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Editorial

No country for women

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India is regarded as world’s biggest democracy. But more than half of its population, women, have been described as the most vulnerable lot, prone to sexual and physical attacks. In a recent survey, global experts put India as the most dangerous country for women, worse than war-torn Afghanistan and Syria which occupy second and third place. The Thomson Reuters Foundation, which conducted the survey, released its results early this week of a survey of 550 experts on women’s issues, finding India to be the most dangerous nation for sexual violence against women, as well as human trafficking for domestic work, forced labor, forced marriage and sexual slavery, among other reasons. It was also described as the most dangerous country in the world for cultural traditions that impact women, the survey found, citing acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage and physical abuse. India was the fourth most dangerous country for women in the same survey in 2011. The release of the report comes amid mounting public outrage after a series of high-profile rape cases, including rape and murder of a 8-year old girl in Kathua and rape of 16-year old girl in Unnao Utter Pradesh, have forced the issue onto the national agenda. The worst of it is that in, both, Kathua and Onnao cases people associated with the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) were involved directly as also indirectly. In Unnao, the minor girl was not only raped by a BJP legislator but her father was done to death in police station for complaining about the rape of her daughter. In Kathua, then BJP minister besides several local and state level leaders of the BJP rallied around the people accused in rape and murder of the 8-year nomadic girl. Though the case if now being heard by a court in Pathankote, the BJP leaders are still running a public campaign in favor of the accused. India has long grappled with the issue violence against women. After public outrage and angry demonstration across the country against the rape of a young doctor in Delhi in 2012, government of India introduced some stringent punishment sections to the existing rape law. But it, in no way, helped reduce crimes against women. In a quite reverse way, there was rather increase in sexual crimes against women. But despite the introduction of stricter laws, around 100 sexual assaults are reported to police in the country every day, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, with nearly 39,000 alleged attacks reported in 2016, an increase of 12% from the previous year. It is a serious indictment of a country which boosts of a great humanitarian and cultural history. It should be a matter of concern for the society and country as a whole that India’s glorious past is being replaced by a disgraceful era with open support from the people in power. The rape and murder of Kathua gilr could be termed as a poisonous cocktail of religious bigotry and communal prejudice. The Muslim girl was kept captive in a Hindu temple, fed sedatives and raped repeatedly and latter murdered and dumped in a forest. It was a warning to nomad Muslims to leave the area. Eight Hindu men have been charged with the Kashmir gang-rape and murder. In the southern state of Kerala, a bank manager declared on his Facebook wall that it was “good” that the nomad girl was killed, because “she would have come as a [human] bomb against India tomorrow”. His employers sacked him. It should surprise one that the crimes against women are supported at highest government level. A rape—accused in Rajasthan, Nihal Chand, was accorded a ministerial berth in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2014. It doesn’t matter if India is really the most dangerous country for women. It does matter that too many women in India live in a constant state of fear. And our government’s silence tells us that we’re on our own.

