Hathras Case – Playing Politics:
The recent Hathras case in Uttar Pradesh petered out soon after it became a burning national issue, having become a focal point of political agendas. The case involved the alleged gangrape and murder of a Dalit girl – belonging to Balmiki community – in Hathras. The alleged accused include a Rajput boy and his associates. While the case occurred in mid-September, it became the focal point of public attention only after 10-11 days when it was sensationalized by the Bhim Army.
The refusal of UP Police to give way to Bhim Army chief to meet the victim who was admitted in a Delhi hospital escalated things. After her death, the secretive cremation of the victim by the police, was widely criticized across the country. The entire case snowballed into a massive controversy, used by many to settle scores with the Yogi government. Protests and candlelight marches were held in Delhi.
Congress and Media Play Politics:
Through much publicity and media attention, Congress politicians, Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi, were shown trying to reach Hathras to meet the victim’s family and their clashes with the UP Police. Despite the fact that strict security measures were in place to prevent things from escalating, various politicians and media people were finally allowed to meet the victim’s family. Here also, the media played a highly malignant role by making a spectacle out of the whole thing, simply to tarnish the image of the Yogi government.
The Dalit card was liberally played. However, a reporter from India Today news channel – Tanushree Pandey – was recorded allegedly talking to the brother of the victim, coaching him on what statements to make, assuring him that Priyanka Gandhi will help him and telling him to reject the compensation offered by the government. This was a major embarrassment for the media.
However, even then the sensationalization did not stop.
Eventually, detailed local accounts and video evidences showed a different picture – locals of Hathras were united in asserting that the entire case was an honour killing and not a gangrape. The families of victims not only knew each other, but also had enmity for several years. The very first statement given by the petrified girl was that the Rajput boy had tried to murder her. There was no mention of rape or gangrape.
But in a later statement, the girl and her family alleged that it was a gangrape. UP Police was adamant in its stand that forensic report says that no rape occurred. Eventually, the government decided to form an SIT and even suggested that case be transferred to CBI. The government even said that narco tests should be conducted on everyone – police officers, victim’s family and eyewitnesses – to ascertain the truth.
Mysteriously, the victim’s family rejected all three options viz. SIT, CBI and narco test. A Congress-linked activist, Saket Gokhale, filed an urgent petition in the Court saying that no narco test should be conducted on the victim’s family.
Things became worse thereafter. It soon emerged that UP Police had arrested a local opposition politician and a journalist for paying lakhs of rupees to the victim’s family for making certain statements. The UP government also highlighted that they had busted an international web network wholly dedicated to this case, meant for defaming the BJP government. Moreover, 4 members of a radical Islamic outfit – Popular Front of India (PFI) – were also arrested while on their way to Hathras.
It soon became evident that the victim’s family was receiving money from a dubious networks of people – politicians, journalists, activists etc. – whose funding was suspect. Subsequently, it was revealed that a woman who was supposed to have been the sister-in-law of the deceased victim and was living with the family for many days, was a fake woman who was set up. She had given all kinds of outrageous statements to the media. She was revealed to have Naxalite connections, and had also participated in Congress party events.
After the unexpected way in which the case turned against the media and Congress, not much has been written or said about it. It has been transferred to the CBI and is currently being monitored by Allahabad High Court.
Pakistan – A Shambled State:
Pakistan has been at the receiving end of several protests for the past few weeks. In Sindh, there was a confrontation between Pakistani Army and Sindh Police, after the Army abducted the Sindh IGP and forced him to sign an order for Captain Safdar’s arrest (ex-Pakistan Army and son-in-law of former PM Nawaz Sharif). The drama unfolded following a massive Opposition rally against the government and the Army, led by Captain Safdar, Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal Bhutto and others. Following this abduction, the entire Sindh police force tendered their letter announcing leave, to protest against their ‘humiliation’. Matters were brought under control after the Army Chief announced a probe into the incident.
Besides the drama in Sindh and the Opposition rallies, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is also on a boil. There have been rising protests against Pakistan across PoK, due to various reasons. There have been consistent anti-Pakistan, anti-China protests in the region due to construction of dams as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In addition to these protests, there have also erupted, in the past few weeks, protests to secure the release of prominent political prisoners – such as activists like Baba Jan. These protests recur intermittently.
