[News] India’s annexation of Kashmir is straight out of the Israeli playbook

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 8 20:01:52 EDT 2019


https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/indias-annexation-kashmir-straight-out-israeli-playbook 



  India’s annexation of Kashmir is straight out of the Israeli playbook

Azad Essa - 7 August 2019
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Over the past few years, Kashmiri scholars have been making the argument 
that India-administered Kashmir ought to be recognised as an occupied 
territory.

With more than 700,000 Indian soldiers, paramilitary and police in the 
region, the most militarised region on earth, they argued that Kashmiris 
were living under client leaders held firm by the might of the Indian 
military establishment.

    To many Indians, the project to abrogate Kashmir’s 'special status'
    within the Indian constitution has finally reached fruition

Since the insurgency began in the late 1980s, more than 70,000 people 
had been killed, a further 7,000 enforced disappearances, thousands 
blinded and maimed 
<https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/09/kashmir-victim-life-india-pellets-blinded-170929102239932.html>by 
pellets and live ammunition; the argument was not hard to make, but the 
veneer of India’s democracy, in a rough neighbourhood, made it to some, 
a hard sell.

But on Monday morning, the veneer dissipated.

Speaking in parliament, India's home minister Amit Shah held out a 
stamped and signed letter from India’s president, announcing that the 
country would be abrogating a special clause in the constitution 
concerning Kashmir. Article 370 
<https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/kashmir-special-status-explained-articles-370-35a-190805054643431.html>, 
the clause in India’s constitution that illuminated Kashmir’s 
semi-autonomous status within the Indian Union, including the ability to 
handle its own affairs (besides defence, finance, communication and 
foreign affairs), the right to its own constitution, ability to make 
laws, as well as its own flag, would be immediately scrapped.

    I salute my sisters and brothers of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh for
    their courage and resilience. For years, vested interest groups who
    believed in emotional blackmail never cared for people’s
    empowerment. J&K is now free from their shackles. A new dawn, better
    tomorrow awaits!

    — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 6, 2019
    <https://twitter.com/narendramodi/status/1158747764756365315?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>

The Indian government said it would change the constitution in spite of 
multiple court rulings 
<https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/article-35-a-jk-unrest-jammu-and-kashmir-constitution-law/story/370244.html>, 
including the High Court in Jammu and Kashmir and the Supreme Court in 
Delhi that ruled that the clause could not be tampered with.

But to many Indians, the project to abrogate Kashmir’s "special status" 
within the Indian constitution, started by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak 
Sangh (RSS), the right-wing Hindu nationalist group, and later floated 
as an election issue for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has 
finally reached fruition.

In so doing, India turned from administrator to fully-fledged coloniser, 
following in many ways, Israel’s methods to accomplish total control of 
the state and its people.


      Following the Israeli playbook

For decades, the RSS party has been calling for the dismantling of 
Article 370 in its bid to rebuild a Hindu India. In the 1980s, the BJP 
began campaigning 
<https://www.britannica.com/topic/Bharatiya-Janata-Party> with the 
promise of majoritarian rule.

    Revoking article 370 paves the way for a full settler-colonial
    project in Kashmir, much like Jewish settlements in the West Bank

This included ending the "privileges" enjoyed by Muslims - even if they 
were and remain the poorest and most undeveloped community 
<https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Muslims-have-lowest-living-standard-in-India-Govt-survey/articleshow/21936020.cms> 
in India. It also included framing Kashmir as one dotted by shrines and 
temples, and part of Hinduism's glorious past in the Himalayas.

Part and parcel of this attempt has been the ramping up of the Amarnath 
Yatra pilgrimage in southern Kashmir. As Mona Bhan, a professor at 
Syracuse University, writes in /Resisting Occupation in Kashmir,/ the 
past decade has seen the Indian government restore temples to further 
"tie Kashmir to India through spiritual and religious connections".

    As things move forwards, it is increasingly obvious that the
    colonisations of Kashmir and Palestine will become more and more
    interdependent on one another. What Israel does in Palestine will
    happen in Kashmir and what India does in Kashmir will happen in
    Palestine.

    — Abdulla Saad (@KarakMufti) August 6, 2019
    <https://twitter.com/KarakMufti/status/1158544536383217664?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>

Cancelling Article 370 is part of a fulfilment of that promise of 
reinvigorating Hindu India, in a way that may be both supremacist and 
democratic, even if fundamentally flawed.

