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Countering Hate and Violence: What Should Indian Minorities Do?

Post from India: by Ram Puniyani The violence against religious minorities has been on the rise during last few years. Many a reports tell us not only about the overall rise in the violence but also about the portents of violence orchestrated in the name of Mother Cow and nationalism in recent times. It has increased the insecurity among the religious minorities to no end; leading to ghettotization, which has started affecting the social fabric in very adverse way. It is in this background that the efforts of Jamiat-e-Ulama Hind to start youth clubs for self defense have to be seen and assessed whether this is the right step? Maulana Mahmood Madani, the chief of the organization while telling about the efforts of his organizations gave an outline of the things to come. As per him the motto of the initiative is “to make youths capable of dealing with tough situations and help the country whenever there is a situation of crisis. He said that the outfit will provide training to the youths just like the Scouts and Guides.” Reacting to this the likes of Vinay Katiyar and spokesmen of RSS related organizations said that this may promote violence and that this is an attempt to copy RSS model, but it will not work. While Madani focused on the training like that of Boys Scouts and Guides, the self defense logic may lead it to an unwanted direction. Many a spokesmen from Muslim organizations have opposed this step of Jamiat by saying that Muslims have full faith in justice system and that giving safety and security to the citizens is the duty of the state. It’s undeniable that the feeling of insecurity among the Muslim and Christian community has seen an unprecedented rise; with the coming of Modi Sarkar to power. As such it has been RSS and its progeny which introduced the training in wielding lathi (baton), guns in a systematic way. RSS shakhas began with lathis in their shakhas. The question is that time the major problem of Indian society was with the British rule. Could they have used lathis against British? No way! It was primarily for the use within the society itself. From last few decades the Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini have been given training in guns as well. All this has been done in the name of self defense! What comes to one’s mind is that in post independence period we have the rule of law with Indian Constitution as the fulcrum of our values. Here we have police, judiciary for protection and justice. So what justifies the program of RSS combine in so called arms training? RSS is very fascinated with arms and every Dusshera day they worship armaments. They have an exhibition of armaments. There are reports doubting whether the police have information about these armaments with RSS, while they do hold license for that. While talking of non violence; RSS has glorified the arms and indulged in training the young boys and girls in these weapons. On the top of this RSS affiliates have undertaken Trishul (trident) distributions. These trishuls, which have been distributed times and over again; have contributed to rise in hate sentiments. Trishul has religiosity associated with Lord Shiva and is blunt; while the trishuls distributed by these groups have sharp edges like knife. Legal positions apart; such ‘self defense’ organized by communities is a negative phenomenon. Dilemmas of Muslim community and organizations like Jamiat are well taken. What should be the role of minority organizations in such troubled times? There are Muslim organizations which are opposing Jamiat’s move. Community’s plight cannot be saved by training some youths in techniques of scouts and guide, neither in copying the methods of RSS combine. What is needed is to call for proper implementation of justice and policing mechanism. Most of the communal violence reports tell us about the partisan attitude of the police and the lax attitude of political parties is the main reason for violence going up and up. Justice has not been delivered in 1984 anti-Sikh massacre; it might have given the major boost to the culture of impunity. In Mumbai Sri Kirshna Commission report was not implemented, boosting the trend of where criminal can get away, innocents suffer and justice is denied. In Gujarat violence, post Godhra, which took place right under the nose of the most efficient chief minster; nearly two thousand Hindus and Muslims were done to death, while state was accomplice in the violence. The Jamiat leadership should think whether they are going in the right direction. Good intentions alone are not enough. Let’s identify the core cause of violence. It’s the Hate manufactured in society. Hate in turn has peaked to mountainous heights due to the misconceptions about the minority community enhanced lately due to abuse of social media in a systematic and planned way. Islam has been demonized as violent religion and Christians are looked down as converters. In Gujarat the travails of the likes of Teesta Setalvad, foremost human rights activist, tell us that getting justice is a humongous task. The need to counter the divisive propaganda done by our TV channels, done through section of media and spruced up by social media needs to be countered. The perceptions about our medieval period, freedom movement and all inclusive nature of Indian nationalism need to be taken far and wide. What is needed is a broad alliance of those concerned about the security and protection of human rights of all. Right to life has lately been compromised heavily. All those working for preservation and promotion of rights of citizens need to come to uphold the basic Indian ethos of pluralism and the core values of Indian Constitution. Jamiat like organizations will do better by focusing on training the youth in the abilities to counter Hate by spreading the message of peace and love, by training them in countering the prevalent misconceptions against religious minorities and against weaker sections of society.

