by Ayesha Alam (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 3, Rajab, 1436)
The people of Kashmir have suffered decades of Indian military occupation and aggression including rape, torture and mass killings. Now the Hindu fascist Bharatiya Janata Party plans to build Israeli-style settlements for Hindus in Kashmir.
Since 1947, the pristine, mountainous region of Kashmir has been the site of internecine and state violence, the natural beauty a reproach to the bloodletting, incarceration and rapes inflicted on its long suffering population. Kashmir is the site of nationalism gone amok, with both the Indian and Pakistani militaries fighting along the tenuous Line of Control or strategic hot points such as the Siachen glacier in order to maintain control. Numerous activists, including Indian writer Arundhati Roy, have sought to bring to light the atrocities suffered by the Muslim majority population at the hands of Indian military and other security personnel. Now the stakes have become higher.
Kashmir’s resistance movement has often taken inspiration from Palestine, modeling itself after the Palestinian intifadah. It is no surprise that India, a loyal ally of the US-Israeli nexus, should leaf through the Israeli occupation’s playbook. In recent years, India has been importing advanced cutting edge weaponry from the United States and Israel in order to bring the Kashmiri resistance movement under control.
In a 2013 interview with Democracy Now, Arundhati Roy summed up the extent and range of India’s military occupation. “Kashmir is the most densely militarized zone in the world,” she told Amy Goodman. “India has something like 700,000 security forces there. And in the 1990s, early-1990s, the fight became — turned into an armed struggle, and since then, something like 68,000 people have died, maybe 100,000 tortured, 10,000 disappeared… Can you imagine living in a place where there are so many soldiers, you can’t — you go out of your door, you come out, come to a barrier. Every aspect of life, whether it’s joyous or otherwise, is sort of diverted through the military.”
Now Narendra Modi’s government is planning to build Israeli-style “settlements” (actually, colonies) to relocate Hindu Pandits who it argues had to leave the region in the 1990s after the emergence of the Kashmiri resistance movement against Indian military occupation. On April 9, Modi’s ultra-conservative, fascist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared that Kashmiri pandits should be returned to the high-conflict region, and demanded a “secure zone for those want to return to their homeland.”
“We are very much clear and we want the return and resettlement of the Kashmiri Pandit community in the Kashmir valley in a dignified manner,” said Ravinder Raina, the BJP member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). “They must be given secure environment. They should not go and live in scattered places in their villages, they need proper security zones for their survival.” In other words, this is a road map for expanding draconian surveillance networks and Israeli-style checkpoints throughout the Kashmir region to ensure the “security” of the Hindu pandits at the expense of the Muslim residents struggling for their mere breath.
Just as Israel frequently exploits the use of the rhetoric of terrorism in order to dispossess the Palestinians of their rights and to wage war on Gaza and the West Bank, India has carefully used its state media and Bollywood in order to represent Pakistan as a terrorist state, and often accuses Kashmiris and other Indians who speak out against its policies as being terrorists and Pakistani agents. When his statements were criticized in the international press, Raina recited the usual BJP script, “See we are not silent, the government will not succumb under the pressure of the separatists who are Pakistani agents.”
This is not simply an act of state intimidation over the dispossessed Kashmiri population; it is also a clever rhetorical move that the BJP hopes will ensure its future electoral victories in the region. The BJP is declaring that Kashmiri resistance has driven out nearly 200,000–300,000 Hindu Pandits. In shipping in 300,000 ultra-rightwing Hindus loyal to the BJP in warn-torn Kashmir, Modi will be able to expand his surveillance network, and guarantee that BJP politicians will continue to win electoral victories in the future. In his comments, Raina also signaled that his actions had Narendra Modi’s approval. “Modi government has to decide after talking to the Kashmiri Pandits, we cannot leave them on the mercy of the terrorists,” said Raina. “Jammu and Kashmiri Government will have to coordinate and work with the government of India towards the rehabilitation of the community.”
As a number of observers have noted, the move is reminiscent of Israeli tactics to annex East Jerusalem, designated for the Palestinians under the Camp David accords, by massive colonial projects into which rightwing Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and Russia are moved. By resettlement policies, Israel has tried to gain control over areas by means of changing its demographics, leading to an intensification of racial-religious tensions in those areas. For instance, rightwing Eastern European and Russian immigrants tend to be far more aggressive and vocally abusive toward Palestinians, and their attacks on Palestinian farmers, students, and children are bolstered by the Israeli military.
This is indeed the pattern that the Modi regime plans on following, “The chief minister assured the union home minister that the state government will acquire and provide land at the earliest for composite townships in the valley,” a government statement said. The composite townships will be self enclosed units with schools, shopping districts and hospitals, and while the government has not specified, it appears as if they are intended to be luxe, Hindu only settlements in a region suffering the pangs of dispossession and poverty. They will be protected by massive Indian military presence. Should they target Muslim Kashmiris living around them, the Indian military will come down on Kashmiri tenements and villages with an iron fist. As a foretaste of the violence to come, the Indian government deployed heavily armed troops against the massive protests that erupted in Kashmir’s streets at the news.
Kashmir’s tragedy is akin to the tragedy of the Palestinians, looking for a way to realize their rights and freedoms being crushed by hyper militarized states. The Hindu Nazis have found their soulmates in the Zionist aggressors and land grabbers. There will be no criticism in the corporate owned Western media of the Hindu Nazis because India is viewed as a lucrative market for doing business with. True, there are potentially 300 million consumers in India with surplus cash for western luxury goods but there are also more than 400 million Indians living in absolute poverty. Many of them sleep on sidewalks or in shantytowns. Their plight is of little concern to the western do-gooders.