Since the partition of the Indian sub-continent more than seven decades ago, neither Jawaharlal Nehru (India’s first prime minister) nor any of his successors had any intention of granting the people of Jammu and Kashmir the right to determine their own future through a referendum.
In fact, the Indian military invaded Kashmir in October 1947 and has remained there ever since keeping Kashmir under occupation.
It is the same for Palestine under Zionist occupation since 1948.
India’s Fascist Hindu nationalism is driven by the Rashtriya Swayamsivak Sangh (RSS) whose admiration for Hitler’s Nazism is well documented and accepted by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party led by Narendra Modi.
On August 5, 2019, the Modi regime defied all international norms, legal jurisprudence as well as UN resolutions to abrogate articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution.
This illegal move wiped out any hope the Kashmiris had of self-determination.
Modi also altered the status of Jammu and Kashmir turning it into “union territory”, thereby transferring all decision-making to the regime in Delhi.
In the last 12 months, the Kashmiris’ lives have been turned upside down.
Every facet of Kashmiri life has been brutalised and dehumanised.
Over a million military and paramilitary troops have arrested hundreds of prominent political leaders, placed the country under lockdown and imposed a communications blockade.
Journalists are harassed and face severe restrictions on reporting forcing them into self-censorship.
The state uses a slew of tactics including harassment, intimidation, observation and online information control to silence critical voices.
Visit by right-wing members of the European Parliament to Kashmir was carefully choreographed and executed by the Delhi regime to advance Hindutva propaganda.
UN Special Rapporteurs as well as US Congressmen and women have been denied entry into the illegally occupied territory.
The Indian judiciary has also been compromised and today acts as little more than a tool to cover up the state’s abuse of civil liberties and human rights violations.
A state with neither a free press nor an independent judiciary cannot claim to be a “democracy”.
Amidst all the mayhem in Kashmir, the Modi regime has passed a new citizenship law which is blatantly prejudicial to all minority groups, especially Muslims in India.
It is designed to create an unprecedented crisis of statelessness.
Ironically, there is a convergence of the repeal of articles 370 and 35A in Kashmir and introduction of the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India.
These have unleashed massive protests on the streets of various cities in India as well as in Kashmir despite severe clampdown.
In addition, the now familiar chant for freedom in Kashmir has resonated in sync with chants on the streets of Indian cities.
Simply translated the cry is: “What do we want? Freedom”.
It is the buzzword that describes the people’s anger and reflects their dreams.
Arundhati Roy describes it aptly when she says:
“But over the last three decades, it has, more than anything else, become known as the anthem of the Kashmiri Street. And now, while Kashmir’s streets have been silenced, the irony is that its people’s chorus, with similar lyrics, rhythm and cadence, echoes on the streets of the country that most Kashmiris view as their coloniser. What lies between the silence of one street and the sound of the other? Is it a chasm, or could it become a bridge?”
The Indian regime sees Kashmir as merely a set that forms the backdrop for movie-making.
The lives and livelihoods of the Kashmiris are considered irrelevant.
The Kashmiris live with the grim reality of massive militarization (Kashmir is most militarized region in the world).
Their land is occupation. The cruelty and viciousness of oppressive state powers allow the occupation forces to kill, blind and torture people with impunity.
Kashmiri students in Indian cities are labelled as security threats. They are accused being ungrateful to Indian generosity and charity.
What is ignored is the dignity, social cohesion, communal spirit, and resistance of everyday life in Kashmir.
This spiritual and material fortitude comes from knowing that Kashmir is not dependent on India.
On the contrary, it is India that is dependent on Kashmir. Occupation comes at a price which the Indian taxpayer has to bear.
The latest development in the Indian political arena is aimed at crushing the spirit of resistance and resilience of the Kashmiris in the name of “development”.
There’s a word for theoretical development that comes with false moral authority and economic reasonableness, in the shadow of the gun.
No input from the people that are affected is entertained. The so-called development is based on the fantasies of a foreign occupying power.
That India claims to be a post-colonial democracy does not change this fact—no colonial venture in contemporary times has dared name itself as such.
Kashmiris are disenfranchised in the name of democracy and colonized in the name of development.
Kashmir, like Palestine, is a victim of the western military-industrial complex.
In both cases the struggle for liberation began in the late 1940s as a result of the racism and thuggery of colonialism.
In both cases the occupying forces are backed by the might of the United States with financial handouts as well as massive flow of weapons.
Just as the Zionist entity is used to destabilize the Middle East region, the US is trying to use India against the rising military and economic power of China.
For these imperialist projects, the indigenous populations are made to pay the price.
Ibrahim Vawda is with the Media Review Network, Johannesburg, South Africa