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Editorial

UN report on Kashmir

The Kashmir Monitor

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United Nations has accused Indian forces of using excessive forces in Kashmir, killing and wounding numerous civilians. The UN also called for international; inquiry into alleged human rights violations by Indian forces in the troubles region. This is for the first time since the eruption of militancy that the United Nations officially admitted human rights violations by India in Kashmir. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called for maximum restraint and denounced the lack of prosecutions of Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir due to a 1990 law giving them what he called “virtual immunity”. In a statement, Zeid called for the Human Rights Council to launch a commission of inquiry into all violations. Alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region should be investigated. The 49-page report, while focusing on the latest phase of the violence in the valley from 2016 to 2018, recalls developments since the origins of the dispute between Pakistan and India. Most significantly it calls upon India to “fully respect the right of self-determinations of the people of Kashmir as protected under international law”. It also recommends an “urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and to deliver justice for all people in Kashmir who have been suffering seven decades of conflict”. The report has been endorsed by none other the secretary general of the international body himself. António Guterres also appeared to support UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s call for an independent international investigation of the massive rights violations. India has outright rejected the report calling it “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”. We question the intent in bringing out such a report. It is a selective compilation of largely unverified information. It is overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative”, the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement after the report was released last week. India is also cool to Guterres’s remarks urging India and Pakistan to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute. But the report in itself is severe indictment of India’s conduct in Kashmir. It is also huge demonstration of the fact that the international opinion on India with regard to Kashmir is changing. For media use, it is the only right thing government of India can do is to reject the report. But on ground it invites a serious attention of the powers that be. It goes without saying that Kashmir presently depicts a horrific picture with civilian killings being committed more-often-than-not. Just a week before security forces raided a government high school in Hawoora village in Kulgam which resulted in killing of a 9th class girl student besides two other civilians. As many as 49 civilians are reported to have died and more than 200 injured in security forces actions across the valley since January this year. After Governor’s rule was imposed in the state since the unceremonious exit of Mahbooba Mufti, direct threats are hurled on the people of Kashmir through TV studios. In one of the debates on India’s most rabid news channels where retired army generals mostly express their opinions was said “aik aik ko mariege, chun chun kar marienge”. They projected Governor’s rule as that of martial law which is a serious reflection on the Governor itself. Governor N N Vohra is a seasoned and experienced man with right knowledge of Kashmir situation. He will not ignore what is going around in his rule. He should take up the matter with his bosses in Delhi and make them agree to change their hardened approach towards hapless people of Kashmir. New Delhi must understand the fact that India’s image as a tolerant and civilized country is fast dwindling. It cannot be rebuilt just by abusing or accusing Pakistan or any other country. Nor can be it built by US or Russian support. The image of a country is determined by the actions of the state and its people. For a country that is indicted by some credible international agency, something wrong must definitely be happening. Let government of India pause and look inwards to make corrections wherever needed.

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Editorial

Hard times for Muslims

The Kashmir Monitor

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Life is becoming tougher for Muslims in India. The bloody campaign by extremist Hindus continues unabatedly against them and they are killed without any fear of law. That makes one to believe that the so-called law enforcing agencies are either in connivance with the killers or have political pressure to look the other way. The excuse is simple….carrying beef. If you are not carrying beef then you must be a child lifter. On Saturday a lynch mob beat to death a Muslim Mohammad Azam, a Hyderabad based techie who worked for Google, in Karnataka on the rumour of being a chid-lifter. Azam was on vacation with his three friends, Salham Eid Al Kubasi, a Qatari national and Noor Mohammad. A mob of some 2000 people gheraoed them at Thoul village Bidi district and attacked tgem with rods and lathis. They were dragged out from the Toyota Innova and beaten up by the mob. While Azam who was driving the car died on the spot, Noor Mohammad suffered a grievous injury on his head and is paralysed on one side. Salham too was injured in the brutal attack. The rage against them was engineered through whatsApp message that they were child-lifters. Lynching Muslims under than one or the other pretext has become norm in India. That the lynch has the patronage of the state and the ruling BJP can be understood from the fact that a minister in Narendra Modi’s Jayant Sinha garlanded and feted eight men convicted in the Ramgarh lynching case in Jharkhand after they were released on bail on Thursday.The life sentences handed to the eight men, including BJP functionary, was suspended by the high court and they walked out of the Jai Prakash Narain Central Jail and headed straight to the residence of Sinha, where the minister garlanded them. The convicts were led by local BJP leader Amardeep Yadav, who is also the OBC Morcha president of the party. India is losing its face in the eyes of international community as a country that has descended to medieval madness in targeting Muslims in particular and Dalits in general. Muslim individuals were targeted under the manufactured allegations of eating or carrying beef or slaughtering or ferrying a cow for slaughter. Around two dozen Muslims were killed by these lynch-soldiers on false pretexts. The lynch mob has public support from the BJP as most these cases have happened in BJP-ruled states. The common people and India civil society too have maintained criminal silence over the brutal incidents. Instead of recognising that a sickness is spreading through Hindu society, the silence grows, revealing how most Hindus—instead of standing up and saying this must not happen in our name—either choose to be ignorant, find justifications or are complicit. Many have few qualms in saying this is what Muslims deserve. By now the lynching has become part of what is now known as the normalisation of hatred, the process of becoming immune or deadened to atrocity because there is so much of it. The creation of the new normal is well underway among those in India’s Hindu right, which barely reacts to the killing of Muslims. Over the past some time, the attacks by lynch mobs is not restricted to Muslims only. Many a Hindus belonging to lower sections of the society too have become the target of these extremists. Most of the latest killings have occurred due to rumours on social media of child-lifting. Innocent people are being beaten to death by an angry mobs blinded by rage and powered by rumours of child-lifters circulating on social messaging platforms, that is, WhatsApp. Some time when some Congress workers slaughtered a cow in Kerala, a hue and cry was made by the BJP people in and outside power but when innocent people are lynched; they maintain criminal silence, more so, if the victim is a Muslim. The lynching of Pehlu Khan in Rajsthan was done in full public view and videos of which went viral on social media but still no action was taken against the killers. Some of them arrested for the crime were released after three months with claims of lack of evidence. This is making a new India where crime and criminals are seen through religious prism. This should be a matter of serious concern for all those who believe in multi-religious and multi-culture unity of India.

