GVS Magazine Desk |
How do we make sense of what the right-wing Hindutva government of Narendra Modi has done in the occupied Jammu & Kashmir?
Sardar Masood Khan: On August 5, 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government took several illegal steps in violation of international law, international humanitarian law and the UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir dating back to 1948, 1949 and the 1950s.
The last reference to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in the UN Security Council was made on June 1998, after the nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan and India. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council, and the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is considered disputed under international law. India has tried to alter that disputed status.
Back in 1947, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Defense Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and, to an extent, Mr. Gandhi, coerced the Maharaja of Kashmir into signing a fake instrument of accession, while the Maharaja already had a standstill agreement with Pakistan.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir rebelled and started a war to join Pakistan. First, the Maharaja and later India tried to crush that movement. When the risk of Jammu and Kashmir’s liberation became very clear to the Indian government, they sent in troops to occupy a part of the Jammu and Kashmir State on October 27, 1947.
The goal is a scorched-earth policy to silence the voices for freedom and self-determination in IoK, forever. The response from the Kashmiris is equally vociferous: we will not capitalate.
Despite the physical occupation of a large chunk of the territory, they were not sure that they would be able to win the support of the bulk of the Kashmiris.
It was at that time that Sheikh Abdullah, a political leader of Kashmir who had pro-India inclinations, and Nehru came up with the idea of Article 370, whereby the latter deluded Sheikh Abdullah into believing that even after accession, Kashmir would continue to have autonomy with all the trappings of a state minus foreign affairs, defense and communications, which would be handled by the Indian government.
The Kashmiri leader was assured that the State would have a President, a Prime Minister, and a bicameral legislature. Over the years, Article 370 was reduced to an empty shell through Presidential edicts and directives which practically provincialized the State. But still, the pretense of autonomy was maintained which underlined tacit recognition of the disputed nature of the State.
The arrangement under Article 370 was used by handpicked Kashmiri leaders loyal to India for their dynastic rule. On August 5, 2019, with one stroke, India demolished that façade, invaded Kashmir with the deployment of additional 180,000 troops and clamped a security lockdown and communication blockade in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
India already had 700,000 troops in the occupied territory. The IOK is under siege since then, and now 880,000 Indian occupation troops are at war with 13 million unarmed civilians of Jammu and Kashmir.
The other article – Article 35-A – repealed by Narendra Modi’s government usurped the land and rights of the Kashmiris. Article 35-A recognized Kashmiris’ right to permanent residence, acquisition of property, employment and education, which predated India’s occupation of the territory in 1947.
India had absolutely no intention to resolve the Kashmir dispute by either bilateral talks or back-channel diplomacy. It had offered the carrot of bilateral dialogue to Pakistan dislodge it from the UN Security Council and exclude the Kashmiris from any negotiations on Kashmir.
It was no gift by India to the Kashmiris. The BJP government also announced that it would allow people from all over India, especially Hindus, to settle in Kashmir in order to change the demographic composition of the occupied territory, which is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Additional Protocol I, the International Criminal Court Statute and the UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.
All the steps that India has taken till date can be termed as a colonization of the territory and brutalization of its people. Furthermore, India bifurcated the occupied territory of Kashmir without the consent of its people. The entire territory of IOK has been cordoned off and converted into a prison and Kashmiris, en-masse, have rejected India’s war against them, occupation of their territory and its illicit writ.
Why has Modi done it? What is the goal?
Sardar Masood Khan: There are two drivers behind Modi’s action. One, under the doctrine of Hindutva, a neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist policy, based on religious superiority of Hindus, Modi has attacked Jammu and Kashmir, to reduce its Muslim majority into a minority by replicating the illegal settlements of the West Bank.
Second, Modi ever since his ascendency in 2014, has pursued a muscular policy towards Kashmir, which comprises three elements: brutalize the Kashmiris to subjugate them, marginalize true Kashmiri leadership, and stop engaging Pakistan on Kashmir at any level, bilateral or multilateral. The goal is a scorched-earth policy to silence the voices for freedom and self-determination in IOK, forever. The response from the Kashmiris is equally vociferous: we will not capitulate.
Was it a reaction against Trump’s offer of mediation on 22nd July 2019 or this was something that was being planned for some time? Was it a mere accident that J&K did not have an elected government on 5th August 2019?