“The type of 'democratic' state exemplified by Israel – and not Pakistan 
– is the model the Hindu nationalist movement, led by its core RSS 
organisation, aspires to establish in an Indian variant,” Sumantra Bose, 
professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, 
writes. 
<https://theconversation.com/why-indias-hindu-nationalists-worship-israels-nation-state-model-111450%C2%A0%C2%A0>

More importantly, it also paves the way for a full settler-colonial 
project 
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/05/indias-settler-colonial-project-kashmir-takes-disturbing-turn/> 
in Kashmir with the next stage likely to involve Hindu-only enclaves 
<https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/india-bjp-revive-hindu-settlement-plan-kashmir-report-190712111627296.html>, 
much like Jewish settlements in the West Bank.


      The Pandit question

Though tens of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus, known as Pandits, left 
Kashmir in the 1990s in fear of their lives as the insurgency deepened, 
Kashmiri Muslim leaders have repeatedly called for their return.

    Modi is a master manipulator and puppeteer of majoritarian ambition,
    scapegoating widespread economic failure to those who fall outside
    the national project

Kashmir does not have a history of communal tension between Muslims and 
Hindus. The attempt to bring Pandits and other Indians back as settlers 
rather than equal residents is seen as a provocation.

Like the Israeli government has done repeatedly, the Indian government 
has tried its utmost to frame the problem in Kashmir as a religious 
issue (between Muslims and Hindus), underplaying the roots of the 
political dispute and overstating the role of Islamic extremism as a 
ruse to make a military crackdown not just necessary but unavoidable. 
Pakistan hassupported 
<https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/pakistan-terms-india-kashmir-move-irresponsible-irrational-190805063352009.html> 
the armed movement, but its security agencies also fear Kashmiri 
independence as much as India does.

    This is a scene right of a dystopian novel and most of the world
    isn’t even reading. The tenuous and fragile autonomy that Articles
    35A/370 provided (because they were a bandaid solutions to an
    unsustainable, unfair accession) is now broken.

    — sanna wani (@sannareya) August 6, 2019
    <https://twitter.com/sannareya/status/1158695205236871168?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>

As the BJP sees it, changing the demographics in Kashmir, or flooding 
the region with Indian Hindus, would circumvent the political 
aspirations of Muslim-Kashmiris and solve the seemingly intractable 
Kashmir problem forever. It would also secure Modi’s legacy. The economy 
might fail, the cities might drown, farmers might starve, but he will be 
remembered for securing Kashmir. The thirst for a strong-man leader in 
India remains palpable.

    It has been described as the darkest day in India’s democracy. But
    for now it is Kashmiris who bear the brunt

Modi’s time in office, either as the Chief Minister of Gujarat in the 
early 2000s, or as PM of the country since 2014, show that his 
popularity increases each time Hindu-Muslim tensions rise in the 
country. He is a master manipulator and puppeteer of majoritarian 
ambition, scapegoating widespread economic failure to those who fall 
outside the national project, be it Muslims, or Kashmiris, or those who 
dare to express dissent.

Kashmiris are used to strife in the valley. But in the days leading up 
to the announcement, the government inflicted a series of psychological 
trauma on the local population.

First, the Indian government instructed Hindu pilgrims in southern 
Kashmir and tourists to leave, on the basis of a security threat. It set 
off unprecedented levels of panic in the region, which was parroted 
<https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/leave-kashmir-j-k-administration-issues-security-advisory-for-amarnath-pilgrims-1576494-2019-08-02> 
by mainstream Indian media. This turned out to be merely a ruse to clear 
out non-Kashmiris from the region ahead of the announcement.

Families cancelled engagements and weddings, and stocked up on food and 
fuel. Others, looking after the elderly, searched for emergency medical 
supplies. Businesses prepared for the worst, cancelling orders, and 
their hotels emptied out.

Without any further communication, the Indian government then deployed 
35,000 additional troops to the valley, cut all communications, 
including internet, telephone (including landlines) and select cable 
television.

Kashmiri leaders, those who worked at the behest of the Indian state, 
and who most Kashmiris have little allegiance or interest, were placed 
under house arrest, too.

    Day two. No contact with parents or anyone else in Kashmir. Complete
    radio silence. You have no idea how that feels.

    — Mirza Waheed (@MirzaWaheed) August 5, 2019
    <https://twitter.com/MirzaWaheed/status/1158479886849335299?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>

Finally, a curfew was imposed. The streets were cleared and soldiers 
took over police posts and were sent to street corners.

With the communication blackout, there is no indication of what is 
actually taking place in the valley. If Kashmiri media have been shut 
down, there are significant restrictions on Indian journalists currently 
on the ground. As of now, it is not even clear how many Kashmiris know 
that the Indian government has changed their social contract with the state.

It has been described as the darkest day in India’s democracy. But for 
now it is Kashmiris who bear the brunt.

/The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not 
necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye./

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