Subscribe to South Asia Citizens Wire | feeds from sacw.net | @sacw
Home > Resources / Links > India: Some sane voices speak after the Pulwama attack in Kashmir [Feb (...)

India: Some sane voices speak after the Pulwama attack in Kashmir [Feb 2019]

1 March

print version of this article print version

[An informal compilation of op-eds and commentary from the media after the Pulwama attack in Kashmir, Feb 2019]

The Indian Express

Why attack young Kashmiris for Pulwama attack, a crime committed by someone else?

If young Kashmiris are told that colleges in the mainland have no place for them, who does that help but jihadis? The political response within India to the barbarous attack in Pulwama has played absolutely into the hands of the Lashkar, the Jaish, and the ISI.

Written by Ramachandra Guha | Updated: February 21, 2019

I was born and raised in Dehradun, a town which has been on the front pages of this newspaper in recent days, for reasons that do its history and reputation no credit at all. A series of chilling reports have appeared on the harassment of Kashmiri students studying in that town. They were forced to flee back to their home state, while the administrators of their colleges have been made to pledge that they will admit no Kashmiris in future. In at least one case, a senior faculty member of Kashmiri origin has been dismissed from his post.

Those persecuting innocent Kashmiris in Dehradun were led by activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Radical students of both the left and right are not prone to reason at the best of times, and in this case the ABVP has, at it were, a visible external stimulus for their anger — the horrific attack by terrorists on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama. The attack was coordinated by a jihadi group based in Pakistan, a group aided by the Pakistani Army and the Pakistani State. But why attack young citizens of the Republic for a crime committed by someone else, and orchestrated from across the border? And particularly the Kashmiris, who have come to seek a decent education outside their own state, hoping thereby to equip themselves for a job in the modern economy? How will attacking these students help in the war against terror and in the shaming of Pakistan?

The leaders of the ABVP are not known for careful or logical thinking. It may be hard for them to comprehend that the Kashmiris who come outside their home state to study are, in effect, India’s best hope for stemming the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism in the Valley. If these Kashmiris can go to college safely and with self-respect in Dehradun, and then go on to work safely and with self-respect in places like the town I now call home, Bengaluru, then other Kashmiris will come to recognise what the jihadis seek to obscure — namely, that for a better future for themselves and their families, a country like India offers far better prospects than a country like Pakistan.

The ABVP is unwilling or unable to understand that knowledge-seeking Kashmiri students can be an indispensable aid in India’s battle against jihad. But surely the president of the BJP can. He is an exceptionally intelligent and well-informed man. However, he has an election to fight, and surveys suggest that his party will be hard put to achieve anything close to a majority in the Lok Sabha. So he chooses to go down the path of communal bigotry. Thus, in a recent speech in Guwahati, Amit Shah said that if the BJP returned to power in New Delhi, it “won’t allow Assam to become another Kashmir”. It is very clear what he means by this; that the BJP will not allow Muslims to settle in that state. The President of the BJP is willing to stigmatise citizens of Kashmir on the basis of their religion, in order to win more seats in Assam (where the majority religion is more compatible with the ideology of his party).

What the ABVP did to Kashmiris in Dehradun and what the BJP president said about Kashmir in Assam was awful enough. Even worse, from the point of view of constitutional propriety, were the tweets of the Governor of Meghalaya, endorsing the boycott of Kashmiris and of their products by the rest of India. These tweets were brought to the attention of the President’s Office soon after they were issued. But they have not been retracted; indeed, no doubt in the knowledge that he is protected by those he reports to, the governor has defended his despicable statements in an interview to this newspaper.

The prime minister has been silent on the subject — as is his wont, when it comes to matters disturbing or controversial. One word by him would have stopped the goons of the ABVP in their tracks. Expectedly, it has not come. Notably, though, the president of the Congress party has said nothing either about the demonisation of ordinary Kashmiris in the streets of Northern India, on social media, and by powerful people in office. He, too, has an election to fight; and so cowardice has prevailed over courage, political expediency over plain human decency. While the BJP seeks to demonise Kashmiris to win seats elsewhere in India, the Congress will act as if Kashmiris do not exist at all.

Kashmir, says the political class in one voice, is an integral part of India. Kashmiris are another matter altogether. So, instead of identifying, isolating, and weakening those elements in the Valley who promote Islamic fundamentalism, the ruling party now wants us to think of all residents of the Valley as traitorous. And the leading Opposition party is happy to go along with this. This is not just morally wrong, but politically suicidal — that is, if one’s conception of politics goes beyond winning a particular election to assuring a secure and prosperous future for our Republic.

The threats and intimidation issued by the ABVP, the dog-whistles issued by Amit Shah and by the Meghalaya governor, the silence of the prime minister and of the Congress president — not one of these will make our jawans any safer. On the other hand, they will please and comfort our enemies, and embolden them further. If young Kashmiris are told that colleges in the mainland have no place for them, who does that help but the jihadis? If the governor of one state asks us to boycott citizens of another state, who does that help but the jihadis? If the president of India’s ruling party insinuates that all Muslims are untrustworthy, who does that help but the jihadis? And if all these statements go uncontested by the prime minister and by the Congress president, who does that help but the jihadis?

The political response within India to the barbarous attack in Pulwama has played absolutely into the hands of the Lashkar, the Jaish, and the ISI. When we should have been proactive in shaming and stigmatising the Government of Pakistan for its sponsorship of terror, we have instead been proactive in shaming and stigmatising ourselves.