Finally, on October 22nd, there were huge protests across PoK – especially in Muzzaffrabad – to protest against the historical memory of Pakistan’s invasion of Jammu and Kashmir on October 22nd,1947. The protestors observed October 22nd as a ‘Black Day’. The protests were led by the United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP). These developments mark a beginning of the likely events to unfold in the future. Significantly, they explicate clearly how the decades-old status quo in India-Pakistan relations has been firmly reversed, due to the changed Indian approach towards Pakistan and the Kashmir issue.
During the last few decades, it was always India that seemed to be on the defensive and pushed against a wall, with Pakistan being an active aggressor and facilitator of terrorism across Kashmir and rest of India. However, presently, ever since Article 370 was nullified by India, it is Pakistan that seems to have lost its feet. Nor is it no longer able to interfere through its terror proxies in Kashmir, it is also witnessing frequent disturbances and anti-Pakistan disgruntlement across PoK – for which it accuses India. The state of affairs is such that the Pakistani government accuses every anti-government protester to be an Indian agent, right from its own Punjab governor to the opposition political parties and the common protesters.
We are witnessing a time when Pakistani national security advisor is gloating about giving interviews to fringe Leftist Indian media outlets and considering it a success. Pakistan’s day seems to begin and end with India. Pakistani media intermittently spreads rumours that India is planning a surgical airstrike on Pakistan. They have highlighted India’s criticism across the United Nations and other international fora. In contrast, India has not reacted at all to Pakistan.
The result of this entire dynamics is Pakistan’s increasing international isolation, so much so that Pakistan’s only ally in the world is Sunni Muslim nation, Turkey. Organization of Islamic States (OIC) countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and others have increasingly turned cold towards Pakistan, refusing to give in to its position on Kashmir.
Sensational Disclosures Within Pakistan
Pakistan’s internal situation seems even worse. Most recently, significant statements were made in the Pakistani legislature. Pakistani leader from PML-N, Ayaz Sadiq, said in the Pakistani National Assembly that, in February 2019 when Indian pilot Abhinandan was held in Pakistan, Pakistan Army Chief’s ‘legs were shaking’ while Foreign Minister SM Qureshi told the meeting of Parliamentary leaders that India was planning to attack Pakistan ‘that night by 9 PM’ if Abhinandan was not released.
Related to this, another explosive statement was made by a Pakistani minister – Fawad Chaudhary – when he said in the legislature that Pakistan’s biggest success under Imran Khan was the Pulwama attack in India, where Pakistan entered India’s home to kill the Indians. This clear reference to the Pulwama terror attack is Pakistan’s own admission of its role in orchestrating it. It is also a message to India’s opposition parties which have fallen to the utterly debased level of accusing BJP of orchestrating the attack.
In the Pakistani legislature, some chants of ‘Modi Modi’ were also heard, as a way of protesting against the Imran Khan government. These slogans were in continuation of the slogan “whoever is a friend of Modi, is a traitor of Pakistan” – being shouted by Pakistani opposition lawmakers who were accusing Imran Khan government of bending to Modi. Therefore, the Modi slogans were accusatory. Subsequently, when the Pakistani foreign minister did manage to speak, he accused that Modi’s spirit had got inside the Pakistani lawmakers.
Over the next few days, posters of Modi and Abhinandan came up across Lahore along with Ayaz Sadiq, to convey the message that Sadiq had betrayed Pakistan. These posters were put up by the Imran government to supposedly shame Sadiq. As a counter, PML-N put up posters of Modi, Abhinandan and Imran Khan, in order to supposedly shame Imran Khan.
Overall, the developments in Pakistan clearly convey the country’s obsession with India and with Modi, even as India has ceased to pay any attention to it.
France Coming Under Islamic Siege:
The row over French President Macron’s comments on Islam continues to rage. On October 16th, an Islamic refugee beheaded a school teacher, Samuel Paty, some days after he had shown caricatures of Prophet Mohammed to his students. France has taken a tough stand on this incident. President Macron has made it clear that he does not treat this as an isolated incident limited to one jihadi individual, but as being representative of the larger crisis within Islam itself. He also declared the need to ‘reform’ Islam in accordance with French tradition of freedom of expression.
He openly stated that France would never abandon its tradition of freedom of expression. Indeed, recently, major government buildings in France prominently displayed the cartoons over which the teacher was beheaded. In the wake of the beheading incident, French police has launched a crackdown on Islam, by temporarily shutting down mosques suspected of spreading hatred, by targeting NGOs who claim to work for human rights but support an Islamist agenda.
The French Education Minister has directly attacked the ideology of ‘Islamo-Leftism’, saying that ‘there’s a combat to be led’ against the kind of ‘intellectual framework’ coming from US universities.