Sardar Masood Khan: President Trump’s offer of mediation itself turned into a big diplomatic snafu. President Trump had said that Narendra Modi had asked him to act as a mediator on Kashmir, but Modi’s government firmly rejected making any such suggestion to the American President.
However, it is possible that Modi used President Trump’s offer, as well as an increasing internationalization of the Kashmir dispute over the last few years as an excuse to expedite his plans for annexation and colonization of the occupied territory.
We must not forget that Modi’s government had been planning since 2014 to alter the status of IOK, and it was not at all a coincidence that the occupied territory did not have an ‘elected’ government on August 5. A carefully choreographed plan was set in motion in June 2018.
First, the BJP withdrew its support to the Mehbooba Mufti Government, and Governor Rule followed this. This year in May and June, elections were not held in the IOK under one pretext or the other, but the real intention behind this delay was to announce the illegal steps on August 5 by annulling Articles 370 and 35-A.
Modi describes it as his development agenda and his attempt to secure Kashmir against terrorism and violence?
Sardar Masood Khan: Narendra Modi has started a well-planned invasion of Kashmir, the siege of the entire territory and genocide there. People are incarcerated in their houses, and the streets are empty. All you can see is occupation soldiers carrying multiple weapons and ammunition belts. Supply of food and medicine has been stopped. According to one doctor in Srinagar, hospitals have become graveyards.
There are prolonged curfews, eerie silence in the streets is punctuated by intermittent or constant fire, womenfolk are beaten and humiliated, houses being raided, ten thousand Kashmiris from all walks of life have been arrested. Is this how Modi wants to promote his development agenda in IOK. This is an oxymoron.
In UAE, Modi described the abrogation of Article 370 as something totally internal matter to Indian and something done totally democratically?
Sardar Masood Khan: This is patently false. When President Trump offered mediation, Modi said that Kashmir was a bilateral matter (although Pakistan recognizes it as an international issue). So, how did it so quickly become an internal instead of a bilateral matter?
Even according to Article 2 of the Simla Agreement, which India touts so often, stipulates that “… neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation, and both shall prevent the organization, assistance or encouragement of any acts detrimental to the maintenance of peaceful and harmonious relations”. So, what happened? Why did India take unilateral actions without consulting Pakistan?
India claims that it has done all this ‘democratically.’ The people of Kashmir were not consulted at all. No referendum was held internally or under the auspices of the United Nations, which had bound India to do so. So where is democracy? It is an invasion and occupation of unarmed people.
Articles 370 & 35-A are often mentioned together; were they more or less the same in terms of effect? Where they were coming from?
Sardar Masood Khan: As I have explained earlier, Article 370 was a Faustian pact cleverly designed to buy the loyalties of the Kashmiris. The bulk of the Kashmiris never accepted India’s deceptive trap in this regard, and the edifice built on this article was demolished by the BJP on August 5.
Article 35-A is about the inherent right of the Kashmiris which had been robbed by Modi. The people of Kashmir have vowed that they would defend these rights under all circumstances.
You referred to all this as “colonization” why do you say so?
Sardar Masood Khan: It is not mere colonization. It is, in fact, colonialism, foreign occupation and alien domination in full swing. It is also an assertion of BJP’s imperial hegemony over a land and a people that do not belong to it. These aggravating steps have been taken by India to negate the UN-recognized right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people, which they have been demanding since 1947.
Colonization would ensue when India establishes illegal settlements of Hindus from all over India to change the demographic composition of the occupied territory and reduce Muslim majority into a minority. Hindu extremists have announced that in IOK they want land-plots, Kashmiris’ jobs and Kashmiri girls.
This is the worst objectification of women one has heard in recent history, whereby women are being projected as spoils of war by Hindu nationalists. Today, the occupied territory is a colony.
How do you see the world reaction so far?
Sardar Masood Khan: The world’s reaction is mixed. We applaud the efforts of Pakistan for working diligently to make an informal session of the UN Security Council possible after a lapse of 50 years. This is an achievement in the face of aggressive Indian lobbying with permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council against the holding of such a session.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan are grateful to China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, for facilitating the session. The fact is that the US, Russia, the UK, and France also didn’t block it. The discussion within the Council was thorough, though it failed to produce a Presidential Statement.