This article first appeared in the print edition on February 21, 2019, under the title ‘Alienating one’s own’. The writer is a Bengaluru-based historian.

o o

The Indian Express

Who’s winning/losing?

The anger in India after Pulwama is self-destructively turning inward. Pakistan has won because our public culture has become corrosive. The Pakistani state’s silence in the face of violent proxies is being mirrored in our state’s silence in the face of vigilantism.

Written by Pratap Bhanu Mehta | Updated: February 23, 2019

After Pulwama, a suffocation has gripped India. Not to put too fine a point on this, political opinion now operates under the disconcerting thought that Pakistan is in some significant sense, winning. The anger against Pakistan is justified. But what we are witnessing in India is more a paroxysm of self-loathing rather than righteous anger; a self-loathing that is looking not for solutions, but for someone to blame. The tragedy of Pulwama is not just that soldiers died; it is the sense that we are acting as if Pakistan has won.

Pakistan has won because it can help carry out such acts of violence with impunity. No international pressure, no diplomatic response, no surgical strikes seem adequate to the task of deterring this behaviour. It is no small consolation to remember that even the mightiest of powers flounder on the desolate shoals of terrorism; just look at the Americans in Afghanistan. There is no quick fix to the problem.

Pakistan has won because while we have the right, and arguably the duty, to retaliate, we have not built the capabilities. We can carry out visible operations to satiate public will. But the blunt truth is we have not built the kind of intelligence, covert operations, and technological capabilities for a genuine response to sub-conventional warfare. These capabilities are not conjured up at will. They require years of patient state building. These don’t come easily to countries that cannot even get a basic defence contract right. It is nonsense to say that India or Indian liberals did not have a national security strategy. The thinking on this is quite sophisticated. It is truer to say that as always we did not put our money where our mouth is.

Pakistan has won because the radicalisation in Kashmir is real and the alienation pervasive. We can console ourselves with the fact that cowardly Pakistani generals who use proxies can never win an actual war. But it is also becoming clear that our chest thumping politicians can seldom win an actual peace. It is easy to vent out anger at Kashmiris; it is far more difficult to accept the truth that in the last five years we made the situation in Kashmir far worse. The fragile and uncertain gains in Kashmir of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh years have been squandered away in an illusory bravado. Pakistan has won because our responses make India look more like Pakistan. There is a long-standing strain in Indian politics that has gained more currency recently. Structuring citizenship or political standing around religious identity was Pakistan’s parlour game. But there are more politicians in India now who want to play the same game, who are besotted by the same vocabulary of blasphemy, religion-based identification, and parochialism. There are sections of the Indian Left, whose response to nationalism is to say that the poisons of smaller identities can be an antidote to the larger poison of vicious nationalism.

We are creating a culture where each life is reduced to, and completely foretold in, its identity. Now, apparently, even soldiers are reduced entirely to their caste. No wonder it is so easy to stereotype, attribute collective guilt and seek collective retribution and conjure up divisions. Pakistan was born in and is scarred by an identity fetish. Instead of embracing freedom, we also want to measure up to that fetish.

Pakistan has won because in the war we are alone. Of course, we have to artfully use any country that will listen to us. It is even more important to keep Pakistan’s friends nearer to us than its enemies. But the blunt truth is that we look in vain for geopolitics to help us. The world has its own interests in propping up the India-Pakistan divide. And which external power can even understand, let alone heal, the psychological complexes that fuel this irrational war?

Pakistan has won because our public culture has become corrosive. The Pakistani state’s silence in the face of violent proxies is being mirrored in our state’s silence in the face of vigilantism. Pakistan has long been a state whose public culture has been tethered to an unreality about its future. It has so often cut off its nose to spite the face. In our phantasmagorical projections of power, in thoughtless diagnosis, in the rush to find someone to blame, India’s public discourse is devolving into the same unreality. It may be true that a vast majority of people still carry their heads with a sense of balance and proportion. But there is no denying the fact that those are not the people who are empowered: Amit Shah and Tathagata Roy are the empowered faces of India.

So the self-loathing in the aftermath of Pulwama is not just about righteous anger against Pakistan. It is about the deep suffocation at the realisation that we have let Pakistan win. Sure, there will be some retaliatory action. But even if successful, we know that is not a victory. In 1971, we won the war but lost the peace. Sure, there will international support for India. But it will at best re-direct Pakistan’s efforts, not finish them off. Sure, India has more moral capital than Pakistan. But we have too many politicians willing to dissipate that capital. Sure, India has been far too patient with Pakistan. But India’s grievous sin is more that it has not been impatient about building its own capabilities.

The net result is an anger that is self-destructively turning inward. The Right has turned on Kashmiris, Muslims, journalists and other assorted “anti-nationals”, because it cannot accept the self-defeating nature of its own ideology and interventions. It has been caught in the lie that a chest-thumping Modi can do better than a vacillating Nehru. The Left has always laboured under the anxiety of whether its positions were principled or simply a rationalisation of weakness. Either way India feels trapped.

But the truth is defeating Pakistan is not about defeating the Pakistani state. They will inflict losses on us. But the Pakistani state can equally be trusted to harm Pakistan. The truth is that defeating Pakistan is about defeating a state of mind called Pakistan. The disconcerting truth after Pulwama is the state of mind called Pakistan seems to have made inroads into us than the state of Pakistan itself. Pakistan has won.

