Published On: Sat, Apr 18th, 2020

Modi Sarkar can dress up its actions in any cosmetic way that it likes. It cannot hide the government’s ugly designs in Kashmir.

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By Faizah Gilani

Indian occupied Kashmir has passed its 105th day under curfew, and the world continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of the Kashmiri people. Countries around the world, in particular the leaders of the western world, continue to ignore the Human Rights violations carried out by India within IOK (Indian occupied Kashmir) yet they continue to give India and Prime Minister Modi a free pass.
Silence world over has been criminal, and lack of backbone by world leaders is unforgiving. As Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan rightly pointed out, trade and money is given importance over human life. World leaders are unwilling to take a moral stand against Modi’s aggressive approach in Kashmir because they do not want to compromise trade and other opportunities. It is simply a matter of self-interest. Sadly, money buys silence.

We did, however, see German Chancellor Angela Merkel voice her concerns over Kashmir in her recent visit to India. She was quoted as saying that the situation within IOK is “not good and not sustainable,” and that situation “has to be improved, for sure.” Merkel mentioning Kashmir is a clear indication that world leaders are aware of the situation within Kashmir. But it also highlights how they are unable to go all out and condemn the Indian government for its actions.

Barring Turkey and Malaysia’s strong condemnation of India’s actions in Kashmir, the overall attitude towards revoking Article 370 and the curfew has been very disappointing from the International community but expected at the same time. We are, however, hearing some voices from MEPs (Members of European Parliament) and Congressmen and women in the US, those that are bold enough to speak truth to power. But there is no collective voice, no solid movement to call out, and exert pressure on India.

Even today, the world continues to pamper India, despite it being clear that India is being led by a right wing, extremist party that stokes hatred towards minority groups. Recent times have simply exposed India as a majoritarian state, with a Hindutva ideology running deep through it. And it is not only evident in Kashmir; we are seeing what is happening in Assam, and the alarming increase in incidents of mob lynching and attacks on individuals belonging to the Muslim faith. How can the world celebrate India’s secularism and call it the world’s largest democracy, when minorities are being mistreated and those in power normalise hate?
The Indian government recently invited an unofficial delegation of MEPS to visit Kashmir. But unsurprisingly, most of them consisted of MEPS belonging to the far right. The Indian government is no longer hiding its far right, Hindutva mindset, and the invite for the far-right MEPs validates just that. India today under Narendra Modi is not bothered about what the rest of the world thinks, or the negative image that it is projecting. India is feeling confident and knows the international community will not create a fuss.
The government of India also managed to exert pressure on the UK’s Labour party, over their Kashmir stance. Ever since the revocation of Article 370, Labour maintained a strong position in favour of Kashmir, which did not go down well with the Indian government, and within the Indian community in the UK. Unfortunately for UK’s Kashmiri community, Labour party has backed down from its original stance, and now refers to the issue of Kashmir as a dispute between both India and Pakistan. The party has stated that it will neither take an anti- India, nor a stance against Pakistan.
The labour party has clearly failed to understand that supporting Kashmir’s right to a referendum is not taking an anti-India and pro-Pakistan stance. It is simply standing for justice, for those that are having their voices silenced. It is about being on the right side of history. For Modi’s government this might be a victory, but one cannot ignore the fact that the Labour party backed down following immense pressure and strong Indian lobbying. India’s bullying tactics might have paid off, but it projects the world’s largest democracy in a very different light. This is not the India that the world once idealised.
It is also important to mention that India leads the world when it comes to internet blackout. We are seeing this in Kashmir, with people being cut off from the outside world. Any country with a record of internet blackout raises serious concerns over its democratic values. Any government that resorts to such tactics clearly has something to hide. Modi’s government needs to explain why it has imposed a curfew on IOK, and why Kashmiris have been silenced if everything is “normal,” as they say. There is nothing normal about the current situation within IOK. People are living in an open prison, confined to their homes, not being able to go about and get along with their normal day to day routines.
But then again, has life in Kashmir ever been normal? Human Rights violations, restrictions and a life of suffocation is nothing new for those living in IOK. Therefore, one cannot say that normalcy should be restored in Kashmir. There has not been anything normal within Kashmir for 70 odd years, and this romanticised illusion of life in Kashmir needs to be broken. What Indian occupied Kashmir needs is its promised plebiscite that is now long overdue. It is the only way ‘’normalcy’’ can be returned to Kashmir. Let the fate of Kashmir be in the hands of its people. Let them choose their destiny.
Modi Sarkar continue to brazenly lie about Kashmir and the implications of latest developments. The government continues to harp on about progress and new opportunities for Kashmir, but it refuses to address the hurt, anger and grievances of the Kashmiri people. India refuses to accept that Kashmiris want to exercise their right to self-determination, as clearly stated in the UN resolutions. This is a bitter pill, one that India is unwilling to swallow. But it is reality. Even a lifetime of curfew imposed on Kashmiris will not break their resolve. Modi Sarkar can dress up its actions in any cosmetic way that it likes. It cannot hide the government’s ugly designs in Kashmir.

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