India has lost its standing in the world as a secular, pluralistic democratic country. Under the rule of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) a right wing Hindu nationalist party ‘Hindutva’ extremists ideology is now the overarching policy of the Modi government.
Minorities live in constant fear. The BJP and its ideological godparent RSS are making life difficult for all the minorities living in India. Their methods are not much different from how Jews and other minorities were hounded and eliminated during the Nazi regime in Germany. Images of women, Christians, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs being targetted by gangs of RSS trained BJP supporters during the communal violence & lynching recently in Delhi and before that in Una Gujrat, and Jammu Kashmir are a grim reminder of what to expect of India in the future.
Persecution on the basis of religion and race has taken to an artform by the Modi regime. Now BJP enact special rules to expedite discriminatory policies. These rules programmatically exclude religious and other minorities from the Indian society. Template they are following is simple treat them as inferior or use right wing media out lets to brand them as dangerous. Then persecute them with impunity.
The Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB), National Registry of Citizens, revocation of article 370 & 35A are examples where the 70 years old Mr. Modi has used legislative agenda to marginalize minorities and specially targetted Kashmiris. A G Noorani an Indian lawyer and constitutional expert describes measures against article 370 & 35 A as “communal-minded majoritarian” intentions.
As the world commemorate the Kashmir Solidarity Day on 5th February 2021 the humanitarian crisis has never been bleaker ever before. Kashmir is now the most militarized piece of land in the world. There are over half a million Indian soldiers stationed in Kashmir. The civilian population have no freedom to exercise their basic civil rights, cannot move freely or access basis amenities. Any and every public protest against human rights violations is crushed by a disproportionate military force. The discovery of mass graves and rape as method of torture are common occurrence in Kashmir.
On the other hand, Kashmiris living on the Pakistani side of border are also targetted by the Indian military. The violations of Line of Control (LoC) have increased manifolds. Under the Modi regime only in 2020 over 3000 incidents were recorded resulting in many civilian lives lost. Civilians including young children are regularly targetted by Indian forces from across the border. They are either hit by heavy mortar shelling or targeted by sniper fire. UN Military Observers are stationed on the Pakistani side in order to observe escalations. However, India despite of UN’s requirements has not allowed UN military observers to be stationed on their side of the border. A convoy of UN Military Observers stationed on the Pakistani side also came under attack from across the border. The UN is now investigating this incident.
Since the revocation of the article 370 & 35A the people of Jammu & Kashmir has suffered brutal curfew and lockdown imposed by the Modi government. The internet services were shutdown, creating a complete blackout of news and information in the valley. Modi regime blocked the internet for nearly six months in Kashmir and achieved the dubious world record of shutting down internet for the longest period of time by any democracy in the world. “Cutting internet access prevents ground-level reporting and the sharing of information, harming freedom of press, and preventing others from reporting and documenting those committing violence” said Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner and #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now.
Prime Minister Modi has started an ethnic cleansing program designed to make Muslim in Kashmir a minority in their own homeland. He is driven by the concept of Hindutva which preaches Hindus as a supreme race. The 70 years old Prime Minister is indifferent to the decent humanitarian morals expected of him and India by the world.
Commitment to protect human rights is an important slogan of Biden-Harris team. The plight of twelve million Kashmiris whose human rights are violated every day is a cause which the new US administration needs to engage urgently with. This requires a multilateral approach backed by personal commitments to hold free and fair plebiscite as mandated by the UN.
History is a good teacher only if lessons are learnt. Journey to religious and ethnic cleansing in any society is not a simple one. It follows many dark milestones along the way including considering ‘Others’ as inferior and subhuman. Once this concept is established by the ruling class the majority of the society views ‘Gestapo, Ghettos, Gas Chambers, Genocide’ as appropriate methods against the minorities. India now in 2021 under the Hindutva rule of BJP seems to be a similar society. The whole valley is a large, barricaded prison where human rights are the first casualty.
What is planned by BJP regime is too grim to imagine. A cry from the mountains of Kashmir goes out across the powerful capitals of the world urging them to implement their ‘Never Again’ pledge to humanity. As this is the only way to stop the darkest period of human history repeated all over again in Kashmir.