. Kashmir: The World Must Wake Up to Modi’s Fascistic, Paranoid Fantasies | Ceasefire Magazine

Comment | Kashmir: The World Must Wake Up to Modi’s Fascistic, Paranoid Fantasies

India's ongoing crackdown in Kashmir should alert the world to the fascistic, tyrannical impulses driving Narendra Modi and his BJP movement, writes Katy Sian.

New in Ceasefire, Politics - Posted on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 16:55 - 0 Comments

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(Credit: AP)

Narendra Modi’s scrapping, earlier this month, of Article 370 of the Indian constitution comes as little surprise against a larger backdrop of tyranny and human rights abuses. The revocation of Article 370 means that rather than having a separate constitution, Kashmiris are now forced to follow Indian laws, thus stripping them further of voice and autonomy.

Indian authorities have also placed the region under lockdown. All lines of communication have been cut; Kashmiri politicians have been placed under house arrest, and other prominent figures have had their movements and activities restricted. Such a move can be seen as part of the expansion of Modi’s neo-colonial, apartheid project, which fundamentally seeks to oppress, contain and destroy Kashmir’s Muslim population. This ties in with Modi’s broader Islamophobic, BJP ideology, which has paved the way for the widespread abuse of Muslims throughout India itself. From lynchings, to scare mongering propaganda around ‘Islamization’ and population control, Modi and his BJP thugs seem intent on the elimination of Muslims.

As Modi’s fascistic, paranoid fantasies about the Muslim ‘enemy’ continue to spiral out of control, the lives of Muslims — whether as a majority in Kashmir, or a minority in India — are under real threat. Just to give a snapshot of the deeply disturbing ongoing human rights abuses in Kashmir, a report published in May this year by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) revealed that tens of thousands of detained Kashmiri citizens have been tortured over the past three decades.

The majority of those subjected to this abuse are dissenters, human rights activists and even children. In fact, a reported 70 per cent of all torture victims have been civilians. Torture tactics include solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, sodomy, and rape, as well as electrocution, beatings, skin burning and water-boarding. Muslim-majority Kashmir is currently occupied by over half a million Indian security forces, deployed to suppress dissent in the region. As Professor Salman Sayyid points out, “Kashmir is the most heavily policed place on the planet in terms of security personnel to the population.”

Across India, the story is much the same as in Kashmir. For example, savage lynchings of Muslims by Hindu nationalist mobs have been the norm since Modi took power in 2014. Alongside the toxic Islamophobic rhetoric of the BJP and its affiliates, India’s beef ban has been used to legitimise thousands of brutal attacks and cold-blooded killings of innocent Muslims. There has been case after case of Muslims being beaten with wooden planks, dragged and kicked to death in broad daylight, and with very few convictions for the perpetrators. The Hindu lynch mobs of India operate with impunity, protected by the police and the state.

In addition to this, thousands of Rohingya Muslims seeking refuge in India have been subjected to surveillance, harassment, regular beatings and limited access to services. They have also been banned from owning property. The housing market more broadly in India is underpinned by discriminatory Islamophobic practices. Today, Hindu landlords are unlikely to rent or sell property to Muslims.

Tragically, this only scratches the very surface of the daily horrors experienced by Muslims under Modi. It is also vital to acknowledge that other minorities, particularly Dalits (so-called ‘untouchables’) and Christians are also under great threat. Dalits are routinely threatened, attacked and killed for mundane reasons ranging from wearing the wrong shoes, eating in front of ‘upper-caste’ men and reporting crimes to the police. Similarly, the persecution of Christians in India is widespread, including regular attacks on Christian schools, churches, priests and bishops by Hindu extremist mobs.

These abhorrent abuses on minorities across India and Kashmir reveal the wider insidious workings of Modi’s cruel and violent regime. The idea of a ‘vibrant’ ‘democratic’ and ‘progressive’ India couldn’t be farther from the truth. India is, in fact, a terrifying authoritarian state, run by right-wing, nationalist extremists who use fear and hate to terrorise non-Hindus on a daily basis.

The recent events in Kashmir should therefore not be treated in isolation from the wider workings of BJP rule. Muslims, and indeed other religious minorities, both in Kashmir and in India, deserve a future in which fear and brutality no longer dominate. For too long, the BJP bullies have dispossessed and dehumanised minorities, it’s time for the global community to wake up and challenge Modi’s tyrannical enterprise once and for all.

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Katy P. Sian

Dr Katy Sian is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of York in the UK.

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