The writer is vice-chancellor of Ashoka University. Views are personal

o o

Our Men Didn’t Die So Someone Could Spread Communal Hatred: CRPF

By Nivedita Niranjankumar

February 20, 2019

https://www.thequint.com/amp/story/news%2Fwebqoof%2Fcrpf-fact-checking-team-pulwama-attack-fake-news-post

o o

Business Standard

Ordinary Kashmiris are our fellow countrymen, not the enemy
Those using the Pulwama attack to incite hatred against Kashmiris should take a cue from the CRPF

Mitali Saran Last Updated at February 23, 2019

The Pulwama terrorist attack, and the more than 40 CRPF soldiers it killed, is an abominable tragedy, as are all terrorist attacks. Nobody should have to die a violent and/or premature death, including soldiers who voluntarily put their lives on the line. It is the job of diplomacy to ensure that as few soldiers as possible find themselves in harm’s way.

It is also a fact that even with the best diplomacy, the best policy, and the best-intentioned engagement, there is no foolproof way to prevent terrorism — not even with the best allocation of resources, the best technology, and the best intelligence. Ask the United States. Ask the United Kingdom. Ask Spain.

The best that these “bests” can do is minimise terrorism — and they do.

But when one part of the country suffers disproportionately from terrorist attacks, causing a disproportionate loss of armed forces personnel, it is fair to say that we are not giving it our best. The hard-earned, fragile calm in Kashmir has unravelled again over the last few years; according to the IndiaSpend data, there have been 1,708 attacks in Jammu and Kashmir since 2014, accompanied with a 94 per cent increase in armed forces fatalities. And because “the Kashmir problem” is difficult to fix, because we keep failing, it seems easier to blame and demonise the people.

You cannot say the following three things simultaneously: That Kashmir is an integral part of India; that India is a democratic country based on the rule of law; and that Kashmiris are treacherous anti-nationals who should be persecuted.

Pakistan’s destructive influence in Kashmir rides on unresolved Kashmiri grievances. While we certainly need to effectively push back against Pakistan, that diplomatic and/or military effort will be incomplete at best unless we also engage with the disaffection among Kashmiri Indians. We cannot win peace among our people by treating them like the enemy.

Every loss of armed forces personnel is terrible, but we cannot lose sight of why those lives are on the line in the first place: To protect not just the territorial integrity of India, but also the Constitution of India — it’s right there in the CRPF oath of service. There is only one way to make those soldiers’ deaths worse, and that is to rob them of meaning by allowing a hysterical nationalism to hijack the narrative and, under cover of grief for fallen soldiers, turn India against ordinary Kashmiris.

Today, in the name of nationalism, Kashmiri students are being thrown out of their colleges in Dehradun, Kashmiri merchants are being thrashed in Delhi, Kashmiri workers are fleeing mob fury in Muzaffarnagar, and some hotels in Agra have put up signs directing Kashmiris to stay away. In an appalling perversion of duty, Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy, who is a constitutional representative of India’s president, endorsed a call for Kashmiris to be boycotted.

In the name of nationalism, we are asked to remain silent as fellow Indians who have nothing to do with Pulwama are treated like hostiles. In the name of nationalism, it is never the right time to ask questions of the government about security lapses, about why the prime minister did not attend the all-party meeting following the attack, and how he reconciles his warm reception of the Saudi Crown Prince with his tough stand on terrorism. It is to the government’s credit that China has been forced to censure the attack and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (albeit belatedly, and without naming the Jaish’s leader, Masood Azhar) — that is a step in the right direction. Why, then, is the prime minister also stoking “the fire that burns in your hearts” rather than seeking to calm the irrationally vengeful?

In the name of nationalism, we are hostage to competitive grieving, and competitive rhetoric regarding the military. Ask yourself, why this virulent nationalism, at this particular moment? Why a “nationalism” that closes ranks against its own people? Why a nationalism that treats a military and human tragedy like low-hanging electoral fruit?

In the chaos created by volume over substance, it is easier to blur the distinction between “Kashmiri” and “Muslim”, and easier to draw a line from “Muslim” to “terrorist”. If you find yourself burning with righteous rage that can only ruin more lives and spill more blood, dear reader, stop and ask yourself how much you’re being played.

Those who invoke those flag-draped coffins to incite hatred should take a cue from the CRPF itself, which set up a helpline for Kashmiris in distress, and created a fact-checking team to debunk the fake images and videos being circulated to rouse passions. The Quint quotes the chief spokesperson for the CRPF, as saying: “[Our jawans] did not lay down their lives so that their death could become the cause for communal hatred.”

o o

The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2019

After Terror, Polarizing Politics in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party seem to be exploiting the deaths of paramilitary soldiers in a terrorist attack for political gains ahead of national elections.

By Hartosh Singh Bal

Mr. Bal is a journalist.

On Feb. 14, a 19-year-old drove a vehicle filled with explosives into a convoy of Indian paramilitary forces in Indian-administered Kashmir and killed 49 soldiers. Jaish-e-Muhammad, or the Army of Muhammad, a Pakistan-based terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Over the past five years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has governed India and been part of the local government in Kashmir as well, thus controlling India’s policy approaches to the disputed, conflict-torn region.

