Kashmir Victimised by Indian Colonialism

 

Photo source: The News International

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

When BJP led Indian government abrogated article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019, it had no legal technicality, but it was a statement of rancorous intent. It re-trampled Kashmir under the jackboot of Indian colonialism.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, through which it was done, had also dismembered the region of Ladakh. These plans were part of BJP’s newest election manifesto, intended to further set up its voter base in the future, and to do away with the uneasy stalemate. It was also the most radical change ever any Indian government had done, since the partition of India and Pakistan. Although, Hindu nationalist parties had been vying for this, as a permanent solution to Kashmir’s political problem since decades.

Days before, when Amit Shah announced the bill in the parliament, there had been several thousand Indian state troopers being landed in Kashmir, bolstering the already militarised presence. It had prompted common people to hoard essential commodities. The Amarnath yatra, a holy pilgrimage of Hindus, heavily politicised by the Hindu nationalist movement in India, was cancelled. Communications, such as Internet, landline telephones and mobile phones were gagged right away. Postal services were barred, too. The curfews, intending to curtail sentiment against the erstwhile state, made Kashmir into a kind of dungeon. Despite the continual siege, there were shimmering protests in various parts of Kashmir, where many people got wounded. Since then, a new age of anger had been defined for the Kashmiris, as it was now in direct hands of India through its revanchist federalism.

Right then, in that fateful summer, Kashmiris started living in ignominy, and couldn’t get out of their houses. Roads were blocked, the ill were unable to buy medicines, reach hospitals, children were unable to attend school, and the people living outside of Kashmir had no idea what their families had been going through. This continued month, after month, choking common Kashmiri lives, and even resulted in the world’s longest Internet shutdown ever. This fascistic advance questioned the unambiguous nature of India’s democratic mindset. It also heightened their otherness phenomenon, inside the Kashmir region, instead of integration.

The first reactions against this harrowing development came from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan’s administered Kashmir, where dozens of protestors held black flags, and burned car tyres, chanting ‘Down With India’. Pakistan had then tersely said that it would exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps taken by India. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at UN general assembly was hailed in many quarters, but it led to stricter curfews on the roads in Kashmir valley at that time. The discontent about India’s tyrannical decision later on spread as an international cry, with global politicians, governments, and activists, stepping in with their support. However, the Indian state continued to act in a heartless manner. The most unusual thing done by the Indian government was that it had jailed its own consecrated political groups who had supported the idea of Indian constitution in a UN recognised disputed territory, hinting that it had lost trust in the territory from everyone. Centaur hotel, which sits near the banks of Dal Lake, had been turned into a fortress, and a correctional institution for unionist politicians. On its gates, several of the families wanted to enquire about their well beings, but they were not allowed inside. Young boys were thrown into clinks on impassionate grounds in Kashmir and beyond. Almost everyone, from all socio-politico spectrums in India, were content with snatching away of the rights of Kashmiris. The livid Indian state had also jailed the separatists, and put them into house arrests, as they had done, after every mass revolt erupted in Kashmir, in recent memory.

A New York Times columnist had wailed that the government had now converted “the people of Kashmir to second-class citizens, if not subjects". The moment, infact, added to the bitter legacy of violent insurgency and human rights abuses, lauded by a sycophantic media. India molested what was already left of Kashmir’s independence, as the act clears the way for India to buy land in Kashmir, and also leads to an ethno-demographic change. All of this had happened without any consultation with the common Kashmiris, not even other Indian parliamentarians were consulted. When article 370 was abrogated, the state had been put under a governor’s rule, in a region, where neither the legislature, nor the governor is a true representative of the people.

In an Oped in Guardian, Kashmiri novelist Mirza Waheed revealed the tenacity of Hindutva project in Kashmir, and commented: ‘India has now done exactly what Nehru, ruled out, going back on its word, and scripted a final betrayal of the Kashmiri people. The journey from being a colony of the British empire to colonising the unyielding Muslim other next door reveals a catastrophic mutation at the heart of the Indian state.’




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