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It seems safer in many places to be a cow than a Muslim

Post from India: by Shashi Tharoor, 22 July, 2018 [Courtesy: The Print] Home minister Rajnath Singh’s robust denial (during the no-confidence debate in the Lok Sabha) that mob lynching has got any worse under BJP rule comes hard on the heels of union minister for minority affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, declaring earlier this month that there have been “no big communal riots” in India over the past four years. Both are wrong, of course, but it is instructive to analyze how wrong they are. Since the ascent of the BJP to power, the forces unleashed by the dominance of Hindutva have resulted in many incidents of violence. In one grim reckoning, more than 389 individuals have been killed in anti-minority acts of violence since mid-2014, and hundreds of others injured, stripped, beaten and humiliated. Particularly haunting is the story of 15-year-old Junaid Khan, returning home on a crowded train after buying new clothes for Eid, who was stabbed repeatedly because he was Muslim and thrown off the train to bleed to death on the tracks. Headlines have spoken continually of riots and killing, Hindu against Muslim, of men being slaughtered because of the mark on a forehead or the absence of a foreskin. Following the BJP’s victory in the 2014 elections, a wave of Hindu triumphalism has swept the land. In its wake have come new laws to protect cows and vociferous demands for their strict enforcement. Gau-rakshak or cow protection societies have been revived, and many have taken it upon themselves to compel compliance. In the process, not only have they taken the law into their own hands, but they have perpetrated grave crimes, including murder, in the name of protecting the cow. Seventy cases of cow-related violence have been reported in the last eight years, of which 97 per cent (68 out of 70) have occurred during the four years of BJP rule and a majority of these have occurred in BJP-ruled states. A hundred and thirty six people have been injured in these attacks and 28 killed: 86 per cent of the victims were, of course, Muslim. Many of the incidents are well known: the case of a dairy farmer, Pehlu Khan, transporting cattle legally with a license, being beaten to death on 1 April 2017 while his tormentors filmed his pleas for mercy on their mobile phones is particularly egregious. A cattle-herder in Haryana, Mustain Abbas, was murdered and mutilated a year earlier for doing his job, herding cattle. Truckers, cattle traders and alleged cow smugglers have also been killed by ‘gau rakshak’ groups. A 16-year-old Kashmiri Muslim boy was murdered for having hitched a ride on a truck that was transporting cattle. It seems safer in many places these days to be a cow than a Muslim. In 2015, when a Muslim, Mohammad Akhlaq, father of a serving Indian Air Force havildar, was lynched by a mob in Uttar Pradesh on suspicions of having killed a cow, the authorities launched a forensic investigation into whether the meat in his refrigerator was beef (it was not). The fact that the man had been killed and his son nearly beaten to death was equated with an unfounded allegation of beef consumption, as if the latter ‘crime’ could extenuate the former. Worse, when a man who was part of the lynch mob died of natural causes a few weeks later, his coffin was draped with the Indian flag and a serving union minister who attended his funeral hailed him – an unspeakable act, and coming from a high office-holder of the secular Indian state, an unacceptable one. Muslims have not been the only targets of the cow vigilantes, of course. There are also Dalits. But the communal colour that marked each of these incidents speaks to the inaccuracy of the ministers’ statements. Perhaps they would take refuge behind the assertion that these were isolated incidents rather than mass communal violence. Yet they speak of a pervasive pattern that has deeply affected society across the country. And when another minister is accused of condoning such incidents by garlanding members of a lynch-mob, society shivers. (He says these individuals were framed and are out on bail, but regrets having garlanded them: the damage, though, is done.) There is a tragic vocabulary to the analysis of communal violence in our country. A “major” communal incident is one that results in more than five deaths or leaves over 10 people injured. An incident that results in one death or 10 injured is termed as “important or significant”. Naqvi spoke of “big” communal riots, but “big” is not a term of art in our national lexicology, and it cannot be defined. “Major”, however, is surely “big”, and three “major communal incidents” have been reported during the BJP rule – Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh in 2014, Hazinagar, West Bengal in 2016 and Baduria-Basirhat, also in West Bengal in 2017. When we move from “major”, however, to merely “important”, the number of “communal incidents” in the last four years rises to 2,920, in which 389 people were killed and 8,890 injured. My source is Rajnathji’s own government: these figures come from a reply by the home ministry to questions in the Lok Sabha. According to the government, Uttar Pradesh (UP), somewhat predictably, reported the most incidents over the last four years, a staggering 645. UP also reported the most deaths in these communal incidents (121) between 2014 and 2017, followed by Rajasthan (36) and Karnataka (35). The venues for communal rioting on the BJP’s watch have ranged from Ballabgarh, Haryana, in 2015 to Bhima-Koregaon, Maharashtra, this year. The home ministry’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collects and maintains nationwide crime records, which naturally includes riots. NCRB data confirm that over 2,885 communal riots were reported between 2014 and 2016. Many others may not have been recorded as communal; as many as 61,974 riots were reported in 2016 under Sections 147 to 151 and 153A of the IPC (the latter records cases relating to “promoting enmity on ground of religion, race and place of birth”). In 2016, 869 communal riots were reported, the largest number in Haryana (250). The figures for 2017 haven’t been released yet. More than halfway into 2018, I dread what they are likely to reveal. We have a government that seems to believe it can issue statements with utter disregard for the truth and people will believe them. This is the only explanation for the two ministers’ breathtaking assertions. It matches the Prime Minister’s claims on the economy and the government’s blandly disingenuous PR pronouncements on everything from electrification to women’s empowerment. But facts and figures matter. And the numbers simply do not add up to the picture the government seeks to portray.