France has witnessed a series of further terrorist attacks, following this response by the French government. There were two more beheadings and a killing in the Notre Dame church in France, and another knife attack the next day in Avignon. Furthermore, the French embassy in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia was attacked, but without any casualties. There was also a knife attack by terrorists in French-dominated Quebec province of Canada.
Violent Muslim Backlash:
The response of the global Muslim community and Muslim governments to the French approach has been to viciously insult and threaten France, so much so that France has had to issue safety advisories to French citizens going abroad and has had to ask other governments to pay attention to safety and security of French citizens. Muslim countries like Pakistan and Turkey have heaped personal insults on Macron on a regular basis. Turkey has suggested that Macron needs a ‘mental’ checkup. Pakistan has accused Macron of sowing the seeds of division.
However, Pakistan has also made a laughing-stock of itself across the world. Pakistani propaganda machinery managed to drag India into the row by accusing India and France of being responsible for growing ‘Islamophobia’ (Agrawal, 2020). The Pakistani National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution that Pakistan should recall its ambassador from France, only to discover later that Pakistan had no ambassador in France.
In other Muslim countries, situation is not much different, even though their governments have refrained from attacking Macron directly. In Bangladesh, the protests against France have been amongst the most vociferous, with thousands of Muslims and clerics taking to the streets of Dhaka – latest being 50,000 Muslims virtually laying siege to the French embassy by issuing an ultimatum for its closure. They had to be restrained from physically attacking the French embassy in Bangladesh. Kuwait and Qatar have taken a stand against France. Egypt has said that freedom of expression should stop when it comes to Islam.
Former Malaysian PM, Mahathir Mohammad, called for an outright genocide of French people, by arguing that “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.”
While other major Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE who have kept quiet, sections of their public has vented some anger on social media. Across all Muslim countries, there is a call – from public and various non-governmental outfits – to boycott French companies, brands and products. However, no official action has been taken.
Moderate Muslim Voices:
Out of all Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia and UAE were the only ones who condemned the terrorist incidents in France, but were careful not to officially say that they support France in its crackdown on Islam.
However, UAE’s prominent Minister of State on Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, did explicitly support Macron, saying that Macron was absolutely correct and that Muslims living in western societies should listen to Macron and also need to “integrate” themselves in these societies in a better way.
Outliers in the West:
Curiously, Justin Trudeau of Canada, instead of supporting France, has stated that there should be limits to freedom of expression – implying that the cartoons which mocked the Prophet were unjustified. Other than Trudeau, a United Nations body – United Nations Alliance of Civilizations – while condemning the terror attack, also stressed that free expression should have limits and that the cartoons were ‘insulting and deeply offensive’ to Islam.
India Stands up for France:
India has issued a clear statement in support of France as have the United States and Russia. Alongside some of the European countries, India was one of the first countries to support France in its fight against Islamic terrorism – which India did not hesitate to call out. Both, the Ministry of External Affairs and the PMO issued separate statements to support France. In turn, not only did the French government thank India, but the French opposition leaders – such as Marine Le Pen – and others, as well as, various French government officials thanked India for support.
Marine Le Pen subsequently issued a statement saying that France should ban immigration from radicalized countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, whose Muslims were violently protesting against France. French Member of European Parliament (MEP), Dominique Bilde, even accused Pakistan of visa frauds and of using its international aid to fund Islamic terrorism.
All in all, there seems to be a firm cementing in India-France relations during this time of crisis for France. This is in direct contrast to the India of 2005 under the UPA government when a similar incident had occurred. A Danish newspaper had mocked the Prophet by publishing cartoons. That time, Sonia Gandhi had personally written to the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid expressing her outrage and Manmohan Singh had personally demanded an apology from the Danish paper and asked for an assurance from Denmark that this would not be repeated. In 2006, the Danish PM’s visit to India was also cancelled, as he was told by a displeased India that it was not an ‘optimal time’ to visit.
However, even today, the behaviour of Indian Muslims is still being guided by the Congress ideology. Under the leadership of Congress party, Muslims of India protested against France. In Bhopal, a Muslim Congress MLA rallied more than 2000 Muslims to protest against France. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, promised to take strict action against them. In Mumbai, pictures of Macron were stuck on the roads so that people and vehicles could step on them. Similar thing happened in a Muslim area in Gujarat.
