India’s Kristallnacht

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The impact of events in shaping a nation’s mindset cannot be understated. They help to formulate and create the culture and mindset of the nation’s peoples and form their collective ideas and identities. However, sometimes, even negative events shape a nation’s mindset and culture. Genocides and ethnic cleansing have often been supported and even encouraged by governments as a means to wipe away the ‘undesirables’ of the community. While sad, it is a fact that such tools that have been used by political government to suppress a particular segment of the community and persecute it. Such incidents then translate into official state policies and these events provide precedent to these policies.

In this light, we need to look at one of the most significant events that laid a deep impact on Nazi Germany and allowed it to execute one of the worst systemic genocides in human existence, the Holocaust.

The event under question is the Krsitallnacht, which literally translates to ‘the night of broken glass’. It was a systemic pogrom carried out in 1938, against the Jews. The Nazi party’s paramilitary wing and civilians carried out a series of systemic attacks on Jewish homes, hospitals, businesses and synagogues. The pogrom had the silent support of the Nazi government and the law enforcement agencies as well. The riots carried on for two days and during that time, streets were littered with shards of broken glass from the windows that were smashed during the riots, hence the name Kristallnacht. The Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the atrocities that Nazi Germany would go on to perpetrate against the Jewish population. Hitler and the Nazi party fanned the hate against the Jewish segment of the population and then turned a blind eye to the events that unfolded in the Kristallnacht.

In a similar vein, this November marks the 73rd anniversary of a systemic genocide carried out in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the Jammu Massacre, which led to the death of approximately 100,000 Muslims.

The Jammu Massacres were a deliberate attempt by the administration and the Indian government to alter the demographics of Kashmir in order to turn a Muslim majority region to a Hindu majority. Swathes of RSS extremists flooded Jammu and massacred thousands of innocent Muslims and set fire to their property. These attacks were fully supported by the state, which even provided them with arms and ammunition to carry out these attacks against the Muslim community of Jammu.

Contrary to what is always depicted by India that it is a secular and modern democracy that respects the rights of its minorities, the Jammu Massacres were a glaring red flag of the continued systemic oppression by the Indian government for the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir. The Jammu Massacre was India’s Kristallnacht, which became the benchmark for India’s future plans of systemically turning Muslim majority areas to a Hindu majority. The extremist policies that are clearly in play in India today are not an overnight phenomenon, but rather they have been the culmination of a strategic vision of the suppression of the Muslim community.

Why should the Jammu Massacres be remembered to this day? The reason for this is that, it laid the foundation for the hate and system machinery that can be used to suppress minorities in India. The similarities between Kristallnacht and the Jammu Massacres are prominent and undeniable. Both of these incidents had the support of the de-facto governments, both of these events involved the use of extremist wings that had the full support of the governments They were a deliberate and brazen attempt to persecute a minority. In a twisted sense of irony, even the dates of these two events are nearly similar. However, it must be reiterated that the Kristallnacht happened within the territory of Germany. The Jammu Massacres were orchestrated in a disputed territory where the Indian government had no sovereignty or right, and was bound to protect the inhabitants of the territory. In essence, the Indian government carried out massive genocide in a disputed territory which goes to show the extent to which India is willing to go to forcefully annex a territory and persecute its population. 

Such moments form an important construct of a nation’s future ideology because it serves to indoctrinate the future generation towards hate against a specific group of people. Unfortunately, India has had many of its Kristallnacht, be itthe Gujarat Massacres or the Babri Masjid incident. Through such actions, the Indian extremist elements have tried to legitimize the use of violence against its minorities and this has translated into the recent Indian government’s controversial legislations. The revocation of Article 370 and the Citizenship Amendment Act are an important link in this chain.

This pent up anger and hostility towards its minorities is a pattern that has been existent ever since India came into independence. It originated from the Jammu Massacre and ever since then India has continued to demonstrate its animosity towards its minorities.

The foundation that was laid down in the Jammu Massacre was an act that depicted India’s innate desires of the conquest of minorities and for the past seven decades, India has systemically worked towards that strategic goal. India has mobilized all of its state assets, including the media, to work towards the achievement of this vision. While India blames Pakistan for the freedom movement in IIOJK, it fails to see its perpetual policies of repression and subjugation by the means of brute force and military power.

The international community should not overlook the similarities between Nazi Germany and the modern day India. It goes beyond rhetoric and narrative, it is a visible example of India following the Nazi playbook. The Jammu Massacre, which is often blamed on the chaos that ensued following the partition of India and Pakistan, is more than that. It is an example of how India carried out its subversive designs that laid down the foundation for the future of minorities within India.

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Zeeshan Javed
About Zeeshan Javed 3 Articles
The writer works at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute as a consultant. He can be reached at [email protected]

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