Although Eid 2020 has been a sombre affair globally, more so in the valley of Kashmir under Indian Army’s lockdown since August 2019 where the oppression of Kashmiris has intensified under the cover of fighting COVID-19, especially during Ramadan.
Speaking with Sydney Criminal Lawyers, Former Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon likened the moves, by the Modi BJP government, in Kashmir, to the way the Israeli government operates in relation to settlements in the West Bank with early morning raids on Kashmiri households, which, she posits, plays into Modi’s wider agenda of “advancing Hindu nationalism”.
Reportedly, a large number of homes were destroyed by burning and looting in Nawa Kadal, a suburb in the main city of Srinagar during a gun battle between Indian army and Kashmiri militants on the night of Lailatul-Qadr on 27 Ramadan corresponding to Tuesday 19 May triggering anti-India mass protests.
“When the forces came to our home, we were busy in the night-long prayers of Lailatul-Qadr. We were reciting the Quran and praying. We did not know everything will be snatched from us within minutes,” a local resident Afroza, talking about the raid by Indian Army commandos, told Al Jazeera.
“When they knocked at our door, we did not even get a chance to take our medicines along. They looted the money in our houses; they took away whatever they could. I had kept money and jewellery here they took it away,” said Baby Jan, who stood looking at her damaged house with her husband and three children.
Explosions and gunshots had echoed through the densely populated neighbourhood, the streets largely empty as a result of a COVID-19 lockdown that has kept most residents within their homes.
The deaths of more militants came two weeks after Hizbul Mujahideen chief Riyaz Naikoo and a close aide were killed by government forces in the southern Kashmir valley during a two-day gun battle earlier in May.
More than 75 Kashmiris have been killed in Kashmir this year, many of them in the month of Ramadan and while under COVID-19 lockdown during intensive operations by the army and police.
The ongoing crackdown in India’s only Muslim-majority state feeds into the BJP’s broadening anti-Islam agenda, which has seen immigration laws passed that target Muslims, along with recent anti-Muslim pogroms that were carried out in the nation’s capital.
According to Senator Rhiannon, the desperate situation in Jammu & Kashmir state is further heightened by the over 22,000 migrant workers left destitute in the capital of Srinagar, and the fact that many Kashmiri political prisoners continue to be detained in now dangerous facilities throughout the country.
“In August, the Indian government put 38,000 additional troops into Kashmir, taking the number to well over 800,000 – some say close to a million,” Senator Rhiannon continued. “The level of militarisation is the highest anywhere in the world.”
“The situation for Muslims in general across India is deteriorating at an incredibly fast rate,” she further added, “The BJP is rooted in fascism. When you look at their history and their actions it has to be said.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the Indian military of genocide of Kashmiri people.
“Modi’s RSS-inspired doctrine very clear: First, deprive Kashmiris of their right of self determination by illegal annexation of an Occupied territory. Second, treat them as less than human by a three-pronged approach,” he said.
Mr Khan said the Indian government also treated Kashmiris as less human by a three-pronged approach, “One by trying to crush them with brutal force including the use of inhumane weapons like pellet guns against women and children,” he added.
He accused that Modi’s regime had imposed an inhumane lockdown, depriving Kashmiris of basic necessities from food to medicines.
He further added that another inhumane act of the Indian government was that it committed mass arrest of Kashmiris, especially young people, and isolating Kashmir from the world by cutting off all communication links.
Meanwhile the United Arab Emirates and the Maldives together thwarted a Pakistani attempt to set up an informal group of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) envoys at the United Nations on Islamophobia.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday 26 May tweeted: “Pakistan has consistently appealed to @UN & @OIC_OCI to condemn Modi’s Hindutva supremacist ideology with relentless Islamophobia & violence/regional instability perpetuated.”