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Ominous signs

Updated August 04, 2019

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THE news emerging from India-held Kashmir is not good.

From the looks of it, the Hindu nationalist BJP government in New Delhi is preparing to up the ante in the occupied territory by pouring in troops.

Read: India's troop buildup triggers panic among residents in occupied Kashmir

According to media reports, Delhi recently sent 25,000 military personnel to the held region; this is in addition to the 10,000 troops that were reportedly stationed in IHK last week. Moreover, tourists and Hindu pilgrims have been told to leave the region due to ‘terror threats’.

Read: Anxious tourists flee occupied Kashmir after India's 'terror' warning

Naturally, this disturbing series of events has created alarm in IHK. There have been calls to stock up on food and fuel, which has led to panic buying, while in another development, details were recently leaked of an order to police from the rulers in Delhi to keep an eye on mosques and preachers. To this explosive situation we can add the fact that India is regularly violating the ceasefire along the Line of Control, while the BJP intends to scrap a crucial article of the Indian constitution that prevents outsiders from buying property in IHK. The signs, therefore, do not inspire hope.

It is no secret that the ideological fountainhead of the BJP is the Hindu fascist RSS. Are the worrying developments in Kashmir a reflection of the Sangh Parivar’s intentions in the occupied region? Does Prime Minister Narendra Modi plan to throw all democratic conventions to the wind in order to fulfil the agenda of his ideological parent, and appease his populist voter base? There are many indications of this. By doing away with Article 35A of the Indian constitution, the BJP will open up the floodgates for massive demographic changes in IHK, as the native population will be overwhelmed by outsiders. If the hardliners in Delhi think this will be a masterstroke through which they will ‘conquer’ Kashmir, they are mistaken. Such moves will only take Kashmiri disaffection with India to new heights; already cries for azadi are ringing out in the held valley. Perhaps fearing massive resistance from Kashmiris to its malevolent intentions, the Indian state is further strengthening its military presence in the heavily militarised region.

Unfortunately, the Indian establishment appears to have traded in reason and sagacity for arrogance and brute force in IHK.

The increased troop presence and the plans to alter Kashmir’s constitutional status will be a recipe for disaster. Kashmiris — especially the youth — have had enough of India’s brutality and are willing to sacrifice their lives in their quest for freedom and dignity.

But there is still time; if Mr Modi and his cohorts so wish, they can pull back and extend the hand of dialogue to the Kashmiris and Pakistan. Sanity demands that India reject confrontation and adopt negotiation and peacemaking instead. Will those who matter in Delhi pursue the course of sanity?

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2019