Mr. Modi embraced a militaristic approach and shunned a political process involving dialogue with the separatists in Kashmir. Consequently, the number of civilian and security personnel killed in the region have increased, and a growing number of young Kashmiris, like Adil Dar, the 19-year-old suicide bomber, joined militant groups.

These are inconvenient facts for Mr. Modi, who has continually attacked India’s opposition parties for being soft on terror and compromising national security. As the deaths of the soldiers come three months before a general election, an honest evaluation of Mr. Modi’s failed policy should have led to him to being held accountable.

Such questions, naturally, receded into the background in the immediate aftermath of the Kashmir bombing, in a national outpouring of grief. Before those pertinent questions would return to the national conversation, Mr. Modi spun the bad news to his advantage by turning the grief into an emotive and prolonged commemoration of the deaths of the soldiers.

As Indian television networks followed the coffins of the slain troops draped in the Indian flag on their final journey home, Mr. Modi’s party directed its senior leaders to attend the cremations, which were telecast live. The funerals became occasions for patriotic avowals, some genuine, some orchestrated, as politicians sought to ensure they were part of the frame.

Mr. Modi ratcheted up the rhetoric against Pakistan and suggested that India would retaliate militarily. “Security forces have been given complete freedom, the blood of the people is boiling,” he said.

On social media and television networks, retired military generals, such as G.D. Bakshi, echoed Mr. Modi’s words and described the bombing in Kashmir as an act of war. “They started it but we will finish it,” he said.

The venerable Cricket Club of India, a colonial institution founded in 1933, decided to do its part by draping a portrait of Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, which had been put up to honor his cricketing feats in the last century.

The mourning took on a more sinister note as gangs of young men started parading the streets of many Indian cities, including New Delhi, shouting slogans directed at Pakistan and “anti-nationals” — the preferred term of the Hindu nationalists for perceived foes and undesirables ranging from liberals to Muslims.

Several Hindu nationalist affiliates of Mr. Modi’s party led a campaign that targeted students from Kashmir studying in educational institutions across India. They managed to extract promises from a few colleges that they would not admit Kashmiri students.

The tone and tenor of the marches and the threats to Kashmiri students were not lost even on Mr. Modi’s own allies. In an editorial in its party newspaper, Shiv Sena, the Mumbai-based Hindu nationalist party, cautioned the prime minister that “there were political allegations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could wage a small-scale war to win elections …. The rulers should not behave in a manner that these allegations gain credence.”

Mr. Modi’s political use of the deaths of “martyrs” is not new to India, but we haven’t seen it at such a scale since India and Pakistan fought a limited war over Kashmir in 1999. In the past two decades, Indian security forces have periodically been targets of violent insurgent attacks, some causing even larger numbers of casualties, but the grief has run its normal course.

Mr. Modi and his party seem to be working on a template of exploiting calamitous deaths that they have used before. In February 2002, soon after he took over as chief minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat, a train carrying Hindu religious volunteers was allegedly set on fire in the town of Godhra by a group of Muslims. Fifty-nine people died.

Mr. Modi ensured the bodies of the dead were taken to the Ahmedabad, the largest city in the state, and paraded through the city. Violence broke out soon after. Hindu mobs fueled by incendiary rhetoric from leaders of organizations affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party, targeted homes and businesses owned by Muslims. Over a thousand people were killed, over 700 of them Muslims.

In his campaign for the state elections held a few months after the violence, Mr. Modi barely disguised his hatred and contempt for the Muslim minority, describing them as a demographic threat to India and seeking to connect them with Pakistan. The insurgency in Kashmir, which is the only Muslim majority state in the country, is often invoked in the same fashion by Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist party.
Sign up for Frank Bruni’s newsletter

Get a more personal, less conventional take on political developments, newsmakers, cultural milestones and more with Frank Bruni’s exclusive commentary every week.

Mr. Modi is at his political best with an electoral campaign run on sectarian and polarizing themes. Before the attack in Kashmir, he was facing an opposition campaign dominated by questions about unemployment being the highest in 45 years and distress in Indian villages. His party had already lost state elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, partly as a result of an acute farm crisis in India.

This was the campaign that the Congress Party and other opposition parties were looking to fight; this is the campaign that Mr. Modi is seeking to avoid with the emotive call of martyrdom. Ironically, a vast majority of the soldiers who died were drawn from India’s lower and middle castes with largely rural backgrounds, a far cry from the upper-caste, urban Hindu voters who are Mr. Modi’s most ardent and hawkish supporters.

What has largely gone unspoken in the aftermath of the Kashmir attack is that the C.R.P.F., the paramilitary force these young men joined, is heavily understaffed and underequipped, a stark contrast to Mr. Modi’s bluster on national security.

In 1999, I was working as a reporter in the northern state of Punjab. I covered the cremations of soldiers who had died in Kargil in the war between India and Pakistan. Each body draped in the Indian flag was accompanied by a soldier from the fallen man’s unit.

Those men were angry with the government and willing to speak on record with their names and ranks about being been sent to battle in the icy Himalayan mountains without proper equipment to shield them from the cold and the snow. When I wrote their stories, my editors refused to publish them and argued that it was not the time to report such things because they were damaging to the “national interest.”

In the rhetoric of martyrdom that prevails in Mr. Modi’s India, editors across the country are making similar calls and leaving out inconvenient facts and questions. It may or may not be in the national interest, but it certainly is in Mr. Modi’s interest.