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People of Kashmir: A tough nut to crack

Month of July has special significance with regard to struggle of Kashmiri people. Two events “Martyrs day” and “Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan day” are commemorated of 13 and 19 July respectively. Martyrs' Day is observed in Kashmir and the World over in remembrance of 22 Kashmiris killed on 13 July 1931 due to reckless firing by the state forces of Dogra ruler. On that day Kashmiris were peacefully agitating outside the Central Jail Srinagar, where an innocent Muslim Abdul Qadeer was being tried on the charge of terrorism and inciting public against the Maharaja of Kashmir. They were buried in the compound of Kanqah-i-Maula. The place is since known as Mazar-i-Shuhada (Tomb of Martyrs). So, Indian strategy of mixing up terrorism with legitimate struggle of Kashmiri people predates India’s independence from the British Raj. A historic resolution was passed unanimously by the people of the Muslim-dominated state in a meeting of the All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference held at the residence of Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, the founder President of AJK on July 19, 1947 at Aabi Guzer in Srinagar demanding the then Dogra rulers to materialise the accession of the Jammu Kashmir state to Pakistan honouring the decision and the categorical viewpoint of the majority population of the Muslim-majority Jammu & Kashmir state. This day is marked as “Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan day". Awareness about plight of Kashmiris is picking up momentum. And powerful voices are now worried about HR violations in Kashmir. The latest in joining the ranks of those expressing serious concern over quandary of religious minorities, in India, is the US State Department, which showed its disappointment over refusal of the Indian Government in allowing a delegation of the US Commission on International Freedom to visit the country to have first-hand knowledge of trampling of human and fundamental rights in India. This is for the third time that the delegation has been denied visas and the motives are quite understandable. And only recently, the UN Human Rights Council has documented details of what is happening with Kashmiris, urging the UN General Assembly and Security Council to take up the issue seriously. Though India claims to be the biggest democracy and champion of secularism, its denial of access to the outside world clearly means it has something to hide. National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa has confirmed that it will be investigating Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi for his involvement in war crimes and HR violations in Kashmir. Fast Forward 2018: Kashmir continues to be occupied by India against the will of Kashmiri people. Indian Occupied Kashmir is burning. Hundreds of Kashmiri men, women and children have been killed over the past two months; more than 150 civilians have been blinded by the use of lethal pellet guns; and more than 10,000 men, women and children have been seriously injured because of the indiscriminate firing by occupying Indian forces. While Indian claims that pellet guns are non-lethal, the Doctors Association in Kashmir has clearly said that the embedded pellets in the bodies of the victims were causing fatal lead poisoning and put pregnant women at serious risk. Further, the toxic lead deposits in children’ bodies would stunt their growth. Kashmiris in IoK are under siege in their own land. The use of sexual molestation and rape, as an instrument of state terror, is a norm. Peaceful demonstrations are a crime, political meetings are banned and true representatives of Kashmiri people had been incarcerated. There are prolonged curfews and mobile telephone and internet blackouts in IoK. Indian occupation forces in the occupied territory are hunting down innocent citizens involving draconian black laws. Today, hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris are campaigning against the Indian repression to attain freedom and realization of their right to self-determination. Now two years after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani, his legacy for struggle for self-determination lives on. Martyrdom of Burhan Wani has infused new vigour in the indigenous freedom struggle of innocent Kashmiris who have been fighting for their right of self-determination for almost seven decades. Burhan Wani’s martyrdom has handed down the baton of freedom struggle to the youth of Kashmir, a fact