Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2019 > Kashmir: Hunting with the hounds and playing with the hare

Mainstream, VOL LVII No 45, New Delhi, October 26, 2019

Kashmir: Hunting with the hounds and playing with the hare

Monday 4 November 2019

by Mustafa Khan

There is arcane silence in the Kashmir Valley. It is fraught with the danger that there is some sinister conspiracy of tiring out the enemy by prolonging the lockdown and continuing the stasis of hunting with the wolf and playing with the hare. Or, even worse. After two months of wait and watch they are now tapping slogans, watching raising of flags, monitoring rumours, recording intimidation and scrutinising posters to find out what the mood is there and the direction in which the subterranean movement is turning. Now there is a change in the game when security people don’t have to watch the clock, it is the people who watch the clock all the time. While formerly there was the assurance of Article 35A which had lulled the people to jettison their worries for the future; now the concern is the current issue and its problems: the mudda and the masla.

Despite all the dangers and violence the natives felt: ‘the land was theirs before they were of the land.’ That had given them contentment and they lived in harmony with fellow Kashmiris of all religions.

But the induction of Narendra Modi at the Centre was the game-changer because he brought the divisive ideology for the love of which he had forsaken even conjugal bliss.  Cornering the minorities was his article of faith The same game is being played everywhere in the country. Mehbooba Mufti compared the SC order of stopping felling of trees to the tune of 2141 in the Arey milk colony and not showing any concern to the multiple pleas pending on the scrapping of Article 370 in Kashmir. The lockdown has put unbearable suffering on the population in the Valley which is mostly Muslim while those who live in Jammu and Ladakh are relatively free.

In the dog-eat-dog competition India is accusing its neighbour of schooling children in the radical ideology. This after repeated allega-tions by human rights activists that India is “abducting” even children who are not being traced where they have disappeared in the lockdown now in the third month continuing. There is no end in sight. However, the excruciating pain weighs heavily against the human rights record of India. Being the largest democracy at least in population, it has stigma sticking to its image as never before. It is ascribed to the supremacist ideology of the Right-wing RSS which is very deft in prevarication and shrouds everything in eerie silence.

There is suspicion that the prisoners would be trained into radicalism and used against Pakistan, the silence is fraught with suspicion of India which is now indoctrinating the young children “weaving fake narratives” about children living in Jammu and Kashmir, saying Pakistan has a “dubious distinction” of “schooling” young children in violent extremist ideologies and recruiting them in terrorist groups and now India is de-radicalising them and sending them to fight in the Valley!

There was a special occasion when PM Modi visited Maharashtra. The crowds were lustily cheering him on landing. He of course folded his hands in salutation but veered away at the helipad and walked away to a wiry muscled octogenarian and went into a huddle with him. The man was Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Paratishthan Hindustan, a retired Professor of Physics from a college in Pune. Among the innermost circle of the Right-wing he is influential as far as ideology is concerned. He may look emaciated but his ideology is so strident that it knows no hiding. On the other hand he is most aggressive. So much so that he is capable of swaying the indomitable Prime Minister of India. His aura of deterrence is such that when so many worthies were arrested in the Bhima Koregaon agitation, the government chose not to lay hands on him despite public clamour against him. Being the main instigator, at that!

Such limpet-like supremacist ideology of race is in him that he openly flouted the PM’s opportunistic praise of pacifism of Lord Buddha. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a mistake by saying so (making the Buddha reference). We had given Buddha to the world but it (Buddha’s message of peace and tolerance) is not useful any longer. If you need the world to be in order, we need thoughts of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his son, Sambhaji Maharaj.”

The Indian democracy is doomed because it is based on hunting with the hounds and playing with the hare. Democracy, on the other hand, should be based on equality of all people in the eyes of the government. But this has not happened and so we have widespread anxiety over the future course of the country and its constitutional organisations. There is witch-hunt against the urban terrorists, the 59 liberals and intellectuals who opposed Modi, the Muslims in Kashmir including those who were erstwhile nationalists languishing in the dungeons spread in far-fetched locations of the country undergoing humiliation and torture at the hands of the diverse discrimination of the ethnic diversity of the land.