Hartosh Singh Bal, the author of “Waters Close Over Us: A Journey Along the Narmada,” is the political editor of The Caravan magazine.

o o

livemint.com, 22 Feb 2019

When you know you’re anti-national

by Priya Ramani

  • You know you’re anti-national if you believe that the targeted harassment of Kashmiri students across the country should end immediately
  • Those who love this country and believe in peace, love and harmony are labelled anti-national

You know you are anti-national (AN, adjective: critical of the establishment, one who is opposed to New India) if you not only mourn the deaths of our soldiers but ask why and how they died in the first place. You are definitely AN if you highlight the intelligence failure as Mumbai Mirror did on its front page. Suicide bomber Adil Ahmad Dar, 20—who murdered 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers in Pulwama on 14 February—had been detained by the state six times between September 2016 and March 2018 for “stone-pelting and on suspicion of aiding activities of Pakistani terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba", the newspaper reported.

Any patriot knows not to discuss the horrible working conditions and the crisis of stress in our paramilitary forces. Last year, the Union home ministry told a parliamentary panel that nearly 700 personnel of the Central armed police forces (CAPF)—the CRPF is one of seven paramilitary forces and the country’s most decorated police force—had committed suicide in the last six years, more than those killed in action.

But you’re AN if you are not demanding war.

Right now there are two key petitions on Change.org. The more popular one is an impassioned plea by Abhijeet Narwal requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to avenge Pulwama with “a full-scale war" that would “finish this problem forever".

“I understand there will be casualties both in terms of men and the economy of our nation but it will be worth than suffering losses every now. Every soldier in our armed forces is ready for it and every citizen is ready for it," Narwal writes. “Each citizen is ready to sacrifice and live a few days with only one meal a day if our brave martyred brothers are avenged."

His petition says he’s from Panipat but according to his LinkedIn profile, Narwal is a CAD design engineer with Ford Motor Co. who lives in Orange County, California. He sounds patriotic; I’m sure he’s already booked his ticket to India to join the war effort. As this column went to press, Change.org pulled down 20 such petitions that called for war and violence because they violated the website’s community guidelines. By then Narwal had already signed on more than 200,000 patriotic online warriors.

The other, newer petition is by a group of activists from Mumbai who condemn Pulwama and appeal for unity. They want you to hold peace meetings to maintain communal harmony. How dated, how AN. All of us (especially those who debate the day’s issues vigorously on Quora) know that in New India, human rights activists are the biggest anti-national citizens. They, along with all assorted anti-national dissenters, should be charged with sedition.

You know you’re anti-national if you believe that the targeted harassment of Kashmiri students across the country should end immediately. Or if you were appalled when the Kashmiri dean of a Dehradun college was asked to leave because the mob demanded it. He was later asked to return after the tension defuses—clearly an AN move.

You seem like the type who still hasn’t done your national duty by posting a what-else-do-you-expect-they-asked-for-it rant on your family group. Have you or have you not done your country proud by demanding at least half a dozen times that your neighbours and other assorted fellow citizens prove their patriotism by shouting Bharat Mata ki jai? Have you issued a clarion call to ban all family holidays to Kashmir and sent a notice to your housing society to stop renting to Kashmiris—or were you too busy mocking the Vande Bharat Express as it developed a technical snag on its maiden journey? Such mockery will be punished, the prime minister warned AN citizens this week. Anyway, nobody’s targeting Kashmiris, that’s fake news.

Talking of fake news, you are certainly AN if you didn’t amplify the flood of fake news stories after Pulwama: Priyanka Gandhi laughing at a press conference about Pulwama, photographic “proof" of Rahul Gandhi standing with the suicide bomber, and scores of old graphic military videos repurposed and released with the helpful tag after-Pulwama. In fact, only an anti-national would call the above fake news.

A senior CRPF official told Boom Live, a digital fact-checking journalism initiative, that there was so much fake news in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, they had to form a fact-checking team. “While we were busy with the last rites of our colleagues and friends and arranging help for the injured, we noticed that many wrong and fake posts were being circulated on WhatsApp."

“Some of the posts were being spread by miscreants wanting to create a sense of communal unrest. Some posts were demeaning and filled with hatred. We started collecting and monitoring all of them," the officer told Boom Live. Then they used their own soldiers to disseminate correct posts.

In a white paper released this month, Google described “disinformation" as “deliberate efforts to deceive and mislead using the speed, scale, and technologies of the open web" and said it is trying in various ways to fight this and ensure, for example, fair play in two of the world’s largest forthcoming elections in Europe and India.

You know you’re AN if you believe that the everyday hate you’ve been tracking in recent years is headed for a frenzied, rage-filled climax on and off social media platforms before the 2019 general election because in India, this has always been one assured way to get votes. Almost overnight, every last bigot in your family has been empowered to come out of the closet. Note: AN Indians can’t even tell the difference between hate and patriotism.

As former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger writes in Breaking News: The Remaking Of Journalism And Why It Matters Now, it was when we found ourselves in the age of US President Donald Trump, who had no qualms using the term fake news indiscriminately to describe traditional journalism, that the term lost its meaning. “Truth was fake; fake was true," says Rusbridger. In this topsy-turvy world, it seems only fair that those who love this country and believe in peace, love and harmony are labelled anti-national.

o o

The Times of India, February 24, 2019

Kashmiris, turn off jingoist TV. Let’s fight the enemy together

by Sagarika Ghose in Bloody Mary

Dear Kashmiris,

Post Pulwama, there are many reports of attacks and discrimination against you. In a shameful statement, none other than the Meghalaya governor appeared to endorse a social boycott of Kashmiris. The Kashmiri dean of a Dehradun college has been suspended, Kashmiri students have been expelled and right-wing troll armies are spreading anti-Kashmiri hate campaigns.

