By Rabia Javed*
It’s been a year since, India’s Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) revoked the Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and Article 35A of the constitution and divided the State into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on August 6, 2019, the most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly 70 years. Narendra Modi has demonstrated to the world that Kashmir is potentially the most dangerous place on earth as he stripped Jammu & Kashmir of statehood and its special status, residents’ rights and privileges, respectively. Along with that the decision to scrap the legal entity of the state also leads to the abrogation of Section 35A of the Indian Constitution. This section 35A, which secured the erstwhile state residents’ privileges to 7 million Kashmiris and made them stewards of their own territory, also gets dissolved.
Due to this blood-drenched saga, Indian Muslims became the most vulnerable people on earth who have been left without political representation and without a voice. The scrapping of Articles 370 and 35A by the democratic BJP government are two significant events that will have a lasting imprint on the geopolitics of this region.
However, New Delhi’s decision to abolish special status for Indian-Occupied Kashmir has been widely criticised and opposed, as tensions prevail over the constitutional autonomy of the disputed region. Once again the BJP has managed to unleash its unique brand of cruelty on a scale unheard of in modern time.
So far there has been strong opposition by Kashmiris who have refused to accept this new normalcy been cooked in BJP’s kitchen. Seven million Kashmiris were barricaded in their homes. Kashmiri voices are ignored by mainstream media, channels and blatantly suppressed by Indian right wing groups who spread a gospel of hatred that is both anti-Muslim and anti-Kashmiri.
In the lead-up to the move, Kashmir is one of the most or perhaps the most densely militarized zone in the world. What India has done in Kashmir over the last 30 years is unforgivable. An estimated 70,000 people, civilians, militants and security forces have been killed in the conflict. Thousands have been “disappeared,” hundreds of teenagers have been blinded by the use of pellet-firing shotguns and tens of thousands have passed through torture chambers. The most cruel effects of an occupation that has lasted decades are impossible to describe in an account as short as this.
The BJP government is forgetting the fact that Kashmir is a nuclear flash point and the move to abrogate Article 370 and 35 A was in total disregard to international norms. Mr. Modi had not only endangered the immediate neighbourhood, but has also raised the ante for the entire World. Also, it is beyond doubt that with obliteration of Article 370 and blacking out the communication in the valley, Indian government risked a high intensity insurgency in an already volatile state of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Undoubtedly, the annihilation of Kashmir’s special status laid out in the Indian constitution is a paradigm shift. Sadly, the ground realities in Jammu and Kashmir now are a lot graver than a year before. Modi’s move is consistent with his Hindutva driven fascist policies that target Muslims and other minorities, with the ultimate aim of achieving the Hindu Rashtriya of the RSS– a state meant only for Hindus.
Not surprisingly, such actions by BJP violate the UN Security Council resolution which mandate the exercise of the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people under UN auspices to enable them to decide whether to accede to Pakistan or India. The flames of hate that arose out of Modi’s fascist agenda have not only engulfed India but its relations with Pakistan may also get in to troubled waters. Such actions also fall under the fundamental objective to change the Indian-sponsored negative narrative that equates the Kashmiri struggle with terrorism. Whereas, the struggle by the people of Kashmir was and will remain a legitimate struggle under international law for their right of self-determination against illegal occupation by Indian forces.
Moreover, human rights courts should examine the BJP government’s “disastrous” policies in wake of unconstitutional dismantling of Kashmir’s special status. These episodes of violence and massacres against the Muslims are nothing new. The 2002 Gujrat pogrom slaughtering Muslims in broad daylight continued for months, when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of that State and in contrast Mr. Modi has ridden to power on that legacy.
Sadly, these mass human rights violations do not end here. During the pandemic that hit all the world Muslims again came under the nose of BJP torture. They were branded on twitter trends like #CoronaJihad and “human bombs”. Muslims are being dehumanized and were denied admission to hospitals and boycotted.
It’s ironic that to become a superpower in the region or to be a policeman of the region, the exodus Modi has been successful in hiding the injustice. The Indian government’s rejection of the 2019 UN report on human rights in Kashmir shows that it’s unwilling to confront its own human rights failures.
Though India claims itself as “Largest Democracy of the World”, yet it failed to maintain harmony among diverse ethnicity and various religious groups. The path taken by BJP to link Kashmir with India is beyond of any motivation and is not going to work in any way. Especially since BJP came into power in 2014 with an expansionist agenda, it is actively involved in different crimes and often violated the sovereignty of many states. The World must react to the Hindutva terror before it’s too late.
*Rabia Javed is a M.Phil Scholar from Diplomatic and Defence Studies Department, Fatima Jinnah University, Pakistan.