Kashmir Dispatch November 2022

WKA Monthly News Round Up – November 2022

2022 is ticking down. It has been a year of sorrow and further degradation of the fundamental rights of Kashmiris and Muslims throughout India. November further revealed the Indian state to be more deeply complicit in violence and hate crimes throughout the subcontinent.
Here are the most important stories of November 2022.

Police look away as mob violence rises

Dawood Tyagi was relaxing with his family in Vinaipur, in western Uttar Pradesh on the evening of September 2,2022, when twenty men approached him carrying bamboo sticks and homemade firearms. According to eyewitnesses, the men charged at Tyagi and beat him severely on his legs, arms, and head, killing him.

Tyagi left a family behind of three sons and a daughter.

In the intervening months, what resulted was the law enforcement equivalent of a shrug. Only four have been arrested, while at least thirteen others have been allowed to leave the area.
All of the attackers were Hindus. The four that were arrested were Gurjars, a lower caste within the Hindu faith.

During the attack, the assailants chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’, a slogan that means ‘Victory to Lord Ram’. The phrase has become a rallying cry for Hindu nationalists and has been shouted at violent incidents attacking minorities throughout this year. (You can read about similar events here and here)

Despite the evidence, the police released a statement this month downplaying any role of communal violence in the attack. While many of the attackers were inebriated, this was not a random act of violence.

Before the attack, approximately 60 to 65 villagers attended a community meeting at a Hindu temple. Their goal: to intimidate Muslims to force them to leave the area.

Throughout the year, incidents of mob violence have escalated. Lynching has become a common weapon of terror the mob has employed.

On October 13th, two Muslim youths were attacked in UP state town Prayagraj. Zaheer Khan, 32, was lynched while another person Yusuf Khan, 30, was seriously injured after a mob attacked them, reportedly accusing them to be robbers, in the Khuldabad area.

In March, a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh’s Noorpur village was lynched to death. Brothers Zafar and Noor were first assaulted by a group of villagers. The police, calling it a personal matter, registered a case against the two brothers (the Muslim victims), one of whom died after the assault.

As with Mr. Tyagi’s case, law enforcement downplayed the role of religion in the killings.
While India has robust laws to protect minorities, the laws are only as good as the people who enforce them. With the government filled with nationalists – crimes go unpunished, and violence against Muslims increases.

“The Indian legal system provides a wide range of laws and institutions that are designed to combat religious discrimination,” said the 2022 report by the Panel of International Experts.
“However, the panel found sufficient grounds to conclude that the ideological and religious prejudices of the current government appear to be permeating all independent institutions, resulting in the lack of effective and adequate accountability initiatives.”

You can read more about this tragic story by clicking here.

Partial vision loss among victims of pellet gun attacks

During the protests in Srinagar between July and November 2016, Indian police readily deployed pellet guns to disperse and inflict injuries upon the participants.

A report detailed that 777 individuals suffered eye trauma. Of those, 80 percent had their vision reduced to “counting fingers.”

Males between 20 to 29 years old suffered the most out of any demographic.

By comparison, the British Mission to both the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan suffered fewer eye injuries than those protesters.

The report stated: “Most of the patients (98.7%) received surgical intervention on the day of admission or the very next day. The medical response was also “unique” in which the three surgeons managed more than 777 patients, conducted over 550 primary eye repairs, and performed over 370 vitreo-retinal surgeries. “In comparison, 797 cases of severe eye injuries were reported in the war in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, of which 116 eyes were removed. Report from the British armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan showed a total of 63 cases of ocular injury from 2004 to 2008.”

You can read more about this report here.

India’s Islamophobia sinks to new lows in 2022

Whether it was releasing the raping, murdering psychopaths who were convicted in the 2002 Gujarat massacres, banning the hijab, or Bollywood devolving into an ultra-nationalist mouthpiece, 2022 demonstrated there were no depths India would not sink to in the cause of state-sponsored Islamophobia.

It is hard to pick the worst act that the state committed, given there are so many, but the release of 11 men convicted of gang-rape a pregnant Muslim woman named Bilkis Bano, is a strong contender. The men were convicted of brutally murdering 14 members of her family (including her 3-year-old daughter). They smashed her head against a rock that killed her instantly. The group was part of a Hindu vigilante mob that attacked Bano and her family during the 2002 Gujarat massacres simply because they were Muslim.
The war on the Muslim faith is a matter of numbers. India has the world’s second-largest Muslim population. Current demographic trends suggest that by 2060 the Muslim population will be 330 million – equivalent to the current population of the United States.
This fact is intolerable to Modi and his BJP. Modi himself was a proud member of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) a paramilitary group that has openly admired the pogroms and genocide of the German Nazis. Hitler is an idol to them.

There is so much more for one brief. You can read more about India’s parade of atrocities in 2022 here.

The dangers and limits of exporting Hindu Chauvinism

Prime Minister Modi is discovering that Islamophobia has its limits abroad. India is dependent upon trading with Middle Eastern Countries. When members of the BJP made uncalled for derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammad, Middle East countries lodged complaints and forced New Delhi to issue apologies and banal formal statements.

The Biden Administration seems less inclined than its predecessor to subvert democracy for Hindu nationalism. It should be noted, that until he had become Prime Minister, Modi was denied a visa to the United States because of his involvement in anti-Muslim riots and pogroms in 2002. His visa ban was lifted by the then US President Barack Obama because of the Indian American lobby.
Despite knowing the world is watching, Modi and the BJP have shown no indication that they plan to change course. You can read more about this story here.

Final thoughts: The looming catastrophe

This month we commemorated and remembered the victims of the Jammu genocide in 1947. Early this year, we talked about how India was at the verge of genocide against Muslims, and it is clear that the country lies on that precipice of a disaster.

The government regularly incites and encourages violence. It is restrained only by a desire to keep the world from looking too closely. If a pot is kept boiling, the water will erupt beyond the confines of the container.

In Kashmir a full-fledged and all out settler-colonialism is taking place—forced demographic shift from indigenous Muslims to mass importation of Indian Hindus, land grab, new domicile given to illegal Indians in hundreds of thousand, demotion or expulsion of Kashmiri Muslim officials, denial of new employments in public sector, expropriation of government land to make room for Indian corporations etc.

2022 was not a good year, and there is little hope for improvement in 2023.

Our mission, as always, is to raise awareness, advocate for our birthplace and home to our families, stop oppression, and prevent violence from taking any more lives.

As the time ticks down this year – stay vigilant. There is so much more work to do.