Palestine and Kashmir – Two sides of the same coin

Dec 1, 2023 | Blog, Monthly Blogs

The people of Palestine have suffered extensively for the crime of simply trying to exist freely and with dignity in their homeland. The brazen Israeli settler colonialism eroded the West Bank, and blockaded the Gaza Strip which has turned it into a de-facto prison state while the world looked the other way.

However, the recent disproportionate and genocidal Israeli retaliation for the Hamas infiltration efforts on October 7 has intensified the suffering of the Palestinian people, and the world can no longer ignore Israel’s injustices inflicted upon Palestine for decades. As of this writing, Israel has killed nearly 15,000 Palestinians, with most of the victims being women and children.

While Kashmir and Palestine are two different regions with their own culture and history, they might have more similarities between them than meets the eye. Despite being over 2,000 miles apart, Kashmiris and Palestinians are linked by a common cause. Our people have been trapped in prison states, our heritage denied, and our basic human rights destroyed by occupying powers. Yet, it is more than a parallel history as Israel and India have forged closer ties, both diplomatically and militarily – the future of Palestine and Kashmir may become entwined in their destiny as well.

Parallel histories – Kashmir and Palestine

Whenever the British drew lines on maps it was often a recipe for disaster. The 1947 partition of India was done with little care for the religious and cultural differences of the sub-continent. The accession of Kashmir to India was fraught with controversy and as India became independent, war erupted over Kashmir with mass displacements, a genocide in Jammu, and the land is still occupied by India.

At the same time, India was divided, the British attempted to irresponsibly relocate the Jewish communities into Palestine to create the new Jewish settler-colony of Israel. This move quickly erupted into a disaster. The Nakba – ‘catastrophe’ saw 750,000 Palestinians forcibly evicted from their homes as the settler-colony of Israel was born.

Both Palestine and Kashmir have long suffered human rights abuses at the hands of occupation forces. Palestine remembers the Deir Yassin Village massacre in which Zionist gangs massacred the entire village population. Kashmiri mourned the Gawkadal Massacre and the mass killings by Indian troops throughout the 1990s.

These well-documented human rights abuses continue year after year in both countries.
Moreover, both lands are denied recognition and the ability to govern their affairs. Palestine has routinely been denied full international recognition as a state in the U.N. and by major world powers such as the United States. Kashmir says its autonomy was revoked when the Modi administration shredded Article 370 of the Indian constitution and made it a federal state, full of New Delhi loyalists.

As is the case with Israel, the U.S. prefers closer relationships with India and only tepidly acknowledges the reality on the ground in Kashmir.

Israeli weapons are used against Kashmir

India and Israel established formal relations in 1992, but Israel has long before sold its weapons to India – selling weapons in its wars against Pakistan in 1962, in its war with China, and again in 1965 in its wars against Pakistan. Throughout the 2010s Israel was the third largest arms provider to India – providing approximately 13% of its weaponry – however, that amount constitutes nearly half of all Israeli weapon exports.

The amount of Israeli weapons shipments increased by 175% since the election of Prime Minister Modi’s election in 2014.

India and Israel have collaborated to enhance India’s indigenous weapons manufacturing capabilities. In 2017, Punj Lloyd Raksha Systems, also known as PLR Systems, emerged as a key player in this partnership. The company specializes in producing arms for the Indian Army and Special Forces, featuring cutting-edge weaponry such as the Tavor Assault Rifle, X95 Assault Rifle, Galil Sniper Rifle, Negev Light Machine Gun, and the Uzi SubMachine Gun.

Perhaps India’s most notable purchase of weaponry is a piece of spyware developed by Israel in 2017 known as Pegasus. The Modi government used it to target journalists and activists critical of his administration.

The parallels are too noticeable to ignore

The parallels between Kashmir and Palestine are apparent to the Modi regime and since the crisis in Gaza unfolded Indian authorities have clamped down any protest that might be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was placed on house arrest and other clerics were forbidden from mentioning Palestine in their sermons.

“From the Muslim perspective, Palestine is very dear to us, and we essentially have to raise our voice against the oppression there. But we are forced to be silent,” said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a key resistance leader and a Muslim cleric,” Farooq said.

Even prayers are being regulated by India as prayers for Palestine cannot mention any detail of the crisis and the Friday sermons can only be issued in Arabic so the masses who speak Kashmiri and Urdu, cannot fully understand the full meaning of the speech.

Final thoughts: A cautious turning point

The outpouring of support for the Palestinian people shocked and surprised many in the West. It is too early to know whether this will be a turning point for Palestine or whether it will spur a new peace process that will finally see the world recognize Palestine and the atrocities come to an end.

If so, it could bring renewed hope for Kashmir whose people are suffering under human rights abuses by the Indian government.

It should be cautioned that the future remains very uncertain. Authoritarians rely on people forgetting and for the news cycle to change so they can continue as if nothing happened. That kind of forgetting is what the Indian Occupation counts on. That the world will forget Palestine and Kashmir altogether.

But as Israel has discovered, injustice cannot be ignored forever – it is a lesson India would do well to learn.