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India’s ethno-sectarian mosaic

Conceptually, one can trace back domestic façade of Hindu extremism to erstwhile Maha-Bharat mythology. Foundation stone is provided by the religion sanctified Hindu caste system. Through this two-pronged socio-political support, intra-Hindu state and society enact and enshrine a well-structured hard and fast setting of four caste based sub-societies which are racial in composition and do not allow any horizontal movement. Issue surfaces when Hindus live side by side with non-Hindus while characterising them lower to the lowest Hindu caste. This status is not acceptable to non-Hindus and a struggle for equalisation ferments and snowballs to the extent of forcefully stressing the Hindu majority State to its seams.

This external, albeit non-Hindu, push-factor also causes intra-Hindu socio-political fissures. Whatever notional improvement has come to the status of lower caste Hindus, they owe it this to external pressure. Muslim presence In India has been a major contributor towards this breeze of fresh air to stagnant Hindu society. Concept of Human equality in Muslim state and society has been a source of great inspiration for triggering intra-Hindu struggle. This has however not ended the tyranny of Hindu state and society. Armed with the tool of religious sanctity, the duo fights back, again and again, to strengthen the caste dogma. Hence, the struggle by the oppressed—both Hindus and non-Hindus— has become a perpetual phenomenon or say the problem of Hindu majority state and society, sprouting spells of Hindu majoritarian rule.

By composition, contemporary India consists of a pluralist mass of people, however by practice, or to say by default, Indian society is perpetually self-gravitating towards exclusive socio-economic setting. Post-independence India could not go beyond the tyranny of majoritarian rule.  While maintaining a state of denial, Hindutva has become a bipartisan phenomenon. Congress is the softer image of Hindutva while BJP is the cruder façade of same ideology. In reality both parties follow similar trajectory viz-a-viz their minorities. Worrying part is the State’s institutional behaviour in India that encourages highhandedness towards minorities—covertly under Congress led rule and overtly under the BJP rule.

For quite some time, all kinds of extremism have been taking roots in Indian society as by-products of majoritarian rule. This has now become “Hindu versus” the rest assertiveness. Minorities stand disenfranchised, there representation in the parliament, provincial assemblies and local government bodies is abysmally below par with their respective demographic representation.  Presently there are only 22 Muslim members of parliament which is the lowest ever number. Going by their number (14.5 percent), their legitimate entitlement is much higher. Situation of other minorities is also not different.

Although many armed insurgencies are going on in India, none is strong enough to pose any meaningful threat to the government. Hence these are being dealt with iron hand.  During April, at least 39 Maoists were killed in a fake account with Indian security forces in Gadchiroli area that is situated on the periphery juncture of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh states. The Maoists while accepting the setback have vowed to avenge. India’s domestic Human Rights monitoring bodies have thrown up serious questions with regard to authenticity of the encounter because not a single security person has even been injured. Incident is being termed as an extrajudicial premediated mass murder—indeed a cold-blooded killing of Maos. Such incidents against Maoists insurgents are not being taken seriously by international media.

In Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK), during last week, Indian security forces martyred seven innocent Kashmiris. On 31st May the Indian occupation forces martyred two innocent Kashmiris in a fake operation in Kupwara district. After the use of human shields, bullets and pellets, India is now using new inhuman methods of crushing Kashmiri youth under heavy vehicles. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) ran a jeep over Kaiser Ahmad, 24 years old, during protests after Friday prayers; victim succumbed to injuries in Nowhatta area of Srinagar. To prevent further protests, the Indian occupation forces have snapped the internet services in Srinagar and clamped curbs on the public movement. Indian atrocities in IoK need immediate attention of the international community and global human rights defenders.

Reportedly, BJP State President Ravinder Raina for Jammu & Kashmir recently said that time is approaching fast when India would be left with no option but to strike inside Pakistan. Pakistan is ready to defend its borders. Any Indian misadventure shall be given a befitting response.  Pakistan wants to live in peace, however, if aggression is thrust upon us, it would be duly punished.

Last week marked the anniversary of Khalistan Tehreek around the world. India had brutally crushed the Sikhs in 1984 through notorious Operation Blue Star, it gave rise to the Sikh movement. Sikhs in India are under suppression; however, forceful voices have been raised by large Sikhs community leaders in Australia and Canada. On one hand, India calls itself a democratic state and on the other hand, it unleashes worst persecutions on its minorities—especially Muslims, Dalits, Christians and Sikhs.

Causes leading to prevailing ethno-sectarian tensions in India are increasing without any signs of reversal. While there may be numerous causative factors and contributing conditions for strengthening in vogue exclusionism practiced in India, main factor for its sustenance is well entrenched caste system within Hindu mythology.  A trend has emerged that hardly any meaningful action is taken against perpetrators, planners and practitioners of anti-minority events; they are never given deterring punishments. State has lost the will to do so.

