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A TV grab shows a Kashmiri youth assaulting a CRPF jawan; (right) a Kashmiri man tied to the hood of an army jeep as ‘protection’

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Only someone who has travelled in Kashmir can understand the enormity of the disaster unfolding in the Valley  

By Dilip Bobb

Two videos that have gone viral are mirror images of tragedy unfolding in Kashmir. One shows CRPF jawans being abused and slapped by teenagers in Srinagar while returning from poll duty. The other shows a Kashmiri man tied to the hood of an army jeep as ‘protection’. The armymen were also returning from election duty and had to run a gauntlet of stone-pelters, the ubiquitous face of today’s Kashmir. Both images are shocking but illustrate the combustible new mood in the Valley. It represents the most serious security challenge for the Modi government, and has been since the death of Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander, on July 8, last year. Security experts say that the peak of militancy in the Valley was in 1991. Judging by the hundreds of civilians who have died or been maimed protecting terrorists, there is a new peak being reached right now. Never in recent memory has the situation in the Valley looked so grim and the anger among local Kashmiris been so openly hostile and anti-Indian. Anti-Indian may be an oxymoron considering Kashmir is part of India but the reality here is so different from anywhere else that it raises no eyebrows.

A crowd stone-pelts security personnel in Kashmir, UNI

A crowd stone-pelts security personnel in Kashmir, UNI

Even some northeastern states like Nagaland and Manipur, where insurgency is a problem, never feel alien and threatening to a visitor, as Kashmir does. Whenever I have been in Kashmir on holiday or as a journalist, there is no missing the undercurrents, the unwritten signals that serve as a reminder that you are an outsider from ‘India’. Depending on whom you meet or are in conversation with, the tone and tenor of the word ‘India’ can range from casual contempt to barely concealed hostility. I was there last year in May, when Burhan Wani was well on his way to becoming a cult figure. I was en route to Gulmarg from Srinagar and had asked the driver of the private taxi to stop at Tangmarg so I could stretch my legs and grab a coffee. He had a companion with him in the front seat and when I climbed back into the SUV, they were engrossed in watching a video on the mobile phone. It showed a young man wearing army fatigues, armed with an AK 47 and speaking into the camera. It was obvious who it was; the man most wanted by the security forces. They were so engrossed in listening to what Burhan was saying on the video, that it took them a while to notice I was back. They hastily switched off the video but the air had decidedly turned frostier, and it had nothing to do with the fact that we were a few kilometres short of the snow-covered slopes of Gulmarg.      

There must be some biblical irony in the fact that the catalyst for the start of militancy in Kashmir in 1987 and the latest outbreak of violence in which eight protestors died and hundreds of policemen were injured, features Farooq Abdullah as a common denominator. It is universally accepted that the trigger, literally, for the rise of militancy in the Valley was the rigged election of 1987 which consolidated Farooq’s reign as chief minister.  Now, 30 years later, the same Farooq Abdullah is contesting the Srinagar Lok Sabha bypoll which registered a two percent voter turnout during the repolling exercise. It has come full circle in Kashmir. The start of militancy in 1987 stemmed from the sense of betrayal the locals felt at a fraud election which legitimised Farooq’s reign, backed by Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress. It was seen an ‘unholy alliance’. The reasons behind the current upsurge in violence in the Valley has much to do with the alliance currently in power, Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP and the BJP, also derided by locals as an unholy alliance.

Whether Srinagar or Baramulla, everyone I met, from hotel staff to shopkeepers, porters and tourist-related operators, were polite and formal but never failed to convey the not-so-subtle statement that you were from another country. That sentiment accompanies you like an unfriendly shadow on your journey through the Valley. On earlier visits, this was extant as well, but this time, I could sense a difference in mood and hostility. Before June 2016, you could not imagine teenagers being so brazen and defiant so as take on armed members of the security forces in the middle of Srinagar, knowing reinforcements are a wireless call away. There is clearly a different and more dangerous flammable mix that defines Kashmir today. Most people, who visit this exceptionally beautiful part of the country, have had the good fortune of meeting locals who treat you with genuine warmth and a degree of hospitality which is exceptional. Sadly, such people are rarer to find. Currently, it has descended into a Palestine-like intifada spearheaded by teenagers with no ideology or geo-political vision, just a bleak future thanks to lack of jobs and inspiration from videos of Pakistan-backed militants like Burhan Wani, and now his clones. The image of the reckless revolutionary (shades of Che Guevara) fighting for the sake of an imaginary homeland is a powerful one, and it is fuelling the uprising in Kashmir to new and incendiary levels.

At various points in the Kashmir narrative, security experts and journalists have spoken or written of new peaks of militancy, throughout the 90s for instance. This time, it is for real. This time, it cannot be blamed on Pakistan, like every government has done so far. Pakistan is a player in the Kashmir tragedy, always has been and always will be, but the anger and hostility I witnessed—and it has only grown since—is much more visceral. The fact of civilians openly protecting terrorists during military operations, risking their own lives, is a new and dangerous escalation in the battle against militancy. It’s a battle that the Modi government is losing, and losing badly, largely through neglect and inaction. Atal Behari Vajpayee’s clarion call of Insaniyat (humanism), Kashmiryat (tradition of Hindu-Muslim amity) and Jamhooriat (democracy) has been abandoned in favour of a macho, Rambo-style response. It is a strategy that can only lead to greater alienation. The battle in the Valley is not about terrorism or Pakistan. It is about large and growing sections of the civilian population in Kashmir who are being forced to choose sides. It’s a battle that the Indian government is in danger of losing by default.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

PM Modi says Congress leaders consider themselves above Lord Ram

PM Modi slammed Congress during a rally in Chhattisgarh, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2024

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed the Congress party for declining to attend the pran pratishtha ritual at the Ayodhya Ram temple on January 22 this year.