Indeed, even the Muslim wing of RSS – in Telangana, where it has a significant following – burnt posters of Macron. In UP, protests were held inside the campus of Aligarh Muslim University against Macron. In Telangana, Congress has asked the ruling TRS to ban French products from the state. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has asked Muslims to boycott all French products.
Changing Situation in Kashmir and Ladakh:
Kashmir is witnessing rapid changes. In the last issue, we had covered that around 18 lakh domicile certificates were awarded within three months. Presently, several other developments have taken place. Rapid successes are visible on the security front. More than 200 terrorists have been eliminated in Kashmir in 2020 till end of October, including the Hizbul Mujahideen commander-in-chief. NIA also continues its intensified raids and crackdowns across Kashmir.
On one front, there is political activity going on. With Mehbooba Mufti’s release, all key political prisoners have now been released. In recent times, these leaders – including Sajjad Lone, Abdullahs and Muftis, along with Congress and Communists and some small non-BJP parties – have renewed the ‘Gupkar Alliance’. They have raised the demand of bringing back Article 370 and have made several other baseless anti-India statements which could be fit cases of sedition. Their statements have only further alienated them from people of Kashmir and of the rest of the country and exposed the sham that was going on in Kashmir during the last few decades.
BJP is also becoming a steadily accepted presence in Kashmir. This was visible in the huge popularity of the recently martyred Muslim BJP karyakartas in Kulgam in Kashmir, who were assassinated by terrorists. Hundreds of locals attended their funeral, despite warnings by terrorist groups like The Resistance Front (TRF) to not do so.
Undoing Legalized Wrongs of the Past:
On another front, there is continuing and expanding crackdown on illegal networks by central agencies. This month, the Jammu & Kashmir High Court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the massive land scam under the contentious Roshni Act. It is a Rs. 25,000 crore scam that took place in 2001 and intensified in 2007 under the Congress government of Ghulam Nabi Azad, where agricultural land was supposedly transferred to “farmers” under the provisions of the 2001 Roshni Act. In this manner, government land was effectively transferred to illegal occupants, benefitting many anti-national elements, senior Congress and NC politicians and top-level IAS officers – all of whom were named by High Court in its order.
There was also an element of ‘land jihad’ in this Act, that was highlighted by one of the petitions filed in the court. This was due to the fact that demography of Jammu region was being systematically sought to be changed by selling agricultural land at cheap rates in the Jammu region to illegal Muslim encroachers. It was repealed in 2018, but past transfers were not rendered invalid. Now, the High Court has held that all past transfers were completely illegal and void, and has asked the CBI to probe this scam. Along with this, the administration of J&K has announced that all land given under this illegal scheme will be taken back within 6 months.
Finally, the central government has also notified the changed land laws for Jammu and Kashmir, as per which anyone from any part of India can buy land in Jammu and Kashmir, without the need of being a domicile of J&K. With this, the exclusive rights of J&K people over land in the territory have ended. Some key points are as follows:
- The new law has dismantled 11 existing land laws of the territory.
- While there are conditions to buy agricultural land, as per the new law, district collector can allow agricultural land to be assigned for non-agricultural purposes also.
- Any piece of land can be declared as ‘strategic’ by the competent authority and used by the Armed Forces.
- Unlike in the past, spouses of J&K domiciles will also be automatically regarded as domiciles.
This is a significant step. It has abolished one of the key pillars of Kashmir’s land reforms ushered in by Sheikh Abdullah viz. the Big Landed Estates Abolition Act,1950 – amongst the most radical redistribution measures in the world outside of the Communist countries. According to the 1950 law, the ceiling on land ownership was placed at 22 acres, with the rest of land to be distributed among landless labour and tillers without giving any compensation to the landlord. Back in 1950, this was seen as a direct assault by Sheikh Abdullah to the Dogra power in Jammu, as they were the big landowners.
Now, with the new land laws, this Act, along with others, stands abolished. The reception to the new changes has not been positive, due to the threat of demographic change. Kashmir observed a complete shutdown as a sign of protest against the law. In Jammu also the reception has been muted.
Agrawal, S. (2020, October 26). The Print. Retrieved from https://theprint.in/world/ban-islamophobia-pakistan-pm-imran-khan-complains-against-india-in-letter-to-facebook/530818/
ANN. (2020, October 28). Hindustan Times. Retrieved from https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/saudi-arabia-removes-pok-gilgit-baltistan-from-pakistan-s-map-activist-calls-move-diwali-gift-to-india/story-0vxoN0On4KpVYDMcOVllbJ.html