Monday, August 12, 2019

Indian Occupied Kashmir Under Total Extended Lockdown On Eid ul Azha

Indian military has kept Occupied Kashmir under extended and inhumane lockdown on the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha to prevent protests against New Delhi's reckless decision to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The lockdown is being enforced by over 700,000 Indian troops deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.  People are imprisoned in their homes for several days in a row. There is no Internet, telephone or television.  Delhi rules the region under Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the same law that was created and used by the British colonial power to try and crush Gandhi's Quit India movement. Thousands have died and more than 6,221 people received pellet gun injuries in the seven months following the July 2016 killing of Burhan Wani, according to the Jammu and Kashmir government as reported by The New Humanitarian.  Mr. Modi's actions are not only an affront to the people of Jammu and Kashmir but also in clear violation of India's international and bilateral obligations under United Nations charter and the Simla Accord.   It is time for all sane Indians and the rest of the world to wake up to the serious threats posed to peace in South Asia region and the wider world by Mr. Modi's fascist Hindutva project.

Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir:

Regardless of Article 370, the region of of Jammu and Kashmir remains a disputed territory whose status must be resolved according to the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 47 (1948) and 80 (1950). India can not unilaterally alter its status without agreement with Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir who are are parties to it.  Any unilateral action by either India or Pakistan on Kashmir also violates the Simla Agreement which requires bilateral resolution of the disputed region.

Mr. Modi's actions are not only an affront to the people of Jammu and Kashmir but also in clear violation of India's international and bilateral obligations under United Nations charter and the Simla Accord.

China, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, lays claim to Ladakh region. It has objected to India making it a union territory.

India is deploying 700,000 troops with extraordinary powers to detain, torture, blind, injure and kill any Kashmiri citizen with impunity under Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990. It is the most heavily militarized region in the world.

India rules Kashmir using Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the same law that was created and used by the British colonial power to try and crush Gandhi's Quit India movement.

After independence in 1947, the Indian government has made extensive use of the same colonial-era British law to crush legitimate demands for freedom by the peoples of Assam, Manipur, Kashmir and other regions. The Act has now been in force in Kashmir for 26 years.

Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's Pledge

Deaths and Injuries:

In the latest Kashmir uprising triggered by the July 8 2016 murder of young Kashmiri activist Burhan Wani by Indian military,  hundreds of protesters have been killed and thousands more injured in peaceful protests.

The extensive use pellet guns by Indian soldiers has blinded thousands of young men and women, even children, during the current wave of mass protests. More than 6,221 people received pellet gun injuries in the seven months following the July 2016 unrest, according to the Jammu and Kashmir government as reported by The New Humanitarian.

Prior to casualties this latest round of protests since Mr. Modi rose to power in New Delhi, there have tens of thousands of civilians killed and hundreds of thousands injured by Indian military in Kashmir. Thousands of bodies have been found in mass graves in Bandipora, Baramulla, and Kupwara districts in Kashmir, according to The Hindu.

Kashmir Mass Graves:

Dr. Angana Chatterji, a professor of cultural and social anthropology at California Centre for Integral Studies who uncovered the mass graves, reported as follows:  “Of the 2700 graves, 2,373 (87.9 percent) were unnamed. 154 graves contained two bodies each and 23 contained more than two cadavers. Within these 23 graves, the number of bodies ranged from 3 to 17."

Scholars, she said, refer to mass graves as resulting from Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, or Genocide. “If the intent of a mass grave is to execute death with impunity, with intent to kill more than one, and to forge an unremitting representation of death, then, to that extent, the graves in Bandipora, Baramulla, and Kupwara are part of a collective burial by India’s military and paramilitary, creating a landscape of ‘mass burial.’

Dr. Chatterji said post-death, the bodies of the victims were routinely handled by military and paramilitary personnel, including the local police. She said that the bodies were then brought to “secret graveyards” primarily by personnel of the State Police.

The International Peoples' Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice, an independent group headed by Dr. Chatterji, alleged that the violence and militarization in Kashmir, between 1989-2009, have resulted in over 70,000 deaths, including through extrajudicial or “fake encounter” executions, custodial brutality, and other means. “In the enduring conflict, 6, 67,000 military and paramilitary personnel continue to act with impunity to regulate movement, law, and order across Kashmir,” she added.

Indian University Student Protest:

Many enlightened Indians like the Jawaharlal Nehru University students see the brutality and futility of Indian military occupation of Kashmir. At protests earlier this year, many chanted slogans in favor of Azadi for Kashmiris.  "Geelani bole azaadi, Afzal bole azaadi, jo tum na doge azaadi, toh chheen ke lenge azadi! (Geelani and Afzal demanded freedom. If freedom is denied, we will snatch it!)".

New Generation in Revolt: 

During the 26 years of Kashmir under Armed Forces Special Powers Act, an entire new generation of Kashmiris has grown up. This generation, represented by tech-savvy youngsters like Burhan Wani, has seen nothing but repression and violence committed by the Indian military against their people. They are more determined than ever to defy and defeat the illegal and immoral military occupation of their land by India.

Domestic Opposition in India:

Mr. Karan Singh, a member of Indian Rajya Sabha (upper house) and the son of Kashmiri Maharaja Hari Singh who "acceded" Jammu and Kashmir to India in 1947, has said that Kashmir is "not an internal matter" of India. Mr. Singh has insisted on restoration of the dialogue process with Pakistan.

“J&K’s relationship with the rest of India is guided by Article 370 and the State Constitution that I signed into law. We must realize that from the very beginning, J&K, rightly or wrongly, has been given a special position. Now [after] that special position from the original three subjects, there have been a whole series of developments — some may call them positive developments of integration, others may say negative developments of reducing autonomy,” Mr. Singh was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

Strongest reactions to Mr. Modi's decision to annul article 370 have come from top leaders in Indian Punjab and Tamil Nadu. It has inspired fear that the central government in Delhi could take control of any state, strip it of its statehood and impose direct rule without the consent of its people.

Former union minister P. Chidambaram called Modi's action a "cardinal blunder" and a "fatal legal error"."What you are doing today sends a very wrong signal to every state of country", he added.

Tamil Nadu's DMK party leader MK Stalin took to Twitter to condemn Modi's decision. “This is a dark day in the history of Indian federalism. I urge the President of India to not precipitate the situation and not take any further steps in this regard until a democratically elected Government is formed there. The DMK stands with its Kashmiri brothers and sisters and will oppose any assault on federal structure,” he said in a series of tweets.

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh of Indian Punjab has denounced the revocation of 370 as “totally unconstitutional”. He tweeted that “the Constitution of India had been rewritten without following any legal provisions. Such a historic decision should not have been taken and pushed through in this arbitrary manner...This will set a bad precedent as it would mean that the Centre could reorganize any state in the country by simply imposing President’s rule.”


Indian Hindu Nationalist government of Prime Minister Modi's abrogation of Article 370 is in clear violation of the Indian constitution and international rules governing resolution of disputes between countries.  Indian military has kept Occupied Kashmir under extended and inhumane lockdown on the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha to prevent protests against New Delhi's reckless decision to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The lockdown is being enforced by over 700,000 Indian troops deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.  Thousands have died and more than 6,221 people received pellet gun injuries in the seven months following the July 2016 killing of Burhan Wani, according to the Jammu and Kashmir government as reported by The New Humanitarian  It has wider implications for India's federal, secular and democratic constitutional structure. It has sent alarm bells ringing in Indian states of Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland and Mizoram. It also threatens to escalate tensions between nuclear armed rivals India and Pakistan when the Kashmiri resistance turns violent and Modi falsely blames it on "cross-border terrorism". Nuclear confrontation in South Asia could result in deaths of billions of people across Asia, Africa, Europe and America. It is time for all sane Indians and the rest of the world to wake up to the serious threats posed to peace in South Asia region and the wider world by Mr. Modi's fascist Hindutva project.

Here's Human rights activist Ajit Sahi exposing Modi's atrocities in Kashmir at Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Sahi says 6 people a day being killed in extrajudicial killings.


Here's another video discussion:

Did India beat Pakistan in the 1965 war from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

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India-Pakistan Nuclear Arms Race

Kashmir: 700,000 Indian Soldiers vs 7 Million Kashmiris

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US and China Vying For Influence in Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia Vs India-Japan-US

Pakistan Rising or Failing: Reality vs Perception

Pakistan's Trillion Dollar Economy Among top 25


Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said...

" The Indian state has deployed many strategies to counter the 28-year-old Kashmir insurgency. One of them has been to call this insurgency everything other than what it actually is. When thousands of Kashmiris went for arms training to the part of Kashmir under Pakistani control, and lakhs rallied behind them on the streets of the Valley, New Delhi called this “cross-border terrorism”.

From about 10,000 to 15,000 militants at one point in time, militancy is now run by about 100 youths, mostly Kashmiris. But a resurgent street now complements this residual presence more strongly than ever. Currently, the state is confronted by a new wave of civilian protests coupled with a generation of youth so desperate to pick up arms that they snatch rifles from soldiers and policemen and run to the nearest forest where a small band of militants awaits them. The state and a sizeable section of the Indian media have been trying to explain away this phenomenon by obsessively referring to the so-called radicalisation of Kashmiri youth over the years."

Why does India consistently push the (false) narrative of radicalisation in Kashmir?
No theory has been more forcefully propagated than this one.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Article370: Has #India pushed #Kashmir to a point of no return? Autonomy had already been largely stripped away by a series of integrative measures imposed on the state by #India's central governments between the mid-1950s and the mid-1960s.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been under an unprecedented lockdown since last week after India revoked Article 370, a constitutional provision granting the region special status. Sumantra Bose, professor of international and comparative politics at the London School of Economics (LSE), explains why the decision is fraught with challenges.

At the end of October, Jammu and Kashmir will cease to be a state of India.

Last week, India's parliament approved by a large majority the decision by the federal government to split the state into two union territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Union territories have much less autonomy from the federal government than states do, and are essentially subject to Delhi's direct rule.

Almost 98% of the erstwhile state's population will be in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, comprising two regions - the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, which has about eight million people, and the Hindu-majority Jammu, which has about six million. The third region, the newly created union territory of Ladakh, is a high-altitude desert inhabited by 300,000 people, with almost equal numbers of Muslims and Buddhists.

Last week's events fulfilled a Hindu nationalist demand dating back to the early 1950s: the abrogation of Article 370.

Hindu nationalists have for seven decades vehemently denounced Article 370 as an example of "appeasement" of India's only Muslim-majority state. This objection to Article 370 was also congruent with the Hindu nationalists' ideological belief that India should be a unitary and centralised nation-state.

The "reorganisation" of Jammu and Kashmir also reflects a longstanding Hindu nationalist agenda.

In 2002 the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the core organisation of the Hindu nationalist movement, demanded the state be divided into three parts: a separate Hindu-majority Jammu state; the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley; plus union territory status for Ladakh.

Simultaneously the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an RSS affiliate, called for the state to be divided into four parts: a separate Jammu state and Ladakh as a union territory, plus the carving out of a sizeable area, also with union territory status, in the Kashmir valley to be inhabited solely by Kashmiri Pandits, the valley's small Hindu minority who were forced to leave nearly en masse when insurgency erupted there in 1990.

