Kashmir Dispatch March 2022

WKA News Round-Up – March

March 2022 has been a vivid reminder of the depths of cruelty humans can inflict on each other. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine progressed, the world saw images of war crimes committed daily as the war in Ukraine raged on.

The question remains, will they get away with it? The answer as of now seems to be yes. When these crimes go unpunished it seems likely they will be replicated elsewhere by other tyrants.

Kashmir has been under military occupation for seven decades – the horrors inflicted upon civilians and non-combatants are crimes against humanity and are being committed by a country that brands itself as “The world’s largest democracy.”

The unfortunate truth is that as bad as things are, there is the potential for them to get much worse.

Genocide against Muslims in India may have already begun

Buckminster Fuller once observed, “Those who play with the devil’s toys will be brought by degrees to wield his sword.” Genocide is a process – human beings by nature do not want to kill and harm one another, however, for genocide to occur it needs if not an active buy-in from the civilian population, at least its indifference to the atrocities committed in their names.

Against this backdrop, experts, civic leaders, and other officials gathered virtually and declared that the  genocide of Muslims in India may be underway. The virtual Preventing Genocide Summit was held from Feb 26 to 28.

Maung Zarni, one of the participants and a researcher at the Genocide Documentation Center in Cambodia, said, “I believe that India is not only on the Brink but is already in the process of an unfolding genocide. …The killers portray vulnerable populations as a security threat to their religion. When this dehumanization begins, the country is already deep in the genocidal process even though the killings may not have started.”

Hate speech remains rampant and calls for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims are being openly called for on social media and by people in a position of authority.

The Kashmir Files cause an increase in hate speech

Earlier this month, The World Kashmir Awareness Forum  explored in-depth  the forthcoming film Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir files. The film is a cynical, biased attempt to exploit the Kashmiri Pandits’ exodus from Kashmir in the early 1990s. The goal of the film is to paint Muslims in the worst possible light and further increase the divisions and hatred against Kashmiri Muslims.

The Kashmir Files is not a documentary, nor is it investigative journalism. It is a dramatized reenactment that narrowly focuses on the events it wants to showcase. It is selective in its narrative – highlighting the worst of the atrocities committed against the pandits and its message is explicit in portraying all Muslims are murderous barbarians.

The film created the desired reaction of its audience as a video has surfaced for calls for the extermination of Muslims can be heard chanted by theatergoers in the film.

Before the release of the film, the movie had the overt approval and support of the Indian government. Director Vivek Agnihotri has deep connections to the Indian Government. He is a member of the board of India’s Central Board of Film Certification and a cultural representative of Indian Cinema at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

Since its release, it has garnered praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who accused its critics of an attempt to discredit the film.

“They are shocked that the truth that was hidden for so many years is out and is backed by facts,” Modi said, without clarifying to whom he was referring to.

It is clear the Indian Government has moved on from ignoring hate speech but has become an active participant in propagating it. When governments take that fateful step, those who traffic in it become emboldened. Violent words will inevitably lead to violent actions, the devil’s sword is wielded, and genocide becomes possible.

You can read more about the latest reactions to this film by clicking here.

NIA denies bail to two students over social media posts

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court in Anantnag rejected the bail application of two accused of ‘tarnishing the image of Kashmiri female students via social media. Judge Javaid Aalam rejected the bail application of Iftikhar Ahmed Dar of Anantnag and Abid Shafi Malik of Kulgam. They were arrested by Police on 21st January 2022 for uploading a video on social media. The video in question contained content that depicted character assassination of female students who pursued educational opportunities throughout the country.

“The Court held that the parents are now reluctant to send their girls outside after the video had gone viral and issues about marriage may be confronted. NIA Court also held that the act by both persons may not be a war against the country, but definitely, it is a war against the girl child to restrain them to pursue higher education,” the statement said.

You can read more about the case here.

Journalists and Activists continues to be held without bail

Two months ago journalist Fahad Shah, and four months ago activist Khurram Parvez were arrested and continue to languish in prison and have been refused bail by occupying authorities. Shah is an editor-in-chief of a local news magazine and portal- The Kashmir Walla- was arrested by police earlier this month.

On February 5, 2022, JK Police had said that Fahad was “wanted” in three cases for “glorifying” militancy and spreading “fake” news.

Parvez was accused by the NIA for running a network of LeT OGWs and recruited persons across India.

National Investigation Agency (NIA) Superintendent of Police (SP) Arvind Digvijay Negi was also arrested for leaking secret documents.

Final thoughts

It is human nature to believe that the unthinkable will never happen. That tragedy will be prevented and that everything will “work out for the best.” History shows that the unthinkable frequently happens.

This is why we must keep raising our voices to warn the world of a very real possibility of violence and genocide against Muslims in Kashmir and India.
The stage is set for a very real human catastrophe. The government is routinely committing human rights abuses in Kashmir. Its leaders foment and encourage hate speech and the institutions of the state stand ready to look the other way genocide becomes increasingly likely.

Genocides like the one that occurred in 1994 in Rwanda demonstrate how militias and even ordinary civilians can become capable of carrying out violence against people they have long dehumanized. Hate becomes a feedback loop that builds a powder keg, and when the conditions are right when an event occurs that pushes the hate into action, what is unleashed will not be contained without a severe loss of life.

Stay vigilant. Keep your eyes open and speak out. With the world’s attention focused elsewhere we must keep speaking out so the unthinkable doesn’t come to pass.