Tazeen Hasan exposes the persistent hatred that Kashmiris face within Indian society under Indian domination. The discrimination and hatred perpetuated by the Hindutva leadership are pushing towards the full-scale genocide of Kashmiris and Indian Muslims.
In October 2021, a shocking display of prejudice occurred when an Indian politician belonging to the ruling BJP party brazenly declared that Kashmiris should be skinned alive, suggesting that Pakistani blood runs through their veins. This statement was made in response to the arrest of three Kashmiri engineering students in Agra, Uttar Pradesh province of India, who were accused of celebrating Pakistan's victory in an Indo-Pak cricket match. This incident serves as a glaring example of the discrimination and hatred faced by Kashmiris in India, shedding light on a distressing reality that cannot be ignored.
The trio was apprehended under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, including charges of promoting enmity between different groups and "cyber terrorism." The discrimination and hatred didn't end there. The local bar associations in Agra refused to represent them, and on one occasion, the students were physically assaulted within the premises of the Agra court. Even when the court eventually granted them bail in March 2022, not a single person from Agra was willing to come forward as their surety. The students endured a grueling six months in detention, facing harsh bail conditions before finally securing their release.
The question arises: How did such discrimination occur in the largest ‘democracy’ in the world? The answer lies in their religio-ethnic background; the students were Kashmiris and Muslims. Kashmiris have long been subjected to harassment and discrimination in India, despite India's insistence that they are Indian citizens. They are often targets of systemic bias solely based on their Kashmiri identity, which denies them access to housing and infringes on their basic rights, perpetuating a sense of exclusion and marginalization within society.
Renowned author Basharat Peer's personal experiences further shed light on the existence of an apartheid-like situation faced by Kashmiris. His accounts of struggling to find rental accommodation in Delhi and witnessing Indian passengers refusing to offer seats to Kashmiri army troops highlights the unique dynamics of the military-civilian relationship in Kashmir. This observation suggests that Kashmiris often feel compelled to comply with the demands of Indian army personnel, reflecting deep-rooted prejudices resembling an apartheid-like situation, even in the early 1990s.
Discrimination against Kashmiris extends beyond daily life experiences and permeates the realm of imprisonment. Kashmiri prisoners held outside of Kashmir are frequently labeled as terrorists and face hatred and mistreatment from fellow inmates, prison guards, and even jail health care staff. Instances of dehumanization, harassment, and denial of basic rights are distressingly common, as vividly described by Sehar Shah, the daughter of Kashmiri politician Shabir Shah, who recounts her recurring ordeals with the guards of Tihar Jail during her visits to her father. The accounts of discrimination and humiliation suffered by Kashmiri prisoners paint a harrowing picture.
It is crucial to acknowledge that these injustices are inflicted upon the Kashmiri people despite promises made by India's founding father, Jawaharlal Nehru, to grant them a plebiscite for self-determination. Moreover, 17 United Nations Security Council resolutions recognize the right of self-determination for Kashmiris. However, the ongoing discrimination against them exposes a tragic reality.
Kashmiris face discrimination in India because they are not perceived as Indians. The recent statement by the BJP politician calling for the skinning alive of Kashmiris is a testament to the underlying and heavily problematic mindset that views Kashmiris as inferior outsiders. This discriminatory treatment parallels the dark history of settler colonialism, where land was desired, but indigenous people were marginalized or eliminated. Kashmiris find themselves caught in a similar struggle as India seeks control over the region while completely disregarding the rights and well-being of its people. The world must pay attention and take action against this flagrant injustice, ensuring that the discrimination faced by Kashmiris is unequivocally addressed and rectified.