recognized by a recently released report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). In a recent Conference, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has appealed to the Canadian lawmakers to develop a bipartisan approach for the promotion and protection of human rights of Kashmiris in IoK. He made this appeal to the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons while addressing a Kashmir Conference at Hamilton, Canada, organized here by the Pakistan Business Association of Hamilton. He especially urged the Human Rights Committees of the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons to take note of the report on the human rights situation in IoK recently released by OHCHR, discuss it and support its recommendations. He highlighted two of the reports’ recommendations, namely, the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the Human Rights Council to ascertain facts on the ground and repeal of two draconian laws – Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Public Safety Act. The Conference was also addressed by Scott Duvall, Member of Canadian Parliament, Ken Stone of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, Mr. Chris Macleod of Cross Border Litigation Group, and Dr. Zafar Bangash, Chairman of the Friends of Kashmir Committee. Scott Duvall, MP, said that he would take back suggestion for focus on Human Rights Council’s Kashmir report in the Human Rights Committee of the House of Commons. Chris Macleod endorsed the idea that more attention must be given to the human right’s situation in IoK and in this regard the Human Rights Committees of the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons should play a role. Ken Stone said that the Kashmir Conference has been convened to hear the cries of the Kashmiris struggling against denial of self-determination in IoK. He said that in early 2017 he had visited Azad Kashmir and had found it to be truly free. In Azad Kashmir, unlike IoK, there was no presence of the Army in cities and towns, no gun-toting soldiers, no barricades and no sign of the people of AJK being repressed. Despite India’s state terrorism and savage oppression, the people of Kashmir and Pakistan believe in peaceful means and would continue to urge India to resort to dialogue and diplomacy. It is the responsibility of the UN and international community to avert a major war over Kashmir, which is a grave and potent risk. India should renounce the path of terrorism and violence and come back to diplomacy to resolve this issue within the political parameters defined by the UN Security Council Resolutions. Back in 1949, Canada’s General AGL McNaughton, in his capacity as President of the Security Council, had played an active role in the resolution of the dispute and on 22 December 1949 had proposed an impartial plebiscite in the territory to determine the future of Jammu and Kashmir and settle the dispute in accordance with the freely expressed will of its inhabitants. Stone said “occupation is a crime from Kashmir to Palestine”. And that solution given by the UN Security Council mandating a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to determine their political future was the most viable, prudent and practicable dispensation. India is continuing occupation of IoK and brutalization of the Kashmir people in its attempts to illegally integrate the Occupied Kashmir to the Indian State. The Kashmir Conference also passed a resolution which unanimously calls on the UN to assume its responsibility to organize the Kashmir plebiscite under its supervision; and urges the UN to investigate all massacres, gang rapes, fake encounters, forced disappearances and wilful blinding of the Kashmiris. The resolution also called upon India to cease forthwith all human rights violations in IOK; and called on its government to allow UN/ independent investigations into the human rights situation in IoK; and to withdraw all its troops including armed constabulary from Jammu and Kashmir, particularly from cities, towns and villages. The world must break the cycle of appeasement of India. While the world, especially the western countries know fully well that Indian occupation forces are on a murderous rampage in the IoK and are committing crimes against humanity there, even then, the majority of the western nations have chosen to be silent on the issue or look the other way. This encourages and rewards Indian impunity in IoK and is tantamount to complicity in the Indian crimes. Moreover, plebiscite is not a dated instrument; Canada has recently held a plebiscite in Quebec.