Under the VHP plan, what remained of the Kashmir Valley would then be left to the Muslim majority.

The claim made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that the autonomy enshrined by Article 370 is the cause of "separatism" in Jammu and Kashmir is disingenuous.


Many democracies have regions with ingrained secessionist impulses: the United Kingdom in Scotland, Canada in Quebec, Spain in Catalonia.

What the BJP government has done is akin to what Serbia's Milosevic regime did in 1989 by unilaterally revoking Kosovo's autonomy and imposing a police state on Kosovo's Albanian majority.

But the BJP government's approach to Kashmir goes beyond what Milosevic intended for the Kosovo Albanians: subjugation.
The Hindu nationalist government seems to ultimately aspire to assimilate rebellious Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir into a form of Indian national identity defined by its movement's ideology.

Riaz Haq said...

Politicians are slow to catch up with world opinion. However, verbally confronting Modi is a good start! In the meanwhile, it's growing into huge PR problem for India that has boarder implications for Indian economy and Modi's political future.

India is now facing its worst economic crisis since independence, according to Niti Ayog Chief.

Riaz Haq said...

#Kashmir narrative. According to western media outlets, #pulwamaattack was #Pakistan’s doing, not part of long history of J&K resistance. Since 911 US war on #terror, #India cast separatists as “terrorists” and framed #Kashmir struggle "terrorism" via @cjr

IN MID-FEBRUARY, A YOUNG MAN named Adil Ahmed Dar killed 44 Indian paramilitary officers in a suicide bombing in Kashmir’s Pulwama district. It was the deadliest attack against Indian soldiers in three decades. Dar was from a local village, but the militant group that claimed responsibility was based in Pakistan. Fears escalated of a confrontation between the two countries, both nuclear-armed. “Our neighbor will not be allowed to destabilize us,” India Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. A few days later, India retaliated by firing rockets into a remote part of Pakistan. The White House called for Pakistan to end its support of Kashmiri “terrorists.”

International news outlets, relying mainly on India and Pakistan analysts to explain Kashmir, distorted the reality on the ground. The New York Times, for one, noted that “an insurgency that was once stoked by Pakistan may have taken on a life of its own, as Kashmiris become more disenfranchised and angry at the central government in Delhi and its use of force.” According to the Times, as well as The Washington Post, the BBC, and other outlets, Kashmir is a “disputed territory”; the attack was Pakistan’s doing rather than part of a long history of regional uprisings. These reports—framed, as Kashmir stories have been for decades, in geopolitical terms, as a rivalry between India and Pakistan—failed to recognize the political struggle led by locals, who have rarely seen their home covered from their point of view. “The Kashmiri narrative doesn’t exist at all,” Feroz Rather, a Kashmiri fiction-writer, told me, “because the two states have held it hostage.”


Soon after the Pulwama attack, several members of the Kashmir diaspora sought to change that. Hafsa Kanjwal, an assistant professor of South Asian and Kashmir history at Lafayette College, got on the phone with about a dozen friends and colleagues: How could they amplify the idea that Kashmir wasn’t just in crisis when India-Pakistan tensions were high, that Kashmir has been in a state of war with India for years? Together, they formed Stand With Kashmir, a group that aims to center the Kashmiri perspective, in part by encouraging journalists to quote more local voices. “We are trying to push that there was already an indigenous uprising,” Kanjwal told me.


Kaul described Kashmir as a “mobilizing issue” for the Hindu Right. The hostility has been advanced by online trolls who attack anyone in the press trying to represent the voices of Kashmiris. Reporters and academics have observed that the Modi government and his party uses social-media trolls to target Kashmiris who might be seen as sympathetic to the independence movement. In 2016, Facebook accounts of several Kashmiri activists who lived outside of the region were suspended, or saw posts deleted, after Facebook received complaints that they violated community standards. Modi’s government has, in the past, requested that Twitter block hundreds of users for “objectionable content.” Since it was created earlier this month, Stand With Kashmir’s Instagram account has been suspended four times.

Over the past few weeks, Kanjwal, Kaul, and Trisal have been accused of erasing the history of Kashmiri Hindus or of being terrorist sympathizers, because of articles they’ve written, lectures they’ve given, even for tweets they’ve liked. Kanjwal described this month as a “pivotal moment,” both for Kashmir and the world’s awareness of the situation there. Writing for The Washington Post, she called India’s move the “beginnings of a settler colonial project in Kashmir,” comparing the dynamic to that of Israel and Palestine.

Riaz Haq said...

#India excludes nearly 2 million people from Assam citizen list. #India has passed law that grants citizenship to people who moved to India from #Bangladesh, #Pakistan and #Afghanistan as recently as 6 years ago - as long as they are not #Muslim @AJENews

Nearly two million people have been excluded from a list of citizens in India's northeastern Assam state, raising fears they could be rendered stateless.

The list, known as the National Register of Citizens (NRC), was published on Saturday after a years-long exercise aimed at identifying legal residents in the impoverished border state.

A total of 31.1 million people were included in the final list, leaving out 1.9 million people, according to a statement from the Assam government.

"The entire process of NRC update has been meticulously carried out in an objective and transparent manner. Adequate opportunity of being heard has been given to all persons at every stage of the process. The entire process is conducted as per statutory provisions and due procedure followed at every stage," it said.

The government said it carried out the mammoth exercise to detect and deport undocumented immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, but critics viewed the exercise as an attempt to deport millions of Muslims, who make up a third of the state's population.


The BJP governs Assam and critics say the NRC process reflects the BJP's goal to serve only people of the Hindu faith.

In January, India's lower house passed legislation that grants citizenship to people who moved to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan as recently as six years ago - as long as they are not Muslims.

Critics say the BJP was planning to pass new legislation to help Hindus who have been excluded from the NRC get Indian citizenship.

Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah, Modi's right-hand-man, has called for the ejection of "termites" and said before the BJP's thumping re-election victory in May that it would "run a countrywide campaign to send back the infiltrators".

Samujjal Bhattacharya from the All Assam Students' Union, a key driver of the NRC, said the register was necessary to protect Assam's indigenous "sons of the soil".

"We are not ready to live here like second-class citizens in our own motherland," he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Dear PM #Modi, #India's #Economy Needs Strong Policies & Not Headlines. #Manufacturing from growing more than 12% in the same time last year, to stalling at 0.6% now. #Car sales have crashed to 20-year lows. #Indian Central Bank: "our economy is ‘grim.’"

In a stadium in New Delhi, on August 29, prime minister Narendra Modi said, "Whether it is the boardroom or Bollywood, whoever is fit touches the sky. If the body is fit, the mind is hit."

The banality, of course, is par for anybody who has lent an ear to Mr Modi for nearly a decade. But cruel reality check hit India less than 24 hours later.

In separate missives, the official statistical department released data that said India’s economy was in dire straits: growth during the (first) April-June quarter, was 5%, the lowest since 2014-15 when Modi stormed to power.

At the time, he accused the previous, Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA-II) of pouring sand in the machinery of work, wealth and aspiration. Modi promised achhe din, or better days, ahead. That has proved to be a mirage.

Manufacturing, around 16% of India’s economy has collapsed: from growing more than 12% in the same time last year, to stalling at 0.6% now. Car sales have crashed to 20-year lows. Manufacturing responds to demand from either consumption or investment.

Consumption, now around 60% of the economy, has also fallen: sales of low-cost biscuits to innerwear are down. Incomes of around 70% of Indians who depend on farm and farm-related activity grew barely 2% in Q1, compared to 5.1% in the year-ago period.

The growth of construction, which employs much of India’s vast army of ‘unorganised’ workforce has nearly halved, from 9.6% to 5.7%.

Meanwhile, on Thursday India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), reported its own take on the economy. It says our economic scene is ‘grim.’ Stripped of jargon, this is what it says: Sometimes, economies go through happy or bad times, depending on peoples’ moods and how well the rest of the world is behaving.

Also Read : The road to $5 trillion economy with 5% growth rate?

Where Are Meaningful Economic Reforms?
This can be set right with shock reform, changes in tax or interest rates, buying and selling government debt, manipulating currency trades. Intended goal: to break out of a ‘cyclical’ downturn. Otherwise, economies can choke on bigger problems, for example a lack of functioning markets in farm produce which causes 40% of the stuff to rot, or the absence of banks in the hinterland, which forces people to borrow from moneylenders at cut-throat rates. Policy wonks classify these failures as structural hassles.

Every village idiot knows the way out of income slowdown is meaningful economic policy, not blocking communication lines in the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir or listing 2 million Assamese as ‘illegals’.

But the Modi government has reacted to the crisis with, first, blather: “The government is alive to the situation and has taken several measures on the slowdown of Indian economy. The slowdown in growth is due to endogenous and exogenous factors,” said Krishnamurthy Subramanian, our top sarkari economist.

Now, Subramanian isn’t the brightest lightbulb in the room, but his words must reflect something about the regime’s willingness to battle an economic crisis. So far, an Alfred E Neumanesque, “What, me worry?”

Riaz Haq said...

#Kashmir Is a Dress Rehearsal for #Hindu Nationalist Fantasies. The joy stems from the humiliation of Kashmir’s #Muslims for daring to be different and the thought that this is a warning signal to all of #India’s Muslims. #BJP #Modi #Hindutva #Fascism

Activists chanted in the center of Ranchi, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand and my parental city: “Kashmir azaad ho gaya aaj” (“Kashmir has been freed today”). The activists were celebrating the deathblow to Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy struck by India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Aug. 5. They were not the only ones; much of the Indian public shared their vulgar joy.

It’s not the assimilation of Kashmir—whose autonomy in practice has long disappeared, diluted over the decades by military and bureaucratic means from the center—that brings this excitement. It’s not even the thought of giving the finger to India’s old archenemy, Pakistan, for daring to court U.S. President Donald Trump over Kashmir. The joy stems from the humiliation of Kashmir’s Muslims for daring to be different and the thought that this is a warning signal to all of India’s Muslims that the Hindu body politic is resurgent and unstoppable.


The brutal swiftness of the move has shown that through the use of a narrative of national security, the BJP can break opposition parties and secure overwhelming parliamentary support, spur its grassroots workers, and keep the jingoist media on board.

The brutal swiftness of the move has shown that through the use of a narrative of national security, the BJP can break opposition parties and secure overwhelming parliamentary support, spur its grassroots workers, and keep the jingoist media on board.The widespread support for this act of constitutional vandalism shows that there is little hope of checking the BJP on other divisive domestic issues, such as the building of a grand temple to the Hindu god Ram on the site of the former Babri Mosque and taking away the existing rights of religious minorities to be governed by distinct personal laws on family matters including marriage and inheritance.

Riaz Haq said...

Arundhati Roy: "If #Indians believe it was ok for #India to militarily intervene in #EastPakistan (now #Bangladesh) in 1971, why is it not ok for #Pakistan to do the same in #Indian Occupied #Kashmir" #Modi #BJP | Upfront via @YouTube

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump's silence on #Kashmir sends a dangerous signal. #Modi and #Netanyahu willing to resort to incendiary and threatening language against the #Muslim. And both are abetted by the active support — or telling silence — of Trump. #Hindutva #BJP #India

Just when we thought we’d seen every trick in the illiberal democratic playbook, along comes a particularly unnerving new one: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to remove the long-standing autonomy of Kashmir, the northern region at the heart of India’s 70-year dispute with its western neighbor, Pakistan.

