M Aminul Islam
The latest conflict in Indian-held Kashmir steps into second month today. Kashmir, the darling child of nature endowed with a plenitude of bounties and beauties, has been burning and bleeding for ages. This picturesque Himalayan valley is still in jeopardy. Swathed in bandages, it is hobbling with a festering wound. This peaceful region is now a war-torn hellscape. It is a valley of deaths. The paradise on earth has virtually turned into a boiling cauldron, a flashpoint, a heavily militarised zone at the moment. The August 05 decision of the Indian parliament changed everything—the demographics and politics of the Muslim-majority Kashmir and the fate of its people. The conservative BJP-led federal government unilaterally stripped Kashmir of its special constitutional right to self-government, thus fanning the anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic flames in the haven of the Kashmiris.
Through annulling the autonomous status accorded to it more than seven decades ago now, Kashmir has been forced to accept a new kismet: a centrally-controlled union territory. In a carefully crafted design, Kashmir has been placed on a total lockdown, isolating it from the rest of the world.
The Indian ruling clique severed phone and internet lines and imposed curfew there. The Kashmiri humanity is enchained. The peace-lovers are living stateless, captive. Kashmiris are caged, alien in their own homeland! By abrogating article 370 and sub-clause 35A of the Indian constitution, the Narendra Modi government snatched the basic human rights from Kashmiris and Ladakhis. By stripping Kashmir of its long-held privilege of self-rule, the hegemonist, expansionist and imperialist India has shown its real colour, its true self in this snow-capped terrain.
India has virtually opened a Pandora’s box in Kashmir. Through this systemic move, the central Indian government eyes settlements by non-Muslim jingoists there. People from across the country have got this statutory licence to buy landed property in Kashmir unbridled, get government jobs, do business and settle there permanently with intent to disturb peace, decimate ethnic Kashmiris and destroy their cultures and legacies. Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops have been deployed to gag the dissenting voices and liquidate the struggling Kashmiris. Video clips available on social networks are showing the world how members of Indian security forces are swooping on the unarmed demonstrators.
Social media are ablaze with scenes of violence and torture of innocent, freedom-seeking Kashmiris. Yet, thousands of peaceful people continue to protest and demonstrate leaderless but with spontaneity. All the Kashmiri political and separatist leaders are either under house arrest or incarcerated. But the spirited Kashmiris are going their usual way, showing the world their hysteria, their cause for liberty. Seven long decades have passed, but no conclusion has been arrived over the Kashmir issue. No resolution of the crisis is in sight yet. Where is the end to this bloodbath? When will end this systematic liquidation process? Mr Modi and his hard-line, extreme right-wing nationalists have launched a carefully choreographed anti-Muslim mission in different Indian states, including Assam.
Many believe that depopulating Kashmir of its Muslim inhabitants is part of a deep-seated conspiracy of the Modi gang. According to independent observers, the torture machine of the Modi government aims at the decimation of Kashmiri Muslims to establish Hindutva there. But the persecuted Kashmiris are building up a strong resistance to the occupation forces. Kashmiris are like live volcanoes and might erupt with simmering discontent at any time. Domination is not a solution—it will rather exacerbate tensions. Kashmiris seeking self-determination or independent statehood is their right. The Indian media hardly highlight this humanitarian cause. Analysts rant that there has been an erosion of ethical journalism the world over. They term it a blind spot in journalism.
As always, Kashmir is a thorny issue between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan who have fought two of their three wars and engaged in aerial clashes over the matter. We see renewed sabre-rattling by the two warmongers. Even China is strutting with its military might for dominance over Aksai Chin, a part of the disputed Kashmir. When things have got this bad, according to the Reuters news agency, India’s clampdown is pushing many former militants in Pakistani-held Kashmir to start an armed struggle as they are closely observing the situation unfolding in Jammu and Kashmir. Outraged by the latest Indian move, many believe all Kashmiris will take up arms when needed. Even many “militants” wanted to see stronger action against India by the international community.
Why are the peddlers of international human rights and civil liberties, and the apostles of global peace silent on the Kashmir issue? If the gruesome things happening inside Kashmir are India’s internal matter, what’s the function of human rights commission and its parent organisation, the United Nations? However, Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee or Nobel laureate Amartya Sen are seen vocal against this Indian aggression. But where are humanists like Kailash Satyarthi, Malala Yousufzai or Arundhati Roy? Other conflict zones like Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Nagaland, Palestine and Rakhine are also then their internal matters. Why are then nations adopting liberal foreign policies? Why are so-called ententes and détentes among states? Why do not the nations then declare themselves hawkish, isolationist and pariah?
The dire humanitarian crises are giving birth to serious concerns due to the siege India has laid to Kashmir. Does Indian colonialism begin? According to historians, chroniclers and academics, the revocation of the constitutional provision is another step in India’s long history of colonising Kashmir. The situation in Kashmir shows that it is not just a thing of Europe now. India too has a stake in it. In any way, Kashmir’s entire peace process has remained stalled. Offers of mediation are also spurned. Modi has trumped Imran Khan on the mediation issue. On Trump’s offer to mediate, Modi on August 26 rejected it and said the two neighbours could resolve their issues bilaterally. Does such populist rhetoric hold water?
On the look of it, Bangladesh as a South Asian neighbour and a close ally of India has adopted the policy of neutrality. Bangladesh along with other Islamic countries should make a call for India to halt this process of occupying Kashmir and give back its status. They respond to this humanitarian cause and stand beside the Kashmiri humanity at this time of crisis. Apropos Mr Modi, the world saw his role during Gujarat riot while he was the chief minister. He is the living terror incarnate who has showed the seeds of sectarianism and taken the policy of cleansing Muslims from the pan-Indian society. The highly racist Modi is being lionised as a powerful geopolitical player. Only lately, the UAE has honoured him with its highest civilian award! And he is going to bag an award from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The world expects to see both parts of Indian-controlled and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir integrating into a single, independent Kashmir nation—no more segregated or dissected Kashmir. As for Kashmiris, be bold for change. For Indians, Be a cohesive nation. Shift from this dogged stance and let people live in your integrated, non-communal, pluralist society. Restore your centuries-old values of secularism and peaceful coexistence, demonstrate your liberal credo for mutual respect among different faiths and ethnicities and live together in perfect amity and social harmony. Now is time to take a firm resolve to an early resolution of this crisis. The sooner the hatchet be buried and swords be turned into ploughshares, the better the mountainous Kashmir valley be a habitable place for its people of all beliefs living there for centuries. Let bygones be bygones. May peace return to Kashmir and prevail on earth.
The writer, a news consultant at The Financial Express, is available at ‘[email protected]’.