In the historic perspective, during 1820s or so the British tried to consolidate whatever the caste Hindus were available into a single organized entity. Then on, Hindu community started working towards their national reassertion and around 1925, the concept of “Hindu Rashtra” or Hindu nation state was floated.

India is spreading hate-based ideology and Hindutva extremism under present government. Amendments are being incorporated in text books to tarnish Muslim leaders’ image. Prime Minster Narendra Modi, a well-known RSS representative in the BJP government and a flag bearer of the Hindutva ideology of RSS is behind the intimidating plot, rendering full governmental support and protection to the perpetrators of anti-minority drive. The ‘Ghar Wapsi’ movement is based on getting back emigrant Hindus into the folds of Hindutva and converting the Christians and Muslims into the fold of their ‘original religion’. The movement has gained momentum during the current regime.

No reversal is expected in Indian behaviour. So, people of the region in general and minority groups living in India should learn to adjust to this stark reality and take measures to mitigate the impact of state practiced exclusionism by India, it is indeed a difficult path to tread.  This pattern is likely to go on because “Hindu India” sells well among the rural Hindu masses which form the major chunk of Indian population. Hindu votes will continue to determine who could rule India. Therefore, even the mainstream political parties, which previously prided themselves with secular ideology have largely tilted towards appeasement of Hindu majority, at the cost of minorities. Indian is habitual of ignoring the reports of Human Rights watchdogs which convey their concerns about oppression of Indian minorities quite frequently and rather strongly.

The United Nations need to take cognisance of the situation and place India on watch list with regard to its ill-treatment of minorities. Unless appropriate safeguards are built, in line with Universal Declaration of Human rights, majoritarian rule in Hindu India would continue to oppress the Indian citizenry.

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Kashmir Martyrs’ Day – July 13th

Post from Washington: Statement by World Kashmir Awareness Forum Washington, D.C. July 13h, 2018. “It was on July 13, 1931, that the foreign occupying Dogra troops shot dead 22 Kashmiris, in cold blood, in front of Srinagar Central Jail. Since that ominous day, Kashmiris have organized peaceful protests, seminars and conferences throughout the world. The people of Kashmir observe the Martyrs Day to reaffirm their resolve to continue their struggle for self-determination and pay homage to the 100,000 innocent men, women and children killed brutally within the past 29 years. In Srinagar, a massive march will take place towards the martyrs’ graveyard at Naqashband Sahib. This march has been approved by Joint Resistance Leadership – Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik. We clearly and unequivocally call for all Kashmiris to continue to increase their solidarity at this critical juncture. As we know that Indian impotence, willful ignorance and desperation to avoid a meaningful peace process and initiate wimpy attempts to pacify Kashmiri passion will fail miserably,” stated Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF). Fai emphasized that the Kashmiri people’s resolve and continued commitment to peaceful protest is principled on the ongoing massive violations of their human rights, and the Indian Government’s atrocious dismissal of their aspirations for self-determination. Amnesty International (AI) report, for India (2017-2018) says, “Impunity for human rights abuses (in Jammu and Kashmir) persisted. ..Security forces continued to use inherently inaccurate pellet-firing shotguns during protests, blinding and injuring several people. Authorities frequently shut down internet services, citing public order concerns.” In that regard, the recent report issued by the United Nations on June 14, 2018 on the situation in Kashmir, is congratulatory. The report underscored that “Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.” And that “Impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances in Kashmir continues as there has been little movement towards credibly investigating complaints including into alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region.” The people of Kashmir clearly have little faith in or respect for the so-called Indian democracy, and India hasn’t the slightest idea how to earn it. It’s solution to the anger of people crying for freedom and a respite, at the very least, from the terror of 700,000 troops, is to clamp down even harder, adding to the death toll of such a policy that now approaches the six-figure range. The desire for self-determination is the one very big “element” India should be concerned about, yet continues to pretend to the world that it does not exist. However long India refuses to acknowledge it, the decades-old movement in Kashmir will not simply die out. Even the latest United Nations report recommends to the Government of India to, “ “Fully respect the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir as protected under international law.” Fai discounted the United Nations hopes that the Kashmir dispute could be settled through bilateral talks between India and Pakistan. He recounted the litany of failed bilateral efforts and said that the people of Kashmir have steadfastly maintained that tripartite talks between the Governments of India & Pakistan and the legitimate leadership of the people of Kashmir, are the only way to resolve the Kashmir issue. We appeal to the world powers to recognize the long-standing wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people as they observe Martyrs Day, July 13th. And we hope that the world powers will realize that what is at stake in the dispute is not only the survival of the people of Kashmir but also the peace and stability in the region of South Asia.

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