The region was awarded to India during the 1947 partition that divided the subcontinent into two new states, India and Pakistan. But according to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was to be granted autonomy over most governance issues, aside from defense and foreign affairs. Article 370 was largely honored until early this month, when Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, a member of the BJP party of Modi, followed up on the prime minister’s crackdown with a series of orders revoking the state’s autonomy.

Overnight, Kashmir’s historic status was lifted, and a communications blackout was imposed. Since then, thousands of Kashmiris have been arrested by Indian federal authorities.

There is, of course, a backstory to the Indian government’s actions. Muslims constitute nearly 70% of the population of the state and, therefore, represent a constant irritant and threat to the Hindu nationalists of Modi’s BJP, who aspire to achieve ethnic purity in India. Now that Modi has consolidated power with a landslide election in 2019, he is moving rapidly and boldly toward realizing the BJP vision of a Hindu India — one that bears little relation to the vision laid out in India’s Constitution, which guarantees justice, liberty, equality and fraternity to all.


Now, Modi has followed suit in Kashmir. While the world’s attention was fixed on a host of other vexing issues — mass shootings in America, Brexit chaos, and climate change, to mention a few — Indian troops swept in, ostensibly to ensure security and prosperity to the restive area. The world has barely uttered a peep.

Given the ineffective response, first with Crimea and now with Kashmr, it may only be a matter of time before another of the illiberal squad strikes. Netanyahu, currently immersed in a fateful election campaign, might decide, say, to annex the West Bank.

The parallels between the Israeli-Palestinian situation and that of India and Kashmir are striking. Both are byproducts of attempted partitions after British imperial rule. Both Kashmir and the West Bank contain populations deemed hostile and undesirable by the ethnic purists in their respective countries. Both Modi and Netanyahu have shown themselves to be willing to resort to incendiary and threatening language against the Muslim populations in their midst. And both are abetted by the active support — or telling silence — of Trump.

What would Trump do if Netanyahu went ahead with his periodic pledge to annex the West Bank and its nearly 3 million Palestinians? Would he and his fellow illiberals sit back and crow that this is the new way of the world?

Perhaps so, and that is why the rest of us must rise up in protest each time illiberal leaders attempt to expand their powers in illegal and undemocratic ways. We must support civil society organizations that fight for the equality of their countries’ citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity. And we must insist that democratic countries honor the noble principles enshrined in their constitutions and other founding documents, for they are the best antidote to the xenophobia, racism and discrimination of today’s illiberalism.

David N. Myers teaches Jewish history at UCLA, where he directs the Luskin Center for History and Policy. He is also president of the board of the New Israel Fund.

Riaz Haq said...

A moment of reckoning for #Indian #Americans. A dominant section of #Hindu Americans linked to #Hindutva politics are attacking #Sanders2020 in support of #Trump. But #SiliconValley's Ro Khanna and Pramila Jayapal have denounced Hindutva. #Kashmir #Modi

After Indian American engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed by a white nationalist in Kansas in February 2017, it took several weeks before the new President, Donald Trump, condemned it, only obliquely still, upsetting the community. Democrat Bernie Sanders instantly came out in support of the family and the community, and said the President’s rhetoric on immigration led to the murder.

As campaign for the 2020 presidential election picks up, a dominant section of the Indian Americans linked to Hindutva politics is gunning for Mr. Sanders and aligning with the nationalist politics of Mr. Trump, for their respective positions on Kashmir. This rapidly evolving realignment will polarise the community and could alter the basis of India-U.S. ties.

Indian Americans have largely been supporters of the Democratic Party to which all five U.S. lawmakers of Indian origin also belong. Democrats have been more supportive of immigration and religious and cultural rights of the minorities. The simultaneous rise of nationalism in India and America, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Trump, had put the community in a paradoxical situation, as they were largely jubilant about Hindutva in India while being at the receiving end of nationalism in their adopted land.

The Kashmir factor
Kuchibotla himself was an ardent fan of Mr. Modi’s sweeping Hindutva politics as his wife related after this murder. Not only Mr. Sanders, but Democrats such as Congressman from Silicon Valley Ro Khanna, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and several other friends of India and Indian Americans have denounced Hindutva politics in the wake of the prolonged lockdown of Jammu and Kashmir following the unilateral end to its autonomy.

“India’s behaviour is unacceptable,” said Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Khanna, grandson of a freedom fighter and a member of the first Parliament of India, said, “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians.”

Influential Hindutva voices in America have turned against these Democrats, and accused them of pro-Pakistan sympathies and being in the spell of anti-India, Muslim advisers. Mr. Trump does not sweat over India’s Kashmir policy barring its impact on his own plans for an American military withdrawal from Afghanistan. His tirade against immigrants, particularly the Indian techies notwithstanding, the Hindutva sections had found his bluster against Muslims appealing. Kashmir has brought them closer to Mr. Trump and their journey to his camp could be completed ahead of the 2020 Presidential election. There are many ironies in this, but this might end one central paradox of Hindutva-leaning Indian American politics that has been sympathetic to religious majoritarianism and cultural supremacism in India while demanding religious and cultural rights in America.

Riaz Haq said...

#PallavBagla #India Loses Contact With #Chandrayaan2 #Vikram Moon Lander During Its Descent. “This is all about national (#Hindutva) pride,’’ said Pallava Bagla, co-author of a book about #Indian space exploration and a dedicated space journalist #Modi

India’s attempt to land a robotic spacecraft near the moon’s South Pole on Saturday appeared to end in failure.

The initial parts of the descent went smoothly. But less than two miles above the surface, the trajectory diverged from the planned path. The mission control room fell silent as communications from the lander were lost. A member of the staff was seen patting the back of K. Sivan, the director of India’s space program.

He later announced that the spacecraft was operating as expected until an altitude of 2.1 kilometers, or 1.3 miles. “The data is being analyzed,” he said.

The partial failure of the Chandrayaan-2 mission — an orbiter remains in operation — would delay the country’s bid to join an elite club of nations that have landed in one piece on the moon’s surface.


An Israeli nonprofit sent a small robotic spacecraft named Beresheet to the moon, but its landing attempt in April went awry in a manner similar to Chandrayaan-2. The initial descent went as planned, but then communications were lost near the surface. It was later discovered that a command to shut off the engine was incorrectly sent.

Chandrayaan-2 launched in July, taking a long, fuel-efficient path to the moon. Earlier this week, the 3,200-pound lander, named Vikram after Vikram A. Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space program, separated from the orbiter and maneuvered toward the moon’s surface.

Fifteen minutes before the planned landing, the Vikram lander was traveling at more than 2,000 miles per hour at an altitude of about 20 miles. Four of its engines fired to quickly slow it down as it headed toward its landing site on a high, flat plain near the South Pole. Later in the landing process, it appeared that Vikram was descending too fast and then data from the spacecraft ended.

The moon is littered with the remains of spacecraft that have tried and failed to land in one piece. Two American craft, from the robotic Surveyor series that helped blaze the trail for Apollo, crashed in the 1960s. Several probes from the Soviet Luna program also collided with the moon’s surface.

Applause swept through viewing parties in Bangalore for most of the lander’s descent. At the command center, scientists rose to their feet as they tracked the mission’s progress. When communication was abruptly lost, Sathya Narayanan, 21, an educator with Astroport, a group in Bangalore that spreads awareness about astronomy, said his heart dropped.

“At this point, it is a partial failure,” he said. “We will push until the end.”

While the mission may briefly soften the muscular nationalism espoused by Mr. Modi, whose government is already facing challenges from job losses and international criticism of his recent moves in the disputed territory of Kashmir, the prime minister tried to reframe Saturday’s landing attempt as an opportunity for improvement in brief remarks after contact was lost.

Hours later and back at the space center in Bangalore, the prime minister greeted the scientists, engineers and staff of the space agency after delivering a motivational speech that was broadcast nationally in India. He stopped short of stating explicitly that the lander had failed.

“We came very close, but we will need to cover more ground in the times to come,” he said.

Later in his address, Mr. Modi added, “As important as the final result is the journey and the effort. I can proudly say that the effort was worth it and so was the journey.”

Space has become a popular topic in India.

Riaz Haq said...

Selective #Hindutva narrative of #JammuAndKashmir about #KashmiriPandits ignores that #Jammu had #Muslim majority in 1947. Within weeks, riots and mass killings and forced migration of #Muslims turned it into a #Hindu-majority area
Opinion via @htTweets

by Karan Thapar

"“Hindus and Sikhs of the Jammu area … apparently with at least the tacit consent of state authorities, have driven many thousands of their Muslim neighbours from their homes”. Citing Mahatma Gandhi, he asserts “some two hundred thousand are … not accounted for”. Christopher Snedden, in Kashmir: The Unwritten History, estimates between 70,000 and 237,000 Muslims were killed. Arjun Appaduri and Arien Mack in India’s World believe 200,000 could have been killed and a further 500,000 displaced. Last year, the columnist Swaminathan Aiyar wrote: “In sheer scale this far exceeded the ethnic cleansing of Pandits five decades later”. So why is a horror of this scale not remembered? Habibullah, who’s written about it in My Kashmir: The Dying of the Light, suggests two reasons. First, it occurred when communal riots and brutal massacres were happening right across northern India. In that bigger outrage, this smaller tragedy seems to have been forgotten. His second reason is intriguing. Sheikh Abdullah, then the undisputed leader of the Kashmir Valley, who one would have expected to draw attention to this massacre, deliberately chose to ignore it because the Muslims of Jammu did not support his National Conference, but leaned towards Jinnah’s Muslim League. The Sheikh’s politics seems to have silenced his conscience.""

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Press Attache: #India should allow #international #HumanRights observers and #media into (#Indian Occupied) #Kashmir so that the whole world can learn from its grand experiment of delivering #development at gunpoint. #Modi #Hindutva #BJP

In “India Is Making Kashmir Stronger” (Op-Ed, Sept. 20), Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s ambassador to the United States, failed to answer the fundamental question that is bothering all right-thinking people across the globe: Why has India laid siege to Kashmir and cut off eight million Kashmiris from the rest of the world for the last seven weeks?

Instead, he resorted to using India’s familiar playbook of pointing the finger at Pakistan, and tarring the Kashmiris’ indigenous and legitimate struggle for self-determination with the brush of “terrorism.”

Rather than attacking Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan, he should have explained what this “prosperity” is that India feels that it can deliver to the Kashmiris only at the pointed end of bayonets. How does India plan to foster “hope for development” through mass incarceration, torture and cowardly night raids into homes to pick up children?

India appears to be testing a model of economic development on the Kashmiri people, who want none of it, if the deserted marketplaces and more than 700 protests in Kashmir since Aug. 5 are any indication.

Perhaps India should allow international human rights observers and media into Kashmir so that the whole world can learn from its grand experiment of delivering development at gunpoint.

Abid Saeed

Riaz Haq said...

