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At the receiving end

Attacks on Kashmiris continue unabatedly outside the valley. A group of saffron-clad men belonging to a right-wing group had on Wednesday attacked two dry fruit vendors from Kashmir on a busy road in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow. One of the accused men shared a video of the assault on social media, sparking widespread outrage. The incident took place in central Lucknow’s Daliganj area. The men who assaulted the traders can be heard in the videos saying they did so as “they are from Kashmir. They throw stones on “our” soldiers in Kashmir, and then come to our country to earn money”. One of the attackers was beating them with a wooden stick.

Though the incident evoked an angry reaction from certain sections of the society but still a large constituency of common people, politicians and police appeared unmoved by the incident. This can be understood by the fact that dozens of pedestrians and bystanders were present on the scene. However just one person intervened and stopped the attackers. Since Pulwama suicide attack in which over 40 CRPF men were killed, a nation-wide campaign has been going on against Kashmiri traders, students, vendors and laborers. Going by the newspapers reports, some 3000 Kashmiri students, laborers and traders were forced to leave their colleges and work places in the wake of attacks by extremist Hindu elements. In some cases admission of students was cancelled by the college management for something wrong which they had not committed. The height of anger and insanity against Kashmiris came on display when a private airline disallowed a Kashmiri family from travelling in its plane. It is not going overboard to say that hate against Kashmiris has been institutionalized in India. Otherwise, how come a student’s admission is canceled or an employee is dismissed. The attack on CRPF men had taken place in Pulwama and the attacker got killed along with CRPF men but the revenge is taken from a person who in no case is involved, directly or indirectly. This speaks of a mindset that has come been building up in India since the rise of Hindutwa forces at the helm of affairs. Earlier it was said that these are fringe group who resort to such nefarious actions. Since these goons have political patronage and police, in most cases, are providing them a cover, it has now become the mainstream business.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently decried against the elements who carried out attacks on Kashmiris. He, in a public rally in Rajasthan, said that people of Kashmir were part of the nation; they should not be attacked or harassed. However, his words of caution appeared to have gone over the head. The harassment and humiliation of Kashmiris continue without any pause. The attackers have no fear of law. In fact, one of the attackers in the latest Lucknow case uploaded the video on social media. The attackers have been arrested and cases against them lodged only after a huge cry on social media. Some TV news channels also played up the incident that forced the police to take some action. However, the silence on the part of the government and the opposition mainly Congress makes it a political case. Presently politics in India thrives on hate and division. It appears that Kashmir is a piece of real estate, and the people living there are dispensable. The political class in India can’t afford to enrage vast swaths of supporters by raising voices of sanity. As general elections nearing, voice of hate could become louder and harsher. This may help the contesting parties to get some votes but it is ultimately the nation that could suffer. Party interests had never been as supreme in India as these are now. This should make the saner sections quite worrisome. They need to come out of hibernation and play a positive role to protect the country’s image and integrity.