Modi Playing Dangerous Game, Says US Media

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi. — File photo

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NEW YORK – The US print and electronic media has given prominent coverage to reports about Friday’ UN Security Council meeting on the grave situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, amid continued criticism of India’s decision to scrap the state’s special status.

Top US newspapers continue to denounce Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s illegal action in revoking Kashmir’s special autonomous status, with Saturday’s Washington Post saying, “Modi has stoked Kashmir’s anger and stained India’s democracy.”

The newspapers also carried reports of the telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump on the situation in Kashmir.

Most reports on Friday’s “closed consultations” of the 15-member Council highlighted the fact that it was the first meeting on Kashmir after a space of over 50 years, while also pointing to China’s full support to Pakistan.

“Will 50 more years pass before the Council takes up again the hot topic of Kashmir?” CNN’s UN Correspondent Richard Roth posed the question in his dispatch.

“As the diplomatic arm that’s supposed to protect international peace and security, the Security Council should move quickly to get between the two nuclear-armed opponents if there is a significant flare up.”

On Friday, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun summed up the Council discussions, saying the members countries voiced serious concerns over the situation.

“They are also concerned about the human rights situation there and also it’s the general view of members that parties concerned should refrain from taking any unilateral action that might further aggravate the tension there since it’s already very very dangerous situation,” Zhang said.

Voice Of Kashmiri People Heard: Maleeha Lodhi

Speaking to reporters outside the Council chamber, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi said the meeting had allowed “the voice of the people of the Kashmir” to be heard “in the highest diplomatic forum of the world.”

She argued that “the fact that this meeting took place, is a testimony to the fact that the Kashmir issue is an international dispute.”

Ambassador Lodhi said, “As far as my country is concerned, we stand ready for a peaceful settlement of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. I think today’s meeting nullifies India’s claim that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter of India. Today, the whole world is discussing the state and the situation there.”

After a break, India’s UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said, “It’s entirely an internal matter for India,” adding, “We don’t need international busybodies.”

Akbaruddin also promised an eventual easing of restrictions in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, where civilians have been under strict security lockdown and a communications blackout.

He also faced off in front of a UN television camera with several Pakistani reporters and shook their hands after some questioning, telling them that India was ready for dialogue with Pakistan.

Modi is playing a dangerous game: Washington Post

The editorial in The Washington Post said, “Mr. Modi, leading the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, having secured a second-term election victory in May, promised to deliver a “completely transparent environment with a lot of honesty” for Kashmir, “new hopes” and “new heights” and “renewed vigor.” Given the way Mr. Modi chose to impose change, these words cannot be accepted at face value.”

After giving background of the Kashmir dispute and the region’s features and arrangements, the Post said, “Mr. Modi effectively canceled the key provision, Article 370, and dissolved the state, turning it instead into two “union territories” with less autonomy, under direct rule by New Delhi. Also canceled was a provision that barred people outside the state from buying property and displacing Muslims.”

Mr Modi is playing a dangerous game, said the Post. “His sunny vows of transparency aside, the stripping of Kashmir’s autonomy was done in darkness and in the most coercive way possible.”

The WP editorial continues, “As The Post’s Niha Masih reported from Srinagar, streets are no longer crowded with civilians but awash with India’s armed soldiers, and “instead of traffic jams at intersections, there are spools of concertina wire. People remain inside their homes with no telephone, Internet or cable TV service. No one has seen or heard from local political leaders, hundreds of whom are in detention. Of the more than 200 newspapers in the region, only five are publishing physical copies. Their websites are stuck at Aug. 5.”

But India, which just this week celebrated 73 years of independence as a boisterous, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional democracy? Mr. Modi might have fulfilled a dream of Hindu nationalists going back to the 1950s, but he also stained that democracy and most likely stoked anger in Kashmir that will fester long into the future.”

Mr. Modi’s promise of “new heights” might turn out to be a dark day for Kashmir and for India’s democracy. The value of any goal must be doubted if it can be achieved only by these dark, oppressive means.”

Also in the Washington Post is an article by an Indian journalist, who said that “The Kashmir crisis isn’t about territory. It’s about a Hindu victory over Islam,” and that Prime Minister Modi “used the Muslim-majority state as a demonstration of Hindu power.”