#Kashmir: Goodbye, pro-#India politics. Words like “#Gaza” and “settler #occupation” are entering the public discourse. Low-scale militancy appears to be of no use. #Pakistan is seen as being weak and unable to take on India. | Newslaundry via @newslaundry

“They have sealed our fate,” my father said as he heard news of the abrogation of Article 370. “The politics of Kashmir has ended forever, now there is only the politics of Delhi.” This was the first reaction in my home to India’s dismantling of Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy and it expressed the absolute political disempowerment of our people. My mother, an apolitical commoner, heard my father speak and remarked, “Just our bad luck.”

Both their faces were gloomy, overwhelmed by sadness as the move brought on a harsh security lockdown and communications blackout, which has now lasted over 50 days.

I, meanwhile, was trying to comprehend all that was being televised from the Parliament. It soon became clear that the sovereignty of the people of Kashmir had been stolen.

Sovereignty, after all, was what undergird Kashmir’s reluctant accession to the Indian Union. As Jammu and Kashmir’s sovereign ruler, Hari Singh, had agreed to delegate certain powers over Kashmir to Delhi, and not vice versa. So, it was India that enjoyed special status in Kashmir, not the other way round. Article 370 testified to this: the constitutional provision was temporary not because India was authorised to discard it someday, but because Jammu and Kashmir was still an undecided matter at the United Nations -- and the people of Kashmir were yet to exercise their right to permanently accede to India or Pakistan.


Today, the average Kashmiri feels threatened, and not only because of torture, humiliation and economic breakdown. They are reluctant to come out of their homes. The armed forces are looking angrier than ever. People in mainland India are openly lusting after Kashmiri women. Some state governments are longing for their land. Corporates are eyeing their small businesses. Words like “Gaza” and “settler occupation” are entering the public discourse. Low-scale militancy appears to be of no use. Pakistan is seen as being weak and unable to take on India. The people are in a bind: India does not own them, Pakistan does not “liberate” them. Pro-India politics is dead. The Hurriyat has the sentiment, but no solution. People fear Ram Madhav’s punishment. They worry about demographic change. Men see their future in jail. Women are numbed by speeches of Indian leaders. Constitutional guarantees do not exist. The narrative of development does not appease them. The world is not interested in the human cost of the security lockdown. So, where does the common Kashmiri go from here?

I spent 40 days under the lockdown and all I saw it engender was hopelessness. And that bodes ill for Kashmir, and India.

Rameez Bhat is a political columnist from Kashmir.

Riaz Haq said...

#Gandhi: "The real sovereign of the State are the people of the State. If the ruler is not the servant of the people then he is not the ruler..The people of #Kashmir should be asked whether they want to join #Pakistan or #India. Let them do as they want."

The Wire brings you a short excerpt from Gandhi’s prayer discourse of July 29, 1947, from The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume 88, as published online by the Gandhi Heritage Portal.

Kashmir has a Maharaja and also the subjects of the Maharaja. I am not going to suggest to the Maharaja to accede to India and not to Pakistan. This is not my intention. The real sovereign of the State are the people of the State. If the ruler is not the servant of the people then he is not the ruler. This is my belief and that is why I became a rebel because the British claimed to be the rulers of India and I refused to recognise them as rulers. Now they are about to leave India…

So long the Maharaja of Kashmir could do as he liked under the protection of the Viceroy. Now the power belongs to the people…In Kashmir shawl-making, embroidery, etc., are well-developed handicrafts. The charkha has also done good work there. The poor people of Kashmir know me.

The people of Kashmir should be asked whether they want to join Pakistan or India. Let them do as they want. The ruler is nothing. The people are everything. The ruler will be dead one of these days but the people will remain.

Riaz Haq said...

The forgotten massacre that ignited the #Kashmir dispute. In November 1947, thousands of #Muslims were killed in #Jammu by paramilitaries led by the army of Dogra ruler Hari Singh.@AJENews

Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir - The family of Israr Ahmad Khan lived through the massacre of Jammu in what was then part of the princely state of Kashmir. He recalls that many of his relatives were killed during the violence that followed months after British rule over Indian sub-continent ended.

"My father was young then and other immediate family members were in Kashmir at that time. But many of my relatives were brutally killed," the 63-year-old told Al Jazeera.

"To be honest that was a mad period. There was no humanity shown at that time," Khan, who retired as senior police officer, said at his home in Jammu.

In November 1947, thousands of Muslims were massacred in Jammu region by mobs and paramilitaries led by the army of Dogra ruler Hari Singh.

The exact number of casualties in the killings that continued for two months is not known but estimates range from 20,000 to 237,000 and nearly half million forced into displacement across the border into the newly created nation of Pakistan and its administered part of Kashmir.

Khan said many of his relatives had escaped to Pakistan, where they continue to live. "The incident divided families. There were a lot of Muslims in Jammu but now you won't find many," he said.

The killings triggered a series of events, including a war between two newly independent nations of India and Pakistan, which gave birth to Kashmir dispute.

The killings took place when millions of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs were crossing the border from the one side to the other, as part of British-designed plan to partition the subcontinent into India and Pakistan.

"The immediate impact (of partition) was in Jammu. The Muslim subjects from different parts of Jammu province were forcibly displaced by the Dogra Army in a programme of expulsion and murder carried out over three weeks between October-November 1947," Idrees Kanth, a fellow at International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, who researched the 1940s history of Kashmir, told Al Jazeera.

In mid-October, the Dogra Army troops began expelling Muslim villagers from Jammu province. The refugees were sent on foot toward West Punjab (later to form part of Pakistan), where most were accommodated in refugee camps in the districts of Sialkot, Jhelum, Gujrat and Rawalpindi.

On November 5, Kanth said, the Dogra Army soldiers began another organised evacuation of the Muslims but "instead of taking them to Sialkot, as they had been promised, the trucks drove them to forest hills of Rajouri districts of Jammu, where they were executed".

Kanth added that there may have been a systematic attempt by the dying Dogra regime to ensure that records of the incident are destroyed and made it a lesser known massacre of the partition.

"I guess as happens with certain events, they got lost to history and resurface at a later time and in that sense they sort of rewrite our memory of the past. I would say the particular incident was sort of lost on us to a great extent until the post 1990s when the event was resurrected as yet another example of Dogra regime's communal politics," Kanth said.

Riaz Haq said...

Narendra Modi’s India
The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.
By Dexter Filkins

When (Rana) Ayyub and the photographer were detained at the hospital in Srinagar, I found a hiding place across the street, screened by a wall and a fruit vender; Ayyub would have faced serious repercussions if she was found to have snuck in a foreigner. After about an hour, they emerged. Ayyub said that an intelligence officer had questioned them intently, then released them with an admonition: “Don’t come back.”

The next morning, we drove to the village of Parigam, near the site of the suicide attack that prompted Modi’s air strikes against Pakistan. We’d heard that Indian security forces had swept through the town and detained several men. The insurgency has broad support in the villages outside the capital, and the road to Parigam was marked by the sandbags and razor wire of Indian Army checkpoints. For most of the way, the roads were otherwise deserted.

In the village, Ayyub stopped the car to chat with locals. Within a few minutes, she’d figured out whom we should talk to first: Shabbir Ahmed, the proprietor of a local bakery. We found him sitting cross-legged on his porch, shelling almonds into a huge pile. In interviews, Ayyub slows down from her usual debate-team pace; she took a spot on the porch as if she had dropped by for a visit. Ahmed, who is fifty-five, told her that, during the sweeps, an armored vehicle rumbled up to his home just past midnight one night. A dozen soldiers from the Rashtriya Rifles, an élite counter-insurgency unit of the Indian Army, rushed out and began smashing his windows. When Ahmed and his two sons came outside, he said, the soldiers hauled the young men into the street and began beating them. “I was screaming for help, but nobody came out,” Ahmed said. “Everyone was too afraid.”

Ahmed’s sons joined us on the porch. One of them, Muzaffar, said that the soldiers had been enraged by young people who throw rocks at their patrols. They dragged Muzaffar down the street toward a mosque. “Throw stones at the mosque like you throw stones at us,” one of the soldiers commanded him.

Muzaffar said that he and his brother, Ali, were taken to a local base, where the soldiers shackled them to chairs and beat them with bamboo rods. “They kept asking me, ‘Do you know any stone throwers?’—and I kept saying I don’t know any, but they kept beating me,” he said. When Muzaffar fainted, he said, a soldier attached electrodes to his legs and stomach and jolted him with an electrical current. Muzaffar rolled up his pants to reveal patches of burned skin on the back of his leg. It went on like that for some time, he said: he would pass out, and when he regained consciousness the beating started again. “My body was going into spasms,” he said, and began to cry.

After Muzaffar and Ali were released, their father took them to the local hospital. “They have broken my bones,” Muzaffar said. “I can no longer prostrate myself before God.”

It was impossible to verify the brothers’ tale, but, as with many accounts that Ayyub and I heard in the valley, the anguish was persuasive. “I am a slightly more civilized version of these people,” Ayyub told me. “I see what’s happening—with the propaganda, with the lies, what the government is doing to people. Their issues are way more extensive—their lives. But I have everything in common with these people. I feel their pain.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Kashmir #HumanRights film "No Fathers in Kashmir" divides #UK’s #Indian and #Pakistani communities. The film is about #British-#Kashmiri teenage girl whose father is killed after being taken away by #Indian soldiers for interrogation. #Modi #Article370

Ahvin Kumar, director of No Fathers in Kashmir, says it shows the plight of families and people in Britain must not ignore their suffering

A controversial film highlighting “disappearances” in Kashmir that premieres in Britain this week has led to fears of heightened tension between the country’s Indian and Pakistani communities.

No Fathers in Kashmir tells the story of a British-Kashmiri teenage girl who travels to the Indian Himalayan state to search for her father, only to discover that he “disappeared” and was then killed after being taken away by Indian soldiers for interrogation.

The film is set against the backdrop of the continuing turmoil in Indian-administered Kashmir and vividly addresses the contentious issue of human rights violations that are alleged to have been committed by security forces as they battle to suppress a popular insurgency that has raged for the past 30 years.

According to human rights campaigners, an estimated 8,000 people have “disappeared” during this time.

The film, partly funded by a group of British Kashmiris, opens in Bradford followed by screenings in London and other cities where there is a substantial South Asian population.

Last year, Kashmir exploded into renewed turmoil after the Indian government revoked its special status and placed it in lockdown. Known as Article 370, the move stripped away the autonomy Kashmir had been granted in exchange for joining the Indian union after independence in 1947. Another part of the state remained within Pakistan. Both countries claim it as their own.

The move prompted anger in Britain and protests outside the Indian High Commission, which resulted in violence, vandalism and several arrests. Demonstrations were also held in other cities, including Birmingham and Manchester.

Of the 1.1 million British Pakistanis, more than one million originate from the part of Kashmir governed by Pakistan. While there are no official figures for the number of Indian Kashmiris in Britain, the overall British Indian community numbers almost 1.4 million people, and support for India’s position is strong among some sections of that community.

Sabir Gull, a senior member of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, which was founded in Birmingham in 1977 and campaigns for the state’s independence, said: “We don’t want this film to create more problems but there’s no getting away from the fact that it definitely could – but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be shown.

