By Zeb Alam Khan
India under the leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a path that is very much opposite to the ideas of secularism, tolerance and non-violence on the basis of which India came into being. In fact, the policy of the present Indian government to create a Hindu dominant state, on the one hand, is negating the very ideals of its forefathers– Nehru and Gandhi– and on the other hand, it is strengthening the notion of the two-nation theory which formed the basis for the creation of Pakistan.
PM Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government, especially after a sweeping victory in the second term, while putting behind all the tall claims of a secular, tolerant and democratic India, has taken up the mantle for the formation of a Hindu dominated Indian society at the cost of marginalizing the minorities especially the Muslims. As Modi, while he was Chief Minister Gujrat, had already proved his credentials to the Hindu extremist BJP and its followers by allowing massacre of thousands of Muslims hence yet again he was mandated with the task of ethnic cleansing of the Muslims and other Indian minorities. And Modi, soon after assuming office in 2019, proved himself worthy of task assigned to him by his Hindu extremist followers by first annexing Kashmir, followed by publishing of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam and finally passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Indian Government led by fascist Modi who is life member of RSS, a reactionary group of Hindu fanatics with extreme fascist tendencies and strong anti-Muslim bias, annexed Kashmir in utter violation of international laws and UN Security Council resolutions, on August 05, 2019. Fearing severe response from Kashmiri people, almost 180,000 additional troops were called to supplement the 700,000 troops that were already stationed there for decades and the whole valley was put under complete lockdown and communication blackout. All the Kashmiri leadership was put behind bars. It has been six months since the valley is under curfew with no internet access and according to reports more than 13000 Kashmiris have been detained. All these measures have been causing immense suffering to the people of Kashmir especially children, women and the elderly people. People cannot go to work, children are unable to go to their schools and every Kashmiri is being deprived of the basic health rights.
Pakistan very forcefully raised the issue of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) at different international forums including the United Nations. The International Community also criticized Indian actions in IOJ&K and called on the Indian Government to lift curfew and respect and restore human rights of Kashmiri people. The UN Secretary General, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, the UN experts, Amnesty International, the OIC, US Congressional Commission and Parliament of the European Union all called on the Indian Government to end the crackdown on freedom of expression and access to information, release detainees and restore normalcy in the IOJ&K.
Since the unilateral and illegal action of August 05 by the Indian Government, the UN Security Council has held two sessions, first on August 16, 2019 and second on January 15, 2020, on the issue of IOJ&K which has yet again supported Pakistan’s stance that Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory and the issue must be resolved according to the UN resolutions. Also before this on August 08, 2019, the UN Secretary General expressed concern over the situation in Kashmir, appealed for maximum restraint and emphasized the need to settle the issue of Kashmir between Pakistan and India in accordance with the UN charter and applicable Security Council resolutions.
While international condemnation and internal opposition on issue of Kashmir was pouring in on the BJP led Hindu supremacist Government, a new state of uncertainty and chaos was created on August 31, 2019 by publishing the controversial National Register of Citizens for Assam which rendered 1.9 million people stateless. Here the main targets were Bengali residents who had migrated to India in the 70s. Since 2015, all residents of Assam have had to prove with documentary evidence that they were residents of the state before March 24, 1971 to be considered eligible for Indian citizenship. The NRC resulted in widespread protests in India and attracted international criticism especially by the United Nations and Amnesty International.The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, called on Modi’s Government to avoid stripping people of their nationality as it would be an enormous blow to global efforts to eradicate statelessness.
Modi’s Government appetite to turn the so called secular India into a Hindu dominated society was not over yet and hence a new bill with the name of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed on December 16, 2019. The new bill will grant citizenship to minorities except Muslims from neighboring countries. Yet again this bill also attracted widespread international condemnation and internal criticism. Since December 2019, thousands of people have been injured and many killed in India during protests against the discriminatory bill. Legal experts believe that this bill is a violation of Article 14 of the Indian constitution which guarantees the right to equality. Many Indian politicians believe that it is an attack on the secular nature of the Indian constitution whereas others regard it as a victory of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and the fulfillment of the two nation theory which formed the basis for the creation of Pakistan.
The BJP led Indian Government is making sure that every step taken is towards the realization of a Hindu dominated Indian society and advancement of “Hindutva” ideology where there is no place for other minorities especially the Muslims. Modi’s reelection has seen polarization of the Indian society where every action taken and legislation enacted has strengthened the Hindutva ideology but weakened the standing of India in the world community.
The façade of secular and tolerant India has been exposed to the world. And all this self destructive policy of the BJP led fascist regime is due to its frustration to quell down the more than 70 years long struggle for independence of the Muslims of the IOJ&K.The Kashmiris have been fighting for their right to self-determination for seven decades now. Last year in February, a Kashmiri youth carried out a suicide attack on the Indian occupation forces in the valley. India without investigation blamed and bombed Pakistan. In the aerial skirmish, Pakistan downed two of India’s fighter jets and captured one of their pilots. The Pakistani measured and calculated response of February 27, 2019 and the subsequent release of Indian pilot has shown to the world and especially India that Pakistan is committed to peace however if there will be any such misadventure from India in future, Pakistani forces have the capability and resolve to respond effectively.
Pakistan has continued to provide moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiri people. Pakistan at the same time has been calling attention of the international community towards the plight of the Muslims of IOJ&K and illegal and unjustified actions of India which may result in conflict between the two nuclear armed neighbors with far reaching consequences for the entire region. The actions of Modi’s government are not only causing mass protests and internal divide in India but are also resulting in immense suffering of the Kashmiri people as it has been six months since imposition of curfew and complete lockdown of the IOJ&K by India. International community must rise to the occasion and play its due role in warning India of the consequences of its divisive and discriminatory actions against minorities inside the country and its illegal and unjustified actions in Kashmir which may ultimately result in not only creating permanent fissures in the Indian society but may also endanger peace in the region.