In the UNGA meet on ‘Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children” on October 10, 2019 without taking the name of the enemy, India accused the enemy of “deceitful political propaganda by weaving fake narratives, while making unwarranted references to internal matters of my country” and of “dubious distinction of schooling children in violent ideologies and recruiting them for terror” recruiting them in terrorist groups, robbing not only these children of their future, but also jeopardising the future of children across the borders.”1

There are more than 13,000 children who have simply disappeared since August 5, 2019. Where they are kept and whether they are alive or dead is unclear. Many of them have been snatched away from the arms of their mothers and family-members.2 There is unending lock- down and net connection cut off. Parents are in abysmal depth of anxiety and suffering. The situation is palpably turning towards the genocide of 2002.

Formal enquiries have cleared Modi of active incitement. In the year 2012 “though, it emerged that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of India’s Supreme Court had in a report laid out a dozen counts against him of failing to halt the killings or to recognise their gravity. Even so Salman Rushdie had to stay away from Rajasthan on the trumped-up ground that his presence will inflame the Muslims; while, over the border in Gujarat, a demagogue turns a blind eye—with impunity, so it seems—to the real mass murder of Muslims.” This refers to the meeting of writers and scholars who were to gather at the Literature meet in Rajasthan then. Modi wanted to avoid such a meet where the focus would be on human rights and the massacres of Muslims. In Rajasthan there was a communal riot at Gopalgarh. Half-a-dozen Muslims were killed and some burnt and thrown into a well was another stigma. It was in this milieu that Salman Rushdie remarked: “The defining image of the week, for me, is of a small child’s burned and blackened arm, its tiny fingers curled into a fist, protruding from the remains of a human bonfire in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, in India. The murder of children is something of an Indian specialty. The routine daily killings of unwanted girl babies . . . the massacre of innocents in Nellie, Assam, in the 1980s when village turned against neighboring village... the massacre of Sikh children in Delhi during the horrifying reprisal murders that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination: They bear witness to our particular gift, always most dazzlingly in evidence at times of religious unrest, for dousing our children in kerosene and setting them alight, or cutting their throats, or smothering them or just clubbing them to death with a good strong length of wood.”3

In the UNO definition of genocide there is a clear description of killing foetuses and this was what Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani also did with impunity. They felt proud as if they were Rana Pratapsingh. Modi got them out of jail and long terms of rest at home and not in jail. The other examples of other places bear out how the children are mercilessly killed. This is genocide. In 2006 bomb attack in Malegaon more than half of the killed were children. They were praying inside near the gate of the graveyard mosque where the bombs targeted them. The planters of the bombs knew how and where children pray towards the end of the Friday congregation. They would be mowed down. This is borne out by the video by the Sahara journalist covering the festival of the pious night. Afterward he sealed and submitted it to the court. I had argued with the NIA as well as CBI and BBC that the police who are accustomed to park their van and sit at the gate with the chair shown below were nowhere in sight as if they had premonition!

Tiring the “enemy” be it in the Kashmir lock- down or in the aftermath of the pogroms and fake encounters like that of  Shorabuddin Sheikh, Ishrat Jahan, the game continues until the quarry hunted is exhausted and resigned to fate. So the culture of the game is of impunity that continues ad absurdum. Ishrat Jahan’s mother wrote to Judge Chudawala:

“After this prolonged fight for justice, I now feel hopeless and helpless. More than 15 years have passed, all the accused, including police officials, are on bail. Some of them were reinstated by the Gujarat Government even as they faced prosecution for the murder of my daughter. After 15 years, the trial has barely begun,” she said. “I am heartbroken, my spirit shattered, at the perpetuation of this culture of impunity.”4

