Kashmir lawmaker blasts 'anti-Muslim' Indian govt

Kashmiri politician who resigned from parliament says Indian ruling party's Hindu nationalism to blame for crisis

Kashmir lawmaker blasts 'anti-Muslim' Indian govt

World Bulletin / News Desk

A senior Kashmiri politician who resigned from the region's pro-India governing People's Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the Indian government of trying to force a Hindu ideology on the country.

After resigning from Indian parliament and his own party last week in protest against a heavy military crackdown on protests in the Kashmir valley, Tariq Hameed Karra accused India's ruling party, which is also in coalition with the PDP for the Jammu & Kashmir state assembly, of trying to change the character of Muslim-majority Kashmir.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] has always had an agenda against Kashmir. What they could not achieve in 60 years, with the People’s Democratic Party’s facilitation they got in six months. BJP wants to change the Muslim character of this place and they have already made serious inroads in fringe areas of Jammu and Kashmir,” Karra said.

Karra, 61, was a founding member of the PDP and was elected to the lower house of India's Parliament in 2014, from his constituency in the Kashmiri capital Srinagar. Last week, he became the first ever Kashmiri politician to resign from Indian Parliament.

Karra told Anadolu Agency he resigned on "ethical grounds" because the ongoing violence since July, in which at least 88 civilians have been killed and 9,000 injured by Indian forces, had been "taking a toll" on his conscience.

 “What is happening in these last two-and-a-half months in Kashmir would put even the Nazis to shame,” Karra said. “While [PDP leader and state Chief Minister] Mehbooba Mufti has no ethical right to rule anymore, I know she will continue as long as the Indian government wants her to because all these killings of children and women are going on her head."

"Why should India declare Governor's rule and have these killings directly on itself? As long as the Indian government wants, she will serve and once she becomes a liability, which she will soon become, they will dispose of her,” Karra said, claiming that to have a Kashmiri party in charge during the current tension suits the Indian government more than taking direct control itself, as it has in the past. 

He said he had constantly warned the PDP, without success, about the Hindu nationalist and alleged ant-Muslim politics of the BJP and right-wing allies like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) – organizations accused of creating an atmosphere that has led to Muslims in India being attacked, and in some cases killed, over allegations of eating beef. 

He said he had observed a "communal mentality" during discussions in Indian parliament where comparisons were made between Hinduism and dominant religions in other countries, despite India's diverse religious and ethnic social make-up. 

“They feel and discuss among themselves that when there are so many Christian and Buddhist countries in the world, why can’t they have one Hindu country? That is why they are forcing Indian society towards complete Hinduization,” Karra said. 

He claimed he had been against the alliance with the BJP from the outset because it went against the founding principles of the PDP, which unlike pro-independence parties participates in Indian state-level and national elections.

“We floated the party in 1999 to act as a buffer between the Government of India and the people of Kashmir. We thought of ourselves as facilitators to the resolution of Kashmir by trying to bring India and Pakistan closer by facilitating unconditional talks between the [pro-independence] Hurriyat leadership and India,” Karra said.

“We contested the 2014 elections against the BJP, who are a right-wing Hindu party and anti-Muslim in nature. We betrayed the trust of our people when we had an alliance with them."

He said the PDP's role as a buffer had suffered and had to be re-established because pro-India electoral politics was becoming irrelevant during a conflict that was directly pitting the Indian armed forces against the Kashmiri population. 

He said there was a "50 percent chance" of a new political force being created to serve as a buffer "between the two extremes of ultra-nationalism and ultra-separatism." 

"Having that buffer-charactered party is imperative for everybody: for Kashmiris as well as for India. For the resolution, you have to have a conduit,” he said. 

Karra said the minimum Kashmiris immediately expected was for Mufti to step down while, longer term, they wanted a practical and lasting resolution to the decades-long conflict. 

 “But the Indian establishment wants Kashmiris to come on their knees. But they are living in a fool’s paradise and that won’t happen. There could be spells of calm but I call that a deceptive calm. People have learnt to survive in a war zone here. For the last two-and-half-months, no one has died of starvation, no one has come out to beg. After 70 years, if India has to blame Pakistan for everything that happens in Kashmir, it is India’s defeat,” Karra said.

When 17 Indian soldiers were killed in a militant attack on an army base in Kashmir on Sunday, India immediately suggested the involvement of groups based in Pakistan, which denied any role in the assault. 

The Himalayan region, which both countries hold in parts and claim in its entirety, has been the source of two of the three wars fought between them.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far, most of them by the Indian armed forces, whose presence numbers more than half a million troops.

Karra said during this time there has been no difference in the Indian government's Kashmir policy, regardless of whether the BJP or opposition Congress party are in power, claiming the decisions were made by Indian intelligence agencies. 

“The bottom line in Indian politics is that Kashmir has to remain with India. By whatever means, by force, by coercion, by love, by money, whatever,” he said.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Eylül 2016, 14:20