The prime minister said Congress leaders consider themselves above Lord Ram and denied invitation for Pran Pratishtha at Ram Temple, while speaking at a rally in Janjgir-Champa, Chhattisgarh. The PM question the people present at the rally that is it not a disrespect of Mata Shabri? Congress leaders inclination toward appeasement politics runs in their family.

For political appeasement, they won’t think twice about stealing the rights of Adivasis, the poor, and Dalits. Poor, young, and women are BJP’s top priorities, Modi said.

PM Modi criticized the Congress again during the rally for claiming that the BJP would alter the constitution.

The leaders of Congress recite the same old phrases whenever an election is about to happen, the PM said. He also said they claim that if the BJP wins power, it will renounce the constitution and abolish reservations. For how long will you continue selling lies?” he asked.

The prime minister continued saying that nobody can change the Constitution, even if Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar were to come and insist on it, it wouldn’t happen.

Those in the Congress threaten to break Modi’s head. Nobody can harm Modi as long as the mothers and sisters of this county stands by him. These mothers and sisters are Raksha Kavach, Modi remarked.

The prime minister further attacked the Congress after Viriato Fernandes, the party’s candidate for South Goa, asserted that Goa was forced to adopt the Indian Constitution.

Referring to his conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Fernandes said he had told him, when Goa was liberated in the year 1961, the Indian Constitution was forced upon us.

The prime minister said, Congress candidate from Goa says Constitution was forced upon Goans; is this not an insult of Ambedkar and Constitution.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Amit Shah says neither Congress nor Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee can interfere with CAA

Amit Shah revealed the BJP’s target for West Bengal and said they have set a target of winning 35 Lok Sabha seats from West Bengal.

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Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said neither Congress nor Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee can interfere with the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). He was speaking at the Karandighi rally in West Bengal where he also made the prediction as to how many seats BJP will win in the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal.

The union home minister asked the masses to cut the money culture. Amit Shah revealed the BJP’s target for West Bengal and said they have set a target of winning 35 Lok Sabha seats from West Bengal. In 2019 Lok Sabha elections the BJP had won 18 out of 42 seats in West Bengal. He asked Mamata Banerjee, what problem will she have if the Buddhist and Hindu refugees from Bangladesh get citizenship in India?

Shah further added if the people of West Bengal want to stop infiltration in the state, then they will have to make Narendra Modi the Prime Minister of India again. He said if the people of West Bengal want to free Bengal of violence, stop infiltration in the state, give citizenship to refugees, to stop disrespecting mothers and sisters of the state as it happened in Sandeshkhali, then  only way is to make Narendra Modi the Prime Minister.

Amit Shah said that PM Modi had sent Rs 7 lakh crore to West Bengal but the TMC indulged in corruption. He said one can see the houses of Trinamool Congress leaders; 10 years ago they used to live in a hut, moved on cycle and now all of them have 4-storey houses and move around in big cars. He added this is the money of people of West Bengal.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), will make it easier for non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to get Indian citizenship, was enacted in 2019. But the rules were notified in March this year by the Centre.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi says listening to Hanuman Chalisa under Congress rule is a crime

PM Modi was addressing an election rally in Rajasthan’s Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, on a day as India celebrates Hanuman Jayanti.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday hit out at the Congress and said even listening to Hanuman Chalisa has become a crime under the party’s rule. The Prime Minister also said it was difficult to follow one’s faith under the party and accused it of hatching a deep conspiracy to snatch people’s wealth and distribute it among selected few people in the society. PM Modi was addressing an election rally in Rajasthan’s Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, on a day as India celebrates Hanuman Jayanti.

PM Modi said in a state like Rajasthan where people chant Ram-Ram, Congress banned Ram Navami. He reffered to the redistribution of wealth remarks he had made during a rally in Rajasthan’s Banswara on Sunday and said it has angered the Congress and INDI Alliance so much that they have started throwing abuses at Modi everywhere.

The Prime Minister said that Congress has written in their manifesto that they will survey the wealth. He said the Congress leadership had said in a speech that an X-ray of wealth will be done. He added when Modi exposed the secret then the hidden agenda came out and this has left the people trembling. PM Modi further added that the Congress party has played with the Constitution of the India.

He said when the Constitution was drafted, reservations based on religion were opposed, so that Scheduled Casts (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) could get protection. He said former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had said that Muslims have the first right to the country’s resources.  The prime minister further added Congress’s ideology has always been of appeasement and vote bank politics. He said stones would still be pelted in Jammu and Kashmir, and enemies would still be cutting off the heads of India’s soldiers had Congress been in power.

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