Journalist and author Kapil Komireddi described the Indian crackdown in detail and wrote: Modi’s sudden takeover in Kashmir is the fulfillment of a long ideological yearning to make a predominantly Muslim population surrender to his vision of a homogeneous Hindu nation. It is also a way of conveying to the rest of India — a union of dizzyingly diverse states — that no one is exempt from the Hindu-power paradise he wants to build on the subcontinent. Kashmir is both a warning and a template: Any state that deviates from this vision can be brought under Delhi’s thumb in the name of “unity.”

He writes: Those who believe that such a day will never come — that India’s democratic institutions and minority protections will assert themselves — also never thought that someone like Modi would one day lead the country. Modi once seemed destined to disappear into history as a fanatical curio. As the newly appointed chief minister of Gujarat, he presided over the worst communal bloodletting in India’s recent history in 2002, when 1,000 Muslims, by a conservative estimate, were slaughtered by sword-wielding Hindus in his state over several weeks. Some accused Modi of abetting the mobs; others said he turned a blind eye to them.”

“The carnage made Modi a pariah. Liberal Indians likened him to Hitler, the United States denied him a visa, and Britain and the European Union boycotted him,” he said.

“But Modi expanded and solidified his appeal among India’s Hindus, a religious majority whose resentment at being invaded and ruled for centuries by Muslims had been papered over for decades with platitudes from India’s secular elites.”

How Modi Ascended The Power Ladder, Describes Indian Journalist

He used three powerful tools to propel his ascent. The first was sadism, the hint that, under him, Hindu radicals could indulge a dormant bloodlust: After the killing of a Muslim man in police custody, for instance, Modi mused at a 2007 rally, “If AK-57 [sic] rifles are found at the residence of a person … should I not kill them?” (The crowd roared back: “Kill them! Kill them!”)

The second was schadenfreude, an exultation in the torment of defenceless minorities: At an earlier rally in 2002, Modi had ruminated on the fate of the Muslims displaced by the recent Gujarat riots, asking: “What should we do? Run relief camps for them? Do we want to open baby-producing centers?” His audience erupted with laughter.

“We have to teach a lesson to those who are increasing population at an alarming rate,” he said.

The final affect was self-pity, a license for Hindus to regard themselves as the real victims.

He told Parliament that India had been a slave nation for more than 1,000 years and claimed that there were forces out to kill him.

“Since his 2014 election to the premiership, bigotry has been ennobled as a healthy form of self-assertion. Lynchings of Muslims — breathlessly demonized as jihadists devoted to seducing and converting Hindu women — by aggrieved Hindu mobs have become such a common sport that dozens of videos of grisly murders circulate on WhatsApp groups run by Hindu nationalists.

Last summer, a minister in Modi’s cabinet garlanded eight men who had been convicted of lynching a Muslim man.

In this universe, Kashmir could never remain autonomous, a place impervious to the desires of a majority happy to see its will done by violence. Modi’s reelection this year emboldened the supporters whose rage he skillfully incited. The prime minister rarely acknowledges the murders of minorities.

Rarer still are instances when he condemns them. Not once, in fact, has he memorialized, by name, Muslims slain by Hindu fundamentalists.

This is not an accident. It is a small step from letting Hindu vigilantes subjugate their Muslim neighbours to subjugating them himself, using the power of the state, as he has now done in Kashmir.

“Modi’s political awakening occurred in the training camps of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing paramilitary group that incubated the modern politics of Hindu nationalism. The RSS introduces young “volunteers” to the vast pantheon of supposed villains who plundered and emasculated India over the ages — the medieval Islamic invaders, the accommodationists like Mohandas Gandhi and the Congress party he led, the Muslim nationalists who mutilated India to create Pakistan and sought to abscond with Kashmir — and exhorts them to shed their Hindu impotence.

The effect on Modi’s young mind was so powerful that he came to regard the RSS as his family, abandoned his wife and mother, and wandered through India as a catechist of the Hindu nationalist cause.

“By seizing Kashmir, Modi has mollified votaries of Hindu nationalism and established himself as the father of what they proudly call the “New India.”

Kashmir was always at the top of their wish list, which also includes the construction of a temple in Ayodhya, where a mosque stood for half a millennium before Hindu nationalists razed it in 1992; the erasure of small privileges granted to minorities (such as a subsidy for the Muslim pilgrimmage to Makkah); a legal end to religious conversions by Hindus; an extra-legal suppression of interfaith romance and marriages, especially when the bride is Hindu and the groom Muslim; and, ultimately, the rewriting of the constitution to declare India a formally Hindu state.

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