India

Indian Americans condemn unconstitutional revocation of Article 370, massive repression in Kashmir

BeyondHeadlines News Desk

New York: The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has condemned the revocation of the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir that had been bestowed on the state under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. IAMC has also condemned the Indian Government’s decision to bifurcate the state and downgrade its status from full statehood to a centrally-administered territory.

The decision of the Indian Government announced August 5, 2019, to withdraw the special status by presidential diktat, without consultation with and participation from the people of the state, violates both the Indian Constitution and international law, and disregards the universal principles of liberty and justice, IAMC said today.

IAMC also condemned the manner in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration rushed through Parliament the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill 2019, a law that has effectively abrogated Article 370 that had from 1954 recognized the special rights and citizenship of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

In bringing the law, Mr. Modi’s government kept hundreds of Members of Parliament in the dark until the last moment and refused to refer the issue to broader consultation in parliamentary committees to deliberate its constitutionality, legality and desirability.

IAMC has long held that lasting peace cannot come to Jammu and Kashmir without the active participation of, and consultation with, the state’s people in the formulation of any decision, executive and/or legislative, that aims to resolve the protracted conflict. Unfortunately, successive Indian Government over the last 30 years have thrust one-sided diktat as policy. Unsurprisingly, all such efforts have failed to bring peace.

Ahead of its announcement on Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Government unleashed massive repression in the state bringing in tens of thousands of troops in addition to the hundreds of thousands that have been placed in the region for three decades, making Kashmir one of the world’s most militarized zones. Mr. Modi’s administration has arrested political leaders, including two former heads of state governments, and continues to blockade telephone and internet services and restrict peaceful assembly.

This behaviour of the Indian government’s is a hallmark of authoritarian despotism and not of Constitutional democracies. Veteran Indian lawyer and jurist A.G. Noorani has called the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status “utterly and palpably unconstitutional” and a “deed accomplished by deceitful means.”

This revocation has also besmirched India internationally. Amnesty International said the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was likely to inflame tensions in the area and increase the risk of further human rights violations. The Geneva-based International Commission for Jurists said the revocation violated the rights of representation and participation guaranteed by Indian Constitution and international law and was a blow to the rule of law and human rights in the state and in India.

The Indian Government’s brazenly unlawful and undemocratic decision on Jammu and Kashmir also lends credence to the fears of India’s 180 million Muslims that Mr. Modi’s rightwing administration has a vile agenda to victimize and brutalize them in fulfilment of the long-held vision of Hindu supremacists to convert Indian into a Hindu nation.

There is widespread concern that the recent change in India’s anti-terrorism law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), that allows the statewide authority to hold and jail people without charge, usually even before a crime has been committed, and to declare individuals as terrorists without a trial, will be largely used to target Muslims.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a self-styled social organization that is the ideological parent of Mr. Modi’s political party, the BJP, has for decades openly espoused the creation of a Hindu India where non-Hindus, including Muslims and Christians, would be second-class citizens. The decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, coming quickly after the UAPA amendment, strongly suggests that Mr. Modi’s administration is bent on delivering this Hindu supremacist agenda.

IAMC, therefore, urges India’s and international civil society institutions to stand up for democracy and human rights in India and not give a free pass to the unconstitutional revocation of Article 370 and to the massive repression that has accompanied it.

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