India’s Self-inflicted Kashmir Imbroglio

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Iqbal Khan

RSS-BJP government in India is facing serious problems.Its economy is likely to contract by 9 percent of its GDP due to mismanagement of Covid-19 pandemic.It has faced a humiliating military defeat from China in the form of an unconditional abdication of its politico military objectives and surrender of over 1000 square kilometers of its arear, in Ladakh, that was under Indian border security guards’ control until as late as April 2020.And in Indian Illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K), even pro Indian elements are opposing Prime Minster Narendra Modi government’s action of August 05, 2019. Amnesty International has closed down its operations in Indiaafter New Delhi froze its bank assets. This isn’t the first time the human rights watchdog has faced pressure from India. Nor is Amnesty the only high-profile group targeted by New Delhi. Others include the Ford Foundation, which was put on a national security watch list in 2015.

Interestingly, Modi has a simple panacea for all this— China-Pakistan bashing. He and his ministers run a mechanical routine of anti-china, and anti-Pakistan statements. While doing this national duty on October 12 Indian Defence Minister Rajanth Singh, stated that Pakistan and China are deliberately creating border disputes with India. It is yet another manifestation of the Indian government’s incurable obsession with Pakistan and China.

On August 06 2019 while discussing the two bills—the J&K Reorganization Bill 2019 and the J&K Reservation (second amendment) Bill 2019, and the resolution for revocation of Articles 370 and 35 A in the lower house of parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said that when he speaks in the House of Jammu and Kashmir state, he mean Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin both as part of India, and that he was ready to die [for achieving this]. “I want to put this on record that whenever I have said J&K, it means with PoK and Aksai Chin,” Shah said. “J&K is an integral part of the Union of India. Kashmir ki seema main PoK bhi aata hai. Jaan de denge iske liye (PoK is also a part of Kashmir. Ready to die for this).”He added that decision to remove special status for J&K and bifurcate the state should have been taken much earlier.

Indian government is hostage to its electoral rhetoric whereby it contested elections on anti-China and anti-Pakistan rhetoric to attract hard-liners’ votes. And now it is under unrelenting pressure from these extremist RSS-BJP cadres to deliver on its undeliverable promises.

Now India has resorted to malicious propaganda against the longstanding, close Pakistan-China partnership and friendship. It is outrageous as India itself is acountry that is compulsively expansionist and a brazen practitioner of state-terrorism.Over and above, it resorts to blatant lies to level charges against others.The world community is aware that the political opportunism of the RSS-BJP regime is imperiling peace, stability and security of the region. It is India that not only creates disputes with neighbours but also runs away from peacefully resolving them.

India is following two pronged strategy to squeeze the people of IIOJ&K. Firstly, changing the democratic composition of IIOJ&K by granting domicile of Kashmir to people from outside Jammu and Kashmir, which is a clear violation of Article 49 of Geneva Convention IV which prohibits forcible or voluntary transfer of population from, to and within occupied territory. 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. Between April and August, over 4, 30,000 such certificates had been issued, and no breather is in sight.Moreover, Under the Hindutva doctrine, India has already settled 1.8 million Indian Hindus in the occupied Kashmir during the last few months.

Secondly, administrative power is being transferred to non-Muslims despite the fact that IIOJ&K is an over vehemently Muslim State.According to Professor Ashok Swain of Uppsala University, Sweden, “Of the 66 top bureaucrats in Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, at this time, 38 are from other states.Of the 12 sitting Judges at the high court, only two are Muslim. And there are not a single Muslim officer in the Lieutenant Governor’s secretariat.”

Thischange of demographic composition and usurpation of authorityare being done despite the fact that India does not have sovereign rights over Jammu and Kashmir; It is just an occupying country of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an United Nations (UN) recognized disputed territory. The UN has already ruled to hold a plebiscite to ascertain the will of Kashmiris for joining India or Pakistan.

Kashmiris are the most valiant nation in the world. Despite suffering repression, they had been fighting the Indian occupation forces for the last 72 years. They are pitched against one million regular Indian troops Around 600,000 people of 18,000 families of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) living along the Line of Control (LOC) are offering sacrifices on the daily basis while the AJK people who are part of the armed forces of Pakistan, are sacrificing their lives for the defence of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.

AJK President Sardar Masood Khan said on October 05 that the brunt of the political blunder committed by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Maharaja Hari Singh shouting the slogan of sovereign Kashmir in 1947 was still being borne by the people in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in the shape of cruel Indian subjugation.

Farooq Abdullah says they [people of Jammu & Kashmir] are fighting for “the honour, dignity, the respect that the people lost on the 5th of August last year”. They want the Government of India to “start trusting Muslims instead of denigrating them…They (Centre) still hold the land, with force, but they have lost the people”. And that is why “sentiment for Kashmiri independence has grown sizably”.

According to Mani Shankar Aiyar‘s Oct 07 article for The Wire: “This is the extent to which Modi and Shah have driven seven million Kashmiris up the wall. And with the new domicile laws endangering the demographic composition of both Union Territories, fear and apprehension have overtaken all three regions of the erstwhile state – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, including both Muslim-majority Kargil and Buddhist-majority Leh”. He added: “If the situation is not rectified, intifada and worse can overtake the tri-junction of India, China and Pakistan.

A massive wedge has been driven between the IIOJ&K electorate and the traditional pro India “three families”, to the extent that a typical Kashmiri-in-the street mocksthem with the cry, “Ab bolo, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’”.

Farooq Abdullah recently stated in an interview to Karan Thapar thathis father had repulsed Pakistan to join India, he said, although “religion (was on) that side, the roads that side, the rivers go that side. We went against the current”. Why? “We joined Gandhi’s India, not Modi’s India”. So, what had Modi’s India done? They had broken the trust that underlay “the unity of the Muslim-majority state with the rest of the nation”, leaving the people “sick of having to put up with a soldier with an AK-47 on every street, every village”, “their dreams gone” awry, their children deprived “of a future”, “completely disillusioned…If I speak of India anywhere, they don’t want to listen”.

Rather than jeopardizing peace and stability of the region, including by perpetrating state-terrorism as a tool to advance its extremist (Hindutva) ideology and expansionist (Akhand Bharat) designs, India should seriously consider course correction by giving up its aggressive agenda and peacefully resolving disputes with neighbours.

Writer is a freelance contributor; e-mail: Iqbal.khan9999@yahoo.com