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Fresh thinking is needed to cut the Gordian knot in Kashmir

Post from America by Dr Ghulam Nabi FAI. The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) [Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik] in Kashmir has shown willingness to talk provided the Government of India clarifies the parameters of talks. In an interview with The Indian Express, (June 5, 2018) Dineshwar Sharma, Indian Government’s Interlocutor said, “When I talk to the younger generation there (Kashmir), often they confront me with so many questions and even talk about Azaadi… Any rational discussion will be possible when we are able to first address the sentiment of the people…” In this interview, Mr. Sharma has made it clear that the sentiments of the people of Kashmir are for Azaadi. I believe that fresh thinking is needed to cut the Gordian knot in Kashmir, which has been flailed at for more than 70 years bilaterally between India and Pakistan without result. All parties concerned i.e. the Governments of India & Pakistan and the leadership of the people of Kashmir -- should recognize the necessity of adjusting or re-thinking the modalities of implementing any plan to suit present-day circumstances. But what is not acceptable is any erosion far less a negation, of the principle of the will and sentiments of the people of Kashmir. We know that all international conflicts ultimately were resolved on the negotiating table. If that is true then the world powers should become deeply engaged in order to make sure that the peace process between India and Pakistan once initiated does not get derailed. They can play a bridge building to bring parties together so that the animosity is done away with and the dawn of dialogue and engagement is sustained. They need to make sure that the policy of conflict resolution adopted by both New Delhi and Islamabad over the Kashmir dispute is consistent, coherent, transparent and dependable. We are mindful of the urgings by the United Nations that India and Pakistan keep talking to each other. It would be perverse on the part of anyone to oppose that course of action. But to expect a breakthrough in talks is to ask for miracles. It would be irresponsible on our part to encourage the hope that if the Governments of India and Pakistan are willing to depart from the stand of principle, the compromise will be endorsed by the people of Kashmir. During the long years of domestic and international political chess by India, Pakistan and the United Nations, it must be stressed, the people of Kashmir themselves have been denied even the role of a pawn. Their voices have neither been summoned nor heard; yet they have suffered the most in daily and harrowing human rights violations. It’s interesting how problematic it is for India & Pakistan to agree that Kashmiris themselves have a stake in any talks about their future. In what kind of democratic process would this not be of prime consideration? The moral, legal and historical foundations for such a principle have been frequently raised not only by Kashmiris but by the world community as well, which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. India and Pakistan have had more than 150 official rounds of talks in the last seven decades to discuss conflicts and differences between them. The by-product of every round of talk was an agreement to meet again to talk. In consequence, the peace process between parties has always remained an illusion. Talks have always proved barren because both India and Pakistan have never defined the parameters of talks. The talks were never meant to be time bound with specific benchmarks that would define and characterize progress. History testifies that the dispute will not, and cannot, be solved bilaterally by the two disputants. Both India and Pakistan have to agree to include the leadership of Kashmiri political resistance to explore the lasting solution of the dispute. We are fully aware that the settlement of the Kashmir dispute cannot be achieved in one move. Like all qualified observers, we visualize successive steps or intermediate solutions in the process. It is one thing, however, to think of a settlement over a relatively extended period of time. It is atrociously different to postpone the beginning of the process on that account. The plan of action that would ensure for all components of the State as it existed on August 15, 1947 equal representation and equal freedom to decide whether to continue the status quo or to opt for a new dispensation is not difficult to work out. It can be done by a joint committee composed of the rightly qualified people from India and Pakistan who would consult the leadership of the people of Kashmir and also, as necessary, experts from the United Nations. What is desperately needed is an affirmation by Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan of the necessity of taking new measures to effect the settlement of the dispute within a reasonable time frame. To that end, India and Pakistan must together prepare a plan for the demilitarization of the State with safeguards for security worked out together. Peace in the region would benefit not only those who are directly impacted by this conflict- Kashmiris - but India as well. Sounder minds must prevail. More rational methods of dealing with differences must be sought. Repeating the same mistakes while expecting different results has long ago been found to be the path of failure. Seventy years should demonstrate a need for a change in policy, a policy that acknowledges the need for coming together in a process that accepts the right of all people to determine their own destiny. The people of Kashmir, like most people, are by their nature peaceful. History testifies to that fact. They do not seek war, and do not want to see their children die in a bloody conflict. They seek and would welcome a peaceful and negotiated settlement to the crisis for the sake of peace and stability in the region of South Asia.