“Kashmir is a sensitive matter for both British Indian and Pakistani communities. Drawing attention to human rights violations through film or any other medium is giving the oppressed a voice. Disappearances and the other crimes that have been committed against the Kashmiri people will not go away if we bury our heads in the sand. At the end of the day, we are all British but we can’t ignore what’s going on.”

Kuldeep Shekhawat, head of the UK branch of the Overseas Friends of the BJP, which supports India’s governing party and aims to increase its popularity among British Indians, said: “This film does not serve any purpose. It will just inflame hostility and tension. Things were difficult enough last year between the two communities but have calmed down a lot since then. If Kashmir is an issue then it is between India and Pakistan. We are all British here, so why should we be getting so obsessed with Kashmir?

Riaz Haq said...

#India's External Affairs Minister: '#China shouldn't allow #Pakistan to dictate its #India policy'. Jaishankar hosted #Chinese FM in #Delhi 2 days after #Modi gov't strongly criticized Wang's statement in support of #Kashmiris' rights at #OICInPakistan.

China should not allow its policy towards India be influenced by Pakistan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tacitly conveyed to his counterpart in the communist country's government, Wang Yi, on Friday.

“I referred to it. I explained to him why we found that statement objectionable,” the External Affairs Minister said after his meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister. “There was a larger context as well. You know, I conveyed that we hoped that China would follow an independent policy in respect of India, and not allow its policies to be influenced by other countries and other relationships.” Wang had on Wednesday attended a meeting of the OIC hosted by the Government of Pakistan. He had made a statement endorsing the OIC's support for the movement for “right to self-determination” in Jammu and Kashmir.


China had in 2019 joined its “iron-brother” Pakistan to launch a campaign against India at the United Nations and other international forums, opposing the move made by the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and split the state into two union territories.

Riaz Haq said...

Disturbing Reality of #Modi’s #India: #Indian Army has killed tens of thousands of #Kashmiri #Muslims, disappeared thousands, and there's extremely high incidence of rape used as a “counterinsurgency tactic” to “create a climate of fear.” @NewYorker

America is a champion of human rights and humanity, so it was important to go there—because I was fully aware, and I’m telling it for the first time on record, that if I started screening the film in India, it would instantly become political. And I wanted to focus on humanity. So we travelled, me and my wife, for almost two months in the U.S. There was a congressional reception at the Capitol. We were invited to all these places. I made a lot of speeches. All my speeches were about humanity and oneness.

Who hosted the congressional reception?

Raja Krishnamoorthi [a Democratic congressman from Illinois] came and gave a speech. Mark Warner, who is a co-chair of the India Caucus, and a Democratic senator, was also involved in that. Then thirty-six organizations of different ethnicities came together and said that we will do the logistics, and my production house did the funding. Thirty-six organizations, including Jewish associations, Christian organizations, Muslims from Syria, Muslims from Afghanistan—all these people came together and we showed it to people in jam-packed houses. [A spokesman for Krishnamoorthi said that the congressman hadn’t seen “The Kashmir Files” or praised it, adding that Krishnamoorthi “remains deeply concerned by the recent increase in communal tensions in India, including the anti-Muslim hate speech and violence which have been inspired by the film.” Warner’s spokeswoman said that he hadn’t seen the movie, either, and that he understood the event, which he did not attend, to have been a celebration of the contributions made by the Indian American Kashmiri-Pandit community.

Then these people started raising funds and they put up a big billboard in Times Square for India’s Republic Day, which is the 26th of January. It created a lot of word of mouth and a euphoria on social media, because all the Indian diaspora in the U.S.—they started writing to their friends, family, parents in India. This film had zero marketing budget, zero—not even one penny was spent on marketing. And then all these people started promoting the film. The studio releasing it [in India] had no faith in the film, so they released it on four hundred screens, which became six hundred screens. And then the next day, on public demand, suddenly it became one thousand, two thousand screens. [Zee Studios, which distributed the film, said that it did invest in marketing for the movie, and that the rollout had been “a pre-decided business strategy” made in agreement with Agnihotri.]

It became part of mainstream discourse. Then obviously the politicians got involved in this because it’s their voters, their constituencies, talking. And then Prime Minister Modi made a comment. [Modi said, in part: “Instead of assessing the film on the basis of facts, a campaign is on to discredit it. The entire ecosystem opposes anyone who dares to show the truth. He tried to depict what he thought was the truth. But there is reluctance to understand or accept the truth.”] And, after the Prime Minister said that, then obviously the opposition jumped into it, and you know how it happened—then it’s like it’s not my film anymore. It’s owned by the people.

Riaz Haq said...

Disturbing Reality of #Modi’s #India: #Indian Army has killed tens of thousands of #Kashmiri #Muslims, disappeared thousands, and there's extremely high incidence of rape used as a “counterinsurgency tactic” to “create a climate of fear.” @NewYorker

And it was eventually declared that people could go see it tax free in a number of states, right?

Yeah. In India, there’s a tradition of making films tax free, those which are found useful to the society. So nothing unusual about it.

When you met with Modi and Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, what did they tell you about the film?

When you meet these kinds of people, they praise you for your effort. [Adityanath, who once formed a vigilante group to target Muslims, has referred to Muslims as a “crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped.”] It was impossible to make a film about the Kashmiri Hindu genocide. The reason was terrorism; everybody was scared. But then we decided to do it. People came to my office and hit my manager. I was heckled. So now the government of India has given me security. And this is exactly why people do not make movies on the Kashmiri Hindu genocide, because it is assumed that, if Hindus are in the majority in India, then they’re powerful everywhere, but this is wrong. When “Schindler’s List” was made, the whole world appreciated it and people said, “Yes, you brought the truth out.” But imagine making “Schindler’s List” when the Nazis were ruling. Imagine making it when Hitler was ruling. Now terrorism is ruling.

Sorry, just to clarify—you’re saying that making “Schindler’s List” when Hitler was ruling is akin to what’s happening now, because terrorists rule in India today?

Oh, of course. I don’t think there is any human being who’s going to appreciate the terrorist activities. Our film is very clearly about what happens when terrorism seeps in and when humanity is absent. And, therefore, the impact of the movie as desired by me as a filmmaker is exactly what is happening. People are crying, they’re hugging each other, they’re saying, “We are sorry.” And the whole entire India is coming together. And that’s why there is so much euphoria.

Do terrorists have that much power in modern-day India?

Of course. Yes. They are killing people every day. In Kashmir, there is a death threat on my name. Fatwa, it is called, f-a-t-w-a, which is an Islamic order to kill somebody. [A fatwa is a legal decree or opinion given by a jurist about a point of Islamic law. Instances in which they call for someone’s death are rare.] And so there’s a fatwa on my name. I cannot go there freely. Obviously, terrorists are having a good day there.

Is that changing? A character in the movie says that India finally has a Prime Minister who is feared rather than loved. Do you think that the Modi government has ushered in a new kind of India?

A lot has changed. Conversation was not acceptable, and for the first time the entire country has woken up to this truth. All the generation born after 1990 has no idea what happened over there.

But has Modi ushered in a new India?

The current government has abrogated Article 370.

In 2019.

Yeah, so he abrogated that. Once he abrogated that, suddenly the hope has come back. There was no hope before that. It means that, today, if anybody else from India wants to settle over there, he can. If the Kashmiri Hindus want to go back, they can. [Since 2019, New Delhi has implemented de-facto martial law and a communications blackout in Kashmir. More recently, an increase in violence against Hindus in the region has caused some returnees to flee again.]

What about the Muslims in Kashmir, where the Indian Army, which occupies Kashmir, is very brutal with the people—subjecting them to violence and rape. What do you think about that?

Riaz Haq said...

In Khargone, in Madhya Pradesh?

This is very selective. But the thing is, this is the most viewed film ever, which means that the majority has no problems with the film, and the people who are writing these kinds of things are the people who have not seen the film themselves. So this is a very political opinion. The film has no problem. It has healed seven hundred thousand Kashmiri Hindu families. You saw the blood-soaked rice that the woman eats? Her daughter wrote a letter to us, saying that the family was wrecked, and, for the first time in thirty-two years, this film has healed their family. Similarly, in the end, you have seen the woman who was cut on a saw machine. Her family wrote to us saying that this is the first time, after thirty-two years, they’re feeling that somebody is listening to them, and they feel that justice is being done and their family is healing.

One thing I hear you say is that “facts are not facts.” What do you mean by that?

Oh, it was in the context of a person who was interviewing me. It was edited. He edited it to his advantage to take the context out. The complete sentence was “Facts are not facts if they’re coming from people like you.” This was the complete sentence.

You tweeted that, too: “Facts are not facts.”

I always tweet “facts are not facts” if they’re coming from communists or Naxalites.

I want to ask this again. We have seen viral videos on social media with people yelling derogatory things about Muslims in movie theatres where your movie is playing. You’re not at all concerned about that?

How many videos like that were there?

I don’t know the exact number.

Yeah. That’s the problem. Everybody’s talking about it, but nobody knows, so it is based on fake news. There was only one person, one crazy guy who shouted something. O.K., that was one in 1.3 billion people. But there are thousands and thousands of viral videos where Kashmiri Pandit women are hugging me and crying on my shoulders.

That one video—it was a fabricated thing. It was made only to create noise against the film. But, otherwise, there is not one case. There is not even one police complaint. You won’t find even one person in the entire country of 1.3 billion people who has seen or heard somebody say something like that, except for a bunch of media people who have been creating this fake news.

But listen. I want to talk to you human-to-human. You asked me a question that is not based on something which you know for sure. Similarly now, if I fall into the trap and I answer that to defend it, then others will ask. So everybody from foreign media has been asking me this question, but none of them have seen any video. None of them know of any case like that.

I have seen these videos on social media. I can link to them in the article. Would that be helpful if I link to the videos?

Are we done?

Would it be helpful if I linked to the videos in the article?

You can, undoubtedly. But you have to prove that it’s not fabricated, that it’s not the opposition that has sent it, some terror groups that have sent some person to create this bad thing. Because, if it was really genuine, then there would’ve been a police case or something. There is nothing, no records.

Some of these videos have actually been shared approvingly by people within the B.J.P.

I don’t know. I’m not answerable for anyone. I can answer only for my own film. We have made an honest film. Not even one person in the entire universe has been able to point that one line of dialogue, one shot, any one scene in the film is wrong. So my theme is based on truth. If truth hurts people, offends people, I don’t care about it. ♦

Riaz Haq said...

China too reacted adversely to the above Indian move, accusing India of continuing to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally amending its domestic laws and urging it to be cautious in its words and deeds on the border issue. Subsequently, it repeatedly called for peaceful resolution of “Kashmir dispute” left over from colonial history, based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements, thus echoing Pakistan’s position on the subject.  Pakistan’s questioning of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India and its policy of cross-border terrorism did not stem from the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under the Indian constitution and have outlasted its abrogation. The Pakistani dimension of India’s Kashmir problem and the Pakistani threat to the security of this sensitive region are still very much alive. China’s reaction to the Indian move and its subsequent aggressive actions in eastern Ladakh have added to that threat. Keen to ensure the safety and security of its strategic CPEC investment, China could in the normal course be expected to encourage a solution based on freezing the existing  territorial reality between India and Pakistan in J&K. However, with the downturn of its own relationship with India, it may be tempted to sustain and bolster Pakistan’s hostility. Equally, India’s strategic planners may be tempted not to give any comfort to China on the CPEC until a degree of stability is restored to the India-China equation, disturbed seriously by China’s aggressive behaviour in eastern Ladakh. Overall, the external environment for the security and stability of Jammu and Kashmir has worsened. This makes it all the more important for India to address the internal dimension of its Kashmir conundrum. India’s challenge is to ensure peace in J&K, not only in the immediate, but durable peace, for the failure to do so would continue to invite external meddling.

Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (pp. 181-182). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition. 

Riaz Haq said...

India, Israel, and Geopolitical Imaginaries of Cooperation and Oppression
Author: Nitasha Kaul
Date Published: June 17, 2022

Portrayals of India and Israel as strategic partners or allies in the oppression of Kashmiris and Palestinians often suggest that India emulates Israel in how it manages oppression. Yet, the designation of Israel as a unique source of learning for oppression limits the recognition of the indigenous Indian nature of the long-standing ideological and technological infrastructures of occupation in Kashmir. We must eschew simplistic geopolitical imaginaries of cooperation and oppression and pay greater attention to the similarities as well as the differences across contexts.

The contemporary global moment requires us to be alert to the multiple trajectories of repression. Tactics and technologies circulate amongst and between democracies and authoritarian regimes. Russian and Chinese models of digital authoritarianism have been regionally exported, and there has been Indian and Chinese mutual learning on modalities of repression. These circulations occur along supra- and intra-statal pathways, and via traffic in both economically profitable weapons and ideologies. To attend to these trajectories, we must carefully examine the preferred narratives adopted by the states as well as those offered by resistance and solidarity movements across national boundaries. In this context, the relationship between India and Israel is notable for how the two countries are celebrated as friendly partners for strategic cooperation, or alternatively, critiqued as allies for the parallel oppressions of Kashmiris and Palestinians.

The ties between India and Israel present a systematic divergence between official accounts of these relations and the perspectives of critical resistance scholarship on Palestine and Kashmir. The official story in the media unsurprisingly focuses on the mutually fertile and growing cooperation between India and Israel as strategic partners at every level of investment from infrastructure, innovation, and defense to people-to-people interaction. The bilateral trade between the two countries has been steadily increasing, and apart from growth in collaborative ventures, there is the imminent possibility of the conclusion of longstanding negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries. Then, there is the resonance at the level of political leadership. The meeting between Netanyahu and Modi was perceived as a bromance between these leaders of deeply illiberal projects; the right-wing majoritarian nationalist projects championed by the regimes in the two countries both portray themselves as beleaguered by Islamists and resolute in combating terrorism.

On the other hand, there is no dearth of critical narratives that point to Kashmir and Palestine as being symmetrical occupations; here the focus is on the ways in which the oppressed populations in both cases are Muslims and oppressors are non-Muslims. India is the largest buyer of Israeli weapons and Israel is the second largest supplier to India; Israeli drones are used in Kashmir (one unmanned aerial vehicle called the Heron was specially adapted for such use). Indian forces have used Israeli Tavor rifles in 2008, used Spice-2000 guidance technology in the aftermath of Pulwama attacks in Kashmir in 2019, and bought Pegasus from Israel that same year.

Although these two portrayals of India and Israel as strategic partners for cooperation or allies in the oppression of Kashmiris and Palestinians are manifestly different, they have one important point in common. Both these narratives (often explicitly) suggest that India copies from Israel in the ways in which it manages oppression.

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Prashant Bhushan
Chair of the Jury of Goa Film Festival says that the Jury felt that Kashmir Files was a vulgar propaganda film, inappropriate for the film festival

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Video: Indian Film Festival IFFI Jury Head Calls 'Kashmir Files' "Vulgar"
Calling it "propaganda" and a "vulgar movie", Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who headed the IFFI jury, said "all of them" were "disturbed and shocked" to see the film screened at the festival.

New Delhi: The jury of 53rd International Film Festival in Goa has slammed the controversial movie "The Kashmir Files", which revolves around the killings and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 from Kashmir Valley. Calling it "propaganda" and a "vulgar movie", Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who headed the IFFI jury, said "all of them" were "disturbed and shocked" to see the film screened at the festival.
"It seemed to us like a propagandist movie inappropriate for an artistic, competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable to share openly these feelings here with you on stage. Since the spirit of having a festival is to accept also a critical discussion which is essential for art and for life," Mr Lapid said in his address.

The Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Joshi starrer, directed by Vivek Agnihotri, was featured in the "Panorama" section of the festival last week.

The film has been praised by the BJP and has been declared tax-free in most BJP-ruled states and was a box office hit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah have praised on the movie.

Many, however, have criticised the content, calling it a one-sided portrayal of the events that is sometimes factually incorrect and claiming the movie has a "propagandist tone".

In May, Singapore banned the movie, citing concerns over its "potential to cause enmity between different communities".

"The film will be refused classification for its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir," read a statement from the Singapore government, reported news agency Press Trust of India.

Mr Agnihotri has alleged an "international political campaign" against him and his film by foreign media.

He claimed this was the reason his press conference was cancelled by the Foreign Correspondents Club and the Press Club of India in May.

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The Kashmir Files: Israeli director sparks outrage in India over ‘vulgar movie’ remarks
Nadav Lapid, chair of the International film festival India, spoke out against work that critics say is anti-Muslim propaganda

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the film festival, Lapid said he and other jury members had been “shocked and disturbed” that the film had been given a platform. The Kashmir Files, said Lapid, was “a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival”.
Lapid, who has taken an anti-establishment stance against rightwing elements in his home of Israel, is not alone in expressing concern over The Kashmir Files. Cinemagoers have started anti-Muslim chants at screenings and it has been accused of stirring up communal violence. In May, Singapore banned the film over its “potential to cause enmity between different communities”.

Vivek Agnihotri, the film’s director, said on Monday that “terror supporters and genocide deniers can never silence me”.

He added: “I challenge all the intellectuals in this world and this great film-maker from Israel to find one frame, one dialogue or an event in The Kashmir Files that is not true.”

A row has erupted in India after an Israeli director described a controversial film about Kashmir as propaganda and a “vulgar movie”, prompting the Israeli ambassador to issue an apology.

Nadav Lapid, who was chair of this year’s panel of the international film festival of India (IFFI), spoke out against the inclusion of The Kashmir Files at the event.

The film, released in March to popular box office success, is largely set in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when attacks and threats by militants led to most Kashmiri Hindus fleeing from the region, where the majority of the population are Muslim.

Many film critics, Kashmiri Muslims and others, have described it as propaganda that inflames hatred against Muslims and distorts events to suit an anti-Muslim agenda.

However, the film has received a ringing endorsement from the highest levels of the Indian government, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), who have also been accused of pursuing an anti-Muslim agenda. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, has praised the film, congratulating its makers for having “the guts to portray the truth” and it was the second highest-grossing film in India this year.


Lapid said his comments were made in the spirit of “critical discussion, which is essential for art and life”, adding he was sure they could be accepted graciously by the festival and audience as such. But his critique caused outrage.

Amit Malviya, a senior BJP leader, compared his remarks to denial of the Holocaust. “For the longest time, people even denied the Holocaust and called Schindler’s List propaganda, just like some are doing to Kashmir Files,” he said.

In Goa, where the festival took place, a complaint was filed to police against Lapid, accusing him of “instigating enmity between groups”.

Fellow jurors at the film festival, which is sponsored by the Indian government, quickly distanced themselves from his comments, stating that they reflected his opinion and not that of the panel. Film-maker Sudipto Sen, who was on the panel, said: “We don’t indulge in any kind of political comments on any film.”

Some of the harshest criticism came from Israel’s ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, who told Lapid he should be “ashamed” of his comments and that it was “insensitive and presumptuous” to speak on a subject that has political and religious ramifications in India. Gilon said he “unequivocally condemned” the statements.

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Fake #India officer conned his way into top meetings in #Indian Occupied #Kashmir. Kiran Patel claimed he was from #Modi's office. He was given top security, travelled in bulletproof cars, stayed at a 5-star hotel during his visits. #tourism

Indian police have arrested a man for posing as a senior official from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office.

Kiran Patel was on a visit to the Kashmir valley on 2 March when he was detained by security officials, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported. He was arrested the next day.

Police has charged him with cheating, impersonation and forgery.

A police complaint filed against him says Patel was trying to secure "monetary" and "material benefits".

Patel's arrest came to light on Thursday when he was produced in court.

He has a verified Twitter account and counts an official of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) among his followers.

Photos shared by Patel on his Twitter and Instagram pages show him on "official visits" to Kashmir surrounded by paramilitary guards.

According to PTI, on one visit, Patel claimed he had been asked by the government to identify buyers for apple orchards in south Kashmir.

On another visit, he travelled to popular skiing destination Gulmarg and claimed the government had asked him to look into improvement of hotel facilities in the area.

Reports say Patel was given the highest level of security, travelled in a bulletproof car and stayed at official accommodation at a five-star hotel during his visits.

Court documents reveal security officials found forged identity cards in his possession.

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'India needs educated PM': Arvind Kejriwal targets Narendra Modi in Assam | Deccan Herald

Continuing his criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his educational qualifications, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said an educated PM would not have gone for "dangerous" decisions like the demonetisation and three "anti-farmer" laws.

"I listened to Narendra Modi's speech where he said he went to a village school only and could not do further studies. But I want to ask you today, shouldn't the Prime Minister of a great nation like India be educated?" Kejriwal asked the crowd during his maiden rally in Assam capital Guwahati on Sunday afternoon. The rally was organised by the Assam unit of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as part of its organisational expansion programme in the state, where BJP has been in power since 2016.

"India is a poor nation and someone not going to school due to poverty is not a crime. But our Prime Minister should be educated. The Prime Minister did demonetisation which took our economy 10 years backward. Someone fooled our PM and told him to ban the notes to end corruption. Did demonetisation end corruption? Someone told our PM that demonetisation will end terrorism. Did demonetisation end terrorism?" Kejriwal asked.

"It's the 21st Century and youths of the 21st Century are aspirational. They believe in science and technology. They want employment and prosperity of India and only an educated PM can bring that prosperity. A less educated or illiterate person can not bring prosperity. A private company asks for an MBA, MA and BA degree for a manager's job. But shouldn't there be educational qualifications for the country's topmost manager as the Prime Minister?" he asked.

Punjab CM Bhagwant Singh Mann addressed the rally before Kejriwal in which he also slammed BJP.

Both Kejriwal and Mann slammed their Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma saying the latter was only doing "dirty politics" and failed to provide jobs, hold examinations in a fair manner and could not improve amenities such as schools, hospitals and other infrastructure. "Today he is threatening me on TV to put me behind bars. Am I a terrorism, why will you catch me?" Kejriwal asked while referring to Sarma's warning on Friday about filing defamation cases in case the former made corruption allegations. "Today I want to invite him to come to my home for tea when he visits Delhi next. I will take him around in my car and the finest schools and hospitals we have provided to the people of Delhi," he said. Both Mann and Kejriwal asked why Sarma's wife was running a private school in Guwahati. "If a CM's wife runs a private school, will the government improve the government schools?" he asked. Both promised that AAP will provide Delhi and Punjab-like facilities if people voted them to power in the Assembly elections in 2026.

