By Gen ® Mirza Aslam Beg
What is happening in both Kashmir and Assam is an attempt to change the demographics in favour of Hindus. Kashmiris fear the government’s real plan in wiping out their autonomy is to pave the way to resettle large number of Hindu Indians in Kashmir and end its status as the only Muslim-majority territory in India. Under the changes, Kashmiris will lose the special land rights they used to hold that made it difficult for non-Kashmiris to buy land in their state. Modi’s agenda is something similar to what happened in United States of America, some centuries back, when the Native Americans were herded together into Reservations, and they remain confined there till today.
The study carried-out by the Indian and American scholars, Jeffrey Gettleman and Hari Kumar, has been published under the heading “India Plans Big Detention Camps for Migrants – Muslims are Afraid” in The New York Times of 17th August 2019. Extracts are reproduced below:
a. “More than four million people in Assam, mostly Muslims are at risk of being declared foreign migrants as the government pushes a hard-line Hindu nationalist agenda that has challenged the country’s pluralist traditions and aims to redefine what it means to be Indian. Many of the people whose citizenship is now being questioned were born in India and have enjoyed all the rights of citizenship.”
b. “PM Narendra Modi’s government is vowing to launch this campaign forcing people to prove they are citizens to other parts of India. It is part of a far-reaching Hindu nationalist program fuelled by Mr. Modi’s sweeping election victory in May this year. Members of India’s Muslim minority are growing more fearful by the day.
c. The stated purpose of the citizenship dragnet in Assam is to find undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh. Amit Shah, India’s powerful home minister, has repeatedly referred to those immigrants as “termites.” All of 33 million residents of Assam have had to prove, with documentary evidence, that they or their ancestors were Indian citizens before early 1971. Beyond this, Mr. Modi’s government has tried to pass a bill in Parliament that carves out exemptions for Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and people from other religions – but leaves out Muslims.”
d. “This coincides with another setback for Muslims, happening more than a thousand miles away, in Kashmir, where Mr. Modi unilaterally wiped out the statehood of India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, removing its special autonomy and turning it into a federal territory without any consultation with local leaders – many of whom have since been arrested. It is the most forceful and divisive Hindu nationalist agenda ever attempted in India.
e. “The tension with Pakistan tends to lift Mr. Modi’s political fortunes. Hindus praise what they see as the strides Modi has made projecting a more muscular image of India on the world stage. “Muslims are the enemy. It’s a war on the Indian Constitution.” Ashutosh Varshney, the head of Brown University’s South Asia program, said that India “in all probability and unless checked is headed toward a Hindu nationalist, majoritarian state.”
As tension rises between India and Pakistan, the situation gets more complex and ominous, with new ground realities, emerging to take-over the control of events:
One. PM Modi has played his cards in support of his agenda. He cannot go back on it. If he does, that would mean the end of his political carrier.
Two. The peaceful freedom movement of the Kashmiris now has reached the boiling point. More than a million Indian troops have failed to bring it under control. It is now in a state of surge to find its course. Kashmiris would lead the movement.
Three. Pakistan is prepared to go to any limit in support of the Kashmiris struggle for freedom – an open war, even an atomic war.
Four. The situation in Kashmir is ideal for the Jihadis of the world to respond to the challenge thrown by Modi, to the world of Islam. Jihadis would hold the reign in Kashmir tomorrow, as they do in Afghanistan, today. They may well be joined by Jihadis from Revolutionary Iran and Jihadi Afghanistan, that would put the sub-continent on fire, causing a catastrophe that would put to shame the battle of Kalinga of BC 262, fought at the Gangetic Plains. That day may soon come, when the Indian leadership would be begging for peace from the Jihadis, as the Americans are now engaged in frustrating dialogue, with Afghan Taliban.
What then is the answer? The answer lies at the deep recess of the soul of the enlightened leadership of India and Pakistan to come to terms with the reality – the Divine Justice which controls and guides our destiny.
(The author is Pakistan’s former Chief of Army Staff and presently Chairman, ‘Friends’ a think tank based in Islamabad.)