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India and its colonial and antidemocratic ways in Kashmir

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai This is an opportunity to explore a vexing but significant topic in the field of human rights: the Right of Self-determination. The right of self-determination has been celebrated for ages. It is a basic principle of the United Nation Charter which has been reaffirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and applied countless times to the settlement of international disputes. The concept played a significant part in the post-world war I settlement, leading for example to plebiscite in a number of disputed border areas, even though no reference was made to self-determination in the League of Nations Covenant. In 1945 the establishment of the United Nations gave a new dimension to the principle of self-determination. It was made one of the objectives which the UN would seek to achieve, along with equal rights of all nations. The principle of self-determination and the maintenance of international peace and security are inseparable. For example, the denial of this right to self-determination to the people of Kashmir has brought two neighboring countries in South Asia – India and Pakistan – to the brink of nuclear catastrophe. Although, the applicability of the principle of the self-determination to the specific case of Jammu and Kashmir has been explicitly recognized by the United Nations. It was upheld equally by India and Pakistan when the Kashmir dispute was brought before the Security Council. Since, on the establishment of India and Pakistan as sovereign states, Jammu and Kashmir was not part of the territory of either, the two countries entered into an agreement to allow its people to exercise their right of self-determination under impartial auspices and in conditions free from coercion from either side. The idea that the dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir can be settled only in accordance with the will of the people, which can be ascertained through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite, was the common ground taken by both Pakistan and India. It was supported without any dissent by the United Nations Security Council and prominently championed by the United States, Britain and other democratic states. It became a matter of controversy only after India realized that she could not win the people’s vote. It seems to me that when everything is considered, the case for Kashmiri self-determination is overwhelming if historical practice and simple justice are consulted. What is anguishing and dumbfounding to me is not that the world powers resist sending troops to Kashmir to vindicate self-determination at the risk of warring with India. After all, nations are not agents of altruism. What is frustrating and confounding is that world powers withhold even the moral boost of officially proclaiming the right of self-determination for 22 million Kashmiris in accord with Security Council plebiscite resolutions it heartily approved and have never disavowed. Professor Korbel proved prophetic. India’s insolence has provoked more than 70 years of horrifying conflict in Kashmir, war between India and Pakistan, a nuclear arms and missile race in South Asia, and human rights violations on a scale vastly more gruesome than witnessed by CNN broadcasting in Kosovo, and East Timor, all of which triggered international intervention. In the last twenty-nine years alone, approximately 700,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces with impunity have perpetrated more than 100,000 killings, coupled with countless incidents of torture, rape, custodial disappearances, arson, plunder, abduction, arbitrary detentions, and savage repression of peaceful political protest and freedom of expression. India always persisted in its colonial and antidemocratic ways in Kashmir. British historian, Bertrand Russell said in 1964, “The high idealism of the Indian government in international matters breaks down completely when confronted with the question of Kashmir.” Jay Prakash Narayan who was known as ‘The Second Gandhi of India’ confided to Indira Gandhi, in 1960: “We profess democracy but rule by force in Kashmir” He added that [The Kashmir] problem exists not because Pakistan wants to grab Kashmir, but because there is deep and widespread political discontent among the people.” Dr. Shri Prakash, an Indian writer & scholar in his book, ‘Twenty Tumultuous Years Insights in to Indian Polity’ on page 568 writes, “The Kashmiri anger actually began with the mass rigging of elections in 1987. There is no use putting life in a corpse. Kashmiri leaders from Farooq Abdullah downwards have lost their credibility , they are totally irrelevant.” We know it now that the fraudulent elections in 1987 extinguished the last flicker of hope among Kashmiris that India would bow to a free and fair plebiscite as ordained by the Security Council. The cure for counterfeit elections in Kashmir, however, is not more of the same, but providing the genuine democratic article. Thus, the people of Kashmir are eager to participate in the impending elections if they are conducted with the trapping of free and fair choice, conducted, monitored and supervised by a neutral agency like the United Nations. The status of East Timor was resolved in 1999 by a free and fair vote of the East Timorese. The same, championed by the United States and the European Union happened in Kosovo, Montenegro and Southern Sudan. The solution of Kashmir’s indigenous upheaval is no different. The irresponsible coveting of dignity, liberty and pride that comes with self-determination knows no territorial or regional or religious boundaries. The world powers should take a leaf from the statement made on June 15, 1962 by American representative to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson ” … The best approach is to take for a point of departure the area of common ground which exists between the parties. I refer of course to the resolutions which were accepted by both parties and which in essence provide for demilitarization of the territory and a plebiscite whereby the population may freely decide the future status of Jammu and Kashmir.” Taking into consideration the above facts, I propose: The demilitarization of the State of Jammu & Kashmir on either side of the Cease-fire Line; Creating an atmosphere of peace and security; iii. Conducting of an election by an international and neutral agency, i.e., the United Nations; Mandating that the elected officials will negotiate a final settlement of the Kashmir conflict with India and Pakistan; Satisfying the democratic principles, the rule of law, and security for every inhabitant of Kashmir, irrespective of their religious and regional affiliations in reaching to any solution. In conclusion, a sincere and serious effort towards a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute must squarely deal with the realities of the situation and fully respond to the people’s rights involved in it. Indeed, any process that ignores the wishes of the people of Kashmir and is designed to sidetrack the United Nations will not only prove to be an exercise in futility but can also cause incalculable human and political damage.