But rest assured not every Indian is so prejudiced and in spite of polarising attempts by bigoted politicians and their cheerleaders, many know that for every Kashmiri who chooses the gun, there are scores who do not.

This tragic time may be a moment of opportunity for us — for you and the rest of India — to forge a new contract for the 21st century. This means to make common cause and fight the enemy within and outside, to tackle the violent majoritarian Hindutva mobs and mount an equal challenge to the violent jihadists who only want to use your bodies for their political agenda and don’t desire your welfare or progress.

Radicalisation of Kashmiri youth is at fever pitch. Since 2016, waves of security operations have killed dozens, destroyed homes and created fury and desolation. How many mothers and fathers will cry at the death of their sons in Kashmir, is the question so often asked.

But amid the violence and alienation, we should not ignore the almost hidden hands outstretched in quiet friendship. Residents of Dehradun have offered their homes for threatened Kashmiri students. Sikhs across Punjab have risen as one to offer food, shelter and security. A group ‘Kolkata for Kashmir’ has been set up on social media, whose members have volunteered to help harried students. Residents of Patna have opened their homes for Kashmiris.

Narrow-minded politics is undoubtedly being played. BJP MPs are seen smiling and waving at soldiers’ funerals. BJP president Amit Shah said in Guwahati he would not allow Assam to be made into another Kashmir. Playing politics over loss of life is what the Congress did in 1984, and the BJP is doing it today, which is why you should ignore the politicians and focus on Indian civil society.

Don’t form judgements only on the basis of TV headlines and social media chatter. Media outlets and majoritarian nationalists don’t just demonise you, they demonise everybody who dissents, from Amartya Sen to Nayantara Sahgal to Kanhaiya Kumar. You are not alone.

But the onus is on you too. You need to be clear-sighted about those who have used the Kashmir conflict for their own ends — separatists, militant groups, Pakistan, even some Valley-based netas. Are they trying to keep you trapped in fear and victimhood instead of liberating you from the burdens of the past, and recognising how many Indians in the rest of India are accepting of you?

Today, the anger against Kashmiri Muslims is not just against your cultural identity; it also reflects the growing prejudice against Muslims in general, fed by a relentless propaganda machine. The Pulwama suicide bomber was a local Kashmiri, but you do not bear the collective guilt for his manic action. Why is it that those who seek to ostracise you today, forget the indomitable bravery of the J&K police, caught daily in the crossfire? Why do those who brand Kashmiri youth as stone-pelters, forget Kashmiri women Ruveda Salam and Sehrish Asgar, who cleared the civil service exam, cricketer Parvez Rasool, footballers Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Ishfaq Ahmed or the Real Kashmir football team, and IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal, a hero beyond just the Valley?

Today you are physically, materially and emotionally targeted by majoritarian muscular nationalism, but India’s democratic civil society is not going to bow down so easily. Peacemakers continue to visit Kashmir villages to document public suffering; and when an army officer grotesquely strapped a Kashmiri to a jeep in gross violation of human rights, there was a chorus of protests.

Those who stand by you are fighting for the constitutional project of 1947, for the right to dissent without the gun and without violence. That’s why your right to dissent and argue without the gun or stone is so fundamental to the idea of India. That’s why you need to turn your back on self-destructive vengeance, switch off jingoist TV and hate-spewing internet, and recognise how vital you are to India and how proud so many Indians are that you are here.
For most political parties, especially the BJP, it’s your beautiful ‘land’ which is an integral part of India. For democratically minded citizens, you the Kashmiri people, are. Because after all, it is only when you have a voice, that secular democratic India has a voice too.

o o

The Telegraph

The path to toxic Pakistan-style majoritarian rule is open to any nation — including India

The idea of Kashmiri Muslims as colonial subjects, who can be disciplined by shotgun pellets, comes easily to the BJP

by Mukul Kesavan

Published 24.02.19

The horror of the jihadi ambush that killed dozens of CRPF soldiers and its aftermath, the attacks on Kashmiri students in India, is a clarifying moment.

It demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that Pakistan is run by a deep State that uses terror in the way a rogue dentist might use a drill: to deliberately and precisely hit a nerve and cause agony. Terror for Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex is a technology. For this vicious formation, the 22-year-old Kashmiri student who died blowing up the bus was a remote-controlled drone, worth nothing alive but a martyr the moment he died.

A State that traffics in martyrdom, an army that funds fanatical subsidiaries like the Jaish to train young suicide bombers, erases the institutional distinctions that make democracy possible. Pakistan’s army and its pliant civilian politicians have obscured the dividing lines between State and religion, civilian and soldier, citizen and true believer, even the basic difference between the preciousness of life and the desolation of death.

The nation state’s massive capacity for violence, rooted in its monopoly of force, is contained by conventions, laws and institutional practices that entrench these distinctions. With their erosion, Pakistan has gradually become feral; the majoritarianism injected into its foundation has corroded every institutional separation and restraint that civilizes a republic. Pakistan is a rogue state in this precise sense: it is Leviathan, unbound.

