Kashmir where streets are littered with tulips and pellet gun cartridges.
The tale of the land that we know as Kashmir is perhaps no different to Palestine, Hong Kong or any other community belonging to semi-autonomous regions seeking independence from their authoritative, majoritarian government. What is remarkable is Kashmir’s inception and how the current chain of events unfolded in the way they have. From the beginning of time, Kashmir has been at the pivot of multiple power dynamics that have lasted centuries, most of which have invariably not worked for its people. Kashmir has witnessed massacres, suppression and gross neglect of their rights during the ‘Dogra Rule’ 1846-1947 (Dogra- indigenous Hindu tribe of Kashmir) of which the last ruler Maharaja Hari Singh signed a temporary treaty of accession to India because his masses were under attack from Pakistan’s rebel army. At the time, Pakistan believed Jammu and Kashmir should fall under Pakistani jurisdiction as it contained a 74% Muslim majority. Based on the 1901 census carried out by the British
Modern times are even more discomforting, given the fact that we are sandwiched between three nuclear-armed nations: India, Pakistan and China, each claiming parts, if not all of Kashmir. However, not long before I sat down to write this piece, on September 18th, India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said,
"Our position on POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) has always been and will always be very clear. POK is part of India and we expect one day that we will have the physical jurisdiction over it."
This is one example of the brazen chest-thumping and nationalistic statements that Indian PM Narendra Modi’s henchmen spell out in order to push ‘Hindu Raj’ (Hindu Rule) on to the India’s Hindu majority. In pursuing this ideology, Modi and his cabinet keep the seemingly ignorant Indian masses at bay and further encourage cow vigilantes to mob lynch Muslims. Yes, you read that right: lynching. Funnily enough, every time I would type ‘lynching’ into my phone, it would auto-correct to ‘lunching’. Even my phone wants to ignore the realities of India’s horrific treatment of its miniorities.
Just like America continues to have a race problem with systemic bias and mistreatment of its African-American population 154 years after slavery was abolished by the House Joint Resolution, India on the other hand has a religion problem. During the terms of President Obama, America still needed a movement like Black Lives Matter to be born, because even with a black man in the White House, people of colour were and continue to be debased and treated as less than. All the while, the majority (in America’s case, white evangelicals and in India’s case, the Hindutva army), blatantly squash the rights of minorities simply because they can. India, before Modi, has had a Muslim president (APJ Abdul Kalam) and a Sikh Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh), and during their tenure as leaders of the young developing country that India is, fascism had not taken the country hostage. Unfortunately after 2014 and under Prime Minister Modi, the results are for the world to see. India has very much joined the club of right-wing nationalist conservative governments that have sprung up throughout the globe.
The recent rise of mob lynching is eerily almost always justified by branding it a ‘beef issue’, whether it’s consuming, selling, storing or trading in beef (cow is considered holy by Hindus not by Muslims). Other cases of hate crimes against Muslims are rampantly plaguing India, such as the murders of Tabrez Ansari and Pehlu Khan, where 11 accused murderers were let go by India’s Supreme Court after clear video evidence against them was submitted . It is important to bring your attention to these cases as it sets a dangerous and fearful precedent for the rest of the 29% Muslim population of India of which Jammu and Kashmir is the only state that has an overwhelming Muslim majority.
This is the genesis of the ‘Kashmir issue’ and why we have always been a problem for India. Our overwhelming Muslim population sheds light on a festering problem that was the root cause of most, if not all issues in India, the Hindu vs. Muslim narrative. A virus of propaganda disseminated through Bollywood movies, songs, jingoistic slogans and countless scandals has set the tone and unfurled a chain of hate and mistrust between the two religious communities. One of these is the concept of “Love Jihad”, an idea that Muslim men are marrying Hindu women and producing Muslim children to change the 81% Hindu demographic of India.
India has always claimed to be 'secular', 'democratic' and a nation that 'upholds the sacrosanct nature of the constitution'. However, the recent nullification of Articles 370 and 35A has proven its disdain for Kashmiris that India has always had. This ruling party has grotesquely disfigured the constitution by interpreting it in a way that makes them look like moral saviours, and in doing so damaged any trust Kashmiris had in the Indian judiciary.
Article 370 was a provisional article that was written into the constitution and there was an agenda that needed to be adhered to before its abrogation could be justified in any manner. PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, or as I like to call them, Satan’s Henchmen that guard the gates of hell, have interpreted the law in a way that most people would never interpret as abrogating the article in any way shape or form.
The constitution specifically states that 'a consent of the concurrence of the state' is required. This condition was evaded by cleverly putting the state under 'President's rule' and therefore, the governor, Satya Pal, is the head of state, no concurrence which means no Kashmiri interference. A concurrence of the ‘constituent of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly’ was required and that was falsely obtained because a year ago, that was replaced by the legislature and since the state is under President's rule the legislature is the parliament where the overwhelming majority are the BJP fascists. So essentially India consent the fate of 7 million Kashmiris amongst themselves and repealed the nature and the integrity of their own constitution. All this repealing and making a mockery of the law one by one all because their hatred for Muslim minorities had reached its summit, and such a step -in haste was taken and said, 'this is for the betterment of Jammu and Kashmir and its people'
14 million of us Kashmiris are rendered useless under India’s tyranny. Today as I write this, I believe it is the 51st day of the ongoing blockade in Kashmir. It has been so many days that my math is consistently off. The food I eat is often tasteless and the clothes I wear colorless. The places I go are sightless and the work I do useless. I left my soul in Kashmir when I last went in the summer of 2013. The remaining part of soul, the one I lug around has died every day since August 5th 2019. With each pellet that propels 600 lead balls, that penetrate the flesh of my people, with each abducted child that is taken in night raids across the country, each wail a mother who looks like mine cries out, that piece of my soul weakens to a point beyond repair. We are left scrambling for information, becoming our own journalists and lawyers, desperately trying to save our home. The tyrant Indian government has plunged us into the dark ages, wilted our Tulips and left 14 million Kashmiris like zombies, sleepless and joyless, who will NEVER trust India for as long as we live.
By Khushi Shuja, Dubai U.A.E
Instagram: @khushishuja Twitter: @Khushishuja
6. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/08/hadiya-case-myth-love-jihad-india-170823181612279.html 7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMJ2UKPP_JQ