The mainstream global media, social media, and human rights organizations have spoken up clearly and categorically for Kashmiris human rights, including their right to self-determination, and castigated India’s precipitous, dangerous and illegal actions. Many powerful voices in Indian polity and civil society have sharply disagreed with India’s declaration of war on Kashmir and unilateral, UN democratic alteration of its status.
However, except for China, Iran, and Turkey, powerful states and multilateral stakeholders have either kept quiet or issued ambivalent statements counseling Pakistan and India to exercise restraint. This is tantamount to artificial equalization of India and Pakistan, the former being an aggressor and occupier in IOK.
Because of vested economic and strategic interests of these states vis-à-vis India, they are either looking the other way, or they are trying to buy off, mollify and appease Modi who is flaunting and practicing the 21st-century version Nazism and Fascism, in this case based on religious supremacy and extremism.
Our challenge is to convince the world to discard this kind of complicity with India and come to the rescue of the people of the IOK.
UNSC had 12 resolutions admitting the disputed nature of Jammu & Kashmir; are you satisfied by the reaction from the United Nations?
Sardar Masood Khan: The UN Security Council has neither implemented its existing resolutions due to power politics nor exhausted all the options listed in Article 33 of the UN Charter such as negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and resort to regional agencies or arrangements.
The Security Council is bound under the UN Charter to take immediate steps to remove threats to peace and security in the region and make an intervention to save the people of IOK form genocide and war crimes. I had myself observed that after the developments in Ukraine, Crimea, Mali, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic, the Security Council would hold emergency meetings.
But just after one informal meeting on Kashmir, it has not moved further at all. The Security Council, the General Assembly, and the Human Rights Council should move proactively and should not wait for communications from Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
India had repeatedly referred to Simla Agreement; but could India do this under Simla Agreement?
Sardar Masood Khan: India has obviously violated Articles 2 and 7 of the Simla Agreement, which talk about the final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, as well as disallow unilateral alteration of the situation on the ground.
Has Modi internationalized the Kashmir issue unintentionally? Was he or his junta expecting such reaction from major western publications and media?
Sardar Masood Khan: Modi has internationalized the Kashmir issue inadvertently. But he and his cohorts were confident that they would be able to weather such a storm because of their global diplomatic network and economic clout.
What they were not probably expecting was such massive backlash from international media and global civil society, whose broadcasts and publications are a damning indictment of the BJP clique’s despicable actions. The international media has diligently exposed India’s fabrications and falsehoods.
How do we make sense of Trump’s repeated offers for mediation? Should we accept it open-heartedly or be guarded about it? What are our goals at this point? Are we clear about our own goals and interests?
Sardar Masood Khan: We should very vigilantly and cautiously accept any offers of mediation, especially after what happened to President Trump’s announcement and India’s total negation of the US President’s version. President Trump’s offer, which was cheered and welcomed by the Kashmiris and Pakistan, turned into a farce.
So, we should be really guarded and try to understand the dynamics of any offer made to us. One non-negotiable core principle is this: no third party mediation should be accepted, which proposes to exclude the people of Kashmir or the United Nations. Right now, no credible offer of mediation is on the table, in any case.
Are we worried that right-wing Hindutva regime of Modi can unleash a large scale genocide in occupied Kashmir?
Sardar Masood Khan: Genocide in Kashmir has been taking place since 1947 though no Nuremberg trial has been conducted for the 237,000 Kashmir Muslims killed by the Indian National Army, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Dogra army in November 1947. Since 1989, the planned carnage of Muslims in Kashmir fits the legal definition of genocide which has claimed 100,000 lives.
This genocide has been intensified, especially after July 2016 in the form of killings, mass blindings, torture, dehumanization of the Kashmiris, enforced disappearances and plans to transfer alien populations to the territory. Genocide is not something that will happen in the future; it is already happening.
What we need to do? Immediately and long term in this situation?
Sardar Masood Khan: In the short term, political, diplomatic, and media outreach. In the long run, a prolonged fight in the UN Security Council and preparedness for war. The BJP and RSS have threatened to dismantle and disintegrate Pakistan, decimate Kashmiris, attack Azad Kashmir and use nuclear weapons against Pakistan. Thus, preparedness at both diplomatic and military fronts is imperative.
