In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack in which 40 jawans of the CRPF were killed, the unanimous resolution of the all-party meeting reflected the resolve of people across India to rebuff terrorist violence, and, as the resolution stated, “the support being given to it from across the border.”
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But true to the BJP’s sectarian politics, its president Amit Shah breached this united resolve with a wholly partisan speech in Assam, in which he said, “The sacrifices of our jawans will not go in vain since it is not a Congress government at the Centre but that of the BJP.” To seek to make electoral gains from the killing of jawans – as the BJP is doing – gives India’s opponents a handle to promote the theory that all this is part of the electoral strategy of the BJP.
What is worse, the government and the BJP have remained silent in the wake of the most atrocious statements and acts of violence being orchestrated by constituents of the Sangh Parivar in different states against people from Kashmir.
When Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy calls for the boycott of Kashmiris and Kashmiri goods as revenge, is he acting in “defence of the unity and integrity of India” or is he directly helping those who wish to see India disunited? The president should immediately take suo motu notice and initiate action against him. The man should be sacked without delay. A Governor can make such comments and get away with it, but an employee of the LIC (Life Insurance Corporation) in West Bengal’s Asansol, who criticised the government and the role of the armed forces in Kashmir, was suspended and his social media post was termed anti-national. Double standards such as these blow a hole in the government’s pretensions of being concerned about national unity.
Reports of Kashmiris being targeted have emerged from different parts of the country. It is the Bajrang Dal and its cohorts who are organizing mobs against Kashmiri students as in Dehradun. Here in Delhi, too, just yesterday, three young men from Kashmir narrowly escaped death when they were attacked by a group of men on a local train.
Two years ago, a Muslim teenager, Junaid, was similarly attacked on a train by men who picked on him because he was a Muslim, accused him of being a “beef eater,” shouted at him to go to Pakistan, and then beat and stabbed him to death, throwing his bleeding body off the train.
In the current case, the three men from Kashmir were sellers of woollen garments travelling to Sapla in Haryana by train. One of them is an MA with a teaching degree but only has a temporary job, so he travels to Delhi in the winter months to earn an income. He, along with the other two, carried the garments and shawls they were selling in three bundles. On the train, they were accosted by two men in civilian clothes who claimed to be in the armed forces. They started abusing the Kashmiris in filthy language, calling them responsible for the killing of the jawans in Pulwama. They set upon them, shouting loudly for other passengers to join in. 15-20 men from neighbouring compartments rushed in and started beating the three with belts. As the train slowed down, the Kashmiris were able to escape by jumping off the train. They suffered head and face injuries in the attack. Their bundles of garments worth around two lakh rupees were stolen by their attackers. The police have registered an FIR but the young men remain traumatised.
Apart from the totally inhuman nature of these attacks on innocent people, the BJP and the Sangh Parivar are doing India a great disservice by encouraging and promoting such acts of violence. It will lead to a further alienation of the people of the Kashmir valley. The kind of policy adopted by the BJP in Kashmir has led to this alienation, which plays into the aims and goals of Pakistan. In these five years of BJP rule, the situation in Kashmir has further deteriorated. The large-scale repression of Kashmiri youth, the use of pellet guns against protesters who are then blinded or maimed, the absolute refusal to initiate political dialogue in spite of the Home Minister making repeated assurances to Parliament that the government would initiate such talks, has intensified the alienation.
India requires strong international support to isolate Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, to ensure that Masood Azhar, the head of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed, is placed on the United Nations’ global terrorist list, and to take strong action to punish those responsible. But internal policies must match diplomatic efforts. Policies based on the “Kashmir is an integral part of India, but the people of Kashmir are not” approach can only defeat the bigger goal to successfully meet the challenge posed by terrorism. The BJP and the Sangh Parivar have proved themselves incapable of meeting this challenge.
Brinda Karat is a Politburo member of the CPI(M) and a former Member of the Rajya Sabha.