As I write this blog post in total darkness, without the internet and cell phone, my mind started to wander thousands of miles away to Kashmir, where millions others are also without cell phone, internet and basic necessities but for widely different reasons and under vastly different conditions. Far from a Hindu-Muslim or India-Pakistan conflict, there are widespread abuses of all religious minorities including Christians, as reported in this post.
You see we have the power outage caused by PG&E, our gas and electricity power company in Northern California, in an attempt to prevent wild fires due to warm weather and high winds in Northern California. There is an outrage against these outages and the way PG&E has conducted their business, causing inconveniences to its customers. My neighborhood is in total darkness. There is no Internet, no fridge or freezer and no microwave- things we take for granted. Can’t charge my cell phone either.
Back in Kashmir, they also do not have power, Internet and cell phones. Many don’t have any land-base phone lines. However, they are under siege for over 85 days now. There is also blockade of any media coverage and journalists are not allowed access to the area. Another commonality is that their outages are also caused by power company…except in Kashmir’s case the power company is not PG&E. The Indian government led by Indian prime minister Modi and its Hindu fundamentalist party is flexing its army muscles to control the entire Kashmir valley.
As India celebrated its freedom from the British rule in 1947, Modi’s extreme right wing Hindu nationalist party fulfilled a campaign promise by annexing Kashmir and essentially depriving the Kashmiris from its right to freedom, by revoking article 370 of Indian constitution.
Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian Constitution had promised Kashmir its own constitution and decision-making powers outside the areas of foreign affairs, communications and defense. They also barred Indians from outside the state from buying land in Kashmir. By this action, the Modi government has essentially annexed Kashmir in an effort to make Kashmir an integral part of India- a territory that is a source of conflict between the nuclear-armed Pakistan and India almost since their freedom from the British Empire in 1947. This is against the UN resolutions calling for the Kashmiris to choose to live between Pakistan, India or as a free nation.
By revoking the article, it also calls for the long-standing ban on Non-Kashmiris buying Kashmiri land. In other words, the campaign for settlements has started.
There are widespread reports of human rights abuses in Kashmir.- gang rapes are common, young men are put in jail for no apparent reason or due process, abuse of the prisoners is rampant. There is shortage of essential supplies and access to basic health care.
Many supporters of Modi have come out in solidarity with its actions and call the reporting of the abuses as “propaganda”.
If it is propaganda, why does the Indian government not allowing journalists to report from the area, now termed as the biggest jail in the world? If it is all propaganda, let the world see what’s going on in Kashmir, and the “propagandists” will surely stop spreading their “propaganda”.
But that is not happening anytime soon. Modi and his Hindu fundamentalist party does not want the world to see its dirty side.
It is not just n Kashmir, but the widespread abuse and mistreatment of the religious minorities is is getting to be a commonplace ever since the extreme right wing Hindu fundamentalist party of Modi took power. Christians, Muslims and Dalit are deprived of their basic rights to practice religion and are abused and/or tortured. Like so many other places in the world, the extremists are equal opportunity extremists- making no distinction between the religious minorities when it comes to abusing their rights.
Here is a BBC report on the plight of the Christian minorities in Modi’s India
Here are couple of reports in the French media:
Sharp rise in attacks on India’s Christian minority:
The U.S. media is quiet , by and large, leaving us to wonder as to why they don’t feel its newsworthy. Perhaps they are influenced by the all-powerful interest groups. Perhaps these issues don’t fir their objectives.
Staying silent in the face of injustice is being part of injustice.
Silence is not an option.
For more information and how you can help, check out:
The least we can do is to raise awareness of the widespread human rights abuses in Kashmir, something the Modi government is actively trying the world not to see. You can do your part by sharing, and spreading the world. Better yet, contact your representatives to support resolutions to ask the Modi government to let the journalists in Kashmir, and to reverse the article 370 and 35A.
PS: The article was originally written 48 hours ago but I was not able to upload due to power outage!
Feature image: Courtesy of Asianage.com