Kashmir Dispatch April 2022

WKA News Roundup – April

The situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir continues to exist perilously close to the edge. We’ve previously shown how the risk of genocide rises as hate speech continues unchecked. We have seen the cumulative effects of Indian leaders who have chosen to ignore it and, in some cases, tacitly encourage it, as propaganda in film and social media stoke the flames.

Here are five stories that illustrate how dangerous the situation is becoming:

Kashmir Files inspires mob violence against Muslims

Hindu extremists threatened to forcibly evict and demolish the homes of Muslims in the village of Uttarakhand. Some residents fled as extremists threatened violence unless the authorities arrest the Muslims in the village.

Naveen Sain is a member of the Hindu paramilitary group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. (RSS) He openly stated that he had been inspired by the ‘The Kashmir Files,’ saying, “The movie inspired me so much, it brought tears to my eyes….” The film, released in March, has produced numerous instances of hate speech and calls for violence from radicalized Hindus.

He further added. “They are jihadis, conspiring against us Hindus, it is sad to see that they eat here, but they talk of tearing the nation apart,”

The Hindu militants threw stones into people’s homes and parked bulldozers outside of Muslims’ homes threatening to demolish them.

One resident shared his encounter with the mob. “They threw stones at our homes, we had to lock ourselves up to protect ourselves. They broke everything,” said one eyewitness. “They tried barging into our homes, I could hear them beating sticks on the doors of my home as I ran up the terrace to protect myself and my children. We climbed onto our neighbor’s terrace and managed to hide away until it settled.”

You can read more about this story by clicking here.

U.S. Secretary of State rebukes India over human rights abuses

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the United States is monitoring what he describes as a rise in human rights abuses in India by some officials.

The Secretary’s comments were prompted by Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN), after she had warned that the Modi administration was criminalizing the act of being a Muslim in India.

We regularly engage with our Indian partners on these shared values (of human rights) and, to that end, we are monitoring some recent concerning developments in India including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials,” Blinken said on Monday in a joint press briefing with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and India’s Defense minister Rajnath Singh.

Secretary Blinken’s remarks were essentially deflected by Jaishankar, the Indian Foreign minister. Instead of accepting Secretary Blinkin’s rebuke, Mr. Jaishankar sought to highlight issues of rising hate against Indian immigrants in the US. in his answers to the press the following day.

You can read more about this story here.

Thirteen charged with anti-national slogans

Over a dozen sloganeers were arrested in the Jamia Masjid during Friday prayers in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Over twenty-four thousand people had gathered, the largest gathering in recent years.

Another eleven were arrested and pending with sedition charges.

You can read more about this story here.

Scholar arrested over an article he wrote in 2011

Abdul Aala Fazili, a Ph.D. scholar at the Kashmir University’s Pharmaceutical Department was arrested by Jammu and Kashmir’s Elite State Investigative (ESI) agency under Section 13, which charges him with advocating, abetting, advising, or inciting unlawful activity.

His 2011 article entitled ‘The Shackles of Slavery Will Break’ examined the era of heightened tension in Kashmir between the 2008 and 2010.

In 2010, more than 100 civilians, mostly teenagers, were shot dead by security forces in retaliatory action against a wave of mass protests across Kashmir that threatened to bring down Omar Abdullah’s government. In the three years since 2008, more than 200 civilians were killed while hundreds were maimed by security forces in heavy-handed tactics against protesters which were condemned by human rights groups across the globe.

The SIA has a long history of harassing and arresting journalists and editors. Mr. Fazili’s article was published in The Kashmir Walla, whose editor, Fahad Shah, was arrested in February and is still languishing in prison.

You can read more about this case by clicking here.

After four years of imprisonment, a journalist is granted bail pending formal charges

Aasif Sultan, a journalist who was arrested four years ago on charges of terrorism charges and accused of having contacts with known militants, was finally formally charged in court. Among the charges levied upon him were disseminating anti-Indian sentiments and possessing a ‘radical ideology since childhood.’

After four years, he was finally granted bail.

India has a long history of persecuting journalists and charging them with terrorism to prevent them from writing an accurate account of their deeds throughout Jammu and Kashmir and this case is no exception.

You can read more about this story here.

Final thoughts

The march toward genocide or mass violence in Kashmir continues unabated and once the world knows about it, it will be too late.

Time and time again, we’ve seen how the shameless sharing of misinformation and powerful propaganda can completely rot the sentiments of the public leading to extremely dire consequences such as with the genocide of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

As was the case during that violence, the Trump and later the Biden administrations saw what was happening as it unfolded, commented on it, and ultimately did nothing.

And if genocide comes to Kashmir, what will they do?

The past does not always predict the future, but it does not provide confidence that catastrophe will be averted either.

Stay vigilant, speak out, and advocate, and we will continue to do the same.