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Editorial

Our shared legacy

The Kashmir Monitor

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Governor N. N. Vohra should be appreciated for maintaining the dignity of the government with regard to the historic Martyrs’ Day on July 13. By issuing the message of peace on the occasion, he recognized the Day as significant and historic quite in tune with state government’s established position but in quite contravention to BJP’s stand. Ever since BJP came to power in the state in alliance with the PDP in 2014, the rabid Hindutva group used to dishonour the Martyrs by boycotting the official functions on the Day. They instead used to praise Dogra Maharaj, whose tyrant regime had usurped the rights of Kashmiri people. Representing the Dogra political legacy, they viewed it as Kashmiris’ struggle for dominance over Jammu. There had been voices oft and on against Kashmir domination. Some sections there favour a separate statehood for Jammu. What is even more insulting both for the people of Kashmir and the martyrs is that, last year, a BJP leader Ravinder Raina had the audacity of saying that his party did not consider those killed by then Dogra Maharaja’s police as martyrs. As the state is presently running under Governor’s rule, N N Vohra toed established official position. In a message on the occasion, he called upon the leaders of all political and religious parties and social organizations and the people of the state to shed all differences and join hands to make Jammu and Kashmir peaceful, prosperous and among the leading states in the country. He observed that Jammu and Kashmir was known for its glorious pluralistic ethos, amity and brotherhood, and urged the people to work towards restoring the pristine glory of the State as an abode of peace, harmony and prosperity.
July 13 is a significant day in our history. The day is commemorated in memory of the 22 Kashmiris who were shot dead outside the Srinagar Central Jail by the troops of Dogra Maharaja, where they had gathered to witness the court proceedings against one, Abdul Qadeer, who was being tried for his alleged “crime” of instigating Kashmiri people to defy Dogra rule. In political terminology, the day marks the beginning of Kashmir’s’ struggle for justice and human and political rights, which had been trampled upon by the despotic Maharaja ruler. The Maharaja rule ended in 1947 and for those fighting against him the struggle was over and objective achieved. That is the belief people in power hold. National Conference views it as party achievement against Maharaja Rule for the reason that its founder leader Shaikh Mohammad Abdullah was at the forefront in the battle against Maharaja. For quite a long time since 1947, the NC would claim exclusive rights of July 13 martyrs’ as if they were their party cadres. The followers of Mirwaiz Mohammad Yousuf Shah, in parts Srinagar, were the only exception who would observe the day other than NC and people in the government. With the eruption of militancy in 1989-90, the common perception about July 13 martyrs changed squarely. Rather than being a party affair, the people of Kashmir adopted them in general. The separatist sections added a new meaning to the martyrs’ cause by calling that the struggle for justice did not end in 1947. They said that it rather made a new beginning that year. For the coming years, July 13 became a moment of reverence for one and all. Voices were raised loud and clear that the struggle for justice was still on and would be achieved only after India grants right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir. Almost for a decade, the pro India parties and government had to remain away from the martyrs’ graveyard, though the state government, through press statements, continued to pay tributes to the martyrs. That, at least, showed the spirit that, whatever the political differences; the martyrs of July 13, 1931 are our shared legacy.

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