India is not Pakistan. It is important to say this not because this is an Indian paper but because it’s true. India has managed to sustain the semblance and substance of democratic politics through most of its career as a republic. It has been less successful in sustaining its constitutional commitment to being a secular, non-discriminatory State, but given the low bar set by its neighbours, it has been an important exception to the South Asian rule that nations are owned by their religious majorities. Unlike Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, it has never written the supremacy of a single faith into its Constitution.

This might seem a nominal distinction. Perry Anderson, for example, in his jeremiad The Indian Ideology, sees the Indian republic as a Hindu majoritarian State in secular drag but even lip service to a secular State matters in a way that can be simply demonstrated. If Narendra Modi were to win a second term in office and officially rebrand India as a Hindu rashtra, this would re-make every Indian’s experience of India. Our conversations and arguments, our sense of ourselves as citizens, would be defined by this re-naming. Hindus, whether they like it or not, would now officially be the first citizens of this Hindu Bharat and non-Hindus would become, by default, clients of this organic majority, guest citizens of the republic. Words matter.

But in the end, actions matter more. The Indian State’s history in Kashmir is one of duplicity, authoritarianism and, for the last quarter of a century, massive and increasingly violent military occupation. Some part of this can be justified as a sovereign state’s response to cross-border subversion and secessionism. However, the cost in human life in maintaining this sovereignty and, over the last decade and a half, the Central government’s unwillingness to negotiate a political settlement, have made it increasingly obvious that the Indian State sees Kashmir as a realtor might: scenic real estate occupied by a perverse people. Kashmiris committed to azadi and the Indian State have independently arrived at what seems like a single conclusion: that Kashmiri Muslims aren’t Indians.

Under Narendra Modi’s leadership, this proconsular attitude towards Kashmir has hardened. The state government has been dismissed and the pretense of representative government abandoned. The definition of Kashmiri Muslims as colonial subjects, who can be disciplined by shotgun pellets that this government wouldn’t dream of using against rampaging Jats because they are Hindu citizens in good standing, comes easily to the Bharatiya Janata Party because Kashmiris are a subset of a larger Muslim community that the sangh parivar is ideologically committed to subordinating.

India is not Pakistan but the road to Pakistan, the path to toxic majoritarian rule, is open to every nation. Under Modi, India took one of the exits that lead to that violent destination. Pakistan-style majoritarianism isn’t just a question of theory, it is also a matter of practice. In the five years of Narendra Modi’s government, Hindutva’s storm troopers have been given the space to practise their trade. The organized attacks on Kashmiri Muslims in Indian colleges and their hostels are part of a larger practice of majoritarian direct action, refined and made normal over the last five years.

The culture of lynching that grew out of the so-called cow-protection movement and the anti-Romeo squads intended to bully inter-faith couples and stigmatize Muslim men as predators are the necessary context for the attacks on Kashmiri Muslims in Indian institutions. First, they helped create a culture of impunity. Mr Modi’s prolonged silences and the loud support extended by his party men to murderous gau gundas and other vandals signalled that the State was willing to overlook ideologically sanctioned violence.

Secondly, in these five years, we have seen the sangh parivar and assorted Hindutvavadi outfits create Hindu equivalents for blasphemy and apostasy. The cow-protection movement is a way of defining the dietary practices and occupations of non-Hindus (and errant Hindus) that deviate from what’s allowed by Hindu orthodoxy, as blasphemous, punishable both by law and vigilante violence. In the same way as Pakistan’s minorities are besieged by allegations of blasphemy, Muslims and Dalits are bullied, harassed, imprisoned, even killed, on the charge of eating beef or trading in cows. Hinduism is stony ground for a concept like apostasy but the sangh parivar’s remaking of Indian nationalism in the image of India’s religious majority has helped define it: the self-hating Hindu as anti-national traitor. The vigilante murders of nominally Hindu intellectuals like Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and Gauri Lankesh mimic the machete murders of Muslim rationalists in Bangladesh and the assassination of secular politicians like Salman Taseer in Pakistan.

The elevation of Adityanath, a man with a long history of vigilante activism, to the chief ministership of UP, the normalization of lynching in North India and the attempt to legislate a religious test for citizenship via the citizenship amendment bill are creeping steps in the majoritarian campaign to transform a secular republic into a malignant Leviathan of which the likes of Masood Azhar would be proud. But we’re not there yet and the election of 2019 is one way of making sure that we never get there.

o o

This Student Helped Evacuate Hundreds Of Kashmiris After Pulwama

Khawaja Itrat estimates that his organisation, the Jammu and Kashmir Student Organisation, evacuated 700 to 800 students from Uttarakhand over five days.

By Betwa Sharma

https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/meet-the-21-year-old-who-helped-evacuate-hundreds-of-kashmiris-to-safety_in_5c6dc23ee4b0f40774cba4ac

o o

India: End Mob Justice and Discrimination - Protect Kashmiri Students and Traders After Pulwama Attack | Statement by PADS
http://www.sacw.net/article14021.html

- +-+-+-

The Indian Express

In Dehradun, two colleges say won’t admit Kashmiris

Fear, open threats prompt Kashmiri students to temporarily leave the city.