The UP State Assembly election of 2016 was coming nearer and the banners that went up in the wake of the surgical strike of September 28, 2016 had unleashed the kind of aggressive nationalism bordering on war hysteria. As if the pellet guns were not enough for Kashmir, India would have its own as it has already joined the select club of arms manufacturing countries of the world. The banners read: “We will kill you. Yes we will definitely kill. By our own gun, by our own bullets, by our choosing of the time only the land will be yours.” And below it is another banner which is the gravamen of all that went into the making of the present war like atmosphere which is reminiscent of what Amit Shah said in Muzaffarnagar that the time to take revenge against Muslims for insulting Hindus has come. The small banner reads: “27 years of wretchedness of UP” meaning that the rule of Congress, BSP and SP parties made the people suffer. Was Uri attack, the surgical strike and worsening Kashmir situation after the death of Burhan Wani a replay of Muzaffarnagar before the 2014 election?

In all these there is the recurring theme of hunting with hounds and playing with hare. In Indian version of the lamb drinking water down the river and the lion blaming the lamb for its mother who did it once upon a time. The hidden motive of ethnic cleansing and even genocide is there. The UNO Genocide Convention (1948) states: Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group: [a] killing members of the group; [b] causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the group; [c] deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; [d] imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [e] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

With such serious matter as genocide/pogroms/terrorism the rule of the game is putting pressure. This happened with NIA prosecutor Robini Salian who was asked to go slow on the accused in Malegaon blasts. There is no place for intuition in these matters of playing the game of politics. Hemant Karkare  was aware that even he had no chance to save himself and hence he sought refuge in the American embassy in Delhi. In his last interview to Indian Express before he lost his life in this game of politics he bid a smiley farewell. But the other players were still active and took over where he left. The man whom he succeeded succeeded him. And the game resumed after a break. K.P. Raghuvanshi’s niece had phoned him to delay dispatch of the army from Delhi to Muzaffarnagar during the fury and ferocity in the pogroms of 2013 so that more Muslims would be dispatched to the other world.

It was this line of thinking that was winning the game then and even now. There was no communalism when the bombs blew up at the graveyard mosque and Mushawarat chowk in Malegaon. Hindus and Muslims alike were shocked and disturbed by what happened and offered blood donation. In both the incidents of 2006 and 2008 the Muslims protested and were shot upon by the police. This despite the fact that on September 5, 2006, PM Manmohan Singh had cautioned about terrorist attacks by fidayeen from across the border. He was addressing the Chief Ministers of the country. Marathi paper Sakaal of Wednesday, September 6, 2006 condemned it on the front page that targeting the minority for extremism and terrorism was regrettable. This was borne out two days later. When Abrar was named, the Senior SP Rajwardhan Sinha warned him to go in hiding because Hindus and Muslims would assault him for the attack.

The higher echelon of police officers were aware of the land issue (mudda and masla in Kashmir). One such was Commissioner Brajesh Singh who met Abrar on December 20, 2006 and assured him that excepting Kashmir they would give enough land to Abrar if he gives testimony according to him and the police.

But earlier on September 1, 2008 Brajesh Singh, Rajwardhan Sinha, inspector Sachin Kadam came to see Abrar in the prison. He moaned and complained that they had trapped him. They assured him that within 2 to 2 and half months they would get him out of prison. They further said that the inquiry they had made was being changed by those who were investigating later (read Hemant Karkare). They said they would remove the new investigators from their path and then take Abrar out. Exactly 2 months and nearly more than a half they succeeded when Karkare was killed on November 25 2008. The hunting game was over like in Lord of the Flies of WilliamGolding..  Territorial conquest is underway in Kashmir. The same instinct of killing children as in the hunting of Ralph by Jack and his team!





The full transcript of the interview of Rushdie-Barkha Datt, NDTV January 28, 2012. 


Mustafa Khan, who resides in Malegaon (Maharashtra), has the following blog:

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