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#India is using #G20 summit to further its settler-#colonial ambitions in #Kashmir. Route to Gulmarg is lined with barbed wire. Armed soldiers keep watch from fortified bunkers. The town is near Line of Control that divides Indian-Occupied Kashmir from #Pakistani #AzadKashmir via @ConversationCA

In September, India will host the 2023 Group of 20 (G20) summit in the capital, New Delhi. Events and meetings are already taking place in other venues around the country. Under its G20 presidency, India will host a Tourism Working Group meeting in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir, in late May.

New Delhi wants to show the world that normalcy has returned to the picturesque, resource-rich region and that the disputed territory is open to visitors and investors.

The iconic Dal Lake will form the backdrop for the meeting. International delegates will also visit Gulmarg, a popular winter destination, under tight security provided by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs.

The route to Gulmarg is lined with barbed wire. Armed soldiers keep watch from fortified bunkers. The resort town is near the Line of Control that bifurcates Kashmir into Indian-held and Pakistani-held areas.

Hosting G20 delegates in Srinagar is a step towards normalizing India’s occupation of Kashmir internationally. But Kashmiris continue to demand their right to self-determination in accordance with international law and United Nations resolutions.

International attendance of the meeting will seriously undermine their efforts.

In Canada, the NDP has called on the federal government to boycott any G20 meetings that take place in Kashmir, citing the Indian government’s human rights abuses. However, the Trudeau government has reportedly ignored those calls.

Normalizing occupation
Beautification projects are underway in Srinagar on an industrial scale. These revitalization campaigns are designed to create a sanitized image of Kashmir for foreign delegates. The region remains troubled by violence and human rights abuses, as well as draconian media restrictions.

Human rights activists and journalists are being arrested and there have been reports of hundreds of young people being detained by security forces.

Urban renewal in Srinagar is a tool of displacement and dislocation. I spoke with Asghar, a long-time Kashmiri resident of Srinagar, over the phone earlier this month. He described how urban redevelopment projects are changing certain sections of the city entirely. This, coupled with the government’s name-changing spree, is creating a sense of alienation for locals who feel out of place in their own homeland.

The Indian government is planning to temporarily minimize the visible presence of troops in the heavily militarized region by building “smart bunkers.” These are bunkers painted in pastel tones and subtly positioned so they remain unnoticed by foreign visitors.

“Smart policing” is also underway. This includes security agencies monitoring social media, gathering local intelligence, and surveillance through CCTV cameras and aerial drones.

Police officers handling foreign delegates are being trained to display a softer and more polite image. This is in sharp contrast to the treatment of Kashmiris by Indian security personnel.

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#India is using #G20 summit to further its settler-#colonial ambitions in #Kashmir. Route to Gulmarg is lined with barbed wire. Armed soldiers keep watch from fortified bunkers. The town is near Line of Control that divides Indian-Occupied Kashmir from #Pakistani #AzadKashmir via @ConversationCA

G20 and tourism
Founded in 2020, the G20’s Tourism Working Group guides the development of local and global tourism among G20 countries with an eye to achieving the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The G20 meeting is the first global event to be held in the Kashmir valley since India unilaterally removed the region’s semi-autonomous status in 2019. Since then, the region has undergone significant rezoning and re-districting.

Semi-autonomous status granted Kashmiris some territorial and cultural rights while living under Indian rule. The designation recognized that India was only a temporary administrator of Kashmir. And that Kashmiris had the right to ultimately decide their own future.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) long opposed Kashmir’s special status. Revoking it was in the party’s 2019 election manifesto.

Tourism is big business
India is seeking to capitalize on the scenic beauty of the Kashmir valley that it illegally occupies. Domestic tourists from India visited Kashmir in record numbers last year.

Since coming into power in 2014, Modi’s government has also heavily promoted religious tourism in the disputed territory. Last year an estimated one million people from all over India attended the annual Amarnath Yatra, a 43-day Hindu pilgrimage, amid heavy security.

With the return of direct international air travel to Indian-administered Kashmir and the construction of railway infrastructure that connects the region to India, the Indian government is determined to open Kashmir to the world.

On the other hand, the mobility of local Kashmiris remains severely restricted. Ultimately, we must question what kind of connectivity is desired, by whom and for what purpose.

Tourism and settler-colonialism
The Indian government sees Kashmir as an “integral part” of the country and wants to make its occupation permanent. Tourism plays a direct role in legitimizing and expanding the Indian control of Kashmiri lands.

Kashmir scholar Ather Zia cautions against uncritically accepting tourism as a form of development. Tourism in settler-colonial contexts is an extension of imperial politics. It is the process by which colonized lands are absorbed by a hegemonic state.

This is achieved by fostering a sense of attachment for those with little or no connection to occupied lands. The Indian government has weaponized the law to make it easier for Indians to visit and settle in Kashmir, disavowing and erasing Indigenous Kashmiri claims to the same lands.

The Indian government also aims to change the demographics in the Muslim-majority region in favor of Hindus.

Decolonizing tourism
All of this raises questions about the ethics of tourism in occupied territories.

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#India is using #G20 summit to further its settler-#colonial ambitions in #Kashmir. Route to Gulmarg is lined with barbed wire. Armed soldiers keep watch from fortified bunkers. The town is near Line of Control that divides Indian-Occupied Kashmir from #Pakistani #AzadKashmir via @ConversationCA

Indigenous governance and Native Hawaiian scholar Hōkūlani K. Aikau and Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez argue that colonialism is the ultimate breach of guest protocol that violates a welcome that was never extended. By visiting areas under occupation, tourists, unknowingly or knowingly, reproduce the violent colonization of peoples and places.

Those visiting Kashmir must first learn about the decolonial history of the region, one that honours Kashmiri calls for self-determination and sovereignty. They must follow the principle of do no harm by not visiting tourist sites or using tour operators run by Indian authorities. They should support local Kashmiri-run businesses as much as possible.

There is no simple resolution for tourism on occupied lands. Tourism amid settler-colonialism manifests in exploitation, dispossession, commodification and other injustices and inequities. The goal of ethical travel is not immediate perfection or self-exoneration. It is an invitation to think about our own actions and complicity.

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#China & #SaudiArabia boycott #G20 meeting held by #India in #Indian Occupied #Kashmir. Indian presidency of group becomes mired in controversy as tourism session hosted in disputed territory. #G20Kashmir #Pakistan

India’s presidency of the G20 group of leading nations has become mired in controversy after China and Saudi Arabia boycotted a meeting staged in Kashmir, the first such gathering since India unilaterally brought Kashmir under direct control in August 2019.

The meeting, a tourism working group attended by about 60 delegates from most G20 countries taking place from Monday to Wednesday, required a large show of security at Srinagar international airport.

In 2019 the Indian government stripped the disputed Muslim-majority region of semi-autonomy and split it into two federal territories in an attempt to integrate it fully into India.

Indian authorities hoped the meeting would show that the controversial changes have brought “peace and prosperity” to the region and that it is a safe place for tourists.

India’s elite National Security Guard, including its counter-drone unit and marine commandos, were helping police and paramilitary forces to secure the event venues.

China has said it will not attend, citing its firm opposition “to holding any kind of G20 meetings in disputed territory”. In April, Pakistan, which also lays claim to Kashmir but is not a G20 member, described the meeting as irresponsible. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Indonesia were also expected to stay away.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti claimed India had turned the region into the equivalent of the Guantánamo Bay prison simply to hold a meeting on tourism. She also accused the Bharatiya Janata party, the party of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, of hijacking the G20 for its promotional purposes.

Last week Fernand de Varennes, the UN’s special rapporteur on minority issues, issued a statement saying the G20 was “unwittingly providing a veneer of support to a facade of normalcy” when human rights violations, political persecution and illegal arrests were escalating in Kashmir.

He said the meeting risked normalising what some have described as a military occupation. The statement was criticised as baseless by India’s permanent mission at the UN in Geneva. It was India’s prerogative to hold G20 meetings in any part of the country, the mission said.

India divided the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 to create two federally administered territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Ladakh is a disputed frontier region along the line of actual control between India and China, and both countries claim parts of it.

The chief coordinator for India’s G20 presidency, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, said on Sunday: “We have the highest representation from foreign delegations for the tourism working group meeting in Srinagar, than we have had in the previous working group meetings.

“Our experience is that in any working group meeting, to get such a large turnout of delegates not only from G20 countries but also from international organisations that are part of the G20 is an incredible process. If you have to do a working group on tourism in India, we have to do it in Srinagar. There is no option.”

Britain’s high commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, said UK representatives would be attending the meeting. At a meeting between Modi and Rishi Sunak, the UK prime minister, at the G7 in Hiroshima, the two sides discussed progress on reaching a free trade deal. India remains angry at what it regards as a lax UK police reaction to an attack on the Indian high commission in London on 19 March by pro-Khalistan extremists. Security has been stepped up outside the commission.

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After #China, #SaudiArabia, #Turkey, #Egypt & #Oman skip G20 tourism meet in Indian Occupied #Kashmir. #Indian officials admitted that Egypt not participating was a surprise. #G20InKashmir #Modi #BJP #Pakistan via @theprintindia

Egypt was a special invitee. Earlier this year, Egypt and India decided to elevate bilateral relations to 'a strategic partnership'. President El-Sisi was chief guest at R-Day parade.

Srinagar: Egypt and Oman Monday joined China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in skipping a G20 tourism working group meeting in Kashmir, the first international event of this scale being held since the abrogation of Article 370 and withdrawal of special status to the now Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir in 2019.

Egypt was a special invitee to the G20 event. The country’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade this year.

While Indonesia was also speculated to skip the event, it sent representatives from its mission in New Delhi.

Incidentally, trade delegations from both Saudi Arabia and Turkey have come to attend the tourism meet. However, no one from China or Egypt was present.

While China had publicly said that it will not attend the event over the issue of Kashmir, Turkey and Saudi Arabia did not register for it, meaning they did not attend in an official capacity.

Speaking to ThePrint on the sidelines of the meeting here, Minister of State for PMO Jitendra Singh said that over 300 meetings have been held as part of the G20 and not all countries take part all the time.

“It all depends on what is of interest to whom. Some have sent in private trade delegations because tourism is largely run by private players rather than government,” he said.

Sources in the diplomatic and security establishment explained that it would have been surprising if Turkey had participated, given its past position on Kashmir and close partnership with China.

However, they admitted that Egypt not participating was a surprise. But they also pointed out that Egypt is not a G20 member and a mere invitee.

“They may or may not attend an invite. Not everyone attends all events,’ a source explained.

Egypt’s move comes as a surprise because there has been a growing partnership between the country and India.

It was in January this year that the two countries decided to elevate bilateral relations to “a strategic partnership”.

“We’ve decided that under the India-Egypt strategic partnership, we will develop a long-term framework for greater cooperation in the fields of politics, security, economics and science,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said at a joint press conference after holding wide-ranging talks with visiting Egyptian President El-Sisi in January.