Written by Kavita Upadhyay | Dehradun | Updated: February 18, 2019

A 23-year-old student from the Uttaranchal PG College of Bio-Medical Sciences and Hospital, who is from Kupwara in Kashmir, said, “We have been going to the bus station in small groups so that we can leave the town unnoticed.” While the local police have been helpful, he says, “its unfortunate that we are facing such a situation in Dehradun. In Kashmir, the situation is always tense. We came here to get the education that we couldn’t in Kashmir, but the past three days have changed everything. People (locals) look at us as if we have wronged them,” he says.

As fear hung in the air over Kashmiri students being targeted in Dehradun following the Pulwama terror attack on Thursday, at least two institutes in the city have stated that they will not admit any student from Kashmir in the new academic session. The fear and open threats also prompted several Kashmiri students to temporarily leave the city. In an “undertaking” to the students’ union of the Dehradun-based DAV PG College - which, along with members of the ABVP, VHP, and Bajrang Dal, had led the protests outside colleges on Friday - Dr Aslam Siddiqui, principal of Baba Farid Institute of Technology (BFIT), wrote on Friday, “Students’ Union president, we assure you that if any Kashmiri student is found engaged in any anti-national activity, then the student will be expelled from the institute.”“Nae satra mein kisi bhi Kashmiri chhatra ko daakhila nahi diya jaega (no new Kashmiri student will be admitted in the upcoming session),” the letter further stated.

On being contacted by The Indian Express, Siddiqui said, “Around 400-500 people from ABVP, VHP, and Bajrang Dal protested in front of the institute between 1 pm and 5pm. They asked us to assure them that all the Kashmiri students would be expelled from BFIT. I tried explaining that expelling students mid-term would affect their careers. Finally, keeping in mind the safety of the Kashmiri students, I had to give in writing that we won’t accept any Kashmiri student from the next session.” Up to 250 students from J&K study in BFIT.
Another letter addressed to the DAV Students’ Union and signed by S K Chauhan, Director of the Dehradun-based Alpine College of Management and Technology, reproduced verbatim the contents of the BFIT letter. Chauhan too issued the letter on Friday. Speaking to The Indian Express, Chauhan said, “I have given in writing that we won’t accept any Kashmiri student from the next session. I can’t deny that I wrote that. However, till now, only two institutes have said that they won’t give admission to any Kashmiri student in the next session. Only if all institutes in the state follow this will our institute follow it too.” He added that all decisions were taken in consultation with “higher authorities”, including institute chairman Anil Saini.

On Friday, after right-wing groups protested in front of Alpine College demanding that all its 300-odd Kashmiri students be expelled, Chauhan issued a separate declaration that no new Kashmiri student would be admitted in the new session. Saini told The Indian Express, “We took the decision to keep the Kashmiri students in the institute safe (from right-wing groups). Further, we will follow whatever orders are issued by the state government with regard to giving admission to Kashmiri students.” DAV Students’ Union president Jitendra Singh Bisht, who is from the ABVP, said, “We haven’t been able to approach all institutes, but we will do so and get an undertaking that they won’t take in any new Kashmiri student.”

Vikas Verma, Bajrang Dal leader in Dehradun, said, “We don’t want even one Kashmiri Muslim student in Uttarakhand because they are engaged in anti-national activities.” Dehradun Senior Superintendent of Police Nivedita Kukreti said, “The police will uphold law and order.” While Kashmiri students in the city have been temporarily leaving the city, Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat said, “Kashmiri students in Uttarakhand need not worry. However, action will be taken any student, Kashmiri or non-Kashmiri, in case of violation of law.”

Over 120-odd students from Kashmir, mostly residing in and around the Turner Road, have been packing their bags for Chandigarh. Over a 100 students had left on Saturday while another 64 are waiting in the city’s Rampur area, hoping the Uttarakhand or J&K government would arrange for some transportation so that they can leave the city for now. Inside a rented house in Turner Road, a 23-year-old student from the Uttaranchal PG College of Bio-Medical Sciences and Hospital, who is from Kupwara in Kashmir, said, “We have been going to the bus station in small groups so that we can leave the town unnoticed.”

While the local police have been helpful, he says, “its unfortunate that we are facing such a situation in Dehradun. In Kashmir, the situation is always tense. We came here to get the education that we couldn’t in Kashmir, but the past three days have changed everything. People (locals) look at us as if we have wronged them,” he says. About 17 km away, in Sudhowala locality, police booked four men for assaulting two Afghan students, whom they had mistaken for Kashmiri. This correspondent witnessed the men stopping their vehicle in front of the two Afghan youths and asking them to chant “Hindustan zindabad” and “Pakistan murdabad”. When they didn’t, the men assaulted the two youths.

Modi’s speeches suggest rage is the only legitimate emotional response to the Pulwama attack

It is difficult to believe a prime minister can allow such an overflow of emotion spontaneously, without premeditation

By The Editorial Board [The Telegraph]

Published 20.02.19

https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/prime-minister-narendra-modi-s-speeches-suggest-rage-is-the-only-legitimate-emotional-response-to-the-pulwama-terror-attack/cid/1684960?ref=top-stories_home-template

o o

‘No Kashmiri, please,’ Agra hotel owners put up notice
TNN | Feb 19, 2019, 07.12 PM IST
AGRA: Amid the ongoing incidents of alleged harassment of Kashmiri residents in various parts of the country post-Pulwama attack, a few hotel owners in Agra have put up pamphlet, asking Kashmiri tourists to remain away.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/68066536.cms