed communal violence, mainly against Muslims but also involving other minority groups. These outbreaks of Hindu-supremacy barbarity are sponsored largely by a militant organisation called the Bajrang Dal which as noted in the New Yorker “has either been banned or has lurked at the margins of Indian society. But [since 2014] the militant group has been legitimized and grown exponentially more powerful. In the past seven years, according to Factchecker, an organization that tracks hate crimes, there have been a hundred and sixty-eight attacks by Hindu extremists, in the name of protecting cows, against Muslims and other religious minorities.”

Indian democracy is under grave threat from racist Hindu supremacists, and the New York Times rightly considers it disquieting that Modi “seems intent on digging in, and he has the Indian public firmly behind him. Many Indians see Kashmir as an integral part of India, and this move has stirred up jingoist feelings. Indian news channels have referred to the detainees being flown out of Kashmir as ‘Pakistani terrorists’ or ‘separatist leaders,’ toeing the government line.”

The most appalling thing is that Modi’s India appears intent on eradicating Muslims and that the vast majority of Hindus are right behind him. In order for him to succeed, there has to be destruction of democracy — and that’s exactly what is happening.

August 27, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Islamophobia | , , | Leave a comment