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UN confirms HR abuses in IoK

Pakistan Focus Analysis Imposition of governor’s rule and the ongoing bloodshed in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) along with statements emanating from India about an additional ‘crackdown’ on Kashmiris in IoK, indicate an alarming Indian unreceptiveness to international opinion. India continues with its gross violations of human rights in IoK. Such steps are likely to result in enhanced Indian brutalities and a ruthless free hand to Indian security forces. The level of repression in IoK has already significantly gone up. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has recommended to HR Council to establish a “Commission of Inquiry” (COI) for international investigation into human rights violations in Kashmir. A COI is one of the UN's highest-level probes, generally reserved for major crises. Due to Indian refusal for direct access, report is based on remote monitoring. The main focus of the report is on human rights situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK), from July 2016 to April 2018. Report has stated that according to HR activists’ estimates, up to 145 civilians were killed by security forces and up to 20 civilians killed by armed groups in the same period. Report accuses India of ‘unlawful killings' in Kashmir and urges provision of right to self-determination. The contents, scale and the narrative of killings, maiming, abuse and impunity articulated in the report is a reaffirmation of what Pakistan has long highlighted to the comity of nations. OHCHR’s Report has rightly called for final political solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through meaningful dialogue that includes the people of Kashmir. On the broader Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, the UNSG Spokesman Farhan Haq said that the UN chief has consistently called for the resolution of the decades-old problem. The report has called for an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses and deliver justice for all people in Kashmir. The report said that people of Kashmir had been suffering a conflict for seven decades that had claimed or ruined numerous lives. However, ground reality is that India does not give a dime such reports. To supplement its over 6 million IoK stationed security forces, India is raising additional two women battalions for Kashmir police. India continues to ignore legitimate demands by various reputed domestic and international HR watch dog entities for probe into gross and systemic violations, including” permanent blinding of over 1000 youth due to pellet gun injuries, excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest and detentions as well as continued sexual violence; alongside undoing of comprehensive impunity enjoyed by Indian security forces under the (il)legal cover of nearly a dozen draconian laws. Pakistan has welcomed the proposal to establish a COI for international investigation into human rights violations. India, on its part, has rejected the call by the report for obvious reasons. "It is a selective compilation of largely unverified information. It is overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative," the Indian External Affairs Ministry said in a statement. "The report violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India," it claimed. "Pakistan is in illegal and forcible occupation of a part of the Indian state through aggression." The dissociation of India from reality is alarming. Indian attempts to exploit and cash in on the international environment by labelling the legitimate Kashmiris struggle terrorism makes a mockery of the victims of actual terrorism and is reprehensible. If it really has nothing to hide, India can address its claims of the report being based on unverified information by allowing the COI and OIC IPHRC access to IOK. Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has urged the UN HR Council to consider establishing a COI: “to consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry for a more comprehensive investigation of the human rights situation in Kashmir and reiterate my calls for access… Alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region should be investigated. …. I am tremendously saddened by the assassination last week of Shujaat Bukhari, a courageous human rights defender actively working for peace, including through his participation in the Track Two diplomacy seeking to help both India and Pakistan put an end to the violence”. The tragic and brutal killing of Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari Editor-in-Chief of the Rising Kashmir by unknown gunmen outside his office in Srinagar on 14 June 2018 gave a serious blow to international human rights and freedom of expression. His assassination, due to his unremitting efforts for the Kashmiri cause will be remembered forever and is a clear manifestation of Indian state terrorism. Shujaat Bukhari’s brutal murder by Indian forces is reflection of the intolerance of Indian state apparatus who wants to stifle freedom of speech and expression. The Indian government remains fearful of international exposition of the brutalization of occupied Jammu & Kashmir. India can run, but can it hide? This remains to be seen. In his endorsement, UNSG Guterres has also stated that UN Human Rights Council must take next steps to address Indian rights abuses in Kashmir. He has held back his comments until council announces an international probe. According to the 49-page report: “In responding to demonstrations that started in 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries”. High Commissioner has denounced the lack of prosecutions of Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir due to a 1990 law giving them what he called “virtual immunity”. The report clearly stipulates that its main focus is on the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Hence, references to human rights concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan can in no way be construed to create a false sense of equivalence. India’s unwillingness to engage in a dialogue process with Pakistan and suppression of Kashmiri aspirations for right of self-determination continue to endanger regional and international peace and security. The lasting solution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute is an essential imperative for peace, security and stability of the region. The report has rightly called for final political solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through meaningful dialogue that includes the people of Kashmir. Pakistan has once again expressed readiness for a COI to visit both AJK and IoK. India has again backed out. The isolation of India in the international community is complete. The skeletons in Indian closet are growing in numbers and size. UN has a key role to play in the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The OCHCR report is a reminder of this internationally recognized dispute and the urgency of its settlement, both to protect human lives and promote peace. Being custodian of over a dozen UNSC resolutions spanning 1948-98, the UN has a duty to discharge with regard to settlement of one of oldest dispute on its agenda, hopefully OCHCR report will stimulate the stake holders to jump start the process towards that end. Permanent members of Security Council must put in their collective effort for resolving this humanitarian issue. The international community must ensure an expedited establishment of the Commission of Inquiry, to ensure that the Human Rights Charter is not reduced to meaningless words.

