August 5 will mark another grim anniversary in the long struggle of the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Two years ago, the Indian fascist regime headed by Narendra Modi unilaterally abrogated articles 370 and 35A, abolishing the autonomous status of the state as well as opening the floodgates to non-Kashmiris, mostly Hindus, to settle there.
In the last two years, the Kashmiris’ already grim plight has become worse. The issue for them is no longer the restoration of the abrogated articles, damaging as they are. Now they are struggling for their very survival. With more than two years of curfews and clampdowns, most people are literally on the verge of starvation. Their very survival is at stake. Their financial losses amounted to $5.3 billion in the first 10 months of lockdown. It is two years old.
The Modi regime has taken a leaf out of the Zionist occupiers’ playbook in Occupied Palestine. It is implementing the same policy of forcible evictions and occupation of the Kashmiris’ lands. Like the Zionists, the Hindu occupiers take over any area or locality by simply declaring it a ‘sensitive security zone’. They have already taken over strategic mountain tops and golf courses declaring them militarily sensitive areas.
Large numbers of troops have been deployed there. In the midst of the pandemic, the Hindu settler-colonialists have embarked on a terrifyingly large troop movement into the most militarized region in the world that was already bristling with more than 900,000 occupation troops.
The two-year-long lockdown has meant that people have run out of provisions and their life’s savings. Fruit growers that depended on this seasonal produce have been unable to tend to their trees and hence harvest them properly. Further, restrictions on movement have resulted in fruits that have been produced and harvested, rot before reaching the market.
People live in constant fear of being evicted by forcible seizure of their property. While the Kashmiris—indigenous people of the land—are subjected to this terrifying policy of land grab in contravention of all international laws, Hindu settlers brought in from India are being accommodated. Hindu temples are springing up in localities where no Hindus have ever lived before. This clearly points to the policy of forced settlements to make the occupation permanent. In fact, ethnic-cleansing and ethnic-flooding are being pursued simultaneously in utter disregard of the international and UN-acknowledged status of Jammu and Kashmir as being “disputed area,” where any such change is manifestly illegal.
The Hindu settler colonialists are pursuing a multi-pronged policy. The “security” pretext is used not only to bring in more troops but also to settle military personnel in strategic areas. Many are retired army personnel or bureaucrats that have in the past served in Kashmir and are, therefore, familiar with the local environment, geography and topography. They are also sufficiently desensitized to suffer any pangs of conscience in brutalizing the Kashmiris.
The other group comprises Hindu fascists of the Hindutva brigade. These Hindu fascists are determined to not only turn India into a completely Hindu state with no place for any other religious minority, but also occupied regions like Jammu and Kashmir. Between April and December of 2020, more than 3.2 million non-Kashmiris, mostly Hindus have been settled in Kashmir, according to President Masood Khan of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Since then, more non-Kashmiri Hindus have been settled.
The aim is clear: change the demography of the state and turn the Kashmiris into a minority. This is classic settler colonial policy. Can genocide be far behind, as feared by Genocide Watch two years ago? The nomadic Muslim tribal people, the Bakarwals and Gujjars, of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir are particularly vulnerable. They have already faced thousands of such motivated evictions.
The Modi regime has taken other steps to thrust more deeply the claws of occupation into the soil of Kashmir. Hindu entrepreneurs are flooding into the state for the purpose of investment but in reality, to make the occupation permanent. They are the regime’s economic collaborators. Their investment is aimed at providing employment not to the Kashmiris but to the Hindu settlers.
The political step the Modi regime took in June was aimed at roping in Kashmiri collaborators to provide political legitimacy to the charade. At a meeting on June 24 Modi invited a few hand-picked pro-India Kashmiri politicians whose corruption is well-known to the people. During the clampdown that followed, all these collaborators were also thrown in jail. Since released from prison, the Modi regime called them to Delhi to advance the settler colonial agenda.
Modi’s sidekick, Amit Shah, who hopes to succeed Modi was also present. Nothing of substance came out of the meeting. There was some talk about granting of statehood to Kashmir at some yet-to-be-determined time in the future. That is how far Modi was prepared to go. Even for such crumbs, these politicians were willing to bow to the Hindu fascist.
For politicians that have made a career and fortune out of collaboration with the occupiers, even this meeting was seen as a major achievement. This is the sad reality of the people of Kashmir. They are caught between a brutal occupation regime enforced through the bayonets and a bunch of Kashmiri collaborators who for a few crumbs, are prepared to sup with the devil.