Kashmir Solidarity Day with a difference

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  • Modi’s ruthlessness has assumed new proportions after the killing of Burhan Wani

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, 3 February 2019, amidst protests, violence and complete shutdown by the Kashmiris. The Occupied Valley was reverberating with slogans and chants of “Go Modi Go…” expressing disdain and anger by the majority Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir continuing to be tyrannised by Indian armed forces. Shops and businesses were shut while thousands of armed Indian forces and commandos in flak jackets spread out across the area and closed off roads with coiled razor wire and iron barricades to prevent protests and attacks during Modi’s visit. Authorities detained dozens of activists overnight and put Kashmiri leaders under house arrest to stop them from staging any protest in Srinagar. They also shut internet on mobile phones and suspended train services in the Kashmir Valley, a common tactic to make organising protests difficult and discourage dissemination of protest videos. Despite such physical restrictions, the heartbeats of the Kashmiris continue to resound with Pakistan. They have even set their watches to Pakistan Standard Time.

The locked down Valley, devoid of people even at the site of a Hindu majority area where Mr Modi was to address the people, was an apt prelude to the 5 February Kashmir Solidarity Day observed by Kashmiris throughout the world and Pakistan. Earlier, on 26 January, Republic Day of India, Kashmiris observed the occasion as “Black Day”. Pakistani flags were hoisted over rooftops of every house in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) to express solidarity with Pakistan. Indian forces were incensed at this gesture and enhanced their brutality.

During Mr Modi’s day-long visit to monitor development projects, Srinagar presented the look of a city besieged by soldiers taking control of the roads. Mr Modi was spotted waving emptily at imaginary crowds as he took a safe cruise through the famous Dal Lake.

IOK has been simmering for over seven decades, more so since 1989, when the freedom fighters raised the flag of independence but were brutally suppressed, with a death toll of over 100,000. During Narendra Modi’s watch, the use of brute force has surpassed all past tyrants like Genghis and Halagu Khan, who had wreaked havoc in different capitals of the world leaving heaps of human carcasses.

Modi’s ruthlessness has assumed new proportions after the killing of freedom fighter Burhan Wani on 8 July 2016. Thousands of Kashmiri youth came out in the streets to protest the slaughter of their leader but were mowed down this time with pellet guns. Over 300 youth were martyred and more than 3,500 have been blinded by the pellet guns. The BJP government is taking desperate measures for improving its image and firefighting to negate its vicious image but to date all its gimmickry has clearly doomed.

In the next two months, India is poised to hold general elections. It is critical to expose those responsible for and those passively in support of the human rights violations in IOK

Narendra Modi has carried the Hindutva philosophy many notches upwards and has surpassed Savarkar and Golwalkar’s expectations in projecting Hindu supremacy. The forces of brutality unleashed during the current reign of BJP have not gone unnoticed. Pakistan has been feverishly attempting to expose Indian extremism and its reign of terror but under the current government, rallies and seminars exposing Indian terrorism and the suppression of Kashmiris especially on the Kashmir Solidarity Day in various capitals of the world, London, Brussels, Washington DC, Paris, Berlin and numerous others, speaks volumes for the efforts. Over one thousand academics, including the famous MIT scholar Noam Chomsky have sent a petition to Narendra Modi to cease Hindutva extremism. Scores of Indian litterateurs, artistes and Freedom Movement stalwarts have returned their national awards to protest the extremism displayed by Modi and his goons towards Muslims and other minorities in India.

Kashmir Solidarity Day has been observed in Pakistan on 5 February every year since 1990. The occasion is an annual demonstration of Pakistan’s support for the people of the disputed northern territory of Jammu and Kashmir, administered by India since its illegal occupation in October 1947. It provides a platform for the expression of support for Kashmiri separatists living in one of the most highly-militarised zones in the world and an opportunity to remember those killed in the three wars between India and Pakistan over the region – in 1947, 1965 and 1999 – and during the region’s frequent border skirmishes.

A one-minute silence was held on Tuesday, a public holiday, at 10 am local time in honour of the martyred Kashmiris. President Arif Alvi addressed the Legislative Assembly in Muzaffarabad while human chains were formed at the border towns of Kohala, Mangla, Holar and Azad Pattan.

It is upsetting that the world at large, including the US, EU, and the Islamic Ummah (barring a few) remains oblivious to the Indian brutalities on Kashmiris.

Kashmir Solidarity Day activities this year, included high-profile international events, notably the House of Commons meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group, an international conference in London addressed by the persuasive Pakistani foreign minister, a pictorial exhibition of the victims of Indian forces’ inhumanity against civilians, which traumatised the British, and demonstrations all over the world.

It is ironic that addressing a ceremony during his Sunday visit to IOK, Modi declared that his objective is to win the hearts of people of Jammu & Kashmir through development. Contrarily, Kashmiris have preferred to seek the right of self-determination assured by the UN rather than seek funds for development projects. Modi needs a reality check because he cannot win the hearts and minds of the Kashmiris if the Indian forces continue to subject them to the worst form of tyranny and human rights abuses daily.

Indiscriminate killings and development schemes do not go together as the Kashmiris can easily see through the subterfuge. The Kashmir issue has rightfully attracted attention of the UN as well as members of the British Parliament, which the PTI leadership addressed at the International Kashmir Conference.

In the next two months, India is poised to hold general elections. It is critical to expose those responsible for and those passively in support of the human rights violations in IOK so that Indian voters choose humanitarian leaders in 2019. We also need to see more responsibility on the part of other countries to hold India accountable for its injustice towards Kashmiris and other minority groups.

The bloodshed in IOK ought to be stopped immediately. When the people of an entire region cry out for secession, the oppressors need to listen. It is for the world to take cognizance of the brutalities by Indian forces. Every year it appears that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Kashmiris, but it remains a mirage. We need to work harder to get the Kashmiris their right of self-determination and rescue them from the bondages of Indian slavery and tyranny.

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