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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.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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Republic Day: An Icon of National Pride

Republic Day National Parade

On 23rd March 1940, a historic resolution passed by the annual session of Muslim League became the basis for the formation of a new nation-state in South Asia: “No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign”. Pakistani nation is resolved to redeem its pledge given to its founding fathers that it will protect the homeland. We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language, and literature, art, architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and protection, legal laws and moral code, aptitude, and ambitions. We have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. Vision of Pakistan’s founding fathers was prophetic. Post independence behaviour of India towards Pakistan, other neighbours and its own minorities including the scheduled castes indicate that creation of Pakistan was the only way forward for the Muslim majority provinces of British India. Happy Pakistan Day!

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The fast disappearing Muslim in the Indian republic

The fast disappearing Muslim in the Indian republic

As the nation celebrates the Republic’s 69th year, the one dangerous trend that is becoming solidified since 2014 is the political invisibilisation of the Muslim, by denying the significant minority any political space. This is key to the Hindutva project of Hindu majoritarianism and the othering of the Muslim in every social sphere. The BJP is ruling 19 of the 29 states at the present, but has Muslim representatives in only three states. It has made “Congress Mukt Bharat” its rallying cry. But what is immediately manifest is the march towards a “Muslim Mukt Bharat.” The terrifying denouement of this will be especially catastrophic for the Pasmanda Muslim, who is subject to the “double-bind” of religious as well as caste discrimination, and who continues to remain on the margins of the nation’s socio-economic and cultural life. A democracy will become brittle when its minorities are systematically subject to a political apartheid and denied political representation. Certainly, no democracy can be a real democracy when its oppressed castes and classes are pitted against each other on the basis of religion.

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Rawat Bipin: A General or a BJP Cow Vigilante

Rawat Bipin: A General or a BJP Cow Vigilante

It appears as if Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat had extensively bunked his military strategy related classes during staff college days. On January 12, he said at a presser: “We will call the [nuclear] bluff of Pakistan. If we will have to really confront, and a task is given to us, we are not going to say we cannot cross the border because they have nuclear weapons”. Pakistan is fully capable of defending itself. Region couldn’t make progress without enduring pace and stability. Peaceful environment in the region is imperative for economic progress and wellbeing of the people of South Asia. Who would know better than Bipin that Pakistan’s nuclear resolve has been tested many times over since Brass-tacks days, and it always stood the test very well. Indian leadership is well aware about inherent weaknesses attached to its nuclear button. Rawat’s bellicosity is misplaced. And as regards China, Doklam fiasco shall continue to haunt a couple of Bipin’s successors. This tactical mistake has brought enduring strategic pain to India, smaller countries of South Asia as well the US stand exposed to the reality that India military is no match to Chinese strategic acumen. And finally, General Rawat Bipin! have a heart, there should be a difference in the quality of posturing by Indian Army Chief and a BJP Cow-vigilante.

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