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  • A Kashmiri woman walks past an Indian soldier.

    A Kashmiri woman walks past an Indian soldier. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 November 2019
Opinion

“I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” India's Consul General to the United States said.

India's Consul General to the United States in New York city Sandeep Chakravorty told Kashmiri Hindus and Indians at a private event Saturday that far-right President Narendra Modi administration’s will build occupying settlements modeled after Israel to ensure the colonization of Hindu population in Kashmir.

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“I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” Chakravorty said, referring to the illegal settlements implemented by Israel to occupy Palestine. 

The event was organized to present Indian filmmaker Vivek Agnihorti’s forthcoming project on the displacement of Kashmiri Hindus in the early 1990s, a narrative being pushed by Modi’s administration to justify the occupation of Kashmir, especially appealing to Kashmiri Hindus, known as Pandits, who have been promised their “return” to the occupied territory.

“I think the return of Kashmiri Pandits is being instrumentalized to justify a settler-colonial project in Kashmir,” Mona Bhan, an associate professor of South Asian Studies at Syracuse University in New York told Middle East Eye.

Such allegations that Pandits cannot return to their motherland and all their properties were taken over by Muslims have also been discredited. Up until now Pandit houses and lands remain untouched. 

On Aug. 5 Modi’s government revoked the special status of Kashmir and Jammu by removing a constitutional provision, article 370, that prevented non-Kashmiris to purchase any property in the Muslim-majority state. 

The move will now allow Indian Hindus to purchase properties in Jammu and Kashmir, which activists say warned would be a similar policy to that of Israeli settlements in Palestine. 

Along with revoking the special status, the government divided the state in two Union Territories, meaning they will be ruled by the federal government while losing statehood.

After the removal of the article, Ram Madhav, a leader of the ruling BJP, said his Hindu nationalist party was committed to bringing some 200,000-300,000 Hindus to the Kashmir valley, meaning the Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) who left the valley during the starting years of the insurgency would be taken back to Kashmir. 

The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits has been used by consecutive Indian governments to legitimize their violence on Kashmiri populations.  

The Indian government is saying that their measure will help Kashmiri Pandits go back and buy their lands. The fallacy of the logic lies in the fact that Kashmiri Pandits do not have to buy back their lands and that the Article was the only link to India.

Meanwhile, and ever since Aug. 5, the region is observing an indefinite shutdown as the government has deployed additional troops numbering in tens of thousands in the troubled region to implement Section 144, which does not allow more than four persons to assemble; as well as a now partial communications blockage. 

For 30 years, Occupied Kashmir is fighting for its independence in which at least 50,000 people have been killed. Critics say the decision to revoke autonomy will cause further alienation and fuel the armed resistance.

The constitutional provisions revoked Monday were the bedrock of the treaty of accession from 1947 through which Jammu and Kashmir's ruler acceded his region to Indian territory.

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