Army chief Gen Manoj Pande had just completed an official visit to Egypt last week.

As reported by ThePrint, Egypt is considering the purchase of up to 70 Tejas light combat aircraft. Like the Indian Air Force (IAF), Egypt operates the Rafale but needs a smaller and less complex fighter to provide bulk to its force and a stepping-stone for its pilots.

A keen India has offered to set up a production line in Egypt if the deal goes through. Egypt is also interested in Indian-made missile systems, as well as the Advanced Light Helicopter and Light Combat Helicopter.

India is keen to deepen cooperation with Egypt. An estimated $200 billion of Indian trade passes through the Suez Canal each year, giving India an obvious interest in Egypt’s security. China has set up a naval base in Djibouti, posing a potential threat to Indian access to Suez, underlining the need for Egypt-India security cooperation.

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While most countries sent just local staff to the tourism conference, Pakistani allies China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey skipped the event. However, only China, which also has a border dispute with neighboring India, issued a condemnation.

“[This] says something about how the issue itself is defined by the international community, contrary to what India claims [it is seen] as an international dispute,” Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.N., Maleeha Lodhi, told VOA.

She rejected the notion that attendance by dozens of G-20 delegates was a quiet endorsement of India’s position on Kashmir, instead blaming global politics for the continuation of the decades-old conflict.

“The fact that the … Security Council has been unable to implement its own resolutions on Kashmir … is a reflection of big power politics,” said Lodhi.

Fernand de Varennes, U.N. special rapporteur on minority issues, recently criticized the meeting, saying that by hosting the session in Kashmir, “India is seeking to normalize what some have described as a military occupation.”

Reeling from decades of separatist militancy that has killed tens of thousands, Indian-administered Kashmir is among the most heavily militarized parts of the world. India accuses Pakistan of supporting the insurgency, but Pakistan says it only provides moral support to the separatist cause.

Security was bolstered for the event, with New Delhi deploying National Security Guards, marine commandos and Border Security Force personnel to join dedicated police units. As the event drew closer, though, security moved into the background to give a sense of normalcy amid reports of mass detentions.

Bokhari said the fact the G-20 is happening in Kashmir shows the most powerful nations have accepted New Delhi’s claims the security situation has improved.

“Obviously, India has been able to demonstrate that it has things more or less under control,” he said.

According to India’s minister of tourism, G. Kishan Reddy, a record 18.4 million tourists visited Kashmir in 2022, with the government expecting that number to grow.

However, only 20,000 of the millions of tourists were foreign visitors, according to local officials.

As India works to make the conflict-riddled scenic valley welcoming for globe-trotters, Lodhi notes, “Pakistan has no choice but to continue to internationalize the issue, to keep raising it at key forums.”

New Delhi says it will not discuss the issue with Pakistan until Islamabad stops supporting terrorist activities against it, a charge Pakistan denies.

“We would like to discuss … the status of what is [the part of Kashmir’] with Pakistan, which was originally a part of India,” Seth said.

Earlier this month, Jaishankar told reporters, “There is only one issue to discuss on Kashmir, that is when does Pakistan vacate its illegal occupation of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.”

Pakistan calls its part of Kashmir, Azad or Free Kashmir.

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The Settler-Colonialist Alliance of India and Israel
Over the decades, the two nation’s have become closer allies in business and politics. We talked to journalist Azad Essa the origins of this international relationship.
By Deeksha Udupa

In 1962, after a series of border conflicts over the disputed territory of Aksai Chin—which both China and India claimed, and still continue to claim, as their own—the two countries fought a one-month war. India’s troops in Namka Chu Valley were considerably weaker and the state of Israel quickly responded to India’s request for assistance. Then–Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion wrote to his Indian counterpart, Jawaharlal Nehru, emphasizing his country’s “fullest sympathy and understanding” and offering to provide weapons to Indian forces. Nehru requested that the weapons be sent in unmarked ships, aware that accepting Israeli assistance could affect India’s relations with Arab nations. Ben-Gurion declined and said, “No flag. No weapons.” Eventually, India relented and accepted arms transported in ships with the Israeli flag. And though India lost the conflict, the country was now aware that in times of need, Israel could be counted on as a potential ally.

The two countries have only grown closer since then, as their military and business interests have aligned. Just this year, for example, Indian tycoon Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group, recently acquired the Israeli port of Haifa, where 50 percent of Israeli cargo is handled. Privatizing the port has been a topic of conversation since the early 2000s and was finally completed when Adani submitted his bid, which was supported by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Just days after the acquisition, however, Hindenburg Research released a report accusing the Adani Group of financial malpractice, fraudulent transactions, and share-price manipulation. Modi and Netanyahu spoke days after the release of the report, and Modi emphasized the importance of “the multifaceted India-Israel friendship.” The purchase of the port launched a new chapter of the Israel-India alliance, with some commentators referring to it as the largest deal between the two nations in the private sector.

AZAD ESSA (Author of Hostile Homelands: The New Alliance Between India and Israel): Being from South Africa and growing up towards the end of apartheid, I was enamored by the concept of international solidarity through boycotts and the very idea that people around the world were thinking about us.

And since I am of Indian origin (with the caveat that there was no India, as we now know it, when my grandparents had come to South Africa), I was told stories about how India had been instrumental in standing up to apartheid government. Later, as a graduate student, I was introduced to the story of Kashmir, and I was struck by how a country that positioned itself as anti-colonial, anti-apartheid, and a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement could also have a colonial project of its own. I subsequently went to Kashmir and was shocked by the militarization. I also traveled to Palestine and immediately felt the connections between the two.

Then Narendra Modi came to power in 2014—and when he did, the floodgates opened. Just like when Donald Trump came to power, it was as if the US had been unmasked; likewise, the Indian and Israeli relationship, too, was unmasked under Modi, and they soon became even closer strategic partners. When the Indian consul general spoke in 2019 about replicating Israeli-style settlements in Kashmir, I was convinced that this was a project I wanted to pursue. This is a book, then, about how oppressors work together.

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India Keeps Pulling the Plug on Its Digital Economy

Online sellers and ride-hailing drivers count the cost as authorities cut off the internet more than in any other country

When Indian authorities shut down the internet across a remote northeast state in May, Amy Aribam said it wiped out the more than $9,000 in monthly revenue for her home business selling saris online.

Four months later, Aribam is back online but the internet remains down for many, and the women who weave her silk and cotton saris by hand are suffering. “We couldn’t communicate with our customers,” Aribam said. “Our business is completely online.”

Indian authorities said they pulled the plug to stop the spread of rumors as social unrest erupted in Manipur, a state governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. India’s government has increasingly shut down the internet to respond to a range of problems, including political upheaval, fugitives on the loose and even cheating on exams.

Nine years after Modi was elected, the world’s most populous democracy leads the world in internet shutdowns, according to tallies by digital-rights groups. Last year’s 84 cutoffs in various parts of the country exceeded the combined total for all other nations, including Iran, Libya and Sudan, New York-based digital rights group Access Now says. Since 2016, when the group began collecting data, India has accounted for more than half of all internet shutdowns globally.

The outages have disrupted the lives of tens of millions of people in a country where inexpensive mobile data and government efforts to facilitate mobile payments have catapulted vast numbers of consumers into the digital age in recent years. About half of India’s 1.4 billion people are now online, increasingly dependent on connectivity to communicate with friends and family, shop online, pay utility bills and more.

Digital-rights advocates say the shutdowns disproportionately affect the poor, often making it harder for them to collect food subsidies and wages through rural employment programs. They also lead to job losses, hamper online transactions and discourage foreign investment. That damps economic growth and disrupts startups and U.S. e-commerce companies, researchers say.

The prime minister’s office and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Web shutdowns in India between 2019 and 2022 cost more than $4.8 billion in economic activity, according to London-based Top10VPN, which tracks global outages. More than 120 million people in India were affected last year, the group says.

The U.S. has expressed concern even as it increases cooperation with India as a strategic counterweight to China. The State Department said in a March human-rights report that restrictions on internet freedom included authorities’ repeatedly blocking the internet, particularly during periods of political unrest.

In 2015, the year after Modi was elected, he promised to build a “Digital India” connecting the country’s masses. “Digital connectivity should become as much a basic right as access to school,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

India Keeps Pulling the Plug on Its Digital Economy

The number of internet users in India has risen to 692 million from 350 million since 2015, according to digital consulting firm Kepios. But government efforts to bolster connectivity are undermined by the government’s shutdowns, said Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia policy director at Access Now.

“How can you have a ‘Digital India’ with all these shutdowns?” he said.

Among citizens most affected are those who deliver food and groceries or work for ride-hailing services. They typically can’t fulfill orders or pick up passengers without access to their companies’ apps.

Tofeeq Khan, a 32-year-old Uber driver who lives on the outskirts of New Delhi in Haryana state, said he was unable to work for about two weeks last month due to an internet shutdown, imposed during violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims. Authorities said the action was needed to stop the spread of misinformation and to prevent mobs from organizing.

Khan, the sole breadwinner for his parents, wife and two sons, said he lost more than $300 of income, leaving him unable to pay his sons’ school tuition, buy groceries or make payments on his car loan.

“I feel like a mountain of hardships has fallen upon me and my family,” he said. Uber declined to comment.

In March, authorities in the northern state of Punjab, home to more than 27 million people, cut mobile internet and text-messaging services for several days while police sought a Sikh separatist who had called for an independent Sikh homeland. The shutdown was intended to stop his supporters from expressing support online or coordinating escape plans.

In 2021, authorities cut off the internet in Rajasthan state, home to about 80 million people, for up to 12 hours to maintain law and order and prevent what they feared could be cheating on an exam for those seeking coveted jobs as government-school teachers. Copies of exams sometimes spread online before they are administered, and students have been caught using banned devices during exams.

The shutdown response has grown since then, with exam-related outages in several more states, according to the Software Freedom Law Center, India, a group that advocates digital freedom. Last year it filed a public-interest lawsuit, arguing the shutdowns are arbitrary and illegal.

The Muslim-majority region of Kashmir is subject to the most shutdowns. Indian authorities last year cut internet access there 49 times, according to Access Now, more than half of the national total. The restrictions began in 2019 on the grounds that they were needed to maintain public order ahead of New Delhi’s decision to strip the region of its special status. Local businesses say the region’s economy is ailing.

“Earlier the shutdowns were in response to trouble, but now they are being used in preventive ways,” said Namrata Maheshwari, Asia Pacific policy counsel at Access Now.

It is unclear that the blocks assist in ending social upheaval or stop cheating, she said, and they often create anxiety among friends and family who find themselves in the dark, or unable to work.

In Manipur, the internet cuts came during violent clashes between two ethnic groups that killed more than 100 people.

Aribam found an expensive workaround for her sari business. Her brother, with whom she runs the business, flew more than 1,000 miles to New Delhi several times over the months, carrying bags stuffed with the garments. He stayed in a hotel and sold them online using the hotel’s internet connection.

“My family and I can survive during this difficult time because we are privileged in some ways,” she said. “However, the weavers who live hand to mouth are finding it difficult to make ends meet.”