Do we now realize that continuous Pakistani attempts at bilateral talks with India remained stalled because New Delhi had other plans on Kashmir?
Sardar Masood Khan: The process of bilateral dialogue in the past three decades has not only been unproductive, in fact, but it has also been counterproductive as it has been used by India to dilute the centrality of the Kashmir dispute, clutter the bilateral agenda, falsely accuse Pakistan of terrorism and scuttle the entire process through prevarication and dissimulation.
Its sole purpose was to buy time and perpetuate its occupation of the territory. Successive governments of Pakistan made a grave error of judgment in accepting this process in good faith. India had absolutely no intention to resolve the Kashmir dispute by either bilateral talks or back-channel diplomacy. It had offered the carrot of bilateral dialogue to Pakistan dislodge it from the UN Security Council and exclude the Kashmiris from any negotiations on Kashmir.
How does the Doval Doctrine fit into all this?
Sardar Masood Khan: The three-point Kashmir agenda of the Doval Doctrine is right now being implemented. His three points have been; a) subject the Kashmiris to brute force; b) do not talk to the Hurriyat leaders on the Kashmir issue, and c) do not engage with Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute.
The Doval Doctrine is much wider and more sinister. It stipulates recruiting, sponsoring, and buying off terrorists to operate in Pakistan and unleash a full-fledged hybrid war against the state of Pakistan to cause an implosion. The attack on IOK has put in motion that evil plan.
How Hindutva got inspired by the German fascism? What is the common thread between Hitler’s Nazism and BJP’s and RSS ideological origins?
Sardar Masood Khan: Nazism and Hindutva were conceived in the 1920s. While Nazis advocated racial superiority, the RSS believes in religious superiority of Hindus and Hinduism. Both believe in genocide and pogroms. Both use similar terminologies and symbols. The Indian occupation forces have boasted that they have moved into Kashmir for “a final solution,” a phrase reminiscent of Hitler’s threat to the occupied populations.
Pakistan has repeatedly made clear that while it does not seek war, it fears that Modi will try to impose war on the region? How will Modi benefit from a full-fledged war?
Sardar Masood Khan: Modi will not benefit from a full-fledged war. He would inflict grievous damage on the people of India, Pakistan and South Asia as a whole. Modi and his extremist coterie threaten Pakistan and the Muslims of South Asia with a wide range of options – surgical strikes, a limited war, use of nuclear weapons. And to its own Muslim population and other religious minorities, it is using a toxic and vicious brew of xenophobia, intolerance, and extermination.
Modi’s brinkmanship could lead the world to a nuclear Armageddon resulting in the annihilation of hundreds of millions of people in South Asia, destruction of lives and habitats of over 2.5 billion people around the globe, a nuclear winter, a global recession, and massive refugee outflows.
Social Media comments from Hindutva zealots and supporters of Narendra Modi are full of hatred and contempt for Islam, Prophet, and Muslims. Their immediate focus in on South Asian Muslim, Kashmiris and Pakistanis but their hatred for Muslims and Arabs is generalized and is visible. Yet India maintains cordial relations with all Muslim Arab countries? Are Arabs not aware of this dichotomy or the Indian foreign policy is very clever?
Sardar Masood Khan: Most of the Arab rulers are under the impression that India is non-violent and that persecution of Muslims is only limited to South Asia. They have strong economic ties with India and this dictates their mindset.
The other factor is the presence of a large Indian diaspora community in the Gulf region who influence decision making in their host States. Growing lucrative Arab investments in India tend to muzzle Arab public opinion. Still the Arab street and popular media feel the pain of the Kashmiri people.
More than 8 million Indian diaspora work across Muslim Middle East and send several hundred billions back to India; if the societies there are made aware of the hatred Hindutva politics is generating against Muslims inside India then the Indian diasporas can play some positive role in moderating politics back in India?
Sardar Masood Khan: We should work on India’s enlightened civil society living anywhere in the world or in India itself because Modi’s policies ultimately hurt Indian citizens. In the name of Hindu grandeur and domination, he is attacking the essence of humanity in India, its neighborhood and, in fact, the entire globe.